Interesting ways to get around in Myanmar
27th June 2019 | by Guest author
Getting around Myanmar is rarely run of the mill, whether you’re taking Yangon’s slow circle train or hopping aboard a decked out riverboat for a cruise along the Ayeyarwaddy. You won’t always get from A to B as fast as you might elsewhere, but in Myanmar the way you travel is all part of the experience. You’ll see the country in detail, and meet some interesting people along the way. Our Myanmar Specialists share their favourite ways to see this spectacular country.
Hot air balloon
A special way to travel wherever you are, hot air balloons are particularly wonderful in Myanmar. What better way to view historic temples that were designed as 3D mandalas, than by drifting above them for a peaceful bird’s eye view?!
The balloon flight over the temples of Bagan is well known to tourists, but there are actually several journeys to choose from. We particularly love the relatively new flight over Ngapali and Rakhine State - Claire describes this experience as ‘incredible’:
'We were picked up very early and, after pastries on arrival, we got to stand inside the balloon as it inflated. There were amazing moments of flying low and close to the villages below – lots of jaw-dropping from the locals, as back in 2017 (when I went) it was very unusual to see a hot air balloon in the sky. People were waving up to us, calling the family out into the garden to look, traffic was stopping to look, and it was all so lovely my cheeks ached from smiling. I saw monks in the window of a temple, golden pagodas dotted everywhere, cows and farmers in the fields below, and when we landed near a local village, children came at us from all directions and swamped us! It was so memorable, and definitely an experience I'd recommend including in any beach stay at Ngapali.'
Sailing through the Mergui archipelago
Whenever any of the SA team goes on this remarkable trip, they come back blissed out and struggling to talk about anything else! It's a shared yacht voyage down through the gorgeous islands of the Mergui archipelago, which spreads down the southern tip of Myanmar where it connects to Thailand. The region is famous for being the territory of the Moken tribe, nomads who traditionally spent months at a time at sea, but are these days more likely to be found in beachside settlements.
The yacht tacks between Mergui's little islands, with your crew picking up fresh produce from the villagers to cook onboard. Gemma said every day at sea was just better than the last, with the crowning glory being the final evening when they cooked fresh fish over a camp fire on the beach under the stars. It's hard to think of a better way to explore this remote subtropical seascape!
Cycling in Dala Township
This is an excellent way to explore rural Myanmar without straying too far from Yangon, since the township is just on the opposite bank of the Yangon River. There's no bridge across, so Dala has retained a relatively rural feel compared to its city neighbour, and its wooden houses and colourful fishing boats are the backdrop for a slower pace of life.
You'll reach the area by a quick boat trip, and spend a few hours exploring the fishing villages, and observing daily life. We wouldn't call the place charming - it's quite impoverished, and also fairly used to tourists - but it's still an interesting experience, particularly with one of our expert local guides on hand to steer you in the right direction and act as interpreter with the locals.
Trekking between Inle and Kalaw
Some of our favourite parts of Myanmar can only be reached on foot, and are all the better for it, with their tremendous scenery and tranquil atmosphere unaffected by traffic. The trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake is a great alternative way to approach either of these relatively popular spots on the tourist trail. It features on our Insider's Myanmar journey, and will take you through Pa-O villages and farmland, where you might catch sight of the locals at work in the fields, with the shimmering expanse of Inle Lake in the distance. You'll stop for lunch at a local village, before the final short stretch to an Inle Lake jetty where you'll hop aboard a boat to your lakeside resort.
Overland from Mandalay to Inle Lake
This fascinating jeep journey takes you up from the arid plains around Mandalay and into the lush and mountainous Shan State. The journey takes about 5.5 hours, excluding stops: you can pause for lunch at the Genius Coffee plantation shop and restaurant, where you can sample some of Myanmar’s best coffee, and stop to see the extraordinary Main Ma Ye' mountain pagoda, and the sacred indigo-blue pool at Ywangan.
It's a fairly new route, and Lionel says that apart from showing you miles of stunning scenery, the trip offers the chance to see 'real Myanmar' as you make your way to Inle Lake. You can also take this route when connecting with Kalaw and Pindaya.
Speak to one of our Myanmar Specialists on +44 (0)1273 670 001, or send us your enquiry.