Myanmar Travel Bucket List

Must See Destinations

Myanmar, formerly known as the Kingdom of Burma, is THE true hidden gem of Southeast Asia. It is a land of pagodas, temples, and smiles that, for the most part, is off the radar of the hoards of tourists that descend on neighboring Thailand. The people of the country love to call their country “The Golden Land” because of the almost unfathomable number of ancient pagodas that dot the landscape. The country only recently opened up to tourism in 2010, but the number of incoming visitors is growing quickly as the country gains a foothold as a legitimate developing nation. Despite the ongoing civil war and conflicts at the Western border, most parts of Myanmar are 100% safe to travel and have a lot to offer foreign visitors. Here are the Top 4 Myanmar Travel destinations you’ll want to add to your list before they become too over-toured to enjoy.


Yangon, formerly Rangoon as the given name by Colonial British, is the former Capital. In 2005, the capital was moved to the newly built city of Naypyidaw. When you visit Myanmar, you are most likely to land in Yangon, unless you decide to land at Mandalay International Airport. Yangon is a developing city that has approximately 4.5 million people. You can see many colonial buildings in Yangon leftover from the British, along with modern buildings as a result of increased development.

Top places to visit in Yangon

Shwedagon Pagoda


Image by Sharon Ang from Pixabay

Shwedagon Pagoda is 2500 years old ancient pagoda, historically containing the sacred relics of Buddha. It has been enlarged and renovated by many kings over the course of history, and is the most sacred Pagoda in Myanmar. The pagoda is covered by hundreds of gold plates and studded by a 76-carat diamond at the top. It has the unique mystical atmosphere unlike any other places on the earth .

Kandawgyi Lake


Photo by Mg Cthu on Unsplash

Kandawgyi Lake, or “The Great Lake” is a public park located east of the Shwedagon pagoda, where you can breathe fresh air and enjoy the scenery. Karaweik Palace, (pictured) is a structure containing two giant golden mythical birds with a palace on top. It contains a restaurant and holds many cultural shows for visitors. Many other cafes and restaurants can be found around Karaweik .

Abandoned Amusement Park, for those who like to explore abandoned places, is just near Kandawgyi Lake. In 1997, the military government opened a new theme park in the middle of the Yangon city and it was shut down around 2012. The place is safe to go in but there are many stray dogs just like on the streets of Yangon . Some of the facilities like pirate ship can be operated safely but have fun at your own risk .

Sule Pagoda


Photo by Harish Shivaraman on Unsplash








Sule Pagoda, surrounded by the busiest streets of Yangon in the downtown area. It also enshrines the sacred relics of Buddha and is over 2,500 years old.

Chinatown, and specifically 19th Street, is a favorite spot for foodies and nightlife seekers. As the evening is getting darker, the area is crowded by locals, expats, and tourists who are looking for the best food vendors and cold drinks. Similar to the Chinatown in Bangkok, this is the place for CHEAP local food and drink, all night long. See the below video for a walking tour.

A cup of local beer costs 800 Ks ($0.55) while imported beer is around 1000 Ks ($0.75- $1.10). Food dishes range from 200 Ks to 2000 Ks ($0.15- $1.40) depending on what you choose.

When talking about Yangon, I can’t forget to mention the circle train because of the true Myanmar experience if offers. The train circles through 38 stations around the city and the ticket cost only 200 Ks (~$0.15).

Where to stay

When making travel plans as a foreigner, I recommend Agoda. They provide addresses and booking details in the local language and also have an extensive listing of hotels in remote locations. You have many options in Yangon, but I highly recommend these.

Sule Shangri-La Hotel 51
The ultimate luxury hotel with a view that can’t be beaten. Located near the Sule Pagoda and all of the sights.  5 -Stars, at a local price not typical for the Shangri-La. High-value hotel with a great rooftop bar offering exceptional views. Very low priced and well located.
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And for the budget traveler, both of these are insanely cheap options.

Backpacker Bed and Breakfast Wayfarer Rest
Great views and good local food are included at this hostel. Clean, safe and well-located.
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The real reason you should be visiting Myanmar. and the ancient city where Burma was born. Bagan is located in the heart, literally, of Myanmar. A breathtaking destination, famous for its’ thousand years old pagodas and stupas that lies across the plain of Old Bagan. There are over 2,200 pagodas, temples, and monasteries, and many of them were built in the 11th century.


