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- Myanmar Tour Plan -

Visit Myanmar in about 3 Weeks

Myanmar is a hard place not to fall in love with. From e-biking past hundreds of temples at Bagan to taking in a sunset at the enchanting Shwedagon Pagoda, this country is full of breathtaking travel experiences that will leave you dreaming of your Myanmar trip for years to come! While the Bagan-Inle Lake-Yangon triangle is the most popular Myanmar itinerary, if you have the time to explore more of the country, you’ll be heavily rewarded. This is a 3-week Myanmar Travel Guide to see all the highlights of the country.

Myanmar TOUR PLANS IN About 3 weeks

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The Best of Cambodia & Myanmar

The Best of Cambodia & Myanmar

- Asia -

The Best of Cambodia & Myanmar
Must-see / 20 days / fr. $2,760

Get a look at two of Asia’s most complex but beloved countries. In Cambodia and Myanmar explore sites that echo of glorious former kingdoms and of tragic recent events. Experience pristine sw... More

Trekking Tribes & Tradition of Myanmar

Trekking Tribes & Tradition of Myanmar

- Myanmar -

Trekking Tribes & Tradition of Myanmar
Trek & Hike / 20 days / fr. $2,655

Explore Myanmar’s melange of traditional villages, ethnic groups and rich culture. Encounter a diverse mix of hill tribes in remote Kengtung, come face-to-face with Asian elephants in Kalaw a... More

Myanmar Must-see & Mergui Archipelago Cruise

Myanmar Must-see & Mergui Archipelago Cruise

- Myanmar -

Myanmar Must-see & Mergui Archipelago Cruise
Cruise / 20 days / fr. $3,790

The combination of the big four - Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake, and the magnificent Mergui Archipelago. There are activities like fun puzzles to solve, cultural experiences and hands on wo... More

Southern Myanmar & Andaman Sea Adventure

Southern Myanmar & Andaman Sea Adventure

- Myanmar -

Southern Myanmar & Andaman Sea Adventure
Honeymoon / 20 days / fr. $5,980

Discover the pearls of southern Myanmar and hidden gems on this overland journey from Yangon to Kawthaung. Explore mile after mile of tropical paradise while cruising Myanmar’s Myeik Archipel... More

Meeting Tribes in Myanmar

Meeting Tribes in Myanmar

- Myanmar -

Meeting Tribes in Myanmar
Trek & Hike / 19 days / fr. $2,470

This 19 day- trip offers you an original and unforgettable approach to Burma between treks, navigation, cultural discovery, meeting minorities. Apart from Burma, many minorities, warm and welc... More

Myanmar Family Adventure

Myanmar Family Adventure

- Myanmar -

Myanmar Family Adventure
Family / 19 days / fr. $2,580

From Mandalay to Yangon, travel the iconic and lesser-known sites of Myanmar while leaving a positive impact to local communities and the environment. Leave the lightest carbon footprints with eco-... More

RECOMMENDED ROUTES TO VISIT Myanmar IN
About 3 weeks

Our local travel experts have worked out some of the most popular routes to make the best of your 3-week trip plan in Myanmar
Myanmar Highlights & Northern Adventure
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Myanmar Highlights & Northern Adventure

An original and unforgettable approach to Burma between treks, navigation, cultural discovery, meeting minorities. 

Apart from Burma, many minorities, warm and welcoming, continue to maintain original traditions that translate into a diverse craft whose fabrics and clothing are the sparkling and remarkable jewel.

Bagan

This temple town is one of Myanmar’s main attractions. Once the capital of a powerful ancient kingdom, the area known as Bagan or, bureaucratically, as the ‘Bagan Archaeological Zone’ occupies an impressive 26-sq-mile area. The Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River drifts past its northern and western sides.

The area’s most active town and main transport hub is Nyaung U, in the northeastern corner. About 2.5 miles west, Old Bagan is the former site of the village that was relocated 2 miles south to New Bagan in 1990. Between the two is Myinkaba, a village boasting a long-running lacquerware tradition.

Bagan has been hit by earthquakes over the centuries. The most recent, in August 2016, damaged 400 temples; work on repairing them is ongoing. Bear in mind that Bagan is not a traveller destination with nightlife like Siem Reap (Cambodia) or even Luang Prabang (Laos). It's an overgrown village, so party elsewhere.

Mandalay

Thanks partly to Rudyard Kipling’s evocative poem Mandalay, the name of Myanmar’s second city suggests – for many Western visitors at least – images of a bygone Asia. Arriving in Mandalay tends quickly to dispel such thoughts, however, as visitors are faced with a grid of congested streets dominated by the walls and moat of the huge military base that surrounds the old royal palace.

Despite this, it would be a shame to rush through too quickly without giving the place a chance to grow on you. There’s Mandalay Hill to climb for one thing, memorable both for its views and for the experience of joining throngs of locals doing the same. Then there are the day-trips to former Burmese capitals such as the once-mighty Inwa, now a sleepy backwater scattered with stupas that you can visit by horse and cart; Sagaing is another favourite for its hilltop pagodas.

