You’ve settled down so well in Yangon city that you haven’t even had time to explore any further!
Time to hit the road and enjoy a taste of Myanmar’s country side & smaller towns.

Built during the 9th and 13th centuries, the thousands of temples that dot the Bagan plains make for a breathtaking sight and an interesting glimpse of a city that was once the capital of the mighty Pagan Empire. For those on a slightly higher budget, the best experience is from a hot air balloon, a service which is currently offered by two companies, Balloons over Bagan and Oriental Ballooning – services run between October and March



Inle Lake, in Myanmar’s Shan State, attracts huge numbers of visitors each year due to the unique lifestyle of the local people and the beautiful scenery surrounding the lake. The best place to start is the lakeside town of Nyaung Shwe, from where it’s very easy to hire boats to take you on tours on the lake. The Red Mountain vineyard is located just outside the town.

Like Yangon, Mawlamyine (renamed Moulmein by the British) was a colonial town and the once-capital of Lower Burma. Today, colonial-era buildings are dotted around the town and there is a pleasant, if slightly rundown, promenade running along the riverfront, which is a great spot to sit and watch the sunset.

The capital of Karen State is home to caves, mountains and a relaxing atmosphere. The most notable sites are Saddar Cave and Mount Zwegabin, both of which are within an easy distance from the main town. From Hpa An, a good option is to take a relaxing boat trip along the river to Mawlamwine.

Photo by CISmith


The country’s last royal capital attracts visitors due to its history and culture rather than any aesthetic beauty. It’s hot and dusty downtown, but the city’s outskirts are home to some ancient towns and ruins as well as the iconic U Bein Bridge. At sunset, the best views are seen from atop Mandalay.

Just five hours’ drive west of Yangon, Ngwe Saung beach is your place for a spot of relaxation. The huge beach, which stretches from horizon to horizon, sees very few visitors so you often feel that you have the entire beach to yourself. Options here include a sea fishing trip and hiring a motorbike to explore the surrounding areas. The once bustling town of Pathein is just an hour away.

The British established Pyin Oo Lwin (which they named Maymyo) as a hillside resort town where officers could go to escape the heat down at sea level. It’s easy to see why; the town has a calm, cool feel and is lush with trees and vegetation. A highlight of any Pyin Oo Lwin visit is the beautiful botanical Gardens.

Photo by CISmith


Myanmar has not yet established a trekking mecca, but Kyaukme in Northern Shan State may well emerge as one. Its stunning scenery surrounds the town, with many villages and tea plantations nestled among the hills. The town itself is underdeveloped, but the real draw for any visitor is the lush scenery outside

Located on the Irrawaddy River, Pyay was established in its current form by the British Irrawaddy Flotilla Company; yet the original town has more ancient origins. Sri Ksetra is located about 8 kilometres from today’s Pyay and was the capital of the Pyu dynasty. Many of the remains from Sri Ksetra remain today.

Currently Myanmar’s only “resort-style” beach getaway, Ngapali is renowned for its high-quality resorts and pristine beaches. In terms of activities, it is remarkably underdeveloped although there are many beautiful spots to relax and while away a few days.

This article was first published in MYANMORE’s survival guide EnjoyIt, second edition.


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