MAJOR DESTINATIONS

Yangon

Walk the streets of old Yangon to see leafy lanes and byways filled with enormous timber mansions decorated in the unique Myanmar style, where British captains of industry once lived. See century-old buildings with magnificent architecture, which act as reminders of Yangon's past. The number of colonial buildings still standing in downtown Yangon is nothing short of spectacular. Myanmar's isolation from the rest of the world during the years after independence resulted in a level of preservation that is unique in the region. It is heartening to see that at last, some of them are being restored to their former beauty. Yangon's colonial streets are a showcase of the best, or most ostentatious, of colonial architecture an exuberant display of wealth and designer dexterity. The influence of Victorian and Edwardian architectural details made a deep impression on the local and Indian craftsmen, who embraced the styles wholeheartedly. Buildings developed an amazing hybrid style that resulted in an array of curlicue trims and turrets along with copulas and pergolas that adorn so many of the early buildings. Carved wood trims were also popular, all adding together to form an extraordinary architectural style unique to Myanmar. Yangon is perhaps the last authentic example of an Asian tropical city still featuring its former colonial origins, huge parks, shady trees and lakes and, of course, religious monuments. Of the latter, the most legendary, graceful and majestic of all is the Shwedagon Pagoda, built around 2,500 years ago

Bagan

Bagan is one of the richest archaeological and historical sites in Asia, featuring more than 2,000 pagodas and temples all set on a vast plain beside the legendary Ayeyarwady River. During the Bagan era (11th to 13th centuries), Burmese was written for the first time and it was at Bagan that the modern form of Buddhism – still practised widely today – developed. The city was the seat of religious learning of both the clergy and laity. Mingalazedi was one of the last great stupas to be erected at Bagan and is a fine example of the skills of the Bagan temple builders. It is also a favourite spot to catch the sunset. Foreign visitors to Bagan can be found on the steep steps waiting for the magical moment; as the sun sinks behind the Ayeyarwady, cameras click can be heard almost continuously. Bagan now features a variety of good hotels and is also the starting and ending point for cruises on the Ayeyarwady River to and from Mandalay. A unique travel experience is a hot-air balloon ride over the archaeological zone, which is available during the winter months.

Mandalay

Mandalay is the second-largest city in Myanmar and situated in the hot and dry central region of the country. It is considered the cultural centre of Myanmar and was the last royal capital. Surrounded by other ancient royal capitals, including Sagaing, Ava (Inwa) and Amarapura, Mandalay also acts as a base for sightseeing trips to these places of significance. In Mandalay, visitors can watch traditional handicrafts being made, such as kalaga tapestries, marionettes, bronze items and stone and wood carvings. Mandalay also houses the most revered Buddha statue in the country, the Maha Myat Muni image. The Buddha himself is said to have breathed on to the just-finished image, giving it some of the Buddha's power. People believe that the image is somewhat “alive” and it is therefore treated with the utmost respect. Early each morning, monks and laypeople come to the pagoda to wash the image's face and to make offerings of water, food, flowers, candles and incense. Another interesting sightseeing point in the city is the 230-metre Mandalay Hill, from where one has a scenic view of Mandalay and the surrounding plains, the Shan Mountains and the Ayeyarwady River. The hill is famous as a place to view beautiful sunsets. Mandalay Palace was destroyed by fire in 1945 and has been reconstructed in recent years and its grounds can be visited. Another interesting attraction is Kuthodaw Pagoda (also called the largest book in the world), built by King Mindon after the Fifth Buddhist Council, where he decided to inscribe the entire Buddhist Canon on 729 marble slabs. Mandalay has excellent air, road and river connections to all parts of Myanmar and is the ideal base from which to explore the rest of upper Myanmar.

Inle Lake

Inle Lake is roughly 20 kilometres long and an outstanding natural and cultural attraction. One of its many unique features is the cultivation of floating gardens where flowers as well as tomatoes, beans and cucumbers grow. Local villages and markets make interesting sightseeing spots, while visitors also enjoy mouth-dropping sunrises and sunsets over the Shan mountains. Every year, on the eve of the full moon day in October, the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda festival is held, which sees the pagoda's revered Buddha images displayed on the golden Karaweik – a replica of the ancient royal barge – and taken to villages around the lake. Unlike most other pagoda festivals in Myanmar, which typically run for about three days, the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda festival goes for 18 days, and also includes boat races that attract spectators near and far. The races provide exciting additional entertainment and are well worth watching, with separate events held for men and women

Other Destinations

BAGO

Bago is renowned for a 55-metre-long reclining Buddha image, the beautiful golden Shwemawdaw Pagoda and ........

