Burma may be a destination famous for its spectacular temples and stupas, but I’m here to tell you that its landscapes are equally exciting. For me, there are some places that really stand out for their scenery and serene atmosphere – and, because they offer something quite different to a lot of destinations closer to home, I think it’s well worth making sure at least one of them is on your itinerary.
Of course, that begs the question of exactly just where you should go. I’ve put together a brief list of some of the country’s most tranquil spots, which will hopefully give you some insight.
1) Inle Lake
I’ll start with Inle Lake, since this is one of the Burma’s most famous serene destinations. Surrounded by the scenic Shan Hills, Inle Lake is absolutely beautiful – but it’s not just the shimmering water that makes it that way.
In fact, it is the presence of stilt villages that really adds to the picturesque nature of the place. Inle Lake is the home of the Intha people, who live in these wonderful and unusual villages – and travel from one to the next by boat, using their well-known one-legged rowing style. As you’d expect, taking a trip on one of these vessels is an absolute must while you’re here – and, since this is how the locals make their way from one village to another, it’s actually pretty impossible for you to get around any other way!
While this destination is, without doubt, incredibly serene, there is still a lot to see while you’re here. Among the most popular options is taking a trip to an islet occupied by an old colonial mansion. This is no ordinary mansion, though; in fact, it’s a lovely sanctuary for Burmese cats.
Relatively near to Inle Lake, Kalaw is another tranquil place worth visiting. And, as a quick tip, if you’re keen to do some trekking during your holiday to Burma, hiking between these two destinations is a great experience. The route will take you a few days to complete, and you can visit tiny villages along the way.
Once you have arrived in Kalaw, which was once a hill station where the British could escape the intense heat of lower altitudes, you’ll be overwhelmed by the stunning views of forested mountains it offers. It’s located 1,320 m above sea level, which means the climate here is much cooler than other Burmese destinations – something you’re bound to find refreshing if you’ve been travelling in the country for a while.
Next on my list is Pindaya, where you’ll find the famous Pindaya limestone caves. It’s these caves that are the main attraction here, as they house approximately 8,000 statues of Buddha – something that makes it a very spiritual site.
A visit to the caves is an absolute must while you’re here. Made of materials such as gold, marble, silver, ivory and teak, the statues vary a lot in size and style, which makes this an even more exciting place to discover. You should bear in mind, though, that many Buddhists come here to bow to the statues and offer flowers, so it is by no means a tourist site alone.
Outside of the caves, you’ll find some beautiful landscapes of honey-coloured cliffs. Take the time to soak all this up before you move on to your next destination.