Things to do in Bagan
An Archaeological Tour of Bagan
Comprising over 2,000 temples and buildings sprawled across the eastern banks of the Ayeyarwady River, the ancient city of Bagan is best explored by bike; explore alongside an archaeology expert who will unlock the history and cultural significance of its impressive architecture, towering buddha statues, gates and gilded stupa-shaped pagodas. Your guide will also know the very best (and crowd-free) view points for enjoying some truly spectacular panoramas.
A Lacquerware Class
In a region known for its lacquerware, take a fun-filled masterclass in crafting this signature souvenir. Meet the craftsmen behind a generations-old studio who create the finest pieces in Bagan. Watch the pros at work and learn the step-by-step process of weaving bamboo, polishing and etching. Then try your hand at painting a drinks coaster with the guidance of an expert artisan.
Take part in a monks' traditional blessing ceremony with a rare look into their holy lives. Step into a tranquil monastery where you'll present offerings of rice to each red-robed monk. In return you'll receive blessings of health and happiness. Then head to the iconic Irrawaddy River to take part in a yoga class set on an island; practise your downward-facing dog with views towards Bagan's ancient temples, romantically lit at sunset.
Things to do in Inle Lake
A Canoe Ride
Take a canoe ride around Inle Lake. Glide down the reed-filled canals taking in thrilling scenes; stilted houses, floating temples and Intha fishermen using one leg to paddle, the other to guide their conical nets. Moor up by a village where you can see the traditional process of metalwork in a family-run workshop and learn how to make traditional medicine. Stock up on souvenirs before returning to your hotel.
A Trek in the Shan Hills
Trek around the rolling Shan hills on a series of switchback trails that will take you off the beaten path. Pass through farmland producing everything from tea to cabbages and visit hill tribe villages untouched by modernity. Mingle with the locals and learn first-hand about their diverse culture. Lunch is served in either a traditional house or monastery before you continue to skirt Inle Lake with plenty of photo stops.
Cycle to Indein
Hop on a bike to explore Inle Lake's quiet rural scenery. Pedal around the sugarcane fields where farmers tend their crops and buffaloes graze the land. Visit a bustling morning market before a short boat trip takes you to the lake's western shores. Disembark at the village of Indein and peruse its ancient temples. Bike past vibrant green rice paddies stopping at a lakeside village to see local life unfold.
Things to do in Mandalay
Motorbike by Night
Explore Mandalay by night at a thrilling pace, zipping around by motorbike. Wind through the streets with an expert guide so you can gaze in wonder at the Buddhist Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda, festooned by green and red lights. Stop at a night market offering bowlfuls of mohinga and sizzling pork skewers. Wash it down with a cold beer at a local hangout or try a quintessential karaoke session.
The U Bein Bridge
Head south of Mandalay to Amarapura, Burma's former capital. Walk along the U Bein bridge stretching across the Taungthaman Lake. Built around 1850, it's considered to be the oldest teak-wood crossing in the world. Take time to stroll over this feat of architecture, all the more extraordinary in the dry season when the tall poles tower over the lake. Start walking just in time for sunset to see amber-bathed waters.
A Local Tea House
Visit one of Mandalay's classic tea houses in the early morning, when they're at their most atmospheric. You'll duck into one of the city's institutions for a glimpse into this serious pastime. Cram in with locals and ask for a lah phet yay, a traditionally sweet milky tea. During the early morning thrum, you can see gem merchants conducting business and other locals chatting over bowls of Shan noodles.
Things to do in the Mergui Archipelago
Paddleboarding in the Mangroves
Enjoy a spot of uncharted adventure on Myanmar's off-beat archipelago. Surrounded by lush jungle and white-sand beaches, go paddle boarding through intensely beautiful mangrove forests that feel largely undiscovered. Glide through jade green rivers navigating the intertwined branches, spotting an array of indigenous flora and fauna along the way.
Hike a Jungle Trail
Explore jungle trails on the private Wa Ale island boasting a 9,000-acre wildlife reserve. You'll hike through the undulating emerald foliage with a resident naturalist guide who will point out tropical flora and resident wildlife like swinging gibbons, monitor lizards and, if you're lucky, the endangered pangolin. Otherwise head to the pristine private beach to scout out nesting sea turtles and watch sea eagles hovering in the sky.
Visit a Turtle Hatchery
Visit a turtle hatchery spearheaded by the Lampi Foundation, responsible for releasing over 500 turtles back into the Andaman sea, the first hatchery built in the Lampi Marine National Park. Meet the people making the difference and learn about the efforts behind conserving green, hawksbill and leatherback turtles.
