Loikaw, the capital of the Kayah (Karenni) State, is at an elevation of 1,200 meters. Unique inhabitants of the region are members of the Padaung ethnic group, the women of which are famous for their elongated necks fitted with layers of brass rings.
The attractive, pleasant surroundings of the Lawpita Falls and the Lawpita Hydroelectric Power Plant – which produces a quarter of the hydroelectric power generated in Myanmar – are 20 kilometres east of Loikaw.
Nestled in a river valley, Kyaing Tong is roughly equidistant from the borders of China, Laos and Thailand.
Kyaing Tong, one of the most scenic towns in Shan State, has many temples, colonial buildings, lakes and the surrounding area is ideal for eco-tourism activities such as trekking, mountain biking and adventure tours.
A visit to Kyaing Tong offers insights into the lifestyles of the area’s ethnic minorities and hill tribes: including the Shan, Gon, Akha, Lisu, Wa and Lahu. A stroll around Nong Tong Lake and a morning visit to the lively market are recommended.
On the border with Thailand in eastern Shan State, Tac hileik is a gateway to the Golden Triangle where the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet. This area is being developed for tourism and cross-border trade with Laos, Thailand and China.
Domestic flights are available Yangon and other destinations in Myanmar. It is possible to enter Myanmar from Thailand at Tachiliek, subject to special permission.
Hsipaw is about 200 kilometers northeast of Mandalay and was once an independent Shan state ruled by princes known as sawbwas.
Hsipaw is accessible by train, bus, or car and is a compact, picturesque town, the centre of which has a busy morning market.
Hsipaw is a base for excursions and treks to ethnic minority villages in the surrounding hills or for boat rides on the Dokthawady River.
The capital of northern Shan State, Lashio is set amid mountain ranges at an altitude of 855 metres and is mainly inhabited by Shan and ethnic Chinese.
Lashio straddles an important trade route between Myanmar and China and is at the southern end of the famous Burma Road and about halfway between the border town of Muse and Mandalay.
The historic Goteik viaduct railway bridge is close to Lashio. It is the highest bridge in Myanmar.
Muse, about 190 kilometres from Lashio in northern Shan State, is a bustling cross-border trading centre.
Situated on the Shweli River, it is connected by a bridge and a road to Ruili in China’s Yunnan province.
Pyay, on the Ayeyarwady River, is about 260 kilometres northwest of Yangon and was established in the late 19th century as a trans-shipment centre for river cargo between upper and lower Myanmar.
Akauk Taung, on the other side the Ayeyarwady from Pyay, was where custom duties were collected from trade vessels plying the river. A remarkable sight at Akauk Tang is the Buddha images carved into a cliff on the bank of the river.
About eight kilometres southeast of Pyay is the ruins of the Pyu Kingdom known as Sri Ksetra (Thayekhittaya), which flourished between the 5th and 9th centuries.
Taungoo, is 220 kilometres from Yangon in the northeastern corner of Bago Region and has mountain ranges to its east and west.
Named Kaytumadi when it was founded in the 15th century by King Mingyinyo of the famous Taungoo dynasty it was later rebuilt by King Minye Kyawhtin. Although few historic remains from the dynastic period are still visible, an exception is the four sides of the city’s brick wall, with the exception of a section of the southern wall.
The main industry in Taungoo is forestry products, with teak and other hardwoods extracted from the nearby mountains. A 42-kilometre drive from Taungoo near Thargara in the Bago Yoma (mountain ranges) is the Pho Kyar elephant camp, one of several used for the extraction of timber in the area.
The Golden Rock at Kyaikhtiyo in Mon State is one of the most revered Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Myanmar. This gravity-defying golden granite boulder topped by a small pagoda is believed to maintain its balance on top of Mount Kyaikhtiyo because of a hair relic of the Buddha enshrined inside the pagoda.
The distance from Kinpun base camp to the Golden Rock is 14 kilometres, of which the first 10 kilometres can be travelled by passenger vehicles. The remaining four kilometres, along a steep, winding path, can either be travelled on foot or in the comfort of a sedan chair borne by four porters.
Many pilgrims and visitors to Kyaikhtiyo spend the night on the mountain so that they may be rewarded by the spectacular view of the sun setting and rising.
