Insight /

Myanmar

5 Ways to Explore Myanmar

Few places are as exotic as Myanmar. Shut off to the world for decades, this South-East Asian state remains a mystical place where traditional way of life prevails.

Myanmar

Few places are as exotic as Myanmar (aka Burma). Shut off to the world for decades, this South-East Asian state remains a mystical place where charming, traditional ways of life prevail. And after struggling to cope with demand when it first welcomed back visitors, Myanmar’s infrastructure has now vastly improved, with fresh means emerging for exploring the staggering variety of landscapes and cultures, and for reaching remoter regions.

Here are five memorable means of getting around:

  1. By Balloon: Bagan at sunrise

    Get an incredible, bird’s-eye perspective of Bagan’s iconic temples courtesy of a sunrise hot-air balloon flight. Take off in time to watch the blazing yellow disc emerge over local plains, and see it mesmerisingly illuminate thousands of stupas and complexes. Each basket holds only a few people, ensuring an intimate and utterly tranquil experience. Your pilot will point out famous sites amid the glorious panoramic views, before a picnic breakfast back down on the ground.

  2. By Bike: Backroads or the big city

    Myanmar’s rural backroads are ideal for cycling, with hardly any motor vehicles interrupting the tranquillity. And by pedalling past small villages, monasteries and markets, you’ll discover a different side to the country. More adventurous types can climb on the back of a motorbike (with an experienced driver) and zip through Mandalay’s streets after dark: cruising along the moat to Kyauk Taw Gyi’s pagoda before exploring the city’s pulsating night markets and karaoke bars.

  3. On Foot: Hikes to meet hill tribes

    Trekking opportunities also abound, with single or multi-day options on offer for all fitness levels, and gloriously quiet footpaths. Not only that, but walks provide access to the country’s numerous remote local tribes. Explore the spectacular trails and pretty villages which surround Inle Lake on a day-hike or, if you have more time, tramp overnight to the former British hill station of Kalaw. Longer treks also offer enable unforgettable stays in either a homestay or working monastery.

  4. By Boat: Up the Irrawaddy

    Sailing along the Irrawaddy River, which splits Myanmar down the middle and forms its transport lifeblood, is a must. Three-night voyages from Mandalay to Bagan are most popular, incorporating the famous U Bein Bridge and visits to villages inaccessible by road. A mixture of colonial steamers and luxury vessels like the Sanctuary Ananda – boasting a gym, Jacuzzi and pool – operate these waters, so there’s ample choice. Longer passages from Yangon to Bagan, or to the remote Upper Irrawaddy, are also available.

  5. By Train: Viaducts and Orbitals

    How about exploring this beautiful land by rail? As well as forest and farmland, the early train from Mandalay to Hsipaw crosses colossal Goteik Viaduct – the world’s second-highest railway bridge when erected in 1900. Alternatively, immerse yourself in the everyday life of Myanmar’s largest city courtesy of the Yangon Circle Train, an orbital built by British colonials. While chugging past paddy fields, encounter boiled-peanut vendors, commuting locals and farmers hauling huge bags of produce.

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