Top Destinations in Myanmar

Inle Lake is one of top Myanmar destinations

The ultimate guide to top Myanmar destinations with guidelines where to go in Myanmar and what to see in Myanmar

Myanmar, or formerly Burma, is widely known as ‘the Golden Land’ or ‘the Land of Golden Pagodas’.

This mysterious Southeast Asian country is a land of golden ancient pagodas, remarkable colonial architecture, unspoiled nature, tropical rainforests, white sandy beaches, diverse society of 135 ethnic groups, exotic cultures, and above all, hospitable and open-hearted people.

Shwedagon pagoda and Yangon are one of top Myanmar top destinations
Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon in Myanmar © World Travel Connector

On my travels, I have never ever encountered so kind and welcoming people like the people of Myanmar. In the streets of Myanmar, people come to you asking how they can help you. Although they live in poverty, they don’t ask for money. They are not interested to get anything in return. Burmese people are genuinely interested only to help you. People of Myanmar feel honored to see a foreigner who shows interest in their country and their culture. They treat their visitors with respect and dignity.

A little Buddhist monk in Myanmar

2012 Myanmar opened its doors to foreigners after 50 years of an army dictatorship. MacDonalds, Starbucks, and 7-Eleven haven’t reached Myanmar yet.  I am not sure if this World needs more MacDonalds or 7-Eleven stores, but I am pretty sure that it needs more kind and modest people like the people of Myanmar.

If you are in doubt to visit or not to visit Myanmar because of some current sad political issues, I suggest separating local people from their governments. Unfortunately, sometimes governments don’t serve in the best interests of their people. Even worse, they do the opposite. I recommend watching Jade and the Generals video by Global Witness. And instead of boycotting travels to Mynamar I advocate caring for local communities. I vouch for helping local economies and responsible travel in Myanmar. G Adventures is a brand worldwide respected for higher purpose-driven travels by helping local communities and creating the change. In that sense, and if you are not into solo traveling, I recommend taking 14 days Classic Mynamar Adventure tour or 14 days Myanmar: Hilltribes & Sunrises.

Myanmar is a wonderful country of wonderful people.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO. 

BEST MYANMAR DESTINATIONS:  BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN MYANMAR

WHERE TO GO IN BURMA AND WHAT TO SEE IN BURMA?
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN BURMA AND BEST SITES TO SEE IN BURMA

1. BAGAN 

Bagan is one of top Myanmar destinations
Sunrise in Bagan © World Travel Connector

Modern Bagan with more than 2.000 pagodas is one of the most beautiful places in Myanmar and one of the most magical cities in the World. From the 9th to the 13th century Bagan was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan. And the Kingdom of Pagan was actually the first Myanmar Empire.

Bagan is one of top Myanmar destinations
Bagan in Myanmar © World Travel Connector

During the Bagan Golden Age, Bagan had over 10.000 pagodas. A legend says that 40.000 monks and 40.000 slaves built them as an act of merit. Today left ‘only’ about 2.000 stupas and temples on the area of 10.200 acres (4.200 ha). Only 2.000 pagodas!

Bagan is one of top Myanmar destinations
Pagodas in Bagan in Myanmar

Yes, Buddhist pagodas are on every corner in Bagan! And, they make Old Bagan look like a true mystical wonderland. The whole World has seen impressive photos of sunrise in Bagan with colorful hot-air balloons dotting the horizon. There is no question, driving e-bike around pagodas in Bagan and hot-air ballooning in Bagan is one of the top things to do in Myanmar.

Bagan is one of top Myanmar destinations
Sunrise in Bagan © World Travel Connector

If you are planning your trip to Myanmar, my recommended top things to do in Bagan would be: explore Bagan pagodas by e-bike (driving e-bike is super easy!), catch a perfect spot to watch surreal scenery of sun rising or falling in Bagan, take a hot-air balloon ride in sunrise, take a sunset boat tour on the Irrawaddy River, try some great Burmese food at legendary ‘Be Kind to Animals the Moon’ restaurant, visit monks at Kyat Khayon Cave Monastery

Bagan is one of top Myanmar destinations
Me riding an e-bike in Bagan in Myanmar © World Travel Connector

Entrance fee to Bagan Archaeological Zone: 20 USD.

Hot-air balloon ride in Bagan: 300-500 USD per person. (Golden Eagle Ballooning, Oriental Ballooning, Balloons Over Bagan)

E-bikes rental fee in Bagan: 5-10 USD/day

Where to stay in Bagan:

BUDGET: Ostello Bello Bagan Pool, Ostello Bello Bagan

MID-RANGE:  Six Stars Guest House, Bagan Vertex Hotel, Bagan Wynn Hotel

LUXURY:  Amazing Bagan Resort, Heritage Bagan Hotel, The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate

2. INLE LAKE

Inle lake is one of top destinations in Myanmar
Fishermen on Inle Lake in sunset © World Travel Connector

Inle Lake in Shan state is one of the top Myanmar destinations and one of the most interesting places in Myanmar. Even UNESCO acknowledged the importance of Inle Lake and proclaimed it a part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This scenic lake is 22 km long and 10 km wide and home to 70.000 people called Intha people meaning ‘the children of the Lake’.

