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Yangon was a capital city up to 2005 when the government abruptly moved the capital to Naypyidaw. With its wide streets, parks and lakes Yangon has the sleepy charm of a provincial town. Crumbling British colonial mansions stand beside glittering pagodas, including one of the most remarkable religious shrines in all of Asia - the magical Shwedagon Pagoda. Much of Yangon's allure stems from its colorful street life: peddlers hawk stones on the sidewalk in the gem market; ricksaw drivers in striped longyis (sarongs) peddle lazily through tree-lined streets; and people drink endless cups of sweet, milky tea at roadside tea stalls.
Getting here: The most common route to Yangon is a 1 hour flight via Bangkok.
On par with Angkor Wat, Bagan ranks as one of the great wonders of the world with over 2000 awe-inspiring pagodas. Situated on the plains next to the Ayeyarwady River, this ancient city is dotted with thousands of ancient stupas and temples from different eras making it one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Asia. The breathtaking view of the brick temples, against the backdrop of an expansive plain of dust is unforgettable.
Getting here: It is a 1 hour 10min direct flight from Yangon; 30 mins direct flight from Mandalay; and 1 hour, usually via Mandalay from Heho.
As the last royal capital of the Burmese Kingdom, Mandalay today is the religious heart of the country possessing some of Myanmar's most beautiful pagodas, including the highly revered Mahamuni Paya, which holds a famous Buddha-image covered in gold leaf. Those interested in Buddhist religion will appreciate the Mahagandayone Monastery where more than a thousand monks and novices live and study the doctrine of Buddha. An additional attraction is the world’s largest book – 729 marble slabs of Buddhist scriptures at Kuthodaw Pagoda. Famous for its arts and crafts, Mandalay is a good place to buy everything from traditional wooden puppets to hand-woven fabrics.
Getting here: It is a 1 hour 15min direct flight from Yangon; 30 mins direct flight from Bagan; and 25 mins direct flight from Heho.
Heho is known as the gateway to Inle Lake, which is just a short one-hour drive away. The people who live around this serene 22km-long lake are known for their peculiar style of rowing: standing on one leg they use the other leg to row. Floating vegetable gardens dot the lake’s surface and there are colorful morning markets on the lake shores. In addition, Inle Lake is home to silk and lotus weaving craft shops located on stilts on the lake. A wide range of bird species also inhabits the lake and its grasslands, adding to the beauty of this fascinating water world.
Getting here: A 1 hour 15 min direct flight from Yangon; 1 hour flight usually via Mandalay from Bagan; and a 25 mins direct flight from Mandalay.
Formally known as Fort Hertz, Putao, the most northerly town in Myanmar in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, was one of the British Empire's most remote outposts. Today, Putao remains completely cut off from the outside world by millions of acres of subtropical rainforest and jagged peaks. It is famous as a jumping-off point for trekkers who want to explore the region’s deep forests, wildlife sanctuaries, snow-capped mountains and variety of ethnic hilltribe villages.
Getting here: Air Bagan flies to Putao during the cool dry season from October to April. It is a 4 hour connecting flight from Yangon to Mandalay then stop over at Myitkina and then to Putao.
Located relatively close by to Yangon along Myanmar’s west coast, the quiet Ngapali beach resort offers palm tree-fringed golden sandy beaches which dip down into the clear green waters of the Bay of Bengal. The area is peaceful and relaxing, but there are activities like windsurfing and sailing available. Hire a bicycle or a small boat to explore the shoreline and fishing villages, and in the evening, lie back under the romantic night sky as the tropical moon moves through a sky peppered with bright stars.
Getting here: It is a 45 mins flight from Yangon to Ngapali.
Also on the Bay of Bengal is Ngwe Saung, an unbroken 15 km stretch of unspoiled silvery sands, clear waters and an occasionally rocky shoreline set against a backdrop of tropical rain forests and the majestic Rokhine mountain range. After opening in the year 2000, Ngwe Saung quickly established itself as one of Myanmar’s most lovely and relaxing beach resorts, offering horseback riding, boating and cycling opportunities.
Getting here: Currently there are no flights from Yangon to Ngwe Saung. The town is only accessible by road from Yangon which takes about 5- 6 hours depending on size of vehicle and road conditions. But there is also a 25 mins flight from Yangon to the city of Pathein and then a 1 hour transfer to the beach.