Which highlights and attractions are not to be missed while on holiday in Myanmar? Here you will find a list of the top 10 attractions in Myanmar!
Myanmar is a little reminiscent of Thailand before the big tourist rush. Here, life is still contemplative and simple. Many villages have no roads and no electricity, goods are transported by horses and oxen, and in many places there is still no trace of mobile phones and wifi. Myanmar is therefore the perfect destination for all restless wanderers who urgently need a break.
However, just lying on your lazy skin should by no means be the recommendation, because our top 10 sights of Myanmar should definitely be on every Myanmar newcomer's list!
The former Burma is a cultural treasure chest full of interesting sightseeing gems. As soon as you begin your foray through the impressive pagodas, Buddha statues and temples, you will soon understand why you are in the so-called "Golden Land". Just as fascinating as the Buddhist architecture is the exotic flora and fauna, the lively markets and the varied cuisine. And last but not least, the beaches of Myanmar provide paradisiacal relaxation with a Caribbean feeling.
Tip: The best time to travel to Myanmar is from November to February, when it is usually dry and the temperature pleasant.
Table of contents
Temple City Bagan
Bagan can be called the tourist flagship of Myanmar. It is in this ancient temple city that the famous photos of balloons floating over peaked pagoda roofs at sunrise are taken.
Most of the buildings that were erected as an image of the universe date from the 10th to 14th centuries. They were built so meticulously that often not even a pin fits between the bricks. Their current condition ranges from dilapidated to lavishly restored.
The huge area of the former capital of the Pagan Empire comprises around 2500 temples on a gigantic 30 square kilometres. This makes Bagan one of the largest archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. You could spend several weeks in Bagan and still discover new temples.
However, most tourists only have one day to visit the impressive buildings. The best way to do this is by rental car or bicycle.
You should definitely have seen:
- the Shwezigon Pagoda (the epitome of a Burmese pagoda)
- the Ananda Temple (the holiest temple of Pagan)
- Thatbinnyu Temple (the tallest building in Bagan)
- the Dhamma Yangyi Temple (said to be haunted between its precious murals)
- the Shwesandaw Pagoda (a classic meeting place at sunset)
- the Nan Myint Tower or the Pyathada Pagoda (with a wonderful overview of the temple city of Bagan)
- the Sulamani Temple, one of the most important monasteries of Bagan
Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon (Rangoon)
Even those who think they have seen everything after a visit to Bagan: The sight of the mighty golden Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon takes every observer's breath away. The 100-metre-high stupa is the most important Buddhist sanctuary in Myanmar, is one of the most important pilgrimage sites of Buddhism and attracts thousands of people every day.
60 tons of gold leaf and the gemstone-studded top make the pagoda shine unearthly. The weather vane alone is adorned with over 1,000 diamonds, sapphires and rubies.
Especially in the evening, it gets loud and crowded around the Shwedagon Pagoda. When countless believers gather in the glow of the setting sun to chat, pray or meditate, the atmosphere is almost like a public festival. In the morning, on the other hand, it is usually quiet and you can enjoy the spiritual atmosphere in the stupa and its shrines in peace.
Tip: In Yangon, the Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple is also worth seeing. Here you will find one of the longest reclining Buddha statues in the world.
Shwemawdaw Pagoda in Bago
The Shwedagon Pagoda is the most famous shrine in Myanmar - the Shwemawdaw Pagoda in Bago also holds a record. At 114 metres, it is the tallest pagoda in Myanmar. The enormous golden stupa dates back to the 10th century. It was destroyed by earthquakes three times in the 20th century alone and rebuilt each time - a little more magnificently than before.
The pilgrims pray, meditate, sing, chat (and fill the donation boxes). For the 10-day festival in April, they flock to the foot of the impressive shrine. Nevertheless, there is rarely any hustle and bustle here, the atmosphere is mostly calm and contemplative.
Tip: Bago is the ideal stopover on the journey from Yangon to the Golden Rock! Besides the Shwemawdaw Pagoda, other pagodas, imposing Buddha statues, royal temples and monasteries are among the sights of Bago.
Kyaiktiyo Golden Rock
One of the most important pilgrimage sites in Myanmar is called the"Golden Rock". The huge gilded stone with the likewise golden stupa on top is located near Kyaiktiyo on the top of the mountain of the same name. According to legend, it was transported by ship from the bottom of the sea to its present location. Three golden hairs of the Buddha have held it in place ever since.
Even for non-pilgrims, the greatest attraction at the Golden Rock is the spiritual atmosphere that inevitably captivates around 10,000 visitors every day. The holy place is filled with a wonderful tranquillity that makes one immediately and completely unconscious. The faithful pray, chant, make offerings, light candles and seek conversation with Buddha.
