Myanmar is home to hundreds of thousands of temples and pagodas, gleaming high in the sky with their golden stupas, intricate carvings, and Buddhist images.
It could take a lifetime and a half to visit all of the pagodas in Myanmar as they’re scattered throughout the country, tucked away on high hills and hidden in dark caves. While it’s virtually impossible to see all of them, we’ve picked out the best temples in Myanmar that you should absolutely make it to during a trip to this magical country.
Quick Answer: Best Temples in Myanmar
Here are our top 10 must-see temples in Myanmar. Read on to learn more about what makes each one so special!
- Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
- Lawkaoushaung Temple, Bagan
- Ananda Temple, Bagan
- Htukkanthein Temple, Mrauk U
- Kothaung, Mrauk U
- Bayin Nyi Monastery, Hpa An
- Popa Taung Kalat Monastery, Mount Popa
- Shwenandaw Monastery, Mandalay
- Mahamuni Paya, Mandalay
- Hsinbyume Pagoda, Mingun
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Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
Shwedagon Pagoda is a gleaming conglomerate of pointed temples just outside of Yangon’s city center.
The sheer number of glistening gold pagodas encrusted with gems is dizzying as you walk within the complex with your bare feet on the cool tile ground. There’s no doubt it’s one of the best temples to visit if you’re in Myanmar’s capital.
The best way to visit Shwedagon Pagoda is to arrive late in the afternoon when the sun is still up to experience the temple during the day. Then to stay after the sunset to watch it light up as the night gets dark. It’s magical!
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Lawkaoushaung Temple, Bagan
It’s no secret that Bagan has some of the best sunrises in the world and experiencing one from Bagan’s temples is nothing short of breathtaking.
While Shwesandaw Pagoda, the most popular temple in Bagan, sees tons of tourists for sunrise, less well-known Lawkaoushaung Temple is a peaceful paradise as the sun comes up. It’s free from crowds so you can enjoy the place all to yourself first thing in the morning.
Something that makes Lawkaoshuang so special is that lots of the temples have terraces on the second and third levels, allowing you to get an unmatched 360° view of the plain below!
Ananda Temple, Bagan
A stunning structure that’s been standing since 1105, Ananda Temple is large and imposing but still with an inviting atmosphere as locals and visitors alike crowd the complex.
Ananda Temple is a prime example of the intricacies of Burmese architecture, built in a mixture of styles but with a strong Buddhist core running through and through.
This Burmese temple has a golden stupa that rises out of the white, carved buildings, as well as four different Buddha statues facing four different directions. There are loads of special details scattered throughout the structures here, just waiting to be discovered.
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Htukkanthein Temple, Mrauk U
Located in ancient Mrauk U, Htukkanthein Temple is full of mysteries. Unlike other temples in Myanmar, this holy place is dark and angular rather than gilded and round.
Htukkanthein is made up of coiled mazes that lead to a central Buddha statue sitting in the middle of the compound. While it’s fun to wander the dimly-lit passageways and halls, this is one place you don’t want to get lost!
Kothaung, Mrauk U
Another thrilling temple in Mrauk U, Kothaung is one of the most enchanting places in this area of Myanmar.
Also known as the Temple of 90,000 Buddha Images, Kothaung has an enchanting feel that will make you want to explore every nook and cranny. These temple ruins are seldom visited by tourists, leaving the entire place empty and open just for you.
Besides the thousands of Buddhas, this Burmese temple is also home to stunning carvings that depict Buddha fighting off demons.
Bayin Nyi Monastery, Hpa An
While most temples in Myanmar are displayed openly and proudly, Bayin Nyi is a monastery built into a cave and hidden from public sight. It’s secluded and a little bit spooky, but an amazing change of pace, especially if you’re starting to get templed-out on your trip to Myanmar.
In the cave, you’ll find bits and pieces of the temple complex as well as statues of Buddha just about everywhere you look.
The temple complex is also home to their own hot springs, so if you stay the night you’ll be in for a real treat… Just watch out for the monkeys!
Popa Taung Kalat Monastery, Mount Popa
Sitting high atop Mount Popa, you’ll find the famous Popa Taung Kalat Monastery which draws in locals and visitors from far and wide.
Mount Popa is a thrilling place to visit, and the temple is even more spectacular. The long flight of stairs lined with monkeys builds up the anticipation, but once you get to the top there’s nothing more majestic than the view out over the valleys and plains.
A visit to this monastery is great if you’re seeking some peace and quiet. Due to the fact that it’s so remote and literally a hike to get here, seclusion is almost guaranteed. This is the perfect spot for reflection, meditation, and channeling your inner monk.
Shwenandaw Monastery, Mandalay
A true gem of Mandalay, Shwenandaw Monastery is a stunning temple made of teak wood which was completed in 1880. The monastery was once a part of the Royal Palace, with King Mindon using the building as his personal quarters. After the king’s death, his son had the building relocated to the base of Mandalay Hill.
The entire structure is a work of art, with some of the most intricate carvings in the world. While the interior of the temple was once covered in gold leaf, it’s given way to time and the original wood darkly shines through now.
Mahamuni Paya, Mandalay
Mahamuni Paya sits near the urban center of Mandalay, creating a quiet and conscious retreat from the daily hustle and bustle of things.
The ornate golden spire juts towards the sky from the intricately built red and white structure. Archways lead to narrow corridors, further leading to secret spaces of worship tucked away in the shadows.
The centerpiece of this Mandalay temple is the 13-foot Buddha standing tall and shimmering, as he’s rumored to have been for the last 2,000 years. It’s an enchanting place to spend an afternoon.
And if you’re interested in learning more about the history of the temple, pay a visit to the art museum sitting in the courtyard of the compound!
Hsinbyume Pagoda, Mingun
The final temple in our picks of the best in Myanmar is the Hsinbyume Pagoda. Here, the typical gleaming gold temple exterior is swapped with a stark white, with curved carvings and tiered access points.
Built in 1816, this temple stands in distinct contrast to most of the other places of worship in Myanmar. It’s reminiscent of the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand, not just in its color but also in the sense that it’s painfully detailed and has different levels bringing you to the top of the structure.
At the very peak of the pagoda is a small golden stupa to bring things back to their origins.
Myanmar truly is the land of temples and visiting them should be an integral part of your trip to the country. From culture to history to deep, dark mystery, Myanmar’s temples have it all!
Are you exploring Myanmar? Check out these other articles!
- Where to Go in Myanmar: 9 Places You Must Visit
- Yangon Itinerary: A 3-Day Guide to the Best of Yangon
- Why You Need to Visit Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago Now
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