Our Favourite Destinations

With over 15 years of experience arranging tours in Myanmar, we like to think we know the country pretty well.  Being a local tour operator, we are constantly scouring the country, looking for the best places for you to visit.  We make sure we find the highest quality activities local encounters, so that we can bring you an unsurpassed experience in Myanmar.

Below we have selected some of our favourite destinations, which can be included in your personal, tailor made tour.  For each location, we have offered what we think are the highlights, and the best things to do. If you would like some more information, then contact us on info@myanmarpolestar.com

Yangon

Yangon may no longer be the capital of Myanmar, but it is still the cultural and commercial focal point of the country.  For most travellers, it will be the gateway into Myanmar via the international airport.  

The years of British rule are still evident throughout the city, from the beautiful colonial buildings that occupy downtown Yangon, to the many George Orwell reference.  

Choose from the largest range of hotels in Myanmar to suit your needs, and trip, before heading out onto the streets to sample the countries incredible cuisine and witness first hand the genuine warmth of the people.  

Learn about Myanmar’s unbelievable history at the National Museum, and of course visit the awe inspiring Shwedagon Pagoda.  Built 3,000 years ago, the landmark is the most revered religious site in the country, dominating the skyline, and casting a golden spell over the city.  

Shwedagon Pagoda – The most important religious site in Myanmar and a must on any itinerary

Glass Factory – Close to Inya Lake, the factory was destroyed by hurricane in 2004, but the owners still sell the incredible handmade glass that was made prior to this time, search through mounds of glass pieces for that perfect gift

War Cemetary – On the outskirts of the city, the war cemetery is where over 5,000 men have been put to rest following World War 2.  A truly chastening experience. 

Circle Line Train Ride – The perfect way to view the city.  Taking 3 hours, see Yangon as the locals do, on the daily commute, going all the way to the outskirts of Yangon

Bogyoke Market – Formerly known as Scott’s Market, this bizarre contains over 1,000 stalls selling produce from all over Myanmar.  From umbrella’s made in Pathein, to Jade bracelets made in Kachin State, there is something for everyone.  

Colonial Walking Tour – Walk around downtown Yangon with an experienced guide, learning all about the history of the incredible buildings you walk past. 

Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo)

One of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Myanmar, this huge gold leafed boulder, balances precariously on the edge of a cliff.  The fabulous stupa, layered in gold leaf, by legend is said to be secured by a single strand of the Buddha’s hair. The best views are by far at sunrise and sunset.  

Reaching the rock is no easy task. From the base camp at Kinpun you have two options. Most will board a truck for the hour drive most of the way up the 1100m mountain, with the final mile stretch being covered by foot. The alterative for those that want to earn their stripes at The Rock, is to take part in the pilgrimage, an arduous climb up from the base camp.  This usually takes between 4 to 5 hours and involves too many steps to count.  

The spectacular 360-degree panoramic views from the top are well worth the trip up to the top, and will provide you with a real highlight.  

Women are not permitted to touch the Golden Rock, and Kyaiktiyo is only accessible in the dry season only (Oct-Apr).

Inle

Inle Lake is the jewel of Shan State, and home to the Intha people, who actually live on the lake.  Using their unique style of one-legged rowing, they build their homes on stilts, create floating gardens, and host the famous five-day market.  

Compared to the rest of Myanamr, Inle Lake feels like a different world.  The calm way of life of the Intha people and the picturesque scenery, make it one of the top destinations in Myanmar.  

The best way to see and visit the lake is by boat.  Choose between a canoe, or a small motorised boat, and be transported around the lake, taking in the unbelievable landscape as you go.  
 

Floating Gardens – The Inthar people often spend their entire lives on the lake, and as such create these amazing gardens from which they can farm and grow produce. 

Red Mountain Vineyard – The first ever vineyard in Myanmar, built by a Frenchman looking to introduce wine to the country, the project provides jobs for locals, and the quality is improving every year.

Inthein Village – Situated on the South side of the lake, it can take over an hour to reach, but it is well worth it.  With a complex of over 1,000 stupas, views stretching our across the lake, and an unnerving ambience on route, the trip rewards every passenger.  

Balloons Over Inle – Wake before sunrise, and be escorted to the departure site on the shores of the lake.  From the skies, Inle Lake takes on a whole other level of beauty, and provides guests with a truly memorable experience.  

