Myanmar is often referred to as the eversmiling country. With locals who are considered as one of the friendliest in the world, the country has been in the shade of neighbour Thailand for a long time but the raising number of visitors has shown that Myanmar is hot on the Southeast Asia travel trail right now. Most of them stay on the Golden triangle, a travel itinerary highly popular amongst travelers. Here are a few experiences not to be missed during your visit.
Making a three day hike from Kalaw to Inle Lake
When you visit Kalaw in the mountainous area of Myanmar, you’ll find plenty of trekking organizations who are willing (for a 40$ fee offcourse) to take you along the agricultural life of Burmese people. An impressive view on the rice fields, a one or two night stay in a tribe village is often regarded as the highlight of a Myanmar trip.
Traveling with a rattling old train
There are plenty of options to travel across Myanmar. Private or shared taxis and (VIP) buses are the most popular ones since you’ll travel fast and quite cheap to your next destination. However, if you want to have a truly unique (and yes, horrifying) experience you should take the train at least once during your stay. Costing no more than a few 1000 kyats (1-5$), it’s by far the cheapest and slowest way of traveling in the country. Don’t lett the term ‘upperclass ticket’ fool you. You’ll have one bumpy ride.
Exploring the incredible complex of Bagan with an e-bike
With over 2000 pagodas and temples, Bagan is an immense complex to explore. By foot impossible, by road a bit boring… There are two great ways to soak in the expanse of the temple complex. An expensive balloon flight or … exploring by e-bike. This latter is by far the cheapest option. You can rent bicycles at 1$/day and e-bikes (recommended) at 6$/day.
Climbing to the top of one the pagodas to see the sunset or sunrise above Bagan
For travelers that a balloon flight is too expensive there is great alternative. Some of the biggest temples of Bagan are accessible to climb. Wake up at 5am and hurry up to see the sunrise from the top of one of the pagodas. The sight of a dozen balloons is a free extra.
Treat yourself with a cruise on the Irrawaddy river
We got bored quite quickly of taking the buses to reach our destination. Therefore we opted to take a boat cruise from Mandalay to Bagan on the Irrawaddy river. A slow but scenic journey.
Travel from Bagan to Inle Lake with a shared bus and discover the real Myanmar
Buses and taxis are the main type of transportation in Myanmar. They are the best way to travel cheap and fast. However we didn’t like spending hours in a VIP touring bus so decided to share a bus with locals when traveling to Kalaw. No doubt we will have ‘lost’ a few hours but traveling the same way as locals is an experience in itself.
Spend a night in one of the tribe villages
As big fans of Airbnb we were a bit disappointed that in Myanmar it wasn’t possible to book a room with locals. The exception was during our three day trek to Inle lake where we spent the night in the house of local people. Sleeping on a wooden floor knowing that there are water buffalos underneath is a real adventure.
Fish like the Intha fishermen on Inle Lake
No worries if you never heard about this one. The fishermen on Inle Lake are a tourist attraction and being subject of the picture taken by tourists is often as far as you can go. However, we were lucky enough to stumble upon a local tour organizer who had just created a new ‘fishing trip’. We were the first ever to try this tour (it was obvious since nor the fishermen, nor our boat owner knew what to do) and after some gestures we were able to convince them to learn us how to fish the tradional way.