10 Amazing Destinations in Myanmar to Inspire Your Next Adventure

10 Amazing Destinations in Myanmar to Inspire Your Next Adventure

Embark on a journey through these stunning destinations in Myanmar.

Picture ancient temples, floating villages, and gilded pagodas rising out of the mist — and you have an image of what Myanmar has in store for travellers. Here, the ruins of ancient kingdoms coexist with lush river valleys and charming towns; and there can be no doubt that this country, formerly called Burma, packs as many archaeological wonders as it does spiritual journeys. 

From the temple-studded plains of Bagan to the wooden stilt houses in Inle Lake, Myanmar has countless riches to discover. Whether you’re a traveller who craves adventure or a soul-searcher looking for enlightenment, these underrated destinations in Myanmar will have something for you. 

1. Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar

Myanmar Destinations: Yangon

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon

For a taste of local culture in Myanmar, look no further than the capital city of Yangon. Here, you can marvel at the gold-plated facade of the Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the oldest surviving Buddhist temples in Asia. Or take a trip to the reclining Chauk Htet Kyi Pagoda, whose breathtaking size and scale will make your jaw drop.

Traditional Burmese festivals such as the Thingyan Festival (“Burmese New Year Festival”) and the Thadingyut Festival (“Lighting Festival of Myanmar”) are also celebrated in this city. From the colonial buildings in Pansodan Street to the local handicrafts sold in over 2,000 stalls in the Bogyoke Aung San Market, Yangon is easily one of the top cultural destinations in Myanmar. 

Also read: 25 Things to Do in Yangon on Your First Trip

2. Bagan, the ancient city of temples and spires

Myanmar Destinations: Bagan

A hot air balloon flying over Bagan | Image credit: Paul Arps

Where do we begin with Bagan? More than 4,000 Buddhist temples cover the plains of this ancient city, which was once the prosperous seat of kings between the 11th and 13th centuries. Dotting the landscape are grandiose structures that can rival that of Egypt and Cambodia, particularly the Dhammayangyi Temple, Myauk Guni Temple, Shwegugyi Pagoda, and Thatbyinnyu Temple

It might take several days to explore these monuments on foot. But for an amazing bird’s-eye view of Bagan, we recommend that you take a hot air balloon ride early in the morning. Soaring over the temples at sunrise will surely take your breath away!  

3. Mandalay, the former royal capital

Myanmar Destinations: Mandalay

Inside the patterned interiors of Su Taung Pyae Pagoda in Mandalay | Image credit: Magdalena Roeseler 

Regal and cosmopolitan are a few words that come to mind when we think of Mandalay, the second-largest city in Myanmar. Vestiges of its former status as the royal capital can still be found across the city, from the Mandalay Palace to historic pilgrimage sites like the Shwenandaw Monastery and the Su Taung Pyae Pagoda. You can explore more of these sacred attractions at the top of Mandalay Hill, whose panoramic views of the surrounding terrain make it worth the climb. 

Also read: Mandalay is an Undiscovered Part of Myanmar You Simply Have to Visit

4. Mingun, the town of unique pagodas

Hsinbyume Pagoda in Mingun 

Continue your journey to Mingun, a town on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. In this town, you’ll find the Mingun Pahtodawgyi — what might have been the world’s largest Buddhist temple, if only it had been completed. Interestingly enough, this monument was left unfinished on purpose, due to a prophecy which proclaimed that on the day of its completion, the king would die and his entire kingdom would fall. 

Other notable sites in Mingun include the Mingun Bell, the second largest bell in the world, and the dazzling white terraces of the Hsinbyume Pagoda. Don’t forget to take home a piece of Myanmar with you at the street markets of Mingun, where you can purchase colourful textiles and other souvenirs!

5. Nyaungshwe, your gateway to Inle Lake

A wooden stilt house in Inle Lake | Image credit: Marc Veraart

Looking for rural destinations in Myanmar? Anytime you need a break from temple-hopping, set out on a boat trip in Nyaungshwe for your entry point to Inle Lake, the second largest lake in Myanmar. As you glide across the tranquil waters, you’ll come across fishermen on their wooden boats and the stilted houses of the Intha people. Check out the floating food stalls at Mingala Market, or taste authentic Shan noodles and other Burmese delicacies at The Shan Noodle & Food House

6. Pindaya, the town of limestone caves

Myanmar Destinations: Pindaya

The covered path to the Pindaya Caves 

Spelunking is a fantastic way to discover the underground treasures of Myanmar! Nowhere is this more apparent than in the caves of Pindaya, a town in the countryside of Shan State. Following the red-roofed walkways, travellers can walk on the elaborate steps that lead to the Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda — a limestone cave system filled with Buddha statues of every shape and size. 

