Myanmar (formerly Burma), the legendary “Golden Land” – is certainly one of the most exotic countries in the world and a land of astounding beauty and charm that moved Kipling to pen these apt words: “quite unlike any land you will ever know” and you will certainly fall in love with its infinite beauty and culture of the people, and therefore people say “Myanmar is a country you should not miss to visit during your life time.”
Myanmar is a Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos, and Thailand. The coastal region is known as Lower Myanmar, while the interior region is known as Upper Myanmar. The total area of the country is 676,552 square km (261,218 square miles). Myanmar can explore within 7 to 10 days to the major cities such as Yangon (the former capital and business city), Bagan (the richest archaeological city of South East Asia), Mandalay (2nd capital and cultural city) and Inle Lake (the prettiest and 2nd biggest lake among the Shan Hills).
Main Travel Destinations Through Myanmar
YANGON, the former capital and business city of Myanmar is the gateway to the wonderland. Alaungpaya, the founder of the last line of Burmese Kings, made Yangon his capital in 1753 and so it remained until 2005 when the capital was moved to Naypyidaw. A green city of tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes, leafy sidewalks, pavement tea-shops and magnificent colonial buildings, it offers an intriguing mix of Burmese culture with Chinese and Indian quarters. Present-day Yangon covers 392 square kilometers and 30 km up from the sea. Yangon is famous for its Great Shwedagon Pagoda totally gilded with real gold is reputedly one of the wonders of the world.
Place of interest
Shwedagone Pagoda, Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda, Sule Pagoda, Botahtaung Pagoda, Kandawgyi Lake, Bogyoke (Scott’s) Market, China Town & India Town, Colonial Building of British days.
Thanlyin (Syriam), Twante, Dala, Bago, Kyaikhtiyo (Golden Rock), Hpa-An, Mawlamyine.
BAGAN, one of the riches Archaeological Zone in South East Asia is located 42km south of Mandalay and 690 km north of Yangon. It is on the eastern bank of Ayeyarwaddy and can travel by flight or land from all other cities. Bagan was founded by King Anawrahta in 849 AD. During the Bagan Dynasty, the Kings built as many as 4400 temples over a 230 years period on this river side plain. Neglect, looting, earthquake, erosion and bad dung have done their part to undermine its majesty, but Bagan still stands strong for its magical beauty and breathtakingly scenery.
Places of Interest
Nyaung Oo Market, Shwezigon Pagoda, Thatbyinnyu Pagoda, Htilominlo Pagoda, Ananda Temple, Manuha Temple, Nanpaya Temple, Myingaba Gubyaukgyi, Dhamayangyi Temple and Pyathatgyi Pagoda are to watch the sunset over the Ayeyarwaddy River and the sun dips behind the mountains. Balloon flights at sunrise.
Mount Popa, Sa Lay
MANDALAY, the last capital of Myanmar Dynasty, sits on the bank of Ayeyarwaddy River is located 695 km north of Yangon. It is not only the cultural and business city of upper Myanmar but also the 2nd Capital city of Myanmar and can be reached by flight or land. Although Mandalay has a few highlights such as Kuthodaw Pagoda and Mandalay Hill, it is the ancient capitals, battered stupas and sights outside of the city such as Mingun, Sagaing, Ava, Amarapura are neighbors rich with cultural inheritance famous temple and Traditional Arts and crafts.
Places of Interest
Mahamuni Pagoda, Mahagandayon Monastery, Workshops of tapestries, gold leaf Beating and silk weaving U Bein Teak Bridge (1.2 km long), Golden Palace Monastery, Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay Hill.
Aamarapura, Innwa (Ava), Sagaing, Mingun, Monywa, Pyin Oo Lwin, Lashio, Hsipaw.
INLE LAKE, the second-largest in Myanmar is, 22 km long, roughly 11 km wide 875 m above sea level at Nyaung Shwe in Shan State. Inthas living in the lake is famous for propelling their flat bottomed boats by standing at one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar. The lake shore and lake islands bear 17 villages mostly inhabited by those people. Various ethnic groups are living on the high hills rim the lake on both sides of the lake can be observed on market days.
Places of interest
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, 5-day market, Inn Paw Khone Village to see Silk & Lotus Weaving Work Shop, Blacksmith Work Shop & Cheroot (Burmese Cigar) and Paper Work Shop.
Indein, Kalaw, Pindaya, Taunggyi, Kakku, Loikaw.
