Balance’s Top 5 Picks: Myanmar’s Unlikely Destination

It has been a few years since Myanmar opened up to the world. Since then, hordes of tourists have been pouring into the Golden Land to get a glimpse of Buddha images, pagodas and its inhabitants. Aside from the common destinations, Balance has selected a few exotic and culturally-rich destinations in Myanmar that has yet to be explored.

Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and located in the northern most part of Kachin state by the Namlang river bank, Putao is a must for adventure seekers whether trekking in the mountains or rafting along Malikha or Namlang river. It is famous for its variety of orchids and birds that flourish in the surrounding mountains making it a favorite spot for eco-tourists wanting to explore its biodiversity.

Note: Foreigners need to apply for a permit to travel to this area, which could take about two weeks. This trip is not something you could impulsively go to as your long-weekend getaway. Advisable to let a local travel agency arrange your travel itinerary.

The dazzling islands in Andaman Sea off the coast of Southern Myanmar raises the bar because it’s not just another ordinary beach. Pretty much left to beautiful mother nature, these extraordinary islands make it appealing for beach lovers. Apart from soaking in the sky-blue water or walking along the white sandy beaches, the spectacular marine life thriving under the sea is perfect for diving and snorkeling. Looking for a little more adventure? Hike through the islands to explore its high level of biodiversity.

Note: A permit is required for foreigners to visit the archipelago. Again, it’s an easier option to buy a cruise package; travel permit being part of the package.

Regarded as the most densely populated by Buddhist temples, pagodas and stupas after Bagan, Mrauk U has a rich cultural history and is secluded from the spotlight of common tourist attractions, making it appealing for those seeking solitidue. The breathtakingly beautiful architectural structures that are scattered across northern Rakhine hilltops will awe, undoubtedly.

Not too far from a popular holiday destination, Pyin Oo Lwin, a picturesque town atop the hill, is well- known for its National Botanical Gardens. Dat Taw Gyaint is an ideal place for a drop-by trekking or biking to complete the Pyin Oo Lwin trip. If you are keen on having a laidback time, visit The View Restaurant at Dat Taw Gyaint Waterfall Resort on the way back from the scenic town to enjoy the panoramic view overlooking the three-layered Dat Taw Gyaint waterfall while sipping tea.Not too far from a popular holiday destination, Pyin Oo Lwin, a picturesque town atop the hill, is well- known for its National Botanical Gardens. Dat Taw Gyaint is an ideal place for a drop-by trekking or biking to complete the Pyin Oo Lwin trip. If you are keen on having a laidback time, visit The View Restaurant at Dat Taw Gyaint Waterfall Resort on the way back from the scenic town to enjoy the panoramic view overlooking the three-layered Dat Taw Gyaint waterfall while sipping tea.

Last, but surely not the least is the unique capital of Karen State, Hpa An for its magnificent landscape surrounded by limestone mountains and caves. This could easily be a destination for easygoing backpackers or an extended trip for tourists exploring Myanmar’s south such as Mawlamyine, Kyeik Hti Yoe, Dawei or Mergui. There is a cave called Sadan Cave that you can walk through to be greeted by a huge tunnel filled with pagodas and Buddha images. Other highlights are Kyauk Kalap famous for its unique pagoda resting atop the unusually formed rock in the middle of a man-made lake, and Mount Zwegabin where it’s blessed with thousands of Buddha images sitting on a green grassland. Hiking up to the top of the mountain is also an option (takes about approximately two hours approximately depending on your pace) to enjoy a simple, magnificent scenery overlooking Kyauk Kalap Lake.