With a country as draped in exotica as Myanmar, travelling here is rewarding for anyone, but for families lucky enough to be travelling together, Myanmar's potion of magic makes every encounter an eye-opening experience for children and parents alike.
Best Regions for Kids
Children will be as awed by the magic of the Shwedagon Paya as you. Plus boat rides, amusement parks, swimming pools and plenty of familiar food (and a lot that's not!).
- Southwestern Myanmar
Chung Tha and Ngwe Saung beaches are hugely popular with Burmese families and your children will love eating ice creams and building sandcastles with local children.
- Southeastern Myanmar
The ideal family-friendly mix of glorious beaches, island hopping, inspiring pilgrimage sites and riverside cities full of interest for all the family.
- Bagan & Central Myanmar
What child won't be full of wonder while riding in an ox cart between hundreds of abandoned temples? Plenty of child-friendly accommodation.
- Eastern Myanmar
Spend a couple of days drifting by boat between markets and backwater villages on Inle Lake.
- Western Myanmar
Beautiful palm-fringed sands, warm turquoise waters and excellent hotels make Ngapali the country's best beach resort for travelling families.
Myanmar for Children
Although travelling in Myanmar as a family is hugely rewarding, it does require some advance preparation, as well as the right attitude (from both parent and child) and an extra large helping of parental patience. The good news is that people in Myanmar love children and in many instances will shower attention on your offspring, who will find ready playmates among their local counterparts. This adoration of children – and blonde foreign children in particular – does mean that your kids can expect to have their hair fondled and be picked up and hugged endlessly, and that people will frequently snap pictures of your children without asking beforehand. It's best to try and work out some rules and approaches to this kind of thing in advance.
- Horse Cart Ride in a horse and cart around the majestic temples of Bagan or the cool hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin.
- Boat Trips Paddle like a pirate around Inle Lake in a dugout canoe.
- Trishaw Ride Enjoy a slow and lazy trishaw ride in any small town.
- Ballooning Float in a hot-air balloonover the plains of Bagan (older children only).
- Face Painting Indulge in some face painting by trying on thanakha (yellow sandalwood-like paste), which is sold and applied from sidewalk stands around the country.
- Puppet Shows Enjoy the spectacle of a traditional puppet show performed in Yangon and Mandalay.
- Festivals Myanmar's festivals, such as Thingyan in mid-April with its throwing of water, and Taunggyi's fire-balloon festival in October or November, can be a lot of fun.
- Chaung Tha Beach Every Burmese family's favourite bucket and spade destination.
- Dawei Stunning sweeps of mostly undeveloped sand and calm, clear waters.
- Ngapali Beach Family-friendly resort hotels, heaps of watersports and crystalline waters. Your children will never want to leave.
- Myeik Archipelago Board a live-aboard boat and search for treasure in this former pirates' stronghold. Today it's one of the most gorgeous archipelagos in Southeast Asia.
- Mt Kyaiktiyo Nowhere in Myanmar is legend, magic and the present day so entwined as at the extraordinary balancing golden boulder at Mt Kyaiktiyo.
- Snake Temple Watch your child's eyes bulge with wonder when they meet a huge serpent who was once a monk.
- Fortune Teller Visit one of the fortune tellers who set up shop outside many a temple and let your child stare into the future.
- Nga Hpe Kyaung Catch the last of the hoop-jumping moggys at this Inle Lake temple.
- Water Fountain Garden Giant dancing fountains (and dancing locals) that change colour.
Lost Cities & Massive Buddhas
- It may be confusing for some children (and distressing to adults) to see children working at restaurants and teahouses. Sadly, this is an unavoidable fact in a country with high poverty levels.
- Myanmar has poor public sanitation, so parents would be wise to lay down a few ground rules with regard to maintaining their children's good health, such as regular hand washing.
- Children should especially be warned not to play with animals they encounter, as a precaution against bites and rabies. And be very careful near the monkeys found in and around some temples.
- Nappies (diapers) are hard to come by outside the major cities: come prepared if your travels will take you even slightly off the beaten track.
- Most top-end hotels and restaurants will have highchairs available. It's best to eat freshly prepared food, but try and order a little in advance because meals can take an hour or more to prepare.
- For the comfort and safety of all, it's sensible to hire a car with air-conditioning and a driver (experienced in driving foreign families around). Don't expect car seats. For long distances go by plane.
- Avoid visiting between March and June when the mercury soars and the heat can be dangerous (April and early May are the hottest months).
- For all-round information and advice, check out Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children.