Inle lake is one of top destinations in Myanmar
A fisherman on Inle Lake in Myanmar © World Travel Connector

But, Inle Lake became worldwide known for Intha fishermen with their unique rowing style, wooden houses on the stilts in shimmering waters and floating vegetable gardens.

Inle Lake is clearly a photographers paradise in Myanmar. As much as life on the Inle Lake is one of the top Myanmar things to see.

If you ask me what would be the best things to do in Inle Lake, I would say: go for sunset boat ride at Inle Lake, tour Inle Lake and visit the floating vegetable gardens on the lake, visit golden-red terraced Phaung Daw U Pagoda, go to the Monastery of Jumping Cats, circle by bike around the lake and visit ethnic villages around the lake, do wine tasting at Red Mountain Estate Vineyard, visit Shwe Inn Dein Pagodas (Garden of Stupas), try some Shan food (Shan cuisine is famous for soya meals and noodle soup).

Where to stay in Inle Lake:

BUDGET: Ostello Bello Nyaung Shwe, Song of Travel Hostel

MID-RANGE: Silver Lake Hotel, Golden Mountain Hotel, Innthar Lodge Home Stay

LUXURY: Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min, Amata Garden Resort, Inle Lake, Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort Inle

Inle Lake is one of the top Myanmar destinations
Shwe Inn Dain Pagoda in Inle Lake in Myanmar

3. KALAW

An old woman in Myanmar smoking traditional Burmese cigar

Kalaw is a small, rural and hill town of unspoiled nature and chilly weather. Once a hill station, recently it has become an adventuring mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and a tourist destination in Myanmar. Popular 3-day treks to Inle Lake start in Kalaw. From Kalaw to Inle Lake you can enjoy superb scenic rural views and local hospitality on the trail from Kalaw to Inle Lake. During 3-day trek overnight sleeps are organized at homes of local people or in Buddhist monasteries. On the way from Kalaw to Inle Lake, hikers can see the Burmese countryside where farms are still worked by ox and hands. If you choose to visit Inle Lake first and then Kalaw, don’t worry. The trek goes in the opposite direction from Inle Lake to Kalaw as well.

4. MANDALAY

Mandalay is one of top Myanmar destinations
Soon U Ponya Shin temple at the top of Sagaing Hill with views of the Irrawaddy River

Mandalay was once a royal city and the last capital of Myanmar before the British occupation. It is a city with a rich historical heritage and one of the best places in Myanmar to witness Burmese culture. When in Mandalay, be sure to visit Mandalay Palace with its red and gold wooden buildings, or take a walk across the U-Bein bridge in Mandalay which is the longest teak bridge in the World. Or, visit nearby Mingun Pagoda, the largest brick stupa in the World!

Mingun Pagoda in Mandalay is one of the best places to visit in Myanmar and Mandalay is one of top Myanmar destinations
Mingun Pagoda in Mandalay in Myanmar

But one of the most interesting things you can do in Myanmar is to take a boat ride from Bagan to Mandalay or from Mandalay to Bagan down the Irrawaddy River. The boat ride on Irrawaddy River, which is one of the mightiest rivers in Asia along with the Ganges River and Mekong River, takes around 10 hours.

A one-way ticket for the boat ride from Bagan to Mandalay: about 45 USD

Where to stay in Mandalay:

BUDGET: Downtown @ Mandalay, Celia Hostel Mandalay, Ostello Bello Mandalay

MID-RANGE: Hotel The Haven

LUXURY: Mercure Mandalay Hill Resort, Hilton Mandalay

5. MINDAT

Mindat in Mynamar is one of top Myanmar destinations
Chin woman with tattooed face in Mindat in Myanmar

Mindat is a small mountain town in Chin state that can be reached from Bagan and Mandalay. Visiting Chin women with tattooed faces is one of Myanmar highlights. Legend says that beautiful Chin women started tattooing their faces to protect themselves not to be taken to harems of King of Myanmar.  Although Mindat is still off the beaten track in Myanmar, tattooed faces of Chin women are slowly becoming a tourist attraction in Myanmar. But Mindat is not only about the Chin ladies, but also about breathtaking mountain scenery and daily treks to the mountains, especially Victoria mountain trek. Be aware, the small village of Mindat has just a few guesthouses and it is not an easy task to find stay in Mindat. Therefore, plan your visit and book your stay in Mindat in advance.

