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Destinations Archive - Take me to Myanmar
 

The most northern state of Myanmar and the capital of Kachin State is Myitkyina. Laying on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River and enjoying a sub tropical climate, Myitkyina literally means ‘near the big river’ and is home to some wonderful opportunities for cultural explorations and exciting adventures.

Not known for its architecture, Myitkyina is only home to handful of pagodas and temples. A must see being the Hsu Taung Pye Zedi Daw Pagoda. Despite its lack of religious sites, this small, timber town is best known for hosting two of Myanmar’s most notable festivals, the Manao Festival and the Lisu New Year. What Myitkyina lacks in impressive architecture, it makes up for in rich, cultural offerings. One of Myanmar’s most multi cultural and ethnically diverse regions, Myitkina promises an enriching and educational visit to any visitors who pass through. Welcoming locals in this largely Christian town come together from a mixture of Kachin, Lisu, Chinese and Burmese backgrounds.

Don’t miss the daily local markets at dawn where you can take the opportunity to mix with locals and immerse yourself in everyday life here. Purchase fresh, locally grown produce and sample local cuisine. When the heat of the town gets too much, Indawgyi Lake can provide the perfect respite. The biggest lake in Myanmar, Indawgyi holds mystical stories of a long lost ancient city that lies beneath.

Myitkyina is the perfect hub in which to explore Myit-Son, the beautiful site where the Mayhka and Malikha Rivers collide, and of course, the incredible Putao.

The tiny, adventure laden town of Putao sits proudly in the foothills of the Himalayas and offers endless exciting opportunities for adventure and serenity seekers alike to experience Myanmar in a way like no other. From hiking, to mountaineering and even white water rafting, this stunning mountainous town is the place to let your imagination run wild.

Festivals

Well known for its rich culture, Myitkyina is best enjoyed around festival times. The Manao Festival is held annually around the 10th day of January. During the Manao Festival, all six of the Kachin tribes come together to eat, socialize and dance around totem poles. Another interesting and fun festival to be a part of is held annually at the end of January. The Lisu New Year sees the Lisu people dressed in traditional dress and taking part in a variety of mind boggling, long-established acts such as walking over knives.

Indawgyi Lake

No visit to Myitkyina is complete without a visit to the impressive Indawgyi Lake. The idyllic lake is Myanmar’s largest and holds many mystical stories that make it sacred to the local communities. It is widely believed that underneath the lake lies the remains of an ancient, long lost city. It is said that the city was once flooded by a dragon, and that his shadow can still be spotted circling the lake by those who look closely.

The lake makes for a wonderful morning or afternoon trip from the town and visitors often enjoy hikes up the golden mountain or around the lake. You can even sit back, relax and enjoy a relaxing boat ride to Shwe Myitzu Pagoda. There are a number of small, local eateries in the vicinity, all serving up fresh Shan coffee.

Local Markets

If you’re an early riser then you’re bound to be rewarded by the dawn markets held daily in Myitkyina. Not only are they the perfect place to indulge in local produce arriving by canoe, but they also offer magnificent scenes of the stunning river at sunrise and endless photo opportunities.

Myit-Son

This local beauty spot is a favourite for hikers and picnickers and marks the place where the Mayhka and Malikha Rivers collide and become the famous Ayeyarwady River.  Located 25 miles out of town and home to a traditional long house, striking pagoda and many local teahouses, Myit-Son makes for a refreshing and tranquil afternoon get away.

Hsu Taung Pye Zedi Daw Pagoda

Sitting proudly on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River, the Hsu Taung Pye Zedi Daw Pagoda is the region’s most sacred and most dazzling of religious sites. Interestingly, both the pagoda and its enormous 98 foot long reclining Buddha statue were funded by a Japanese soldier who served in the area during World War II.

Putao

By far one of the most exciting towns in the region, Putao is located in the very north of Myanmar and although, can be accessed by long, dangerous roads in the summer, it is most frequently only accessed by air. Beautifully nestled into the foothills of the Himalayas, it is not hard to see why this scenic town has grown in popularity and earnt itself a place on Myanmar’s tourist radar over recent years.

Most famous for its vast opportunities for outdoor adventures such as trekking, climbing, kayaking and white water rafting, Putao truly offers visitors the opportunity to experience a unique side of Myanmar. Littered with flora and fauna, most commonly orchids and home to a vast array of rare bird species, Putao is the perfect place for nature lovers to revel in Myanmar’s breath taking countryside.

Food and Drink

Food in Kachin State perfectly reflects the regions rich culture. Fresh fruit, rice and meat play a big part in daily diet and steamed river fish, cooked in Kachin spices, tomato and wrapped in banana leaf is in abundance. Be sure to sample the local sweet rice wine made by boiling together sugar, milk and sticky rice.

 

Off the beaten path and the gateway to and adventure land of volcanic lakes, caves, mountain top pagodas and beautiful countryside is the little known town of Loikaw. A dusty town bordering Thailand, this exciting region was, until recently, off limits to visitors. Even today, Loikaw makes for an authentic Burmese experience with very little tourist activity to note.

The capital of the Kayah State, Loikaw is small, dusty and nestled on the banks of the Pilo River, overlooked by the magnificent Taung Kwe Zayde pagoda. Loikaw serves as the perfect hub for exploring the splendor of its surrounding areas. Rich with natural beauty from rolling hills, to mountains, lakes and caves, it’s easy to see why trekking is a popular past time here. Take a hike around the impressive Seven Stage Lake or the striking Htee Pwint Volcanic Lake and through quaint local villages to really discover what this region has to offer.