Cooking Class – Situated on the lake, guests can take part in a Myanmar cooking class, hosted by a master chef.  Spend the morning learning how to make the dishes which are becoming world renowned, before sitting down and enjoying them yourself for lunch.

5 Day Market – The famous 5 day market changes location every day, so can be hard to find, but once you have, marvel at the variety and uniqueness of the products on show.  

Mandalay

Established by the British as a retreat from soaring summer temperatures, the small town of Pyin Oo Lwin is an hour and a half’s drive from Mandalay.  The towns cool, inviting temperatures and rich highland countryside remain unaltered from these colonial times, and continue to attract visitors.

Remnants of the British can be seen in the colonial houses, Purcell tower and a fairly dilapidated cemetery, however one of the best vestiges of this era is the town’s National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens. 

A little farther out of town, for cooling off and a little exercise are the magnificent waterfalls of Anisakan and also Pwe Kauk.
 

Botanical Gardens - formerly the Maymyo Botanical Gardens, Alex Rodger created the garden in 1915.  Here you can explore a huge variety of flora and species from all over, including the impressive rose and orchid gardens.

Anisakan and Pwe Kauk Waterfalls – Located a short drive outside of town, both contain a fairly strenuous walk to get to, but the rewards are well worth it.  These natural waterfalls are perfect to photograph and are a joy to stand under and admire 
 

Gokteik Viaduct – Hop on a train from Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw, and enjoy one of the world’s greatest train rides.  The magnificent Gokteik Viaduct was first built in 1900 and at the time was the largest railway trestle in the world.  The bridge offers spectacular view across the valley below and is highlight of any trip through Myanmar

Ngapali

With its gorgeous white sand, and remote location; Ngapali is Myanmar’s premier beach destination.  Here you will have the opportunity to relax on the sand, snorkel in the clear blue seas, or head out into the Bay of Bengal by boat.  Ngapali retains its fishing village vibe, and relaxed, early to bed hours, even in the height of the tourist season.  

Stay in some of the most luxurious hotels in Myanmar, whiling away the hours in pure comfort.  The area is named after the Italian city of Naples, a homesick Italian allegedly thinking it was fitting.  

There are regular flights from both Yangon and Nyaung U (Bagan), which take around 1 hour. Ngapali is closed from May to September due to tropical cyclones,  but for the rest of the year, provides guests with incredible views and experiences.  

Hotels – Ngapali Beach has some of the best hotels in Myanmar to select from.  All of them look out onto the Bay of Bengal, and are walking distance from the beach.  With options of staying in bungalows or cottages, with infinity pools and organised trips, guests will not want to leave.  

Fishing Villages – Despite Ngapali being more known as a destination for beach goers and holiday jet setters, the area retains its fishing village vibe as well.  Make your way to some of the local villages to watch the fishermen at work, bringing in their days catch, and interact with the locals.  

Food – It’ll come as no surprise to hear that seafood is the order of the day here.  That being said, you won’t find fish as fresh anywhere else in Myanmar, with hotels and restaurants offering up amazing dishes, that will leave you salivating.  

Ballooning over Ngapali – To get the best views of Ngapali there is nothing better then a hot air balloon ride of the coastal beaches.  Only having started in 2015, this is still a very new concept, and one not to be missed.  

Island Hopping – Be transported on a local fishing boat to some of the nearby fishing villages, and islands surrounding Ngapali.  A full days excursion can include some delicious freshly caught fish for lunch, and ample snorkeling opportunities.  

Cycling tour – Take a cycling tour and have a guide show you all the best haunts for scenic views, and fun rides.  For the adventurous types there is the opportunity for some serious mountain biking, while for others, cycling along the coast, visiting villages and towns along the way is a truly satisfying experience.  

TaungGyi

The capital of Shan State, Taunggyi is located an hour and a half drive from both Inle lake and the airport, Heho.  Often missed out on most tours, the city comes alive in November for the annual Fire Balloon festival, while it also provides a far better base to visit the pagodas of Kakku from then Inle Lake.

The city hosts a bustling market, where you will find large numbers of Pa-O, instantly recognisable by the colourful towels that the women wear on their heads. There are also a variety of tasty local Shan dishes to be tried out, as well as a range of wines at the nearby Aythaya vineyard. 
 

