When people ask me about the best country that I’ve visited in Southeast Asia (for traveling).

I always find it difficult to narrow it down to just one country, so I end up sharing my top picks. Most are surprised and get curious when I mention Myanmar.

This country is known for its gilded Buddhist pagodas, ancient cities, natural landscapes, and remarkably intact traditional ways.

Here’s a glimpse of beautiful places to see in Myanmar on your next adventure.

1. Bagan

Sunrise at Shwe Sandaw Pagoda, Bagan, Myanmar

Sunrise at Shwe Sandaw Pagoda in Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

Why go — If there’s one place in Myanmar that you should take the time to visit, it’s definitely Bagan. The sheer scale of this ancient city is comparable to the leagues of Angkor Wat. The later may have more massive single structures but Bagan one-ups it with a landscape filled with thousands of pagodas and temples that are extremely scenic at sunrise and sunsets.

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2. Mandalay

Mandalay Royal Palace and Mandalay Hill in Myanmar

Mandalay Royal Palace and Mandalay Hill in Myanmar (Burma)

Why go — This major gateway in Northern Myanmar is worth at least a day tour to see the Mandalay Fort, the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy, and some of the country’s most sacred Buddhist sites including the Mahamuni Buddha Temple and Mandalay Hill. Extend your visit with a nice excursion to the four ancient cities of Mingun, Sagaing, Amarapura, and Innwa.

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3. Yangon

Sunset at Shwedagon Paya (Pagoda) in Central Yangon, Myanmar

Sunset at Shwedagon Paya (Pagoda) in Central Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)

Why go — Yangon is not only Myanmar’s primary international gateway and capital city, it is also a beautiful destination to explore. The main attraction here is the Shwedagon Pagoda, an architectural icon famous for its massive gold and diamond decorated spire. The city center is an interesting place to explore for its  grand and well preserved British-era colonial buildings.

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4. Hsipaw

View of the Goteik Gorge aboard the Mandalay to Hsipaw train in Greater Mandalay, Myanmar

View of the Goteik Gorge aboard the Mandalay to Hsipaw train in Greater Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)

Why go — After knowing about the vintage train ride from Mandalay to Hsipaw as one of the best railway journeys in the World, I knew I just had to experience it. Before reaching this small town in Northern Myanmar, the train crosses a steel bridge that spans a massive and very picturesque gorge. Hsipaw itself is an excellent place to get a feel of rural Burma and go on nature treks.

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See also

5. Kyaiktiyo

Sunset at Kyaiktiyo Golden Rock Pagoda in Myanmar

Sunset at Kyaiktiyo Golden Rock Pagoda in Myanmar

Why go — Before my first trip to Myanmar ended, I traveled a few hours south of Yangon by bus to visit Kyaiktiyo. This place is famous for the gravity-defying Golden Rock Pagoda perched on top of a mountain. It is considered as one of the most sacred Buddhist sites by Burmese people.

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Note: Destinations featured above are not listed by rank.