In Myanmar, until recently known as Burma, we offer new ways to explore this captivating country. Take a local train around Yangon, fly by hot air balloon over the temples of Bagan, motor along the Irrawaddy River, sail the Mergui Archipelago, care for elephants in Kalaw or cycle through Mandalay.
Myanmar is a wonderfully diverse, fascinating and friendly country with intriguing culture and stunning scenery, yet tourism is still in its infancy in comparison to its neighbours. This does however mean that it is still playing catch up and, with a few notable exceptions, the hotels here are more akin to 3 or 4 star hotels elsewhere in the world.
The popularity of Myanmar is soaring, so now is the time to go. The ‘must sees’ include Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Kalaw and Lake Inle. You can choose between the beaches of Ngapali or fly on to Malaysia or Thailand for more luxurious beach resort options.
There are a number of sailing boats and cruises from which to explore the country in the Mergui Archipelago or on the Irrawaddy river. And even more unspoilt lands exist in the previously inaccessible parts of the Shan and Rakhine states where you can find the long-necked tribes and tattooed faces of the Chin tribes.
Wix Squared has some exceptional guides to get you under the skin of the country including:
- A lecturer in Gemology
- A French historian, resident in Myanmar for over 15 years
- A professional photographer in Yangon
- A qualified anthropologist & researcher on historic preservation initiatives
- A teacher of Buddhism
- A renowned author of guidebooks to many Asian countries, now resident in Yangon
- An environmentalist from Lake Inle
- A curator and researcher, who founded ‘Myanm/art’, based in Yangon
Itinerary Starting Price
From £2,500 per person, for 10 days including accommodation, private guiding, entrance fees and private transfers (not including flights).
Out of superstition, Burmese people will not have their hair cut on a Monday, Friday or their birthday.
Thingyan Water Festival & Burmese New Year (13th-17th April) is when the harvest has finished, the nation enjoys celebrating the start of the monsoon by soaking each other in water.
What to Eat
‘A thee ma, thayet; a thar ma, wet; a ywet ma, lahpet’, this traditional Burmese rhyme translates as ‘of all the fruit, mango’s the best; of all the meat, pork’s the best; and of all the leaves, lahpet’s the best’.
What to Read
‘Burmese Days’ by George Orwell. Memories of colonial life and corruption in Burma from the author’s days posted in rural Burma as a police officer.
What to buy
Myanmar lacquerware in the form of trays, bowls, plates and boxes. The technique is traditionally applied to products made from horsehair and bamboo.
The level of luxury in Myanmar is not as sophisticated as you will find in other Asian destinations. Of course we have our favourites, including Belmond Governor’s Residence and The Strand in Yangon, a handful of charming hotels on Lake Inle and Sandoway Resort on Ngapali beach. Wa Ale Island Resort in the Mergui offers a new level of barefoot luxury like no where else.
For the more adventurous there are plenty of traditional and authentic hotels throughout the country both in the cities and in more remote locations, such as the Karen and Mon States. We can also incorporate a homestay experience or local lodge into any itinerary to experience the ‘real’ Myanmar.
There are a number of vessels navigating parts of the Irrawaddy/Ayeyarwady River. The most common routing is between Bagan and Mandalay where some boats can cover the distance in just 2 days, whilst others take 4 days with more frequent stops. The Orcaella and Sanctuary Ananda have shallow drafts and hence a longer season as well as the ability to cruise the Upper Irrawaddy.
We work with a selection of sailing boats operating in the Mergui Archipelago which you can charter for as long as you wish. We will arrange a crew to satisfy your needs and help you discover deserted beaches, local Moken villages and untouched coral reefs. The best time of year for sailing through these waters is November-April.
Yangon, the former capital, is normally the first and last stop of an itinerary. The sacred Shwedagon Pagoda is incredible with its golden dome and the best time to visit is in the early mornings or at sunset when monks make their offerings. We can also arrange some interesting interactions with various curators, researchers, authors and historians in the city. Don’t miss high tea at the colonial Strand hotel and we will help you navigate the circular railway in Yangon for an authentic journey.
Relax and soak up the tranquil surroundings from the shores of Lake Inle or aboard a local boat, you can even try the local leg-rowing technique. Delve into the floating stalls of fruit and vegetables on market day or visit the Intha stilted villages and temples. We can also arrange some incredible treks in the surrounding Shan hills or spend the day with an environmentalist to gain an insight into the impact of tourism in the Shan state.
