Bagan is the main tourist attraction in Myanmar and one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia. It is situated in central dry zone of Myanmar in Mandalay Division, and it lies on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River. Bagan covers an area of 92 square km containing over 2000 well-preserved pagodas and temples of the 11th to 13th century. Bagan is accessible by air, road and waterway.
Bagan is the beginning place of Buddhism in Myanmar. Buddhism is introduced by Myanmar King Anaw-ra-hta in 11th century. It is estimated that there were as many as 4000 religious buildings during the time of 11th and 13th century.
Among different structure, shapes and sizes of the temples and pagodas, some of their unmatched qualities were said as follows:
In mass, it is Dham-ma-yan
Another favorite part of visit in Bagan includes a visit to the morning Nyaung U market, craft shops and the cottage industry of Lacquer-ware products. These local souvenirs will make a perfect gift to bring back home.
Bagan and around:
Popa (Popa Mountain National Park)
Bago (Bago Division)
Bago is an ancient capital dating back to 6th century. It was founded in 573 by the Mon People. It is also known as Pegu. This capital of Bago Division is a former major river port.
Only 110 km away from Yangon, the ride to Bago passes through small villages selling local produce and traditional glazed earthern jar and pottery.
Bago is a Buddhist pilgrimage center and contains many outstanding pagodas, including Shwe-maw-daw Pagoda, over one thousand years old, Shwe-tha-hlaung Pagoda (a huge statue of reclining Buddha said to have been built in 994), and Maha-zedi. The Kan-bawza-thadi Palace has been rebuilt at the site of ancient city of the Han-tha-waddy. Ruins of walls and palaces can also be seen nearby.
Gok Hteik Viaduct (Northern Shan State)
This world’s second highest viaduct is along the Mandalay-Lashio railway line. It is in Hsipaw District of Northern Shan State.
The bridge was built in 1903 during the British colonial period. Unlike other bridges which cross streams and rivers, the Gok Hteik Viaduct crosses two great ravines over 300 feet in depth. The bridge is 2260 feet long and the height from the lowest ground level to the rail line is 1100 feet. Many visitors pay a visit to this legendary bridge with a train ride from Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw.
Inle Lake (Shan State)
Inle Lake, 900 meters above sea level, is one of the main tourist attractions in Myanmar. The lake, 22 km long and 10 km across, is a must visit in Shan State, eastern part of the country.
The car ride from Heho airport is 30 km away, about one hour car drive, via Nyaung Shwe. The touring trip in the lake will be by motor-boats. Inle lake is surrounded by high mountain ranges which contributes to the lake’s famous scenic beauty. An excursion trip in the lake will reveal the unique lifestyle of the Inthars, the native lake dwellers. Among many fascinating attractions, there will be the famous leg rowers going about in their daily routines, typical floating gardens, local method of fishing and their villages.
Floating market is held every five days. On this market day, different tribes such as Inthar, Danu, PaO, Taung Yoe from nearby villages gather here for selling and buying their goods. The mixture of different colorful tribal costumes and the color of fresh produce combine with sincere, friendly smiles of these natives make this scene of market day unlike any other.
Inlay also has the reputation for its silk production with weaving handlooms. The shirts, shawls and other silk materials make a good souvenir.
Another place to stop by is Nga-phe-chaung Monestary. More known for its spectacular jumping cats, this monestary has a valuable collection of ancient Buddha images. The monestary building itself can be considered a national heritage.
Inle Lake and around:
Kalaw (Shan State)
Kalaw, a former British hill station in Shan State, surrounded by Pine trees, is 1400 meters above sea level, located in 70 km west of Taunggyi. Many colonial style houses and gardens are still remaining today. A beautiful landscape in and around Kalaw is much resembled to those in Europe. Kalaw is also famous for many unique trekking areas where one can visit to various hill tribes nearby.
Kakku (Shan State)
Kakku is situated at 26 miles south of Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State. The drive through Pa-O villages takes around one hour from Taunggyi. Another popular route is to trek across the eastern mountain range from Inlay. The trek takes about 6 hours to reach to Tatgyi Village. Take a rest for lunch and proceed to Htee-ne village where the pick up car will be waiting. From there, proceed to Kakku by car. This route is good for trek only during the dry season.
Kakku is a hidden treasure of an unusual, magnificent collections of late 19th century style Buddhist Stupas, unheard of by historians and unlisted in guide books until recently. The similar pagodas built in approximate the same period are found in Indein, about 45 minutes boat ride from Inle Lake.