Kakku - The 2478 stupas at Kakku are one of the most remarkable sights in Shan State.  Arranged in neat rows over the hillside, it is well worth a days trip here.

Aythaya Vineyard – Built in 1999, Aythaya was Myanmar’s very first vineyard.  Take a tour of the grounds, sample the wine, and dine at the wonderfully located restaurant.  

Ngwe Saung

The beach resort of Ngwe Saung, is located on the Bay of Bengal, a 5 hour car journey from Yangon, with roads passing through the Irrawaddy Delta.  

Seven miles of uninterrupted sand line the resort, with minimal development, providing a laid back vibe, seafront sunsets and an abundance of the freshest seafood.  If you are seeking to get away from the hoards of tourists often seen on the beaches of Thailand, then Ngwe Saung is definitely the place to come to.  

While Ngapali Beach is often described as Myanmar’s premier beach destination, Ngwe Saung is a great destination for those looking for a bit more then just a beach.  The nearby fishing villages are well worth a visit, perhaps by bicycle, and the varied range of local dining opportunities are far greater.
 

Ma Gway

Located in the southern most part of Myanmar, the spectacular Mergui Archipelago is made up of 800 islands, which are interspersed with pristine clear blue waters.  

Best visited on-board a luxury yacht, the Mergui Archipelago is one of the last places in Asia where you can still feel like an explorer.  Off limits to tourists until 1997, the area is still very much in its infancy when it comes to travel.  

Here you can meet and interact with the Moken, or sea gypsies, who have lived on the islands for hundreds of years, living off the fish they catch.  They are incredible free divers, with reports of some going as deep as 60m unaided looking for mother of pearls and oysters.  

On board one of these luxury yachts, it’s possible to swim in crystal clear blue waters, sunbathe on white sand beaches, or catch a glimpse of eagles circling overhead. It’s a common experience to sail for days without seeing another soul, other than the odd local fisherman.  Explore the islands at your leisure, and visit on of the world’s most unspoilt destinations.  
 

Here you can meet and interact with the Moken, or sea gypsies, who have lived on the islands for hundreds of years, living off the fish they catch.  They are incredible free divers, with reports of some going as deep as 60m unaided looking for mother of pearls and oysters.  

 

On board one of these luxury yachts, it’s possible to swim in crystal clear blue waters, sunbathe on white sand beaches, or catch a glimpse of eagles circling overhead. It’s a common experience to sail for days without seeing another soul, other than the odd local fisherman.  Explore the islands at your leisure, and visit on of the world’s most unspoilt destinations.  

Bagan

Located on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, Bagan is one of the most important archaeological sites in Asia, rivaling Angkor Wat in Cambodia.  With over 3,000 temples located within the plains, Bagan has inspired visitors to Myanmar for nearly 1000 years.  

From the 11th to 13th Century, Bagan was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan.  It was during this time, first by king Anawrahta, and later by his dynasty, that Burmese culture, ethnicity and Theravada Buddhism was established.  The kingdom also unified the area that we now know as Myanmar.  

The joy of Bagan, is that every one of these temples can be explored inside and out, at your own leisure, or with a guide.  Cycle, walk or visit the temples by car, the choice is yours.  
 

Ananda Temple – Arguably the most famous temple in Bagan, the legend of Ananda is tragic.  Following completion of the magnificent structure, King Kyanzittha, ordered the architects killed so to preserve its uniqueness.  

Dhammayangyi Temple – Built by King Narathu, to atone for the sin of killing his father, the largest of all temples in Bagan is only half built after the king was assassinated.  

Buledi – While not as famous as other pagodas, Buledi provides visitors with incredible views during sunrise and sunset times.  
 

Balloons Over Bagan – Wake before sunrise, and be taken to the departure site for a once in a lifetime experience.  Fly over the temples by hot air balloon as the sunrises, and view Bagan at its most magical hour.  

Mount Popa Day Trip – Take a day to travel to Mount Popa, and be rewarded with panoramic views across the flat plains.  An extinct volcano, many Nat shrines now adorn the mountain, providing an eerie ascent to the summit.  

Sunset Cruise and Dinner – Just before the sun sets, make your way along the Irrawaddy River by cruise, enjoying the incredible scenes. The locals come out as the temperature drops, enabling you to witness rural life, while relaxing on your cruise.  
 

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