Inle Lake

The Inle Lake region is one of Myanmar's most anticipated destinations, and all the hype is justified. Picture a vast, serene lake – 13.5 miles long and 7 miles wide – fringed by marshes and floating gardens, where stilt-house villages and Buddhist temples rise above the water, and Intha fisher folk propel their boats along via their unique technique of leg-rowing. Surrounding the lake are hills that are home to myriad minorities: Shan, Pa-O, Taung Yo, Danu, Kayah and Danaw, who descend from their villages for markets that hopscotch around the towns of the region on a five-day cycle.

Nyaungshwe is the area's accommodation and transport hub. It's a scrappy place, but once you've experienced the watery world that sits right by it and explored the environs of Inle Lake, that won't matter. Few people leave here disappointed with what they've seen and done.

Mt. Kyaiktyio - Golden Rock

Mt Kyaiktiyo, the Golden Rock, sounds bizarre: an enormous, precariously balanced boulder covered in gold and topped with a stupa. But this monument is a major pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists and it's the presence of so many devotees that makes the place so special.

The atmosphere during the pilgrimage season (November to March) is charged with magic: pilgrims chant, light candles and meditate all through the night, while men (only) are permitted to walk over a bridge spanning a chasm to the boulder to affix gold-leaf squares to the rock’s surface. And the boulder itself is stunning, especially when bathed in the purple, sometimes misty, light of dawn and dusk.

During the rainy season (May to October), the mountain is mostly covered in a chilly coat of mist and rain, although people still flock here. The area's hotels are open during this period, but some restaurants shut down.

Myitkyina

The capital of Kachin State, Myitkyina lacks much in the way of headline sights. Nonetheless it’s an engaging, multicultural place, home to Kachin, Lisu, Chinese and Burmese, and hosts two of Myanmar's most important 'ethnic' festivals. A low-rise town with a fair scattering of part-timber houses, its residents seem keen to assist visitors, with local Christians particularly eager to practise their English. Quiet at the best of times, the town is especially sleepy on Sundays when the churches fill up. Few foreigners make it here, and those who do are mostly missionaries or NGO workers.

Putao

Set in a beautiful green valley below snow-capped peaks, Putao is the only town of any size in this far north Himalayan region of Myanmar. It sprawls across several hills and the action gravitates around two markets: the Central Market and the Airport Market. This was the site of the isolated British WWII military outpost, Fort Hertz, but there is no actual fortress to visit.

The area around Putao is home to sparse populations of Rawang, Lisu, Kachin, Shan and the last remaining Taron on earth, the only known pygmy group in Asia. The population is heavily Christian and most villages have more churches than temples.

The best time to visit for trekking is from October to April, when daytime temperatures are quite pleasant and nights are cool. Conversely the mountaineering season for conquering Hkakabo Razi is August and September when there is minimal snow on the route to the summit.

Sagaing

A crest of green hills studded with white and gold pagodas marks the 'skyline' of Saigang, a religious pilgrimage centre that resembles Bagan with elevation. This pretty, friendly town is a major monastic centre and a somewhat serene escape from Mandalay's constant hum. No individual pagoda stands out as a particular must-see, but taken together the whole scene is enthralling. A highlight is walking the sometimes steep covered stairways that lead past monasteries and nunneries to viewpoints from which you can survey the river and an undulating landscape of emerald hills and stupas.

Northern Shan State

For an easy escape from the heat and hussle of Mandalay, do what the colonial Brits did and pop up to Pyin Oo Lwin. And as you've come this far, why not continue further across the rolling hills of the Shan Plateau to discover some of Southeast Asia’s most satisfying hill treks out of Hsipaw. But bring a decent fleece: while days are warm, it gets chilly after dark and can be downright cold at 5am when buses depart and markets are at their candlelit best.

Pyin Oo Lwin

Founded by the British in 1896, Pyin Oo Lwin was originally called Maymyo (‘May-town’), after Colonel May of the 5th Bengal Infantry, and was designed as a place to escape the Mandalay heat. After the construction of the railway from Mandalay, Maymyo became the summer capital for the British colonial administration, a role it held until the end of British rule in 1948. The name was changed after the British departed, but numerous colonial mansions and churches remain, as do the descendants of the Indian and Nepali workers who came here to lay the railway line.

More recently, Pyin Oo Lwin has become famous for its fruit, jams and fruit wines. With the rise of the Myanmar version of the nouveau riche, Pyin Oo Lwin is once again a popular weekend and hot-season getaway, so get here sharpish to experience what’s left of the old charm and calm.

Hsipaw

Increasing numbers of foreigners are finding their way to delightful Hsipaw; pronounced ‘see-paw’ or ‘tee-bor’), drawn by the possibilities of easily arranged hill treks that are more authentic than those around Kalaw or anywhere in northern Thailand. Many people, though, find the town's laid-back vibe and intriguing history as a Shan royal city as much of an attraction and spend far longer here than they intended. With just enough tourist infrastructure to be convenient, Hsipaw remains a completely genuine northern Shan State town. Be sure to check it out before this changes.

Lashio

Lashio is a booming and sprawling market town with a significant Chinese population. You’re most likely to come here for the airport, as it is the nearest to Hsipaw, or if you’ve managed to organise the necessary permits for the five-hour drive to the Chinese border at Mu-se.