Kawthaung (Tanintharyi Division)
Formerly called Victoria point, Kawthaung is the southern most town of Myanmar. Visitors coming from Thailand can take 20 minute boat trip from Ranoung, the border town in Thailand to reach to Kawthaung.
Andaman Club Resort Hotel, on the Tha-htay-kyun Island is located west of Kawthaung. There are regular flights from Yangon and five star shipping lines also operate to Kawthaung.
Kawthaung and around:
Lampi National Marine Park
Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda (Mon State)
Well known as The Golden Rock, built in 574 BC over 2500 years ago, is located on top of Mt. Kyaikhtiyo. The pagoda at 3615 feet (1102 meters) above sea level is recognized as one of the wonders of South East Asia.
The pagoda is built on a huge boulder completely covered with gold leaves and it is delicately balanced on the edge of the cliff. The hair relic of Gautama Buddha is enshrined in the pagoda which attributes to Buddhists’ belief that this pagoda has supernatural power.
The Golden Rock can be reached from Yangon by car via Bago. It is 160 km away from Yangon. After a total of 4 to 5 hours drive, the car ride will end in Kin-pun Sakan, base camp of Mt. Kyaik-hti-yo. Then, visitors have two choices how they would go up hill. Many visitors can do trekking all the way up, 11km trek, which takes about 5 hours to reach to the pagoda platform. Another way to go is to take a ride in the small trucks. The car ride, to the mid-way station, Yathe Taung, along twist and turn small path will take about one hour.
Again, the visitors can choose to go the rest of the up-hill by truck or by trekking. Trekking from this point will take from 45 minutes to one hour. Some part of the treks are steep but it is an enjoyable experience. If visitors are up to it, they can hire a ride: guests sit on a reclining chair while being carried by two persons.
Kyaikhtiyo and around:
Kyaing Tong (Shan State)
Kyaing Tong is the capital of Eastern Shan state and easily accessible by flight from Yangon, Mandalay and Heho. Around Kyaing Tong are ethnic villages of Palaung, Eng, Akha, Lahu and many more. A short trek to these villages is the highlight of the visit to Kyaing Tong. Visitors will be delighted to see many ethnic tribes in their colorful tribal dresses. The market place is where all the different tribes gather together for selling and buying of the products from the region.
Mandalay (Mandalay Division)
Mandalay is a second capital of Myanmar, and the center of trading business in Upper Myanmar. Mandalay is accessible from all directions of the country with plane, boat, train and car. It is 680 km away from Yangon.
Mandalay was the resident to the last royal kingdom of Myanmar from 1859 to 1885. Almost all of the original royal buildings were lost in the fire during the war. Only Shwe Kyaung is left standing today. The replicas of other royal buildings have been rebuilt in the palace compound. The miniature royal palace compound will give the visitor the full view of the palace buildings.
Maha-muni Pagoda is the most important religious structure in Mandalay. The legend goes that the Buddha statue has supernatural powers that are being passed on by Buddha Himself. The 12 feet high Buddha statue was brought from Rakhine State in 1784.
Mandalay is also the religious center for all Buddhism teaching. In Amarapura, one can visit to Maha Gan-da-yon Monastery where over 1000 monks study Buddhist scriptures. This legendary monastery is well known for its tranquil environment and strict rules that all residing monks abide.
Ku-tho-taw Pagoda or rather known as the world’s largest book is another major interest of Mandalay. Around 1859, Buddha’s teachings known as Pi-ta-kat were inscribed on 729 marble slabs with the help of the monks. The writing on the marble slabs took 6 months to finish.
The water way trading takes place up stream and down stream along Ayeyarwady River. A lively scene of many commodities being loaded can be seen at Gaw Wein Jetty.
Mandalay and around:
Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park
Pyin Oo Lwin and National Kandawgyi Gardens
Mawlamyine (Mon State)
It is the capital of Mon State, situated at the mouth of Than Lwin River. It is easily accessible by road and rail from Yangon.
About 34 km from Maw-la-myine is Than-byu-zayat, an allied war memorial cemetery for the prisoners of war who lost their lives in the building of the famous death railway across the river Kwai.
Mingun (Mandalay Division)
Mingun is a small town located about 11 km upriver from Mandalay on the western bank of Ayeyarwaddy River. The boat ride takes about one hour upstream to reach to Mingun. It is a town well-known for its 90-ton Mingun Bell, the largest ringing bell in the world, an enormous unfinished Mingun Pa-hto-taw gyi Pagoda and the beautifully built Mya Thein Tan Pagoda.
