Myanmar (formerly Burma) is one of Asia’s most unspoiled regions, yet is both friendly and accessible and contains some of its greatest treasures including the magnificent temple complex at Bagan and the unique stilt-communities on beautiful Inle Lake.
One of the world’s greatest archaeological sites, at Bagan the silhouettes of some 2,230 ancient temples rise from plains nestled in a bend of the glistening Irrawaddy River. Explore by e-bike to discover your own beautiful ruined temples.
Inle LakeInle Lake
At tranquil Inle Lake, travel by long boat between the shining lake’s stilt-villages, seeing fishermen plying their trade and farmers tending to their floating tomato gardens. Soak up the views or head off to explore vibrant markets and hidden pagodas.
Irrawaddy RiverIrrawaddy River
Luxury shallow-draft river cruisers ply the Irawaddy River, gliding past outposts like Yandabo and Mingun and lush teak plantations. Visits to villages, temples and farms offer a glimpse into local life. Choose from 4-14 day cruises.
The former British hill station of Kalaw, with its cool climate, makes a great base for 1-4 day hikes to visit local hill tribe villages. It’s also home to the ethically run Green Hill Valley elephant camp, a refuge centre for ex-working elephants.
Mandalay, Ava & SagaingMandalay, Ava & Sagaing
Famous for its ‘temple bells’ in Rudyard Kipling’s evocative poem, Myanmar’s second city and last royal capital makes a great base for exploring the monastery-filled hills of Sagaing, the former royal capitals of Amapura and Ava, and U-Bein bridge.<
Mawlamyine, Hpa An & Golden RockMawlamyine, Hpa An & Golden Rock
Mawlamyine (Moulmein) is a quiet port city with fading colonial buildings, and picturesque Hpa An offers traditional Burmese life amidst a striking karst landscape. A few hours from both, the sacred Golden Rock pagoda is a steep but worthwhile climb.
Myanmar BeachesMyanmar Beaches
Myanmar’s coastline rivals Thailand’s, but with blissfully little development. Explore the tourist-free Mergui archipelago by yacht, or stay at a private island eco-resort. Further north, there are a handful of boutique hotels at sleepy Ngapali Beach. <
This biodiverse mountains and valleys of the Putao region in Myanmar’s far north are ideally explored on foot, by bike or by raft, with remote tribal villages, traditional market towns and a national park filled with orchids and hornbills to discover.
Pyin Oo Lwin & HsipawPyin Oo Lwin & Hsipaw
Known in colonial days as Maymyo, Pyin Oo Lwin was the summer retreat of the British escaping the heat of Mandalay, and many mansions and churches remain. Charming Hsipaw, a further 140km NE, makes a beguiling base for authentic Shan hill treks.
Formerly known as Rangoon, the colonial downtown of Myanmar’s largest city is a joy to explore on foot, and there are lakes, parks and the 2,500 year old Shewdaggon and Sule temples to discover too, as well as a vibrant café scene.
We design all our itineraries from scratch tailored to clients’ individual tastes and budget, but occasionally we work on an itinerary that we think is a bit of a classic and that others would also be interested in. If we have one or more of these for this destination, you’ll find them below.
We do not have any itineraries at this time.
Classic MyanmarThis tailor made itinerary suggestion combines Myanmar's top cultural sights into one easy-going two week itinerary, from the bustling streets of Yangon and a hot-air balloon over Bagan's mesmerizing temples to a luxury Irrawaddy cruise to Mandalay and a chance to see the traditional Intha way of life at Inle Lake.
Hike, Bike & Kayak the Golden TriangleGet active in one of Asia's most colourful and diverse regions. Trek through Myanmar's rugged Shan Hills, then explore the stunning scenery of Northern Thailand by bike and on foot, including challenging asents to remote hill-tribe communities and easy cycles by the mighty Mekong River. Continue into Laos and glide through lush riverine scenery on a private boat; then kayak to the World Heritage city of Luang Prabang, an explorer’s trip of a lifetime.