Once the seat of an important Shan sawbwa (Shan prince), Lashio played a pivotal role in the fight against the Japanese in WWII as the starting point of the Burma Road, which supplied food and arms to Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang army. Little evidence of that evocative history remains today, thanks to a disastrous 1988 fire that destroyed most of the city's old wooden homes.

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Myanmar Highlights & Southern Adventure
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Myanmar Highlights & Southern Adventure

This route is the combination of the big 4 of Myanmar (Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake, and Mandalay) and the southern area. To cover the first 4 highlights, normally you need 10-15 days seeing some of the most beautiful and sacred sites of Myanmar together with immersing into the nature of rural areas of Inle Lake and surrounding area.

Continue the exploration further to the southern Myanmar, that is the combination of authentic rural life of Hpa An, Mawlamyine, Ye with some of the most amazing beaches of the country including Dawei, Myeik, and especially Mergui Archipelago.

Yangon

Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, is by far the most exciting place in the country to be right now, as former political exiles, Asian investors and foreign adventurers flock in. As Myanmar's commercial and artistic hub, it's Yangon that most reflects the changes that have occurred since the country reopened to the world. There's a rash of new restaurants, bars and shops. And there are building sites – and traffic jams – everywhere.

But in many ways Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, has hardly changed at all. The city remains focused on Shwedagon Paya, an awe-inspiring golden Buddhist monument around which everything else revolves. Close to it are the parks and lakes that provide Yangonites with an escape from the surrounding chaos. Then there's downtown, its pavements one vast open-air market, which is home to some of the most impressive colonial architecture in all Southeast Asia.

Bagan

This temple town is one of Myanmar’s main attractions. Once the capital of a powerful ancient kingdom, the area known as Bagan or, bureaucratically, as the ‘Bagan Archaeological Zone’ occupies an impressive 26-sq-mile area. The Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River drifts past its northern and western sides.

The area’s most active town and main transport hub is Nyaung U, in the northeastern corner. About 2.5 miles west, Old Bagan is the former site of the village that was relocated 2 miles south to New Bagan in 1990. Between the two is Myinkaba, a village boasting a long-running lacquerware tradition.

Bagan has been hit by earthquakes over the centuries. The most recent, in August 2016, damaged 400 temples; work on repairing them is ongoing. Bear in mind that Bagan is not a traveller destination with nightlife like Siem Reap (Cambodia) or even Luang Prabang (Laos). It's an overgrown village, so party elsewhere.

Mandalay

Thanks partly to Rudyard Kipling’s evocative poem Mandalay, the name of Myanmar’s second city suggests – for many Western visitors at least – images of a bygone Asia. Arriving in Mandalay tends quickly to dispel such thoughts, however, as visitors are faced with a grid of congested streets dominated by the walls and moat of the huge military base that surrounds the old royal palace.

Despite this, it would be a shame to rush through too quickly without giving the place a chance to grow on you. There’s Mandalay Hill to climb for one thing, memorable both for its views and for the experience of joining throngs of locals doing the same. Then there are the day-trips to former Burmese capitals such as the once-mighty Inwa, now a sleepy backwater scattered with stupas that you can visit by horse and cart; Sagaing is another favourite for its hilltop pagodas.

Inle Lake

The Inle Lake region is one of Myanmar's most anticipated destinations, and all the hype is justified. Picture a vast, serene lake – 13.5 miles long and 7 miles wide – fringed by marshes and floating gardens, where stilt-house villages and Buddhist temples rise above the water, and Intha fisher folk propel their boats along via their unique technique of leg-rowing. Surrounding the lake are hills that are home to myriad minorities: Shan, Pa-O, Taung Yo, Danu, Kayah and Danaw, who descend from their villages for markets that hopscotch around the towns of the region on a five-day cycle.

Nyaungshwe is the area's accommodation and transport hub. It's a scrappy place, but once you've experienced the watery world that sits right by it and explored the environs of Inle Lake, that won't matter. Few people leave here disappointed with what they've seen and done.

Bago

If it weren't for Bago's abundance of religious sites and the remains of its palace, it would be hard to tell that this scrappy town – 50 miles northeast of Yangon on the old highway to Mandalay – was once the capital of southern Myanmar. The much-delayed opening of the new Hanthawaddy International Airport in 2022, which will take over from Yangon as Myanmar's main air hub, is set to revive Bago's fortunes.

Until then, the great density of blissed-out buddhas and treasure-filled temples makes Bago, formerly known as Pegu, an appealing and simple day trip from Yangon, or the ideal first stop when you leave the city behind.

Mt. Kyaiktiyo - Golden Rock

Mt Kyaiktiyo, the Golden Rock, sounds bizarre: an enormous, precariously balanced boulder covered in gold and topped with a stupa. But this monument is a major pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists and it's the presence of so many devotees that makes the place so special.

The atmosphere during the pilgrimage season (November to March) is charged with magic: pilgrims chant, light candles and meditate all through the night, while men (only) are permitted to walk over a bridge spanning a chasm to the boulder to affix gold-leaf squares to the rock’s surface. And the boulder itself is stunning, especially when bathed in the purple, sometimes misty, light of dawn and dusk.

During the rainy season (May to October), the mountain is mostly covered in a chilly coat of mist and rain, although people still flock here. The area's hotels are open during this period, but some restaurants shut down.

