The top 5 Things to do in Myanmar
Myanmar is one of the most fascinating countries on earth, and it’s often overlooked by its neighboring countries of Thailand, Cambodia, India and Vietnam. The reason why it’s overlooked is because many people haven’t heard about Myanmar, due to its visa restrictions. However, the country has opened up its borders to tourism in 2011, and now it’s very easy to get an e-visa online to visit Myanmar 😉
From the food, to the culture, lifestyle and people – there are so many fun things to explore around the country.
In this post, I am going to tell you 5 amazing things to do on your next trip to Myanmar. Hope you enjoy!
1. Learn About Buddhism
The vast majority of Burmese people are Buddhist and practice Buddhism culture and religion. If you haven’t been exposed to Buddhism before, then you’ll quickly realize that it’s a religion all about peace, respect and kindness. It’s about getting rid of all egos and making greater good for society. As you travel around Myanmar, you’ll notice many Buddhism landmarks, temples and shrines that are worth visiting! The most notable one is the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, but you should also take a trip to the ancient city of Bagan to see more than 10,000 original Buddhist temples that were built from the 9-11th century!
2. Taste the Local Cuisine
Myanmar’s food is fantastic. It’s kind of a combination between Thai and Indian cuisines – with an assortment of soups, spices, meats and incredible flavors. Some of the most common foods include curries, steamed vegetables, seasoned onions and fried rice/noodles. And the best part is that all food is very affordable! As long as you avoid the touristy restaurants, then expect to pay anywhere from $0.50 – $3USD per meal.
3. Go Trekking through the Villages
One of the best ways to explore Myanmar is by trekking though some of the villages. The most notable trek is from Kalaw to Inle Lake in the north central part of the country. It’s about 70 kilometers in total, and the trek is broken up into 2 nights/3 days. Each morning, your group (leaded by a tour guide) will wake up at sunrise and walk until sunset. There will be chef on board cooking each meal as well (it’s all local food). It’s a very humbling and eye-opening experience to see how life unfolds inside of these little villages!
4. Experience the Beach
Believe it or not, Myanmar has a long coastline of beautiful beaches (many of them are untouched!). You can either take a long bus from Yangon, or fly to a big city that’s situated along the coast. The top beaches to visit are Chaung Thar, Ngwe Saung and Ngapali. The most tourist one is Ngapali, and it’s for good reason because the water is crystal clear and clean. You have to visit!
5. Make local friends
And lastly, you will be shocked by how kind and welcoming the Burmese people are. Everywhere you go, you will be greeted with a huge smile and a “Minglaba” which translates to “hello” in English. Despite many people living in poverty, they truly project a sense of happiness and community, which is so amazing to experience first hand. And if you get the courage to strike up a conversation with someone, you never know if he/she will take you out on an adventure around the city!
What was my favorite thing to do in Myanmar (personal story)?
Throughout my two weeks in Myanmar, I had many amazing experiences. And it is so difficult to choose my favorite one!
But if I had to pick my favorite things to do in Myanmar, it was the three day trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake.
On each day, you begin walking when the sun rises and you’ll finish when the sun sets. A private chef will travel with you to prepare each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner). He will meet you at your destinations by riding a motorbike ahead of the group. The food that your chef will make is incredible and everything is prepared local. You’ll eat everything from fresh grown fresh fruit, fried rice, eggs and toast, pancakes, stir-fry and more. And the portions are HUGE. Your guide will also arrange stops along the way for tea and/or bathroom breaks.
This trek does require you to be moderately fit, or else you may struggle.
The journey includes walking up hills, down valleys, across train tracks, gardens, through fields and caves. Along the way, there are dozens of little villages that you will pass through and see many smiling faces and waving hands.
Each village has anywhere from 10-100 families living inside, and they each speak their own unique dialect. You’ll walk through schools where kids will come running, screaming and jumping on your leg to say hello. Looking back and reminiscing about these moments is almost bringing tears to my eyes because it was just that special and humbling.
I highly recommend the trek for an amazing experience!
I hope you enjoy your visit to this amazing country.