7 Top destinations

Yangon  

Yangon, the commercial capital, is the main gateway to Myanmar. Evergreen and cool with lush tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes, Yangon has earned the name of “The Garden City of the East”.

Yangon boasts the largest number of colonial-era buildings in Southeast Asia and has a unique colonial-era urban core that is remarkably intact. The colonial-era commercial core is centred around the Sule Pagoda, which is reputed to be over 2,000 years old. The city is also home to the gilded Shwedagon Pagoda – Myanmar’s most sacred Buddhist pagoda.

The city houses many beautiful and impressive Buddhist temples and pagodas, including Burma’s most important Buddhist pilgrimage site The city houses some fine examples of colonial era buildings like the Yangon City Hall, the Supreme Court building, the Strand hotel and the central train station. To see some traditional Burmese entertainment, head for the Karaweik Palace Hall in the shape of a golden Royal Barge on Kandawgyi Lake.the river.

Golden Rock-Kyaiktiyo

According to legend, the Golden Rock itself is precariously perched on a strand of the Buddha’s hair. The balancing rock seems to defy gravity, as it perpetually appears to be on the verge of rolling down the hill. The rock and the pagoda are at the top of Mt. Kyaiktiyo. Another legend states that a Buddhist priest impressed the celestial king with his asceticism and the celestial king used his supernatural powers to carry the rock to its current place, specifically choosing the rock as the resemblance to the monks head. It is the third most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in Burma after the Shwedagon Pagoda and the Mahamuni.

Golden Rock is a well-known Buddhist pilgrimage site in Mon State, Burma. It is a small pagoda (7.3 metres (24 ft)) built on the top of a granite boulder covered with gold leaves pasted on by its male devotees. The pagoda is located near Kyaikto in Mon State and situated at an elevation of 1,100 m (3,609 ft) above mean sea level, on top of the Kyaiktiyo hill. Kyaiktiyo Pagoda or Golden Rock has become a popular pilgrimage and also tourist attraction.Men cross over a bridge across an abyss to affix golden leaves (square in shape) on the face of the Golden Rock, in deep veneration. However, women are not allowed to touch the rock so cannot cross the bridge. Pilgrims visit the pagoda, from all regions of Myanmar; a few foreign tourists also visit the pagoda.

Bagan

Bagan is an ancient city located in central region of Myanmar. From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom. During the kingdom’s height between the 11th and 13th centuries, currently only remains of over 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day from 10.000 in the pick of the .

Bagan lies in the middle of the “dry zone” of Burma, unlike the coastal regions of the country. Bagan stands out for not only the sheer number of religious edifices of Myanmar but also the magnificent architecture of the buildings, and their contribution to Burmese temple design. The artistry of the architecture of pagodas in Bagan proves the achievement of Myanmar craftsmen in handicrafts. The Bagan temple falls into one of two broad categories: the stupa-style solid temple and the gu-style (ဂူ) hollow temple.

The population of Bagan in its heyday is estimated anywhere between 50,000] to 200,000 people. Until the advent of tourism industry in the 1990s, only a few villagers lived in Old Bagan. The rise of tourism has attracted a sizable population to the area. Because Old Bagan is now off limits to permanent dwellings, much of the population reside in either New Bagan, south of Old Bagan, or Nyaung-U, north of Old Bagan. The majority of native residents are Bamar.

Mt Popa

Mount Popa is perhaps best known as a pilgrimage site, with numerous Nat temples and relic sites atop the mountain and it is considered the abode of Burma’s most powerful Nats and as such is the most important nat worship center. It has therefore been called Burma’s Mount Olympus. Southwest of Mount Popa is a pedestal hill a sheer-sided volcanic plug, which rises 657 metres (2,156 ft) above the sea level. A Buddhist monastery is located at the summit and the Buddhist hermit U Khandi maintained the stairway of 777 steps to the summit

Many legends are associated with this mountain including its dubious creation from a great earthquake and the mountain erupted out of the ground in 442 BC. It is possible that the legends about Nats represent a heritage of earlier animist religions in Burmese countryside, which were syncreticised with Buddhist religion in the 11th century.