Monywa (Sagaing Division)
It is located at 136 km to the west of Mandalay, the city of Sagaing Division and commercial centre of Chindwin Valley. Monywa and Katha are important timber depots. Teak, hardwood, rattan and bamboo are extracted from the forests nearby. Monywa is famous for Than-bod-dhe Temple that houses various sizes of 582,363 Buddha images, Baw-dhi Ta Htaung (one thousand Bawdhi trees), Leti Kyaung-tike Monastery where Buddhist scriptures are inscribed on 806 stone slabs and Kyauk-ka village, famous for its lacquer ware.
Mrauk U (Rakhine State)
Mrauk U, ancient royal capital of Rakhine Kingdom, was built in 15th century. It was founded by King Min Sawmon in 1430 A.D and had maintained its highest prosperity for 355 years till 1785 A.D. It is 80 km away from Sittwe and accessible by boat ride along Kaladan River. The boat ride takes about five hours.
Numerous lakes, Pagodas, remain of buildings and other vestiges indicate that it was the site of a once important and glamorous city. It is famous for its old temples with wall paintings of Indian cultural influence.
Major attraction sites include Shit-thaung Pagoda or shrine of the 80,000 images, built in 1535, Ko-thaung Pagoda, Ya-danar-pone Pagoda, Pi-ta-ka Taik, Lin-ban-pyauk Pagoda, An-daw Pagoda, and Duk-kan-thein Pagoda.
Maha-muni Pagoda (Kyauk-taw-gyi Pagoda) is 60 km away from Mrauk U, about 3 hours drive. It is believed that the Buddha image in this pagoda is the origin of Maha-muni Pagoda in Mandalay. Buddhists believe that the image is blessed with supernatural power by Buddha Himself. There are total 5 Muni Buddha images in Myanmar.
Myitkyina (Kachin State)
Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, is situated in the northern part of Myanmar. From Myitkyina, visitors can tour the confluence of Maykha and Malikha, the source of the Ayeyarwaddy River.
Ngapali (Rakhine State)
Ngapali, one of the beautiful beaches in Myanmar, is located on the Rakhine Coast near Thandwe (Sandaway), north-west of Myanmar. It is accessible from Yangon with a 35 minute flight. The combination of modern luxurious accommodations and the unspoilt beauty of the beach will pave the way for many delightful return visits.
Ngwe Saung Beach (Ayeyarwady Division)
Another beautiful, unspoilt beach of Myanmar, Ngwe Saung has a stretch of 24 km coast. It is accessible from Yangon by car, 177 km away. One can also go to Ngwe Saung from Yangon by a small luxury cruise through the rivers of Delta region and reach to Pathein, the capital of Ayeyarwady Division. Proceed to the beach by car for another 46 km drive.
As if the clear water and the white sandy beach are not enough, there are also nearby villages and local markets that will attract any visitor’s attention. Many sport activities such as jet ski riding, water skiing and deep sea diving are available to attract the visitors near and far.
Pathein (Ayeyarwaddy Division)
The capital of Ayeyarwaddy Division (lower Myanmar), Pathein is situated on the bank of Nga Wun River and commercial centre of Ayeyarwaddy Division. The principal trade is ‘rice’. It is 190 km away from Yangon.
Pathein and around:
Chaung Thar Beach
Ngwe Saung Beach
Pindaya Cave (Shan State)
Pindaya is about 45 km drive away from Kalaw and 60 km away from Heho Airport. Pindaya is well known for its extensive limestone cave and a picturesque lake. The cave is set deep in the hill side and there stands at the entrance, a 15 meter high Shwe U Min Pagoda. In the cave are 6,000 Buddha images and interesting stalagmites. Local handicrafts in the village include Shan paper made from mulberry bark and parasols made from the same paper.
Putao (Kachin State)
Putao is situated on 1000 m above sea level. From Putao, visitors proceed to nearby mountain ranges for trekking, bird watching and other nature visits.
Putao and around:
Hkakaborazi National Park
Pyay (Bago Division)
It is located about 285 km north of Yangon, on the eastern banks of Ayeyarwaddy River. It is accessible by road or by rail that takes about 5 hours. There are many ancient pagodas, and town Thaye Khittaya, an archaeological site of the ancient Pyu capital (5th to 9th century).
Pyin Oo Lwin (Mandalay Division)
Pyin Oo Lwin also known as May Myo is located at 69 km away from Mandalay and over 1,000 meters above sea level. A former hill station during the colonial period, Pyin Oo Lwin is well known for its colonial style houses with large compound and Pine trees.
