Must see attractions in Myanmar (Burma)

  • Top ChoiceSights in Yangon

    Shwedagon Paya

    One of Buddhism's most sacred sites, the 326ft zedi (stupa) here is adorned with 27 metric tons of gold leaf, along with thousands of diamonds and other gems, and is believed to enshrine strands of the Gautama Buddha's hair as well as relics of three former buddhas. Four entrance stairways lead to the main terrace. Visit at dawn if you want tranquillity; otherwise, pay your respects when the golden stupa flames crimson and burnt orange in the setting sun.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mandalay

    Mandalay Hill

    To get a sense of Mandalay’s pancake-flat sprawl, climb the 760ft hill that breaks it. The walk up covered stairways on the hill's southern slope is a major part of the experience – note that you'll need to go barefoot in places, as you pass through numerous temples and pagodas. The climb takes 30 minutes, but much longer if you allow for stops en route. The summit viewpoint is especially popular at sunset, when young monks converge on foreigners for language practice.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Inwa

    Bagaya Kyaung

    This lovely 1834 teak monastery is Inwa’s most memorable individual attraction. It's supported on 267 teak posts, the largest 60ft high and 9ft in circumference, creating a cool and dark prayer hall that feels genuinely aged. Stained timbers are inscribed with repeating peacock and lotus-flower motifs. Despite the constant flow of visitors, this remains a living monastery, with globes hung above the little school section to assist in the novices’ geography lessons. Beware of protruding floorboard nails.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Old Bagan

    Ananda Pahto

    With its 170ft-high, gold corn-cob hti (decorated pinnacle) shimmering across the plains, Ananda is one of the finest, largest, best-preserved and most revered of all Bagan temples. Thought to have been built between 1090 and 1105 by King Kyanzittha, this perfectly proportioned temple heralds the stylistic end of the early Bagan period and the beginning of the middle period.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Bagan

    Dhammayangyi Pahto

    Visible from all parts of Bagan, this massive, walled, 12th-century temple – about 1600ft east of Shwesandaw – is infamous for its mysterious, bricked-up inner passageways and cruel history. It’s said that King Narathu built the temple to atone for his sins: he smothered his father and brother to death and executed one of his wives, an Indian princess, for practising Hindu rituals. The best-preserved of Bagan's temples, it features detailed mortar work in its upper levels.

  • Sights in Pyay

    Shwesandaw Paya & Around

    Set atop a hill in the town centre, the stunning Shwesandaw Paya (and the surrounding pagodas and monasteries) is not only Pyay’s major point of interest, but also one of the country’s biggest Buddhist pilgrimage sites. Just over 3ft taller than the main zedi (stupa) at Yangon’s Shwedagon, the Shwesandaw stupa follows the classic Burmese design seen at Bagan’s Shwezigon. Highly atmospheric and bustling with locals and pilgrims at dawn and dusk, it's one of Myanmar's most interesting paya.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kanpetlet & Mt Victoria

    Mt Victoria

    The highest peak in Chin State – 10,016ft – and the third-highest in Myanmar, stunning Mt Victoria is one of the principal attractions of southern Chin State. Located within Nat Ma Taung National Park, the mountain is covered in large rhododendron trees that bloom in a delightful riot of red, yellow and white flowers between October and February. It's an easy two- to three-hour climb (round trip) to the twin summits from the trailhead, accessed from the town of Kanpetlet.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mandalay

    Mahamuni Paya

    Every day, thousands of colourfully dressed faithful venerate Mahamuni's 13ft-tall seated buddha, a nationally celebrated image that’s popularly believed to be some 2000 years old. Centuries of votary gold leaf applied by male devotees (women may only watch) have left the figure knobbly with a 6in layer of pure gold…except on his radiantly gleaming face, which is ceremonially polished daily at 4.30am.

