The best cities to Visit in Myanmar

Myanmar is a massive country, with many things to do and many places to visit. Not to mention that Myanmar is very affordable and the people are extremely hospitable and friendly!

Whether you like to experience big, congested cities, or tiny villages that are tucked away in the countryside – you can do it all and more in Myanmar.

In this post, I am going to lay out the 5 top cities to visit in Myanmar with a short description of why you should visit. Hope you enjoy!

  1. Bagan – Bagan is, without question, my favorite place in Myanmar. It’s a village with more than 10,000 ancient Buddhist temples that we re built from the 9th to 11th centuries. The temples are scattered all over the place, and you are free to explore any of them that you wish! The best way to experience Bagan is by renting a motorbike (for $5USD per day) and roaming around town as you wish. The Holy sites of Old Bagan include ornate Ananda Temple, built in 1091 and topped with a golden stupa. Nearby is the vast 12th-century Dhammayangyi Temple. You cannot miss out on the wonders of Bagan!
  2. Inle Lake –Inle Lake is a freshwater lake located in the Nyaungshwe Township of Taunggyi District of Shan State, part of Shan Hills in Myanmar. Inle is the perfect place for a relaxing getaway and a diverse cultural experience. Some of the highlights that you can see on a tour around the lake are the floating villages, the long-neck ladies, and you can watch how they hand-roll cigars.   This is also a great place to buy some souvenirs, because there are many markets with high quality hand-made goods from local artisans.
  3. Yangon – Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon) is the biggest city in Myanmar, and it likely where you will arrive by plane. Don’t skip out on the beauty that Yangon has to offer! Yangon offers a mix of colonial architecture, modern high-rises and ancient Buddhist pagodas that dominate its skyline. The most famous landmark is called the Shwedagon Pagoda – a huge golden pagoda complex that is definitely worth a visit.   Other things that the city has to offer is a wealth of cafes, restaurants, bars and markets that will keep you busy for the length of your stay.
  4. Mandalay – The second biggest city in Myanmar is called Mandalay, and it’s just an hour flight (15 hour bus ride) north of Yangon.   Mandalay is the former royal capital in northern Burma on the Irrawaddy River. In its center is the restored Mandalay Palace from the Konbaung Dynasty, which is surrounded by a lovely moat. Mandalay Hill provides spectacular views of the city from its summit, which you can hike up to via a stairway. There are also several pagodas and Buddhist shrine to explore around the city.
  5. Ngapali Beach – Last but not least is the best beach in Myanmar called Ngapali Beach. It’s located on the south western coast, and it contains some of the most relaxing lifestyle in the entire country. Ngapali beach has crystal clear water and it’s clean which is what makes it so amazing. The beach is not overcrowded, and it’s relatively cheap so you are able to take advantage of this authentic atmosphere. Fresh seafood is widely available and don’t forget to drink a fresh coconut!

My favorite city in Myanmar (personal story):

If I had to choose one favorite city in Myanmar, it would be Bagan! I simply cannot explain how magical this city is — It’s a place that every traveler on this planet needs to visit before they die.

As mentioned above, Bagan is an ancient town with some 10,000 buddhist temples from the 9-11th centuries. The landscape, as it seemingly goes on forever, is dominated by temple after temple. It’s so cool!

The best thing to do in Bagan is to rent a motorbike (for $5-10USD per day) and freely roam around the town. I rented a bike for 3 days, with two of my hostel friends, and we woke up at sunrise to ride the bikes around the landscape with nobody around us.   We were allowed to go to any temple that we wanted, park our bike, and explore around inside. We even climbed up to one of the temples to watch the amazing sunset from the top!

Aside from the temples, I took my bike around the dirt paths to discover villages and markets that were hidden to the public. It was amazing to come in contact with some people who I have nothing in common with, but somehow communicate via body language and smiles.

If you make it to Bagan, then you must have this experience for yourself!

So there you have it – the Top 5 cities to visit in Burma and my personal favorite. I hope you enjoy your stay!