Mawlamyine, the capital and largest city of Mon State, is 70 kilometres south of Thaton at the mouth of Thanlwin River.
The main trading centre and seaport in southeastern Myanmar, Mawlamyine has a multi-ethnic population with a Buddhist Mon majority.
Within a short distance from Mawlamyine by car are the Allied war cemetery at Thanphyuzayat, which was the Myanmar terminus of the infamous ‘Death Railway’ during World War Two; and beautiful Setse beach.
Hpa An is the capital of Kayin State and is famous for its distinctive limestone mountain, the Zwegabin.
Activities in the area include trekking, mountaineering and exploring its many cave temples.
They include the Kaw Goon Cave, a unique archeological site dating to the 7the century and featuring Buddha images on clay tablets set high on its walls, and the Saddan, Kaw Ka Taung and Bayin Nyi caves. Other attractions are the Kayukkanlatt Pagoda and the Lumbini Garden, with its one thousand Buddha images.
Visitors also have an opportunity to see the traditional dance of the Kayin people, the Done Yaein, which is performed at a brisk pace with verve and feeling.
Mount Victoria, also known as Nat Ma Taung straddles Mindat, Kanpetlet and Matupi townships in Chin State.
This 722-square-kilometre National Park features a range of flora, including hill evergreen, moist upper mixed deciduous and pine forests and hill savannah. There are also 159 bird species, including five indigenous to Myanmar which can only be seen in the area.
Mount Victoria is an ideal eco-tourism site, with activities including bird watching, orchid viewing, mountaineering and camping. The mountain is accessible by car from Bagan to the town of Mindat, with a combination of hiking and camping to the summit.
The area is also famous for the face tattoes of the women of the Chin national race.
Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State in the far north of Myanmar, is about 42 kilometres from Myitsone, the confluence of the Maykha and Malikha rivers, which form the famous Ayeyarwady River.
Myitkyina is strategically situated on the overland trade route linking India and China and is the gateway to the world renowned jade mines at Hpakant. The area is also rich in forest products, gold and other minerals.
Ethnic minorities in Kachin State include the Jinghpaw, Lachik, Dalaung, Lauwaw, Guari, Lisu, Rawang, Hkahku, Duleng, Atsi and Zaiwa.
Myitkyina is known for the Manau Festival, the vibrant Kachin New Year festival in January where the Kachin and ethnic tribes come together in their colourful costumes to celebrate with traditional dances and song and the drinking of rice wine.
Putao is the northernmost town of Kachin State and is the site of Fort Hertz, built by the British during World War Two.
The area around Putao is famous for its indigenous bird species and rare orchids. Many orchid lovers explore the mountains east and west of Putao in the hope of finding the fabulous ‘Black Orchid’.
Snow-capped Mt. Hkakabo Razi, the highest peak in Southeast Asia is visible from Putao as are other mountains at the eastern end of the Himalayas.
Putao is a popular destination for nature lovers and adventure travel enthusiasts. Activities available in the area include walking visits to minority villages, mountain biking along jungle paths, elephant treks in the dense forests, and white water rafting.
Bahmo, on the Ayeyarwady River in Kachin State, is a trading centre close to the border with China. Its daily market attracts ethnic minorities such as the Kachin, Lisu and Shan who trade local products and farm produce.
Bahmo is also a destination for cruises along the Ayeyarwady from Mandalay. The journey provides opportunities to observe daily life in riverside towns and villages, the Ayeyarwady’s dramatic defiles and Ayeyarwady dolphins.
Formerly called Akyab, Sittwe is the capital of Rakhine State, a long narrow coastal region on the Bay of Bengal in western Myanmar separated from the rest of the country by the Rakhine Yoma (mountain range) and bordering Chin State and Bangladesh.
The hinterland of Sittwe is a rich rice growing area and it is also an important fishing port. The state is famous for its distinctive Rakhine longyis.
Attractions in Sittwe include a viewpoint at the end of Strand Road overlooking the Bay of Bengal and the mouth of the Kaladan River, the 100-year-old Shwe Zedi Kyaung monastery and the morning fish market next to the Central Market.
