Myanmar, a captivating country nestled in Southeast Asia, is rapidly gaining popularity among travellers seeking unique and off-the-beaten-path destinations. Boasting magnificent landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and warm-hearted locals, Myanmar offers an array of unforgettable experiences for every type of adventurer. From the awe-inspiring temples of Bagan to the tranquil beauty of Inle Lake, this ancient land holds a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be explored. Join us as we embark on our journey through our top places to visit in Myanmar uncovering its enchanting secrets along the way.
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.
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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 (Burma)
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 on Air Asia, the 1-hour ten-minute flight from 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.
Cheap Flight Deals to Myanmar
Find the cheapest flights with Skyscanner our go-to when researching and booking flights throughout the world.
Getting Around Myanmar
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
We use 12goAsia – click here for the latest schedules and ticket prices.
Myanmar Places of Interest
Our Top Things To Do in Yangon
Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon
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.
- Learn about the Colonial-style buildings, explore the bustling city centre, enjoy shopping at Bogyoke Market and taste a meal at a local teashop
- See the famous Botataung Pagoda, explore the harbour area and learn about the country’s culture at the National Museum
- Take a photo at Kandawgyi Park and be amazed by the Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda, the famous reclining Buddha
- Visit Shwedagon, the most admired Pagoda in Myanmar
You can read our guide on visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda here.
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.
The 3-Hour Circular Train in Yangon
One of the 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 where 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
For the best street food and cold beers. If you are game you can even try the local fried crickets.
Traditional Myanmar Cooking Class with Market Tour
Before we get started on cooking, we’ll take you on a tour of our local street market. This will give you first-hand insight into how to market life works in Yangon, and learn about local ingredients.
You’ll learn how to use these ingredients in the cooking class, where you’ll cook traditional Myanmar salads, curries, and desserts. We’ll do all the preparation work so you can focus on mastering cooking techniques and methods.
Once all the cooking is complete, you’ll sit down to enjoy the fruits of your labour at a communal dining table. You’ll even receive a digital copy of the recipes so you can recreate the 3-course meal when you return to your home kitchen!Book your cooking class here
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.Check out the latest availability here
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.Check out the latest deals on accommodation here
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.Check out the latest deals on accommodation here
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.Check out the latest deals on accommodation here
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, the bus 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.
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.
You will need to hire a taxi for the 2-hour drive from Pyay to the village of Tonbo on the Irrawaddy River.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.Check availability here
Bagan View Hotel at 9 Jasmin Road in the heart of New Bagan offers guests great views from their rooftop terrace.
Ananta Bagan at Wet Gyi Inn, Nyaung Oo offers a pool, free WiFi and bike rental.Check out the latest deals on accommodation here
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.Check out the latest deals on accommodation here
Our Top Things to Do in Mandalay
Riverboat from Bagan 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 for the views along the way 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 past villages along the riverfront, oxen ploughing fields, men fishing and other boats lazily floating in the other direction.
A day trip by private taxi to visit the Mahagandaon Monastery 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.
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
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 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
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.
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.Check out the latest deals on accommodation here
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.
More Hotels in MandalayCheck out the latest deals on accommodation here
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 were 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
Day trip by longboat to visit the outlying islands, local markets and the many temples of Indien.
Visit floating gardens, stilt villages, and Buddhist sites on a full-day, private Inle Lake cruise that’s a personalized alternative to crowded group boat trips.
Crossing Inle Lake by boat gives you a front-row seat for checking out the local ‘leg rowing’ technique, and you’ll step back on shore to explore Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Inn Paw Known Village, Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, and more.
Private tour ensures individual service Try local cuisine with an included lunch Tour features a series of sightseeing stops and workshops Convenient pickup and drop-off at Inle Lake hotels
Enjoy an Authentic Shan Private Cooking Class in a House on the Lake
Meet Tin Tin – an Intha native from the lake who will share her traditional Shan recipes with you today during a traditional Shan cooking class in a family house built on a stilt on the lake. It’s not a Master Chef course from a Michelin restaurant owner but it’s simple, tasteful, home-cooked food from a local lady who has been cooking her whole life for her family and enjoys it!
Together with your guide, we visit the local market to find all the ingredients, go by boat to the traditional house and help clean vegetables, chop the ingredients, fry or boil it, add the right herbs and mix the right ingredients.
Of course, the class ends with a very tasty lunch. A kitchen apron, some specific local kitchen tools and a list with all ingredients to try it at home. A fantastic day to learn a bit of delicious cooking but certainly also to get a taste of the real local life of an Intha on the lake so not only for master chefs.
Guide and boat available for the rest of the day for additional visits on the lake if wanted.Book your cooking class here
Watch the Local Fishermen
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
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.
Aureum Palace Resort & Spa Inle at Mine Thauk Village offers villas offer the water with a pool and free WiFi.Check out the latest deals on accommodation here
Inle Cottage Boutique Hotel at 136/21 Mingalar Road Nana Pan Quarter – walking distance to town and boats.Check availability here
More Hotels for Inle LakeCheck availability here and latest deals
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In conclusion, Myanmar offers a rich tapestry of cultural heritage and natural wonders that are sure to captivate any traveller. From the bustling streets of Yangon to the awe-inspiring temples of Bagan and the serene beauty of Inle Lake, this country is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Whether you seek adventure, spirituality, or simply an escape from the ordinary, Myanmar has it all. With its warm and welcoming people, vibrant traditions, and breathtaking landscapes, visiting Myanmar is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should not be missed. So pack your bags and embark on a journey that will leave you with memories to cherish forever in this enchanting land of golden pagodas.