Yangon & Around
Yangon's unmissable Shwedagon Paya, Bago's plethora of temples, the water-bound Yele Paya at Kyauktan and Pathein's Shwemokhtaw Paya make the entire region perfect for those with a passion for paya.
Arts, Crafts & Markets
Yangon offers a growing range of shops stocked with quality handicrafts, quirky cultural items and genuine antiques. In particular, look out for interesting and affordable contemporary art and crafts from socially responsible businesses. The city's open-air fresh-produce markets are also vibrant and great for browsing and photo ops.
Offering the country's best selection of Burmese and international food, Yangon's dynamic restaurant scene covers an ever-expanding range of cuisines – everything from Indian nibbles to Shan noodles to Mexican and Japanese. The more adventurous will want to sample the city's multiple street-food offerings.
Southern Myanmar's Myeik Archipelago covers more than 800 largely uninhabited islands, making it the country's, if not mainland Southeast Asia's, ultimate beach destination.
Mt Kyaiktiyo (Golden Rock)
There are enough temples in and around Mawlamyine alone to keep you busy for a lifetime, but the indisputable highlight of the region is Mt Kyaiktiyo (Golden Rock) – a must-do religious pilgrimage for everyone in Myanmar.
You will probably never have heard of the Mon people before, so let one of the excellent Mawlamyine-based guides introduce you to the culture via the area's tidy sugar-palm-lined towns, seaside temples and island-bound villages.
Paya Beyond Bagan
You’ll find thousands of temples in Bagan, but also worth seeking out are the Nat shrine at Mt Popa and the pilgrimage temples of Shwesandaw Paya in Taungoo, Shwesandaw Paya in Pyay and Shwemyetman Paya in Shwedaung.
Lacquerware & Blankets
Bagan is also famous for its exquisitely decorated lacquerware; watch artisans create it in workshops in Myinkaba and New Bagan. Across the Ayeyarwady River, Pakokku is famous for its patterned blankets.
Get an eyeful of the countryside from atop the temple at Mt Popa's summit or from one of the hot-air balloons flying over Bagan at dawn.
Boat Rides & Hiking
Tramping between tea plantations in Pindaya; buzzing around in a boat on Inle Lake; scaling mountains outside Kalaw; visiting a Loi longhouse outside Kyaingtong…just a few of the outdoor pursuits possible in eastern Myanmar.
Shan & Pa-O People
The country’s far east boasts exceptional cultural diversity – even by Myanmar standards. Learn about Pa-O culture around Inle Lake, or about Shan culture and language and their similarities with those of neighbouring Thailand in Kyaingtong.
Authentic Shan Food
From shàn k’auq·s’wèh, Shan-style noodle soup, to ngà t’ămìn jin, a turmeric-tinged rice dish, a stay in eastern Myanmar is your chance to try authentic Shan food at the source.
Ancient Stupas & Temples
Arguably more interesting than Mandalay's fine monastic buildings are the older stupas and temples on the sites of several older former capitals, including what would have been the world’s biggest stupa (Mingun) had it been finished.
Myanmar’s cultural capital offers intimate traditional dance performances, marionette shows and the famed Moustache Brothers’ vaudevillian rants.
Upper Burmese Cuisine
Mandalay is a great destination for cheap Upper Burmese cuisine, which fans say is heartier than Yangon food. A high population of expat Chinese has blessed the city with a slew of excellent Chinese eateries.
Hike to unspoilt hill-tribe villages that are easily accessible on short hikes from Hsipaw and Kyaukme. Given permits and a bigger budget, intrepid travellers can trek deep into Myanmar’s Himalayan foothills from Putao.
Meet Myanmar's Minority people
Immerse yourself in the region's fascinating cultural mix, including Chinese-influenced Lashio, Shan and Palaung villages around Hsipaw, and the Kachin capital Myitkyina, home to two of Myanmar’s biggest and most colourful ‘minority’ festivals.
You'll hardly see another foreigner on the no-frills public boats chugging down the Ayeyarwady River. Or for more of a rush, consider a whitewater-rafting trip on the dramatic Malikha River near Putao.
Ancient Palaces & Teak Monasteries
Temples and a ruined palace are scattered across the lush hillsides of the old Rakhine capital of Mrauk U. Sittwe’s giant Lokananda Paya and the teak buildings of the Shwezedi Kyaung monastic complex are also worth searching out.
Idyllic stretches of palm-fringed sand hardly come more perfectly formed than those of Ngapali Beach.
Brave the rough roads of Chin State as they wind up to 8000ft or more and hike to the summits of Mt Victoria and Mt Kennedy, passing through Chin villages where the way of life has barely changed in centuries.