Mrauk U, the ancient capital of the flourishing Rakhine Kingdom, is about 11 kilometres east of the Kaladan River and is accessible only by boat from Sittwe.
The ruins at Mrauk U date to the 15th century and comprise one of the richest archeological sites in Myanmar. Due to its proximity to the Bay of Bengal, Mrauk U was an important regional trade hub, acting as both an entrepot to the Burmese hinterland and an important port.
Mrauk U is noted for its fort-like temples and pagodas built of stone and brick, rich with distinctive statuary and relief. The Shitthaung and Dukkanthein pagodas and the Andawthein Shrine are some of the most archeologically significant sites. The Mrauk U Museum exhibits many of the archeological and cultural treasures found in the area.
About 8 kilometres north of Mrauk U is the archaeological site of Vassali, another ancient capital which flourished from 7th and the 10th centuries. The Maha Muni Pagoda at Kyauktaw, about 30 kilometres from Mrauk U, is the original home of one of the most revered Buddha Shrines in Myanmar. This Maha Muni Buddha Shrine is now residing in Mandalay.
A wonderful day trip from Mrauk U is a journey up the Lemuro river and into the Chin hills to visit the tribal villages where women with tattooed faces can be seen.
Myeik (Mergui) is a coastal city on the Andaman Sea in southeastern Tanintharyi Region.
The city’s inhabitants are descended from many ethnic groups, including Bamar, Chinese, Karen, Indian, Mon, and the itinerant Salone, who speak Myanmar with a distinctive accent.
Exports from Myeik include tin, tungsten, dried fish, dried prawns, ngapi (fish paste), salt and rubber that is particularly important to the regional economy. Edible birds' nests made from the protein-rich saliva of a swiftlet are one of the area’s most lucrative exports.
Myeik Archipelago, of more than 800 islands, is in the Andaman Sea along the Tanintharyi coast between Myeik (Mergui) and Kawthaung (Victoria Point).
Pale Kyun (Pearl Island) is known for pearl diving and the development of a cultured pearl industry; Fork (Macleod) Island for its unique Myanmar Andaman Resort; and Lampi Island, in a Marine National Park, for its lovely beaches, coral reefs, clear water and undisturbed wildlife.
The Salone (sometimes also called Sea Gypsies) live throughout the Archipelago. They live aboard small boats or houses built on stilts over the sea. They are expert divers and make a living searching for oysters and mother-of-pearl.
The archipelago's virtual isolation has helped to preserve a pristine environment, rich in flora and fauna, which has contributed to the region’s growing popularity as a diving destination.
Kawthaung (Victoria Point) is the southern-most city of Tanintharyi Region (and of Myanmar) and is opposite the Thai border town of Ranong.
Many Thais make day trips from Ranong to gamble at a casino on Thahtay Khun island, about half an hour by boat from Kawthaung. Kawthaung is an international border check-point for tourists with a valid visa.
Kawthaung is served by domestic flights and is the most convenient gateway to the Myeik Archipelago.
Dawei, the capital of Tanintharyi Division, is bordered by Mon State to the north and Thailand to the east.
Dawei is a port and tropical seaside town on the Andaman Sea. The deep sea port at Dawei is being developed to become Myanmar’s first Special Economic Zone. When completed, this development will include a 250-square-kilometre industrial estate, with railway and road links to Thailand, as well as a gas pipeline to Thailand’s Kanchanaburi Province and commercial and residential developments.
Maungmagan beach was a retreat for the British during the colonial period and is being developed into a resort area.
Dawei residents speak Myanmar with a strong accent, similar to that heard in Myeik.
About 208 kilometres south of Yangon in the rich Ayeyarwaddy Delta, Pathein is the gateway to seaside villages and attractive beaches.
The region is the heart of Myanmar’s paddy cultivation and Pathein serves as export centre for the rice trade. There are also many sawmills, colourful hand-made pottery, baskets and buckets, and umbrella workshops. The traditional parasol known as the "Pathein Hti" is widely known throughout Myanmar.
Pathein has a scenic waterfront, many Buddhist temples, and is home to Bamar, Mon and Kayin people and Myanmar of Indian descent.