Myanmar travel information
Myanmar, a republic in South-East Asia, bounded on the north by Tibet Autonomous Region of China; on the east by China, Laos, and Thailand; on the south by the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal; and on the west by the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh, and India. It is officially known as the Union of Myanmar. The coastal region is known as Lower Myanmar, while the interior region is known as Upper Myanmar. The total area of the country is 676,552 square km (261,218 square miles).
A horseshoe-shaped mountain complex and the valley of the Ayarwaddy (Irrawaddy) River system are the dominant topographical features of Myanmar. The mountains of the northern margin rise to 5881 meters (19,296 ft) atop Hkakabo Razi, the highest peak in Southeast Asia. The two other mountain systems have northern to southern axes. The Arakan Yoma range, with peaks reaching more than 2740 meters (about 9000 ft), forms a barrier between Myanmar and the subcontinent of India. The Bilauktaung range, the southern extension of the Shan Plateau, lies along the boundary between southwestern Thailand and southeastern Lower Myanmar. The Shan Plateau, originating in China, has an average elevation of about 910 meters (about 3000 ft).
Generally narrow and elongated in the interior, the central lowlands attain a width of about 320km (about 200 miles) across the Ayarwaddy-Sittaung delta. The delta plains, extremely fertile and economically the most important section of the country, cover an area of about 46,620 sq. km (18,000 sq. ml.). Both the Arakan (in the northwest) and the Tenasserim (in the southwest) coasts of myanmar are rocky and fringed with islands. The country has a number of excellent natural harbours.
Myanmar is an all year round destination. Hilly regions in the north and northeast enjoy cool temperate weather. Rainfall is also very low in central regions even in the rainy season.
Founded in 849 AD it became the capital of the first unified Kingdom and the first multinational Union of Myanmar in 1044 AD. 42 square kilometres of open land, sited on the east bank of the famed Ayeyarwady River, covered by 5,000 mysterious and magnificent stupas and hollow pagodas of a bygone era, make Pagan one of the wonders of the world. Here lies a great monument to one of Myanmar’s brilliant eras. Today it is a rich and premier archaeological site that offers a rich heritage from a twelfth century empire. A panoramic view of this land at sunset will leave you with a lingering sense of awe and wonder.
Buddhist monuments in Myanmar fall into 2 basic styles – solid pagodas and hollow pagodas. Solid pagodas are solid conical structures with a central treasure vault below. Hollow pagodas are build with a hollow chamber in the center where pilgrims can enter to worship or meditate
Highlights in and around Bagan
This golden stupa, the most important pagoda in Pagan, was built in 1057 AD as a center of prayer and reflection by King Anawrahta, the founder of the first Pagan dynasty. The Shwezigon is the prototype for all later Nyanmar stupas.
Mon in its architecture, this jewel of a hollow pagoda is not only Pagan’s most famous but also one of the few active hollow pagodas. Built in 1091 AD by King Kyansittha, it contains statues of Buddha and stone sculptures of exquisite workmanship representing various scenes in Buddha’s life.
This small but well laid out museum is run by the Archaeological Department. On display here are ancient artifacts found within Pagan. Whether mural paintings, plaster carvings or bas-relief, many are of high artistic quality – marvellous relics of Pagans glory.
Mount Popa, a 1,500-meter extinct volcano, about 60 kilometers south east of Pagan is home of Myanmars “nats”- a collection of 37 supernatural beings. Twice yearly, thousands of people will gather here to attend the nats festival to honor these spirits.
Yangon, also considered as the Garden City of the East” is the gateway to Myanmar. adorned with idyllic lakes, shady parks and green tropical vegetation, Yangon is at once friendly and welcoming. Yangon is also a growing bustling business center.
Highlights in and around Yangon
Yangon’s a must-visit attraction is the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda atop Singuttara Hill, considered by many as the greatest and most impressive Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar today. Originally 8.2 meters tall, now it stands close to 100 meters in all its glory through successive renovations by Myanmar monarchs. The Pagoda, more than 2500 years old, enshrines strands of Buddha’s hair and other holy relics. Colorful dressed worshipers offering flowers, food, candles and water can be constantly seen circling the shrine daily. A sunset visit promises a spectacular sight, when the gold spire gleams and glitters in the light of the setting sun.
Maha Wizira Pagoda
The Maha Wizaya Pagoda was built on the Dhammarakkhita (Guardian of the Law) Hill which faces the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. in 1980 to commemorate the first successful convening of all sects of the Buddhist monastic order. under one supervisory body. It was built from funds donated by the people across the whole country. An image of the Buddha which was a royal gift from the King and Queen of Nepal is enshrined within the pagoda. All manner of traditional decorative art executed by modern artists and artisans grace this shrine and testify to the preservation of a national culture developed through the ages.
Sitting surrealistically on the Royal Lake is the Karaweik. With its double bow depicting the mythological karaweik, a water bird from Indian pre-history, and a many tiered spire carried on top, the Karaweik represents a fine work of traditional Myanmar architecture. Spend an unforgettable evening at this luxurious dining spot, enjoying an outstanding dance performance accompanied by classical Myanmar music.
The Mandalay Regalia-the majestic Lion Throne of the last Myanmar King takes center stage among the museum’s collection of historical, ethnological and archaeological exhibits, tracing the early history of this famed ancient region.
Largest and liveliest of Yangon’s markets, the Bogyoke Market is worth a wander with its wide and diverse range of goods from groceries to handicrafts, and antiques to the latest wear. It is a haven for souvenir hunters – one can find here the most exotic gifts or keepsakes and mementos for a lifetime.
In Mandalay, you come closest to the real Myanmar of old. The second largest city of Myanmar, with a population of 700,000, here lies the cultural heart of Myanmar where the most refined arts, traditions of dance, music and drama live on. Mandalay is also known for its fine gold and silver crafts, wood and marble carving, silk thread weaving and ancient tapestry.