Hpa An

Hpa-an, Kayin State's scruffy riverside capital, isn't going to inspire many postcards home. But the people are friendly, and the city is the logical base from which to explore the Buddhist caves, sacred mountains, and rivers and lakes of the stunning surrounding countryside.

Mawlamyine

With a ridge of stupa-capped hills on one side, the Thanlwin River on the other and a centre filled with crumbling colonial-era buildings, churches and mosques, Mawlamyine is a unique combination of landscape, beauty and melancholy. The setting inspired both George Orwell and Rudyard Kipling, two of the English-language writers most associated with Myanmar. Kipling penned his famous poem 'Mandalay' after visiting, while Orwell, whose mother was born here, used Mawlamyine as the backdrop for the stories 'Shooting an Elephant' and 'A Hanging'. Not that much has changed since the days when Orwell and Kipling were around, and if you've ever wondered what life was like during the Raj, Mawlamyine is a pretty good time capsule.

But it’s not all about history; the area around Mawlamyine has enough attractions, ranging from beaches to caves, to keep a visitor happy for several days.

Ye

Charming Ye, pronounced 'yay', has long been off travellers' maps. Until recently, government restrictions prevented foreigners from moving south of Mawlamyine by road, which left Ye, roughly halfway between Mawlamyine and Dawei, isolated. With an attractive, tree-lined lake at its heart and the Ye River running through it, Ye is a compact town of traditional wooden houses, a hectic, big market and friendly, curious locals. It's a great place to kick back for a few days and experience small-town Myanmar life, while it's also the ideal base for excursions into the surrounding countryside, where you'll find Mon and Kayin villages that rarely see foreigners.

Dawei beaches & town

The area near the mouth of the Dawei River has been inhabited for five centuries or more, mostly by Mon and Thai mariners. The present town dates from 1751, when it was a minor port for the Ayuthaya empire in Thailand (then Siam). From this point, it bounced back and forth between Burmese and Siamese rule until the British took over in 1826.

Dawei remains a sleepy town, despite being the administrative capital of Tanintharyi Region. That will change in the next few years as work on the long-delayed Dawei Project, consisting of a deep-sea port set to rival Singapore's and the largest industrial zone in Southeast Asia, gets going properly. Part-funded by Thailand and Japan, the project is controversial, with many locals citing rights abuses such as forced land confiscations and concerns over the environmental impact. The first phase of the project is expected to be finished in 2018.

Mergui Archipelago

The beautiful islands of the Myeik Archipelago (also known as the Mergui Archipelago) lie off the Tanintharyi coast in the extreme south of Myanmar. While pearls and marine products from the region are sought after, it is the huge untapped potential of the archipelago as a beach and ecotourist destination that could really transform the area's economy. So far, though, Myanmar has resisted taking advantage of some of its most beautiful assets, although there is talk of opening up a few of the islands in the near future. But most of the islands are uninhabited (and they are much smaller than Thailand's islands), making tourism a challenge. For now, the few islands that do have people remain home to tiny villages with hardly any infrastructure and mixed populations of Burmese and the semi-nomadic Moken, so-called ‘sea gypsies’ who move from island to island and live by fishing.

Myeik beaches & town

Myeik sits on a peninsula that juts into the Andaman Sea. With a location roughly halfway between the Middle East and China, not to mention the safe harbour offered by the peninsula and facing islands, Myeik became an important international port over 500 years ago.

The legacy of that long trading history is a multicultural population, with the descendants of Chinese and Indian Muslim traders joined by Bamar, Mon and Moken (sea gypsies) people. Myeik's intriguing past is also reflected in its buildings, with grand Sino-Portuguese houses jostling with mosques, churches, traditional wooden homes and colonial-era mansions to create a kaleidoscope of architectural styles. Myeik is still a bustling port today. It's home to a large fishing fleet, as well as being the centre of Myanmar's pearl industry, and, along with the port of Kawthoung, is the gateway to the 800-odd islands of the Myeik Archipelago.

Kawthaung beaches & town

This small port at the very end of Tanintharyi Region – the southernmost point of mainland Myanmar (500 miles from Yangon and 1200 miles from the country’s northern tip) – is separated from Thailand by a broad estuary in the Pagyan River. It was known as Victoria Point to the British, and to the Thais it’s known as Ko Song (Second Island). The Burmese name, Kawthoung (also spelt Kawthaung), is a mispronunciation of the latter.

Kawthoung was one of the earliest British possessions in Myanmar, obtained after the First Anglo-Burmese War in 1826. Today the town is a scrappy border post and jumping-off point for boating and diving excursions to the Myeik Archipelago.

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Central Burma Adventure: From West to East
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Central Burma Adventure: From West to East

Central Burma (Myanmar) traverses the country from west to east. Bordering Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal you have Rakhine State, with Magway Division to the east, then Mandalay Region (and Naypyidaw), Kayah State and finally Shan State, which borders Thailand and stretches well into Northern Burma.

Outside of the country's commercial capital of Yangon, this is the most visited part of Burma as it hosts the "top shelf" attractions of Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake and also, for the far more intrepid, rustic and remote Mrauk U in the upper reaches of Rakhine State. So regardless of whether you're doing a quick "best of" tour or are bent on exploring the more remote regions, you'll be spending some time in Central Burma.

