Myanmar Sunset – Where to Enjoy a Gorgeous Sunset on My Myanmar Tour
Posted on 25/07/2017 9:54:18
Rudyard Kipling wrote, “This is Burma. It will be quite unlike any land you know about.” More than a century later, Myanmar retains the ability to surprise and delight even the most world-weary travelers, all in a country where pious Buddhist monks are held in higher esteem than world-famous rock stars.
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is a sovereign state in Asia that is bordered by India and Bangladesh to the west, Thailand and Laos to the east, and China to the north and northeast. And just a small part of that northern border comprises a border with southeast Tibet.
Majority of the country lies between the tropic of Cancer and the Equator, making it a monsoon country with average temperatures ranging from 21 degrees in the north to 32 degrees in the south. The government of the country has been encouraging tourism since 1992, however, there has previously been little in the way of a tourist industry until recent years.
Long considered a pariah state, this has been changing since 2010, as a gradual liberalization process has been underway. Moreover, with the change in government in 2016, things have changed even more for the tourist industry.
Tourism in Myanmar
Myanmar is a tourist spot that is slowly developing since the move away from military rule, and it is one of the most magical undiscovered destinations in the world.
A golden land of breathtaking natural beauty and ancient Buddhist temples, Myanmar is steeped in fascinating history and tradition. From the temple-strewn plains of Bagan to the glass-like waters of Inle Lake, Myanmar has a beauty that is unmatched in southwest Asia.
Whether it is your first visit or your 101st, you cannot help but notice the energy and hope that hangs in the air, full of possibilities for a brighter future. The country as a whole is rising to the challenge of moving into the 21st century, while preserving the ancient history and traditions of the past.
Fortunately, the pace of change is not overwhelming the traditions of the Burmese people, and has still left the simple pleasures of this hidden treasure intact. You can drift peacefully down the Ayeyarwaddy River, carve out a slice of beach in the Bay of Bengal, or trek through sub-tropical pine forests to visit scattered villages in the Shan Hills.
But while this beautiful country is opening up to tourism of all kinds, it is perhaps best known for the sunsets that change the sky to scintillating shades of red, yellow, and orange. With its dusty terrain making the sunsets more vivid than could ever be imagined, there are many stunning locations where these heavenly sunsets are precious moments of time that can be forever captured in your mind…or on film.
Almost everyone who loves photographing sunsets knows of the famous sunset view at the U Bein Bridge in Mandalay. This ancient teakwood bridge has been the subject of thousands of sunset-based photos over the years, and has been featured on the covers of some of the world’s top travel magazines, as well as a popular Windows screensaver. However, while Mandalay is an essential stop for any photographer, these days a good shot can be ruined by the masses of coaches and buses that arrive at the bridge site daily.
Mandalay is not the only place where you can see the best sunsets in the world, and forever embed them in your mind and on your screen. With a country this beautiful, there are countless places where you can view the spectacular sunsets. But there are some places that are better than others, for a variety of reasons.
Six of the Best Spots for Sunset Photography
Magical Sunset Over Bagan
Filled with over 2,000 ancient temples and monasteries, the plain at Bagan is top of the list of must-see locations to enjoy the beauty of the Burmese sunset. Within the thousands of temples, each with its own unique shape and design, there are thousands of places from which to watch, and indeed capture, the spectacular view of sunsets and sunrises. The mysterious beauty of an incredible red sun falling over this magical plain is one of the world’s most unique experiences. It leaves an impressive image in the mind of any who travel there, and remains as an endless echo for years after.
Climb to the top of the temples to get a great view of the surrounding area, or take a hot air balloon ride to get a birds-eye view of the sun glinting off the temple roofs as it dips towards the far horizon. In addition, to make the shot part of an unforgettable set, stay the night under the stars to catch the sunrise the next morning, which is just as spectacular as when it went down.
Striking Sunset at U Bein Bridge, Mandalay
While it is the most famous tourist spot in Mandalay, the view of the ancient U Bein Bridge at sunset is still one of the most striking shots you will ever take. This rustic wooden bridge comes to life when the sun drops towards the horizon, turning the skies a dusty shade of red, and silhouetting the bridge in a network of thin shadow.
