Burma travel guide, including map of Burma, top Burma travel experiences, tips for travel in Burma, plus where to see the most jaw-dropping temples of Bagan
Burma is truly an extraordinary country – its people, its landscapes and its culture are all unique. Travellers who visit Burma are welcomed by gentle, smiling people and some of the world’s most impressive monuments.
Yangon (Rangoon) is Burma’s main city. This is where you'll find the grand colonial buildings of the colonial age, charmingly neglected in a part of Asia that hasn't joined the rush to modernise. The people look instead to the Shwedagon Paya, the ‘Golden Pagoda’, a huge hill-top temple at the heart of the city that's always thronged with devotees.
Mandalay, upcountry in Burma's north, is a low-rise, slow-moving outpost where bicycles set the pace and every hill is topped with a pagoda: it feels more town than city. This is the launching point for visits to ancient temples and the cool hill station of Pyin U Lwin, where stagecoaches trundle around town.
Bagan is Burma’s Angkor, the site of hundreds of Buddhist temples scattered across a vast plain, all that remain of a long-vanished ancient capital where the wooden houses have long since disappeared and only the stone-built holy monuments remain.
Inle Lake in central Burma is the perfect place to explore the rural side of the country, with boat rides to lively markets and floating villages and hikes to tribal settlements. For some relaxation on the coast, the southern destinations - they can't really be called resorts - of Ngapali and Ngwe Saung offer sweeping beaches.
Burma’s recent past has been tragically overshadowed by long-term repression and isolation created by the military junta who ruled for so long. Aung San Suu Kyi and her political party had called for a tourism boycott. However, things are beginning to change: elections were held in 2010, and there is now a civilian government in place. Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, and both she and the NLD have now sanctioned "responsible" travel to Burma.There is still a long way to go before the country is truly democratic, but things are definitely changing.
Carry plenty of low denomination US dollar bills as well as kyat for smaller outlays. To avoid your money reaching the military – at least, as much as possible – steer clear of large businesses and transport companies. Don't tempt local guides/drivers/boatmen to disobey government travel restrictions: they'll be left to face the consequences long after you've flown home.
Winter (November-February) is the dry season, when temperatures and rainfall are lowest; it’s also the prime tourist season. March-May is the most oppressively hot period, followed by the monsoon (late May or June to September or October).
Festivals, many connected with Buddhist traditions and timed according to the lunar calendar, are generously scattered throughout the year and across Burma. Thingyan, the Water Festival (mid April), is the Burmese New Year, a three-day event involving much throwing of water.
Yangon International Airport (RGN) is 15km north of the city. Mandalay Airport (MDL) is 45km south of the city.
Domestic airlines serve Burma’s main tourist centres (Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Heho for Inle Lake). Relatively comfortable buses serve the main destinations, though road conditions are variable – potholes are common – and journey times can be long. Hiring a car and driver is a popular alternative, particularly for exploring countryside around cities or delving off the beaten track. Most railway services are operated by the government, though a few private services run; the most popular route is between Yangon and Mandalay. Ferries and boats ply the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) and Chindwin Rivers.
In Burma’s main tourist destinations, accommodation options range from budget guesthouses to upmarket hotels. Off the beaten track, options for luxury stays are more limited, though a few colonial heritage hotels are dotted around.
Burma’s cuisine shares influences with India, Thailand, China and Malaysia, but is truly distinctive. Fish, tamarind, chilli and dried shrimp are key ingredients; a typical breakfast dish is mohinga, a spicy fish noodle soup, and curries are common mainstays. Muslim Chinese restaurants are frequently found. Strawberries are superb around Pyin U Lwin, while Inle Lake is known for avocados. Myanmar Beer is a tasty brew - though their idea of 'draught' means served from a jerrycan. Sweet milk tea and Chinese tea are the most common drinks.
Burma is a very safe destination. Consult your GP or travel clinic for the latest advice on vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis. Avoid mosquito bites, especially during the day: dengue fever is a problem. Don’t drink untreated tap water.
