With a lousy road and a sleepy village look, Namshan may appear to have always been a sleepy backwater but, not so long ago it was the capital of the Shan State of Tawngpeng (Taungbaing). The region, and its capital, have declined economically since the abolition of the Sao Pha in 1952.
A rough ride from Hsipaw on a very bad road (avoidable during the rainy season) is the only way to get to this village. The easiest is to ride pillion on a motorcycle (available in Hsipaw). The occasional truck that makes the journey may let you hitch a ride for a small fee.
Pickups go from Hsipaw to Namshan daily for 6,000 kyat per person (2012). It takes 6 hours to drive the 80 km. Ask at Mr Kid if you are staying there (Mr Charles apparently will tell you the only way to get there is to take a tour with his guesthouse).
The town is small and it is easy to walk everywhere, not that there is any other form of transport available.
- The Sao Pha palace
Trekking, either from Namshan to Hsipaw (possible without a guide, ask for map at guesthouse) or in the mountains around Namshan with a guide. Both are excellent, with beautiful scenery and villages. The price for a guide is very reasonable.
There are 3 restaurants in the village, at least one Chinese and one Burmese. These close quite early in the evening. The tea is some of the best in Myanmar.
There is only one lodging in the village that accepts foreign nationals (not clear if it is licensed to do so). USD1 or USD2 for a bed and blankets in a shared room. It is unlikely that you'll have to share the room though. Rooms are available for 3,500 kyat per person (Jun 2012).
None with the outside world. There may be a phone service for domestic call but, if there is one, it is not at all evident.