Best Myanmar Destinations to Visit
The best destinations to visit in Myanmar are defined by countless shimmering pagodas, magical landscapes and traditional culture that is untouched by Western Influence. For the few years since Myanmar opened its doors to the world, there is so much to discover from mesmerizing Bagan plains to the far north mountain of Putao, from the serene Inle Lake to the wild 800 islands of Mergui Archipelago.
Like most South East Asian countries, Myanmar on a budget is easily achieved as long as you plan and are a bit savvy!
Head south to the sundrenched beaches or discover the sacred temples in the north. Although there is little tourist structure making it difficult to get around that is really where the true adventure lies, tune out from wifi and daily comforts and delve into Myanmar and all its charming sights. Here are the best Myanmar destinations you must visit!
Yangon is often the introduction to Myanmar since this is where the international airport is in the country. The fascinating city captivates its visitors by a mix of culture where Indian, Chinese and Burmese co-exists. Yangon is also home to the largest number of British Colonial building while the city is dominated by the skyline of Shwedagon, a giant pagoda that can be seen from all the sides of the city and is one of the best temples in Myanmar. There are many things to do in Yangon with kids, if you are a solo traveller or if you like a bit of adventure! There are also lots of free things to do in Yangon in case you are on a budget. I’d put Yangon at the top of the list for places to visit in Myanmar!
Estimated days: 3-4 days
Don’t miss: Shwedagon Pagoda, Explore downtown Yangon, Saint Mary’s Cathedral
Bagan is the contrast to Yangon, a stunning area where time stands still. Studded by over 2,500 pagodas and temples, Bagan invites you through the pass with massive Buddist paya built from 11th century. It is also known as one of the most glorious ancient capitals during the time of Burma Kingdom.
Take part in a hauntingly beautiful sunset cruise by Irrawaddy river is then followed by a fascinating traditional workshop. Bagan offers endless photogenic scenes including incredible sunrise with hot air balloons, making it my favourite place to visit in Myanmar. Here is a Bagan 3 day itinerary to help you plan your trip!
Estimated days: 3-4
Don’t miss: Sunrises and sunsets, Hot air balloon ride, see the many pagodas
If you expect a serene escape in Shan State, soaking up in a unique lake culture then Inle is a place to bee. This second largest lake in the country houses styled floating garden where Inthar fishermen possess unique rowing technique with only one leg.
Inle is a hub for cultural interaction. There are rotating Indein market as well as boat markets. In October, the Phang Daw Oo festival is celebrated with hundreds of colourful boats and flowers! For more information on travelling to the lake check out this Inle Lake travel guide.
Estimated time: Day trip or 1-2 days
Don’t miss: Inle Lake, interacting with locals, take a boat ride
For adventurers, Kalaw is a must-visit place during your Myanmar travels. The mountainous hill station enjoys cool weather, surrounded by pine forest, tea plantation and British Era villas. A fairy tale land that has been untouched by technology and western influences.
Kalaw has a wide variety of trekking trails ranging from 1 day to 5 days. Local tour operators have been promoting the adventures to let foreign visitors understand better the life of Padaung, Pa-o hill tribes through their trek.
Estimated days: 3-5 days (depending on the length of trek)
Don’t miss: Hill station, trekking
Tucked away from all the busy sites in south Myanmar( around 6 hours from Yangon), Hpa An offers an amazing source of awe-inspiring ricefields and lush landscapes and a crazy amount of caves. Hike up Mt. Zwe Ka Bin, visit the world’s biggest lying Buddha, slow the pace at the local markets or visit the sacred mountains. Hpa An is also a great place to do a trek without little(or no) tourists.
Estimated days: 2-3
Don’t miss: Hike Up Mt. Zwe Ka Bin, visits the caves
Being famed as the last capital of Burma, Mandalay is mentioned in many Myanmar Tour for certain reasons.
The highlights of Mandalay include holy Maha Muni gilded Buddha statue, picturesque Ubein bridge, the never-completed Mingun and Sagaing Hill. Mandalay also features a rendezvous for different regional cultures from the north. You will easily find a Shan noodle shop or a famous Chinese duck dishes lining the streets.
Estimated days: 2-3
Don’t miss: Visit the teashops, Mandalay Hill, Mingun Pagoda
Just a short jaunt east from Yangon you will find the soaring heights of Mount Kyaiktiyo, which are famed as the home to one of the most revered Buddhist relics in the nation: the precariously-placed Golden Rock. This awesome, gravity-defying mass of granite can be found perched on its own ledge atop the rolling forests and green hills of south-central Burma. Legend has it that it’s suspended by a single thread of Buddha’s own hair, and (male) pilgrims come to scale the winding steps to the wonder to leave gold leaf and gain inspiration. The site is surrounded by its own temple and pagoda, complete with immersive little shrines to lesser-known Buddhist spirits and one of the best places to visit in Myanmar.
Estimated days: Day trip from Yangon
Don’t miss: The giant golden rock.
Lost Arakan Empire in Mrauk U
Local travel experts recommend Mrauk U for avid adventurers who are eager to explore the mystery of Arakan Empire. This archaeological site was once a developed capital where Japanese businessmen exchanged goods with the extended Silk Road linking to India. Nowadays, Mrauk U still remains its magnificence through ruined temples and Royal Palaces. I would suggest using a tour as Myanmar travel in this area is off the beaten track and rarely visited by tourists!
Estimated days: 2 days (allowing for travel time)
Don’t miss: Exploring the lost kingdom
It is said that if you love sea, sun and sand, you should not miss the Mergui Archipelago. This hidden paradise consists of over 800 islands. Most of them have no inhabitant. This area also boasts some stunning diving sites like Burma Bank, Black Rock and Shark Cave. The best way to truly experience the Meik Archipelago is setting sail on a luxury yacht to explore the unspoilt islands of the region.
Estimated days: 5-6 days
Don’t miss: Lampi National Park, discovering the underwater world, sailing around the islands
Stretching over 17 km of sandy beach, Ngapali is simply the best world-class beach in Myanmar making it one of the best places to visit in Myanmar. Whether you are seeking a peaceful seafront resort to relax or want to immerse in some watersports, Ngapali has them all. Ngapali is the only beach in the country with a wide array of luxury hotels, a delicious restaurant facing Andaman sea.
For activities, there are ocean excursion for diving, visiting islands, there are also biking trips to large viewing points crossing rice fields and local villages. If you want some local interaction, a trip to Thandwe town may make you feel happy and immersed.
Estimated days: 4-6 days
Don’t miss: Relaxing!
The village of Hsipaw is a self-sufficient town in the Shan state, offering a real look into Burmese village life and some beautiful trekking routes in the surrounding countryside. Many people are journeying off the tourist track for the easily arranged hill treks that are more authentic than those around Kalaw or even those in northern Thailand. Don’t be surprised if you get stay longer than first placed, the sweeping views of mountain ranges and cool vibes often have people straying slightly off course.
Estimated days: 3-4 days
Don’t miss: Train ride, trekking, central market, Shan Palace
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