About Myanmar Travel
Yangon: Yangon, formally Rangoon, served as Myanmar’s capital from 1885 until about 2005, when a new city, Naypyidaw, was created to become the administrative capital of the country. Yangon remains the largest city and the most important commercial center in Myanmar. Even so, its infrastructure is relatively undeveloped compared to those of other major cities in Southeast Asia. Yangon rests in the fertile delta of southern Myanmar, on the slow Yangon River. It is reminiscent of many of Southeast Asia’s once-colonial cities with its tree-lined boulevards and dated colonial buildings. In fact, it has the largest number of colonial buildings remaining in Southeast Asia, some of which are beginning to be restored.
Bagan: It may be hard to imagine this quiet town as the center of an empire that stretched from Tibet to Bangkok, Thailand. The city sits on a broad plain stretching away from Ayeyarwady River. It became the capital during the first Myanmar Empire, and entered its golden age in about 1057 A.D. Thousands of pagodas and temples, dating from the 11th to 13th centuries, occupied a compact area of about 16 square miles. During the 12th and 13th centuries, Bagan was a cosmopolitan center for Buddhist studies, attracting monks from as far as India and Sri Lanka. Bagan’s power faded long ago, but the land is still dominated by thousands of centuries-old temple ruins that beg investigation.
Mandalay: Much of Mandalay has changed little over the past century. Riverboat, trishaw and foot are still the main methods of transportation; and water buffalo still work in the fields. The city takes its name from Mandalay Hill, a 774-foot bluff to the northeast of Mandalay Fort and the royal palace. Legend holds that Buddha prophesied a great city of Buddhism would be founded at the base of this hill. In 1857, King Mindon chose to fulfill the prophecy by establishing a new kingdom. After the British occupied the city in 1885, the fort compound became the colony’s government house and British Club. The Mandalay Museum and Library contains fine examples of Mandalay art and customs as well as historic palm-leaf manuscripts. The 19th-century Kyauktawgyi Pagoda is famed for a huge seated image of Buddha carved from a single block of marble. The block from nearby mines required 10,000 men laboring for 13 days to transport it from a canal to its current site. Sagaing on the right bank of the Ayeyarwady River is widely regarded as the religious center of Myanmar. It is crowded with about 600 pagodas, more than 100 meditation centers, and monasteries, where more than 3,000 monks live.
Inle Lake: Inle Lake is nestled in a small valley rimmed with tall hills. The lake’s calm waters are dotted with islands, patches of floating vegetation, fishing canoes, and about 17 villages built on stilts. They are inhabited mostly by the Intha people, who carry on their time-honored lifestyles much as their grandparents did. On the western shore, a stair pathway leads to the hidden Inn Thein Pagoda complex and hundreds of small stupas overgrown by moss, weeds and greenery. Here, farmers still grow crops using traditional methods. Along a creek, past rice fields, is the village of Sae Ma, which has a primary school where visitors can meet the children and teachers. Tha Lay is a village of weavers.
Kalaw: Kalaw is a hill town in the Shan State. It was popular with the British during colonial rule. In the rolling, pine-clad hills of the Shan Plateau, the town sits to the west of Inle Lake. Kalaw is surrounded by misty blue mountain ranges that are popular with trekkers. More than 300 varieties of birds, including several rare and endangered species, inhabit the mountains. In the area, Ma Har Mu Ni Hnyee Buddha statue was woven with bamboo strips more than five centuries ago. Every five days, the hill tribe people come here buy and sell their handmade goods.
Kyaikhitiyo: Kyaikhtiyo is a small town about 100 miles from Yangon. Travelers come here to see the mystical pagoda about 18 feet tall built upon a huge gold-painted boulder some 50 feet in diameter. This boulder seems precariously balanced on the edge of the rock and separated from the mountain edge by a deep chasm. At a glance, it appears that the boulder will tumble off its perch with the slightest breeze. Indeed, it appears that a piece of thread placed under the rock passes through from one side of the boulder to the other side. The bolder has maintained this unlikely position for 2,500 years. A steep road winds up from the base camp to Golden Rock, where the pagoda on top is called Kyaik-I-thi-ro, which means “pagoda carried by a hermit on the head.” The shrine is said to house a relic of Buddha – hair of Gotama Buddha given to a hermit residing on the mountain by Buddha himself.
Suggested Myanmar Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive Yangon, Myanmar
Day 2: Yangon / Bagan
Day 3: Bagan
Day 4: Bagan / Mandalay
Day 5: Mandalay - Inwa - Sagaing - Amarapura - Mandalay
Day 6: Mandalay / Yangon / Depart
Custom Travel Options
Inle Lake (3 days)
Nestled in a small valley rimmed with tall hills, the lake is home to some 17 traditional villages on stilts.
Kalaw (2 days)
Kalaw is nestled in the pine tree and misty blue mountain ranges, making trekking a popular activity here.
Kyaikhitiyo (2 days)
This small town is famous for a giant gold-painted boulder that seems balanced on the very edge of a rock with a deep chasm below. Atop the boulder is a mystical pagoda that is said to house a relic of Buddha.