Newly upgraded National Kandawgyi Gardens in Pyin Oo Lwin has an area of 436.96 acres, including natural forests, tiers of lakes and recreational lawn with alluring landscape and scenic views.
Pyin Oo Lwin is famous for Pwe Kauk, Ani Sakan waterfalls and Paik Chin Myaung caves. An extended visit to famous Goteik viaduct can be arranged from here.
Sagaing (Mandalay Division)
Once an ancient capital, Sagaing lies 21 km south west of Mandalay, beside the Ayeyarwaddy river. The Sagaing hills are crowded with numerous shape and size of pagodas. This serene area is home to 500 over monasteries and nunneries. Sagaing is also a teaching center of Buddha scriptures for monks and nuns. Drive uphill to visit famous Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, also the place to see the panoramic horizon of Sagaing environ and Ayeyarwaddy River. Another attractive site in Sagaing is Kaung Hmudaw Pagoda, built in AD 1636.
Sale (Ma-gway Division)
Sale is a small town on the east bank of Ayeyarwady River. It is accessible by car via Bagan-Chauk Highway Road. It is also accessible by boat.
The main attraction in this area is Sale Yoke Sone Monastery. It is built in 1882, and famous for its beautiful wood carvings. The four staircases leading to the monastery is built with bricks and the main building is built with teak. The monastery is originally supported by 154 teak posts. Inside the monastery are collections of Kon-baung Period Buddha statues, wooden containers, and scripts written on Pe, specially prepared leaf. These scripts include poems composed by a very famous composer, U Ponnya, a Sale native, for the King that time.
Sittwe (Rakhine State)
The capital of Rakhine State, also known as Akyab in the past days, lies at the conjunction of the Kaladan River and Bay of Bengal, 15 feet above sea level. Once a fishing village, now Sittwe is an important seaport. Sittwe can be reached from Yangon by flight.
View Point, a large platform based of the former lighthouse, serves as a good spot to view the beautiful surrounding.
Sittwe and around:
Tachileik (Shan State)
It is located in the Golden Triangle Area and border gateway opposite of Maesai in Thailand. It is accessible by air or by road, about 2 hours by air from Yangon to Tachileik.
Taunggyi (Shan State)
The capital of Shan State, over 1430 meters above sea level, is a hill station, cool and pleasant all year round. Taunggyi is accessible from Yangon by flight via Heho.
Thanlyin (Yangon Division)
Thanlyin is located across the river from Yangon. It can be reached by car driver by passing through 270 m long Thanlyin Bridge. The car ride for the whole trip takes about one hour.
For its strategic location, it had always been an attractive site for many foreign traders for centuries. Portuguese had controlled Thanlyin from 1518 to 1613.
The visit to this area would include the local market and Kyauk-tan Ye-Le Pagoda (the pagoda in the middle stream). This pagoda is built on a small high rise in the middle of the stream. It is said that the water level never goes up to the Pagoda platform no matter how high the tide becomes. To reach to the pagoda, one has to cross the river with a small boat. Visitors can feed the large group of fish living around the pagoda.
Yangon (Yangon Division)
Yangon is situated in the southern part of Myanmar in the Ayeyarwaddy delta, the capital city of Myanmar and home to some 5 million people.
The settlement first came into prominence in the mid 1750, when king Alaung-phaya, founder of the last dynasty (Konbaung Dynasty) of Myanmar king, chose the site as the administrative capital of lower Myanmar and named it ‘Yangon’ meaning ‘end of strife’. It is now the largest city and principal seaport. It is also a main commercial, manufacturing and transportation center for the country.
The most notable monument in the city is the largest ‘Shwedagon Pagoda’, an ancient Buddhist stupa about 98 meters high and covered with gold on the outside. The Shwedagon Pagoda was originally built over 2500 years ago.
Other famous pagodas are world peace pagoda, Sule pagoda, Botataung pagoda and Chauk Htat Gyi, a huge reclining Buddha image. Bago, Thanlyin and Twan-te are smaller cities worth visiting around Yangon.
Bogyoke Aung San market (Scott market) is the largest market in Yangon and it is one of the best places for souvenir shopping such as lacquer ware, wood and ivory carving, tapestries, silverware, brass ware, silk and cotton fabric and traditional garments. Myanmar rubies, jade, sapphires and pearls are also available.
Yangon and around:
Myaing Hay Wun Elephant Camp