Whether it is the stunning pagodas, the mosaic shrines, or the dramatic fort on Mandalay Hill as a backdrop, the sunset on this rickety-looking bridge that crosses the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River is stupendous. And the shadowy silhouette of monks walking across the bridge is a detail that is the dream of photographers when visiting Mandalay.
Gentle Sunsets on the Sandbank of the Ayeyarwaddy River, Bagan
While it is not a popular place to take a photo for regular tourists, if you get the chance, you can take an exotic voyage to watch the special sunset over the Ayeyarwaddy River. Combine that with cocktails on the sandbank, and you have the evening of a lifetime. This service is only available in the late afternoons, and a private wooden boat is there to make the evening a special treat.
The boat will cruise across the water to a long, permanent sandbank in the middle of the river, where favorable photos of the softer shades of a Burmese sunset await. Relax with your feet in the soft sand, while being served cocktails and snacks as you watch the sun drop behind the spectacular view of Bagan’s temples. The changing colors of the sky as the sun dips low in the heavens makes for an amazing series of time-lapse photographs.
The Legendary Sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda
The biggest pagoda in the city of Yangon, Shwedagon is sight to see at any time of the day. But at sunset, this beautiful pagoda deserves to be in the list of top spots for Burmese sunsets. From the minute the sun starts to turn red, reflecting off the golden roof of the pagoda, a unique harmony of lights and colors starts to show up in the sky over Yangon.
From any high place where you can see the towering golden stupa of the pagoda, visitors can view one of the most sacred sites in Myanmar, and enjoy the golden sunset over the pagoda, while listening to the distant murmurings of pilgrims at prayer.
This 2,500-year-old pagoda is located on Singuttara Hill, in Yangon, and is the most impressive Buddhist site in Myanmar. From its humble beginnings of only 8.2 meters, it stands today at an astounding 110 meters high, and is covered in hundreds of gold plates. The top of the stupa is encrusted with 4,531 diamonds – the largest being a huge, 72 carat diamond – that glint in the sun, and reflect the sunset as it falls low in the sky.
The Golden Rock of Kyaikhtiyo
While the pagoda at Kyaikhtiyo is only small – around 7.3 meters – it is built on the top of a huge granite boulder. And like many other religious sites in Myanmar, it is covered in layer upon layer of gold leaf, that have been stuck there by Buddhists from around the country. The rock is perched on the edge of a cliff, and the people believe that the rock defies gravity thanks to the sacred hair of Buddha.
The rock has stood on the edge of the mountain for centuries, and seems to be held there by some supernatural force. While it is not the least visited place by the local people – hordes of locals and pilgrims ascend the mountain daily to this mysterious rock stupa – the most magical time of the day is at sunrise and sunset.
As the first rays of sunlight crest the horizon, and the last twinkling of twilight comes to an end, the brilliant light from the sun shines on the rock, creating one of the most mystical religious atmospheres. People flock to the base of the rock, as they consider this to be the most sacred time of the day.
Gorgeous Sunset over Inle Lake
Inle Lake is often considered to be one of the most romantic and relaxing destinations in Myanmar. The gentle atmosphere on this fresh, green lake is also found in the spectacular sunset. The sunset over Inle is like a sun-kissed, passionate romance, and is as gentle as a soft poem in the breeze.
While the sunset at Mandalay is enhanced by the shadows of red-robed monks on the bridge, the sunset at Inle Lake is similarly heightened by the rustic shadows of local fishermen in longyi, standing on their wooden boats with one foot holding the paddle as they drift lazily across the mist-shrouded waters.
This vast, serene lake is fringed by marshes and floating gardens, and where the stilt-house villages and Buddhist temples rise above the lake. The Intha fishermen propel their boats using a unique method of leg-rowing, while the hills surrounding the lake are the homes of a myriad of ethnic minorities.
In a nation that consists of more than one hundred ethnic groups, exploring Myanmar can feel like a trip back in time, with images reminiscent of National Geographic, circa 1900. For all its momentous changes in recent years, this beautiful country remains, at heart, a rural nation full of traditional values.
Everywhere you go you will find men wearing the skirt-like longyi, and both men and women covered in thanakha, a traditional make-up. Locals still travel in trishaws, and in more rural areas, horse and cart. And drinking tea – a wholly British colonial affectation – is embraced enthusiastically in thousands of traditional teahouses across the country.