A newly-opened destination in a newly-opened country – the allure of discovering the undiscovered has been bringing an increasing number of visitors to Myanmar in recent years. Here are five ways to experience the culturally-rich and naturally-blessed country in Southeast Asia.
1. Sail the Mergui Archipelago
For sun seekers seeking the elusive island paradise, the Mergui Archipelago – an 800-plus island cluster in the Andaman Sea – is one of the last remaining tropical wonderland in the world untouched by tourism. Spend 5 nights sailing amongst the islands alongside wild dolphins, dropping anchor to visit pristine white beaches interspersed with jungle walks and leisurely snorkels in the crystal clear water.
Sail the Mergui Archipelago is a 6D/5N itinerary onboard a luxury 85’ yacht departing on Saturdays from Kawthaung, Myanmar.
2. Visit archeological sites
Archeological attractions provide a glimpse into the country’s past and its intrinsic links to the local culture of today. Bago, the former capital of the ancient Mon Kingdom is home to fascinating stupas and pagodas, including the tallest in the country, plus a 55m reclining Buddha, the latter said to be the second largest of its kind in the world. Located a few hours drive away lay one of the most iconic images of Myanmar – Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, located atop a precariously perched boulder covered with gold leaf (hence earning the pilgrimage site the moniker Golden Rock).
Golden Rock & Myanmar Archeological Sites is a 2D/1N itinerary departing daily from Yangon.
3. Explore ancient kingdoms
The enchanting ruins of Mrauk U, littered with temples and pagodas, offers a captivating option to the more well-known destination of Bagan. The former capital of the ancient Rakhine Kingdom houses 700 temple ruins of interest scattered over the hills, including Htukkan Thein Fortress Temple (designed so the dawning sun shines rays directly on the Buddha statue), the ancient city of Wethali (home to a 5m+ Buddha statue carved from a single slab of sandstone), and the impressive Kothaung Temple which houses 90,000 religious statues. Along the way, visit ethnic Chin villages, a cultural museum, and a Buddhist nunnery.
Ancient Kingdom of Mrauk U is a 5D/4N itinerary departing daily from Yangon from October through to May.
4. Trekking in Shan State
Bordering China, Laos, and Thailand, Shan State is a region famed for its famous Inle Lake (known for its unique leg-rowers on the water) and gorgeous hilly terrain. Spend a few days exploring the bucolic beauty of the rural northern Myanmar, blanketed with lush forests and dotted with quaint mountain villages. Make some time in your itinerary to visit some of the country’s countless number of pagodas, including the Swedagon Pagoda, perhaps one of the most well known sites which has come to symbolize the country. One of the advantages of a private tour is the flexibility offered should participants wish to linger longer at a village or local market.
Trekking in Shan State is a 6D/5N private tour departing daily from Yangon.
5. Experience Yangon, Bagan & Mandalay
It would take a traveler countless weeks, even months, perhaps years, to explore all that Myanmar has to offer. For those who do not have limitless time, highlight expeditions are an ideal way to experience the best of a destination. The carefully curated itinerary includes visits to local markets, natural attractions, temples and pagodas. For a complete overview trip, make stops at Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Heho Village and Inle Lake, the latter two in the Shan State. The archeological zone of Bagan, home to over 2,200 temples and pagoda ruins, is often compared to Angkor Wat in mystical gradeur and one of the main highlights of the trip.
Myanmar Highlights Expedition is a 6D/5N tour departing daily from Yangon.