Pandaw cruise boat in Myanmar

The deepest Myanmar experiences

The secret of a great trip? Invoking all the senses. Our carefully chosen experiences do just that.

“On your left the Shwedagon Pagoda. Stand here for the best view. Don’t miss the Buddha gift shop on your way out.” If you’re after a cookie-cutter tour of Myanmar, stop reading now.

But if you’re hankering for a deeper, more meaningful, hands-on experience, step this way. Afterall, there’s more to travel than sightseeing (and souvenir shopping).

Our diverse range of experiences all share things in common: they’re fun, sustainable, immersive and road tested. They'll also introduce you to some of the most fascinating people we’ve met on our travels.

Like Ma Mee Mee, for example. Owner of an eco-lodge, she’ll teach you to cook a Burmese curry in her farm-to-table kitchen which you can recreate back home. After a long, hot hike to a remote village, Pa-O elders will show you how to tie a sarong-style longyi. At the Golden Rock, one of Myanmar’s most sacred sites, you’ll meet monks and nuns chanting and meditating. And in a Mandalay teahouse, your local guide can introduce you to a variety of Burmese snacks. Our team lives and breathes this stuff, and these are just a selection of our favourite ways to get under the skin of Myanmar. We’ve plenty more where these came from.

Our top picks

You won't want to miss out on these must-dos hand-picked by our expert team

Yangon's Architectural Delights

Architecture
History
Insider
Yangon

What sets Yangon apart from any other city in Asia is the sheer scale of its colonial era architecture. Within a single square mile, some 200 buildings remain from the early 1900s, albeit in a crumbling state of decay.

The city is changing though, as heritage groups lobby to restore decaying facades, buildings are opening to the public for the first time, and conservation projects encourage new restaurants, bars and social enterprises in former mansions. Having a guide walk you through these layers of history gives you an unparalleled insight of Rangoon’s evolution into Yangon. Take the Secretariat, for example, a masterpiece in Victorian architecture. Once the seat of British colonial rule, it was later the site of General Aung San’s assassination in 1947. Today, it holds a museum, gallery space, wellness centre, restaurant and offices: a symbol of Yangon’s regeneration.

Yangon Circle Train

Culture
Insider
Yangon

If you’re an old travel romantic like us, you’ll love Yangon’s circle train, bumpy though it may be.

Built by the British more than 60 years ago, it moves at a snail’s pace through the city’s rural suburbs and townships. The whole 45 km loop takes three hours, but even on a short trip, local interactions are inevitable as you rub shoulders with merchants and monks, office workers and school children. Market stalls run parallel with the tracks, and if you’re peckish, grab a snack sold from trays through the train windows.

Shwedagon at sunset

Culture
Yangon

Without a doubt, the best time to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda is sunset.

On a hill in the centre of Yangon, the main stupa is resplendent in gold, diamonds and gemstones, soaring 100 metres into the night sky. Crowds of people circle below, barefoot and clockwise, stopping at smaller shrines, stupas and Buddha statues to pray. Monks practice their English with visitors, hawkers flog devotional flowers and young people chat discreetly under their parents’ gaze. It’s a magical time to people-watch.

Heritage bar hopping

Architecture
Food & Drink
Luxury
Yangon

It might sound unassuming, but the Elephant Coach turns more heads than a McLaren sports car. It’s a beautifully restored bus from the colonial era, and in it you'll be chauffeured on a barhop between Yangon's colonial era hotels.

The Strand, Belmond Governor’s Residence and Yangon Excelsior have played host to some distinguished writers over the years: Orson Welles, Noël Coward and Rudyard Kipling to name a few. Follow in their journalistic footsteps for a cocktail in each bar. En-route make a special stop for a night-time tour of the Secretariat building, once the seat of British administration in Burma. All in all, it’ll be enough to inspire a travelogue of your own.

Salay street life

Architecture
Culture
History
Salay

Tour Salay with a local guide and slow down to the rhythm of a rural Myanmar town.

Sure, the streets are tatty, the colonial buildings dilapidated, and the air might smell of diesel fumes; this is a developing country after all. But it’s also a place where thanaka-painted children peer from open windows, monks file down leafy side streets and it’s all compact enough to explore on foot or by bike. Three important stops: Maha Zaydikyi Pagoda, and two 19th century teak monasteries, remarkable because very few remain in Myanmar today. Afterwards, get your guide’s take on a life spent in Salay over a cup of chai at one of the town’s most popular tea shops.

Cycling from Kalaw to Pindaya

Active
Adventure
Scenery
Pindaya

Ditch the car, slow down and experience the scenic rolling hills of the Shan countryside on two wheels.

The cycle from Kalaw to Pindaya is 50km on good tarmac roads, a three to four-hour ride. In green season the scent of tea leaves rises from plantations, while farmers tend crops of beans and sesame. After the rains, the landscape turns arid, the colours red, orange and yellow. Detour down a dirt track for refreshments at Nawa Taung Monastery, and wave mingalabar to people working in the farming communities.