  • Sights in Nyaung U

    Shwezigon Paya

    At the western end of Nyaung U, this big, beautiful zedi (stupa) is the town’s main religious site, and is most famous for its link with Myanmar's main nat (spirit beings). Lit up impressively at dusk, the gilded zedi sits on three rising terraces. Enamelled plaques in panels around the base illustrate scenes from the Jataka (stories from the Buddha's past lives).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mrauk U

    Shittaung Paya

    Shittaung means ‘Shrine of the 80,000 Images’, a reference to the number of holy images inside. King Minbin, the most powerful of Rakhine’s kings, built Shittaung in 1535. This is Mrauk U's most complex temple, a frenzy of stupas of various sizes: 26 surround a central stupa. Thick walls, with windows and nooks, encircle the two-tiered structure, which has been highly reconstructed over the centuries – in some places rather clumsily.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Pyin Oo Lwin

    National Kandawgyi Gardens

    Founded in 1915 and carved out by Turkish prisoners captured by the British during WWI, this lovingly maintained 435-acre botanical garden features more than 480 species of flower, shrub and tree. The most appealing aspect is the way flowers and overhanging branches frame views of Kandawgyi Lake’s wooden bridges and small gilded pagoda. Admission includes the swimming pool, the aviary, the orchid garden and butterfly museum, and the bizarre Nan Myint Tower.

  • Sights in Pathein

    Shwemokhtaw Paya

    This centuries-old golden stupa looms over Pathein like a glittering beacon. The hti (stupa pinnacle) consists of a topmost layer made from 14lb of solid gold, a middle tier of pure silver and a bottom tier of bronze; all three tiers are gilded and embedded with thousands of precious and semiprecious stones.

  • Sights in Yangon

    Sule Paya

    Not many cities have a primary traffic circle occupied by a 2200-year-old golden temple. This 46m zedi (stupa), said to be older than Shwedagon Paya, is an example of modern Asian business life melding with ancient Burmese tradition. The gilded zedi is unusual in that its octagonal shape continues right up to the bell and inverted bowl. Just after the sun has gone down is the most atmospheric time to visit the temple.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Rihkhawdar

    Rih Lake

    This small, heart-shaped lake has huge spiritual significance for the Mizo people, who inhabit both sides of the nearby Myanmar–India border. Rih Lake certainly has a magical, tranquil setting: the water shines a deep blue and the lake is surrounded by rice paddies and forested hills. Rih Lake is accessed from nearby Rihkhawdar, a 15-minute ride away on a motorcycle taxi (K5000 return).

  • Sights in Mt Kyaiktiyo

    Mt Kyaiktiyo

    The excursion to this incredible balancing-golden-boulder stupa is a must-do, especially during the peak pilgrimage season (November to March) and when the sun is shining. The small stupa, just 24ft high, sits atop the Golden Rock, a massive, gold-leafed boulder delicately balanced on the edge of a cliff at Mt Kyaiktiyo's summit. When the boulder is bathed in the purple, sometimes misty, light of dawn and dusk, it looks stunning.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mrauk U

    Kothaung Paya

    One of Mrauk U’s star attractions, Kothaung Paya is also the area's largest temple. It was built in 1553 by King Minbin’s son, King Mintaikkha, to outdo his dad’s Shittaung by 10,000 images (Kothaung means ‘Shrine of 90,000 Images’). Kothaung Paya is located a mile or so east of the palace; follow the road directly north of the market, veering left on the much smaller road before the bridge.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Bago

    Shwemawdaw Paya

    A zedi (stupa) of washed-out gold in the midday haze and glittering perfection in the evening, the 374ft-high Shwemawdaw Paya lords it over Bago. At the northeast corner of Myanmar's tallest stupa is a huge section of the hti (pinnacle) toppled by an earthquake in 1917.

  • Sights in Mt Popa

    Popa Taung Kalat Temple

    From the nat shrine, start up the many steps under a covered walkway and past the rows of trinket and souvenir shops and shrines to a revered local medicine man, Pomin Gawng. At a steady pace it shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes to reach the summit of this impressive rocky crag crowned with a picturesque complex of monasteries, stupas and shrines. Popa Taung Kalat Temple is but one of several buildings here that you can freely wander through.

  • Sights in Mandalay

    Jade Market

    Rock dust and cheroot smoke fill the air in this heaving grid of cramped walkways, where you'll find a mass of jade traders haggling, hawking and polishing their wares. There's a K2500 entry fee (often not collected), but you could always sit outside the market and observe craftspeople cutting and polishing jade in the area around 87th St. Be on the lookout for merchants furtively discussing deals over cigarettes and tea at spots such as the Unison Teahouse.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Monywa

    Maha Bodhi Tataung

    If you're a fan of garden gnomes, you're going to love this place! The name of this vast hillside buddha-rama translates as '1000 buddhas'. In reality there's probably many more than that. However, for most visitors, only two of them really count and they are among the most surreal sights in Myanmar.