A tailor-made journey to Myanmar combines cultural wonders, treks through rural landscapes, relaxation on tranquil beaches, and time adrift in evocative cities. Every corner reveals yet another highlight (or four!). The country’s ‘big five’ begins with Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, and Inle Lake, where you can relax in waterside seclusion. Bagan’s thousands of temples are a must, as is a visit to Mandalay, the country's cultural capital, before enjoying some downtime on Ngapali’s gorgeous beaches. However, we are endlessly drawn back to lesser-visited regions, such as Mawlamyine and Hpa An, where you’ll find Myanmar’s true heart and soul.
Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...
Wandering around Bagan’s spellbinding temples at ground level, and hearing their history, is an absolute must, but it’s always worth seeing these extraordinary structures from alternative angles. Sunrise is arguably the best time of day to see the temples, as miles of gleaming spires rise from the dawn mist, but it does require a very early start! Every guide has their own secret spot from which to experience the sunrise with, on occasion, no-one else but a friendly local farmer for company. For a completely different perspective, take to the skies in a hot air balloon. There’s no better way to fully comprehend the vastness of Bagan, and appreciate its extraordinary number of temples, than floating gently above it all.
Take one of Myanmar’s most scenic river journeys up the Thanlyin River between Mawlamyine and Hpa An, soaking up the slow pace and the stunning sight of limestone karsts rising out of vibrant green fields. Once ensconced in Hpa An, challenge yourself to conquer the 725m summit of Mount Zwekabin, one of Myanmar’s most sacred mountains, with over 1,000 Buddha images carved into its foothills. The two hour-long, strenuous hike up a steep stairway to the top is worth every second for the unobstructed views. Back at ground level, plunge into the mysterious Saddar Cave that houses many carved Buddha statues, and trek along an atmospheric underground passage through the mountain.
There’s a broad variety of restaurants along Ngapali’s laid-back shoreline and inland road which all, unsurprisingly, serve excellent, ultra-fresh seafood. Try hot-and-sour muscles, freshly-grilled red snapper, spicy tiger prawns, zingy fish curries and many other local dishes, all washed down with a freshly-squeezed juice or cold Burmese beer. There’s something about eating seafood just a few yards from where it was landed that feels extra special. If you don’t mind an early start, you can watch the fishermen bringing in their daily catch at dawn on the beach just south of Ngapali golf course.