A wonderful country of monks, golden stupa’s and most of all: friendly warm people from all different ethnicities. It’s said that it’s best to visit Myanmar (Burma) now, before it gets too crowded. A saying that is true, however, some places are quite touristy already. Especially when you walk the paths of the golden square between Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake. So, what if you want to dodge the crowds, but still have some travel comfort? Check out these places, just waiting to inspire you!
Written by Grietje Evenwel.
Though it is the capital of Kayin state, Hpa-an feels just like a sweet rural village. Arrive here by boat from Moulmein and enjoy the beautiful lonely sand beach not far from town.
And of course you can’t miss the caves! In an environment of green fields and small farms, especially Saddar Cave is wonderful and even a little spooky. If you’re up for some muscle training and when you’re not afraid to sweat: just climb up Mt. Zwegabin and enjoy one of the most beautiful views in Myanmar on top!
Enjoy the old colonial buildings of this town, squeezed in between the river and the hills with stupa’s and monasteries. Do as the locals and rent a motorcycle to go around. And don’t forget to visit the island of Bilu Kyun! Just a ferry hop away from the city it has green fields and people with the biggest smiles. If you go with Mr Anthony, the wonderful guide from the Breeze hotel, you’ll know why this island is also called Ogre Island. Here, an adventure hides behind every corner.
If you’re up for some trekking, this is one of the places to be in Myanmar! Meet the Paulang people in the mountains, learn more about the Shan army and stay overnight in a local home.
Back in the village you can gain some energy and vitamins at Mr. Shake, where Mr. and Mrs. Shake welcome you with a big smile and of course some great fruit shakes. When you’re hungry for some variation on your Birmese bites, just go for the delicious BBQ restaurant next to Mr. food at the main street. And with Yee Shin as a comfortable guesthouse option for only 7 dollar (agoda) per night for a single room, you’ll have a hard time finding it cheaper anywhere in Myanmar!
This small town where life after sunset concentrates around the pagoda provides a good starting point for some exploring of the surroundings. Check out the world’s biggest standing buddha at Bodhi Tataung, go for the hundreds of mini stupa’s on the roof of – and the thousands of mini buddha’s in Thanboddhay Paya and see where Petra meets Disneyland at the complex of Hpo Win Daung.
Back in town you can get yourself a good shot of caffeine with some delicious cake at Erica bakery. And when you’re done being on the road for a moment, just occupy one of the swinging chairs at Pleasant Island for an afternoon. Treat yourself on a nice fruit shake in this restaurant and enjoy the view over the water. Cause yes, this restaurant is actually on an island. Or better said: it is the island!
And if you’re ready for some diehard off the beaten track experience, try out:
5) Indawgyi Lake
Forget about all the tourists surrounding Inle Lake, forget about internet and just take a smile along the way. It takes some time and effort to get it all up north to this lake, but you’ll be rewarded! Sleep at the only guesthouse in the surroundings, take a deep breath of fresh air and enjoy the water.
About the author
Grietje Evenwel is an experienced traveler and co-founder of the concept ‘Travel by Polaroid’. Travel by Polaroid is based on the concept of giving away polaroid photo’s while traveling. Giving away a polaroid photo often ends with a unique encounter and a beautiful story. Follow her also on Youtube!