Photo by SeanPavonePhoto. Licensed by Adobe Stock.

At its peak, this UNESCO World Heritage Site contained over 10,000 pagodas. But, hit by many earthquakes over the centuries, only a fraction are still standing.

There are several ways to explore Bagan, and E-Bike (electric bike) is the most popular option. E-Bikes are available everywhere, and a much better way to get around than a taxi tour or walking in the sun. The price of renting an E-Bike for a day is around 6000 Ks (4 USD) to 8000 Ks (5.50 USD).

Myanmar Travel Must: Bagan Balloon Tour

One of the most popular experiences at Bagan is a Hot Air Balloon tour at sunrise or sunset. Catching a sunrise or sunset at Bagan is something you must experience in your life, which is commonly claimed as the best Sunrise and Sunset location in the world by many tourists. To see what I mean, check this video out.

As you can see, a Bagan Balloon Tour is a must-add to your Myanmar travel list.

Where to stay

Avoid making a mistake here. This is a once in a lifetime trip, so listen to the local recommendations.

Aureum Palace Hotel and Resort Ostello Bello 
5-Stars at a local price. Traditional Burmese decor, local food, pool and great views of the Bagan landscape. Clean, safe and well-located. A popular chain in Myanmar.
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Inle Lake


Image by Rav_ from Pixabay

Inle or Inn Lay (direct pronunciation) meaning lovely small lake, is not really a small lake but the second largest lake in Myanmar. It has a unique attraction of leg rowers and numbers of things to see such as villages of stilt houses, floating garden, silversmiths, lotus weaving, and cigar making workshops. The Famous long neck Padaung women who wear brass and rings of copper around their neck for the beauty and protection from tigers can be found at Inle Lake. All can be experienced by a full-day boat tour.

Myanmar Travel Tip for taking a boat tour

Do not book your boat in advance, it could be much more than the normal rate. Go to the boats first, ask some boat drivers and take the best price.

Flights arrive at Heho, a one-hour taxi ride from the lake. Another popular way to get to Inle Lake is via train which, though long and brutal, is a pretty interesting way to see the lives of local people and the amazing landscapes on the way.

Where to stay

You’ll need somewhere to stay overnight if visiting the lake, so here are a few more local recommendations to add to your Myanmar travel plans.

Ananta Inle Resort Ostello Bello 
4-Star resort directly on the lake, and usually priced under 50 USD. Clean, safe and well-located. A popular chain in Myanmar.
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Mandalay Hill. Image by Jörg Peter from Pixabay

Mandalay is the last royal capital and second-largest city in Myanmar. The city is located in an important location, in terms of geography and economics and is the center of trade and transportation in Northern Myanmar. The city has not much entertainment to offer visitors, but it is surrounded by breathtaking attractions and rich history.

Top Places to visit in Mandalay

Mandalay Hill (pictured) is located in the northeast of the city, which has many pagodas and monasteries. It is also the best place to witness the stunning sunset over the city.

Kuthodaw Pagoda, near the Mandalay Hill, has 729 marble slabs, inscribed in Buddhist script, inside the many small stupas.

Mandalay Palace, the last royal palace of the Independent Kingdom of Bamar, and its moat are the main landmark of Mandalay. Since the original palace was bombed and burned down in WW-II, the palace was rebuilt around 1993.

Mahamuni Temple is a large marble-clad Buddhist temple that hosts the famous Mahamuni Buddha Image. It is one of the most sacred sites in Myanmar and a great place to witness Buddhist culture.

Inwa, located southwest of Mandalay, is the ancient capital of the Burmese kingdom from the 14th to 19th centuries. The Inwa fortress, ancient pagodas and stupas, teak wood monasteries and palace ruins barely survived the earthquakes over the centuries.

Where to Stay

Oddly, there is no Mandalay Bay Hotel here. I do recommend these though.

Mercure Mandalay Hill Hotel Yadanarbon 
Mercure is a favorite chain of mine in Asia. In Mandalay, the best luxury option, but at a local price. Best service and facilities in this price range. I am a regular guest here and highly recommend it.
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For budget travelers, make sure to check out Hotel Sahara, Ace Star BnB, and Mansion Hostel, all located in downtown and excellent budget options in Mandalay.

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