Our Top 5 Places To Visit in Myanmar

Places to visit in Myanmar

Myanmar was in the top 5 of our Asian bucket list travels and when we got the opportunity to travel there we jumped at the chance.  For a whole month, we travelled around the country by bus, train and riverboat.

There is so much to see and do in Myanmar from Hot Air Balloon Rides to sailing down the river from Bagan to Mandalay, visiting temples and enjoying a glass or two of locally produced wine in the Inle Lake Region. There are beaches, treks and many other activities to enjoy, so make the most of your visit to Myanmar and stay as long as you can.

We hope you enjoy travelling to our top 5 best places to visit in Myanmar as much as we did.

Myanmar (formerly called Burma) is a land of Pagodas, Stupas, markets, and ancient traditions.

(Editor Update 2020)

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Places to visit in Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda

How To Get A Visa For Myanmar

If you are considering travelling to Myanmar you will require a visa.

Getting a Myanmar visa is easy now since the government has recently relaxed the rules.

The simplest way to organise your visa is through E-visums.co.uk.

All that is required is that your passport has at least 6 months validity, the application to be completed online and payment is accepted from Paypal, a credit or debit card.  The application takes up to 3 working days.

Please note the following:

  • the visa is valid for 28 days from arrival
  • the visa authorised letter is valid for 90 days from issue date
  • the issued visa is for single entry only
  • there are 6 entry points; 3 by air at the international airports of Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw and 3 by land borders at Tachileik, Kawthaung and Myawaddy.
  • During your stay in Myanmar, your accommodation should be at registered hotels etc

Holders of the following passports do not require a visa; Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Map of Myanmar

Places to visit in Myanmar

Map of Myanmar

Myanmar is bordered by the countries of Thailand, Laos, China and Bangladesh. Nay Pyi Taw is the capital.

How To Travel To Myanmar

There are international flights to Myanmar’s 3 international airports of Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw (the capital of Myanmar).

We travelled with Air Asia the 1 hour ten-minute flight Bangkok to Yangon and return. There are many options from Asia direct to Yangon the most popular entry point to Myanmar.  Further afield, Emirates now fly from Dubai and Qatar Airways from Doha.

There are less options travelling to Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw.

Flight Deals to Myanmar

For the latest flight deals compare prices on Skyscanner here:

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Getting Around Myanmar

Places to visit in Myanmar

Bus Station at Yangon

As we had a month to spend in Myanmar we travelled:

  • By bus from Yangon to Pyay
  • Overnight First Class train from Pyay to Bagan
  • Riverboat steamer from Bagan to Mandalay
  • Overnight bus from Mandalay to Inle Lake
  • Overnight bus from Inle Lake to Yangon

For the latest bus schedules and ticket prices for Myanmar:

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Myanmar Places of Interest

Our Top Things To Do in Yangon

Shwedagon Pagoda

Places to visit in Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon (photo courtesy of Pixabay)

The most visited monument in Yangon is the Shwedagon Pagoda. The 110 metre high impressive 2,500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda is a must for visitors to Myanmar.  The Pagoda is the most sacred site for the people of Myanmar.

To Travel Too Tip: the sun is merciless during the day so ensure that you have plenty of sunscreen and water.  The afternoon is the best time to visit close to sunset.  The Pagoda closes at 22.00. There are 4 entrance gates where you will need to take your shoes off.  Remember which gate you entered by.

Pre-book a day tour of Yangon here that includes the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Sule Pagoda

The Sule Pagoda is in the middle of a very busy roundabout in the middle of Yangon at the Junction Sule Pagoda. Legend states that the Sule Pagoda is older than the Shwedagon Pagoda suggesting it was built around 2,600 years ago.

Sule Pagoda is open from 08.00 hours to  20.00 hours.

Pre-book an evening Walking Food Tour of Yangon visiting small lanes and alleyways and enjoy the best of street food in Yangon.

