Myanmar's Highlights

  • 2 Weeks

Myanmar's top locations form the bedrock of this travel plan that includes a train and boat ride as well as downtime beside lovely Inle Lake.

Fly into Yangon, where you'll spend your first couple of days acclimatising. Take a walking tour around the historic downtown area, chill out beside Kandawgyi Lake and visit Shwedagon Paya at sunset. Nip across the Yangon River to Dalah, a slice of rural Myanmar.

Board the overnight sleeper train to Mandalay. In three or four days you can see the old capital's sights as well as make day trips to places such as Mingun, home to a giant earthquake-cracked stupa; U Bein Bridge at Amarapura; and Monywa, where you can climb halfway up inside the world's tallest standing buddha.

Catch the fast boat from Mandalay to Bagan; set aside three days to explore the thousands of ancient temples scattered across the countryside. For amazing views, sign up for a hot-air-balloon ride or climb sacred Mt Popa.

Fly to beautiful Inle Lake, where motor-powered dugout canoes take you to floating markets. Make a day trip to the Shwe Oo Min cave near Pindaya to see 8000 buddha images or arrange some light trekking.

A Month in the Country

  • 4 Weeks

This adventurous south-to-north itinerary includes activities and a range of transport, and will take to you to tourist hot spots such as Bagan, as well as off-the-beaten-track destinations like Mrauk U.

After a few days acclimatising in Yangon, take an overnight bus to Kayin State's capital, Hpa-an. Give yourself enough time here to climb nearby Mt Zwegabin or go rock climbing.

Charter a boat for the lovely two-hour river trip to Mawlamyine, a beguiling, melancholic town trapped in a colonial time warp. Make a few day trips, such as to the coconut-crazy island Bilu Kyun, the giant reclining buddha at Win Sein Taw Ya temple, or Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, the last resting place of prisoners who died building the infamous Burma–Siam Railway.

On your way north, pause at the fabulous, golden boulder stupa balanced atop Mt Kyaiktiyo and the old royal capital of Bago, stacked with impressive temples.

Follow the highway north to Myanmar's contemporary capital Nay Pyi Taw, a visit that plunges you into the deepest depths of the bizarre. Hop on the slow train from here to Kalaw, from where you can organise an overnight trek to magical Inle Lake.

Save some time by flying from Heho, Inle Lake's airport, to Mandalay. The former royal capital is a great base for visiting several ancient sites. If Mandalay's heat is getting you down, drive two hours and breathe fresh, cool air in the colonial-era getaway of Pyin Oo Lwin.

Take a boat or bus ride west of Mandalay to the remarkable temple-strewn plains of Bagan. From there, you can travel directly by bus to Mrauk U. Once a powerful, cosmopolitan city, it's now one of Myanmar's most atmospheric backwaters, an idyllic location dotted with hundreds of ancient stupas and monasteries. Reserve a day for another river trip to visit nearby Chin villages.

Take a ferry from Mrauk U to Rakhine State's capital of Sittwe, from where you can fly south for some R&R on beautiful Ngapali Beach. Tan topped up, fly to Yangon, where you can do some last-minute sightseeing and shopping, perhaps making a day trip to the delta town of Twante or learning how to cook Burmese food.