Extend Destinations from Main Attraction Cities
Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock Pagoda)
The famous legendary Pagoda on the Golden Rock is about 160km from Yangon. This pagoda is situated on a rocky mountain 3,615ft above sea level. Kyaikhto Hotel located on the hillside has the full view of the pagoda. The season of pilgrimage is from October to May. Our coach has to stop at Kinpun base camp. From there the pilgrims have to take an open truck which is normally used for the hilly track up to the hermit “Yathae Hill”. On arrival at the “Yathae Hill”, they have to trek from the base camp. Porter and palanquins are available to carry luggage and pilgrims who are too old or weak. Some people think it’s not worthwhile to take a 6 hours drive (one way) and overnight just to see a guilted bolder. But if you are a nature lover and if you are totally aware of what could you expect at Golden Rock you will enjoy your trip very much. Due to lack of competition, the hotel rate is very high but facilities are very basic and simple.
MAWLAMYINE (MON STATE)
Mawlamyine, a charming town, is the capital of Mon State, situated at the mouth of the Thanlwin River and is 299 Km, 6 hours drive and 8 hours by train from Yangon. Located 28 miles from the sea, it is the third-largest city in Myanmar. Visitors to Mawlamyine are simply enchanted at the scenic beauty and its temperate climate and it can be done as an extension of the Kyaikhtiyo trip. The atmosphere of post-colonial decay is still palpable here. A beautiful river decay is still palpable here. A visit to Bilu Kyun (Island) by boat can be added if you can spend one more night in Mawlamyine, where you have the benefit to visiting various workshops such as the pipes and walking stick workshops and the note pads made by stone slabs workshops, etc
Hpa-An (Kayin State)
Hpa-An , the capital of Kayin State is situated in the middle west part of the state about 100 miles east of Yangon on the bank of Thanlwin River and 36 miles from Mawlamyine and can be reached by road. One can see the prominent Mount Zwegabin, the landmark of the Kayin State. It is worth to visit as in its surroundings there are several caves such as Saddam cave (within Hpa-an about 2 miles near Hindu village) and Kawtgoon Cave (about 2 miles from Hpa An), Bainnyin Cave (within Hpa-an about 10 miles northwest of Hpa a between Hpa-An and Thaton. It should also make a visit to the Kyauk –Kalup Pagoda near the junction of Hpa-An – Mawlamyine and Yangon-Myawady road
Pyin Oo Lwin
About 2 hours drive from Mandalay, you will reach to this one-time British hill station. It’s cool weather, eclectic architecture and stagecoaches give different taste to the travelers from the vast plain of Mandalay. The town dates from the early 20th century and its main street is part of the famous Burma road, an important route that leads to the north of the trading own of Lashio and beyond to the Muse at the Chinese border. Spots of major tourist interests includes the Peik Chin Myaung Cave, which houses many Buddha images and some models of Myanmar’s most revered pagodas. The cave lies in a beautiful setting with some waterfalls around. Another interests are Kandawgyi Botanical Garden founded back in 1915, is home to a large variety of trees and flowers from around Myanmar and abroad as well as numerous birds and butterflies. What really makes Pyin Oo Lwin unique are brightly painted miniature stagecoaches drawn by lively teaks of horses, which take the place of trams or taxis.
Monywa lies on the banks of the Chindwin River 140 km- northwest of Mandalay. It is the gateway for excursions to the cave temples of PHowin Taung, situated across the river and reached by ferry. The caves are famous for their Buddha statues, mural paintings and woodcarvings and supposed to have been over 400, 000 Buddha images carved out in the caves. Thambuddhay Pagoda is another highly important attraction completed in 1951 after 12 years of construction with over 800 small Buddha stupas on and around the pagoda. There are also reportedly 582, 357 Buddha statues on the celling, walls , archways and the niches in an on the temple compound.
Mount Popa is an extinct volcano and with 1500 meters the highest point within the Bago Yoma Range. The main attraction of this region is the smaller, 730 meter high conic rock called Popa Taungkalat, also know as the “Olympus of the Nats” because it is the home of Myanmar’s Legendary 37 “Nats” ( or spirits). The Nats still play an important part in many Myanmar people’s lives in spite of the dominance of Buddhism. Around the area, a visit can also made to the Popa National Park with dense sandalwood forests and the rare species of birds and butterflies worth a walk or a track. Clients wishing to include a trip to Mount Popa should plan on 2 nights in Bagan, a third night would allow time to go across the river or to visit Salay
Pindaya lies at an altitude of 1,200 meters surrounded by hill tribe villages. Its main attraction is the natural limestone cave that branches out widely, displaying more than 8,000 Buddha images made of wood, marble, lacquer, brick, stone and bronze. Many devoted Buddhist pilgrims have placed them there over the centuries. The collection of these images in such a setting is unique and well worth seeing. Pindaya also features the picturesque Boutaloke Lake, beautifully set amongst huge old trees. A major handicraft industry in Pindaya is umbrella manufacturing. The making of these pretty hand-made paper umbrellas can be seeing in several workshops in town.