The 3 Hour Circular Train in Yangon 

Places to visit in Myanmar

3 Hour Circular Train Yangon (photo courtesy of Pixabay)

One of our best fun things to do in Yangon was riding the circular train for 3 hours all for USD1.  For 3 hours you experience life outside the big city, travel through small train stations were the locals are selling their produce on the platforms and watch how life goes on in the small villages that you pass through.

Bogyoke Aung San Market

A great place for souvenirs Bogyoke Aung San Market is also known as Scott Market. A great way to practice your bargaining skills. Lacquerware is a popular souvenir to take home with you.

Eat at 19th Street

Places to visit in Myanmar

19th Street for Cheap Eats

For the best street food and cold beers.  If you are game you can even try the local fried crickets.

Where To Stay in Yangon

Sedona Hotel Yangon at No 1 Kaba Aye Pagoda Road Yankin Township. The 8 acre Hotel offers a pool, gym and free breakfast whilst overlooking Inva Lake.

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Rose Garden Hotel Yangon at 171 Upper Pansodan near Yangon Zoo offers a pool and gym close to the city centre with views over the Shwedagon Pagoda.

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The 32 luxury boutique Loft Hotel at 33 Yaw Min Gyi Street Dagon township Yangon offers a coffee shop and a comfortable environment for its guests.

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The Pullman Yangon Centrepoint at 65 Corner of Sule Pagoda Road & Merchant Street Yangon offers guests a pool, bar, lounge, restaurants, gym close to the Sule Pagoda and in walking distance of the night market.

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Our Top Things to Do in Pyay

Pyay is located 240km from Yangon and takes about 7 hours by bus. It was not the most comfortable ride, it was crowded and hot.  Our arrival into Pyay was confusing as they don’t stop at a regular Bus Terminal, the bus stops on the outskirts of town.

Shwesandaw Paya

The Shwesandaw Paya is located in town on top of a small hill. There are great views from the Pagoda to be had especially at sunrise and sunset.

Ayauk Taung

Places to Visit in Myanmar

The carvings of Buddha in the side of the mountain

You will need to hire a taxi for the 2-hour drive from Pyay to the village of Tonbo on the Irrawaddy River.

Places to visit in Myanmar

Transport at the town of Tonbo

Once at Tonbo you need to hire a longboat and a guide. The cliff carvings of Buddha and the climb up the hill to the Monastery is definitely worth the journey. Legend states that the local boatmen had to pay a local tax.  At times due to the bad weather they had to wait before they could sail further, and to fill their time in they started to carve the images.

Sri Ksetra World Heritage Site 

Places to visit in Myanmar

Sri Kstetra

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sri Ksetra is located 8km east of Pyay. The site is over 47 acres.  We would recommend that you visit the Museum first and then wander around the site, you may only have time to see a few of the ancient structures as they are so spread out.

Night Market at Pyay

Places to visit in Myanmar

Thanaka

The Night Market is located on Mya Zay Tann Street and is good for cheap eats and local souvenirs. There are stalls selling wood that the women make a paste from as sunscreen.  The paste is known as Thanaka.

Where To Stay in Pyay

Hotel Ksetra located at No 161 Aung San Pyi Thar Yar Street, Py Thar Yai Ward, Nawin Quarter, Pyay offers guests a restaurant, free breakfast, free parking and free WiFi. It is located near the bus station a short distance from the city centre (you may need a taxi to visit the city centre). It has a terrace on the top floor.

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Naung Yoe Motel near Nawaday Bridge Junction offers a restaurant, free parking, free WiFi close to the Shwesandaw Pagoda.

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Smile Motel is located at No 10-11 Bogyoke Road Sandaw Ward Pyay is an easy walk to the night market and train station.  It offers basic accommodation and breakfast at a budget price.

