Now is a wonderful time visit Myanmar, or at least start planning your visit for this year. Tourism to Myanmar continues to grow as word about its beauty gets out, however, it is still unspoiled and authentic. To help you decide where to go on your dream trip to Myanmar this year, we’ve put together a list of our picks for the top Myanmar destinations for 2020.
From pristine islands to bustling cultural hotspots, here are ten destinations in Myanmar that we think should be on your list for 2020.
Beautiful and sleepy Loikaw may not be one of the most well-known places in Myanmar, but it is one of the most fascinating. The capital of the Kayah State is definitely an unmissable destination in Myanmar in 2020, thanks to its stunning natural beauty and rich customs and culture. Loikaw is nestled within beautiful natural scenery, including dramatic hills topped with beautiful pagodas.
Also, around Loikaw are many traditional villages of the Kayan and Kayaw people. It is amazing to learn about the history and culture of these groups. Through community-based tourism, where local people welcome visitors to learn about their culture in a respectful and friendly environment, visitors can learn about the beliefs, customs, and legends of these groups and see traditional crafts such as bracelet making and weaving. Loikaw definitely offers an amazing opportunity to learn about the diversity of beliefs and customs in Myanmar.
Many people pass through Kalaw to visit Inle Lake, but fewer stop and stay in the town. However, we predict that in 2020, visitors will discover that It’s well worth spending some time to enjoy its charms! Located about 50 kilometers from the famous Inle Lake, Kalaw is a beautiful town with many old colonial buildings from the British era. The rice fields that surround it are also very beautiful, and the climate is a little cooler than some other parts of Myanmar. This makes Kalaw an ideal place to enjoy trekking. Kalaw to Inle Lake is a common path, however, there are also other trails around Kalaw.
Life in Kalaw is peaceful and calm, but there are still quite a lot of things to do. There’s a bustling market where you can buy some local goods including honey, tropical fruit, and even Myanmar wine! There are also many stunning temples and pagodas in and around Kalaw, including Thein Taung Monastery, that offers beautiful views, and the Shwe Oo Min Phaya Temple Cave. There’s also an ethical elephant sanctuary which is well worth a visit.
Bustling Mandalay is an increasingly popular hotspot in Myanmar, and a definite “must see” in 2020. The city dates back from the mid-nineteenth century and has many beautiful colonial buildings that look frozen in time. Compared to some of the sleepy places in Myanmar, Mandalay – the country’s second largest city – has a buzzing, cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Walking or biking around the city is a true delight, and there are many great restaurants, markets, and shops to catch your eye and invite you in. Of course, Mandalay also has plenty of cultures as well, including magical pagodas and the incredible Grand Palace. A little further afar, the three ancient cities of Sagaing, Innwa, and Amarapura, as well as Mingun, famous for its large and incomplete huge pagoda complex, world’s third largest, Mingun bell and Myatheintan pagoda.
#7: Inle Lake
In today’s busy and built-up world, there aren’t that many places to go and just immerse yourself in a slow, peaceful way of living. Inle Lake, however, is one of those places, and that is what makes it so appealing in 2020. The lake is over 20 kilometers long (13.5 miles), and there are many picturesque traditional villages to either side. It’s also fascinating to watch the fishermen, many of whom use fishing methods and rowing techniques that have been handed down for generations.
Boats, rather than cars or motorbikes, are the most common mode of transport here. In fact, nearly everything seems to be built up around the lake – simply pull up on the banks at one of the tasty and humble restaurants, and keep your eye out for the pagodas and stupas that flank Myanmar’s second largest lake. The word about the lake is spreading and it is an increasingly popular destination, so we recommend visiting in 2020 before the huge crowds arrive.
History lovers will undoubtedly rank fascinating Bagan as one of the must-visit destinations in Myanmar for 2020. The ancient city lies on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, and is, in many ways, a living, breathing museum. In fact, many people say that the city of Bagan rivals places such as Machu Picchu (Peru), Angkor Wat (Cambodia) or Petra (Jordan) in terms of historical significance and sheer beauty.