Small villages in the area such as Rangkhu and Pataing Hnyin offer a perfect opportunity to mix with friendly and curious locals. The Kayah people are welcoming and often inquisitive when meeting foreign visitors, something that is quite rarely seen in this part of Myanmar.

Aside from its adventure opportunities, Loikaw is a town notable for its mixture of religious and spiritual beliefs and as a result, is bursting with notable sacred religious sites. Visit the impressive shrines at Dor Sor Bee, educate yourself on Loikaw’s eclectic religious history at Christ the King Cathedral and don’t miss the monastery of Thiri Mingalarpon Kyaung.

Rangkhu

About a one hour scenic drive, or more active cycle, outside of Loikaw is the rural village of Rangkhu. Named the largest village in the Kayah State, Ranghu is still surprisingly small and is home to traditional Kayan people referred to as ‘long necks’. The name ‘long necks’ derives from the Burmese term ‘Padaung’ that literally translates to ‘wearing gold’. The Kayan women here in Rangkhu are best known for the traditional practice of stacking gold rings around their necks, ultimately lowering their collarbones and making their necks appear longer.

Pataing Hnyin

This small Kayah village remains the most visited in the state. The Pa-O women can be spotted by their unique tiger striped headscarves. Close by to the village is home to a small, family run textile business. A visit to Pataing Hnyin presents the ideal opportunity to interact with local villagers and learn about local life.

Dor Sor Bee

Just East of Loikaw is the fascinating Dor Sor Bee. One of the region’s most sacred religious sites, Dor Sor Bee is home to many Kayah animist shrines, lavishly decorated and designed to represent the sun and the moon it promises a culturally immersing morning or afternoon away from the town.

Christ the King Cathedral

Built back in 1939, Christ the King Cathedral remains the oldest surviving cathedral in the Kayah state. The cathedral offers the perfect opportunity to discover Kayah’s eclectic array of religious beliefs and boasts an impressive architecture combining both European and local Buddhist styles with a stunning bell tower housing a bell all the way from Italy. This distinctive cathedral is an absolute must visit whilst exploring Loikaw.

Thiri Mingalarpon Kyaung

This interesting monastery was built in 1912 and originally served as a palace to Kayah’s saopha. After his death in 1987, his family gave it away to a local Buddhist organisation. Today it offers tourists and locals alike, a fantastic insight into a local functioning monastery.

Taung Kwe Zayde

Undoubtedly the most impressive of all Loikaw’s sights is the magnificent Taung Kwe pagoda. Towering over the towns in and around the Kayah state and littered with gold pagodas, Taung Kwe Zayde offers visitors spectacular panoramic views across rolling countryside, along with the opportunity to be immersed into local life and worship at this  unique Buddhist temple.

Htee Pwint Volcanic Lake

There are several interesting hiking trails in Loikaw, all of which offer fabulous opportunities to breathe some fresh air, stretch your legs and really indulge in some of Myanmar’s most beautiful countryside. One spot not to miss on your trek is the magical and muddy Htee Pwint Volcanic Lake. Located 12 miles outside of Loikaw, the mud here bubbles beneath the surface and the atmosphere is mystical and fairytale like, making for a glorious hike.

Seven Stage Lake

An hour south of Loikaw town will take you to the regions most majestic trekking and picnic spot. The Seven Stage Lake is beautifully enveloped in rolling hills and each lake is connected by a small channel and is different in colour. From deep blues, to turquoise hues, sit back and relax, marvel at the stunning reflections or put on your walking boots and set off on an adventure. A trip to Seven Stage Lake makes for the perfect day out and a welcome break from town and village life.

Food and Drink

Kayah state food can be extremely tasty. Some signature dishes include river caught fish and prawns and the many restaurants around Loikaw town offer a vast range of fusion food with Thai, Chinese and Burmese influences. Kayah sausage is extremely popular amongst locals and offers a meat sausage infused with locally grown pepper along with irresistible traditional rice cakes known as Hin Htoke.

 

Off the beaten travel path and affectionately known as ‘Chin Hills’ to its residents, Chin State is one of Myanmar’s most under developed. Although less visited, and financially poorer than its tourist popular counterparts, ‘Chin Hills’ is so called for its rolling hills and stunning mountainous backdrop providing adventure seekers with an abundance of exciting opportunities to choose from. From hiking to climbing and more intensive trekking, this underestimated region has something to offer all levels of adventure seekers.

Home to traditional villages, carefully built in valleys of abundant rivers and amongst waterfalls, arguably the most beautiful town is Kanpatlet.

With a population of over 400,000 and many townships to explore, Chin Hills is the perfect stop for an authentic immersion into an interesting culture and to explore its opportunities for hiking, climbing and even bird watching. The perfect place to discover new bird species, stretch your legs and spot rare types of flowers and even big cats is at the impressive Victoria Mountain.

Bursting with nature and copious amounts of outdoor activities, don’t miss the impressive rice paddies at Thantlang, join pilgrims and learn about the sacred Rieh Lake and cool down after a long hike in Myanmar’s largest waterfall, Bontala Waterfall.

Thantlang

Bordering to the west with India, Thantlang literally means ‘famous hill’. Abundant with rice paddies ploughed by the local farmers in June and surrounded by massive rocky mountains, Thantlang holds an adventurous air and the mountains hold wonderful opportunities for rock climbs and exploration.

