Quick! The longer you leave it the more it will change. And right now, Burma (or more correctly, now known as Myanmar) is an absolute must-see destination, an overflowing treasure trove of natural beauty, culture and history.
On a Myanmar holiday with Yonder, you’ll discover a land of rich diversity. There is enough history and culture to keep you enthralled for years. In the cities, there is a wealthy urban elite but everywhere else in this essentially rural nation, you will encounter stoic peasants tilling the fields. There are high mountains and plateaus with rolling pastures and densely forested hillsides. There are fertile lowlands producing vegetables and fruits in abundance. There are mighty rivers and dry arid plains.
The cities and forests are peppered with gilded pagodas.
And on a holiday in Burma with Yonder you’ll find picture-perfect beaches and archipelago islands that even some of the most dedicated travellers don’t know exist.
As Rudyard Kipling wrote in his Letters From The East at the height of British colonialism: ‘This is Burma and it will be quite unlike any land you know about.’
On our Myanmar Burma travels, we’ve climbed the narrow staircases of the temples of Bagan to catch the sun as it sets over the ancient spires and the mighty Irrawaddy river beyond. We’ve trekked in the cool mountains above magical Inle Lake where the Intha people dwell in stilt houses, and we’ve embraced the pleasures of the simple life, staying overnight in remote but hospitable monasteries amid majestic scenery.
Yonder’s luxury hotels in Myanmar
We’ve been pioneers (or very willing guinea pigs depending on how you look at it) for some exceptional new hotels in Myanmar. . Whilst the more superlative extremes of Western hotel luxury are in short supply for Myanmar holidays, unique experiences are offered in abundance. If you want to explore the emerging Myanmar boutique hotel scene, we have journeyed far and wide on our Burma travels to find worthy candidates. And it’s these Myanmar hotel adventures make Burma holidays true Yonder territory.
There is still a sense of the old Orient about a Myanmar tour. Mobile phones remain a novelty in some corners and few people own cars. Rickshaws are still an everyday form of transport and many of the 100 different ethnic peoples continue to wear their traditional dress (and not just for tourists).
In 2015 Myanmar voted in its first democratically elected government in over half a century. ‘The Lady’, Aung San Suu Kyi, has achieved saint-like status. Sanctions have been dropped and the world is eager to do business here. Large areas of the country once off-limits can now be freely visited.
Exiles are returning. Energy, hope and expectation hang in the air.
On your Burma holiday with Yonder, Prepare yourselves for dazzling gold pagodas, floating villages, cave temples, the world’s biggest book, saffron robed monks and pristine white sandy beaches lined with swaying palms that would shame the most clichéd travel brochure. A Myanmar holiday is one hot ticket.
So many great options over Yonder!
Whether you are looking for the perfect hotel stay or to create an exciting itinerary tailored just for you, every last detail of your trip with Yonder is carefully crafted, including hand-picked hotels that we adore ourselves
Newly-built Bagan Lodge is probably the leading light of the Bagan hotel scene. One of the lovely things about the hotel is that the concept is for it to blend in with the surrounding countryside. The rooms all have canvas roofs and the buildings are painted in a muted brown.
The Aureum Palace is really the only hotel in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar. As we’ve remarked elsewhere, all hotels within this Burmese-owned chain are idiosyncratic in style. But at least you know what you are going to get: generally reliable service, clean rooms and broadly decent food.
You’ll arrive at the Aureum Palace Inle to water features, statues, huge columns and a heavily teak-lined open reception. From here, the hotel cascades down towards the lake shore, occupying as it does a lovely lake-front setting with a huge pool overlooking the water.
Inle Princess welcomes guests back time and time again. Renowned for its excellent staff, quality food and its beautiful location, it is one of the best on Inle Lake. Its location, with its own private canal entrance, is simply magical. It’s an enclave of tranquillity.
If you only do three things in Burma…
Visit the Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon. Dazzling with gold, it is the ultimate symbol of Myanmar and a mandatory stop on any itinerary.
Explore the ancient royal city of Mandalay. There’s more history here than you can possibly consume.
Leave Indiana Jones in the shade by exploring the temples complex of Bagan, ideally by hot-air balloon. It is mind-bogglingly spectacular.
So much to explore in Burma
In each of Yonder’s main destinations, we have selected a range of highlights you might like to include in your personalised Yonder trip.
