6 Best Things to Do in Myanmar

Myanmar isn't the most accessible country to travel since it's going through tremendous development and doors to tourism are just opened recently. For a start, large parts of the country remain closed to foreign travelers. Getting from one place to another can be complicated and involve long journeys. However, Myanmar is one of the most beautiful, exciting and culturally rich countries in Asia. It is a place every traveler should visit.

To get the most of Myanmar, you need to be well-organized and planning ahead will save you plenty of headaches and money. The rewards in Myanmar are infinite; the scenery remains untouched and beautiful. The people are warm, kind and the food is delicious.

things to do in Myanmar

1. Sandy Beaches in Myanmar

If you have become tired of the overdeveloped beach resorts of Thailand or Malaysia, then Myanmar should be on your bucket list. Palm-lined beaches, white sands, and heavenly sunsets are all waiting for you.

Nagpal beach sits in the middle of local villages and remains relatively untouched by tourism development. Some hotel complexes are starting to appear a few kilometers away from the main beach. But this sandy beach remains a tranquil setting. You can take local fishing boats out to the Andaman ocean and see brightly colored marine life, go snorkeling or just relax on the pale white sand.

The best way to experience a local area is by driving a bicycle.

Ngwe Saung Beach has become the destination for Myanmar's new-found rich kids. The north of the beach has become home to an increasing number of upscale resorts. The south of the beach is dotted with small bungalows and remains unspoiled. In the middle is Ngwe Saung Village featuring excellent restaurants and bars to keep any traveler entertained.

Ngwe Saung is one of the most tranquil beaches to get to in Myanmar, as it is only a 6-hour bus ride from Yangon.

2. Trekking and Discovering Hidden Villages in Myanmar

Tourism in Myanmar was not encouraged until 1992 and the number of tourists entering the country remains low. In recent years Myanmar has started to become a popular destination. Many parts of Myanmar remain closed to foreign travelers. But the country is slowly opening up and embracing the concept of tourism.

That is the reason why trekking in Myanmar is something you simply must do. You will get to walk areas of land that few travelers have walked before. The scenery in Myanmar can only be described as breathtaking. You will find hidden monasteries and relics to the past. As you trek through jungle-covered hillsides in the Chin state, you will discover remote villages with face-tattooed tribal women.

We lack the words to describe just how fascinating and beautiful this country is.

things to do in myanmar

3. Discover Historical Bagan

Regarded as one of the world's finest archaeological sites, Bagan hosts the remains of over 2000 temples dating back to the 9th century. Bagan is an archaeological site that covers close to 30 square miles.

The site of Bagan in balloon season (October to March) is spectacular, to say the least. You can take a donkey and cart ride to nearby Swesandaw Paya and get a view of this majestic sight from afar.

Planning to visit other beautiful places in Myanmar? Don't worry as the country doesn't lack the beautiful scenery and rich culture. It's important that you do the planning and book accommodation and transportation beforehand since everything related to tourism isn't developed.

You will hardly find any bars or fancy guesthouses where some action is going on. Anyway, the city offers basic amenities and accommodation. The most convenient way to reach Bagan is by taking a bus from Mandalay. Head over to the central bus station and ask people around. The whole drive will take up to 5 hours.

4. Immerse Yourself in Local Culture and Traditions of Myanmar

Myanmar is an ideal place for those who travel to experience the local culture. The people of Myanmar have an almost unique and infectious friendliness that will melt the heart of the most cynical traveler. The people of Myanmar love tourists. Be prepared for lots of smiling faces and people wanting to practice English with you.

The local people will be eager to show the true colors and beauty of their country. In many parts of Myanmar, you will find people enthusiastic about meeting you and showing you the place they live. Open your mind and heart, and you will be richly rewarded while learning about traditions and vibrant culture.

5. Visit the most unusual capital city

The almost unknown, expensive, beautiful, ghost city of Naypyidaw is definitely one of its kind. Naypyidaw is the modern capital city of Myanmar. The military regime of Myanmar decided to build this capital in the early 2000s. The city is four times the size of London, has a Penguin habitat. It’s 300 km from the ancient capital of Yangon.

6. A trip through the Inle Lake

Inle Lake really looks like a sea, because its color is almost silver, or almost gold if you go very early in the morning. Its warm waters are transformed into a jewel and its inhabitants make it a little paradise. A place where time has not passed. Navigating the Inle Lake is to enter into an unknown reality.

It is discovering villages that have been floating for hundreds of years, is to know a society with extraordinary customs. It is nature, it is life and it is a surprise in every corner. One of the stops will be to see weaving factories. The most important in the area, and unique at the same time, is the one obtained from the lotus flower. One of the most expensive and difficult to find natural fabrics in the world.

To give you an idea, it takes 4000 lotus flowers to make a pashmina. In these same factories you will see silk works. Silk arrives virgin from Manadalay and here transform into beautiful longhis, pashminas and other traditional clothes of Myanmar. It depends on the time of year you will see the floating markets or not.

If it is not the time they will stop you in a normal market, like Thaung Tho which is organized in the south of the lake every five days. The best of the markets is that you will meet the Intha Tribe. You will recognize them because they wear colorful scarves on their heads. They say that they descend from dragons.

The Padaung Tribe is the most famous of the lake. These Burmese tribal women who fill their neck with rings from childhood or adolescence are known as giraffe women. Currently they are a tourist attraction and not so much a tribe in itself. Of course you will also see pagodas on Inle Lake. The most interesting is the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda.

It cannot be compared to what you will see in Yangon or Mandalay, but it is the most important in Shan State. Inside the Pagoda there are several Buddha images that are rubbed with gold leaves. Shwe Indein Pagoda is in the south of the lake and is formed by more than 800 stupas. Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery is unique, like everything, for being in the middle of the water.

Kakku Pagoda is really spectacular because it is formed by more than 2500 pagodas. There are many ways to get lost and visit small villas that surround the lake. In many of them corn and sunflower are grown and you will see women working on drying.

It is worth it to stay in one of the hotels that surround the lake to live a truly authentic experience. This translates into absolute relaxation and direct interaction with the life of the lake. Some resorts (most) are far away from the main towns or villages. Others are very close and you can, for example, go out to dinner.

Another option is to stay in Nyaungshwe, the largest town on the lake, from where you can hire the route by the lake. Well on your own with the boatman (highly recommended) or at the hotel or hostel where you are staying. The cheaper the accommodation, the cheaper the boat service. If you sleep here do not miss visiting the Night Market to enjoy the best Street Food in the area.

In Nyan there is a beautiful cabin like the ones in the lake, but in the center of the town. The doors of Myanmar are recently opened to tourists and that means change. The popularity of the country grows with each passing day and it can be counted in the number of resorts and hotel chains.

There are two sides to the tourist coin. On the one hand, you will discover new wealth and opportunities in this poor and undeveloped country. On the other hand, what was once untouched beauty becomes developed and tourism becomes more of an industry. If you're looking to get a real and authentic vibe during your Myanmar trip, be sure to visit the country as soon as possible.

Have you ever had a chance to visit the stunning Myanmar? What's your favorite place in Myanmar?
Kalyan Panja