The Best of Burma

What do you know about Burma?

You might know it is also called Myanmar. Maybe you’ve heard of Aung San Suu Kyi. And you might know someone who has travelled to Burma lately. And that might be where you knowledge starts and ends.

Burma is a country that many of us know very little about. Because of its political isolation, we don't really know what's there. And now, because of that isolation, Burma is a red hot travel destination. It's Asia's last un-travelled frontier, a place that has retained its traditional way of life without western influences.

In our usual helpful fashion, we've made it easy for you to get familiar with Burma's sights and highlights:  here's My Adventure Travel's line up of the best of Burma.

Wander the streets of Yangon

Yangon is the biggest and busiest city in Burma and it has a lot to offer. Crumbling British colonial architecture, a gatrillion pagodas and temples, and loads of parks, lakes and markets all make Yangon a great place to explore.

Squint at the glimmering golden Schwedagon Pagoda

Burma isn't called 'the golden land' for nothing. Golden pagodas and temples are in plentiful supply. None is more important or more golden than Schwedagon Pagoda, Yangon's shimmering centrepiece. The huge golden pagoda is lavishly decorated with ornate carvings, buddhas, gold plating and marble floors – it's massive and resplendent.

Explore the incredible plain of Bagan

Bagan is like the Angkor Wat of pagodas. The site is the former capital of the ancient Kingdom of Pagan and at its peak, over 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries were built here. Over 2,200 temples and pagodas still remain spread across a 100-square-kilometre area - it's a photographer's dream.

Marvel at the skills of the Intha fishermen

The Intha people are an ethnic group that live around the Inle Lake area and on the lake itself. The Intha fishermen have developed a distinct style of boatmanship – they stand in their boats so they can see over the reeds and row their boats with their legs. It's a unique and impressive skill that is fascinating to watch.

Watch the sunset behind beautiful U Bein Bridge

U Bein Bridge is a 1.2-kilometre-long bridge that crosses Taungthaman Lake. Built around 1850, it's thought to be the oldest and longest teak wood bridge in the world. It's a very beautiful, simple structure and is still an important connection used every day by the local community.

Eat mochinga and lephet thoke

With China on one side and Thailand on the other, it's no surprise that rice is a staple of Burmese food. Delicious curries and noodle dishes are served with an array of small tasty side dishes. Mochinga – rice noodles in a fish-based soup – is the most popular and common dish. Also try the slightly sour lephet thoke – a delicious fermented tea leaf salad with cabbage, garlic, nuts and tomatoes.

Climb to the summit of Mandalay Hill

Mandalay Hill is just north of the city of Mandalay and the hill is thoroughly studded with pagodas and monasteries. It's only 240 metres high so climbing the stairs to the summit is not too daunting a task. Sutaungpyei Pagoda sits on the top of the hill and has a panoramic view over town – perfect for sunset watching.

Laze on Burma's yet-to-be-discovered beautiful beaches

Burma has a long Andaman Sea coast – just north of Thailand's popular Phuket – so it stands to reason that stunning beaches are to be found. Quiet backwater towns and yet-to-be-discovered glorious beaches like Ngwesuang Beach dot this coastline. Laze, visit local markets, eat seafood, take a boat trip and generally kick back.

Visit the 8000 buddhas at Pindaya Caves

The Pindaya Caves are a cave system that contains over 8000 images of Buddha – the earliest one dating from 1773. There's a local legend about a giant spider living in the caves who captured a princess and was later slain by a prince... but closer to reality, the caves are an important pilgrimage site.

Visit the archaeological site of Mingun by boat

The enormous stupa of Mingun Pahtodawgyi would have been the largest in the world, however it was never completed. The best way to reach Mingun is on a boat trip down the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay – the whole excursion makes for a great day out.

Climb the 777 steps at Popa Taung Kalat Monastery

Sitting on the lower flanks of a volcano, the volcanic plug of Popa Taung Kalat is like a dramatic sheer-sided island. Perched precariously on the top of the plug is a gilded Buddhist monastery. Climbing the 777 steps to the monastery will afford magnificent views across the surrounding landscapes.

Canoe on Inle Lake to the floating gardens

A canoe trip on Inle Lake will bring you to the little village of Lin Kin. Stilted houses are perched over the lake, and the local village gardens are on the lake too – tended by people in boats. It's a peaceful journey that will give you real insight into the local way of life on the water.

Eat strawberries in Pyin Oo Lwin hill station

A hill station retreat that was once the summer capital of the Raj in Burma, Pyin Oo Lwin is a very pleasant and pretty place to visit. The cornerstones of the economy here are flowers, strawberry and pineapple orchards and coffee plantations – what's not to love?

Don't topple Golden Rock temple

On the top of Mt Kyaiktiyo is perched a precariously balancing rock – it is said to be balancing on a strand of Buddha's hair. On top of the glimmering gilded rock sits a little pagoda – this freaky golden balancing act is an important pilgrimage site.

Explore the golden sites of Bago

A couple of giant reclining buddhas in gold robes, a golden palace, a ton of gold temples and Burma's tallest pagoda – Shwemawdaw pagoda (which is gold) – bring Bago onto the must-visit list. It's the essence of Burma's golden-ness in one town.