Top 9 Destinations in Myanmar
Our pick #1
Sitting on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, the temple-filled plain of Bagan contains over 4400 exotic temples, pagodas and stupas, rivalling the magnificent Angkor in Cambodia and dating back to the same period, almost 800 years ago. The brilliance of Bagan is in the wonderful collective views of stupa upon stupa dotting the plain and filling the skyline. Climbing to a temple lookout for sunset is an important part of the Bagan experience though it is best seen from a hot-air balloon at dawn - we would just recommend to pre-book this experience in advance. Coast over the temples with a bird’s eye view of the morning activities.
Our pick #2
The former capital of Myanmar, Yangon is a city reaching for the future yet caught in the past. The start point for our group tours, this dynamic city contains the largest number of colonial buildings in Southeast Asia today and is a unique example of a 19th century British colonial capital. Sitting on top of Singuttara Hill, the gleaming golden stupa of Shwedagon Pagoda is the centrepiece of the city and the single most important religious site in the country. Scenes of monks praying to shrines while locals congregate on the steps for an afternoon gossip capture the essence of the relaxed nature and strong ties the Burmese have with Buddhism.
Our pick #3
Inle Lake is heaven on earth for many travellers, the floating farms, stilted villages and crumbling stupas are to be savoured. You can spend the days canoeing, cycling or walking through the lush countryside while the people of the lake, known as the Intha, go about their daily business in numerous small villages along the shore and on the lake itself. Devout Buddhists, Intha are self-sufficient farmers who live in simple houses of wood and woven bamboo stilts. Famous for their unique style of rowing, standing with one leg on their small rowboats and the other leg wrapped around the oar, the Intha people themselves are one of the star attractions.
Our pick #4
Perhaps one of the most curious sights in the country, Mt Kyaiktiyo is a baffling, gravity-defying feature that definitely deserves your attention. The site consists of a huge golden rock with a stupa on top of it, precariously perched on the edge of a cliff and held in place, according to legend, by one of the Buddha’s hairs. The mountain is a huge draw for spiritual travellers and Buddhists, many taking a truck ride to the top in time for sunrise. Male devotees can get right up next to the rock and are permitted to paste on some golden leaf whilst there. Women aren’t afforded the same privilege unfortunately, but they can still admire the monument and take in the stunning views from the mountain top.
Our pick #5
Characterised by powder-soft, golden sand stretches out from the lush palm trees until it reaches the crystal clear water of the Bay of Bengal, Ngapali is the beach paradise you have been searching for. Despite being Myanmar’s number one beach destination, you won’t need to wrestle for space on these sparkling shores, nor will you be overwhelmed by noise and chaos. There are plenty of accommodation options here, ranging from budget to luxurious. Spend your days here gorging on fresh seafood, snorkelling and watching the dazzling sunsets.
Our pick #6
A thoroughly modern city, though the very name of Mandalay still evokes a poetic sense of nostalgia. The magnificent complex of the Mandalay Palace, surrounded by a moat with finely built walls and crowning wooden pavilions, serves as a reminder of Myanmar’s once great empire. The stupa-filled Mandalay Hill looms over the flat cityscape affording excellent views. Maha Moni Pagoda is revered as the holiest pagoda in Mandalay where crowds of devotees visit daily to witness the early morning ritual of washing the Face of Buddha’s Image.
Our pick #7
The largest river in Myanmar, the Irrawaddy River stretches over 2,000km in length. The river is home to the Irrawaddy dolphin and river shark, both of which are highly endangered and spectacular to behold. The best way of immersing yourself in the yesteryear glory of the river is by taking a cruise along it. Most routes start in Mandalay and wind up in Bagan, making plenty of stops along the way. If tranquillity and picturesque scenery are what you are after, an Irrawaddy River cruise is an ideal activity.
Our pick #8
If you are looking for views that will take your breath away and a laid back pace of life, then Kalaw is the place for you. The green-carpeted hills that surround the area are ideal for independent hiking, providing some stunning scenery as you go. Within the heart of Kalaw is a bustling market, the perfect representation of traditional village life in Myanmar and a great place to pick up some local delicacies, many of which have been influenced by Indian and Nepali rail workers who moved here during British rule.
Our pick #9
Imbued with mystery and charm, the lush and mountainous region of Pindaya is ideal for anyone looking for a breath of fresh air and a spot of cultural immersion. The most famous attraction in this fascinating town is the Pindaya Caves, limestone caves filled with images of the Buddha. The caves can easily be seen in a day trip and are often combined with a trek through one of the old traditional villages that surround the area.
Browse through our recommended places to visit in Myanmar (Burma)
If you're looking for more information to help plan your visit to Myanmar, check out our handy Travel Guide resources:
Best Time to Visit - climate and seasons in Myanmar
Tourist Visas - everything you need to know for visa procurement and regulations
Top Travel Tips - useful information on money, food and health in Myanmar