5 lesser travelled places to visit in Myanmar
When it comes to choosing places to visit in Myanmar, almost every traveller will go for Yangon, Bagan, Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay. The good news is, Myanmar has untouched nooks and corners which doubles as a unexplored heaven for travellers craving to see the unseen and seek the unknown.
These places have been under the radar for a long time, but now you’ve heard of them!
A Hilly Capital
Hpa An is the capital of Kaying State in southeastern Myanmar. The town is a treasure trove of amazing places and adventurous options such as hiring a motorbike and driving through the scenic countryside, taking a boat ride on Thanlyin River and visiting caves located nearby. This beautiful riverside town is a mix of multi-coloured limestone karst mountains with caves, extensive lush green paddy fields and beautiful lakes. Other amazing experiences to have include a mix of temples to visit, which Kyaut Ka Latt Pagoda (Fun Fact: It’s pronounced as chocolate!) stands out. The pagoda appears to be suspended in air, as its perched atop a rock formation that protrudes the sky. You can also hike to Mount Zwekabin, the highest peak of this region. The hike up has rock stairways for convenience and you will be gifted with a great view of the entire landscape from the top.
Hpa An also has an amazing array of caves, most of which are Buddhist shrines. The notable ones among them are Saddan Cave, Kawt Ka Taung Cave and Bat Cave. Saddan Cave is one of the loveliest caves in Myanmar, carved in limestone karst. There is a beautiful statue of a sleeping Buddha inside the cave along with pretty gold stucco designs lining the walls. The town is dotted with foliage and statues of Buddha in different poses all around. You will also be able to catch some of the most amazing sunsets from different places in Hpa An.
A Centre of Gardens
Next, Pyin Oo Lwin is the hidden gem of central Myanmar. A quaint colonial hill, it is a station ideal to escape the tropical heat of Mandalay and gives you the feel of a small British town with its wooden summer cottages and timber houses. The town has old fashioned horse carriages painted in vivid red, purple, green and pink colours which takes you back to 19th century England. One of its allures is an extensive botanical garden called National Kandawgyi Gardens, which has an array of multi-coloured flowers of all kinds splashing different hues across the neatly-trimmed bushes. It was established in 1915 by a British forest officer Alex Roger and resembles London’s famous Kew Gardens, consisting of 514 species of indigenous trees, 74 foreign tree species, 25 different kinds of roses and 300 types of orchids.
There’s another fun thing to do here—you can take the train from Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw and enjoy one of the most spectacular train rides in the world. The train crosses the Gokteik Viaduct, a bridge which is a known engineering wonder of the world that was built in 1900. It rises up to 100 metres from the valley below and spans 689 metres. It has earned a mention from Paul Theroux’s travelogue “The Great Railway Bazaar,” naming it as “a monster of silver geometry in all the ragged rock and jungle, with a bizarre presence.”
The Sleepy Town
You can also relax in the quiet town of Loikaw, the capital of Kayah—a lesser visited and also smallest state of Myanmar. Loikaw is an idea to enjoy the beautiful hill scenery of the surrounding region as well as engage with the ethnic groups residing there. You will find the famous long-necked women here that don the coils around their neck proudly. Loikaw can be reached by flight from anywhere in the country and by road, taking half a day to reach from Mandalay or Yangon.
The most notable thing to visit in Loikaw is the Taung Kwe Pagoda which consists of several gold and white monuments located atop limestone protrusions. This is an Instagram worthy place which will give you an completely different experience from the other pagodas and temples of the country. The town also has a beautiful reclining Buddha statue worth a visit. A relaxed and laid back town, in Loikaw is where you enjoy a few days of serenity to take long walks and enjoy saturated sunsets to unwind and feel refreshed.
A Stretch of Beach
A beach resort located about 5-hours drive away from Yangon, Ngwe Saung has beautiful beaches that are less frequented by tourists. The extensive white sand beaches of this town are have not been explored and due to that is not crowded. Enjoy your time relaxing on the beach and take in the beautiful sunset overlooking the Bay of Bengal. You can take a boat and visit Lover’s Island located off the cost of Ngwe Saung.
The island boasts of a 15-kilometre long beach, ideal for taking a stroll during sunset with your partner by your side. During low tide, the water receeds to expose the magnificent ocean floor. There is a statue of a mermaid on the beach carved in fibreglass, a monument that has been popular for taking many pictures and selfies. There is also an elephant camp located on the way to Pathein, which you can give a visit to enjoy elephant rides and join elephant baths!
Lastly, Dawei is a beautiful town located in southern Myanmar that gives an experience of the tropical southern weather of Myanmar to visitors. The city exhibits the influences of Dutch, Portuguese and Thai traders as well as well-preserved British colonial buildings. Originally the primary town in south Myanmar during British reign, there are evidences of the rule still present in Dawei. Walking tours are available where a guide will take you around Dawei to explain the history of these buildings.
Coupled with long beautiful beaches on the Andaman Sea, Dawei is the perfect place to soak in the feeling of an authentic beach town of Myanmar. This town is also treated as a starting point for island and diving tours. If you are up for some adventure, consider diving into the water to see some of the most amazing marine lives available in the world.
The country is full of unknown wonders and unseen sights. So if you are looking for somewhere “untravelled”, you know where to go!