Many Burmese pilgrims visit Mt Popa every year, especially at festival season on the full moon of Nayon (May/June) and the full moon of Nadaw (November/December). The festival involves a transgender medium being possessed by a nat spirit which give him the ability to communicate between the nats and the people.[10] It is these types of festivals, the type that are unique to the region but also incredibly important to the participants, that attracts tourists to Burma.

Inle lake

It is the second largest lake in Myanmar and one of the highest at an elevation of 2,900 feet (880 m). However the lake is really deep. During the dry season, the average water depth is 7 feet (2.1 m),  but during the rainy season this can increase by 5 feet (1.5 m).

The people of Inle Lake (called Intha), some 70,000 of them, live in four cities bordering the lake, in numerous small villages along the lake’s shores, and on the lake itself. Most are devout Buddhists, and live in simple houses of wood and woven bamboo on stilts; they are largely self-sufficient farmers.

Transportation on the lake is traditionally by small boats, or by somewhat larger boats fitted with single cylinder inboard diesel engines. Local fishermen are known for practicing a distinctive rowing style which involves standing at the stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar.

This unique style evolved out of necessity as the lake is covered by reeds and floating plants, making it difficult to see above them while sitting. Standing provides the rower with a view beyond the reeds. However, the leg rowing style is only practiced by the men. Women row in the customary style, using the oar with their hands, sitting cross legged at the stern. The floating garden beds are formed by extensive manual labor. The farmers gather up lake-bottom weeds from the deeper parts of the lake, bring them back in boats and make them into floating beds in their garden areas, anchored by bamboo poles. These gardens rise and fall with changes in the water level, and so are resistant to flooding.

Mandaley

is the second-largest city and the last royal capital of Myanmar (Burma). Mandalay is the economic centre of Upper Burma and considered the centre of Burmese culture and remains Upper Burma’s main commercial, educational and health center. In addition, Mandalay is Burma’s cultural and religious center of Buddhism, having numerous  monasteries and more than 700 pagodas.

At the foot of Mandalay Hill sits the world’s official “Buddhist Bible”, also known as the world’s largest book, in Kuthodaw Pagoda. The styles of Mandalay Buddha Images and Buddha Statues were many since King Mandon, who was a devout Buddhist, and had filled Mandalay with them and through the years Mandalay Buddhist art became established as the pure art of Myanmar. There are 729 slabs of stone that together are inscribed with the entire Pāli canon, each housed in its own white stupa.

The buildings inside the old Mandalay city walls, surrounded by a moat, which was repaired in recent times using prison labor, comprise the Mandalay Palace, mostly destroyed during World War II. İt is now replaced by a replica, Mandalay Prison and a military garrison, the headquarters of the Central Military Command.

Mandalay is the major trading and communications center for northern and central Burma. Much of Burmese external trade to China and India goes through Mandalay.
Among the leading traditional industries are silk weaving, tapestry, jade cutting and polishing, stone and wood carving, making marble and bronze Buddha images, temple ornaments and paraphernalia, the working of gold leaves and of silver, the manufacture of matches, brewing and distilling.

Nagapali beach

Ngapali (pronounced Napally and said to be named after the Italian city of Naples) is Myanmar’s premier beach destination. Located on the Bay of Bengal coast in Rakhine State, its main feature is an idyllic stretch of white sand and palm tree-lined coast, with a number of resorts spread out next to traditional fishing villages.

There are also some new hotel developments on the beaches nearer the airport (which is named Thandwe after the nearby inland town, but is in fact located closer to Ngapali – about six kilometres north of the main beach). Along the beach, south of the hotels, is the fishing village of Jate Taw (Gyeik Taw), which offers a slice of local life that is quite different from the immaculately groomed resorts of Ngapali (and may be in danger of being consumed by the construction of more hotels). Further south, in the next bay, you will witness traditional rural Myanmar existence, as yet largely unaffected by modern development.

The first fishing village is about two or three kilometres down the beach from the main stretch of hotels (the distance depends on which hotel you are staying at), and can be reached by foot. To explore further south into the next bay, it is advisable to hire a bicycle (around K2000/hour), motorbike (around K3000/hour) or take it in as part of a fishing boat tour. These can be arranged through your hotel.