The villagers of Thantlang are fans of festivals, Easter Sunday and Christmas being the grandest amongst this Christian community. During the rainy season an annual football tournament sees the town come alive.

Bontala Waterfall

At over 1500 feet high, Bontala Waterfall is one of the region’s most impressive attractions. An adventurous hike through jungle and forest will promise to reward you with stunning views and an even better vantage point of the incredible nine tiers of waterfalls cascading downstream. The ideal spot for those wanting to cool off with some water sports post hike.

Rieh Lake

A favourite local site for hiking and trekking, the beautiful heart shaped Rieh Lake is conveniently located just 3 kilometres from Zokhawthar village and nestles among the Chin and Indian mountain ranges. Many locals claim it to be one of the most stunning, natural spots in Myanmar and is best explored by foot or by bicycle.

Rieh Lake is of significant spiritual interest and importance for the local community. Story has it that anyone who is to bathe in the lake’s freshwater, will be healed of disease. As a result, Rieh Lake sees many locals and visitors crossing the border from India to pay their respects to the lake.

Interestingly, during the winter, the lake famously turns red in colour for a couple of months.

Kanpatlet

An entry point for the beautiful national park of Natma Taung, Kanpatlet is best known for its unbelievable scenery and kind people. The mountainous area peaks at 1400 metres elevation and is popular with hikers and trekkers wishing to explore the beauty and adventure of this mountainous region and serves as the gateway to Victoria Mountain.

Natma Taung National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must see if you’re in the area. The area is home to some of the most impressive plant life and wild life in the whole of Asia and is the starting point to hike the incredible Victoria Mountain making it an adventure seekers dream.

Hiking in Kanpatlet promises abundant scenes of impressive terrace fields, rice paddies, streams and fruit trees, including mandarins, apples, mulberries and grapes. Meander through many churches and traditional huts built on stilts, marvel at the ox pulled carts, traditional dress and the local elderly communities playing nose flutes. Most people here only speak the local, traditional language and not Burmese.

Kanpatlet offers the opportunity for not only a visually stunning adventure, but also a culturally immersive experience.

Victoria Mountain

A favourite amongst thrill seekers, at 9000 feet of elevation in the fabulous town of Kanpatlet and nestled in the national park of Natma Taung, you’ll find yourself at the base camp of Victoria Mountain. Surrounded by pine forests and enveloped in surrounding mountains, Victoria Mountain is the epitome of adventurous hiking and is proudly Myanmar’s third highest peak.

Enjoy the moderate day hike to the peak through beautiful yellow and red rhododendrons, orchids, wild flowers and even mushrooms. Spot wild animals and rare bird species. Wrap up warm as the weather gets cooler with ascent. Revel in a dream like atmosphere as you reach the peak, beyond the clouds and look down over the stunning Chin and Indian mountain ranges. Truly a once in a lifetime experience and an adventure not to be missed.

At the top, enjoy the wonderful view from the glittering pagoda and watch the monks go about their daily life before heading down the mountain and popping into one of the many teahouses for a well-earned Chin meal and delicious Myanmar tea.

Food and Drink

Note that most restaurants in the Chin State close on a Sunday when villagers attend church. The food here mainly consists of Chinese-Burmese influence such as curries or meat heavy, rice dishes.

Mandlay Hill
Mandalay Palace
Mahar Muni

 The proclaimed cultural capital of Myanmar, Mandalay lays at the foot of the stunningly infamous Mandalay Hill. Studded with glorious ancient pagodas, today the hill overlooks a bustling commercial hub and acts as the perfect gateway for many adventures. Founded in 1857 by King Mindon, sadly the region was heavily bombed during World War II, meaning the surprisingly youthful city has undergone a lot of reconstruction over the years. Nevertheless, the city is easily explored by bicycle and holds plenty of sites of cultural interest including Mandalay Palace andMahamuni Paya as well as being home to a thriving local teahouse scene.

Perhaps the most perfect reason to visit Mandalay is to use it as a local base for exploring surrounding, lesser known regions such as the ancient imperial capital of Inwa, the infamous unfinished stupa of Mingun and not forgetting, the collection of unmissable pagodas and monasteries at Sagaing.

Mandalay undoubtedly offers an authentic bustling city life experience in one of Myanmar’s largest cities, with a wonderful balance of historic and cultural sites within easy reach and brimming with opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Mandalay Hill

It’s not hard to see why Mandalay Hill is so loved by locals and tourists alike. The perfect place to get a real feel for the city below, by far the best time to embark on the 45-minute climb is to reach the peak by sunset. There are several routes to the top and each one is lined with shrines, pagodas and refreshment stalls, so allow enough time to enjoy the whole experience. For the less active, it is possible to drive most the way up the hill and leave your car in the car park. When you reach the top, be prepared to be rewarded with breath taking views across the city and the stunning Sutaungpyi Paya where young monks like to gather to practice their English language. Truly the perfect way to experience a glorious Burmese sunset and an enjoyable explorative hike.

Mandalay Palace

Built as a residence for King Mindon, the original palace complex unfortunately burnt to the ground towards the end of World War II. As a result, the palace was completely reconstructed in 1990. With its impressive palace walls, watch tower and moat, Mandalay Palace is well worth a visit for a journey back into Burmese history.

Mahamuni Paya

This enormous gold leaved Buddha statue measures in at a remarkable 3.8 metres tall making it one of the most important Buddhist sites in Mandalay. Inside the complex lays an array of notable shrines, pagodas and Hindu figures making it the ideal place for an immersive afternoon stroll.

