A luxurious journey that involves some out of this world experiences. And there are not many places in this world have more unique things to offer than Myanmar.
Every trip to Yangon, either in a few days or just a day stop, would be imperfect without a visit to the holiest Buddhist shrine of Burma. Although the legend said the Shwedagon Pagoda was constructed more than 2,600 years ago, archaeologists estimated it was first built sometime between the 6th and 10th centuries AD.
The complex is full of glittering stupas but the center of attraction is the 326-feet high main stupa that is completely covered by genuine gold plates from the donation of people all over the country. Its crown is tipped with 5,448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies with a 76-carat diamond placed on the very top of it.
To get into the old Circle Line Train like to take a ride through history. Built more than 60 years ago to connect the suburb areas to Yangon, the train carries thousands of people every day, at a slow pace, around Myanmar’s commercial heart.
The train has several runs daily, circles 28-mile loop around Yangon in a little less than three hours. As a piece of the past, these old carriages have no air condition, bench seats are hard, some fans seem to be broken, but visitors might find it the best way to soak in the life of Yangon. It’s an interesting experience to sit next to vendors taking their products to market, see the local passengers sometimes hop on and off while the train is still running at a jogging speed. You can always exit at any one of 38 stops that catch your eyes such as Shan Road market or Banana Market.
That is easy to understand why Bagan instantly comes to everybody's mind when they think of Myanmar. This country’s precious treasure has an unbelievable number of over 2,200 brick stupas and shrines sprawling across a dryish 40-square-mile plain on the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy River. From a hot air balloon, as the sun sets, the Angkor Wat of Burma looks like a fairytale kingdom. Thousand years have been passed by this ancient royal capital, but in many ways, it is still reminiscent of a magnificent Buddhist city that it might have been 10 centuries ago.
Are you ready to continue exploring the glorious Burma Kingdom on a horse cart? The temples of Bagan are surrounded by villages and it is easy to spot every peaceful rural life. Women herding their cattle, children with yellowish-white powder on checks running after the cart, villagers doing their daily routine, and novice nuns heading out for their morning meal, all these simple pictures make a lovely contrary to the magnificence of the temple architecture surrounding.
Related article: Top 3 Best Ways to Explore the Ancient City of Bagan
This is certainly not a normal voyage that you could get anytime and anywhere. The timeless river goes through many significant sites between Bagan and Mandalay. Burma treasures which were kept secret for millenniums, from former royal capitals, thousands of impressive temples to ancient craft villages, are waiting for a gentle touch to open. Going downstream (or upstream) the Irrawaddy on a boat, you now can discover Myanmar in a deeply spiritual way.
In western Shan, there is a remarkable place that you shouldn’t miss on your first visit to Myanmar. The 13.5-mile freshwater lake is utterly captivating. The authentic attractions come from rustic wooden stilt houses standing on the waterways, floating tomato farmings based on hydroponic growing method, and Intha fishermen using one-legged paddling technique you won’t see elsewhere in the world.
From a boat on Inle Lake, you will know that Bagan isn’t the only place to see beautiful stupas in this country. Small, intimate, and dedicated, thousand-centuries-old pagodas are simply astonishing passing by your eyes. You can ask your boatman to stop at some unique pagodas which are all easy to explore on foot.
The photogenic U-Bein Bridge was in 1847 and spans nearly a mile crossing the Taungthaman Lake. From 5 pm, the lake is deluged with tourists who are eager to capture the bridge against the sunset. But if you can wake up early, the experience would be priceless: The ambiance is completely silent and there is no distraction from the tranquility. Take a stroll along the bridge in the dim light of early morning and pass barefoot monks heading to the town for alms receiving and workers cycling slowly to their manufactures. Time seems to stop for a while for people to meditate their life from a new perspective.
Related article: The Story of U Bein Bridge in Mandalay Myanmar
50 km from the Inle Lake, Kalaw was founded by British civil servants as a high-altitude holiday resort to get away from the heat. The beauty of this town lies in the laid-back vibe, the cool air, the picturesque trekking trails, and the architecture related to the British colonial time. Trek through the Shan Hill to the village of Palaung tribe is surely interesting activity to visit their tea, damson, and mangoes plantation on the hill, walk on their unique 30-meter-or-so longhouses, talk to cheroot makers and smokers as well.
Tucked away in the far eastern part of Shan state, many visitors see Kengtung as a mecca of tribal diversity. Apart from its beautiful mountain valleys and stunning natural beauty, the highland tribes in this peaceful town are truly unique and diverse. Each possesses its own customs, religion, and language. The Akhu with most of the women smoking long pipes, the Enn with black teeth and distinctively elongated earlobes caused by wearing large earrings, the Lahu Shi who used to be tiger hunters, and the most recognizable Akha with their traditional headdress which is decorated with beads, silver buttons, and balls. Talk to the tribes will give you valued knowledge of Burma history
Related article: 6 Highlights in Shan State, Myanmar
With more than 2,000 kilometers of coastline, Myanmar possesses a lot of unspoiled beaches. Many of them will remind you of Thailand’s beaches 20 years ago. The most outstanding beaches are the Ngapali, Ngwe Saung, Chaung Tha, and Kanthaya which are all a pleasant hit if you want to get away from the noisy urban life to relax on white sands and clear, calm water.
Related article: 4 Beautiful Beaches You Should Visit In Myanmar
Dokhtawaddy means “little river”, by contrast with the big river Irrawaddy, but that doesn’t mean it’s less charm than the later. Dokhtawaddy flows westwards through the northern Shan Plateau of eastern Burma and enters the Irrawaddy at Amarapura. It’s a great idea to cruise upstream the little river and stop sometimes to visit pineapple and orange plantations, walk on the 150-year old Shan monastery, have lunch at a hill-tribe village to meet the locals, learn about their culture and lifestyle, and jump down the river for a swimming break before heading back in the afternoon to catch some beautiful sunset on the way.
The Floating Festival is to welcome Buddha and his disciples returning after 3 months preaching of Lent. The celebration starts at dawn with a lot of traditional activities happening on the banks of the Shwe Kyin Creek. Local performers dance and sing on boats while men and women take part in boat racing. At night, fireworks will display and people will light the candles of paper lanterns before floating them to the water.
Shwe Kyin Floating Light Festival is celebrated on the 16th of Thadingyut - the seventh month of the Myanmar calendar: A great opportunity for people who want to get closer to the culture and tradition of lower Myanmar.
The Mergui Archipelago, in far southern Myanmar, consists of more than 800 islands, varying in size from very small to hundreds of square kilometers. It’s surprising when the whole world is changing rapidly, the Mergui still remains untouched and unspoiled. If you always dream of a trip which truly drives you back in time, if you want to be the first one to discover an island which no one has written about it so far, or if you are seeking a place to wake up every morning with a new thing, you will find the answers at the Mergui.