Breathtaking pavilions and temples, stately architecture from the British colonial era and picturesque landscapes – that’s what keeps drawing tourist after tourist to Myanmar.
Having reopened its doors to tourists, the nation formerly known as Burma, has made it back on many a travellers bucket list, though people looking to travel should still exercise due caution. Hosting about 135 different tribal backgrounds, seamlessly meshing Myanmar has a rich and extremely enthralling cultural base.
Diversity does not make the Burmese locals any less cordial and welcoming and there’s a great deal to see. From unexplored coasts, thousands of stupas in the plains, colour-filled local temples and markets to ancient religious sites, Myanmar hosts among the most entrancingly beautiful sights in all of Asia. It is predominantly a Buddhist country.
Myanmar allows travelers a glimpse into Asia’s past life being relatively less developed than the more toured parts of Asia. Visitors to Myanmar should be prepared for this, and the slower pace of life here, exercising patience when things take longer than anticipated to happen or veer from original plans.
While the infrastructure is less developed compared to other Asian countries, one can still enjoy relative comfort in the Myanmar hotels and inns, whose standards as regards to service and amenities stand equivalently matched to those of neighboring countries.
Best Visiting Periods and Climate
Myanmar typically experiences three seasons in a year: the hot season from March through May, the wet from June through September and the cool from October through to February. The cooler drier weather makes November to February the most ideal season to visit Myanmar, compared to other times during the year. It is recommended that you book well in advance, as traffic to Myanmar is usually at its peak during this time. Temperatures can go as high as 40˚C during the hot season, particularly up north. The highlands are cooler. Some areas in the south cannot be accessed during the rainy season.
Top 10 Travel Destinations in Myanmar
Listed below are the ten most popular tourist destinations, attractions and sites in Myanmar, which you simply must visit on a trip there. Experience the geographical and cultural diversity, preserved through its history, which gives the country a certain mystery and find out for yourself the wonderful attractions that make Myanmar stand out from among the rest.
Formerly called Rangoon, Yangon which was the capital city of Myanmar, is famed for its stately colonial architecture. It stands out as a distinctive example of a British colonial capital from the century, despite the decay and delapidation in parts of it. Its various elements mesh to give 19th the feel of a museum depicting the Yangon downtown life, from its local people in traditional attire and friendly street vendors to quaint yet attractive Chevrolet buses and trishaws. At the heart of Yangon stands Shwedagon, arguably the most revered pagoda in Myanmar and Southeast Asia, with an interesting backstory to boot. Legend has it that it was constructed over 2,500 years back, during the Buddha’s time, and it enshrines the Buddha’s holy relics. Standing 326 feet high above the city (100 metres), the Shwedagon Pagoda is a landmark easily seen from miles away and is among the wonders of the world.
Known previously as Pagan, Bagan forms the heart of Myanmar’s ancient architecture. It is found in northern Myanmar, and was the capital of its earliest dynasty. The area has over 2,000 stupas and temples, and reddish pagodas and other religious monuments believed to have been constructed over 1,500 years back. Bagan is comprised of 42 square kilometers of desert- like plain found along the east banks of Ayeyarwaddy River. Some say that Bagan is the most unforgettable site for tourists coming to Myanmar.
Sightseeing around Bagan can be done on car, horse cart or bicycling within the town. To cap it all, tourists can treat themselves to a breathtaking boat trip at sunset down the Ayeyarwaddy River, enjoying the sunset views with an ice-cold drink in hand.
Mandalay sits between the historical river Ayeyarwaddy and Shan state. Geographically, it is found in the central regions of Myanmar, making it the economic nucleus of Upper Myanmar. It is also the epicenter of Burmese culture, and it especially stands out for its major mode of transportation within the town. Among the inhabitants of Myanmar, Mandalay is known as the cycling city, with majority of its citizen preferring to use bicycles to move around rather than any other forms of transport.
