From South to North, our Myanmar itinerary will take you overland across the top 12 places to visit in the Land of the Golden Pagoda!
We started our Myanmar itinerary in Thailand, with a border crossing to Kawthaung in Southern Myanmar.
It’s a culturally diverse town with Indian, Muslim and Chinese influences amongst the majority Bamar and Thai population.
There are several interesting things to do in Kawthaung including a couple of stunning lookout points & Buddhist monuments.
With its ramshackle mix of architecture & housing, Kawthaung is a easy place to spend a day or two – what a great introduction to Myanmar!
* Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before any trip to Myanmar. We’ve been using World Nomads for over 10 years. It’s the best-value provider we’ve found but there are other important things to consider.
For more details check out our World Nomads review.
- #2 Dawei & Maungmagan Beach
Fly from Kawthaung to Dawei & soak up the pleasant atmosphere of this sleepy, tropical town – one of the most relaxing places to visit in Myanmar.
Check out the glimmering stupas and green & gold rooftops of the Theinwa Kyaung monastery and the charm of the surrounding villages – 2 of the top things to do in Dawei.
With its rusty tractors and dusty streets Dawei also possesses something of a Wild West feel.
Don’t miss out on a day trip to Maungmagan where you can walk along the black beach, play with kids at a fishing village & soak in some thermal hot springs!
#3 Mawlamyine & Ogre Island
Jump onboard Myanmar’s slowest train from Dawei to Mawlamyine!
Experience its rich colonial history & see why Mawlamyine inspired Rudyard Kipling & George Orwell over a century ago.
Even though it’s best days are behind it, this gritty seaside town continues to charm.
Visit the huge temple complex of Kyaikthanlan Paya before catching an incredible sunset on the waterfront.
Board a ferry to Ogre Island, the largest off the coast of Mawlamyine – take a motorbike tour around to local rubber plantations & wood-carving workshops.
#4 The Golden Rock at Kyaiktiyo
Join 39 other passengers on the back of a converted dump truck on a death-defying ride up to the Golden Rock – it’s worth it!
According to legend, the Golden Rock is said to be precariously perched on a lock of the Buddha’s hair.
It’s one of the most incredible Myanmar tourist attractions, especially as the clouds roll in & the first waves of sunset break through.
Tour option: Golden Rock Private Tour from Yangon
Visit the Golden Rock
Love it or hate it, the Golden Rock on Mount Kyaiktiyo is one of the most divided attractions in Myanmar – we didn’t like it at first but find out how it won us overRead more
Bago is a city of superlatives… visit the tallest stupa in Myanmar, two of the longest reclining Buddhas & one of the largest Burmese pythons in the world – just a few of the many things to do in Bago.
Gain an understanding of Burmese Buddhism at the Kha Khat Wain Kyaung monastery where you can observe a lunchtime procession & attend a silent study session with 500 novice monks.
Take a train from Bago to Yangon for the best street food in Myanmar & the largest number of colonial buildings in Asia.
Join in the hustle & bustle as you wander the gritty streets & bumper-to-bumper traffic in this chaotic city! Always be aware of pickpockets. We recommend wearing a money belt with RFID blocking & traveling with an anti-theft daypack.
Pass by Aung San Suu Kyi’s house where we was under house arrest for 15 years & visit countless Buddhist monuments – there are many free attractions in Yangon.
And see why Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the most underrated Wonders of the World & bask in it’s golden light. Yangon has got to be one of the top destinations in Myanmar!
Free Things to do in Yangon
From temples & museums to markets & lakes, there are many free things to do in Yangon - find out the top 10 attractions in the Myanmar's largest cityRead more
Kalaw is the trekking mecca of Myanmar, where you can organise a 3 day trek to Inle Lake.
It’s a scenic trail alongside patchwork farms, tribes & villages, rivers & jungle.
Before heading off, spend a day exploring the interesting markets, temples & caves in Kalaw itself – a multicultural & ex-colonial hill station town.
#8 Inle Lake
Hire a longtail boat for a tour of Inle Lake & admire the reflection of the rolling hills in the glistening water.
Visit villages & temples to see lotus weaving, Karen Long Neck tribe women & more.
There’s a lot to see & do but simply being on Inle lake is one of the most beautiful & peaceful things to do in Myanmar.
Tour option: Private Inle Lake Boat Tour
Inle Lare Boat Tour
Hire a longtail boat for an Inle Lake tour of Myanmar’s most famous lake – with villages & temples, find out the top things to do in Inle LakeRead more
#9 Mandalay – Amarapura, Sagaing, Inwa
Mandalay or Yangon – which is the greatest city in Myanmar?
Judge for yourself after visiting Burma’s last royal capital.
Pick up a ticket to the Mandalay Archaeological Zone, which covers all the main sightseeing spots in the city.
As Kipling writes, “Come you back to Mandalay…”
Things to do in Mandalay
The Mandalay Archaeological Zone ticket covers all the things to do in Mandalay – find out what’s included & see for yourself which temples are worth visiting.Read more
Learn about the royal mystery of the Last Shan Prince & his Austrian wife in the relaxed town of Hsipaw, before heading off on an easy trek around the surrounding villages & countryside.
With its laid-back vibe and affable atmosphere, Hsipaw is an increasingly mainstream alternative hub, especially for travellers with time on their side.
#11 Pyin Oo Lwin
Travel by train from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin, via the dramatic Gokteik Viaduct, once the 2nd highest railway bridge in the world.
In Pyin Oo Lwin, no other place in Myanmar best exudes the atmosphere of the British colonial era.
The quirky hillside town is a mix of military cadets, horse carriages & colonial mansions – a few of the interesting things to do in Pyin Oo Lwin!
Save the best for last on your Myanmar itinerary at Bagan, the largest grouping of ancient temples in Asia.
During the height of the Pagan kingdom, there were over 10,000 Buddhist temples and pagodas at the site.
These days, between 2,000-4,000 temples remain standing, spread out over a 42 km square plain – the best way to get around Bagan by e-bike!
There’s plenty to see & do but don’t miss climbing to the top of one of the best temples in Bagan for sunrise, sunset or both…
Top 12 Temples in Bagan
There are over 4000 temples in Bagan – we’ve reviewed & photographed the 12 best temples in Bagan to help you decide which ones to visitRead more
Know Before You Go
You can visit all 12 of these destinations by following our itinerary!
If you’re short on time, you can visit these spots in 7 days:
- Inle Lake
We recommend Lonely Planet’s Myanmar Travel Guide to help you plan your trip.
Happy travels in Myanmar, one of our favourite countries in the world!
7 Day Myanmar Itinerary
Experience the best of Myanmar in 1 week! There’s a lot to see & do but if you’re short on time, check out these top 4 places to visitRead more
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*** The Final Word – Follow our 1 itinerary to experience the best of Myanmar in 28 days! ***
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Visited in May 2014