Myanmar is country rich in history, culture and tradition. It’s midway between undergoing urbanization so that when you visit, you see an incredible mix of modern and old. Pagodas seem scattered across the landscape and nowhere is this more apparent than in Bagan. They even grace balancing rocks and the center of cities. But, while pagodas are some of the biggest attractions here, the country also boasts stunning natural landscapes and tourist-friendly beaches. Check out our list of places to visit in Myanmar for a look at what this land in Southeast Asia has to offer.
10 Best Places To Visit In Myanmar
1. Sule Pagoda
Downtown Yangon is the home of the Sule Pagoda, a place of peace and meditation in the middle of the busy city. It’s believed to be more than 2,000 years old. It figures high on the list of Myanmar destinations especially among devotees because it houses a hair relic of Buddha.
The Sule Pagoda is often overlooked by tourists but it should figure in your Myanmar travels because it’s one of the only points of interest in this part of Yangon.
Ideal for: History
2. Mount Popa
If you’re in Mandalay, make it a point to visit Mount Popa. It’s one of the best Myanmar points of interest especially if you love to hike. The extinct volcano is not just magnificent to look at in itself but it’s topped by the Popa Taungkalat Monastery that’s perched on an outcrop. 777 steps will take you all the way to the top and reward you with panoramic views of the plains.
Idea for: Hiking
3. Chauk-htat-gyi Buddha Temple
Myanmar is known for its Buddhist temples and the Chauk-htat-gyi Buddha Temple is one of them. It houses a huge 65-meter reclining Buddha. This is one of the best places to visit in Myanmar especially if you’re on a tour of the country’s temples. Even if you’ve seen many reclining Buddhas, the relaxed pose and peaceful expression of this image are extremely calming.
Ideal for: History and culture
4. Shwedagon Pagoda
No Myanmar sightseeing is complete without a visit to the fabulous gilded Shwedagon Pagoda. It’s considered to be one of the most sacred pagodas in Myanmar. Over 2,000 years old, with hundreds of gold plates and more than 4,500 diamonds encrusting the top of the stupa, it’s an architectural wonder that will take your breath away. If there’s only one pagoda you can visit during your travel and tour in Myanmar, this is it!
Ideal for: History and culture
The ancient city of Bagan is perhaps one of the most interesting places in Myanmar. Over 2,000 Buddhist monuments dot the Bagan Archeological Zone that’s spread across 26 square miles. The best way to take in the entirety of this breathtaking city is to hop into a hot air balloon and fly over it. The rides take place in the wee hours of the morning. Carry a good camera so you can take photos of the monuments from above.
Ideal for: History and hot air ballooning
6. Inle Lake
Next on our list of what to see in Myanmar is Inle Lake, which is the second largest in the country and occupies one of the highest elevations. It’s located in Shan and is home to numerous endemic species of snails and fish. Unfortunately, their numbers have dwindled but that should not be a deterrent.
Stilt houses pepper the waterway and the only way to see them is by boat. As you head towards the village of In Dein, you’ll be greeted by two groups of old pagodas, the Shwe Indein pagodas and Nyaung Ohak pagodas. Some are in ruins while others have been restored.
Ideal for: History and boating
7. Ngwe Saung
Myanmar beaches aren’t exactly the first places you think of going to when visiting the country. But these little known gems are incredibly picturesque and have all the hallmarks of great beaches. Palm trees, blue seas and pale sands offer the perfect place to spend lazy days soaking in the sun. Ngwe Saug or Silver Beach is one of the most popular. There are scuba diving and snorkeling facilities too if you want to explore the water. Cafes and restaurants nearby serve up dish after dish of lip-smacking seafood and snacks.
Beaches in Myanmar are best visited during December-April when spring lends itself to deliciously warm weather. You can also catch the Water Festival (Thingyan) in April where everyone comes out to celebrate.
Ideal for: Leisure
8. Kyaiktiyo Pagoda
It may be small but Kyaiktiyo Pagoda or Golden Rock in Mon State is one of the most striking pagodas because of its location. It’s perched on a boulder that’s covered with gold leaves. The boulder itself seems to defy gravity as it perfectly balances itself on another rock atop Mt. Kyaiktiyo. It’s believed that the boulder remains in its unusual position by virtue of the hair relic enshrined in the pagoda. And, legend has it that the boulder is supported by a strand of hair from Buddha. Whatever the reason, the unusual and dramatic attraction makes it one of the most sought-after Myanmar places to visit.
You can get to the pagoda by bus but if you want to get up close with nature, you can hike the 16-kilometer trail. As tiring as it can be, you won’t be alone as pilgrims often choose to walk to the top.
Ideal for: History and leisure
9. Kakku Pagodas
A visit to Kakku Pagodas, believed to date back over 2,000 years, makes you feel like you’ve stepped into another world, one that’s filled with stupas and little else. Almost 2,500 of them dot the hills near Inle Lake. Some of them have fallen into ruin but many are well-preserved. You can also see a few restored stupas.
Ideal for: History and leisure
10. Mahamuni Buddha Temple
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Our list of where to go in Myanmar ends with the Mahamuni Buddhist Temple, an important pilgrimage site that houses one of the most revered Buddha images, a 13-foot tall sculpture. It’s covered in gold leaves so much so that parts of the sculpture appear distorted.
The temple complex is also home to the Mahamuni Museum that educates visitors on Buddha’s life. There are also shops selling offerings in case you come without.
Ideal for: Culture
Clearly, Myanmar is a complete package when it comes to a fun filled and interesting holiday. What do you think? Do you have anymore places to add? Do let us know in the comments section below.