The Highlights of Myanmar
We take great care in hand crafting itineraries that include the classic highlights of Myanmar, as well as the less explored areas, so that you leave with a true sense of this magical country.
Below our Destination Experts share their knowledge on just some of the places they have visited, why they are so special and how best to experience them.
In Myanmar’s bustling, old capital Yangon, we will take you far from the tourist trail with lunches in lively local restaurants and walks through the old town. Of course, you will also visit the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the enduring symbols of Myanmar.
Christopher Wilmot-Sitwell, (co-owner+director of cazenove+loyd) says:
‘I am always drawn to rivers and the crossing on the crowded local passenger ferry from Yangon to the village of Dalla takes you to a completely different, much more rural side of the old capital. The crumbling architecture of old Rangoon is charming. It is sad, in a way, to see these handsome buildings in decay, but it is also very atmospheric. As you will see, plenty of restoration seems to be starting now that the country has opened up. Shwedagon Pagoda is clearly the cultural highlight and doesn’t disappoint. But what surprised me is that it is still very much a working temple and so busy with worshippers and pilgrims. It is not just a relic for tourists’.
Mingun is an old town near Mandalay and home to a huge uncompleted temple that is particularly striking due to the huge cracks in the structure – the result of a large earthquake in the 19th Century. The views from the top of the pagoda are remarkable, especially in the late afternoon as the sun sets.
Christopher Wilmot-Sitwell says:
‘Given how close Mingun is to Mandalay I’m always surprised how few make the trip up river. And how often you can have this enigmatic site pretty much to yourselves. You clamber and explore and take in a beautiful stretch of river’.
We often suggest our clients spend a full day exploring the very best of Mandalay City, including Mandalay Palace, the Kuthodaw Pagoda, the atmospheric Shwenandaw Monastery, and the famous U Bein Bridge at sunset.
Florence Evans, Destination Expert who recently returned from Burma says:
‘The Kuthodaw Pagoda is also known as the world’s largest book, because of the hundreds of marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings written in Pali. U Bein Bridge is amazing for photography and it is such an important bridge, even today, as thousands of locals, monks and fishermen use it to get from one side to the other – there is always something going on. We suggest our clients spend the afternoon exploring the untouched countryside, meeting locals and exploring ancient ruins ending at U Bein Bridge in time for sunset to watch the rest of the day go by.’
Although so many remote villages are very hard to reach, one of our favourites is Yandobo, famous for its pottery.
Florence Evans, Destination Expert says:
‘Yandobo was the most remote village I visited. I would say that this is probably because the location of it is awkward on land, which is no bad thing. The villagers are known for making various cooking pots and they will show you exactly how this is done. There are no roads here, just muddy bumpy tracks shaded by a small area of woodland. It is so rural and fascinating to see how they use their resources so well.‘
Nearly all the trips we create to Myanmar include a trip to Bagan, and with good reason. The Bagan plain has the densest concentration of Buddhist temples anywhere in the world. We always plan carefully here so that our clients see the sights at the most spectacular time of day.
Christopher Wilmot-Sitwell says:
‘In the same way that Venice or Machu Picchu do not disappoint, neither does Bagan. The extent and spread of the pagodas is nothing less than astounding. To take an ox cart or bicycle at sunset and see where you end up is to explore as you might have done decades ago, and you will find that you have many of the lesser known temples and pagodas completely to yourself at the best time of day’.