Top 10 Things to Do in Myanmar

Myanmar is such a nation where devout monks are much more revered than pop stars. There are hundreds and thousands of pagodas, stupas, and temples scattered across the country.

Except for religious belief, the Burmese persist on their traditions inherited over the centuries. An unusual scene on Inle Lake is that fishermen stand on one leg like a flamingo and use the other to row the oar.

What more can you expect from a Myanmar tour? The top 10 essential things to do are shared with you to plan a perfect journey in Burma.

1. Watch the Sunset over Yangon Shwedagon Pagoda

In Yangon, the largest city of Myanmar, Shwedagon Pagoda sits and dominates its skyline. With hundreds of gold plates and thousands of diamonds decorated, the fabulous Shwedagon Pagoda is a must-visit religious site during your stay in Burma. Every day, there are many pilgrims coming for a pray. You might see hundreds of worshipers walk around the towering 99 meters pagoda. And looking up, you may happen to find several monks walk around the narrow ledges sweeping off every speck of dust.

Set foot on the polished white marble that surrounds Shwedagon Pagoda to harvest a spirit of calm. Reward yourself a break here at sunset when the gold pagoda shimmers in the magic lighting. As the day turns to night, thousands of candles are set out, lighting up the dark sky.

2. Stroll into Bogyoke Aung San Market for Shopping

Bogyoke Aung San Market, once called Scott Market, is another interesting destination to visit in downtown Yangon. The market is famous for its colonial architecture and inner cobblestone streets.

Yangon Bogyoke Aung San Market
Strol around Bogyoke Aung San Market for souvenirs.

There are a variety of commodities, covering antique, Burmese handicraft, jewelry, and traditional Burmese clothing, etc., to sell. It is ideal for you to pick up some souvenirs before the departure.

By the way, plenty of juice vendors and tea and coffee shops in the center of the market are available for you to get a drink and snack.

3. Go for a Pilgrimage to Golden Rock of Kyaiktiyo

Golden Rock, also known as Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, is a small pagoda on the top of Mount Kyaiktiyo. It is sacred to Buddhists. The Burmese believe that the one who makes a pilgrimage to the Golden Rock three times a year will be blessed with wealth and respect.

The reason Golden Rock attract travelers to go is that the pagoda seems to defy gravity. It balances itself over the cliff edge and never rolls down the hill! At sunset, sunray shines on the Golden Rock, offering you the best chance to press the shutter. To go for a pilgrimage to the Golden Rock, you can catch the bus from Yangon to Kyaiktiyo. The bus takes you to Kinpun base camp, where you have your choice to go up to the mountain top by cable car or local truck. And alternatively, you can spend about 45 minutes walking up by yourself.

4. Visit Burma’s Last Royal Palace at Mandalay

Located on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River, Mandalay is the second-largest city of Myanmar, which houses many important religious and cultural sites. The Mandalay Palace is one of them that deserves a visit.

Mandalay Royal Palace
Tour Mandalay Royal Palace for the traditional Burmese architecture.

Over a century ago before the British's forces marching into the country, the last Burmese King lived in Mandalay Palace. Nowadays, it's resorted to tourists. Shewenandaw Monastery is the only wooden building that survived the fire by the

Allies during the Second World War. The rest of the palace has been rebuilt from scratch.

Take your time and stroll around the palace to appreciate the fabulous Burmese architecture.

5. Enjoy Silhouettes of Monks Passing by U Bein Bridge at Sunset

U Bein Bridge spans 1.2 kilometers over Taungthaman Lake in the ancient town of Amarapura. Built around 1850, it is the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. Teak is a tropical hardwood tree species, and Burma teak wood is believed to win the best quality.

Myanmar U Bein Bridge
Take a leisure walk on U Bein Bridge to enjoy the gorgeous sunset.

The best time to visit the bridge is when the sun goes down. You can take a leisure walk on the bridge to watch the sunset. Or take a boat on the lake to enjoy the gorgeous silhouettes of tourists and monks passing by U Bein Bridge.

6. Admire Hsinbyume Pagoda, the Taj Mahal of Myanmar

Hsinbyume Pagoda, known as White Pagoda, is a wonderful and beautiful structure to see. It is dedicated to the memory of Princess Hsinbyume who had died in childbirth. Therefore, this pagoda is believed to be the Taj Mahal of Myanmar.