Planning your trip
There are no direct flights to Myanmar, so you will have at least one stop, depending on your starting point to get there. Common transit points include Doha, Dubai, Bangkok or Singapore. Distances are fairly huge in Myanmar so travel between the major highlights is mainly done by air – itineraries will usually include quite a few domestic flights – these are inexpensive and almost as easy to catch as a local bus: you won’t spend lots of time hanging around in airports. For off-the-beaten-track travel, or example to see remote tribes, a car and driver will be included. Another way to get around is on a cruise along the Irawaddy River – the most famous route is the 4-7 night trip from Bagan to Mandalay and vice versa, but longer cruises continue all the way down to Yangon.
Quick country facts
- Recommended airlines
Qatar via Doha, Emirates via Dubai, Thai Airlines via Bangkok or Singapore Airlines via Singapore
- Flight time
Around 15-16 hours including transit time, depending on the airline chosen.
- Time zone:
- Visa requirements:
eVisa required before departure
Accommodation and costs
Although not long open to international tourism, the accommodation options in the key destinations within Myanmar now include a handful of top-notch hotels run to five star international standards. Whilst previously many of the better hotels were owned by the country’s military junta, we have been careful to recommend only non-government-related or independently owned properties. There are several boutique hotels and resorts in Yangon, Inle Lake and Ngapali, and the cruise options on the Irawaddy range from the opulent Belmond ‘Road to Mandalay’, Strand Cruise and Sanctuary ‘Ananda’ taking from 42-85 passengers each, to the excellent colonial-style Pandaw ships, the smallest of which takes just 12. Outside of main tourist areas, the best available accommodation is more local in style and akin to a 3 star by international standards, and in more remote locations generally only home-stays are available. A new luxury private island lodge in the remote Mergui Archipelago has opened up this previously unexplored region and offers a rare combination of beach, wildlife and totally unspoiled local culture.
Myanmar usually has more demand than supply at the luxury end of the market, so it’s always important to book in advance – 6 months or more for travel in January or February is usually essential.
Prices are generally pretty reasonable even at the most luxurious end of the market, akin to their equivalent in Thailand, for example.
How long to stay
Given the time taken to get to Myanmar from the UK, around 7-10 nights would be the minimum time we’d recommend in Myanmar. The exception would be if you’re combining a quick side trip to Yangon or Mandalay with a stay in Thailand, in which case you could pop in for just a couple of nights as a city stay, or perhaps do a quick cruise from Bagan to Mandalay (allow around 5 nights). It’s possible to add a 3-5 night beach stay at Wa Ale Resort in southern Myanmar to a Phuket holiday as Wa Ale is actually closer to Phuket than it is to Yangon, with access is via a 2 hour car journey from Phuket to the Myanmar border followed by a speedboat trip to the island. As all flights to Myanmar go via a transit point you may also want to turn that transit into a city stopover – the best options for this are Bangkok, Singapore and Dubai.
In 10 nights, you can discover Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake. You may need to add another night or two if you plan to cruise between Bagan and Mandalay. Add another 3-5 nights if you’d like to include the beach at Ngapali or the Mergui Archipelago, or if you’d like to head off the beaten track to do some exploring in Shan State or the Chin mountains. Some parts of Myanmar are still closed off to tourists so it’s not yet possible to explore every nook and cranny of the country, with this in mind most of the accessible areas can be seen comfortably in around 21-25 days – allow extra days if you’d like more time in each place.
Weather and when to go
Myanmar can technically be visited all year round as although there are rainy months from July to September, there are no dangerous seasonal weather events such as cyclones.
The best time to go is generally November to February, as temperatures are in the mid to high 20’s throughout most of the country, and rainfall is at its lowest. However, availability can be poor if booking late, and tourist numbers are at their peak, so travelling slightly outside these months can prove beneficial on many fronts. Although it remains dry in March and April, temperatures rise as high as 40C in the Bagan area in these months, which can restrict sightseeing a little. The Thingyan festival in April is great fun and a fascinating cultural event – but can hinder sightseeing especially in Yangon – and you will need to be prepared to get soaked, even when sitting inside a private vehicle. The end of May and throughout June are good ‘shoulder’ months with reasonable temperatures and low visitor numbers – there are a few showers but these clear up quickly and won’t impact your sightseeing unduly. July, August and September are very rainy and the beaches at Ngapali close for the season, but by October the rains are more or less over, Ngapali re-opens and the landscape is lovely and lush.
- NOT ADVISED