The last capital of the Myanmar kingdom, Mandalay not only offers wonderful sights to behold, but also has a number of nearby attractions, most historical and fascinating, all within a 3.2 kilometer radius – from cool hill resorts to nostalgic market places, from an ancient palace to a river ride up the famous “Road to Mandalay”, the Ayeyarwady River, or a ride in unique tri-shaw or horse-drawn carts.
Highlights in and around Mandalay
One thousand seven hundred steps uphill will give you a bird’s-eye view of the city, the outlying areas of the Ayeyarwady plains and the misty Shan hills- a spectacular sight! Fascinating and interesting sights along the way include colorful souvenir stalls, the Pershewar Relics, possibly the world’s only authentic bones of Buddha and the gold-plated Shweyattaw Buddha of immense size.
This pagoda was built by King Mindon in 1857. Within its premises may be found what is popularly known as “The World’s Largest Book” – the complete Buddhist Scriptures inscribed on 729 upright stone slabs surrounding the pagoda.
A golden city within a city, this was King Mindon’s centre of glory- a truly magnificent palace complex. However, it was tragically destroyed by allied bombing during World War Two. An exact replica of the old palace is now being built inside the walls. The finely built palace walls, surrounded by a moat, a delight for artists, architects, painters and photographers, is a sight to behold.
Shwe Nandaw Kyaung
A masterpiece of woodcarving techniques, this wooden monastery is a reminder of King Mindon’s sleeping apartment in his palace complex. Best known for its fine and intricate woodcarvings, it is an outstanding example of traditional Myanmar wooden architecture.
An ancient capital of the Myanmar Monarchy, 11 kilometres south of Mandalay, Amarapura’s attractions include the Patodawgyi Pagoda, U Pein’s Bridge and the silk weaving industry.
The lure of Sagaing, 21 kilometres south west of Mandalay, on the west bank of Ayeyarwady, is the Sagaing Hills – a spiritual recluse for Buddhist studies and meditation. The Kaunghmudaw – a gigantic dome-shaped pagoda and the Ywahtaung Village – home of silver craftsman are other points of interest.
What is impressive about this historical capital is its fine Myanmar masonry, art and architecture, especially the outstanding Maha Aung Mye Bonzan Monastery.
The 11-kilometre boat ride up the famous Ayeyarwady river from Mandalay to Mingun promises a pleasant adventure. Boatmen in their gliding vessels on mirror-like waters, the lively chatter of womenfolk on floating platforms with their laundry, mighty boat-pullers, smiling carefree children and bamboo homes in green fields – all these sights make it a shutterbug’s dream voyage.
At the end of this picturesque trip, you will come face to face with the “World’s Biggest Ringing Bell” – The Mingun Bell. Another principal sight is the colossal ruined base of the Mingun pagoda- an unfinished work of King Bodawpaya, which if it had been completed, would have supported the largest pagoda in the world.
A timeless colonial serenity greets you as you enter Pyin-Oo-Lwin” scenic and cool highland 1,100 meters above sea level. Little seems to have changed since Kipling’s day. 60 kilometers north-east of Mandalay, this well-kept resort of beautiful Tudor architecture, nostalgic stagecoaches, happy market place and the fresh and lush bloom of colorful flowers, is worth a visit, Seeing is believing. Visit the spacious and verdant 142 hectares Botanical Garden with its cherry blossom in December and January, and do not miss the nearby Pwekauk Waterfalls, the recently opened limestone grotto and an underground stream known as Peik-Chin Myaung.
Inle is a vast lake located in the heart of Shan State which shares borders with Thai & Laos. And it climbs up to over 900 metres above sea level and outrageously beautiful. Inle Lake is located in the mountains so it is cooler than other areas. More than 30 hill tribes are living in the mountains
Phaungdawoo Pagoda is an amazing floating pagoda in the Inle Lake. The Phaungdawoo Pagoda festival, the boat racing competition are great experiences at such time to visit for tourist. The floating markets and the lifestyles of the Inthars are also a total different environment for visitors.
It is famous for its natural and unspotted beauty up to this day. The beach stretches about 3 km with soft white sand fringed by coconut palms. Ngapali Beach is one of the loveliest places in Myanmar.
Situated about 7 km away from Thandwe (Sandoway), one of the ancient Rakhine (formerly Arakan) towns. It is said to have been named after the Naple of Italy by a homesick Italian. It is famous for its natural and unspotted beauty up to this day. The beach stretches about 3 km with soft white sand fringed by coconut palms. It serves as the best ground for sunbathing and recreation such as beach strolling, cycling and so on. Unlike today’s beaches of Asia, it is free of noisy beachside bars, crowded people and hawkers persuading you to buy their things. There are only natural scenic beauty of the blue sea, white sand and the lovely sun. The sea is cobalt blue, without any dangerous marine animals and clean.
The water here is transparent and the sea is tranquil. Bicylce tours are arranged to visit the nearby villages. The villagers usually sun dry their fish, shrimp and coconut. These products are transported to Yangon and and over the country. The best time to visit this beach during October and May of every year.
Ngwe Saung Beach
Ngwe Saung Beach Resort, opened in the year 2,000, is one of the loveliest and most pleasant beach resorts in Myanmar. Located in the Ayeyarwady Division, some 48 kilometres from the town of Pathein, Ngwe Saung, with a beach frontage on the Bay of Bengal with its clear blue waters, its white crested waves, sandy beaches and unspoiled and pollution-free natural surroundings, is indeed one of the best places to select for a holiday interlude of rest and relaxation.
Credit: Information by Myanmar Tourism Marketing
Photo credit by Myanmar Travel Information