Myanmar is a true gem of Southeast Asia, with electric cities, magical villages, enchanting beaches, and a beautiful culture.
Since the country recently opened to tourism, it’s not yet overrun by foreign visitors, creating a chance to have an authentic experience. From its charming pagodas to the inviting sea, there’s no shortage of places to visit and explore in this unique country.
To help with your trip planning, here are the best places to visit in Myanmar!
There’s nothing quite as stunning as watching the sunrise in Bagan. It’s home to more than 2,000 pagodas that absolutely glow when the sun hits them just right.
Between the months of October and April, hot air balloons rise in the sky around the pagodas, giving visitors an epic view of the landscape below. Even if you’re not in the balloon yourself, it’s quite a sight to behold as all of the balloons soar in the air during sunrise or sunset.
When you’re admiring the sights, cruise around the city on an electric bicycle to visit the old part of town!
Nestled in the hills and poking up over the city, Bagan’s pagodas are a world wonder in themselves and are certainly worth checking out when you’re traveling to Myanmar.
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A postcard vision of Myanmar and boasting some of the best views in the country, Mount Popa is certainly one of the best places to visit in Myanmar.
Just next to Bagan and also easily accessible from Mandalay, Mount Popa boasts some of the best views in the country from a monastery sitting atop what was once a volcano. Golden stupas jut up towards the sky, mischievous monkeys roam the pathways searching for a snack, and some of the most powerful Nats in Myanmar go about their days of devotion — it’s quite a scene.
To get to the top of Mount Popa, you’ll climb 777 steps, but it’ll be worth it when you’re greeted with breathtaking views of the surrounding areas. Lush valleys stretch out below and small villages and pagodas gleam in the distance.
For a blend of culture, religion and good old-fashioned hiking, Mount Popa can’t be missed.
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The second largest city in Myanmar, Mandalay is worth a visit for its rich history and deep culture.
The centerpiece of the city is the Shwenandaw Monastery, built from teak wood with intricate carvings that have been beautifully preserved. It’s unlike any other religious site in Myanmar, giving an interesting contrast to the rest of the monasteries and pagodas you may visit throughout your trip.
It was once a part of the Royal Palace, another place worth visiting in Mandalay. Here, you’ll learn about the compelling history of royalty in Myanmar and soak in views from the top of the watchtowers.
For an extra dose of adventure, opt to travel to Mandalay via a cruise along the Irrawaddy River from Bagan, where you’ll come across local life in the form of fishermen out for their daily catch and small villages situated along the banks.
Read More: Things to Do in Mandalay
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Ah Yangon, where to start? As the capital of Myanmar, there’s plenty to see and do in this city but the best part about it is the electricity you feel from the hustle and bustle around you.
The traffic is wild, the people come in crowds, but you can really feel local life at its rawest here. People rushing to work, monks traversing the markets, beer stations filled with men after work, and the smell of grandma’s lunch wafting from open windows. It’s unlike anywhere else in the world!
Yangon is home to the Sule Pagoda situated in the heart of downtown, an incredible contrast to the imperial buildings and Victorian-style homes that surrounds it. A little further out from the city center is the ever famous Shwedagon Pagoda, breathtaking in all of its golden glory. More than 2,000 years old and marvelously maintained, you’ll come away from your visit in awe, I promise.
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Located in the Shan State, you’ll find Inle Lake, the second largest lake in all of Myanmar. It’s a glorious place to visit as it’s surrounded by rolling mountains, marshy green banks, and home to a vibrant marine ecosystem. Houses stand on stilts overlooking the water and fishermen glide through the water, searching for their next catch.
Time seems to stand still around Inle Lake, with temples and pagodas rising form the banks and locals cultivating small gardens rising from the water itself.
It’s a serene place to visit, even more so if you’re looking for authentic local life and some delicious seafood. Take a boat ride at sunset to soak it all in — the colors reflecting on the glassy surface of the lake is something you’re sure to remember forever.
An extraordinary city in the south of Myanmar, Hpa An is quiet, peaceful, and serenely beautiful.
Wake up early in the morning to watch life swirl around you as locals begin their exercises, women make their way to the market with baskets on their heads, and young monks roam the streets with their collection bowls.
There’s plenty to do around the area like visiting the lake in the center of the city, hiking to the top of Mount Zwekabin to visit the monastery or enjoy a sunset, and wandering through the Lumbini Garden, laden with more than 1,100 statues of Buddha.
One of the coolest parts of Hpa An is the area is surrounded by natural caves ready to be explored. Sadaar Caves is one of the most impressive ones, and after you make your way through the intricate network of natural tunnels, you can return to the starting point by wooden boat!
One of the most popular beach destinations in the country, Ngwe Saung is one of the best places to visit in Myanmar if you’re seeking a relaxing holiday by the ocean.
Plush golden sand, palm trees and turquoise waters… What more could you ask for? Since the influx of tourism, Ngwe Saung has built itself up to accommodate foreign visitors. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants along the beach serving up fresh seafood and Burmese delicacies, and there are snorkeling and diving facilities, too! If you have the chance, definitely take the opportunity to strap on a mask and explore the waters. The marine life is beyond vibrant.
It’s best to visit this area (and beaches in Myanmar in general) between December and April when the weather is warm and steamy, perfect for lying out on the beach or taking a dive into the inviting waters.
Read More: Your Guide to Ngwe Saung Beach, Myanmar
Sitting along the Bay of Bengal and located northwest of Yangon, Ngapali Beach offers visitors seclusion and glorious remoteness for an intimate and charming vacation. It’s one of the best places to visit in Myanmar due to the white sands and crystal blue water practically beckoning you in…
The beach is the main highlight of Ngapali; it’s perfect for spending days lounging on the sand without interruption or pesky tourist crowds. You can even purchase fresh fruit from local women on the beach – yum! That being said, there’s still plenty to do in the area to keep you occupied between sunbathing and splashing in the water.
You can hit the Thandwe Market for fresh produce and souvenirs or take a hot air balloon ride to view the beach from above. Yoga is another popular activity around Ngapali as there are plenty of studios and classes offered on the beach! Another option is to take a trip to the Shwe Nandaw Pagoda Hill where you can climb to the top and relish in beautiful views down below.
Read More: Ultimate Guide to Ngapali Beach
There’s nowhere more alluring than the Mergui Archipelago. A remote paradise barely frequented by tourists, this network of over 800 islands is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Myanmar.
There’s a complete lack of tourist infrastructure, save for a handful of resorts scattered throughout, giving visitors the most genuine and wild feeling during your stay.
Many of the islands in the archipelago have never seen a human footprint before, and those that have are still widely untouched by man’s mark. Deep, dark forests cover the islands, with the coasts laden with alluring sand and inviting waters.
The best way to visit the Mergui Archipelago is aboard a chartered yacht, sailing tour, or liveaboard ship, where you’ll get to travel from island to island in the comfort of modern accommodation. If you have the chance to take a trip here, jump at it as this is one of the most pristine island ecosystems in the entire world!
As far as special places in the world go, Myanmar is really up there. It’s so different from anywhere else in Asia and the world, mainly because it retains its original charm, unaltered by foreign visitors (so far).
Take the chance to visit as much of this amazing country as possible before it becomes overrun with tourists — it will be a life-changing trip!
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