The Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar is slowly opening to tourism, and, as anyone who has been will tell you, it’s full of spectacular and surprising sights and experiences. Myanmar National Airlines flies from Hong Kong to the hubs of Yangon and Mandalay. It provides domestic services to 27 cities and towns, providing the perfect springboard to explore more of the country. We asked the team at Myanmar National Airlines to share some must-see attractions and destinations.
Yangon is the largest and the most vibrant city in Myanmar, with a skyline dotted by pagodas, modern high-rise buildings and colonial-era buildings. The most iconic of these structures is the Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar’s most sacred religious site. It’s over 2,600 years old, 99 metres tall and plated with solid gold.
Another landmark is the Karaweik Palace, at the centre of Kandawgyi Lake. Built in the form of a Burmese royal barge, it hosts traditional dance shows with accompanying buffet dinners.
Speaking of food, dining in Yangon is definitely a highlight – there’s an array of cuisines to sample, influenced by Myanmar’s ethnic groups and neighboring countries. Make sure you try mohinga (curry and rice noodle in fish soup).
Bogyoke Aung San Market is a must-visit for shoppers, with hundreds of stores selling jewellery, traditional clothes, handcrafts, paintings and street food. Head here for all your souvenirs and gifts.
The cultural hub of Mandalay was the last royal capital of Myanmar. The palace is a must-see – it’s located in the city centre, surrounded by a wall and moat. Built between 1857 and 1859 by King Mindon, the building was destroyed during World War II; a replica was erected in the 1990s.
Mandalay has many religious sites showcasing the nation’s traditions and cultures. Mahamuni Pagoda is a renowned Buddhist pilgrimage site; it was built in the late 18th century, during the Konbaung Dynasty. Another must-see is the U Bein Bridge, made from unwanted teak wood from the dismantled palace at Amarapura. At 1.2km, it’s the longest teak bridge in Myanmar.
Nay Pyi Taw
Nay Pyi Taw has been the capital of Myanmar since 2005. As the centre of government, it’s been the scene of various economic forums and an ASEAN summit. You can pay a visit to the vast 31-building parliament, but note that you need to pre-arrange permits for this.
Another prominent landmark in Nay Pyi Taw is the Uppatasanti Pagoda, a slightly smaller replica of the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. There are other replicas of famous Myanmar landmarks in the National Landmarks Garden, in case you don’t have time to visit the real thing!
Bagan (Nyang U)
The ancient city of Bagan, in the Mandalay region, was the capital of the first Burmese empire. This remarkable area holds over 2,000 temples, the largest of which is Dhammayangyi Temple; the Ananda Temple, meanwhile, is said to be the city’s most beautiful. For a popular place to watch the sun setting, try Shwesandaw Temple.
Local craft stores are close by, so you can pick up mementos from Bagan, including a traditional Myanmar marionette. Another popular tourist experience here is a ride on a horse-drawn cart or even a hot-air balloon for a spectacular view over the countless temples.
Inle Lake (Heho)
This 22km-long freshwater lake is located in the western Shan state. It’s famous for its floating villages and for the fishermen who steer their boats with only one leg. There’s a silk-weaving industry in Inle, and you can visit the workshops by boat, drop into a restaurant to sample some local red wine or pick up some handicrafts.
Once you’re finished there, numerous pagodas and monasteries can be found on the lake shores, including Hpaung Daw U Pagoda, among the most famous structures in Myanmar. People come from all over the country to give gold leaves to the five small Buddhas inside the pagoda. The 18-day Hpaung Daw U Festival, held around September or October each year, is a highlight in this region.
Ngapali Beach (Thandwe)
Thandwe is a major seaport in its own right, but it’s also known for its proximity to Ngapali, frequently described as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Ngapali sits in the far west of the country and boasts a number of high-end hotels and resorts. Despite its beauty, though, it’s not overrun with tourists.
Myanmar National Airlines flies from Hong Kong to Myanmar four times a week. It flies Hong Kong to Yangon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Sundays, it flies from Hong Kong to Yangon via Mandalay. For more details go to flymna.com. You can get an e-visa at evisa.moip.gov.mm
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