The largest of the administrative areas in this region, Shan State, with its newly opened border crossing with Thailand at Mai Sai, offers huge potential with the possibility of overland travel into and out of the country now possible. Inle Lake and trekking between Kalaw and Nyaung Shwe are highlights for many visitors to the state, but things are changing fast and "new remote areas" are being pushed -- similar to what happened in Chiang Mai decades ago.

Beyond Shan State, Mandalay Region hosts both the same-named northern capital and, one of the true highlights of the country, the magnificent (albeit very dusty) ruins of Bagan.

While violence between Burma's Buddhist majority and Muslim minority has been simmering across large parts of the country, Rakhine State to the far west has been ravaged by serious religious violence, with the State's Muslim Rohingya population bearing the brunt of the attacks. As such, travel in this region is safe on an on-again, off-again basis, but recent trips to Mrauk-u prove it is doable -- just a bit more time consuming -- and be sure to keep up with current affairs.

The region is reasonably well connected with flights to/from key destinations such as Mandalay, Heho (for Inle Lake) and Sittwe (for Mrauk-u) and there is also a primary railway connecting Yangon with Mandalay and, of course, bus services of varying comfort and quality.

Bagan

This temple town is one of Myanmar’s main attractions. Once the capital of a powerful ancient kingdom, the area known as Bagan or, bureaucratically, as the ‘Bagan Archaeological Zone’ occupies an impressive 26-sq-mile area. The Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River drifts past its northern and western sides.

The area’s most active town and main transport hub is Nyaung U, in the northeastern corner. About 2.5 miles west, Old Bagan is the former site of the village that was relocated 2 miles south to New Bagan in 1990. Between the two is Myinkaba, a village boasting a long-running lacquerware tradition.

Bagan has been hit by earthquakes over the centuries. The most recent, in August 2016, damaged 400 temples; work on repairing them is ongoing. Bear in mind that Bagan is not a traveller destination with nightlife like Siem Reap (Cambodia) or even Luang Prabang (Laos). It's an overgrown village, so party elsewhere.

Mandalay

Thanks partly to Rudyard Kipling’s evocative poem Mandalay, the name of Myanmar’s second city suggests – for many Western visitors at least – images of a bygone Asia. Arriving in Mandalay tends quickly to dispel such thoughts, however, as visitors are faced with a grid of congested streets dominated by the walls and moat of the huge military base that surrounds the old royal palace.

Despite this, it would be a shame to rush through too quickly without giving the place a chance to grow on you. There’s Mandalay Hill to climb for one thing, memorable both for its views and for the experience of joining throngs of locals doing the same. Then there are the day-trips to former Burmese capitals such as the once-mighty Inwa, now a sleepy backwater scattered with stupas that you can visit by horse and cart; Sagaing is another favourite for its hilltop pagodas.

Chin State

Wild, mountainous and remote, Chin State is Myanmar's poorest and least-developed state. Scrunched up against the borders with Bangladesh and India, Chin is sparsely populated and lacking in infrastructure. But it makes up for that with densely forested hills and mountains that soar above 10,000ft and that are separated by vast valleys through which rivers rage. Home to traditional villages inhabited by the friendly Chin people, a Tibeto-Burman group that has largely adopted Christianity, this is the perfect place to take the road less travelled.

Southern Chin State is already attracting visitors intent on hiking up Mt Victoria, the state's highest peak, and trekking to the villages around the hilltop town of Mindat. But northern Chin State remains mostly virgin territory for foreigners. Don't expect much in the way of comfort here. Instead, revel in a land that looks like it's barely been touched by human hands.

Magwe

About 155 miles north of Pyay and 93 miles south of Salay, Magwe’s locale on the Ayeyarwady River is nice enough, as is the impressive 1.8-mile Magwe Bridge. Beyond this, however, it’s a place of dilapidated buildings running along a confusing web of leafy streets. Still, if you’re travelling along the bumpy road connecting Bagan and Pyay, you’ll probably want to break your journey here and stretch your legs around the ‘sights’. Famously, the capital of Magwe Division sat out of the 1988 prodemocracy marches. There's one memorable guesthouse (actually in nearby Yengangyaung) that makes a fine base for exploring the area.

Rakhine State

The interchangeable terms Rakhine (sometimes spelled Rakhaing) and Arakan refer to the people, the state and dialect of Myanmar's westernmost state: home to the remarkable temples of ancient capital Mrauk U in the north, and the palm-tree-fringed beach resort of Ngapali in the south.

Isolated from the Burmese heartland by mountains, home to a long coastline and the seat of at least four former kingdoms, Rakhine feels very different from the rest of Myanmar and the Rakhine remain staunchly proud of their unique identity. This has led to much strife over the centuries between both the Rakhine and the Bamar and the minority Muslim residents of the state (the Rohingya). Serious sectarian violence between the Rakhine and the Rohingya has erupted in the past, such as in 2012, but the outbreak of violence in 2016 and 2017 drew widespread condemnation from the international community as an estimated 500,000 Rohingya fled across the border to Bangladesh.