Kalaw was a favorite hill station during the British colonial era. It is a picturesque village surrounded by pine forests and has some of Myanmar’s most beautiful gardens. From Kalaw there are good trekking and hiking possibilities to the neighboring hill tribe villages, which still function the same as they did centuries ago. Fans of natural beauty and peaceful sites will surely get their money’s worth. The roads leading to Kalaw and Pindaya ofer breathtaking sights of the landscape and are somehow reminiscent of the beautiful Alps region in Europe and unique sight for biking tour.
Loikaw (Kayah State)
Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State is situated about 210 miles in the northwestern part of Yangon in the hilly region. The town is filled with natural beauties as it is off the normal routes from tourists. It can be reached by flight from Yangon or Mandalay. It also can reached by car from Nyaung Shwe about 6 to 7 hours. Drive. It can also be reached by baat from Inle Lake via Phekhone Inn throug Sagar (about 5 hours crive). It can also be reached by train from Aungpan (near Kalaw). Taungkwe Zedi, in the southern part of Loikaw is also famous for its histry. The town is famous for its lawpita Hydro Power Mill which is 15 miles South eastof Loikaw and Ngwedaung Dam.
Kyaing Tong is located high in Shan Hills at the center of the Golden Triangle and just 3 hour drive from Tachileik near the Thai border. Travelers can get into Myanmar from this boarder with a valid visa in advance. Kyaing Tong is one of the country’s most remote outposts and probably the most scenic town in Shan State. At one time Kyaing Tong was the Shan capital and this ancient city is the gateway to rugged journeys and exotic sights. More than a dozens of different tribal groups live around the hills and the vast valley floor of Kyaing Tong and therefore it is more proper for those who want to enjoy the culture of ethnic groups and for real trekkers.
Balmy days spent lolling on the golden sands of Ngapali make a fitting end to a rigorous tour of Myanmar’s upcountry region. Languorous palm trees, soft waves, excellent cuisine and comfortable chalets make Ngapali Beach a preferred destination. Ngapali is the sort of resort that beach lovers dream about: quiet and idyllic without too much to do besides enjoying the sea, sand and the quiet rural surroundings. It offers beach resorts of international standard with water activities and many facilities such as international restaurants, pool bars and beauty spas. Evenings are spent enjoying fresh seafood at magically cheap prices at one of the local restaurants. There is regular airline service between Ngapali and Yangon. During the high season there are also connections from Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake.
Ngwe Saung (Silver Beach)
A new destination on Myanmar's tourism map, Ngwe Saung Beach offers its visitors unspoiled beaches and tranquility on the coast of the Indian Ocean. A few entrepreneurs have begun developing accommodation for local and foreign visitors. The destination is still in its early stages of this development process. Ngwe Saung can be reached by car from the capital Yangon in approximately five hours. The journey takes travelers across the wide alluvial Ayeyarwaddy Delta region. A stop can be included in Pathein, a busy trading town on the banks of the Pathein River. As an alternative to road travel, it is possible to travel from Yangon to the Pathein River by boat. Float through picturesque scenery, passing by houses and villages that dot the river banks. The vast and fertile Ayeyarwaddy Delta is connected to countless larger and smaller river tributaries; it's an ideal area for rice cultivation. Up to today, Ngwe Saung Beach has remained a largely unknown destination, a jewel for independent travellers seeking nothing more but sand, sea and tranquillity.
Chin Hill & Mt. Victoria
The Chin live in the Northwest border areas or further south in the Rakhine State. Mt. Victoria of 3400 meter high is the perfect place for nature lovers. Soft trekking, butterfly and bird watching area available. Some of the women there tattoo their faces completely in tasteful designs. The rituals is entirely voluntary and as the practices is dying out, not many young women are seen with tattooed faces. But the old traditional of this tattooing face still can be seen in some villages. Their hand woven cotton and silk in traditional designs and colors are collectors’ items. 174 km from Bagan by jeep and roads are still very bad so this excursion is not recommended for rainy season (May to Oct). As for accommodations, only very simple guesthouses are available so this excursion in suitable only for the adventurous clients.
