Myanmar (also known as Burma), a dreamland for luminous pagodas and pristine rainforests, is an exotic destination in Southeast Asia. With its long-lasting history, unique culture, and beautiful landscapes, this country has become a must-go destination for your family holiday. When traveling to Myanmar, your family will not only take part in exciting activities but also have a chance to interact with light-hearted local people. Here are 7 destinations and some family-friendly activities for your trip to Myanmar.

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1. Yangon

Shwedagon Pagoda
Shwedagon Pagoda

Yangon served as the capital city of Myanmar until 2006, when the government relocated the capital to Naypyidaw. With the population of around 7 million people, Yangon is the largest city in this country and it is the most important commercial center. This city is even more popular than Myanmar’s official capital city and tourists often mistake that Yangon is this country’s capital city.

What to do in Yangon?

  • Enjoy vibrant Shwedagon Pagoda at night: It is said that no visit to Myanmar is complete without a trip to Shwedagon Pagoda. Shwedagon Pagoda, also known as the Golden Pagoda, is one of the most sacred pagodas in Myanmar. Considered one of the wonders of the religious world, the magnificent 99-meter-high pagoda rises majestically over Singuttara Hill to the north of central Yangon, casting its golden gleam over the low-lying capital. The top of the pagoda is decorated with precious diamonds and rubies and the 76-carat diamond bud at the very top is radiant on Yangon’s sky. At night, you feel that this pagoda is luminous and become a scenic spot of this city.
  • Visit Botahtaung Pagoda: Considered one of the three major religious sites in Yangon (the other two are Shwedagon and Sule Pagoda), Botahtaung features quirky charms and peculiarities. Located on the bank of Yangon River, Botahtaung is a typical gilded dome that tapers gradually to the top and is capped by a symbolic fan-shape spire. This pagoda was built at the same time with Shwedagon Pagoda, about 2500 years ago by Mon people. There are many small stupas standing around the main one. The main stupa is hollow inside and it stores many numerous Buddhist relics.
  • Sample local foods and drink tea: Trying local specialties is a cannot-miss part of a family trip. As Myanmar is bordered by India, China and Thailand, it is apparent that the cuisines here are influenced by those countries. The area around Sule Pagoda is well-known for numerous local food stalls. One famous dish in Yangon is mohinga, which is rice noodle with fish in a slightly spicy sauce. If you want to taste some barbecue, head to the west of Sule Pagoda and look for Chinatown. Tea is an important part of Burmese culture and you can find local people drink tea everywhere.

Read more: Yangon Attractions

2. Mandalay

U Bein Bridge
U Bein Bridge

Located in the north of Myanmar, Mandalay piques travelers’ curiosity with a solemn allure of a bygone era. Mandalay is a heaven for those who love to discover Burmese cultural heritage and fantastic landscapes. With many irresistible natural and religious attractions, Mandalay is worth spending at least two days.

What to do in Mandalay?

  • Visit Mandalay Palace: The Myan Nan San Kyaw, or Royal Palace, was the first palace to be built in Mandalay. Constructed by King Mindon, who moved his capital from Amarapura to Mandalay, the location was chosen because of astronomical calculations and favorable omens. The entire palace complex was destroyed by fire during World War II, but it has been restored.
  • Hike the Mandalay Hill: Climbing Mandalay Hill for a panoramic view of the city is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, particularly at sunrise or sunset. The scenery becomes charmingly romantic when the last rays of sunrise hit the top of splendid Sutaungpyei Pagoda. There are cars and buses to get to the top of Mandalay Hill, but most visitors choose to conquer the 1729-step stairway.
  • Walk across the U Bein Bridge: U Bein Bridge, with the length of 1.2 kilometers, is the longest teak bridge in the world. It crosses Taungthaman Lake to link two suburban areas of Mandalay. Monks and local residents often walk or bike over the bridge. Walking the bridge, or taking a boat to watch people passing on the bridge is a memorable experience when visiting Mandalay. U Bein Bridge has become one of the most popular photography sites in Myanmar, especially before sunset when lighting is the best here.

Read more: Mandalay Attractions

3. Bagan

Bagan
Bagan

With the massive system of 3000 temples and pagodas, Bagan is recognized as ‘The land of pagodas’ in Myanmar. Hot air balloons flying over the blue sky and above the charming pagodas which are surrounded by green trees – this is the signature beauty of Bagan that you cannot find anywhere else in the world!

What to do in Bagan?