Inle Lake

The Inle Lake region is one of Myanmar's most anticipated destinations, and all the hype is justified. Picture a vast, serene lake – 13.5 miles long and 7 miles wide – fringed by marshes and floating gardens, where stilt-house villages and Buddhist temples rise above the water, and Intha fisher folk propel their boats along via their unique technique of leg-rowing. Surrounding the lake are hills that are home to myriad minorities: Shan, Pa-O, Taung Yo, Danu, Kayah and Danaw, who descend from their villages for markets that hopscotch around the towns of the region on a five-day cycle.

Nyaungshwe is the area's accommodation and transport hub. It's a scrappy place, but once you've experienced the watery world that sits right by it and explored the environs of Inle Lake, that won't matter. Few people leave here disappointed with what they've seen and done.

Pyin Oo Lwin

Founded by the British in 1896, Pyin Oo Lwin was originally called Maymyo (‘May-town’), after Colonel May of the 5th Bengal Infantry, and was designed as a place to escape the Mandalay heat. After the construction of the railway from Mandalay, Maymyo became the summer capital for the British colonial administration, a role it held until the end of British rule in 1948. The name was changed after the British departed, but numerous colonial mansions and churches remain, as do the descendants of the Indian and Nepali workers who came here to lay the railway line.

More recently, Pyin Oo Lwin has become famous for its fruit, jams and fruit wines. With the rise of the Myanmar version of the nouveau riche, Pyin Oo Lwin is once again a popular weekend and hot-season getaway, so get here sharpish to experience what’s left of the old charm and calm.

Hsipaw

Increasing numbers of foreigners are finding their way to delightful Hsipaw; pronounced ‘see-paw’ or ‘tee-bor’), drawn by the possibilities of easily arranged hill treks that are more authentic than those around Kalaw or anywhere in northern Thailand. Many people, though, find the town's laid-back vibe and intriguing history as a Shan royal city as much of an attraction and spend far longer here than they intended. With just enough tourist infrastructure to be convenient, Hsipaw remains a completely genuine northern Shan State town. Be sure to check it out before this changes.

Lashio

Lashio is a booming and sprawling market town with a significant Chinese population. You’re most likely to come here for the airport, as it is the nearest to Hsipaw, or if you’ve managed to organise the necessary permits for the five-hour drive to the Chinese border at Mu-se.

Once the seat of an important Shan sawbwa (Shan prince), Lashio played a pivotal role in the fight against the Japanese in WWII as the starting point of the Burma Road, which supplied food and arms to Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang army. Little evidence of that evocative history remains today, thanks to a disastrous 1988 fire that destroyed most of the city's old wooden homes.

Kengtung

Set around an attractive lake, Kyaingtong, also known as Kengtung, is one of the most pleasant towns in Myanmar. In culture and appearance Kyaingtong feels closer to the hill towns of northern Thailand than other cities in Shan State. And whereas most of Shan State is dominated by the Tai Lü and Tai Nuea peoples, Kyaingtong was once the capital of a Tai Khün kingdom and the majority of its residents still belong to that ethnic group.

Kyaingtong was long caught in the crossfire between various ethnic armies, rival drug lords and the Myanmar military, but the area is now peaceful. The rugged terrain of eastern Shan State contributes to a palpable sense of isolation: Kyaingtong is an outpost of development amid largely deforested mountains that are home to Wa, Akha, Palaung and Lahu villages where little has changed in centuries. Unsurprisingly, hill treks are a major attraction here.

Taunggyi

Perched on top of a mountain, Taunggyi is the capital of Shan State and by far the biggest city in eastern Myanmar. A multicultural town with a majority Shan population and significant Chinese, Muslim and Christian communities, Taunggyi is principally a trading post. Its markets are piled high with Chinese and Thai goods trucked in via the border crossings at Mong La and Tachileik, and destined to be sold on wholesale to markets in Yangon and Mandalay. Unless you’re pining for the big city (the Shan State version of it anyway) and/or consumer goods, there’s little of interest here for most visitors.

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Remote Myanmar Adventure
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Remote Myanmar Adventure

Myanmar adventure promises a treasure trove of hidden delights. We’ll trek through the remote hill country to a tribal village near Loikaw, stopping for a jungle picnic and learning crafts with long-necked Kayan women. We’ll wow you with a private river cruise along the Ayeyarwady at sunset, and a picturesque bike ride around the gilded pagodas of Bagan.

We’ll jump aboard a traditional long-boat to see the unique leg-rowing fishermen of Inle Lake and bathe rescued elephants at a unique jungle sanctuary. We’ll trek through the mesmerising countryside of Kalaw, eat our way down Yangon’s legendary BBQ Street and stand in awe by serene lotus ponds and golden temples.

Hold onto your hats: an adventure in this beguiling land of wonders is like nothing else on earth. Be ready for the adventure of your life.

Myitkyina

The capital of Kachin State, Myitkyina lacks much in the way of headline sights. Nonetheless it’s an engaging, multicultural place, home to Kachin, Lisu, Chinese and Burmese, and hosts two of Myanmar's most important 'ethnic' festivals. A low-rise town with a fair scattering of part-timber houses, its residents seem keen to assist visitors, with local Christians particularly eager to practise their English. Quiet at the best of times, the town is especially sleepy on Sundays when the churches fill up. Few foreigners make it here, and those who do are mostly missionaries or NGO workers.

