James explores Bagan by bike

A taste of adventure: 4 active experiences in Burma

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For some people, a holiday is a chance to veg out, shut down, and let somebody else do everything for you – and I completely get that. For others though – myself included – going on holiday is a chance for adventure, to get out into the great outdoors and jolt one’s muscles out of their quotidian desk-bound atrophy for a couple of weeks of the year.

If that sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. Burma’s amazing (and largely untouched) natural landscapes make it a fantastic place to swap sunbathing for adventure, and the options below are just a few ways that you could give the country’s most famous destinations an active twist.

1. Trekking

One of the more positive results of Burma’s long isolation from the modern world is that the country still has vast tracts of land yet to be touched by development. Though some of this land is still off-limits to foreign visitors, great swathes of it have become accessible in recent years, offering fantastic – and ever-increasing – opportunities to pull on one’s hiking boots.

Some of the best hiking options in Burma include an overnight stop at a rural village homestay or local monastery along the way, giving an insight into the lives of Burma’s more remote and rural communities.

Read our recent blog post for some of our favourite hiking spots in Burma.

Burma is packed with hiking opportunities
Burma is packed with hiking opportunities

2. Kayaking on Inle Lake

On Inle Lake, everything is conducted on the water. Families live in stilt villages, farmers tend floating gardens, markets consist of congregations of barges, and the only cars or taxis are traditional longtail boats. In such a location, there is no choice but to take to the water.

Until recently, the only way to explore Inle Lake was by enlisting the services of a motorised longtail boat and driver to escort you through the region – and this is still the most popular choice for the vast majority of tourists. For the more energetically inclined, however, we highly recommend seeing the sights from your very own kayak.

Kayaking is not only a quieter, more peaceful alternative to buzzing along in a longtail boat – it also allows you a degree of freedom just to paddle about and explore under your own steam, which we find leads to the most rewarding experiences.

A stilt village on Inle Lake
A stilt village on Inle Lake

3. Diving

Burma’s diving scene is still in its infancy, which means that dive operations are not as slick as you might find in neighbouring Thailand or other Southeast Asian nations – but the rewards are more than worth it. Whether you choose beautiful Ngapali or the Myeik (Mergui) Archipelago, you are guaranteed a winning combination of stunning beaches, exciting marine life (from huge manta and whale sharks right down to microscopic shrimps of every imaginable colour), and almost total seclusion from other divers and tourists.

Beautiful Ngapali - completely devoid of tourists!
Beautiful Ngapali – completely devoid of tourists!

4. Cycling

The plains of Bagan, studded with over 2,000 ancient Buddhist temples and pagodas, is a true “must-see” destination in Burma (and I don’t say that lightly). Not only is it easily the most awesome landscape in the country, but it has to be one of the most impressive landscapes in the whole of Asia.

In my opinion, and I hope you’ll agree, the best way to explore Bagan is by bicycle – an experience that is easily arranged and gives you plenty of freedom to head off the beaten track to make your own discoveries. There are so many temples in the region that it won’t be long before you’ve left the crowds behind completely, finding yourself quite alone amongst the stupas – an experience you’re unlikely to find at many other world-class archaeological sites!

Our James explores the temples of Bagan by bike
Our James explores the temples of Bagan by bike

If you are planning a trip to Burma and would like to include any of the experiences mentioned above, you can find all these and more in the Activity Holidays section of our website.

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