6. YANGON

Top Myanmar destinations
Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred Buddhist site in Myanmar © World Travel Connector

Once the capital city of Burma, Rangoon is one of Myanmar’s best places to visit and one of the most interesting cities in the Far East overall. Thus Yangon is one of Myanmar destinations not to be missed. I have to admit, I am in love with the colonial architecture and the Old World charm of Downtown Yangon.

Yangon is one of top Myanmar destinations
Yangon Downtown © World Travel Connector

Yangon is popularly called ‘the Garden of the East’ as it looks like a huge garden with gorgeous lakes, impressive colonial architecture, and majestic ancient pagodas. The Shwedagon Pagoda or the Golden Pagoda in Yangon is a famous landmark of Myanmar and a Buddhist religious site in Myanmar and one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the world overall. This 2.600-year-old pagoda is believed to be the oldest Buddhist stupa in the World.

Yangon is one of top Myanmar destinations
Pouring water over a Buddha statue © World Travel Connector

Yangon is a large city with a population of over 5 million people and there are inarguably many things to see and do in such a big city. But my selection of the best things to do in Yangon would be: stroll the Pansodan street in Downtown Yangon to enjoy the colonial architecture, visit Sule Pagoda, bargain at the Bogyoke Market, visit the Shwedagon Pagoda and pour water over the Buddha statue at the planetary post of your day of birth, take a circular train ride around Yangon, go for a tea to iconic Strand Hotel, have traditional Burmese tea leaf salad at ‘the Rangoon Tea House’, get a palm reading at Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda (palmistry and astrology are important parts of Burmese beliefs and culture).

Half-Day Private Tour in Yangon

Full-Day Private Tour oi Yangon: Highlights of Yangon

Rangoon is one of top Myanmar destinations to visit
Shwedagon Pagoda  is a famous Yangon point of interest and a Buddhist pilgrimage site in Myanmar © World Travel Connector

Where to stay in Yangon:

BUDGET STAY: HOOD Hostel, Bodhi Nava Boutique Hostel & Cafe, Thanlwin Guesthouse

MID-RANGE ACCOMMODATION: Hotel Shwe Yee, Hotel Balmi

LUXURY STAY: Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon, Melia Yangon, Yangon Excelsior

7. KYAIKTIYO PAGODA

Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is one of top things to see in Myanmar and best Myanmar destinations
Kyaiktiyo Pagoda © World Travel Connector

The Golden Rock is a 7.3 m high pagoda on the top of granite rock. The rock is covered with golden leaves left by Buddhist devotees. The balancing rock is said to stand on a Buddha’s hair strand defying the gravity for ages as it seems it could roll down the hill every moment.

Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is the third most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in Myanmar, after the Shwedagon Pagoda and Mahamudi Pagoda.  Recently this dramatic pagoda has become a tourist attraction in Myanmar as many tourists flock there to witness Buddhist pilgrimage. Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Mon State is definitely one of the most interesting places to see in Burma and things to see in Myanmar on your trip.

Visit Golden Rock in a day tour from Yangon

8. HPA AN

Hpa An is one of top destinations in Myanmar
Kawgun cave in Hpa An in Myanmar © World Travel Connector

At the end of my Myanmar trip, I went to Hpa-An in Kayan State in the south of Myanmar. My friend persuaded me to go to Hpa-An.  And Hpa-An caves became unexpectedly one of Myanmar highlights. I was blown away by the beauty of the scenery of Hpa An area and amazed to see sacred Buddhist caves! Hpa-an caves are hidden gems of Myanmar. You can read more about Buddhist sacred caves in Hpa An

MAYBE YOU ALSO WOULD LIKE TO READ: Hpa An Caves

Hpa An is one of the top Mynamar destinations
Rice fields in Myanmar © World Travel Connector

While Hpa-An is a sleepy small town, the nature in Hpa-An Area is sublime. Rice fields in Hpa An in Myanmar are one of the most beautiful rice fields I have ever seen in my life, along with rice fields in Bali.

Hpa An is one of top Myanmar destinations
Kyauk Kalat Pagoda © World Travel Connector

MAYBE YOU ALSO WOULD LIKE TO READBali rice terraces 

My recommendation for the best things to do in Hpa An would be: enjoy the views of lush green rice fields and limestone mountains in Hpa-An, explore sacred Buddhist caves and admire Kyauk Kalat Pagoda that sits on the top of limestone.