Putao

Set in a beautiful green valley below snow-capped peaks, Putao is the only town of any size in this far north Himalayan region of Myanmar. It sprawls across several hills and the action gravitates around two markets: the Central Market and the Airport Market. This was the site of the isolated British WWII military outpost, Fort Hertz, but there is no actual fortress to visit.

The area around Putao is home to sparse populations of Rawang, Lisu, Kachin, Shan and the last remaining Taron on earth, the only known pygmy group in Asia. The population is heavily Christian and most villages have more churches than temples.

The best time to visit for trekking is from October to April, when daytime temperatures are quite pleasant and nights are cool. Conversely the mountaineering season for conquering Hkakabo Razi is August and September when there is minimal snow on the route to the summit.

Sagaing

A crest of green hills studded with white and gold pagodas marks the 'skyline' of Saigang, a religious pilgrimage centre that resembles Bagan with elevation. This pretty, friendly town is a major monastic centre and a somewhat serene escape from Mandalay's constant hum. No individual pagoda stands out as a particular must-see, but taken together the whole scene is enthralling. A highlight is walking the sometimes steep covered stairways that lead past monasteries and nunneries to viewpoints from which you can survey the river and an undulating landscape of emerald hills and stupas.

Northern Shan State

For an easy escape from the heat and hussle of Mandalay, do what the colonial Brits did and pop up to Pyin Oo Lwin. And as you've come this far, why not continue further across the rolling hills of the Shan Plateau to discover some of Southeast Asia’s most satisfying hill treks out of Hsipaw. But bring a decent fleece: while days are warm, it gets chilly after dark and can be downright cold at 5am when buses depart and markets are at their candlelit best.

Hsipaw

Increasing numbers of foreigners are finding their way to delightful Hsipaw; pronounced ‘see-paw’ or ‘tee-bor’), drawn by the possibilities of easily arranged hill treks that are more authentic than those around Kalaw or anywhere in northern Thailand. Many people, though, find the town's laid-back vibe and intriguing history as a Shan royal city as much of an attraction and spend far longer here than they intended. With just enough tourist infrastructure to be convenient, Hsipaw remains a completely genuine northern Shan State town. Be sure to check it out before this changes.

Lashio

Lashio is a booming and sprawling market town with a significant Chinese population. You’re most likely to come here for the airport, as it is the nearest to Hsipaw, or if you’ve managed to organise the necessary permits for the five-hour drive to the Chinese border at Mu-se.

Once the seat of an important Shan sawbwa (Shan prince), Lashio played a pivotal role in the fight against the Japanese in WWII as the starting point of the Burma Road, which supplied food and arms to Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang army. Little evidence of that evocative history remains today, thanks to a disastrous 1988 fire that destroyed most of the city's old wooden homes.

Kengtung

Set around an attractive lake, Kyaingtong, also known as Kengtung, is one of the most pleasant towns in Myanmar. In culture and appearance Kyaingtong feels closer to the hill towns of northern Thailand than other cities in Shan State. And whereas most of Shan State is dominated by the Tai Lü and Tai Nuea peoples, Kyaingtong was once the capital of a Tai Khün kingdom and the majority of its residents still belong to that ethnic group.

Kyaingtong was long caught in the crossfire between various ethnic armies, rival drug lords and the Myanmar military, but the area is now peaceful. The rugged terrain of eastern Shan State contributes to a palpable sense of isolation: Kyaingtong is an outpost of development amid largely deforested mountains that are home to Wa, Akha, Palaung and Lahu villages where little has changed in centuries. Unsurprisingly, hill treks are a major attraction here.

Taunggyi

Perched on top of a mountain, Taunggyi is the capital of Shan State and by far the biggest city in eastern Myanmar. A multicultural town with a majority Shan population and significant Chinese, Muslim and Christian communities, Taunggyi is principally a trading post. Its markets are piled high with Chinese and Thai goods trucked in via the border crossings at Mong La and Tachileik, and destined to be sold on wholesale to markets in Yangon and Mandalay. Unless you’re pining for the big city (the Shan State version of it anyway) and/or consumer goods, there’s little of interest here for most visitors.

Bagan

This temple town is one of Myanmar’s main attractions. Once the capital of a powerful ancient kingdom, the area known as Bagan or, bureaucratically, as the ‘Bagan Archaeological Zone’ occupies an impressive 26-sq-mile area. The Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River drifts past its northern and western sides.

The area’s most active town and main transport hub is Nyaung U, in the northeastern corner. About 2.5 miles west, Old Bagan is the former site of the village that was relocated 2 miles south to New Bagan in 1990. Between the two is Myinkaba, a village boasting a long-running lacquerware tradition.

Bagan has been hit by earthquakes over the centuries. The most recent, in August 2016, damaged 400 temples; work on repairing them is ongoing. Bear in mind that Bagan is not a traveller destination with nightlife like Siem Reap (Cambodia) or even Luang Prabang (Laos). It's an overgrown village, so party elsewhere.

Chin State

Wild, mountainous and remote, Chin State is Myanmar's poorest and least-developed state. Scrunched up against the borders with Bangladesh and India, Chin is sparsely populated and lacking in infrastructure. But it makes up for that with densely forested hills and mountains that soar above 10,000ft and that are separated by vast valleys through which rivers rage. Home to traditional villages inhabited by the friendly Chin people, a Tibeto-Burman group that has largely adopted Christianity, this is the perfect place to take the road less travelled.

