Beyond the classics: 9 Enchanting Discoveries to take you deep into Myanmar’s hidden corners
One of South East Asia’s largest and most diverse countries, Myanmar stretches from the sparkling islands of the Andaman Sea in the south right up into the Eastern Himalayan mountain range. Population of over 50 million with more than 130 different ethnic groups, Myanmar has a wealth of different cultures.
Myanmar’s diversity of attractions is promising to sustain tourism interest and keep visitors to explore beyond the “classic four” of Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake. Now discover the 9 Enchanting Discoveries beyond the 4 classic destinations for European travelers here –
Kyaing Tong: Isolated from the rest of Myanmar in the heart of the infamous Golden Triangle in the far east of Shan State, Kyaing Tong is well-known for its scenic beauty and many colorful ethnic minority groups. This sleepy town has had an interesting past and has played host to Chinese traders, British officials in the late 19th century, pilgrims and missionaries.
Loikaw: Loikaw is the capital of Kayah State. Travel to this part of Myanmar and you will discover beautiful Kayah hill scenery and a large number of distinctive tribal cultures, the most internationally famous of which are the Kayan, whose ‘long-necked’ womenfolk have a tradition of sporting coils around their necks. Community Based Tourism (CBT) in Kayah State has been gaining momentum with the active participation of local residents. The project was funded by the Netherland Government with the arrangement of International Trade Center (ITC).
Mergui Archipelago: Located in far southern Myanmar and is part of the Tanintharyi Region. It consists of more than 800 islands. The archipelago offers great opportunities for exploration and diving amongst spectacular marine life and untouched coral reefs. The Moken people, also known as the Salone or sea gypsies, are one of the most distinct of Myanmar’s many ethnic groups, still live a largely nomadic life passing between the 800 islands of the Mergui Archipelago. Mergui Archipelago can be accessible from Thailand through Kawthaung/Ranong land crossing.
Mogok: Known as the Valley of Rubies, Mogok is located 200 kilometers north of Mandalay. Mogok and other villages nearby have been famous since ancient times for its gemstones, especially ruby and sapphire and other semi-precious stones. Beside Ruby mine and local gem markets – visitors to Mogok can explore ethnic groups dwelling around area such as Lishu, Li-Shaw, Palaung and to see their ways of life.
Mt. Victoria: Mount Victoria (Nat Ma Taung in Burmese, Khau Nu Som in Chin) standing at 3,053 meters (10,016 feet) above sea level, is the tallest peak in mountainous Chin State and the third highest in Myanmar overall. It is home to a variety of rare and beautiful flora and fauna and ethnic tribes known for their tattoo-faced womenfolk. Nearby famous towns are Kanpelet and Mindat and two gateways to climb the Mt. Victoria. Mt. Victoria is easily accessible from Bagan within 4 hours beautiful mountain drive.
Mrauk U: The ancient city of the Rakhine Kingdom (15th Century) is known for its old temples with paintings showing Indian cultural influence. Mrauk-U offers a number of important archaeological sites and several temples of unique design. From the 15th to 18th centuries, Mrauk U was frequently visited by foreign traders (including Portuguese and Dutch), and this is reflected in the splendor and scope of the structures dotted around its vicinity.
Putao: Situated in the far north of Myanmar, and only accessible by air, Putao is a small and picturesque town in the Himalayan foothills, with a mostly ethnic Kachin and Lisu population.
The city surrounded with snow peaked mountains and the weather is cold around the year. Flora and Fauna can be seen in the forest around Putao. It is the nearest town to the base camp for climbing Mt. Khakhaborazi (5889 metres), which is the highest mountain in Myanmar and in Southeast Asia.
Hpa An: Charming, small town in Kayin State with a population of around 40,000. Its location on the banks of the Thanlwin River, and the dramatic landscapes that surround the town, make it an increasingly popular venue with those wishing to see a different side of Myanmar – away from the traditional tourist routes. Using Hpa-an as a base you can head further afield to see various stunning limestone caves around the area. Walking, cycling and climbing are all common pursuits in these parts and for the adventurous a climb up spectacular Mount Zwekabin makes for a fun morning or afternoon.
Hsipaw: Hsipaw (pronounced ‘See-Po’) is a small town in the Shan state of Eastern Myanmar that has been gaining recognition as a must-see destination for intrepid travelers. A charming and laid-back town is surrounded by mountainous landscapes and has become the gateway for those wishing to explore the hills to visit or trek around ethnic minority villages and see how life outside of the cities still operates. The train ride from Mandalay to Hsipaw promises gorgeous views and perhaps the most exciting ride out of all railway expeditions in Myanmar.
“These Enchanting Discoveries have existed for many years within the easy access of major tourist destinations. Now they are being promoted as the new destinations as more tourism facilities such as hotels/restaurants and infrastructure and accessibility are much improving. Tour operators can expand their itineraries and it will create more jobs for local people in those regions,” said May Myat Mon Win, Myanmar Tourism Marketing’s (MTM) chairperson.
As the last frontier of Southeast Asia, the country wants to show the best of what it has to offer: beautiful beaches, ancient capitals, golden temples, majestic mountains, food and culture. Myanmar has something for every eye and every heart. The generosity of the land and its people will ensure that you are made to feel welcome, not as a tourist but as a guest.
Visit Myanmar and be Enchanted.