Looking for a Myanmar (Burma) travel guide? Here is everything you need to know before you visit this enchanting destination.
I discovered the beauty of Myanmar on Instagram. This platform can make you travel to exotic places without leaving your home! I had been saving photos from this country as inspiration for over two years, hoping to get there one day.
I instantly loved Myanmar (Burma)! The first place I visited was the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. The atmosphere was serene and the site was stunning. I was completely amazed by this beautiful country.
I remember taking school trips to Germany and Italy and not wanting to come back home. The first trip that really blew me away was to India in 2011. It was so different and so stunning.
I’ve always loved capturing the places that I visit. In the last two years, I upgraded my game by buying a better camera and better lenses. Learning how to edit my pictures and getting better at photography in general has been a priority of mine recently.
Two Weeks in the Majestic Myanmar (Burma)
All the places I visited were so unique and beautiful. The pagodas in Yangon are amazing, Inle Lake is extremely beautiful, Bagan is a gem and Mandalay is full of surprising sites. I even regret not having the time to see more of this country like Ngapali Beach and Hpa-An.
One of my favourite memories was my visit to Maha Wizaya Pagoda at sunrise. This pagoda is located near the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.
The atmosphere here is just so tranquil and magical. It transported me to another world! Not to mention the architecture which was stunning: the golden pagoda has many beautiful details on its façade and is very unique.
Inside the Maha Wizaya Pagoda is worth a visit too. It’s as if you enter a fairytale world with an enchanting forest! The place was almost empty and the locals we met were super friendly. I took an amazing photo there of a beautiful sun flare over the pagoda – it’s one of my favourite photos.
Myanmar (Burma) Travel Guide: The UNESCO Site of Bagan
Seeing the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Bagan was really amazing. You can still find in the area the remains of 3822 temples and pagodas. Watching the sunrise with the hot air balloons in the sky is quite an extraordinary experience. The sunsets are also spectacular!
I have to say that taking pictures at sunrise with the hot air balloons was quite a challenge. Indeed the balloons move quickly and in unpredictable directions. The best option is to find a not so touristy spot with temples and pagodas in the background. This way the hot air balloons will still be visible.
Unfortunately we didn’t find that perfect photography spot. But we did our best in one of the most famous locations and left with a few good photos.
I had the opportunity to fly over the UNESCO heritage site of Bagan with the company Balloons Over Bagan. It was unforgettable! This was my first hot air balloon ride and I was so amazed by it all.
Not only was seeing all the temples and pagodas from above extraordinary, but I also had this feeling that I was flying like a bird. I highly recommend it!
Myanmar (Burma) Travel Guide: Top 5 Experiences
There are so many wonderful experiences and things to do here. Below I have outlined some of my favourites that should be included in every Myanmar (Burma) travel guide.
1. Visit the Shwedagon Pagoda at Sunrise
This stunning pagoda in Yangon is amazing. The atmosphere here is serene and the architecture is incredible. The huge 99 meter gold-plated pagoda is situated on top of a small hill in downtown Yangon.
Sunrise here is a special time. Sunset is also fantastic when the pagoda is lit up in spotlights. Shwedagon Pagoda is my number one place to visit.
2. Experience Inle Lake on a Boat Tour
Experiencing the floating villages and witnessing how locals grow fresh vegetables in their floating gardens is pretty amazing. The local people here including the fishermen, silk/cotton weavers and the Pa Daung women (long neck women) are all incredible people that you should meet.
3. Discover the UNESCO Site of Old Bagan
Discover Old Bagan and walk in the middle of a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can still find the remains of over 3800 temples and pagodas. The best way to see Bagan is to take a hot air balloon ride.
Glide gracefully over the thousands of temples at sunrise – taking in one of the most majestic views not only in Asia but the entire world.
4. Explore the Sagaing Region of Myanmar (Burma)
The Sagaing region of Myanmar (Burma) should be included in every travel guide. This area is located South-West of Mandalay so it’s a perfect addition to your itinerary.
Visit stunning places like Mingun Pahtodawgyi (a Buddhist temple with a huge crack on the facade caused by an earthquake) or the white pagoda named Mya Thein Tan Pagoda, also known as the Hsinbyume Pagoda.
5. Check out the Largest Book in the World in Mandalay
Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay is such a surprising monument! Wander around the alleyways of the pagoda and find the world’s largest book.
The book is actually 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. These slabs are inscribed with texts of the Sutta Pitaka, the Vinaya Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka – three parts that make up the Tripitaka.
Myanmar (Burma) Travel Guide: Favourite Photography Spot
One of the places that surprised me the most in Myanmar (Burma) was the village of In Dein on Inle Lake. You can access this village by boat. Once you are there you have to walk for around 15 minutes in the village to arrive at Shwe Indein Pagoda.
This site is filled with 1054 stupas in many shapes and sizes. Most of them were built in the 17th and 18th centuries. They are in various states of preservation and the people from the village have started to restore them.
It creates a maze that seems like something out of a fantasy world. I loved wandering around here and getting lost amongst the stupas. Shwe Indein Pagoda is a photographer’s dream!
My tip for you: I visited this place in the morning and it was super quiet. But most of the boat tours take the tourists here in the afternoon. So you know when to come to avoid the crowds.
Myanmar (Burma) Travel Guide: The Amazing People
All the Burmese people I met were very friendly and welcoming. There is one thing that I remember as a good example of this.
I was having lunch in a restaurant in Nyaungshwe close to Inle Lake and all of a sudden our table and food had water spilled on it from the upper floor after a little incident happened up there.
Not only did the staff of the restaurant replace all of our food, but they also insisted on offering us the whole lunch. I was so grateful and the food was so good that we came back there for lunch the next day.
Myanmar (Burma) Travel Guide: Best of Burmese Cuisine
I really loved the food in Myanmar (Burma). It was so varied and tasty! I loved the salads like the tea leaf salad or the tomato salad with peanuts. I often saw curries on the menu of the restaurants I visited. My favourite ones were the pumpkin curries and all the ones with coconut milk.
Shan Rice Noodles are also something you have to try when you visit. Lastly, I ate some delicious dishes in Mandalay especially: Late Kot (hearty rolls stuffed with peas), Tet Ta Yar (100 layers of shallow fried dough with pea sauce) and Mont Pyat Ta Latt (a local savoury pancake). Delicious!
What you Need to Know Before you Go
Everyone wonders what to wear in Myanmar (Burma). Indeed, there is a specific dress code when you’re visiting the pagodas and religious sites. Here is what you have to keep in mind: no shoes and socks, a bottom that covers the knees (so no shorts) and no spaghetti blouse.
You also have to be respectful and keep silent. As you will often walk barefoot, I would recommend you take some wipes with you: your feet will often get a bit dirty.
Thanks for reading my Myanmar (Burma) travel guide!