TWANTE

A small town that is well known for its pottery industry and cotton weaving, as well as its old Mon-style pagoda ..........

THANLYIN

Thanlyin is situated at the confluence of the Yangon and Bago Rivers. To the south of Thanlyin is a ridge named .......

MOUNT POPA

Mount Popa is an extinct volcano and at 1500 metres is the highest point in the Bago Yoma mountain range. The ........

SALAY

Visitors to Bagan often make the 40-kilometre trip south to visit Salay, an ancient town rich in Myanmar ............

SAGAING

Sagaing lies 21 kilometres southwest of Mandalay on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady river. Sagaing is a .........

AMARAPURA

Amarapura is a southern suburb of Mandalay and lies on the east bank of the Ayeyarwady Rive. It is also ...........

INNWA

Also known as Ava, Inwa is located 20 kilometres southwest of Mandalay across the Myitnge River and was the ...........

MINGUN

Located across majestic Ayeyarwady River, about 12 kilometres north of Mandalay, Mingun is famous as ..........

MONYWA

Monywa lies on the banks of the Chindwin River, about 140 kilometres northwest of Mandalay. It is the ...........

PYIN OO LWIN

At more than 1000 metres above sea level, Pyin Oo Lwin is a popular hill station about 70 kilometres from ..........

KALAW

Kalaw was a favourite hill station during the colonial era and today is a picturesque town, surrounded ............

PINDAYA

Pindaya is situated at about 1,200 metres above sea level and is surrounded by hill tribe villages. Its main ..............

TAUNGGYI

Taunggyi is the capital of Shan State and has a population of approximately 200,000, making it the ...............

KEKKU

In recent years the previously hidden Kekku Pagoda has become one of the most visited places in southern ..........

NAY PYI TAW

Nay Pyi Taw is the new national capital of Myanmar, located near Pyinmana township in Mandalay Region ...........

TAUNGOO

Located 280 kilometres from Yangon, Taungoo is one of few places where you can expect good ...........................

PYAY

A small town on a bend in the Ayeyarwady River. Pyay is very close to what was the seat of the ......................

KYAIKHTIYO

The Golden Rock of Kyaikhtiyo is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites for Myanmar Buddhists. The ...................

MAWLAMYINE

Mawlamyine is the charming capital of Mon State and situated at the mouth of the Thanlwin River.Located ................

KYAING TONG

Located high in the Shan Hills at the centre of the Golden Triangle, Kyaing Tong is one of the country’s ...............

LASHIO

Lashio is a trading town set in a mountain basin 855 metres above sea level and inhabited mostly ................

SITTWE & MRAUK U

Arriving at Sittwe makes you step back in time, with an airport consisting of just one room with ceiling fans. A ..........

CHIN HILLS AND MT VICTORIA

The Chin live in western Myanmar, along the border with India. The most accessable attraction for ..................

MYITKYINA

The capital and largest town of Kachin State is an important trade centre between China and Myanmar. ...........

BHAMO

Bhamois located on the Ayeyarwady River about 186 kilometres south of the Kachin State capital Myitkyina. ............

PUTAO

Putao in Kachin State is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and is cool the whole year round. Flowing .................

MYEIK ARCHIPELAGO

Myeik is located in Tanintharyi Region, the most southern part of the country. The town’s economy is based ...........

PATHEIN

Situated in the delta of the Ayeyarwady River, Pathein is the most important port for trade in the delta region ........

NGAPALI BEACH

Balmy days spent lolling on the golden sands of Ngapali make a fitting end to a rigorous tour of Myanmar’s ............

NGWE SAUNG BEACH

A relatively new destination on Myanmar's tourism map, Ngwe Saung Beach offers its visitors .................

CHAUNGTHA BEACH

With fine, beige sand backed by coconut palms trees, Chaungtha Beach lies 40 kilometres west of Pathein. It is .......