Within the Bagan Archaeological Site, there are more than 2,000 important Buddhist temples and pagodas, most of which are relics from the 11th to 13th centuries. Between this time, it was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, and at its peak, there were more than 10,000 Buddhist temples and pagodas built around the city. Exploring the sites on foot, or from above in a hot air balloon, is truly incredible.
#5: Mainmahla Island
Located in the south, Mainmahla Island is a hidden gem that is a little bit off the usual tourist path – but it might not be for long! It’s a dream destination for nature lovers, thanks to its many opportunities to spot rare and unique wildlife. Culture is also alive and well on Mainmahla Island, with many fishing villages and traditional customs, such as the “U Shin Gyee” spirit shrine, on the island.
Mainmahla island is home to Myanmar’s largest mangrove forest, which is an ecosystem that supports all kind of interesting animals including dozens of bird species and even crocodiles. There are also many sea turtles, with a hatchery on the island to help build the numbers of hatchlings. Perhaps the most popular and rare animal of all is the Ayeyarwady (or Irrawaddy) dolphin, a beautiful flat-nosed dolphin that can only be found in a few countries worldwide.
It’s probably the most well-known place in Myanmar, and it’s likely to continue to be one of the top Myanmar destinations for 2020. While it’s no longer the capital of Myanmar, Yangon is the largest city and the place where most visitors arrive. It’s also a beautiful and bustling city that is famous for its many intricately decorated pagodas, leading to its nickname of The Land of the Glittering Pagodas.
You cannot miss the Botahtaung Pagoda, with its Buddha hair, or the stunningly beautiful Grand Shwedagon Pagoda, which is especially beautiful at sunrise, sunset and at night. Yangon also has many beautiful parks, as well as delectable cafes and restaurants where you can try traditional dishes and treats. Across the river bank lies beautiful Dala with its stunning colonial buildings. Dala is best explored by trishaw or on a relaxing boat tour, adding an extra delight to your stay in Yangon.
Pindaya is a small town with a big reputation – and it is definitely one of the places to visit in Myanmar in 2020. Set within the Shan State, Pindaya is most well-known for its beautiful limestone caves. The famous caves, which are about a pleasant 45-minute walk from the center of Pindaya, are not just naturally beautiful, but also house more than 6,000 Buddha statues and relics, making them a fascinating place to visit.
As well as the caves, Pindaya is also famous for making beautiful traditional umbrellas. It is really interesting to go and see how these umbrellas are made, and perhaps purchase one as a souvenir of your time in Myanmar. The area around Pindaya is also excellent for trekking, and it’s even possible to trek between Pindaya and Kalaw, another of our top picks for places to visit in 2020.
Everybody likes to find their own little slice of paradise, far away from the tourist hordes and where you can relax and recharge. One of those places is beautiful beachside Dawei , which (at least for now) is a totally unspoiled gem in southern Myanmar. Located in the Tanintharyi Region, there are many gorgeous beaches that are almost entirely undeveloped.
Spending a few days or more relaxing as well as enjoying the swimming, snorkeling and kayaking is absolutely delightful. If you do get restless, there are many day trips to equally beautiful islands, as well as attractions such as cashew nut factories and wood carving factories. Don’t forget to try some delicious fresh seafood while you are near the coast!
#1: Wa Ale Island/Mergui Archipelago
A true hidden gem in Myanmar, the Mergui Archipelago has hundreds of islands dotted around the crystal-clear waters, offering incredible sandy beaches and snorkeling over the coral reefs. In late 2018, a brand-new resort opened on the stunning Wa Ale Island, and Pro Niti travel was chosen as a partner with the resort . Those guests who stay on this island will get an amazing opportunity to experience the traditional culture as well as spot the marine life that lives on and around the island.
As well as simply lying on the beach, you can enjoy water sports including snorkeling, kayaking, and paddle-boarding. Guests can also learn more about the indigenous Moken people of the area, and visit more remote islands to find out about their way of life. We are so excited to be welcoming guests to the stunning Wa Ale Island in the Mergui Archipelago, and predict that it will be one of the top destinations in Myanmar for 2020.