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Our Top Things To Do In Bagan

Our train journey from Pyay to Bagan on the overnight train first class was, to be honest, a ‘nightmare’.  A journey that we thought we would not survive, we even made sure our passports were in our pockets.  Our first-class cabin actually was four bunk beds shared by another couple with a small thin sheet as bedding and no pillows.  The toilet was a hole in the floor luckily with a door separating it from the cabin.  The train was delayed and instead of a 10 pm departure, it left at  1 am. The ride was similar to being either on a bungee jump or in the dodgem cars.  There was no way you could sleep on the top bunk, we had to hold each other for grim death in the lower bunk to stop ourselves from falling out.

Places to visit in Myanmar

Views from the train en route to Bagan

The best part of the journey – daylight.  When we could open up the windows, hang out the sides, and watch the local countryside waking up.  Our neighbours who we did not speak to during the night made our journey bearable the next day sharing their hilarious journeys around Asia.

Bagan Hot Air Balloon Ride at Sunrise – the best of Myanmar

Places to Visit in Myanmar

Hot Air Balloon Ride at Sunrise (photo courtesy of Pixabay)

If you want to experience the real Bagan we would recommend a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. Soaring high over the temples as the sun was rising was such a memorable experience.  Villagers were waking up and heading out to work the fields, school children laughing and running after us, and shop vendors setting out their wares are vivid memories which we will not forget.  The temples and stupas are amazing at this time of the morning, the sun rays captured on their glittering facades.

Horse and Cart Ride Through The Temples in Bagan

Places to visit in Myanmar

Planning our route through the Bagan Temples

A fun day out with lunch is visiting the many temples and stupors around Bagan by horse and cart.  Your driver will choose which is the best Pagoda to experience the sunset, it depends on the number of tourists there are at the time.  There are excellent photo opportunities throughout the day.

There are over 2000 stupas and pagodas in the area around Bagan, some of which you can visit on foot close to town.

Where to Stay in Bagan

We stayed at Hotel Bagan Umbra at Nyaung U Main Road Wet-Kyi-Inn Village Nyaung U Township.  They offer a pool which is perfect to relax in after a day of sightseeing, free parking, free WiFi, cultural shows and a good breakfast.

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Bagan View Hotel at 9 Jasmin Road in the heart of New Bagan which offers guests great views from their rooftop terrace.

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Ananta Bagan at Wet Gyi Inn, Nyaung Oo offers a pool, free WiFi and bike rental.

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Amazing Bagan Resort at Nyaung Oo township Bo Myat Yun Tower offers a pool, free parking and free WiFi and a golf course 10 minutes from Old Bagan.

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Our Top Things to Do in Mandalay

Riverboat from Bagan to Mandalay

Places to visit in Myanmar

Views from the steamer enroute to Mandalay

We sailed in an old riverboat steamer from Bagan to Mandalay.  The journey took over 12 hours, from sunrise to sunset.  There were only 6 of us on board, so we could change our seats as often as we liked and we could even lay down for a nap or two when we felt like it. We would recommend taking your own food for the journey and plenty of water.  The scenery is stunning along the way, you sail pass villages along the riverfront, oxen plowing fields, men fishing and other boats lazily floating in the other direction.

Mahagandaon Monastery

Places to visit in Myanmar

Mahagandaon Monastery (photo courtesy of Pixabay)

A day trip by private taxi visiting the Mahagandaon Monastery which is located 11 km from Mandalay at Amarapura is highly recommended.  The best time to visit is around 10.00 am when the monks gather for their last meal of the day.

Sagaing Hill

Places to visit in Myanmar

Sagaing Market (photo courtesy of Pixabay)

As part of the day tour, we would recommend a visit to Sagaing Hill for 360-degree views from the Pagoda and a visit to the  local market in town.

U Bein Bridge – one of the best places to visit in Myanmar at Sunset

Places to visit in Myanmar

U Bein Bridge at Sunset (photo courtesy Pixabay)

Late in the afternoon is the best time to visit U Bein Bridge.  A great photo opportunity is at sunset when the monks cross the river to return back to their monastery.  The bridge is the oldest teak bridge in the world.

