The 10 best places to visit in Myanmar

by | Jul 26, 2017 | Asia Pacific, Latest Posts, Myanmar

Myanmar is a spectacular country and, full to the brim of iconic sights, it stole a piece of our hearts the moment we stepped off the plane and landed into the crazy, wonderful and inspirational country. Myanmar boasts an incredible array of things to do: from stepping back in time at Inle Lake to the chaotic royal capital of Yangon to the breathtaking Bagan temple plain, Myanmar remains as one of South East Asia’s hidden gems. Here’s our 10 best places to visit in Myanmar!

1 | Watch the sunrise over the Bagan temple plain

Bagan sunrises are truly breathtaking and, watching the sun light up the Bagan temple plain, is an iconic Myanmar moment. The temples stretch as far as the eye can see, a morning mist rises over the plain, a rainbow coloured sky emerges through the darkness and hot air balloons drift over the horizon.

Dawn breaking across the temple plain

The iconic Bagan sunrise scene as hot air balloons fill the sky

2 | Climb the 777 steps of Mount Popa

Mount Popa is a Myanmar postcard sight: a sacred monastery, with stupas glistening gold, perched atop an extinct volcano. 777 steps lead the way to the top of Mount Popa, the headquarters of Myanmar’s most powerful Nats, and the route is lined with monkeys keen to get up to mischief with the tourists in their search for food! Mount Popa is a popular half day trip from Bagan.

Mount Popa

Those views! We spent a night at the Mount Popa Resort

Where to stay in Bagan

Hotels in Bagan are located across Old and New Bagan and Nyaung-U. Nyaung-U, a mix of boutique hotels and local residents about 3km from the temples, is our favourite.  We use Agoda for South East Asia bookings as it has the cheapest prices and best selection. Bagan hotels tend to book up fast so book in advance.

  • ZFreeti Hotel, Nguang-U: we stayed in the Zfreeti, a small hotel with lots of great restaurant options in the surrounding streets and an inviting swimming pool – Check for lowest prices here
  • Other good options in Nguang-U include the Sky View Hotel and Motel Zein
  • Aureum Palace Hotel and Resort, Old Bagan: located within the Bagan Archaeological Preservation Zone among the ancient temples this hotel has best views of the Bagan plains – Check for lowest prices here
  • Bagan Lodge, New Bagan: If you prefer New Bagan this might be your best option – Check for lowest prices here

 

 

3 | Get lost among the thousands of Stupas at Kakku, Inle Lake

One of Myanmar’s most spectacular pagodas, Kakku is a Shan State hidden gem. It is a collection of 2,478 stupas commissioned 2,000 years ago and it is a religious centre for the Pa’O people, a Buddhist tribe from Myanmar. It’s accessible by a half day trip from Inle Lake and, due to local laws, it is required to take the trip with a local guide.

Kakku: one of the most incredible Myanmar sights

Kakku: a path less travelled

4 | Take a sunset boat ride on Inle Lake

Inle Lake is one of the most stunning lakes in the world and the stilt houses and Buddhist temples rising from the marshy reeds only add to its appeal. The best way to experience Inle Lake is to take a ride on one of the slender long tail wooden boats and experiencing the silence and emptiness of the lake is an absolute privilege as is watching local village life while floating by. Inle Lake can certainly hold its own on the sunset front: the beautiful colours of the Myanmar sunset reflect from the glass like lake making for a picture perfect setting.

A traditional fisherman on the lake

Spectacular sunsets

5 | Be amazed at the sight of hundreds of ancient stupas at Indein, Inle Lake

Hundreds of red, white and brown stupas stand in varying states of disrepair on a hill in Indein, a Myanmar village located at the end of a narrow creek directly off Inle Lake. The journey to Indein is a joy: the twists and turns of the creek took us past farmers, accompanied by water buffalo, tilling the rice paddies and families bathing along the banks.

The incredible treasures at Indein

Where to stay in Inle Lake

A visit to Inle Lake centres around the lake itself and we found staying on the lake itself an unforgettable experience. We highly recommend staying at one of the resorts on the lake, which all offer direct access to the lake from the hotels.

  • Inle Princess Hotel: We stayed in the beautiful Inle Princess Resort which is situated on the shores of Inle Lake. The villas are stunning, the food excellent and the views unbeatable – Check latest prices here

 

6 | Experience the calmness of Shwedagon Pagoda at night

Shwedagon Pagoda is a real treat at any time of the day but there’s something special about the quiet calm of visiting after dark. The pagoda is the most sacred Buddhist Pagoda in Myanmar as it is believed to contain the relics of four previous Buddhas and, at night it’s filled mostly with worshipers. The golden beauty of the Pagoda is breathtaking after darkness falls.

The incredible Shwedagon Pagoda

Illuminating the Yangon sky

Where to stay in Yangon

 

 

7 | Cruise the Irrawaddy River from Bagan to Mandalay

Cruising along the Irrawaddy River, Myanmar’s longest river, brings the promise of a glimpse into life both on its waters and along its banks. Passing rural villages and local fishermen while watching Myanmar daily life unfold along the banks of the river is an authentic and peaceful experience.

Scenes from the Irrawaddy

8 | Step back in time at the Shwenandaw Kyaung Monastery, Mandalay

Once part of the Roayl Palace, the Golden Palace Monastery near Mandalay Hill is adorned with spectacular teak carvings of Buddhist myths. It’s completely different from any of the other religious sights in Myanmar and an absolute highlight of Mandalay.

Incredible teak carvings at the Shwenandaw Kyaung Monastery

9 | Mahamuni Pagoda, Mandalay

The Mahamuni Pagoda is one of the most significant Buddhist pilgrim sites in Myanmar and houses the Mahamuni Buddha image which is the most highly revered Buddha image in the country. Only men are permitted to enter the inner chamber and place a gold leaf on the Buddha while women watch on.

The Mahamuni Buddha image

One of the most incredible Buddha’s in Myanmar

10 | Watch the sunset over the U Bein Bridge, Mandalay

Stretching over 1 km across the Taungthaman Lake, sunset at the traditional teak U Bein Bridge is one of the most photographed sights in Myanmar and is more than worthy of the accolade. As the sun sets on another Myanmar day the local monks make their way across the bridge returning to their monastery and it makes for an iconic Myanmar scene.

A local monk enjoying the evening light

Where to stay in Mandalay

We stayed in central Mandalay which was a great base for exploring the city. The main sights are dotted around Mandalay so staying in a central hotel makes exploring the city much easier.

  • The Smart Hotel where we stayed is basic (upgrade to one of the better rooms if you can) but was perfect for exploring the city. It’s a good budget hotel and has a low key rooftop bar/restaurant with traditional puppet shows in the evening.
  • The Link 78 Mandalay Boutique Hotel is a new boutique hotel in central Mandalay and a perfect base for exploring the city. Enjoy the sunset from the rooftop restaurant.
  • Hotel by the Red Canal Mandalay the perfect location for exploring the Golden Palace and Mandalay Hill, with a beautiful pool and spa.

 

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