Except for Temples and Pagodas, What Else Can You Visit in Myanmar?
Myanmar is a land of temples and pagodas. Golden pagodas are visible in all main cities.
Shwedagon Pagoda towers the skyline of Yangon. Mandalay houses a mass of beautiful temples, including the unfinished Mingun Pahtodawgyi and Hsinbyume Pagoda, the Taj Mahal of Burma. Even on Inle Lake, there are pagodas, for example the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, floating.
However, except for temples and pagodas, what else can you do when you visit Myanmar? There are some offbeat activities to expect to help you further explore the country.
Take a Boat Excursion to Sagar
Inle Lake is one of the highlights in all Myanmar tours. There are enchanting nature, amazing sunset, a unique living system on the lake and magical fishermen. However, due to the development of tourism, Inle Lake proves to be increasingly touristy.
Alternatively, you can head towards the far south of Inle Lake to discover the village of Sagar that is untouched by time. You can see very few tourists here. There are ancient pagodas abandoned by the lakeside. Covered by mosses and hidden by growing plants, these pagoda ruins have blended into the greenery.
As you boat through the weed-choked narrow water lanes, you can find farmers working the fields. Getting on the shore to stroll around the village, you can meet buffaloes and sheep walking on the dusty roads and dogs and cats taking a nap in the grass.
Cruise on Ayeyarwady River
Ayeyarwady River, also known as Irrawaddy River, flows through Myanmar from north to south. It is the largest river in Myanmar and serves as the most important commercial waterway.
The daily activities you can expect during an Ayeyarwady River cruise include village excursion ashore, cultural discussions and cooking class on the cruise, and opportunities to watch life on and along the river. When the sun pops up or sets, you can get perfect views of the mighty sunrise and sundown over the Ayeyarwady River.
Cruise on Ayeyarwady River to admire the beautiful sunrise.
The most popular cruise itinerary on Ayeyarwady River is between Mandalay and Bagan, lasting 3 to 4 days. En route, you will get off the cruise to explore the two of Myanmar's most culturally significant sites and visit several river villages, for example, the pot-making village of Yandabo.
Explore Ngapali Beaches and its Surrounding Islands
Beach addicts can find a place to visit in Myanmar. Located on the west coast, Ngapali is the most famous seaside resort in Myanmar. But it is incredibly quiet than you imagine.
Nightlife and discos aren't the highlights, instead, people go here just to relax on the beach. There are endless blue ocean, soft and white sand beaches and rows of lush palm trees. You can also expect the gorgeous sunsets over the horizon.
Ngapali extends over 7 kilometers and offers a total of 3 bays. Most hotels locate in the south, between the village of Ngapali and the fishing village of Gyeiktaw. The locals mainly gather in the northern beach for swimming. The third one is much smaller.
Around Ngapali, there are some more pristine islands like the Pearl Island that are available by a boat offered by the local fishermen. You can expect an exciting snorkeling boat adventure.
Care for Elephants in Kalaw Green Hill Elephant Camp
The Green Hill Elephant Camp is located in Kalaw, a scenic town that was built as a summer resort in the southern Shan Hills by the British. The town itself boasts amazingly beautiful mountains scenery and rustic village life.
Different from the elephant camps that offer elephant safari, the Green Hill Elephant Camp focuses on caring for elephants that are no longer fit to work.
The family once had a history of working with elephants in the Myanmar Timer Enterprise. They founded the camp in 2011 with the desire to educate the locals to protect elephants and plant teak trees for forest recovery.
Go to the Green Hill Elephant Camp to learn how to feed and bathe elephants.
A trip to the Green Hill Elephant Camp enables you to learn about how the disabled and old elephants enjoy their stress-free and happy retirement. You also have the chance to bathe them in the river, which is a great way to get in touch with these gentle giants.
Experience the Thrilling Train Ride from Mandalay to Lashio
The train ride from Mandalay to Lashio is a long journey of 280 kilometers. And the train moves slow at an average speed of about 17.97 km per hour. However, the journey is rewarding.
The scenery you can see along the trail is beautiful, with greenery covering the mountains and village houses dotting the ground. The thrilling train ride takes you to cross the over 100 meters high Goteik Viaduct, from which you can take the best photo of the train with lush forests and bare rocks in the background.
Cross Goteik Viaduct to take the best photo of the train.
You can get off the train at Hsipaw. To see the daily life of the tribal villagers in northern Shan State, stroll around the Central Market. Myauk Myo is an ancient pagoda complex. There is a pretty Nam Nwe Waterfall nestled in the jungle. Cool yourself in the deep pool at the base after hiking to the waterfall.
Visit the Long Neck Women in Loikaw
Myanmar is a country with the largest number of different ethnic groups in the world. There are a total of 135. The most famous ethnicity is the Kayan women, normally known as the long neck women.
These long neck women inhabit in Loikaw of Myanmar Kayah State. Some of them ran away to current Karen villages around Chiang Mai in northern Thailand during the dark days in Burma.
Loikaw is the home to long neck women. Here you can meet them on the street walking, in the market selling crop products, or just hanging out their houses. They are not animals in the zoo, selling souvenirs or posing for tourists to take photos.
Loikaw is the home to long neck women.
To visit the long neck women in Loikaw, you may need a guide that can understand the local language, because most of the Kayan women can’t speak even Burmese. Ask your guide to take you to off the beaten track long neck villages where you can see their authentic life.
See the Facial-tattooed Women in Chin Villages
In the remote villages in Chin Hills, there are also fascinating women inhabited, who sport full face tattoos, a tribal tradition inherited over the centuries.
Legend tells that in the past, to avoid their daughters being selected into the Burma king’s harem, parents deliberately make their girls undesirable. You can barely see such tattoos on the faces of younger Chin women as they choose to opt out of the old tradition.
Nestled on the side of a mountain at an altitude of 1500 meters, Mindat town is a must visit destination for the facial-tattooed women. A journey to Mindat is tough enough. You need to overcome the bumpy dirt roads. But the mountainous landscapes en route are breathtaking.
As mentioned above, expect for temples and pagodas, there are quite a lot offbeat things to do when you visit Myanmar.
You can go to Kalaw to care for the retired elephants at Green Hill Elephant Camp or experience a rewarding train ride to cross the amazing Goteik Viaduct. For the mysterious tribal culture, head towards Kayan or Chin State to visit the long neck women or facial-tattooed women.
To explore Myanmar’s wonderful water world, you can take a boat to discover the hidden village of Sagar that is less touristy than Inle Lake or enjoy a river cruise on the mighty Ayeyarwady River. And a relaxing trip to Ngapali Beach turns out to be a perfect ending for all Myanmar tours.