Inwa

20 kilometres outside of Mandalay is one of Myanmar’s most sacred ancient capitals. Lovingly referred to by locals as the ‘Kingdom of Ava’, since 1364, Inwa has been named the royal capital on 4 separate occasions. The perfect place to escape the bustle of Mandalay city, today Inwa offers visitors a relaxed and charming atmosphere dotted with ancient, crumbling ruins of stupas, pagodas and temples, best explored by bicycle.

                   

11 kilometres up the Ayeyarwady River from Mandalay lays Mingun, home to what should have been the largest temple in the world. Accessible by boat, taxi or motorcycle, the journey to Mingun is simply spectacular. This quaint riverside village would perhaps be lesser known today if it weren’t for the construction of Mingun Paya that started back in 1790. Legend has it, the temple was not completed due to a claim by an astrologer that King Bodawpaya would die upon its completion. With this in mind, the King ordered for a giant bell to be erected instead. Today, the site of Mingun Paya, with its giant foundations and half-built appearance remains utterly impressive and the Mingun Bell has successfully proclaimed itself as the world’s heaviest ringing bell several times over the years.

Sagaing

Just 20 kms down the Irrawaddy River and sitting on the opposite bank to Mandalay you will find a region of scenic grassy hills littered with ancient Buddhist monasteries and temples. Sagaing offers the perfect escape from city life and the opportunity to breathe some fresh air. Often compared to a small scale, elevated Bagan, Sagaing is home to Mandalay’s most impressive and most sacred landscapes consisting of hundreds of glittering stupas to explore by foot. Perhaps the best place to take in Sagaing’s breath taking views is from Sagaing Hill, home to the region’s most impressive pagoda which dates way back to 1312,  Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda. Home to over 6,000 monks, Sagaing promises both an educational and visually dazzling day away from the city.

Food and Drink

Some of Myanmar’s best teahouses can be enjoyed in Mandalay. Its thriving teahouse scene means you can find one on most street corners. Myanmar tea is mostly served milky, sweet and piping hot and can be enjoyed with simple snacks such as noodle and rice dishes. Often dishes contain meat, although due to elements of rich Buddhist culture in Mandalay, vegetarians are well catered for.

Indulge in Mandalay’s many street food vendors and food markets for an authentic experience and to mingle with Mandalay’s notoriously friendly locals.

Kaw Thaung, Mergui archipelago

This southernmost, waterside town is culturally diverse and acts as the perfect gateway to Myanmar’s most impressive and adventure laden collection of islands. Mergui archipelago. Known in colonial times as ‘Victoria Point’, today Kaw Thaung is an important trading point sharing a border crossing with Thailand.

Nestled in the rolling hills that surround the archipelago and the site of many wonderful trekking opportunities, Kaw Thaung is home to multiple pagodas. Pyi Daw Aye pagoda being the most notable, although there are others dotted over the hills to explore at your leisure. Kaw Thaung is stunningly enveloped by the striking mergui national reserve and although you do need special permission to enter, you’re allowed to venture 24 miles outside of the city allowing the perfect opportunity for some scenic hiking and trekking. If you don’t have time to visit to Mergui archipelago then be sure not to miss the opportunity to visit the much more accessible Palane Tone Tone Island where you can enjoy a tranquil, waterside atmosphere, adventurous watersports and tempting locally run seafood restaurants.

The charming coastal road leisurely meanders around the regions rolling hills; you can follow it to cool down in the impressive Maliwun waterfall. The picturesque road also offers wonderful vantage points to enjoy one of Myanmar’s epic sunsets.

Pyi Daw Aye Pagoda

Close to the centre and with plenty of market stalls to refresh or buy souvenirs, the glittering Pyi Daw Aye pagoda makes for the ideal morning hike. You can spot its golden stupa, sparkling on the hills from down in town which makes it exceptionally easy to get to. With impressive vistas over the town and the Thai mountains, Pyi Daw pagoda is beautiful any time of day, but in the evening you can enjoy one of the regions favourite sunset spots.

Palane Tone Tone island

Just 5 kilometres north of Kaw Thaung you’ll find the ideal place to unwind and enjoy the wonderful nature to be found in this stunning region. Easily accessed by a wooden bridge and home to a thriving fishing village, Palane Tone Tone boasts the perfect place to explore your inner adventure seeker. With a gorgeous combination of lush mangroves and a long, sandy beaches, don’t miss the wonderful snorkeling and hiking opportunities on offer here.

The perfect stop if you can’t fit Mergui archipelago into your itinerary, the island is rustic and authentic and serves as the ideal ‘off the beaten track’ destination for adventure seekers, nature enthusiasts and culture junkies alike.

Maliwun waterfall

40 kilometres north of town is home to one of Kaw Thaung’s most visited attractions. Maliwun waterfall, also known as ‘The Jasmine Falls’ is extremely popular amongst both visitors and locals around January when fall flows heavy and fast. The area has several pools that can be explored, some with drops and for the more adventurous, a water park with slides and kayaks available to rent.

Mergui archipelago

By far the most common trip to take from Kaw Thaung is the one to the incredible, little known Mergui archipelago. Either one day trips or multi day trips are possible. Off the southern coast of Myanmar, this extraordinary collection of 800 islands is largely untouched by visitors or tourism. The islands vary in size from small and uninhabited to slightly larger and littered in palm trees. Some are even home to the Moken people, one of Myanmar’s most unique ethnic groups. The archipelago offers endless opportunities for snorkeling, diving, wildlife spotting and general exploring. The coral is alive and colourful and the waters are home to a fascinating range of sea life from sharks through to manta rays, to name just a few.