After poring over thousands of entries to this year's Photo of the Year competition, the judges have finally come to a decision. And the results are outstanding. See the winning photographs here.. More
Ahead of the Wanderlust Photo of the Year 2018 results on Friday 1 February, we give you a sneak preview of this year's top ten images from the People category... More
Ahead of the Wanderlust Photo of the Year 2018 results on Friday 1 February, we give you a sneak peek at this year's top ten in the Travel Icons category... More
Immense in both scale and beauty, these paeans to the Buddhist faith make quite the impression, whether you’re a believer or not More
Whether it's the colours, the clouds, or the iconic foreground, these sunsets are guaranteed to stir your soul and raise your spirits – especially if you've got an ice-cold drink to hand... More
Forget taking a taxi or bus from the airport to your hotel - how passé! The adventure starts the minute you touch down with these crazy transfers... More
From epic desert landscapes to intimate wildlife encounters, these trips are tailormade to capture the romance of adventure travel and provide plenty of memorable romantic moments More
Whether you crave snow-dusted cathedrals and steaming roast chestnuts, or Christmas beach barbecues and steamy jazz festivals – head to these cities in November, December and January More
From looking for 'stories' and respecting your subjects to going that extra mile for a special shot, Graeme Green reveals the 'tricks of the trade' that set great travel photographers apart More
While Kenya and Ecuador's Galapagos get the kudos, these lesser known wildlife hotspots, chosen by bloggers including Claudia Tavani and Nomadic Boys, also deserve attention for whales, tigers and more... More
A great guide has the ability to bring a place to life and form a deep connection between traveller and country. Here are 8 spectacular trips with the top guides of the World Guide Awards 2017. More
Beauty is everywhere, regardless of money, age, race or social status, says photographer Mihaela Noroc, with her incredible portraits of women from Iceland, North Korea, Ethiopia and beyond… More
We all want authentic interactions and a local’s grasp of the cultures we encounter when travelling. Wendy Wu Tours’ new collection of trips do just that, helping you experience the real Asia… More
Make this Christmas one your kids will never forget by booking an exciting, exotic family holidays across the globe. If you're thinking of spending the festive season abroad, now is the time book More
River cruises can give you a fresh perspective on familiar places and help ford hard-to-reach destinations. Here are 12 trips that will definitely float your boat, from India to Canada… More
Meet tattooed tribes and seafaring gypsies, wander through little-visited pagodas and cycle through timeless rural landscapes on these adventures through Burma’s remote and little-visited regions. More
From snapping tigers to taking underwater shots of humpback whales, these photographic trips team you up with professional photographers to help you capture your epic adventures More
British photographer Charlie Waite has travelled the world, photographing unique and colourful landscapes. Here are his picks of the world’s greatest places for landscape photography, including Italy, Burm More
Leading landscape photographer Charlie Waite is famous for bringing a colourful 'painterly' style to pictures, from Scotland to Myanmar to Italy. Here are 22 of his most memorable landscape shots... More
South-East Asia packs in fuming mountains, iconic temples, electric cities and beautiful beaches. From Bali to Bangkok, here's how to get the most out of this diverse and wonderful region More
Wanderlust subscribers now receive a free £50 voucher valid on trips from a great selection of top tour operators
And the best bit is, this isn't a one-off offer, you get one every time you renew as well!
The £50 discount can be redeemed against one trip booking with one of our tour operator partners, by the expiry date printed on the voucher. The £50 can even be redeemed on top of any discounts our partners are already offering, ensuring Wanderlust subscribers get the best deal possible.
Simply quote your unique voucher code when booking to claim the discount. This offer is only available to Wanderlust subscribers.
UK subscribers automatically receive the voucher each year. Overseas subscribers receive it upon request.
Departing from Khao Lak, discover Burma on an Intrepid sailing adventure and dive into an aquatic playground that is truly one of the world’s best-kept secrets. While the backpackers, honeymooners ...
Send your kids back to school with stories of Elephant bath times, Buddhist monasteries and crystal clear waters after this 13 night fully tailored trip filled with adventure, culture and relaxation.
As Myanmar (Burma), undoubtedly one of THE destinations to visit at the moment, opens up to an ever increasing number of visitors, the challenge for us here at WF is to continue to develop tours wh...
The perfect introduction to this beautiful country, explore colonial Yangon, Mandalays ancient palaces, sacred Mt Popa, and the breathtaking pagoda-strewn plains of Bagan.
Head off the tourist trail (and seemingly off the map) as you dive headfirst into a Myanmar sailing adventure through the remote Myeik Archipelago. Setting off from the hustle and bustle of Phuket,...
Share the same sense of wonder and awe felt by Kipling during this tailored journey exploring many of the remarkable destinations that provided the backdrop for his celebrated writing.
Explore Myanmar’s highlights in this exciting tour! You will embark on a journey through the breathtaking temples of Bagan and the winding rivers that surround Mandalay and Loikawand. In the easter...
Cox & Kings Travel
Explore a little-visited region of northern Burma (Myanmar), sailing from Mandalay to Katha, former home of George Orwell. Visit charming local towns, Buddhist monasteries and small pagodas. All th...
Sign up today for free and be the first to get notified of new articles, new competitions, new events and more!