Sunset at the top of Mandalay Hill 

If you have time a popular viewing spot at sunset is the top of Mandalay Hill.  You can either walk or take a taxi, we would recommend taking a taxi because of the heat.  You will need to pay an entrance fee as well as paying a fee for taking photographs.

Visit the Mandalay Palace

Places to visit in Myanmar

View of Mandalay Palace

The Mandalay Palace was not as exciting as we thought it would be.  We would recommend only visiting if you have time to spare. It is a large complex to walk around and most of the buildings are empty shells. This view is from the watchtower.

Where to Stay in Mandalay

Hotel by the Red Canal at No. 417 Corner of 63 & 22nd Streets Aung Myae Tha Zan Township offers a pool, gym, each room has a balcony and free breakfast minutes from Mandalay Palace.

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Bagan King Hotel at Blk 732 No 44 Corner of 73rd and 28th Road offers a rooftop terrace and free WiFi in the heart of Mandalay.

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Hotel Yadanarbon at No. 125 31st St between 76 & 77th Streets offers a rooftop pool and terrace, free breakfast and free WiFi 5 minutes from Mandalay Railway Station and the Mandalay Palace.

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Hilton Mandalay Corner 36th & 66th Chan Aye Tharzan offers a pool, gym, bike rental, bar and lounge in 4 acres of lush tropical gardens opposite Mandalay Hill and Mandalay Palace.

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More Hotel Options in Mandalay

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Our Top Things To Do in Inle Lake

Our journey from Mandalay to Inle Lake was via an overnight bus.  The road is mountainous, rough and windy.  We missed getting off at the stop, in the middle of nowhere, for Inle Lake because it was in the middle of nowhere, no lights or people around and it was 3.30 am in the morning.  When we arrived at the next stop, we still are not sure to this day where that was, the bus driver was kind enough to find us a taxi to take us to the longboat jetty.

Our accommodation was in the middle of the lake and a longboat was the only way to reach it which took about an hour.

Day Tour to Local Markets and Temples by Long Boat

Places to Visit in Myanmar

Inle Lake (photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Day trip by longboat to visit the outlying islands, local markets and the many temples of Indien.

Pre-book a day tour on Inle Lake before you leave home. For full details on the tour, prices and general information click here.

Watch the Local Fishermen

Places to Visit in Myanmar

Fishermen on Inle Lake (photo courtesy Pixabay)

Watch the local fisherman fish in their traditional one-legged manner managing their nets, fish and the movement of their boats all at the same time

Red Mountain Winery

Places to visit in Myanmar

Enjoying a glass of wine at Red Mountain Winery

Enjoy lunch and wine at the Red Mountain Winery

 

 

Where to Stay in Inle Lake

Pristine Lotus Resort at Khaung Daing Village near Inle Lake offers guests a pool, sauna, a natural hotspring and views of the lake. It has 120 rooms.

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Aureum Palace Resort & Spa Inle at Mine Thauk Village offers villas offer the water with a pool and free WiFi.

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Inle Cottage Boutique Hotel at 136/21 Mingalar Road Nana Pan Quarter – walking distance to town and boats.

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More Hotel Options for Inle Lake

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Myanmar is a fascinating country to visit, a melting pot of cultures and flavours.  The charm of the country is its people.  It is fast evolving so it was a country that we wanted to visit sooner or later and we are so glad we did, even with the small transport hiccups, which is to be expected. Myanmar has left indelible impressions on our minds. Aaaah, the joy of travel.

If you have any questions or would like some advice we would love to hear from you. You can reach us via our Facebook page or email us here.

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Places to visit in Myanmar

 

 

 

24 Comments

  • Hey, thanks for sharing this guide with us!

