Myanmar

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Myanmar

Myanmar is slowly beginning to open up to luxury tourism, and a handful of stylish boats and properties now allow travellers to access remote corners of this enigmatic country without the need to sacrifice on comfort. Travelling here is a true adventure back in time.

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Now more than ever, the Myanmar is in need of cultured and thoughtful travellers to help promote to the outside world, what makes it so special.  Set at the crossroads between East and South Asia, sharing borders with India and Bangladesh, Myanmar possesses an intoxicating blend of cultural influences, combined with a traditional way of life which prevails after years of isolation following British colonial rule.

Those who venture into these beautiful lands are richly rewarded by a warm welcome, ancient temples, colourful markets and stunning landscapes from the emerald islands of the Andaman Sea, to the mountain ranges of the Eastern Himalaya.

Best explored by boat up the Irrawaddy river, or on a tailor-made tour in the company of a private guide, there is no end of unique experiences to get under the skin of this fascinating country. From hiking, climbing, fishing, horse riding and diving, sailing in the magnificent Mergui Archipelago and perhaps the most pictured of them all, an early morning balloon flight over Bagan.

From the astonishing pagodas in Yangon, the village life around Inle Lake, untouched beaches and the utter charm of its indigenous people (comprised of no less than 135 different ethnic groups) the diversity and innocence of this nation is practically impossible to convey to anyone who has not visited; and thus essential to discover.

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Quick Facts

Capital
Nay Pyi Taw

Population
53 million

Area
676,552 sq km (261,218 sq miles)

Major Languages
Burmese, minority languages

Major religion 
Buddhism

Monetary Unit 
Kyat

Flight time from London
14.5 hours via Dubai

Time Difference 
GMT + 6.5

When to go 
For warm dry days, Myanmar is best visited between November and February. The green season (the months either side) is also a good bet for those looking to explore the sites with less competition for accommodation and access to the main sites.

While the country can be visited at any time of year, the peak wet season can lead to some regions becoming in accessible. Officially the wet season runs from May to October, with the start of the wet season bringing the highest temperatures which can reach in excess of 40°C in the west, lower central and south. The cooler months run from October to January, especially noticeable in the foothills and highlands.

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Highlights

Yangon

The former capital of Myanmar, and its largest city, Yangon, is often the first point of entry for most international visitors. Best known for the spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda, which is a truly awesome sight, particularly as the sun sets on the golden domes with almost blinding effect.

The city is surprisingly green thanks to its stunning lakes, shady parks and verdant tropical trees. Institutions such as the National Museum and Bogyoke Museum displaying the country’s historical events are worth visiting but it’s best to discover Yangon by exploring the streets mixing with the local people.

Throughout the metropolis, numerous food stalls, historical sites, art galleries, souvenirs and markets are yours to explore. Many places still retain some of the charm of a bygone era and there are many ways to become acquainted with the city.

Bagan

Bagan, in the Mandalay Region, is a key destination for visitors to Myanmar and boasts over 2,000 ancient pagodas and temples. You can visit Bagan all year round as there is no actual rainy season like in the lower parts of Myanmar. With more than 1,500 years of history, beautiful local art, such as lacquer ware, basket and cloth weaving, it is the most fascinating place for travellers.

Numerous traditions have been preserved in Bagan and its surrounding villages, including handicrafts such as beautiful lacquerware, basket weaving, sand art painting, woodcarving and bronze wares. If you cannot make it to a workshop to witness these items being made, be sure to browse some of the stalls around the pagodas for suitable souvenirs and keepsakes. There are also some truly delicious locally produced foodstuffs such as jaggery, toddy, tamarind flakes, plum jams and bean paste.

Enjoying the atmosphere of a pagoda festival in Bagan can be the best time to witness Buddhist rituals and experience the social gatherings of local people. The month long, sanctified festival for Ananda Temple usually falls in January, whereas the one for Manuha Pagoda is held in September or October. Another famous event in Bagan, Alo-Daw Pyae Pagoda Festival, occurs in December. In April the whole country enjoys the water festival, Thingyan, and in the dry zone Bagan is no exception.

Mandalay

Mandalay, built by King Mindon, still evokes images of a romantic, bygone era with its royal palace and impressive moat sitting at the foot of a high, pagoda-topped hill. It is also a busting, economic center for business. Located on the banks of the Ayerwaddy River, Mandalay lies within easy striking distance of former colonial hill stations, ancient cities and other cultural attractions.

One of the city’s notable attractions include Kuthodaw Pagoda, where Buddhist scriptures are carved on 729 marble tablets, billed as the “biggest book” in the world. One particularly beautiful legacy of King Mindon is the all-teak pavilion he lived in just before his death, The Golden Palace (Shwe Kyaung). The king’s reign is considered by many to be a golden age of Myanmar culture.