Whether they are fabled regions, resorts or cities, single destinations or entire itineraries, these are the Yonder ingredients we know will help you begin to piece together the ideal trip…
Where to go in Burma
Rangoon – now Yangon – lingers long in your thoughts, evocative for all the right reasons. From the beauty of some of southeast Asia’s most impressive colonial architecture to the frenzy of street corner cafes, there is an overwhelming sense of old-world Asia here.
- Stare in awe at the Shwedagon Pagoda, unquestionably Yangon’s number one place to visit.
- Drive around Yangon’s centre and absorb the beautiful colonial architecture.
- Stroll round Inya Lake. Not only are the best addresses in town here (you might even catch a glimpse of ‘The Lady’).
As seasoned travellers, we have seen many wondrous sights. But even for us, every now and then, we come across a destination that makes us gasp out loud. You know, those rare moments when only the word ‘Wow’ seems adequate. Bagan is one of those places.
- At sunset, head to Shwesandaw pagoda for westerly views over the archaeological zone
- One of the most rewarding ways of experiencing Bagan is by bike.
- The classic: hot air ballooning over Bagan. It counts amongst the most spectacular experiences we have had… ever!
Arrive at the vast tranquility of Inle Lake and it feels as if you have been transported to a world altogether more serene. Here, surrounded by marshes and floating gardens, villages built on stilts and Buddhist temples rise from the water, while the local fishermen propel their boats using a unique one-legged rowing technique. It’s bizarre but true.
- Inle is famous for its ancient weaving crafts, using the silks of the lotus flower.
- Take a boat up the narrow winding creek towards Indein village.
- Spend time just pootling around the lake and its many fascinating villages.
Mandalay. It is one of those few names that alone evoke the charms of a lost past. Kipling immortalised it in a poem many still know by heart. Sinatra sang about it on Come Fly With Me. Kay Francis starred in a gloriously ill-acted 1934 black and white movie named after it.
- Visit the morning market on the outskirts of town which run over a train track. Guess what happens when the train comes…
- March up (or drive depending on your energy levels) Mandalay Hill.
- A rickshaw has to be the ultimate symbol of Mandalay. We love them and the conversations with the “Kings” are fascinating.
Is this the ultimate experience in Burma? A magical Myanmar river cruise of a few days down the mighty and fabled Irrawaddy River, charting a course between magical Mandalay and mysterious Bagan is one of life’s greatest journeys.
- Lie back on deck and snap away at the amazing scenes unfolding in an endlessly fascinating procession.
- Get out on the shore excursions and walk amongst the villages, golden stupas and smiling locals.
- Eat, eat, eat! The food onboard is amongst the best we have eaten in Myanmar.
It seems there is a tendency for visitors to Myanmar to overlook Ngapali Beach. We are baffled. What is there not to like about a long, wide, fine sandy beach, with gently lapping warm turquoise waters and superb seafood?
- Walk to the southern end of the beach to see the fishing boats dock and thousands of fish being laid out to dry in the sun.
- If you’d like a traditional Burmese foot massage, of the robust variety, then try it on the beach.
- Ngapali tiger prawns are famous for being large and succulent.
A former hill station, set high in the cool, rolling countryside, Kalaw is a precious gem, but of the unpolished variety. Quite unlike anywhere else, a holiday in Kalaw is charmingly authentic and unsophisticated.
- Hunt down Aung Chan Tha Zedi, the dazzling mirrored pagoda in the centre of Kalaw.
- Enter the natural cave called Shwe Oo Min Paya just outside town.
- Go to the wholesale vegetable warehouses to see the colours, smells and energy of this ancient trade.
Imagine you are in a period drama set in the days of the empire. Pyin Oo Lwin (or in those days known as Maymyo – literally, May Town – after Colonel May of the 5th Bengal infantry) is the kind of place you would want to hang out. Pyin Oo Lwin is cool (in both senses of the word), its refined and it is beautiful.
- Take a selfie at the waterfalls around the Peik Chin Myaung caves.
- Hunt for the giant (and we mean giant) bamboo in the botanical gardens.
- The Gokteik viaduct is as amazing today as it was when it was first built. Don’t pass up on a chance to trundle across.
An itinerary designed just for you!
Here at Yonder we have devised some exciting itineraries that will illustrate just what amazing journeys you could enjoy through Yonder’s exciting far-away destinations.
Of course every one of Yonder’s clients is a unique individual and we only create personalised itineraries that reflect those personal desires and wishes. So your Yonder journey will be as individual as you are. But to help you envisage just what amazing adventures might be possible, we have devised sample itineraries that we are confident will inspire you. You only have to pick up the phone to explore how any one of these ideas might be adapted to create your own perfect journey Yonder.