As well as endless water based activities, the islands are bursting with mystical tropical forests for hiking, endless empty beaches to stroll, fishing and kayaking through flourishing mangroves. Boasting all kinds of wildlife from gibbons to deer, stunning flora and fauna and rare bird species, the Mergui archipelago is truly a nature lovers dream.

Only opened up to tourism in 1997, it’s easy to see why some call it Myanmar’s best kept secret. With much of the area barely explored, now is the time to visit this magical gem.

Food and Drink

Kaw Thaung boasts a delicious eclectic fusion of Burmese, Thai and Chinese eateries. There are plenty of restaurants, teahouses and food stalls to keep you going, including a handful of western style bakeries.

Naturally, the food served up in Mergui archipelago is based around fresh fish caught directly from the sea. If you choose to venture into the Moken villages, here you are able to join the friendly locals at meal times indulging in cuttlefish and other traditional Moken food.

Nestled in the scenic township of Nyaung Shwe you’ll find one of Myanmar’s most spectacular and adventure laden sites. The stunningly serene yet intensely adventurous Inle Lake. Easily one of Myanmar’s most anticipated destinations, it’s not hard to see why this vast, freshwater lake has quickly gained momentum amid Myanmar’s budding tourism scene.

Measuring in at over 116 square kilometres, Inle Lake is the country’s second largest body of water and easily the most impressive. Enveloped by breath taking scenery, traditional floating villages, flourishing gardens, and sacred temples and littered throughout with locals going about their daily lives, Inle Lake offers visitors a truly unforgettable experience.

The ideal place for water sport enthusiasts and best enjoyed by boat or by kayak, don’t miss the infamous Intha fishermen. Learn about their typical, one legged fishing technique and watch in awe as they head out at dawn against a stunning backdrop for their daily catch. Immerse yourself in culture and be educated by the long necked Padaung women. Unique to Inle, these traditional women live as part of tribes in the region, promising an enlightening and informative meeting.

The region surrounding the lake is home to countless villages and a number of minority settlements to discover and explore by bike or hike. Over 70,000 local people live in Inle, most of them staying in villages and small cities around the lake, and some on the lake itself. The local population mainly consist of Intha, but other ethnicities such as Shan, Pa-O, Danu, Bamar, Kayah and Danaw have settled here. Local people live in simple bamboo and wood stilt houses and mostly own farm land allowing them to be self-sufficient, as well as providing the opportunity to sell local produce at the markets. The villagers frequently come down into Inle to explore the local markets and engage in everyday life.

The top of the regions highest hill is home to Inle’s only vineyard and winery, providing visitors with the perfect spot to enjoy local made wine whilst revelling in the stunning surroundings and soaking up Myanmar’s spectacular sunsets. The perfect end to a busy day on the lake, add this on to a day of hiking the area or take an explorative sunset cycle to the top of the hill.

Nyaung Shwe

Mainly serving as a tourist hub for Inle Lake, Nyaung Shwe is home to the area’s best options for accommodation and has plenty of places to eat, drink and shop after a day on the lake. Despite its main purpose, Nyaung Shwe can also hold its own. Littered with stupas, its largest and most impressive being Yadana Manaung Pagoda is well worth a visit for an insight into typical Shan architecture dating back to 1866.

Inle Lake

The star of the show, and undoubtedly the reason why this beautiful region has become so popular, Inle Lake is best explored by boat. Day trips are widely available and vary from private boats to small group excursions and even kayaks for the adventurous, often on a long narrow boat with a small motor and a friendly, local guide. Allow yourself plenty of time to explore life on the lake as there is lots to see and do and many adventures to unfold.

Of course, learn about Inle’s infamous Intha fishermen and their unique one-legged fishing technique. Visit the floating markets and gardens to get a feel for how local life works here and meet the people that call Inle Lake home. Meander through endless pagodas and monasteries including Phaung Daw Oo Paya, Inle Lake’s most sacred pagoda. With its impressive five tiers and glittering gold leaf, Phaung Daw Oo Paya promises to impress. Likewise, the Nga Hpe Kyaung, lovingly referred to as the Jumping Cat Monastery is home not only to cats that jump through hoops, but also, to an impressive collection of Buddha images.

Traditional workshops on the floating villages, including lotus flower weaving and cheroot making, offer the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture and learn about life living on the lake.

Apart from all there is to see and do on Inle Lake, this unbelievable place is bound to capture your heart with its one of a kind natural beauty, stunning scenery and endless opportunities for adventure by foot, boat and bicycle.

Winery

Located on the east coast of Inle Lake and nestled on top of one of the highest hills, you’ll find the regions very own winery. A fairly new concept, the winery was only built in 2004, but today it is a tourist favourite and makes the perfect destination for a leisurely evening cycle.

Not only does it offer the perfect evening spot for unwinding and sampling locally bottled wine after a busy day, but it also boasts remarkable views overlooking the lake, best enjoyed with a glass in hand whilst getting lost in one of Myanmar’s world class sunsets.

Food and Drink

Naturally, Inle Lake and the surrounding regions are full of mouth-watering, local cuisine. Of course, the flagship dish involving locally caught fish from the lake. Namely, the abundant Inle Carp, often served fried with coriander, or as part of the popular htamin gyin. A delicious ‘fermented’ rice kneaded with fish and potato and served with Shan tofu. Rice and locally grown vegetables are abundant and play a large part in the local diet.

