Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is an ancient country teeming with unknown grandeurs both to locals and tourists alike that’s waiting to be explored. Here, we listed down 10 destinations for you to check out the next time you’re considering to travel Burma and take a journey down the historic peripheries of the country.
Yangon, meaning “end of strife,” is possibly the most significant city where some of the many unknown grandeurs of the country can be discovered, which makes it an ideal start and end point throughout your journey. Originally a small fishing village, Yangon is now considered as the home of the colonial buildings in Southeast Asia where the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda can be found, to name one. It stands strong at 98 meters high with a golden glow that radiates all over the city.
Meanwhile, a laid-back stroll along BogyokeAung San Market, Kandawgyi Lake, and a ferry and a trishaw ride to Dala, a township located on the south side of Yangon River, are also good ways to see a crash course of the day to day way of life of the locals. Other points of interests such as Shwe Sayan Pagoda, Fisherman’s Village, and Bamboo Village are also equally dynamic places worth setting foot for.
To cap off the momentous city tour, be sure to take a food crawl along Yangon’s busy streets for a total taste of the city’s dynamic flavors. Here, you can feast over concocted zests of Asian, Chinese, European, and Burmese cuisines, wholly vegetarian meals, an Indian-dish favorite chicken biryani, crispy Pecking duck, and a beloved Myanmar-dish mohinga in restaurants like Lucky Seven, Nepali Food Shop, 999 Shan Noodle Shop, LinkAge, Feel Myanmar, Shan Yoe Yar, and House of Memories, among others.
Dubbed as “The Last Royal City,” Mandalay boasts of its captivating moat, palace, stupas, monasteries, and bridges that leave every tourist in awe.
Here, you can fervently sightsee its primed attractions such as the “biggest book” in the world where Buddhist scriptures are intricately carved on more than 700 marble tablets, the long U Bein Bridge, Maha Gandayon Monastery where quality textiles and more than a thousand monks can be found, the Botanical Gardens in Pyin Oo Lwin, the Mandalay Palace, the Craftsmen’s Quarter to gush over quality silk, fabrics, marble statues, and tapestries, and a leisurely walk up to Mandalay Hill where a number of shrines and a pagoda can be found.
Known for its ancient temples, Bagan is said to be bursting with more than 4,000 temples back in the old days, with which huge number went down to more than 2,000 today. While you can explore Bagan by foot, options like e-bike and carriages are interesting takes for a leisurely excursion. More so, riding in a hot air balloon gives an unobstructed view of the ancient city that’s best done either in the dawn or dusk.
Apart from stupas and pagodas, climbing on the crest of Shwesandaw or Shwegugyi temples for a heavenly sunset show, a cruise on the Irrawaddy River, a rewarding 777-step trek atop Mount Popa to lay eyes on a pilgrimage site dotted around with relic spots and Nat temples are a must when in Bagan.
Bagan is also known for the lacquerware industry where expert artisans flaunt their expertise through the meticulous six-month production.
Another thought-provoking take on Myanmar’s culture sits in the lake of Inle. Its locals have associated their way of life around the lake where they grow vegetables on floating gardens below their wooden homes installed on the lake, and where inthas or expert boatmen and fishermen catch fresh fish in an extraordinary way.
For the adventure seekers, Bago is the place to be for its wonderful trekking spots. The most preferred trails are from Kalaw to Inle Lake and from Hsipaw or Pindaya. Multi-day trips and overnight trips can be done here, where tourists can opt to sleep over in monasteries and grub on some local food if opted for the latter.
Meanwhile, Pindaya Caves is an equally splendid pilgrimage site to include in your list as is it has three caves on the rim with at about 8,000 ancient Buddha statues resting in. However, the southern part of the cave is the only accessible part that stretches at about 490 feet.
Formally known as Kyaiktiyo, the Golden Rock speaks for its name as it brags a massive rock covered with golden leaves. The rock is incredibly situated at the edge of the cliff, 3,600 ft. above the valley. Apart from the rock, the rewarding hike to and from the summit of the pilgrimage site is what the tourists come back for more.
Mrauk Oo, meaning “Monkey’s Egg,” tucks in eras-old temples, city gates, and moats that are now forgotten, which explains why it is often linked as “The Forgotten Kingdom.” Maruak Oo is less accessible than the aforementioned destinations, but its splendor is as beautiful as Bagan.
After the distinctive temple run, we bet you would not want to miss sites like Shittaung Pagoda, Chin Village in Lemo River that’s inhibited with a community with oddly satisfying piercings and spider web tattoos on their face, and the bursting flavors of Rakhine food and the gustatory papaya salad.
Located in southeast Myanmar, Mawlamyine showcases the beauty of the far-flung shrines and pagodas in Mt. Kyaiktiyo, 800-chain of islands in Myeik or Mergui Archipelago, Mt. Zwegabin, Kauthaung, ThanIwin River, caves along Hpa-An, and Mawlamyine’s mosques.
Considered as Myanmar’s smallest state, Kayah has finally opened after being closed for almost a century. It is full of ethnic diversity, natural wonders, enthralling culture, and warm locals, which makes it the perfect off-the-beaten track side of the country.
For a rundown of whereabouts in Kayah, put Kyet Cave on your list alongside with tribal villages, Taung Kwe Pagoda, the reclining Buddha in Loikaw, and finish it off with a local food strip experience with Wet Au Chaung, a local sausage, and Kayah Kaung Ye, a traditional rice wine.
Though Myanmar is undeniably abounding with temples, shrines, monasteries, and pagodas, the mermaid in you will still be able to explore the underwater world as the ancient country is also packed with a number of beaches to supplement your doze of Vitamin Sea.
The tranquil, crystal clear waters and stretch of white sand beaches of Ngapali, Ngwe Saung, Chaung Thar, and Northern and Southern Myeik are some of the varied choices to either beach-bum or dive in.
Did you have the chance to travel Burma? How was the experience? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below!
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