Mandalay is very ideally located, close to Bagan and also the central part of the country. A variety of cultures and traditions can be found within the city. As such, visitors to Myanmar should always visit Mandalay, not only for its amazing sights, but also to experience firsthand the many different traditions and cultures that can be found here.
Inle is a freshwater lake found within the Shan Hills in Myanmar, and is surrounded by numerous villages back-dropped by foggy mountain ranges. The air around Inle Lake is drier and cooler than most other places within Myanmar. Visitors get to see Inle Lake’s interesting culture – fishermen rowing their boats using their legs, an integral part of Inle tradition.
Inle Lake also holds other important attractions visitors should not miss: tomato fields floating around the lake and flower gardens growing on the lake bed, anchored in place using bamboo poles. The local people living around the lake are warm and friendly, with a unique way of daily life guaranteed to fascinate visitors to this area. Visitors can be treated to enjoyable rides along the lake, as well as the local people’s warm sincerity.
KYAING TONG (Keng Tung)
Kyaing Tong is found in the eastern region of Shan State, and it is the principal town of Kengtung Township. It experiences much cooler weather than the tropical areas of Myanmar, making it more suitable for visitors who wish to enjoy their sightseeing escapades with cooler ambient temperatures. Kyaing Tong can be easily accessed from the Golden Triangle and it has plenty of memorable sights visitors can enjoy.
Kyaing Tong has plenty of shifting fields, and visitors to the area can see the local communities’ traditional huts built on the surrounding mountain slopes. Since it is interconnected with the Golden Triangle, which is home to diverse ethnicities, visitors to this area should expect to experience the traditions of people other than the Kyaing Tong locals themselves, one of the main attractions of this area.
GOLDEN ROCK (Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda)
The local Myanmar name for the Golden Rock is Kyaiktiyo Pagoda. The Golden Rock is highly esteemed by the locals as a scared place, but visitors also find the area to be breathtaking. It is found in Mon State, standing on the highest mountain in the Paunglaung Mountain Ranges. In order to get to Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, you will first drive for four hours from Pangon and then go uphill to Hermit Hill in an open truck. The pagoda and the rock sit atop Mt. Kyaikhtiyo. The Golden Rock Pagoda is the third most revered Buddhist Pilgrimage site in Myanmar, Shwedagon Pagoda being the first followed by the Mahamuni Pagoda. Legend has it that one glimpse at the ‘gravity defying’ Golden Rock is enough inspiration for anyone to convert to Buddhism.
The Golden Rock makes for an ideal and memorable pilgrimage experience and those who wish to embark on it can choose between taking a bus up the mountain to the rock and hiking up the mountain, which typically takes five hours or thereabouts. On a hike, one will have the chance to see amazing sights and experience various milestones, making for a richer experience along the way.
Monywa is found in Sagaing Division, 136km from Mandalay in the northwest and along River Chindwin’s eastern bank, Myanmar. It takes roughly three hour to drive from Mandalay to Monywa via Sagaing.
Monywa is full of interesting sites and attractions, one of which is the Poewindaung mountain caves, which hold interesting stone carvings and murals painted all over the walls. Another key attraction site is the Thanboday Pagoda. Local myths claim that the solid section of this monument has 7350 relics as well as other holy items engraved on it. Visitors to Monywa should not leave without visiting Boddhi-tataung, which means ‘1000 Buddhas’. It consists of a grove of 1,000 banyan trees, each with an image of Buddha at its foot. Nowhere else will you be able to see a thousand banyan trees with Buddha images grown together in one place, so that you can see all of them in a single glance. Monywa for certain makes for an unforgettable experience for those who have been.
Putao is the northernmost town within Kachin State in Myanmar. Putao was where the British put up Port Hertz during the Second World War. However, transportation to Putao is a bit of a challenge as it is only accessible by road during the summer. However, should there be enough travelers during the other seasons a plane can be scheduled to travel to Putao during any season in the year.
