Planning a trip to Myanmar? Try out this list of top things to do that mix up the regular ‘must-sees’ with some unusual offerings you may not have stumbled upon yet…
Bagan, a legacy of devotion and monuments. Built by the Pagan Kings over several centuries, not only a place of surreal wonder, but it is without a doubt one of the greatest archaeological sites on earth! There are 2200 surviving temples, all of which can be explored using bus, car, bicycle, electric scooter, foot and hot air balloon!
Hpa An is the photogenic capital of Kayin State on the Thanlwin River. About a 7-hour drive southeast from Yangon, the town is surrounded by Karst mountains and is great place for short, scenic treks. Outside of town there are seas of green rice paddies backed by Karst rock formations. Mt. Zwegabin (as seen above) is the most prominent “rock”, and can be climbed in a couple of fairly strenuous hours, but the views are a spectacular reward. The biggest draw of Hpa An for many, are the limestone caves in that serve as amazing natural Buddhist temple shrines.
3. Inle Lake
Inle Lake is one of the most popular and beautiful places to visit in Myanmar, Lake Inle is best known for its unique fishermen, who row their dugout canoes standing with a single leg wrapped around a single oar.
4. The Lost City of Mrauk U
Mrauk U was the seat of power of the Arakan Empire that ruled vast coastal regions of western Myanmar and into India as far as the Ganges River. At its height the city was as wealthy, diverse and influential in the East as Amsterdam was contemporaneously in the West. The Arakan kings thought enough of their own well being to enlist Japanese Samurai as personal body guards! Mrauk U today, with its great temple fortresses serving as little more than exotic backdrops for a collection of small rural villages, has a surreal feel to it, especially when shrouded in morning mist. That the only access is by river adds even more of an adventure feel of visiting this lost dynastic capital.
5. Ngwe Saung Beach
Ngwe Saung Beach is a beautiful place to visit in Myanmar. White powdery sand and crystal clear water of the Indian Ocean. It is the ideal place for those seeking luxury in a romantic hideaway. Ngwe Saung un-spoilt beach stretches out about 16 km long. If you’re looking for a low-cost and beautiful beach you should definitely visit. Some activities like banana boat, fishing, boat tours, quad rentals, snorkeling, Wake boarding, football (locals) etc available on the beach. Looking around, you don’t see many people, even in the high season. It seems like the whole beach has been hired out to you.
6. Pyin Oo Lwin
Pyin Oo Lwin in the highlands of Shan state, still holds onto many aspects of its heyday during the British colonial era. Among these pieces of the past are vibrantly painted horse-drawn carriages – many of which have been in operation for generations.
Mandalay was the last Royal Capital of Myanmar and is located nearly 700 km north of Yangon between the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River and the Shan plateau. Mandalay is considered the centre of Burmese culture, a city of artisans and a trading centre of goods in all directions. Highlights include Myanmar’s 2nd holiest shrine, the Maha Muni gilded Buddha, the picturesque U Bein Bridge (the largest teak structure on earth), the massive, never completed temple of Mingun, Mandalay Palace and a whole lot more.
Hsipaw (pronounced ‘See-Po’) is a small town in the Shan state of Eastern Myanmar that has been gaining recognition as a must-see destination for intrepid travellers. Surrounded by mountainous landscapes and farmland Hsipaw has become the gateway for those wishing to explore the hills to visit ethnic minority groups and see how life outside of the cities still operates.
Yangon, Myanmar is a city overflowing with excitement. Crossing the street is one of the biggest challenges, but if you can get to the other side, what awaits you is a cultural buffet of colors, vendors, markets, and friendly people.
10. Kalaw to Inle Lake Trekking
Kalaw to Inle Lake was definitely one of the best highlights of our trip to Myanmar, along with the temples of Bagan & Ngwe Saung. For anyone thinking of visiting this wonderful part of Southeast Asia, I definitely recommend sticking this on your bucket list.