Hsinbyume Pagoda
Visit the beautiful Hsinbyume Pagoda, also known as White Pagoda.

Against a background of blue sky, the snow-white pagoda looks gorgeous! Do remember to stroll around the wavy terraces and climb up to the top to enjoy the overlooking views of Mingun and Irrawaddy River.

Close to Mingun Pahtodawgyi, the ruin of the world's largest stone and brick wood, you can first tour Mingun Pahtodawgyi and then walk to Hsinbyume Pagoda to pay a visit. To get to Mingun, taking a ferry from Mandalay is more recommended.

7. Explore Bagan Plain with a Hot-air Balloon Ride or Horse Cart Ride

In Bagan plain, there are thousands of ancient temples and pagodas scattered.

If budget permits, take a hot air balloon to get a bird’s eye view of the Bagan plain. It is well worth getting up early to watch the sunrise over the golden domes and spires. Or take a horse cart ride to get a close exploration of these thousand-year-old temples. There is so much to discover.

For example, Ananda Temple houses four towering golden Buddhas facing the four opposing directions. Shwesandaw Pagoda contains a series of five terraces, topped with a cylindrical stupa. Thatbyinnyu Pahto is a five-story brick monastery topped by a sikhara tower.

8. Cruise on the Enchanting Inle Lake

Heho offers a wonderful water world - Inle Lake that is one of the most famous scenic spots for any Myanmar tour. The lake is about 21km long and 11km wide, with villages, gardens, markets, and temples floating.

Inle Lake
Witness Burmese-style fishing technic on the enchanting Inle Lake.

Intha fishermen insist on their traditional technique of leg-rowing. You will never want to miss the unusual scene that they stand on one leg in the long wooden boat and use the other to row the oar. After a while, they plunge the conical net into the water and wait silently.

To fully explore the Inle Lake, you are advised to spend a day or two to take an early-morning cruise, a cycle through the countryside and an overnight stay at the lakeside.

9. Get Lost among the Hundreds of Stupas in Indein

Near Inle Lake, the village of Indein houses two groups of ancient pagodas, Nyaung Ohak and Shwe Inn Thein. Take a boat through the Inn Thein creek, and you’ll find the lost paradise.  

These pagodas can be dated back to the 16th century, the traces of time can be clearly seen. Plants and trees spring up over the pagoda complex of Nyaung Ohak. Slow down your pace to marvel at the detailed sculptures of celestial beings and mythological animals.

From Nyaung Ohak, a 700-meter covered walkway leads up to Shwe Inn Thein, where you can see hundreds of pagodas that can be set back to the 17th and 18th centuries. You will also get a stunning view of Indein village and the surrounding area.

10. Relax at Ngapali Beach

Even a beach addict can find a place to go in Myanmar. There are so many incredible beaches and islands waiting for your discovery. Ngapali Beach turns out to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia.

Ngapali Beach
After the cultural exploration of Burma, relax yourself on Ngapali Beach.

Ngapali has a 7-kilometer long of beach, with white soft sand and turquoise blue water. Along the coastline, you can see rows of palm trees. The best part is that Ngapali offers you an almost empty beach.

In the early morning, enjoy a boat tour offered by local fishermen to visit the island just off the coast. Spend your day to explore the small fishing village. Then go back to the beach at sunset to see the round-shaped sun gradually disappears into the ocean.

Summary

Myanmar is famous for the thousands of temples in Bagan and “dancing” fishermen on Inle Lake. However, the country is more than Bagan and Inle Lake. There is so much more to expect in Burma. During the classic Myanmar tour, you are able to explore the country to the fullest.

Start your journey from Mandalay for Burma’s last Royal Palace and enjoy the day excursions to U Bein Bridge and White Pagoda. Then go to Bagan to admire the ancient temples scattered on the plain. Next transfer to Inle Lake to enjoy a boat trip. Rest your body and soul on Ngapali beach. And finally, have a city discovery trip in Yangon.

Surprises can be found in every corner of Myanmar. Come to Myanmar to discover them!

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