  • Ride an air balloon: If you ask what the most interesting activity in Myanmar that you can show off your friends is, it will be balloon experience in Bagan. The massive system of striking pagodas and stupas of this ‘Land of Pagoda’ is more mesmerizing when viewing from above. Riding a hot air balloon is a thrilling and magical experience; you will feel like you are floating in a breeze and immersed in a vibrant landscape of golden spires hidden in lush green trees. The best time for this experience is between mid-October and mid-March when the wind is calm.
  • Visit some pagodas and temples: Bagan is considered the city with the densest concentration of Buddhist architecture in Myanmar. Many pagodas, temples and stupas can be dated back to the 11th and 12th The two most famous religious attractions in Bagan are Ananda Temple and Shwesandaw Temple. Ananda Temple is the holiest temple in Bagan which was built in 1091 while Shwesandaw Temple is the most photogenic place for sunset photos in this city.
  • Hike the Mount Popa: A visit to Bagan would not be complete without a trip to Mount Popa. Considered as one of the most popular pilgrimage spots in Myanmar, Mount Popa is an extinct volcano where the Popa Taungkalat Monastery is found. Popa used to be called the ‘Mountain of Spirits,’ and is still recognized as a dwelling of ‘nats,’ or spirits of ancient ancestors.

Read more: Bagan Attractions

4. Inle Lake

Inle Lake
Inle Lake

Inle Lake, the second largest lake in Myanmar, is the ideal place for you to discover watery environment and the locals’ daily life. Leg-rowing fishermen in Inle Lake, which you can see from many travel magazines around the world, have become the iconic image of this destination.

What to do in Inle Lake?

  • Take a boat trip: To get a glimpse of captivating local life on Inle Lake, there is no better view than from a boat along some water villages here. These villages are the home to Intha people whose main livelihood is fishing. The most mesmerizing image you should capture on this lake is skillful leg-rowing fishermen who can expertly paddle flat-bottom boats with one leg and use the other leg to hold the boat.
  • See hundreds of stupas in Indein: Indein is a small village located in the west of Inle Lake. There are two groups of pagodas in this village: Nyaung Ohak and Shwe Inn Thein. You can see many towering pagodas and stupas which creates a calm and solemn atmosphere to this rustic village. Along the pagodas, there are many green rice fields where farmers still use traditional ploughing techniques with water buffaloes. You can take an 8-kilometer boat ride to reach Indein.

Read more: Inle Lake Attractions

5. Kalaw

Kalaw
Kalaw

70 kilometers from Inle Lake, Kalaw is famous for sublime scenery and pristine hill tribes. Formerly a hill station of the British during the colonial era, Kalaw is the place where you can find a laid-back atmosphere and pleasant weather.

What to do in Kalaw?

  • Trek to exotic trails: The route from Kalaw to Inle Lake is one of the most popular treks in Myanmar. Fresh air, mesmerizing mountainous view, idyllic Shan valleys, and stunning pine forests are the reasons to travel to Kalaw. Trekking to this route, your kids will have a chance to learn about nature, challenge their physical health and interact with local people.
  • Cycle to some pagodas: Getting around by bikes is the best way to bring all family members together. On your way, you will see many unique religious attractions: Hnee Paya, where you can see 500-year-old gold-lacquered bamboo Buddha, Shweoomin Pagoda which was built inside in a limestone cave and Aung Chan Tha Zedi which was made of mirrored glass.

Read more: Kalaw & Pindaya Attractions

6. Ngapali Beach

Ngapali Beach
Ngapali Beach

It is believed that a beach is a necessary part in every family vacation. 7 kilometers away from the center of Thandwe in Western Myanmar, Ngapali Beach is the most popular beach destination in this country. This quiet and calm beach is a dream place for a family vacation to Myanmar.

What to do in Ngapali Beach?

  • Swim in turquoise water: Ngapali Beach is stunning with white sand, gentle waves and rows of young coconut trees. It is the place where you can seek for an ultimately tranquil atmosphere. Swimming, snorkeling, diving and kayaking are some interesting activities your family can do here. Visiting some fishing villages and interact with local fishermen in Ngapali are also eye-opening experiences for your children.
  • Visit Thandwe Market: This local market is located at the center of the town in a former colonial prison. You can discover the Rakhine ethnicity’s daily life through their lively and vibrant trading sections at Thandwe Fresh meat, seafood, vegetables and even souvenirs can be found at this market.

Read more: Ngapali Beach Attractions

7. Naypyidaw

Uppatasanti Pagoda
Uppatasanti Pagoda

Naypyidaw is the capital city of Myanmar since 2006. It is a new destination in Myanmar and it is difficult to find what to do in this city on the Internet. However, this city is a family-friendly place where you can participate in many sightseeing and entertaining activities.

What to do in Naypyidaw?

  • Visit Uppatasanti Pagoda: This pagoda is like a ‘younger sister’ of Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon as these two are the same in terms of shape and size. ‘Uppatasanti Pagoda’ means ‘Peace Pagoda’ in English. This pagoda is the home to the precious Buddha tooth relic from China.
  • Discover different plant species in National Herbal Park: National Herbal Park is the home to more than 20,000 Burmese herbal and medicinal plants. This park offers free entry.

Interesting Tours to Myanmar

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A Hanoian lover of art, cuisine and culture, Chi Nguyen enjoys exploring all elegant aspects of this city as well as discovering off-the-beaten-track destinations in the beautiful S-shaped country.

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