South of Mandalay is Amarapura, which was the royal capital in the 18th century. Today, it is home to the beautiful U Bein Bridge, a long picturesque construction that crosses the Taung Thaman Lake and for the site of Maha Gandayon Monastery, where 1000 monks learn scriptures. Amarapura is also famous for quality textiles.

To the West of Mandalay is Sagaing, an important location for Buddhist study. Many meditation retreats are available in this town.

To the East of Mandalay is Pyin Oo Lwin. It was originally a hill station for the British to escape the heat of lower Burma. The colonial influence is still visible today, in the buildings and wide avenues. The Botanical Gardens are the main attraction of this town.

Yangon

The former capital of Myanmar, and its largest city, Yangon, is often the first point of entry for most international visitors. Best known for the spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda, which is a truly awesome sight, particularly as the sun sets on the golden domes with almost blinding effect.

The city is surprisingly green thanks to its stunning lakes, shady parks and verdant tropical trees. Institutions such as the National Museum and Bogyoke Museum displaying the country’s historical events are worth visiting but it’s best to discover Yangon by exploring the streets mixing with the local people.

Throughout the metropolis, numerous food stalls, historical sites, art galleries, souvenirs and markets are yours to explore. Many places still retain some of the charm of a bygone era and there are many ways to become acquainted with the city.

Bagan

Bagan, in the Mandalay Region, is a key destination for visitors to Myanmar and boasts over 2,000 ancient pagodas and temples. You can visit Bagan all year round as there is no actual rainy season like in the lower parts of Myanmar. With more than 1,500 years of history, beautiful local art, such as lacquer ware, basket and cloth weaving, it is the most fascinating place for travellers.

Numerous traditions have been preserved in Bagan and its surrounding villages, including handicrafts such as beautiful lacquerware, basket weaving, sand art painting, woodcarving and bronze wares. If you cannot make it to a workshop to witness these items being made, be sure to browse some of the stalls around the pagodas for suitable souvenirs and keepsakes. There are also some truly delicious locally produced foodstuffs such as jaggery, toddy, tamarind flakes, plum jams and bean paste.

Enjoying the atmosphere of a pagoda festival in Bagan can be the best time to witness Buddhist rituals and experience the social gatherings of local people. The month long, sanctified festival for Ananda Temple usually falls in January, whereas the one for Manuha Pagoda is held in September or October. Another famous event in Bagan, Alo-Daw Pyae Pagoda Festival, occurs in December. In April the whole country enjoys the water festival, Thingyan, and in the dry zone Bagan is no exception.

Mandalay

Mandalay, built by King Mindon, still evokes images of a romantic, bygone era with its royal palace and impressive moat sitting at the foot of a high, pagoda-topped hill. It is also a busting, economic center for business. Located on the banks of the Ayerwaddy River, Mandalay lies within easy striking distance of former colonial hill stations, ancient cities and other cultural attractions.

One of the city’s notable attractions include Kuthodaw Pagoda, where Buddhist scriptures are carved on 729 marble tablets, billed as the “biggest book” in the world. One particularly beautiful legacy of King Mindon is the all-teak pavilion he lived in just before his death, The Golden Palace (Shwe Kyaung). The king’s reign is considered by many to be a golden age of Myanmar culture.

South of Mandalay is Amarapura, which was the royal capital in the 18th century. Today, it is home to the beautiful U Bein Bridge, a long picturesque construction that crosses the Taung Thaman Lake and for the site of Maha Gandayon Monastery, where 1000 monks learn scriptures. Amarapura is also famous for quality textiles.

To the West of Mandalay is Sagaing, an important location for Buddhist study. Many meditation retreats are available in this town.

To the East of Mandalay is Pyin Oo Lwin. It was originally a hill station for the British to escape the heat of lower Burma. The colonial influence is still visible today, in the buildings and wide avenues. The Botanical Gardens are the main attraction of this town.

Where to stay

These are just a selection of the properties we can personally recommend. Please get in touch to hear more about our full portfolio.

Belmond Governor’s Residence

A romantic, colonial-style mansion dating from the 1920’s, the Belmond Governor’s Residence is redolent of the days when it was home to the ruler of Myanmar’s southern states.

take me to Belmond Governor’s Residence

The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate

The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate is located in the unique Archaeological Site of South East Asia, the ancient capital of the Burmese empire, in old Bagan.

take me to The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate

Sandoway Resort

Nestled amongst coconut palms on a pristine beach front, the Sandoway Resort boasts 59 villas and cottages scattered throughout 6 acres of 450 meters long beach frontage and tropical gardens.

take me to Sandoway Resort

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