Located high up in the western hills of Shan State, sits the fresh, cool, colonial hill station of Kalaw. Once a popular weekend getaway from the intense city heat, today Kalaw is famous for its rolling hill views, stunning scenery, endless adventures and plentiful trekking routes.

Whether you’re visiting to explore the infinate trekking opportunities, or just to breathe the fresh air and soak up the old, colonial charm, Kalaw offers something for everyone. From multi day treks through unrivalled countryside and local tribe villages, to shorter strolls to Kalaw’s glittering Hnee pagoda. Head through bustling local markets to enjoy endless religious sites such as Shwe U Min pagoda. Learn about Myanmar’s Christian influences at the notable Christ the King Church or immerse yourself in Kalaw’s cultural richness and join the monks at Thein Taung pagoda and monastery.

The fresh air, beautiful surroundings and laidback atmosphere in Kalaw make it the ideal getaway for a few days and the perfect spot to either unwind or feed your inner adventure seekers after days of sightseeing.

By far the best way to explore this exciting region is by bicycle, you’re sure never to be at loose end in this exciting town.

Local markets

Kalaw’s local market is a sight to behold and definitely worth a visit. Selling everything from dried fruit, to local handicrafts, the market is held every 5 days and sees visitors and locals alike coming together to enjoy a morning of browsing and shopping.

Thein Taung pagoda and monastery

If you’re an early riser and fancy a leg stretch, the stroll up to Thein Taung pagoda and monastery is a nice one. You’ll be rewarded with fantastic views over the bustling market below as well as having the unique opportunity to observe the few monks here going about their daily lives and morning rituals.

Hnee pagoda

Just southwest of the market you’ll find Hnee pagoda. Hnee pagoda offers the perfect opportunity for a gentle, independent stroll and is easy to get to. On arrival, be prepared to be welcomed by an impressive 500-year-old, sparkling golden bamboo buddha.

Shwe U Min pagoda

Not far from the Hnee pagoda, so ideal to explore on the same hike lays the Shwe U Min pagoda. Somewhat different to other pagodas, Shwe U Min is a natural cave and littered with golden Buddha statues. This surprising and unique sight really is worth exploring if you’re hiking or cycling around the area.

Christ the King Church

A stunning colonial building, and a must see whilst in Kalaw. This breath-taking church is well known for having the very same priest for almost 70 years and is beautiful example of modern-day Christian worship and its activity in Myanmar especially prominent on Sundays.

Trekking

It’s no surprise that trekking is so popular in this part on the country. Not only are the scenic views completely breath taking, but the climate is perfect. Apart from shorter, enjoyable strolls through local sights, Kalaw is becoming increasing popular for its longer distance treks.

A comfortable distance for trekking to the infamous Inle Lake which sits just 50 kilometres away, the terrain is not too rough, the countryside unrivalled and this 2-3 day trek requires an immersive stopover or two in a local village, most often in a home stay. There are several routes to choose from but all of them will see you passing through friendly villages to stop for delicious meals and refreshing tea, meandering through local agricultural fields where locals grow everything from cabbages to tea. Needless to say, the Inle Lake treks are by far the most popular amongst visitors to the region and offer a wonderful explorative adventure experience.

As well as these longer treks, there are an abundance of enjoyable one day hikes on offer. Promising to immerse you deep in the Burmese countryside where you can enjoy passing through tea plantations, fruit orchards and soak up nature’s wonders in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

The trekking options really are endless in this laid back, adventure filled town and can be enjoyed any time of the year, although cool seasons are often deemed more comfortable.

Food and Drink

The cuisine served up in Kalaw tends to be quite eclectic. With influences from India, Nepal and Britain mixing up the local Shan dishes, restaurants and food stalls are in abundance. Typical Shan noodles are popular here, and of course, Red Mountain wine brewed locally close to Inle Lake.

For the ultimate magical adventure, join us 290 kilometres south-west of Mandalay in the ancient city of Bagan. This breath-taking UNESCO world heritage site boasts an impressive 67 square kilometres of picturesque plains, littered with the ruins of almost 2,500 ancient, sacred temples. Quickly becoming Myanmar’s most visited attraction, the archaeological zone of Bagan straddles the scenic Irrawaddy river and was once the country’s most powerful capital of an ancient kingdom. With endless opportunities for exciting trekking and infinite exploration, Bagan most definitely should be on every adventure seekers bucket list.

Offering incredible, fairy-tale like landscapes, Bagan is beautiful any time of day, but the region is at its best at both sunrise and sunset and offers adventure seekers the perfect hiking and cycling opportunities. The memory seekers amongst us will surely not be able to resist enjoying these spectacular scenes from the comfort of a hot air balloon, meandering between temples as the sun comes up, or relishing magical sunset views from the top of a dazzling temple.

During the height of the Kingdom’s power from the 11th century through to the 13th century, it is widely believed that over 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries were built. Despite several earthquakes threatening to completely demolish the sacred site, many still exist today.

The most immersive part of town is bar far Old Bagan. The name given to the site where the original village once stood, this area remains the core of Bagan’s mystical beauty. Bursting with ruins to explore, city walls to trek and a reconstructed palace, Old Bagan is at the heart of the main archaeological zone and is best explored by bicycle or e-bike.

New Bagan on the other hand, is a bustling new village constructed in 1990 when the government moved villagers from Old Bagan. Today it is home to busy colourful markets and an authentic, local way of life as well as a handful of guest houses to cater for visitors.