Things to do in Yangon
A City Train Ride
Ride the Yangon circular railway, one of the best ways of immersing yourself in the capital. Join the locals as they hop on and off this busy circuit looping through the bustling city centre and grassy suburbs. Sit amid the colourful cacophony of merchants selling bananas, eggs and green vegetables on board. You'll stop at street markets dolling out sizzling snacks and visit colourful holy shrines.
A Foodie Experience
Start at a traditional tea house and order Myanmar's signature sweet creamy tea. Then take a rickshaw ride around the city's elegant colonial buildings. Slurp up Shan noodles from a local haunt and ride past Little India's colourful Hindu temples. Zip through the streets to China town's food stalls where an array of barbecued snacks and grilled satay awaits, perfectly accompanied by ice cold local beer.
Yangon's Street Food
Discover the slower paced side of the Yangon River. A twenty-minute boat ride takes you to Kanaungto River Island, worlds away from the capital's humdrum. Arrive on the banks and swap to a rickshaw to explore this three-mile-long island, lush with banana trees and picturesque forest. Take the opportunity to chat with the friendly locals who reside in the rural villages and watch the sun melt over the rippling river.
The Best of Myanmar
Often overlooked in favour of its Southeast Asian neighbours, Myanmar boasts beautiful landscapes and a fascinating history and culture, meaning there’s plenty to keep you busy on your luxury holiday. From cruising along serene lakes to ballooning over Bagan, read on to discover our favourite things to do in Myanmar…
Irrawaddy & Chindwin River Cruises
Cruise the legendary Irrawaddy and/or Chindwin River in the lap of luxury. Float along its remote northern stretches on an elegant river boat witnessing buffaloes cooling in the shallows, past charming rural villages and visit markets packed with spice. Then relax away the hours on the sun-drenched deck of your vessel dipping in and out of the turquoise pool.
From the boat, passengers will see children waving and running along the bank and oxen ploughing paddy fields, as they have done for centuries, while pagodas poke through the forest canopy.
The shortest voyages last three nights, and visit Mandalay, the centre of Burmese culture, Sapaing, famous for its silversmiths and the awe-inspiring plain of Bagan where more than 2,000 temples and pagodas dot the misty plains. The longer cruises take in other areas along the rivers, including Shwe Kyet Yet, Shanlay village (considered to be the living centre of the Buddhist faith in Burma), the beautiful hill station of Maymyo and Bhamo.
The boats themselves have spacious and comfortable en-suite cabins spread across different decks with wonderful views across the river and surrounding countryside. There are a large number of dining options on board, including Burmese, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese, Indian and European delicacies served across a number of restaurants.
Sail the Mergui Archipelago
With only a handful of the 800 islands being (separately) populated, Mergui is a region where you can sail for days and not meet another soul, except perhaps a passing fisherman in his dugout canoe. And sailing is exactly how you should explore one of the planet’s most unspoilt destinations.
The Mergui Archipelago in Southern Myanmar (Burma) is a region of azure ocean, colourful corals and reef fish, white sand beaches, jungle thickets home to gibbons and monitor lizards, and the fishing villages of the Moken ‘Sea Gypsies’.
In our opinion, there is no better way to explore than to hop aboard a luxurious sailing vessel for a three or six night cruise, or join forces with the rest of the family and a few friends to charter your very own sailing boat and crew.
Disconnect from modern day life – there’s no Wi-Fi here – and spend days lazing on the deck in the sunshine, snorkelling, jungle trekking, kayaking through mangrove forests and meeting the semi-nomadic Moken people who call the archipelago home. Evenings are spent on deck, dining on the freshest catch of the day, perhaps from your own line.
Ballooning over Bagan
Wake up early, just before sunrise, for a hot air balloon ride over ancient Bagan. As you drive up into the air, take in the sensational bird’s eye views of the pagoda-studded plains and 13th century temples, all the more romantic in the rosy morning light. Upon landing, indulge in a champagne breakfast and soak up the scenery of this time on terra firma.
Inle Lake by Canoe
Navigate the Inle Lake’s serene waterways on a fun canoe ride, the go-to mode of transport to discover this stunning region. Your local guide will help you navigate around the stilted villages and floating monasteries that make up the region’s iconic scenes. As you paddle, meet the Intha fisherman using traditional methods that have been unchanged for centuries and step ashore to see artisans masterfully shaping mother of pearl souvenirs, such as trinket boxes and dainty ladles.