Myanmar is one of the most mysterious countries in Asia. Having been closed off to tourists for a long time, Myanmar is far less discovered than its Southeast Asian neighbours, leaving plenty for intrepid explorers to find. This best of Myanmar guide shows you the most exciting things to see and do in this fascinating country.
Yangon, Myanmar’s capital, is likely where you’ll first come into when you fly to Myanmar. The city serves as a fitting launch pad for the rest of the country, and is a good place to help you get to know the Myanmar way of life. Stop by some of Yangon’s best temples, such as Shwedagon Pagoda or Sule Pagoda, which are beautiful, shimmering structures that will tell you more about Yangon’s history. Some of the city’s holy places are thousands of years old, giving you a glimpse into Yangon’s, and country’s, interesting past.
If you like markets, visit Bogyoke Market in Yangon, which is in a colonial style building that houses hundreds of stalls selling handmade products from all over Myanmar. This is a great place to pick up gifts and souvenirs to remind you of your time in Myanmar.
Since Myanmar re-opened its border, pictures of hot air balloons gliding over the sun-drenched temples of Bagan have spread far and wide over the internet. This site has become one of those bucket list experiences for travellers in Southeast Asia, and for good reason.
There are more than 2,000 temples at Bagan, around half of the original number that were here before an earthquake tore them away hundreds of years ago. These remnants of a civilisations gone by are one of the essential things to do in Myanmar, and as they haven’t been on the radar for very long they are relatively untouched by tourism.
You’ll find Pindaya Cave deep in the heart of Myanmar. The most striking thing about this cavern is that it’s filled with thousands of Buddha statues – the earliest is thought to date back to the mid-18th century. This is a spectacular sight to behold, and makes you think of how many Buddhists have made their way here to leave their own statue in the cave to add to the collection. To reach the cave, walk 45 minutes from nearby Pindaya town centre, a peaceful stroll that will take you through some beautiful natural scenery.
Fishermen holding giant basket nets, perched one-footed on the edge of a boat, is an iconic picture of Myanmar. This unmissable sight occurs on Inle Lake, a 13.5 mile long freshwater lake in Myanmar’s Shan Hills. Here you can stay in bungalows on stilts, visit Buddha temples that look like they’ve emerged up from the water, and witness a rural life preserved in time.
It’s a peaceful, poignant spot in Myanmar that has not yet been overrun with tourism, so go while you can to see it before people arrive in droves. Stay here for a couple of days to immerse yourself, and get to know the local people around you.