However, a slight warning to arachnophobes! There’s a huge spider sculpture at the entrance of the caves, but don’t let it deter you from going inside. Legend has it that a spider once trapped seven princesses within these caves, until a prince rescued them by killing the spider with his bow and arrow. The interiors of Pindaya’s caves, thankfully, are not spider-themed. 

7. Mrauk U, the abandoned city

Myanmar Destinations: Mrauk U

A misty day in Mrauk U | Image credit: Stefan Munder 

Without a doubt, the lost city of Mrauk U carries an air of mystery to it. Formerly the royal capital of the Arakan Kingdom, it teems with temple ruins, old city walls, and military defence structures that harken to its ancient past. Such was the grandeur of this fortress city that  17th-century Portuguese traders once praised it as “The Golden City.” 

If you can get past the city’s turbulent history, channel your inner historian-adventurer at the stone stupas of Kothaung Paya or the maze-like temple complex of Shittaung Paya. Fewer than 5,000 travellers find their way to Mrauk U every year, making it one of the most underrated destinations in Myanmar. 

8. Pyin Oo Lwin, the fairytale hilltown

National Kandawgyi Gardens in Pyin Oo Lwin | Image credit: Paul Arps

Pyin Oo Lwin, also known as Maymyo, is a picturesque hilltown that the British officers would flock to anytime they wanted to escape the summer heat. Indeed, the horse carriages, colonial-era houses, coffee plantations, flower and vegetable gardens, and strawberry orchards in Pyin Oo Lwin make for a very charming getaway in Myanmar. 

And if you think that Thailand and Japan get sole bragging rights for flower fields and botanical gardens in Asia, prepare to be blown away by the floral spectacle at the National Kandawgyi Gardens! Alternatively, you can trek to the Dat Taw Gyaint Waterfall for roaring waters with crystal clear pools you can swim in. 

9. Hpa-an, the laid-back city by the river

Kyauk Ka Lat Pagoda in Hpa-an | Image credit: Andrea Pepoli

Make your way to Hpa-an, the riverside capital city of Kayin State in the south of Myanmar. Certainly, the rice fields, karst mountains, teak-wood cottages, and sprawling cave temples in this town are bound to make any photographer reach for their camera! Venture deep into the underground passages of Saddar Cave, where hundreds of Buddhist statues give the stalactites an otherworldly feel. And for an equally picturesque sight, the Kyauk Ka Lat Pagoda is surrounded by many other temples and monasteries along a limestone rock formation, rising over a peaceful lake.

10. Kyaikto, the town near the Golden Rock

Myanmar Destinations: Kyaikto

Kyaiktiyo Pagoda on Mount Kyaiktiyo 

Drawing curious visitors and devout believers, Kyaikto is a town in the Thaton District that is closest to one of the most iconic destinations in Myanmar. The Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, or the Golden Rock, sits dreamily on the edge of Mount Kyaiktiyo, looking as if the slightest nudge might send it rolling down the cliffside. Not to worry though, as this gilded pagoda has been standing upright for centuries. Come here during the evening, when the illuminated boulder makes a stunning sight against the night sky! 

Also read: Myanmar 6 Days Itinerary: The Largest Country In Mainland Southeast Asia!

Golden hour in Bagan | Image credit: Magdalena Roeseler

Really, we’ve barely scratched the surface of this country! For nomads and pilgrims alike, these destinations in Myanmar offer multicultural experiences that are worth going off-the-beaten path for. 

Do you have a favourite city or town in Myanmar that we may have missed out on? We’d love to hear all about your life-changing travels through this diverse and wonderful country. Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram: @tripzillamag

About Author

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany is a writer based in Manila. When she was younger, she knew she wanted to write stories or go on adventures—now, she's learning to do both. She enjoys being swept up in books that spark her curiosity for new places, both real and imaginary.

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