Yangon is the commercial capital with an international airport and the principle seaport as well as the main gate to the country. It has earned the name as "The Garden City of the East". It was founded in 1755 by King Alaungpaya on the site of a town called Dagon when he conquered lower Myanmar. He re-named the city ‘Yangon’, meaning ‘End of Strife’ and the name was changed again to ‘Rangoon’ by the British when they annexed Myanmar in 1885. In 1989, the government altered the city’s name into ‘Yangon’ again.
Kyaikhtiyo (The Golden Rock) is one of the most revered Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Myanmar and it lies 1000 km above the sea – level. The famous golden boulder is located in a small town called Kyaikhto and it is 160 km from Yangon in Southeastern Myanmar. To reach the top of the mountain, the climb by open trucks to the half way of the hill and for the remaining, continue hiking or walking to the point of the pagoda. On arrival at the pagoda, one can enjoy a spectacular view which is particularly beautiful at sunrise or sunset.
Mawlamyine is the third largest city in Myanmar after Yangon and Mandalay located 165 km east of Yangon across the Gulf of Martaban at the mouth of the Thanlwin River. It is a favorite spot for viewing the sunset and enjoying the evening breeze. Mawlamyine is the capital of Mon State and also was once a busy seaport and the administrative capital of British known as Moulmein. But nowadays, it is a pleasant quiet town with tree-shaded streets harboring some of the ancient historic pagodas and elegant examples of colonial architecture in Myanmar. The town's signature landmark is Kyaikthanlan pagoda built in the 9th century AD and can feel the fabulous panoramic view of the river and the sunset view. On the south of the Mawlamyine, outside the town we will see two beautiful lime stones hill; one topped by a Buddhist shrine named Kyauktalon Taung and in the further south we will see the biggest Win Sein Taw Ya reclining Buddha images with 170 meters long. So, Mawlamyine had its own rich history and natural beauty which give a remarkable experience and fascinating place to visit.
Mandalay is the principal economic and religious city of upper Myanmar. It is situated in the centre of the country and 714 km north of Yangon. It was founded in 1857 by King Mindon, where the Royal Palace of the Konbaung Dynasty is located and it was the last monarchy until being occupied by the British in 1885. Today, Mandalay is still accepted as the art and cultural heartland of Myanmar and one can also discover the history, tradition, ritual and ceremonies there. Moreover, it is also easily accessible to Sagaing, Ava (Inwa), Amarapura, Mingun and Pyin Oo Lwin.
Also known as Ava, Inwa is located 20 kilometers to the southwest of Mandalay across the Myitnge River and was the capital of the Myanmar kingdom for nearly 400 years. Most of the major buildings were destroyed during the earthquake of 1838 and the capital was moved to Mandalay instead of rebuilding the palace. However, some of the buildings still remain, for instance, the 27-metre-high (90 feet) masonry Nan Myint watchtower, also known as the “leaning tower of Ava”, the Bargaya teak monastery, famous for its 267 wooden pillars and Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery, a fantastic spot to examine the art and archaeology.
Mingun is located on the bank of the majestic Ayeyarwady River about 12 kilometers north of Mandalay. It is famous not only as the home of the world’s second-largest ringing bell that weighs 90 tons but also for an enormous unfinished pagoda, Mingun Pahtodawgyi. It was supposed to be the world’s largest monument. However, what stands today could better be described as the world’s largest pile of bricks. A visit to Mingun invariably means a boat trip from Mandalay’s Gawwein jetty and takes about one hour upriver and 40 minutes downriver. Together with plenty of activities to see on the river, a boat trip to Mingun is a pleasant way to pass the morning or afternoon.
Sagaing lies 21 kilometers to the southwest of Mandalay, on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River. It is a religious centre and in particular it is a place for meditation. As living centre of the Buddhist faith, Sagaing features 600 Buddhist pagodas, temples and monasteries.
At more than 1000 meters above sea level, Pyin Oo Lwin is a popular hill station about 70 kilometers from Mandalay on the fringe of the Shan plateau. It is well known for its colonial-style houses with large compound and pine trees, eucalyptus and silver-oak abound in town. It is delightfully cool and pleasant the whole year round, in sharp contrast to the rest of upper Myanmar.