  • John & Joan Gough says:

    Hi Jane & Duncan,
    Enjoyed your Myanmar article.
    We have a house sit starting on the 5th April 2019 in Yangon, so may be able to take in some of the sights that you wrote about.
    Did look at Paukan Cruises before reading your article…couldn’t get over the ridiculous pricing, we could take a balcony ocean sea cruise for the pricing they quoted.
    Also, $US 350 for a balloon ride seems excessive as well.
    Maybe we aren’t wealthy tourists being aged pensioners now….although we never were when we were working 🙂
    Appreciate any suggestions you have in regard to experiencing a Irrawaddy River boat trip with an affordable price tag.

    • Hi John and Joan
      Our Irrawaddy River Boat Trip was a day trip and was reasonably priced from Bagan to Mandalay .Are you thinking of a day trip or a few nights on board? The balloon trip – well it was a bucket list for us, so we made sure we did it and it was one of those ‘we are doing it even with the cost’ and it was well worth it.
      Thanks for your comments and your questions. We really appreciate it!
      Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
      Jane and Duncan

  • Daniel says:

    I visited Myanmar back in 2017 and I had a blast. I visited all of the places you mentioned in this article. The sunset view at the top of Mandalay Hill was unforgettable and 19th Street sure had some amazing street food. Thank you for this lovely article, it brought back so many nice memories from Myanmar!

  • Hendrik says:

    That’s a great overview with some beautiful impressions of Myanmar. Unfortunately, I did not make it yet to visit this beautiful country but it is high on my list. The Mandalay Palace looks very impressive, as well as the Shwedagon Pagoda. Good point also to take a taxi, I can imagine that the heat is going to be unbearable sometimes.
    I would love to see these places, but also the other places are surely worth to visit and see. Thank you for sharing,

    Hendrik

  • I amsurprised to suddenly see this huge attention garnered by Mynamar in the travel space. Love the picture of Pagodas all around. The vineyard trip also looks perfect.

  • Paul says:

    Myanmar has been on the list for a while, we’ve been to a few places in South East Asia but never quite made it to Myanmar. It looks like you had a great time there. Thanks for all the helpful information, certainly handy when planning a trip. Have pinned this for later.

  • Paula says:

    Just like yours, Myanmar is also on my bucketlist. It seems so exotic and different, and I have read so much about it. There is so many beautiful places in Myanmar that I would like to see. This list however, gave me even more details about where to go there. Like the market place and winery which I had never heard of. Oh, and the fishemen, they are such a classic. Great list!

  • I visited Myanmar last winter and fell in love with the place. The country has so much to offer. And you have done a great job capturing some of the best places in Myanmar. I visited most of them but we could not do Pyay. Maybe next time.

  • Ayauk Taung cliff carvings and pagoda seems like a gem of a place. Looks like you really enjoyed and covered a lot in Myanmar! Lot of helpful information in the article too. 🙂 Would love to see Bagan’s sunrise in a Hot air balloon. But I have heard it is very expensive, is that true?

    • Hi Vaisakhi
      Myanmar is an amazing company. Yes, hot air ballooning is expensive. It blew our travel budget but it was worth every cent for the experience. Sometimes you just have to blow the budget! Thanks for your comments.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

  • Your post is a revelation of some of the places, I have never read or heard about..like the Mandalay Palace and the Ksetra UNESCO site. Myanmar and India share a lot of similarities but I still would love to cover the places you have mentioned on our trip to this wonderful country.And, also hop onto the train for a country-side tour.

  • I’m hoping to head to the eastern countries in 2020. So thanks for this perfect guide on Myanmar!
    Ayauk Taung looks very interesting. Totally my kinda place to visit.
    Sri Ksetra would be my top priority though, being a UNESCO site!

  • Hey, Myanmar is such a great country to visit! I loved these places you recommend here. Also, I really enjoyed my time hiking in the northern part of the country.. in places like Namshan and Hsipaw! Safe travels!

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