Myanmar, formerly known as Burma is one of my favorite travel destinations in the world. Traveling for a month through this special country coupled with reading many books about it, changed the way I look at politics, multicultural religion, history and even books themselves! Myanmar offers a deep and complex history, friendly and generous people, a diverse culture influenced by its many ethnic groups, a unique geographic location, and breathtaking natural wonders throughout the country.
Myanmar is one of the less-visited destinations in South East Asia. As such, travel here can feel more different than its neighbors in terms of transportation, food, local connection, fewer tourist crowds, and many other distinct factors.I started in Yangon because it's one of the easiest and more affordable airports to fly into. As I boarded the plane there, I quickly realized the type of traveler attracted to Myanmar. It wasn't frat boys looking for a beach party or sybarites looking for luxury or digital nomads looking for a temporary base to get work done. Most whom I interacted with seemed like curious visitors open to a more immersive travel experience.
Vibrant yet arid, desolate yet rich in history, Bagan is also full of contrast. Fiery hot afternoons make it almost impossible to enter temples barefoot so be sure to save that time for an afternoon siesta, a massage, or exploring the local cuisine in one of the many delicious restaurants.E-bike rental - Explore Bagan and it's nearby small towns on your own! But please be cautious of the bikes, some are rented out with defects. Get a massage - When it's just too hot to move. Consider hiding out in a massage parlor and treating yourself!
Lovers of nature and hiking can join a Kalaw trekking tour with other travelers, slowly making your way from Bagan towards Inle Lake together. If you're solo traveling, you can easily join one of these tours with other travelers from Hostel. This is a highlight experience, however, if you have sensitivities or physical disabilities, I'd either opt the shorter hike or avoid this experience. The hike is often done under the hot sun (unless you go during a colder time) so plan ahead of time for basic precautions.
INLE LAKE (NYAUNGSHWE)
Idyllic Inle captured my heart. It was the perfect respite from the hot and arid environment of Bagan. The cooler weather coupled with its bucolic landscape of hills and calm lake felt like a vacation from my vacation. Allocate at least a few nights here to take in a little bit of everything it has to offer.Rent a Bike to tour the town (just don't take it to the vineyard like I did, unless you want to die riding up a steep hill)
PYIN OO LWIN
Pyin Oo Lwin is located on the train line between Mandalay and Hsipaw in north-eastern Myanmar, making it an ideal place to break up the overland journey. The small Shan Highlands city was formerly used as a British hill station and known as 'Maymyo' during colonial times.Pyin Oo Lwin has a mild climate and verdant landscape, hence its nickname 'The City of Flowers'. Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens on the outskirts of town cultivates 300 species of orchids amongst beautifully manicured parks.
The Goteik Viaduct - Myanmar's highest and most iconic bridge, lies 75km east of Pyin Oo Lwin. Mail trains bound for Hsipaw and Lashio cross over the bridge and depart Pyin Oo Lwin daily at 8:20am. Riding the train over the trestle - once the largest of its kind in the world - is a nail-biting yet unforgettable experience. If you want to finish the ride early, you can alight after the bridge and organize for a car to take you back into town.