The ruby mine Mogok is located on the mountain range at 3800 ft (1170 m) above sea level 50 miles (200 km) north east from Mandalay. So the climate is cool and fresh in all seasons. The population of the town is approximately 200,000 which include a variety of races such as Shan, Palaung, Kachin, Nepali, Lisu, Danu and Burma. Nearly most of people are living in gem business such as Mining, processing and trading. This is a place where different types of mines such as world famous Rubies, Sapphires, Garnets, Spaniel, Topaz, Emerald are all vested in the area around Mogok. The gem market, locally called "Htar Pwe" is the main interesting place where precious gems are traded by the local merchants and brokers every day.
Monywa is situated 136 km north-west of Mandalay. One of the main highly attractions of it is Thanbodday Pagoda, with over 800 small stupas on and around the pagoda. There are also 582,357 Buddha statues not only on the ceiling, walls, and archways but also in niches and on the temple compound. There is also an interesting place for excursions to the cave temples of Phowin Taung and Shwe Ba Taung which are famous for sandstone cave containing many Buddha statues, mural paintings and wood carvings.
Bagan situated on the eastern bank of the Ayeyawaddy River covering about 25 sq km at the central part of Myanmar. It is one of the richest archaeological sites in South-east Asia, which remains over 2200 temples and pagodas dating from the 11th – 13th Centuries still survive at present day. The shape and construction of each building is highly significant in Buddhism with each component part taking on spiritual meaning. It is also a beautiful panoramic spot to catch the sunset and sunrise.
Inle Lake is the second largest lake located in the heart of the Shan Plateau. It is a beautiful highland lake, 900 meters above sea level. The lake is roughly 22 km long by 10 km wide. It is a place of outstanding, natural and cultural attraction where 30 hill tribes inhabit. The most famous features are one legged rowing style and cultivation of floating gardens where vegetables, fruits, and flowers grow. Local villages and 5 days rotating colorful local markets make interesting and picturesque spots. Moreover, the visitors enjoy the sunrises and sunsets over the Shan mountains.
Kalaw used to be a favored hill station during the colonial era. Nowadays, it becomes a picturesque town with Myanmar’s most beautiful gardens and it is surrounded by pine forests. Kalaw offers good trekking and hiking experiences to neighboring hill tribe villages, some of which still functions the same as they did centuries ago. Fans of natural beauty will feel contented here. Moreover, the road between Kalaw and Pindaya offers particularly breathtaking views of the landscape.
Taunggyi is the capital of Shan State and has a population of approximately 200,000, making it the fourth-largest city in Myanmar. Taunggyi sits at an elevation of 1,400 meters above sea level. Its name means "big mountain" in Burmese language, a reference to a ridge on the east side of the city. Although it is located in Shan State, Shans do not make up the majority of the city’s population. It is mostly dominated by Intha and Pa-O tribes. Prior to British colonization, Taunggyi was a small village with a few huts. Lying on a wide shoulder of the Sintaung Hills of the Shan Plateau, it was populated by the Pa-O at that time. The signs of the original village of Taunggyi are long gone, but nearby villages can still be discerned quite easily. During British occupation, the town became the chief city and capital of the Southern Shan States. Taunggyi's modern development began in 1894, when the British moved their administrative offices from Maing Thuak (Fort Stedman) on the eastern shores of Inle Lake to the higher elevation of Taunggyi, for health and geographical reasons. Although geographically within the state of Yawnghwe, the town was denoted as a "notified area" by the British, exempt from the administration of the Sawbwa, the hereditary Shan ruler. By 1906 the town had 1000 houses. Because of civil unrest throughout the Shan States during the early 20th centuary, Taunggyi served as the chief garrison for the military police. In recent years the previously hidden Kekku Pagoda has become one of the most visited places in southern Shan State. It is situated near Mway Taw village in Taunggyi Township, about 25 kilometres from Taunggyi proper.
Pindaya is situated at about 1,200 metres above sea level and is surrounded by hill tribe villages. Its main attraction is a natural limestone cave that has more than 8,000 Buddha images, made of wood, marble, lacquer, brick, stone and bronze. Devoted Buddhist pilgrims have placed the images over the centuries and the collection is unique and well worth seeing. Pindaya also features the picturesque Boutaloke Lake, which is set amongst huge old trees. A major handicraft industry in Pindaya is umbrella manufacturing. Being Handmade from paper, the umbrellas can be seen in several workshops in town.