9. MAWLAMYINE

Moulmein is one of top Myanmar destinations
Kyaik Than Lan Pagoda in Mawlamyine © World Travel Connector

Former Moulmein and today’s Mawlamyine is probably best known for George Orwell’s ‘My Burmese Days’ and ‘Shooting an Elephant’. Visiting Mawlamyine is like going back in time to the British colonial era of Burma. It is a quiet town, somewhat melancholic with almost no tourists and completely off the beaten track in Myanmar.

But yes, it is special. Yes, you want to visit British Burma as it was once. And Mawlamyine is the best place in Myanmar for that. The best things to do in Mawlaymine are: wander the streets admiring colonial buildings, churches and mosques in Mawlamyine,  watch stunning sunsets over Thanwiln River with numerous seagulls on the river from the Strand Road (as soon as you come to Mawlaymine, you will notice enormous flocks of seagulls!), get the best panoramic views of Mawlamyine from Kyaik Than Lan Pagoda, stay for free and do some meditation in the famous Buddhist Pa-Auk Forest Monastery, take a tuk-tuk ride at Mawlaymine central bus station and visit Win Sein Taw Ya -180 m long and the biggest reclining Buddha in the World.

Little Buddhist nuns in Myanmar

Best time to visit Myanmar

The best time to visit Burma is in dry winter months from November to February.

There are two seasons in Myanmar: dry and rainy. The dry winter season lasts from November to February. Rainy monsoon season in Myanmar starts in May and ends in October. But, from March to May intensive heats start, especially in the central part of the country – in Bagan and Mandalay where daily temperatures regularly reach over 40º C.

Map of best places to see in Myanmar

Top Myanmar destinations
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ MY DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO.

22 comments

  1. The architecture of Myanmar is so incredibly unique! Love the gold accents. Would love to see the hot air balloons in real life!

  2. I’ve long been planning to visit this humble country for quite long now since it has a lot to offer. Truly, there are really interesting places to enjoy. Hopefully, I can traipse my feet here soon. Thank you so much for sharing another underrated country with us.

  3. I didn’t know much about Myanmar until reading your post. And to be honest, going to any Asian countries wasn’t really something I wanted to do. But I think you’ve changed my mind. I’m glad to know the best time to visit is equivalent to my winter in California — perfect timing for a winter escape!

  4. Such a comprehensive article!! Bagan has been in my bucket list for ages now, really wish I could visit it soon. Your pictures are stunning!! I didn’t know why women of Mindat tattooed their face. Hope they don’t do that anymore now. I didn’t even know of Kawgun cave before today, such a beautiful place! Loved your article. 😀

  5. You did a great job of showcasing Myanmar’s best destinations in a single article. I really enjoyed reading this and it sure brought back a lot of memories from my time in Myanmar. thank you for sharing

  6. What a beautiful country! I didn’t know that Myanmar is known as the Land of Golden Pagodas,’ but I can see why. Rangoon, the former capital city of Burma, seems seems particularly beautiful.

  7. Everywhere looks incredible, I wouldn’t know how to plan a route here because I wouldn’t want to miss anything!! Also isn’t it lovely how kind and welcoming the people are. I really want to go to Myanmar now, especially before the McDonalds and 7-Eleven move in…

    Jenny | localleo.co.uk

  8. So many amazing new places to visit in Myanmar. Such incredible pagodas. Didn’t realize it was the land of Golden Pagodas. I’d really love to visit one day soon. Great article.

  9. I visited Myanmar in April. Possibly the worst time of the year to go. My photos are all bland and washed out compared to the wonderful greenery you got to see. Your photos of Bagan have made me reconsider going back to Myanmar to explore more

  10. I’ve defo put this on my list after reading! The Pagodas are insanely cool and the people sound incredible. Seems like the negatives of the western world haven’t changed them. I hope McDonalds or 7-Eleven stores, Do not show up before I visit. The temple statues look so colorful and vibrant as well! great read.

  11. Wow! Sounds like you met some amazing people, quite rare when traveling!💛 I would totally LOVE to hot-air ballooning in Bagan – it looks absolutely magical! ✨ Mandalay also sounds amazing, that boat ride is a fab idea.

  12. Myanmar is one of the great beauty of Asia, and perfect destination for a retreat travel.
    I am planning to pay them a visit scheduled this year 😀

  13. I love the fishing photos and the lady smoking a traditional Burmese cigar. I really enjoy reading travel stories like these about the locals and experiences off the beaten track instead of the usual tourist spots. Myanmar is much more unique than I realised!

  14. It is no surprise after seeing your pictures that Myanmar is known as the “Golden Land.” I may try to make it over here before the end of the year, but I’m not sure yet. If I book a ticket, I’ll be sure to come back to your post for a refresher! Shwedagon Pagoda especially just looks so incredible.

  15. Myanmar is such a gorgeous combination of culture, heritage, nature and adventure. Bagan and Inle have always been on my list. Your post has added a few more places to my list.

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