Beguiling Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a must-see destination when traveling through Southeast Asia. Discover magnificent temples, breathtaking mountain trails, hilltop hideaways, remnants of a colonial past, time-honored teahouses and a wild coastline. First inhabited by the Rahkine and Pyu people and later ruled by the British and Japanese, today Myanmar presents a wonderful snapshot of the ancient Orient.
Visit lively Yangon, the former capital city famous for its colonial architecture, markets, lakes and parks. Marvel at the city’s Shwedagon Pagoda, the nation’s most sacred Buddhist shrine, dating back to between the 6th and 10th centuries. Step back in time to British rule with a walk along regal Strand Road. Browse the stalls of bustling Bogyoke Aung San Market and stroll around the serene Kandawgyi Lake. Feast on barbecued meats and spicy curries at the food stands of Chinatown’s 19th Street.
Venture into the lesser-traveled southeast region to Mawlamyine. Admire the city’s huge reclining Buddha and watch gorgeous sunsets from the Thanlwin River. Stumble upon pagodas, including the gleaming Golden Rock, while hiking to the summit of Mount Kyaiktiyo. Pass through caves on a kayaking adventure in Hpa-an and sail around the Myeik Archipelago.
Go beach hopping along the southwest coastline. Ngapali boasts an idyllic stretch of white sand, superb seafood restaurants and upscale resorts. Mingle with vacationing Burmese, snorkel at offshore islands and purchase skewered crab from the food vendors at Chaung Tha. Enjoy the laid-back ambiance of Ngwe Saung.
Travel north to the one-time royal capital Mandalay, home to Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay Palace and Mandalay Hill. Spot some of the more than 2,000 pagodas on a hot-air balloon flight over the lush plains of Bagan. Hike from Kalaw or Pindaya to Inle Lake and witness the Intha people’s way of life. Meet local fishermen and spot dolphins on an Irrawaddy River cruise. Experience tribal customs at villages dotted around Hsipaw.
Reach Myanmar by flying to the international airport of Mandalay, Yangon or Nay Pyi Taw, the country’s capital. Get around via bikes, boats, buses and taxis and embark on memorable train rides amid jaw-dropping landscapes. Prepare for warm year-round temperatures and monsoon rain from May to October. Arrive in April for the flamboyant nationwide Thingyan Water Festival.