Nay Pyi Taw was founded in 2006 as new national capital of Myanmar, located near Pyinmana Township in Mandalay Region. Nay Pyi Taw means "Royal City". The country’s administrative center, it is approximately 391 km north of Yangon. It is set to host the 2013 Southeast Asian Games and a series of Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings in 2014.
Kyaing Tong is known for its scenic beauty and many colorful ethnic tribes. It is located in the eastern Shan State. Kyaing Tong used to be the Shan capital and this ancient city is the gateway to rugged journeys and exotic sights. Nowadays, this place is famous for trekking that visitors can be observing the traditional architecture with the old-style wooden houses and their way of living on these mountainous places. There are more than a dozen different tribal groups around in small communities. They are groups of Ang, Lahu, Ahka, Akhu, Padaung, Kala, Shan, Chin, Lishu, Pao, Wa, Khun and Laui. All are living in different stages of development; some still following very traditional ways. One can also study their traditional dances and colorful customs as well.
Mrauk U is the ancient capital of Rakhine Kingdom (15th century) and has been the most powerful kingdom lasted for about 352 years. The city is located in the east of the Kaladan River, and surrounded by hills in the north and south. Today, Mrauk U is the second most famous archaeological site and is known for its old temples and pagodas with painting of Indian cultural influence. At present, there are about 70 known and named ruined pagodas, whereas there are many more remaining unknown. The main highlight temples at Mrauk U are the massive Shitthaung-paya a curiously remarkable temple with countless Buddha Images and reliefs, the fortress-like passages, an octagonal temple Andaw-thein with its unique stone carvings, Archaeological Museum. It is about one and half hour flight from Yangon, and continues with 3-5 hours boat ride from Sittwe. Mrauk U, unforgettable beauty of capital’s fascinating trip, gives the long life memories.
The Chins live in the northwest border areas or further south in the Rakhine State. Mt.Victoria of 3,400 meter high is the perfect place for nature lovers. Soft trekking, butterfly and bird watching are available. Some of the women there tattoo their faces completely in tasteful designs. The ritual is entirely voluntary and as the practice is dying out, not many young women are seen with tattooed faces. But the old tradition of this tattooing face can still be seen in some villages. Their hand woven cotton and silk in traditional designs and colors are collectors’ items. Being 174 km from Bagan by jeep and roads being still very bad, this excursion is not recommended for rainy season (May to Oct). As for accommodations, only very simple guesthouses are available so this excursion is suitable only for the adventurous clients.
The Myeik Archipelago is located at the southernmost tip of Myanmar. It is one of the hidden tourism destinations with an enormous area features more than 800 islands throughout the Andaman Sea of the coast between Myeik and Kawthaung (Victoria Point, covering about 14,000 sq miles). Most of the area remains unexplored and no one steps on some islands. There has incredibly possessed a wide diversity of flora and fauna above and underwater coral reefs and marine life. Some of the islands have magnificent white sand beaches, unparallel to any of the world’s most famous beaches. In the deeper waters of the Myeik Archipelago, rock pinnacles covered with healthy corals attract sharks and many species of fish. Local people there are majority Myanmar, Salones (Sea Gypsies) and Pashu. Among them the most interesting to observe is the ways of life of Salones (Sea Gypsises), who’s live on the boat most of the year. The islands have white sandy beaches, and are good for snorkeling and scuba diving. The sea water is so clear that it is enough to see the coral reefs and the tropical fishes. If you want amazing and incredible experience, you will get will find in this place and these remembrances will strike your heart forever.
Situated in Rakhine State in the western part of Myanmar, Ngapali Beach is the most charming untouched beach in the area. It stretches about 3 km endowed with soft white sand fringed by coconut palms. It can be reached by land or by plane which is a much better mode of transportation for this journey. Ngapali is surely a prime choice for beach lovers who imagine about serenity, white sand, crystal clear water, the magnificent sunset, the unique rural surroundings, Rakhine ways of life, local fishing style, plus a great variety of fascinating souvenirs made out of coconut.