Recently opened up to the world, it might surprise you to learn that Myanmar has already carved out a special place for itself in the busy Southeast Asian tourism scene. Join us as we uncover ancient temples, explore Buddhist culture, and experience a country that is in the midst of monumental change!
Want to learn more about Myanmar?
Where is Myanmar?
Myanmar is located in Southeast Asia, and shares borders with Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, and Thailand, plus it has a long coastline with both the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.
When is the best time to visit Myanmar?
Peak season is October to February when the weather is at its most pleasant, although some hotels may fill up and prices will be a little higher. Beyond that, March to May is viable but it can be uncomfortably hot. May to September features monsoon rains, so pack an umbrella if you want to visit over the summer!
Getting around Myanmar
Buses are the most reliable form of public transportation while trains can also get you from point A to point B although they can be slow and uncomfortable. Renting a car can be pricey while some of the most remote destinations require a flight or boat.
Language in Myanmar
There are several different languages spoken throughout Myanmar but Burmese is the most common. While English used to be the primary language of instruction (thanks to the Brits), it is now a second language. That being said you might be able to get by in places – though learning some Burmese phrases will go a long way.
At the forefront of the new Myanmar is its largest city and former capital, Yangon (which you might also know as Rangoon). A bustling metropolis by any metric, Yangon blends Southeast Asian chaos, a wealth of restaurants and bars, some of the country’s premier tourist sights, and business. The place to take your pictures is the Buddhist monument of Shwedagon Paya, however you’ll find that Yangon holds much more if you explore. Whether you’re here for colonial architecture or just want to let loose in a cosmopolitan city, you’ve come to the right place.
While Yangon will immediately suck you in, it can take a bit more effort to come to terms with Mandalay – the second largest city in Myanmar. It’s big, and you’ll find a lot of people rushing around amongst the streets, bars, teahouses, and shops. However, beyond that it’s up to the visitor to truly discover Mandalay. Talk to the people and get a sense for the culture and way of life here. This is where Bamar culture thrives – but it might take a bit of unwrapping to fully appreciate it.
With a name suspiciously similar to a coastal city in southern Italy, you might expect Ngapali to feature warm weather and an idyllic coastline. If that were the case, you’d be exactly right. It’s home to the country’s premier resorts, so if you want to just sit back and relax, Ngapali is the place to do it. However, there’s something to be said for discovering the sometimes-sleepy fishing town beyond – where locals ply their trade in much the same way they always have.
Few places capture the essence of Myanmar like Inle Lake. Here, stilted houses dot the shores while fisherman glide across the tranquil waters effortlessly. You’ll find Buddhist temples nearby while the mountains that surround it hold traditional villages where many of Myanmar’s minority groups live. It’s absolutely breathtaking and peaceful all at the same time, and it won’t take long before you understand why Inle Lake is one of the top destinations in the country.
In the end however, there’s nowhere else in Myanmar that can quite compete with Bagan. World renowned for its large archaeological site, the ancient city houses numerous large temples (we’re talking thousands, though it was once much more). Competing with Cambodia’s famous Angkor Wat – as the two great empires once wrestled for dominance in ages past – Bagan is truly a sight to behold. There’s not much else to say except missing Bagan would be akin to visiting Paris and skipping the Eiffel Tower.
If there’s one sight however that can come close to the touristic value of Bagan, it’s the Golden Rock. This sacred Buddhist site almost defies logic, as those who conquer the long climb will clearly see. At the top of the mountain is a massive rock, seemingly due to roll down the cliff at any moment. While the pagoda as a whole is a great way to explore the Buddhist and monastic culture of Myanmar, it’s the unusual centerpiece that certainly steals the show.
Flights to Myanmar
A round-trip flight between Toronto and Yangon costs around $1500 Canadian. Prices do fluctuate, so be sure to look around for deals. You might also consider flying into Bangkok if you plan on visiting Thailand or other nearby countries as well.
Prices in Myanmar ($$)*
Average daily costs in Myanmar vary, but on a mid-range budget you should expect to spend about $93 Canadian a day, with a budget of $20 for accommodation and $14 for food. Thriftier travellers can get by with about $70 a day while those who want to sample luxury should budget about $136 a day.
Is Myanmar safe?
While Myanmar has been making major strides as of late, a high degree of caution is recommended throughout due to the tense political situation and possible civil unrest. There are conflicts throughout parts of the country, including some tourist areas. Besides this, non-essential travel should be avoided to Rakhine State (though Ngapali is safer) while all travel should be avoided to the borders with Thailand, China, and Laos.
Avoid large gatherings (including large concentrations of security forces). In addition, violent and petty crime occurs throughout the country. Public transportation and roads vary wildly in quality, so use the utmost caution. In summation, while Myanmar has improved since the recent democratic elections there is still a lot to be desired. So make sure you do your research and take all necessary precautions.
For more on travel safety, check out the Canadian Travel Advisory for Myanmar.
Check out the official Myanmar tourism page for more.
Stay informed. Stay Current.