The beaches of Ngapali are still relatively untouched by tourism and are a lovely simple place to relax at the end of a holiday. However for those wishing to experience a world class hotel, we suggest flying to Thailand instead. Alternatively sail between the two countries on a luxury boat, through the azure waters of the Mergui Archipelago. Here you can try your hand at fishing and freediving, visiting Moken villages and remote islands or spotting various wildlife above and below the water.
A unique way to see parts of Myanmar is from a bird’s eye view. We offer hot air balloon rides over the humbling temples of Bagan and above the serenity of Lake Inle. The best time to do this is at sunrise between October-March when the weather is at its best and we can make it all the more special with a champagne breakfast waiting at your landing spot.
The roads in Myanmar are in a bad state, meaning that travelling from A-B is best done by plane or boat. There are a number of vessels navigating the Irrawaddy river between Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and further north to Bhamo and Chindwin. We can determine which boat is right for you based on the style, routing, schedule, depth of draft for the month in question and budget.
For adventurous travellers, it is incredibly easy to explore remote parts of Myanmar and we work with different methods of transportation to do so. From local trains to luxury boats, from cycling to ox carts and from hot air balloons to refurbished elephant coaches. And we will ensure you have a knowledgeable accompanying guide to lead you to these unspoilt parts of the country.
Yangon has direct flights to both Saigon and Hanoi where we have some unique art and street food tours to offer in these historical cities.
Connect these two countries by boat, sailing through the Mergui Archipelago or with a short flight between either Yangon or Mandalay and Bangkok or Chiang Mai.
There are direct flights between Yangon and Kuala Lumpur where you can enjoy a city break in the buzzing city or continue onto one of Malaysia’s relaxed beach resorts.
The Irrawaddy River not only links Bagan to Mandalay but continues north and south of these destinations meaning we can charter beautiful vessels from Yangon to Bhamo or even up the Chindwin River for a longer and more remote journey. This is the perfect way to enjoy this stunning country without having to experience long, uncomfortable road journeys or internal flights.
Likewise we also work closely with many sailing boats in the Mergui Archipelago and we can tailor the route of a chartered boat, depending on the interests of the group. In addition to the standard professional crew, Wix Squared can also equip the boat with a gourmet chef, dive instructor, spa therapist, crew and excellent guides.
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Myanmar is best visited October-April. Bagan and Mandalay are mostly dry until August.
The wet season is May-September when most of the beach hotels in Ngapali close.
Hot air ballooning is not possible April-September due to unpredictable thermals.
- This is a wonderful time to visit Myanmar when it tends to be dry throughout the country. Time your visit with the Ananda Temple festival in Bagan and sail above it by hot air balloon.
- February is the peak time to travel the entire country so we encourage you to book early to secure the best hotels, boats and guides.
- March is a wonderful time of year to visit Myanmar with warm sunny days. Coincide your trip with the Shwedagon Pagoda festival in Yangon and take a ride upon the circular railway in the city.
- Celebrations for the start of light rain are in the form of the Thingyan Water festival and with the Myanmar New Year shortly afterwards, the country is best avoided over these dates when many places of interest are closed.
- Temperatures are more pleasant and although there is a high chance of rain, there are less tourists in Myanmar and you can still visit the beaches of Ngapali.
- The driest parts of the country are in Bagan and Mandalay. For beach, it is best to head to a luxury retreat on Koh Samui as many of the Burmese beaches are closed for the summer.
- July is the wettest month of the year but Bagan stays relatively dry and the rest of the country is beautifully lush and green.
- The rains make travelling by road more difficult, so we suggest jumping aboard the Orcaella for 2 weeks to explore the Chindwin river which is often inaccessible during the rest of the year due to low water levels.
- The Orcaella cruises along the Irrawaddy to Bhamo in September through majestic gorges and tourist free temples which are inaccessible by road.
- The surrounding countryside is green and lush, perfect for good photographs whilst the balloons over Bagan and Inle begin operating again.
- Temperatures are still hot and this is one of the peak times to visit Myanmar. The Ngapali beach hotels are operational during these dry, sunny days and the Taunggyi Balloon festival is a fun event to partake in.
- December is a great month to travel the entire country with warm temperatures and we can even arrange for Father Christmas to pay you a visit if you wish.