Besides the thousands of temples to explore in Bagan, another must-do exploration whilst you’re in the area is Mount Popa, a sacred volcano peaking at 1518m above sea level. An exciting venture to Mount Popa can prove a much-needed respite from Bagan’s extreme heat, especially during the summertime.

Don’t forget your walking boots and get ready for the ultimate trekking adventure in one of Myanmar’s most breath taking regions.

Old Bagan

At the heart of Bagan’s archaeological zone and sitting right on the banks of the Irrawaddy river, Old Bagan is truly one of South East Asia’s best kept secrets. Until recently, the area has seen very little tourism, but slowly this ancient gem is opening up and promising to dazzle beyond belief.

The main temple sites lie within Old Bagan. Every single one is beautiful in its own way, and the entire site makes for endless exploration of both ruins and preserved temples. Be sure not to miss the best-preserved temple in the area, Ananda Pashto. Standing proud at 170 feet high, the stunning Ananda Pahto is one of Bagan’s most notable temples. Slightly taller at 197 feet is Gawdawpalin Pahto, towering over endless plains and thousands of ruins, this impressive temple can be spotted from afar. Don’t miss Bagan’s only remaining Hindu temple, Nathlaung Kyaung. This incredible temple holds a fascinating story and is one not to be missed.

New Bagan

Even though New Bagan was constructed as recently as 1990, it’s endless dusty plains and busy streets still hold an ancient history not to be overlooked. One example is the beautiful terracotta temple of Lawkananda Paya. Although there is more going on in New Bagan and the atmosphere may seem livelier, it is important to note that the area is quiet, authentic and does not have a party atmosphere like some of its South East Asian counterparts. Enjoy the local restaurants on the north side of New Bagan opposite the Eight-Faces Paya and watch it light up at night fall.

Mount Popa

Inner Bagan can become extremely hot, especially during the height of the summer. Indeed, on these days, an afternoon trip to one of the regions most sacred sites, Mount Popa may prove a welcome retreat. Although the extinct volcano peaks at an impressive 1518 metres above sea level, temple Taungkalat proves to be much more accessible. Believed to be home to 37 nats, pilgrims and visitors alike make the somewhat tiring ascent of around 800 steps to be greeted by impressive carvings of ancient gods. But once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded by not only fresh, mountain air, but spectacular views across the surrounding plains making a trip to Mount Popa an ideal afternoon adventure trip from Bagan.

Just a one hour flight from Yangon, Ngapali was long ago named after Naples in Italy. With its pristine beaches, warm, lapping waters, swaying palm trees, infinite opportunities for adventure and ultimate laid-back vibes, it’s not hard to see why Ngapali has become Myanmar’ s premier beach destination. This stunning stretch of idyllic powder soft sand is nestled on the shores of the Indian Ocean on the Bay of Bengal and sits in the state of Rakhine. Boasting a sub-tropical climate and year-round sunshine, Ngapali promises holiday makers and locals alike, the ultimate exciting beach experience. Close to the town of Thandwe if you need a break from the beach and brimming with fun activities, Ngapali has something to offer everyone.

Ngapali is bursting with chilled out, beach vibes and although buzzing during peak season (November- March), it is by no means a party destination, but more of a place to laze around; taking in the stunning surroundings and practicing self love. During the rainy seasons (May-October), the place is still beautiful, although it’s worth considering that many hotels and restaurants completely close down or close early for family vacations or renovations.

Life in Ngapali is built around the beach. While away days relaxing with a good book, sip on happy hour cocktails or  try your hand at a variety of thrilling water sports. The stunning coral, located close to the shore line offers endless opportunities for spotting colourful fish and other exciting marine life. The local fishing villages are within walking distance from the beach and provide the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself into local life. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, it’s easy to find a boat to take you out to explore the unmissable nearby islands of Zalat Htone and Pearl Island.

Fishing Village

Tucked away behind the stretch of hotels occupying the shore line, lies the traditional fishing village of Jate Taw. Actually one of many local villages in the area, this one is the easiest to get to by foot and is a beautiful representation of what Ngapali once was. Locals here are friendly and curious and a walk around the village offers the perfect opportunity to see how local life is here. There are a few more villages further south; a bicycle is the perfect way to explore them.

Water Activities

A mecca for water sports, Ngapali offers everything from snorkeling along stunning coral reefs to scuba diving, kayaking and fishing. During the monsoon season, even surfing is popular here.

Pear Island

A popular morning or afternoon trip from Ngapali is Pearl Island. If you want to experience ultimate isolation and peace and quiet then it is easy to hire a boat and spend a few hours exploring this stunning island, relaxing on pristine sands and swimming in warm waters.

Zalat Htone

If it’s a more active day out that you’re after, hire a bicycle in Ngapali and take a cycle to the mystical black sand beach of Zalat Htone. A trip to these unique sands is perfect coupled with a stop in nearby villages Rakhine and Kinmaw where locals make clay pottery and other traditional artifacts.

Thandwe

A major seaport, this ancient town was once called ‘sandaway’ during the colonial era. The area is mountainous and the hills, littered with sparkling pagodas to explore. It is also home to a bustling daily local market which provides the perfect opportunity to shop for fresh local produce including fruits, fish and noodles, as well as a chance to indulge in homemade cuisine and enjoy eating like a local. The cultural immersion, hiking and daily life in Thandwe make it well worth the visit for a morning away from the beach.

