Myanmar Travel Guide Contents
At a glance
One of the most interesting, though least known and most inaccessible, countries in Asia. Here you will find places where spirituality is connected with matter, and statues are treated as living beings. Myanmar delights with landscapes, architecture and the people themselves.
Until recently, Burma was one of the most isolated countries in Asia and a rarely-chosen destination. Today it finally comes out of the shade, more and more boldly inviting tourists wishing to see the picturesque coastline, rainforest and breathtaking monuments and other attractions. The European Council on Tourism and Trade handed Myanmar the “World Best Tourist Destination Award” for 2014, one of the highest accolades in the global travel and tourism industry. Myanmar is considered one of the most beautiful countries in Asia and has become an extremely attractive place. No wonder more and more tourists want to visit Myanmar, choosing it as their travel destination.
- Capital: Nay Pyi Daw
- Language: Burmese
- Currency: Kyat (MMK)
- Population: 53.41 million
- Area: 678 500 km2
- Dominating religion: Buddhism
- Political system: presidential republic
Best things to do in Myanmar
Enjoy the simple life of local people
Sit down with the locals at one of the many Yangon tea rooms and try authentic Burmese cuisine, which will enrich your holiday in Myanmar with authenticity in vivid sort of way. Often delicacies here are products that in Europe are considered inedible, so throwing yourself in at the deep end and experimenting with flavors will undoubtedly be a great fun and unforgettable adventure. By the way, you can engage in conversation with the natives, even in the mia or broken English to learn their culture, so different from our habits and approach to life. Absorbing local color is one of the most enriching experiences of the trip to Burma.
Fishermen on Inle Lake
During your holiday in Myanmar, you must know the paddle technique using your legs in the Inle Lake – yes, your legs! Local fishermen have mastered the throwing of the net and putting their boat in motion using a leg that acts as a paddle while fishing. Take a boat trip on the lake and take a good look at these ingenious fishermen. You will experience the unique atmosphere and culture of this area, which is home to numerous nationalities of impressive traditions, colorful parties, and unusual ideas to cope with daily life on the famous lake.
Magical sunrise at Bagan
Have balloon flight over a thousand mysterious temples scattered across the plain of Bagan and make your holiday in Burma unforgettable. Fly over a magical area of about 40 km², where there are about two thousand historic sacred buildings. Some of the temples of the temples emerge from exotic vegetation, others dominate over nature, proudly presenting the old architecture. Ballooning over this amazing territory is not without reason in the morning, then the landscape gains in an even more mystical atmosphere, and the rising sun is the perfect backdrop for intricate man-made buildings. It is worth to enrich your holiday in Burma for such a unique balloon flight!
Where to go in Myanmar
Yangon Burma’s capital until 2005. The name of the city – which is a combination of the words “yan” and “koun” – means literally “the end of the fight” and was given by King Alaungpaya. Here is the only international airport in the country. Although Yangon has ceased to be the capital of the country for over 10 years, it is still the most important cultural and economic center of Burma. Every trip to Myanmar begins and ends in Yangon.
Yangon is known for its colonial architecture, which, although it is decaying, remains an almost unique example of the 19-th century British colonial capital.New high-rise buildings were built after 1990 and now some are scary empty.
The most important places to see are famous temples: Shwedagon Pagoda and Sule Pagoda. The first of them is the most magnificent and the most famous monument of the city. The main stupa rises to almost 100 meters, and more than 60 tons of gold has been used for its gilding! Around it, there are several dozens of smaller stupas. It is worth seeing the temples both in the daytime when it shines in full sun, and at night, illuminated by floodlights.
The quiet Old Bagan, cozy Nyaung U and busy New Bagan are three cities, located along the main road within the ancient complex of temples, stupas, and pagodas – Bagan.
Old Bagan, as the name suggests, is the oldest part of Bagan and the destination of all tourists. Here, in the area of 104 square kilometers, between the 11th and 13th centuries, there were about 10,000 temples, stupas, and pagodas. There are currently over two thousand of them. New Bagan is a town where Old Bagan residents were relocated in the 1990s to better maintain the temple area. There are a lot of expensive resorts here but it is often regarded by travelers as soulless. Nyaung U is a small town east of Old Bagan, a few kilometers from the Bagan railway station. There is a bustling market where people from nearby villages come. There is also the largest selection of accommodation in the whole area.
If you want to explore Bagan, it is best to rent a bicycle and pedal around the city and the surrounding area. Outside of Old Bagan, you can find hundreds of captivating, abandoned temples, ideal for a photo session. You can also find out about 5 Muse See Bagan Temples.
The old Burmese saying goes: “You must be a monk before you become a man.” So every year, thousands of men shave their head, donning red robes. Sagaing is a city of monks. It is older than Mandalay and gained its popularity due to the large accumulation of temples and meditation centers. With any luck, we will be able to see the novices’ ceremony of the children, get to know the extremely deep spirituality of the local inhabitants and live in the monastery.
The most famous among the Sagaing temples is the Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda. Its center is a 30-meter stupa, founded in 1312. As the temple is located on a hill, it offers a beautiful view of the whole area.
In the vicinity of Sagaing is the village of Ywataung, known for its craft workshops for making beautiful silver items.
Mandalay is a city in central Burma, located on the Irawadi River. It is also famous as the historical capital of this country. Take a trip in the picturesque surroundings of the city and get a great view from the 240 meters high Mandalay Hill. Locals have long worshiped it as a holy mountain. Legend has it that the Buddha foretold, that a great city would rise at the foot of the hill.
Kalaw is a small, quiet town surrounded by mountains. At an altitude of 1320 meters above sea level, it is pleasantly cool, which can be a nice change of pace from the lowland heat. Kalaw itself is not particularly interesting, but it can be a great base for hiking in the surrounding mountains. One of the most popular choices is the 3-day trekking on Inle Lake. In the city center, there is a wonderful local market. It feels like the whole city was built around its center. Many locals have opened their tiny tea shops in the area, where you can enjoy a wonderful tea.
Nyaung Shwe is located in the Southern Shan State near the marvelous Inle Lake and Inlay Wetland Bird Sanctuary, added in 2015 by UNESCO to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The once-quiet town of Nyaungshwe has developed in recent years into a flourishing tourist town and become the main access point for Inle Lake. The main street has numerous shops, a few stupas, several restaurants, travel agencies and a market (located behind the storefronts).