Southern Chin State is already attracting visitors intent on hiking up Mt Victoria, the state's highest peak, and trekking to the villages around the hilltop town of Mindat. But northern Chin State remains mostly virgin territory for foreigners. Don't expect much in the way of comfort here. Instead, revel in a land that looks like it's barely been touched by human hands.

Magwe

About 155 miles north of Pyay and 93 miles south of Salay, Magwe’s locale on the Ayeyarwady River is nice enough, as is the impressive 1.8-mile Magwe Bridge. Beyond this, however, it’s a place of dilapidated buildings running along a confusing web of leafy streets. Still, if you’re travelling along the bumpy road connecting Bagan and Pyay, you’ll probably want to break your journey here and stretch your legs around the ‘sights’. Famously, the capital of Magwe Division sat out of the 1988 prodemocracy marches. There's one memorable guesthouse (actually in nearby Yengangyaung) that makes a fine base for exploring the area.

Rakhine State

The interchangeable terms Rakhine (sometimes spelled Rakhaing) and Arakan refer to the people, the state and dialect of Myanmar's westernmost state: home to the remarkable temples of ancient capital Mrauk U in the north, and the palm-tree-fringed beach resort of Ngapali in the south.

Isolated from the Burmese heartland by mountains, home to a long coastline and the seat of at least four former kingdoms, Rakhine feels very different from the rest of Myanmar and the Rakhine remain staunchly proud of their unique identity. This has led to much strife over the centuries between both the Rakhine and the Bamar and the minority Muslim residents of the state (the Rohingya). Serious sectarian violence between the Rakhine and the Rohingya has erupted in the past, such as in 2012, but the outbreak of violence in 2016 and 2017 drew widespread condemnation from the international community as an estimated 500,000 Rohingya fled across the border to Bangladesh.

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Myanmar BLOG ARTICLES

Thanaka or  thanakha is a yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from ground bark. It is a distinctive feature of the culture of Myanmar, seen commonly applied to the face and sometimes the arms of women and girls, and is used to a lesser extent also by men and boys. The use of thanaka has also spread to neighboring countries including Thailand.

Within this article, we will learn everything about Thanaka and the benefits of its powder in making a secret beauty ingredient of Burmese women.

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Burmese Longyi, along with the country’s longtime history, art, and heritage sites has contributed to the richness of the local culture that will grasp your attention whenever you find yourself in strolling around the streets of Myanmar. With just a piece of fabric grasping on the lower part of the body through time, the longyi has made it become an incredible pattern of Myanmar traditional costume for both men and women. In this article, we are going to find out the secret of Myanmar quintessence through Longyi, about why it has been worn for centuries by the Burmese people.

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Kachin Manaw Festival is an annual traditional dance festival celebrated by Kachin people. Mostly held at Myitkyina, Kachin State also known as Manaw Land in Myanmar and also celebrated by Kachin people around the world. Manaw is the largest festival in Myitkyina, held at the beginning of January. Manaw Festival is the most significant event for Kachin People. Tribes of Kachin gather together in Manaw ground and dance around the erected Manaw poles. The Manau dance is performed at Manau festivals, which originated as part of the ‘Nat’ or spirit worship of the past.

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If your idea of fun involves a blurry riot of colour and explosions, look no further than the Taunngyi Fire Balloon Festival, which takes place in the culturally diverse capital of Shan State over several days every November. This celebration is held around the Full Moon of Tazaungmon, a Myanmar national holiday that marks the end of rainy season and is also known as the Tazaungdaing Festival of Lights.

Traditionally, it is a festival to pay homage to the Sulamani Pagoda by sending up decorated hot air balloons, and lately it also became as a Hot Air Balloon Competition Festival and the festival is divided into two parts; daytime competition and nighttime competition. In the daytime, hot air balloons are sent up with the shapes of various animals and mythical creatures, and hot air balloons with firework & fire-cracker (known as Nya Mee Gyi) and lot of lanterns are hanging in the hot air balloons (known as Seinnaban) are sent up in the nighttime.

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All year round, visitors to Myanmar can experience the country’s warm and rich culture. However, one particularly special and unique time to visit is during the Naga New Year Festival, which will be held in Lahe around mid-January every year.

This special time allows visitors the chance to experience the traditions and customs of Myanmar’s Naga people. For the Naga, Lahe (New Year) is a significant time when people share their wishes and hopes for the future, and families are reunited.

It is a time of great celebration; where lively dances are performed in traditional dress, to the beat and sounds of traditional instruments.

Few tourists are lucky enough to share in the joy and festivities of the Naga New Year, but those who do are richly rewarded with an incredible cultural experience.

Overall, for those who seek genuine cultural exchange and the opportunity to take some truly stunning photographs, the Naga New Year is an amazing and unique festival to attend.

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The full moon of the Thadingyut month is when Buddhists believe the Buddha descended back to earth after three months of preaching in the spiritual realm above. While the rest of Myanmar celebrates it by lighting the Buddha's way home, the town of Kyaukse near Mandalay commemorates it a little differently: with a Elephant Dance Festival, populated not by real elephants, but by pairs of dancers in gigantic elephant costumes.

Hmm... What is it? What makes it so special? and how to join the festival? You will have all the answers below.

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