Myanmar is a country in south-east Asia formerly known as Burma. It has a long history, of which Theravada Buddhism has played a big part. With its long coastline and beautiful countryside, it is also a stunning place to visit. If you are looking for ideas for Myanmar tours to see the best in the country, here are some of my favourites.
Myanmar Tours – Mandalay
Mandalay is the second-largest city in Myanmar and the last of the royal capitals. It is north of Yangon and sits on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. It is the heart of Myanmar culture and is a modern city with many ancient buildings, especially its Buddhist stupas and pagodas.
Mandalay: Morning Small Group Tour w/ Local Guide
This tour includes the best locations around Mandalay and starts with the teak monastery of Shwe Inn Pin, the only one in the area that isn’t made from gold. It is home to 30 monks and a range of intricate wood carvings and Burmese art. Then view the Mahanyatmuni which contains one of only five Buddha likenesses that were made during his lifetime. It is covered in gold and locals often add a gold leaf for luck. There are lots of kiosks around the pagoda to pick up souvenirs.
Then you will see the architecture and scenery around Mandalay before travelling to Kuthodaw and the royal palace in the centre of a lake. See the stupas that house a collection of inscribed tablets with the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism before returning to the city for an evening meal.
Myanmar Tours – Bagan
Bagan: Full Day Guided E-Bike Tour with Lunch
This e-bike tour lets you see the best of the city on an electronic bike and with an English-speaking guide. The tour starts with a quick safety briefing before travelling around the city, often away from the main roads where bikes and horses can only go. See the stunning architecture of the city, the bamboo houses and the iconic pagodas that are spread around. The guide will talk you through what you see before heading to the Bagan Plain for lunch at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon, you will have the freedom to check out the areas you want to see and what with the locals as well as do some shopping.
Ancient Capitals of Myanmar Tour
This ancient capital of Myanmar tour takes you around the most famous former capital of the country when it was Burma – Inwa (Ava). The city was the capital from the 14th to 19th centuries and was finally abandoned after a series of earthquakes in the 1830s. This horse and cart tour lets you see the best of the ancient capital including the white and gold pagodas.
Then you will visit Sagaing, the capital of the region, 20km south of Mandalay. It is known for its Buddhist monasteries and is an important religious centre. The main pagoda is connected by covered stairs that run over 240 metres uphill. Finally, visit the Amarapura, another for capital known for its silk and cotton weaving.
Myanmar Tours – Yangon
Yangon is the commercial capital of Myanmar, formerly known as Rangoon. It is also the largest city and has an interesting colonial-era centre that is unusually intact. At the heart is the Sule Pagoda, over 2000 years old.
Yangon: Evening Streets by Night Food Walking Tour
Yangon at night is a great experience and this walking tour takes you around the best of it. see Shwe Bontha Street with its second-hand stores then see the Buddhist and Hindu temples in Chinatown. You will stop for a drink and snack before visiting the shopping hotspots for some evening shopping. See the local market with its amazing fruit stalls and 19th Street with its vegetable and meat stalls. Finish with a snack and a drink.
Half-Day City Tour of Yangon
This half-day Myanmar tour of Yangon starts with the Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha Temple famous for housing one of the most revered reclining Buddha statues in the country.
After that, you will visit the Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the most sacred pagodas in Myanmar. You will then visit the downtown area of Yangon and see the Bogyoke Market with its clothes, food, and handicraft stalls. Finally, stop off at Sule Pagoda which is often 2000 years in age.
From Yangon: Day Return Tour To Bago
Bago is the last capital of the Mon Kingdom and this tour leaves from Yangon to see the highlights. You will see the Shwe Maw Daw Pagoda, the Hinthagon pagoda and then Kyaikkhat Wyne monastery. After eating at a local restaurant, you will then get a chance to see the Kanbawzathardi Palace complex and the Shwetharhlaung pagoda with its reclining Buddha statue. You can also arrange to visit Htaukkyant War Cemetery where over 27,000 graves from World War II are located.
Around Myanmar Tours
If you want to travel a little further during your Myanmar vacation or stay somewhere a little different, here are a few ideas to inspire your itinerary.
Bike, Boat & Kayak Tour
You need to be up for an early start with this tour as you leave at 7:45 am after a safety briefing. You will travel along the bike paths, past the water buffalo, and to the bamboo forests. See molasses production, rice milling, and all the activities in the local villages before arriving at Khaung Daing. Here see medieval bread kilns, rice wine distilling and even see some tofu production, sampling as you go.
Next, you will take a boat ride on Inle Lake where vegetables are grown on the water. See the beautiful countryside and the stilt houses on the lake before having a traditional lunch. You then have the chance to take kayaks to explore the local villages before taking the boat back to Nyaung Shwe.
Kakku and Taunggyi Return Trip from Inle Lake
This Myanmar tour starts from Kakku in Shan state and involves visiting the Kakku Pagoda Complex. There are over 2,000 stupas there, some of which date from the 16th century. Your English speaking guide will tell you about the history and legends of the pagoda before heading to Htan Phaya, where you can explore the caves with their Shan Buddhas statues. Finally, stop off at Taunggyi, capital of the state and meet some of the Pa-Oh, the second largest ethnic group in the state.
Further Reading on Cheap Places in Asia
What to Pack for Southeast Asia
To help you pack for your trip to Southeast Asia, the below list of must-have items can be really useful.
First of all, you need a plug converter. Absolutely essential wherever you travel.
It is also a good idea to get a hanging toiletry bag, which is a fantastic way to keep all your belongings organized; and a practical rolling suitcase like the one below by Samsonite in lightweight polycarbonate.
In order to stay healthy while travelling, activated charcoal helps with stomach distress absorbing toxins that may be in your system; and natural jet-lag remedy pills help you sleeping while boosting your immunity and can avoid you to ruin precious days of sightseeing.
For all the ladies, it can be a great idea to get a maxi dress: very versatile as it can be worn at any time of the day and it is ideal to go to temples too.
A scarf that you can put on your shoulders as well as on your head while visiting a sacred place.