Southeast Asia has become a mecca for tourists to sample and savor the mysterious, ancient beauty of Buddhist temples and beautiful beaches. And due to the influx of adventurers traipsing through and crossing borders, there are very few destinations in the region that have yet to be Westernized and preserve their untouched appeal. Take for example, Myanmar, formerly Burma. There are a few reasons why Myanmar has yet been inundated by tourists, ranging from ethical issues to bad press, turmoil and more.
As I began hearing more and more about Myanmar and slowly started to see it appear more often on my Instagram feed, I decided to experience this complex place for myself. Mysterious and somewhat untouched, Myanmar is an absolute gem waiting to be discovered. Here are some of my insider tips and favorite moments from beautiful Myanmar.
The central city in Myanmar’s southern region is a perfect spot for a layover before heading onward, but also is also a place not to be missed!
Whatever you do in Yangon, make sure to visit the magnificent golden Shwedagon Pagoda at sunrise. The glimmering pagoda is absolutely enormous, and famously houses four Buddhas representing different incarnations and facing each direction (north, south, east and west).
Remember to cover your shoulders and knees, although apparently you can swap money for a wrap at the entrance! Our tour of Shwedagon was so interesting… and it allowed for me to learn all about the intricacies of Buddhism, Yangon and Myanmar customs and quirks.
Belmond Governor’s Residence
Located in Yango’s embassy quarter, Belmond Governor’s Residence was built in the 1920’s and the property still has the nostalgic essence of the era. Our stay here was so dreamy! The overall mood of the hotel is so calming and being surrounded by its gorgeously kept gardens and water was an absolute retreat.
The land of over 2,000 pagodas scattered throughout the vast space is just as beautiful (if not more) than the photos you’ve seen. Aside from the obvious hot air balloon sunrise experience that everyone travels here for, Bagan offers a little something special and that is certain kind of peace and serenity in the air. As we hopped from one pagoda to another, I couldn’t help appreciate the calm nature of the whole scene.
I’d suggest traveling around by e-bike, as opposed to walking. It’s definitely the most efficient way to get around the area, plus it allows you see the whole area unfold in front of you. This form of transportation around Bagan is widely available and easy to find. However, if you want to treat yourself to something more romantic, go for a ride on a horse cart. It may be the slower way to see the area, but it feels incredibly like the old-world.
Although we did not go on the hot air balloon ride over Bagan, the cost for this experience typically runs for about $300 per person… which is quite steep if you ask me! We had just as beautiful of an experience witnessing the balloons as the sun rose from North Guni Pagoda.
Unfortunately, due to countless earthquakes in the area more and more pagodas get disappeared from Earth or simply get banned from climbing by the government. So these moments when you can feel like you are part of the “Indiana Jones” movie should be treasured here and now. You never know what tomorrow can bring or what it can take away!
Main Pagodas To Visit:
Mandalay & Mingun
I’d highly suggest taking a short and relaxing ride on a local wooden boat from Mandalay to Mingun. Road To Mandalay offers the ideal route to explore the undiscovered beauty of the untouched and enchanting Ayeyarwady River. Seeing the golden spired pagodas, ancient temples, villages and striking monasteries from the subtle and intentionally made Burmese ship of woven furniture and carved wood – a total dream. The on board crew was so thoughtful and kind as they navigated us to the gleaming white pagodas afar. We also made friends with the sweet and bright eyed children of the village of Myinmu during our trip. It truly was a remarkable experience!
- November to Feb: cold and dry season
- March to April: hot, dry season
- May to October: wet season