We had the pleasure of spending 16 days in Myanmar this January and there was SO much to see and do that it can be hard to choose what to do. Here are our top 5 must do’s while in Myanmar:
1.Take the circle train in Yangon
The circle train takes about 3 hours and travels along the outskirts of Yangon. It is bumpy and hot, but it gives you an authentic experience as to what local life in Yangon is like and how the local people have traveled for years and years.
We took a tour with Urban Adventures where we got off the train to visit a local market and that was a very eye-opening experience. If you don’t have the time or budget for that, taking the train itself will give you a very interesting experience.
2.Walk the streets of Yangon and take in the architecture
Much of the architecture was developed during the time that the British ruled in Myanmar, and the buildings from that time still stand leaving behind some very interesting streets to wander. We spent half a day wandering through the streets of downtown Yangon discovering some of the most beautiful buildings we’ve seen across Asia.
It is interesting to experience the hustle and bustle of SE Asia, combined with the architecture that resembles Europe.
3.Learn about the history of Myanmar
Myanmar has a brutal history that has influenced the way in which the culture and the people are now. Myanmar was under military rule for a number of years and it is only recently that tourists are even allowed in the country. And even now, the country is not entirely peaceful; there are people who are suffering in areas where tourists are not allowed to visit.
Something that was important to us before visiting Myanmar was to understand what the people and the country have been through over the last 100+ years, and it is a brutal and fascinating history that we would encourage you to learn about before your visit too.
4.Take an overnight bus
The overnight buses in Myanmar can range from relatively comfortable + nice, to uncomfortable + not so nice. Regardless of how much money you want to shell out for a luxury bus vs. non-luxury bus, we would recommend that you take at least one overnight bus to have the experience. It will probably be uncomfortable, there may or may not be air conditioning, there may or may not be loud chanting playing all night, and you will probably arrive at your next destination tired AF, but it is worth the experience just once!
5.Rent an e-scooter in Bagan to explore the temples
There are a couple of different ways to explore the temples of Bagan, but the most affordable + fun way to explore is definitely an e-scooter. They are slower than the regular scooters you may be familiar with in SE Asia, but that makes it all the more adventurous, as you putz along on the side of the road while car after car passes you!
All of the temples are close though, and the e-scooter allows you a whole day of exploring without too much hassle and for an affordable price!
6. Watch the sunrise over the Temples of Bagan
This is a must while in Myanmar! The sunrise is more beautiful than the sunset in Bagan and you will be surrounded by far less people. On top of that, it gives you the opportunity to see the hot air balloons float over Bagan while the sun is rising. This was one of our favorite experiences in Myanmar, and a memory we won’t soon be forgetting!
7. Walk across the U-Bein Bridge
Watching the sunset at the U-Bein Bridge is beautiful, but it isn’t complete without a walk across the bridge! Arrive early enough to walk the length of the bridge and get to a great viewing spot to catch the last of the suns rays.