It is the northern most railway terminal, 919 miles from Yangon and 487 miles from Mandalay. Visitors can tour the Myit Sone, the confluence of Maykha and Malikha Streams. Ayeyarwaddy, the most useful river in Myanmar has its source form this confluence and flows 1325 miles to the mouth of the river. The water over here is crystal clear. The panoramic view of the scenario at Myit Sone with the unspoiled beauty of nature is beyond the expression of words and will definitely be a fine attraction to tourists. Different tribes of national races live in harmony with their own cultures, customs, dialects, dances and lifestyles. For mountaineering enthusiasts, expeditions to Mount Khaka Bo Razi and Mount Gam Lan Razi would be an adventure. Myitkyina can be reached by air from Yangon by Myanmar Airway only and which take 2½ hours via Mandalay and the flights are operated irregular. It can e reached by train form Mandalay and it will take 26 hours.
Photo Credit: K Sar Ram (Putao)
Putao is another town in Kachin State surrounded by snowcapped mountains. It is cool the whole year round and there are many varieties of citrus fruits grown in the orchard. Flowing streams and rivulets, straw-roofed houses and fences of pebbles and creek stones provide a pleasant, pastoral to the scenes and sights of modern cities. The suspension bridges are the typical river crossing in this region. People of the Rawan, Lisu, Khamti-Shan, Jingphaw and Kachin are represented in the region. It is the nearest town to the base camp for Climbing Mt. Khakhaborazi (5889 metres), which is the highest mountain in Myanmar and in southeast Asia. Putao is the starting point for Myanmar’s most adventurous trekking adventures. It can be reached from Myitkyina by air about 30 minutes and only Myanmar Airways is available.
Sittwe (Akyab) & Mrauk Oo in Rakhine State
Sittwe, known to the Bengalis as 'Akyab', is in Rakhine State and used to be a busy trading port. Sittwe was founded by the British in 1826 and is situated at the mouth of the rivers Kaladan and Lomro near the border with Bangladesh. Due to its history as a major town during the time of the Raj, many people who came here to work came from India - to this day approximately 25% of the people are Muslim of Indian origin. Visit the local market where all kinds of fish and seafood are on sale. Mrauk Oo (once known as Myo Haung) was Rakhine’s capital in the 15th century, when it enjoyed great wealth and was an important commercial port. A visitor described it as one of the richest cities in Asia. Being a great trading centre, it was coveted by many surrounding kingdoms including the Bengalis, the Moguls and the Burmese. The end came about after two disastrous earthquakes in 1761 and 1762, and the takeover of Rakhine by the Burmese King Bodawpaya in 1784. In the wake of the first Anglo-Burman war in 1826, and the subsequent founding of Sittwe by the British as an administrative centre, Mrauk Oo fell into oblivion. Little remains of this wealth but Mrauk Oo has great charm with its many local markets, solid wooden houses, canals, hills and friendly people. Some of the ancient pagodas and ruins can be visited on foot from the town, whilst others require a bullock cart or vehicle.
The old capital of Rakhine founded in 15 century, and remained its capital for 355 years. The golden city of Mrauk U became known in Eruopen as a city of oriental sledor after friar Sebastain Manrique visited the area. Father Manrique’s vivitd account of the coronation of King " Thiri Thudhamma" in 1635 and about the Rakhine Court and intrigues of the Portugese adventurers fire the imagination of later authors. Mrauk U can reach from Sittwe through a very pleasant river journey about 4 hours. Even the pagodas are strategically located on hilltops and look like fothresses and indeed they are once use as such in times of enemy intrusion. There moast, artificial lakes and canals and the whole area could be flooded to deter or repulse a attackers.
Dawei is a sleepy, seaside town with its considerable importance as a port. It includes in the Tanintharyi Division known to the outside world as Tenasserim which has a long history of trade with India and the Middle East. Dawei is now generally permitted to visit. It is accessible by air and road. The most interesting site of Dawei is 74m long, 21m high huge reclining Buddha located at the edge of town.
Myeik or Mergui Archipelago
Myeik is a town located in the Tanintharyi Division of Myanmar, which is situated in the southernmost part of the country. The main export of local products are such as tin, tungsten, divers and make a living searching for oysters and mother-of-pearl. Peral diving particularly Pale Kyyn (Pearl Island) 85 miles south of Myeik. Lampi Island, 65 miles by 30 miles with mountain ranges of 1500 feet above sea level, boasts lovely beaches, coral reefs, clear water and undisturbed wildlife and is being turned into a Marine National Park to attract eco-tourists.