Food and Drink
Street Shopper at Ngapali

Local caught fish including barracuda, squid and snapper is in abundance here, as well as fresh juices made from locally grown fruits and refreshing, straight from the tree coconut water. A popular dish is traditional Burmese curry, often made with coconut and shrimp and served with rice; lobster is also a popular choice. An array of Burmese Asian fusion food is available in the many popular restaurants and unsurprisingly, due to the soar in tourism and hotels, western diets are well catered food. Most restaurants in the area come with stunning vistas across the bay, and offer visitors the perfect sunset views and an unrivalled tropical ambiance.

shwedagon
Yangon sule
Yangon sightseeing
Yangon- Kandawgyi-Karaweik

Yangon

 Bursting onto the South East Asia travel scene over the past few years is the stunning city of Yangon.

Nestled on the bustling banks of the Yangon River and boasting a charming colonial Downtown, and infinite opportunities for adventure, Yangon has something for everyone. Immerse yourself in culture at the unmissable Shwedagon Pagoda and marvel at the fascinating Kyauk taw Gyi. Take a break and enjoy a relaxing afternoon cooling down at the breath taking Kandawgyi Lake.

Make sure you’re one step ahead of future Myanmar tourists with a visit to the incredibly rich archaeological town of Bago. Set to become one of Myanmar’s ultimate cultural destinations, this little-known town is a must see. Best explored by bike, grab your bicycle, get ready for an adventure and join us exploring this remarkable city.

From history to culture, delicious street food to endless adventures, Yangon provides the perfect introduction to this unforgettable country.

Downtown

Laying to the north of the Yangon River and the first stop for many on their Myanmar adventures is Yangon’s infamous downtown. With its historical colonial buildings dating back to the 19th century, there is no better place to take a stroll. Be sure to visit the Minister Office, dating back to 1902, the neo-classical High Court building in the heart of downtown and once you’ve worked up a thirst, there is no better place to enjoy a spot of afternoon tea that the Victorian designed Strand Hotel. Dating back to 1901, today the Strand is one of the most iconic 5-star hotels in the whole of Asia.

At the heart of the grid of streets lays the impressive Sule Paya. Its impressive gold stupa towers at over 45 metres tall and most definitely should not be missed on your downtown explorations.

Kyauk Taw Gyi

Carved in Myanmar from one single piece of marble in 1999 makes the huge seated Buddha figure at Kyauk Taw Gyi unmissable.

The impressive 25-foot-tall Buddha statue is located on Mindhamma Hill, 14 kms northwest of downtown Yangon and arrived from Myanmar, to Yangon by boat. Today it is one of Myanmar’s most impressive and most scared Buddhist sites.

Kandawgyi Lake

If you fancy escaping the noise of the city for a day, the close by Kandawgyi Lake measures 5 miles in circumference and offers the perfect spot to stretch your legs. Initially designed as a reservoir to provide a clean water supply to the city during the British Colonial administration, today it offers a welcome retreat from city life and is one of Yangon’s most remarkable green spaces.

Shwedagon Pagoda

3kms northwest of downtown is home to Yangon’s most impressive landmark and religious site, the Shwedagon Pagoda. With its incredible giant golden stupa and many other shrines surrounding it, Shwedagon Pagoda promises to take your breath away. With a story dating back centuries, and a legend that claims the pagoda was originally built to house eight hairs of the Buddha, it’s easy to understand the religious importance of this incredible site.

Visit in the evening, at sunset for the ultimate atmospheric experience and join locals and tourist a like in a clockwise walk around the site.

Bago

Bago

91 kilometres northeast of Yangon in the direction of Mandalay sits the untouched, yet upcoming town of Bago. Dating back to 825 A.D, Bago is one of the richest, most vibrant archaeological sites in the whole of Myanmar.

Perhaps its most notable site is the incredible reclining Buddha, Shwe-Tha-Lyaung measuring in at a magnificent 55 metres long and 16 metres high.

Don’t miss the Shwemawdaw also known as the ‘Great Golden God Pagoda’ of Bago, with its impressive spire built in 8th century by the Mon. The pagoda reaches over 23 metres in height and is visited by pilgrims from near and far, all hours of the day and night.

Bago is home to several impressive pagodas housing sacred Buddha images. From the 4 seated Buddhas at Kyaik Pun Pagoda built in 1476AD to the giant reclining Buddhas at Mya-thar-lyaung and Shwe-thar-lyaung and the smaller, 64 seated carved Buddhas at Shwegugale, Bago really does offer a magnificent opportunity for cultural immersion.

Along with impressive pagodas and Buddha images, Bago is also home to Kanbawza Thadi, the famous palace of King Bayinnaung. The founder of the second Myanmar empire and dating between 1551-1581AD this inspiring palace remains under reconstruction and is set to become one of Myanmar’s most incredible and most visited tourist attractions in the future.

Take a visit to Bago and enjoy authentic, traditional immersion into one of Asia’s most fascinating cultures.

Food and Drink

There is no other place like Yangon to indulge in the country’s eclectic and delicious cuisine. This multicultural city sees a mouth-watering fusion of typical Myanmar Shan and Bamar dishes mixed with staples from India, Thailand and China.

Wander the streets of Downtown, Chinatown and Little India to stumble across the perfect restaurant spots. Explore Yangon’s many street markets on the northwest end of Downtown and join the locals dining at tables on the street and at local beer stations.

Pop into one of the city’s many teahouses for a cheap lunch of curries and local dishes, and refresh with impressive ranges of Myanmar teas amongst the bustle of daily life in one of these authentic watering and eating holes.

Yangon’s eclectic cuisine is sure to excite the senses.

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