Myanmar is one of the least known destinations in the world, a land of golden temples, breathtaking beauty and extraordinary charm that is steeped in history and traditions. In the last decade Myanmar has begun to open up to travellers keen to discover the country for themselves.
Myanmar has a festival for every month of the year. Most festivals are cultural and religious and the majority are celebrated nationwide. Festivals tend to fall around the dates of the full moon.
Yangon is the country’s largest and most important city with a population of around 6 million but it is no longer the capital which was relocated in March 2006 by order of the military government to the newly-constructed city of Naypyidaw, 200 miles away. The “Garden City” of Downtown Yangon richly deserves the name with its tree-lined avenues and parks, an interesting mix of modern and colonial buildings. A visit to the Shewedagon Pagoda is a must. For an interesting day trip visit Twante pottery village, or see the pagoda in the river at Syriam or explore the temples and pagodas in Bago. Birdwatchers might like a boat trip through the Moeyungyi wetlands about 2½ hours from Yangon. Please let us know if you are interested in a cooking lesson, or shopping for hand woven fabrics or traditional handicrafts.
Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is the most sacred and impressive Buddhist site and arguably one of the greatest wonders of the religious world. According to legend this gilded stupa was constructed over 2600 years ago, making it the oldest Buddhist pagoda in the world, although historians and archaeologists maintain that it dates from the 6th to the 10th centuries. It is covered with gold leaf and the top of the stupa is encrusted with 4531 diamonds; the largest of which is a 72 carat diamond.
We will take you on an interactive tour through the back door to show you the full history of the pagoda and give you an insight into the daily lives of people living in the immediate surroundings of the pagoda and a deeper understanding of how Buddhist spiritual belief is mixed with nats, the Myanmar spirits.
The Golden Rock is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Myanmar Buddhists and has become a must-see landmark for foreign travellers. The giant boulder with a pagoda on top appears to sit precariously on the side of Mount Kyaiktiyo and is entirely covered in gold leaf. It is said to balance on a single hair of the Buddha and to bring pilgrims prosperity (although only men are allowed to touch the rock). Getting there the easy way usually involves taking a crowded open-top truck which hurtles along at break-neck pace and pays scant regard to potholes and sheer drops, followed by a walk of one and a half hours (or paying to be carried in a sedan chair). There are longer hikes.
Bagan, on the shore of the Irawaddy River in central Myanmar, is one of the greatest archaeological sites in Asia, with over 4000 temples concentrated into just a few square miles. Bagan was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2019.
The majority of the buildings were constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries, during the time that Bagan was the capital of the Myanmar dynasty.
Bagan is full of ancient architectural designs, mural paintings, precious frescoes and stone inscriptions. It is also the centre for the manufacture of lacquerware.
Mandalay, home to the last monarch of Burma, King Thibaw, is 450 miles north of Yangon on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River. It was the centre of Burmese culture and Buddhist learning throughout the period of British rule (1885-1948) and became the focal point of protest against colonial imperialism. Whilst modern Mandalay has lost some of its charm, the surrounding area has not. Sagaing Hill is dotted with small stupas and temples (it is also famous for its silver workshops) and it is worth exploring the ruins of the former kingdom of Ava. We also recommend a visit to Amarapura with a walk over the wooden Ubein Bridge across Taungthaman Lake. The bridge was built between 1849 and 1851 by King Bagan and is the longest teak bridge in the world.
A river cruise along the Ayeyarwady River between Bagan and Mandalay is one of the most exciting ways to travel, with a range of excursions and activities to explore rural villages and visit golden pagodas and expert lectures to delve into the culture and history of Myanmar.
We book a variety of river cruises to suit most budgets according to the level of luxury and comfort you require so please call us to discuss your own particular preferences.
Please also contact us for itineraries which combine a luxury river cruise with the Eastern & Oriental Express train from Singapore, via Malaysia and Thailand.
Inle Lake is more than 800 meters above sea level and has a pleasant cool climate. A day trip by motorboat on the lake will take you to villages built on stilts, floating gardens and a colourful market frequented by different tribal peoples living on or around the lake. South of the lake the ruins of Indein are worth a visit. Other activities include a trek to Kakku, an ancient Pa-O hill tribe, canoe trips on the lake or a visit to the market at Nyaung Shwe and the former palace of the Shan prince. The former British hill station at Kalaw retains vestiges of colonial atmosphere and is home to an interesting elephant conservation project.
Ngapali is the prime beach destination of Myanmar, crystal clear water, friendly locals, excellent seafood restaurants and several boutique style hotels. It is an ideal spot to relax or go snorkelling trip but you can also explore surrounding villages such as Maung Shwe Lay in Andrew’s Bay. Ngapali beach can be reached by airplane from Yangon or Sittwe while the more adventurous travellers can take an exciting jeep expedition from Pyay and discover for themselves part of Myanmar that is just beginning to open up to foreigners for the first time since colonial days.
Other Destinations in South-East Asia and beyond
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Myanmar Revealed is part of Revealed Travel, owned by Mercator Enterprises Ltd.