Golden Rock can be reached either by a 1.5-hour walk or a 45-minute truck ride from Kinpun. The fastest way, however, is by cable car - the ride from Yathetaung takes a maximum of 15 minutes. Apart from the peaceful ambience, the view from the Golden Rock is absolutely stunning.
Ngapali beach in the west of the country is the most beautiful and popular beach in Myanmar. Fine sand, palm trees and crystal-clear sea invite you to sunbathe and swim, and the fish menus directly on the beach are excellent and extremely inexpensive.
The 8-kilometre-long Ngapali beach is perfect for a relaxing day of swimming to take a break from sightseeing. Most of the (rather high-priced) hotels and restaurants are located on the southern section of the beach, which is also the busiest. Nevertheless, the beach is rarely overcrowded and you can always find a quiet spot.
Tip: The airport is located to the north of the beach - unfortunately, the closer you get to it, the louder the roar of the engines becomes.
Lake Inle, picturesquely set amidst mountains, is one of the most idyllic destinations on a Myanmar holiday. The "Intha", the "people of the lake", who live here, lead the quiet life of fishermen, farmers, boatmen or craftsmen and live the traditional Burmese everyday life in harmony with nature in their small villages and towns. The Kayan people also live here, whose women stretch their necks with the help of countless rings.
To enjoy all the sights of Inle Lake, a stay of three to five days is recommended. Boat tours on the surprisingly clean lake can be booked at almost any hotel or tourist office. Mostly from the small town of Nyaung Shwe, the boat then travels along a canal on the bright blue water through floating villages, markets and gardens.
Stops along the banks are a good way to visit pagodas and monasteries or simply to watch the fishermen in their longboats and the acrobatic rowers on one leg.
If you stop off at Inle Lake on your trip to Myanmar, you should also visit the Pindaya Caves about 2 hours away by car. In the southernmost of the three gigantic limestone caves, similar to the Pak Ou caves near Luang Prabang in Laos, there are about 8000 golden Buddha figures. The statues made of plaster, stone, wood, cement or bronze date back to the 18th century and are constantly growing in number.
According to legend, seven princesses were once held captive in the Pindaya Caves by a giant spider until it was killed by a prince using a bow and arrow. A magnificent specimen of the eight-legged insect and a statue of the brave rescuer greet tourists at the entrance to the cave labyrinth.
The seemingly endless stairs to the entrance of the stalactite cave can also be conquered with a lift. Before entering the warm and humid cave, you should take off your shoes! Unfortunately, the floor is not very clean...
U-leg Bridge at Taung Tha Man Lake
At the picturesque Taung Tha Man Lake in the old royal city of Amarapura near Mandalay, the U Bein Bridge is the most photographed sight. The 1.2-kilometre-long bridge is the longest teak bridge in the world. Since its construction in 1859, it has been held above water by thousands of wooden piles. Depending on the water level of the lake, however, the bridge is sometimes completely dry. Incidentally, the name of the bridge is a reminder of the person who commissioned it.
In the evening, the U-leg bridge fills up with hundreds of tourists to enjoy the spectacle of the sunset. Numerous souvenir sellers take advantage of this, offering holiday souvenirs of all kinds at their stalls on and around the bridge. In small restaurants at Taung Tha Man Lake, you can dine with a view of the picturesque U Bein Bridge.
Tip: In the evening there is a lot going on on the bridge, but in the morning you have the famous teak structure almost to yourself - so this is also the best time for photographers.
Indawgyi Lake and Shwemyintzu Pagoda
The golden Shwemyintzu Pagoda is one of the most beautiful Buddhist shrines in Myanmar due to its picturesque location in Lake Indawgyi. The lake in the north of Myanmar is also a sight to see, for in its tranquil surroundings people still live from fishing and rice cultivation. Numerous migratory birds stop here every year on their journey from Siberia to Australia.
The Shwemyintzu Pagoda is located on an artificial island in the "royal lake" and attracts the most tourists among the 36 villages on its shores. The golden pagoda can be reached from the shore via a footpath (there is also a second path, but this is reserved for the gods).
The festival at Shwemyintzu Pagoda attracts around 100,000 pilgrims to Indawgyi Lake every year. Apart from that, tourism in this part of Myanmar is still in its infancy.
Just north of Mandalay, the pagoda in Mingun village is another Buddhist shrine that deserves a place in the top 10 sights of Myanmar.
The huge structure was once supposed to be the largest pagoda in the world, but is still unfinished today. King Bodawpaya wanted to demonstrate his power and wealth by erecting the 152-metre-high pagoda. It was also supposed to contain a tooth of Buddha, which the Emperor of China had sent him as a gift.
Construction of the monumental project began in 1790, but was never completed. King Bodawpaya died in 1819, and so only the 72-metre-long and 50-metre-high foundation of the Mingun Pagoda still stands today. Although only one-third completed, it is nevertheless impressive to behold.