Putao is famed for its rare orchids, which form part of the town’s indigenous flora. Lovers of orchids simply must visit this place, especially to see the famous rare ‘Black Orchid’ species, which grows on the mountains fund both to the east and west of Putao. Putao experiences much cooler weather than anywhere else in Myanmar. In certain areas of Putao, you can find icebergs and snow-capped mountains almost all year round.
Mrauk U, enclosed by hills both in the north and in the south, is one of Myanmar’s most important archaeological sites. The prehistoric city is found in Rakhine State, on the eastern banks of Kaladan River, and draws archeologists from far and wide in search of its ancient artifacts. Mrauk Oo was founded by one King Narameikhla (1404-1434 AD) and was the capital for 400 years after the fact. To get yourself to Mrauk Oo, you should take a boat from Sittwe, navigating along the flow of the Kalatan River, a trip that takes about 5 hours. Just like Bagan, Mrauk U has numerous pagodas spread liberally over this ancient city. However, having been constructed in different historic times, the architecture of Mrauk U’s pagodas is totally different from those in Bagan.
NGWE SAUNG Beach
Ngwe Saung Beach stands within a five hour drive from Yangon City. The actual beach stretches out for nine miles, making it one among the longest beaches within Southeast Asia. It was the newly opened beach within the Ayeyarwaddy delta region and it is interconnected with Andaman Sea. It is found slightly to the south of Ngapali, another famous beach resort in the country.
The beach has become more and more popular among locals as well as tourists into Myanmar, despite the fact that it was opened just recently. This is owing to the high quality of the beach, its sands and clean water. It also has amazing vistas, and offers a spectacular view of the Bay of Bengal, particularly at dusk, against the red-orange embers of the sunset.
Ngapali beach, found in Rakhine State, stretches out along the Bay of Bengal. It is reputed to be among the best beaches in the whole of Myanmar, visitors are wowed by the simple beauty of its untouched and unspotted natural features which has so remained even to the present time. It stretches out for about 3 kilometres; a beautiful length of soft white sands bounded by tall coconut trees. It is especially apt for city-dwellers looking for a quiet natural and peaceful beach experience – no interruptions, just the beauty of the beach itself. It is unlike many beaches around the world where hawkers of various products keep interrupting vacationer’s beach experience.
Ngapali beach also has some organised recreational activities to participate in individually or as family, such as cycling, beach strolling among others. The ground is perfect for sunbathing, and the sea is a clean beautiful cobalt blue, and free of any dangerous marine animals. A few fishermen villages lie close to the beach, and they can easily be reached on bicycle for interested tourists. According to the locals of this area, Ngapali is best visited anytime between October and May each year.
A land of ancient temples and generations of stories waiting to be told, Myanmar is one of the least explored destinations in the world. And there’s simply no better way to experience this beautiful nation of Myanmar than on a boutique Asian river cruise with Cruise Megastore. Call 1300 657 948 and let us help you experience this wonderful country.
Scenic Tours – Mystical Burma and Luxury Irrawaddy Cruise – 21 days from $8,995.00*pp – Experience Mystical Burma on this 17 day journey from Yangon exploring the best of Burma including a 9 night luxury Irrawaddy cruise, and a visit to Inle Lake with their unique one legged rowers. 16 night tour includes 7 night Burma land tour and 9 night exclusive luxury Irrawaddy River cruise… read more
Travelmarvel – Captivating Burma and The Mekong 22 days from $8,495.00*pp – Immerse yourself in your own villa at Pristine Lotus Spa Resort Inle Lake, Indulge in Intha Specialties from the Shan kitchen at Ann’s Restaurant, Enjoy an ox-cart ride to the Shwezigon Pagoda and Shwesandaw Pagoda, Relax and unwind at the beautiful Shinta Mani Resort in Siem Reap, Meet the local children at a ‘grass roots’ orphanage in Siem Reap, Stay at the Grand Hotel in Saigo… read more