Find accommodation in Myanmar

Destination

Your budget

Hotel name (optional)

The comprehensive Myanmar (Burma) travel website

From idyllic beaches on the Bay of Bengal to the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayan north, Myanmar offers a wealth of scenic beauty, ancient religious monuments, bustling cities and fascinating festivals. A country rich in history and Buddhist tradition, it is also filled with warm, friendly people from an amazing variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

But Myanmar is also a fast-changing country unlike anywhere else on earth: many of the facilities and creature comforts you are used to may be difficult to find; there are ethical and political issues to consider; and it can sometimes be a confusing – even disorientating – place to navigate.

Whatever your budget and personal interests, this comprehensive and continually updated website is here to simplify the preparation for your trip, to guide you to the most stunning locations, and help you find the best places to stay. Go-Myanmar.com also offers online domestic travel booking (air, bus, train, boat and car hire) and a variety of tour packages which can be tailored to your own needs.

To stay up-to-date with the latest Myanmar travel and tourism developments, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or sign up to our free newsletter (further down this page).

Latest Myanmar travel stories
A barrage to the senses – the Taungbyone Nat festival

Taungbyone Festival is Myanmar’s answer to Gay Pride, a rickety country fair, a Pentecostal church and Glastonbury Festival all combined and turned up to 11. Make no mistake, Taungbyone Nat Pwe, held a few miles out of Mandalay, is not for everyone. By anyone’s standard it is an utter barrage to the senses. A ‘Nat’ is the immortal spirit of a real or folkloric figure who died in an immoral or unnatural incident who is exalted through animist worship in parallel to Buddhism. ‘Pwe’ is Myanmar for festival.

Arriving early we unfolded ourselves from the sardine tin pickup truck shared taxi from Mandalay. Shuffling our way through avenues of pop up shop stalls in the the sticky mud, shoulder to shoulder with tens of thousands of worshippers, drunks, posing youths, chic transvestites and deformed beggars, tentatively we joined a path-side circle of people transfixed by an enigmatic front man who was delivering a spiel whilst flicking a small black pellet in and out of his mouth with deft and effeminate theatrical hand gestures along wit . . . .

Read More
Taungbyone Festival is Myanmar’s answer to Gay Pride, a rickety country fair, a Pentecostal church and Glastonbury Festival all combined and turned up to 11. Make no mistake, Taungbyone Nat Pwe, held a few miles out of Mandalay, is not for everyone. By anyone’s standard it is an utter barrage to the senses. A ‘Nat’ is the immortal spirit of a real or folkloric figure who died in an immoral or unnatural incident who is exalted through animist worship in parallel to Buddhism. ‘Pwe’ is Myanmar for festival.

Arriving early we unfolded ourselves from the sardine tin pickup truck shared taxi from Mandalay. Shuffling our way through avenues of pop up shop stalls in the the sticky mud, shoulder to shoulder with tens of thousands of worshippers, drunks, posing youths, chic transvestites and deformed beggars, tentatively we joined a path-side circle of people transfixed by an enigmatic front man who was delivering a spiel whilst flicking a small black pellet in and out of his mouth with deft and effeminate theatrical hand gestures along with copious shots of a white spirit. At his feet were arranged a collection of objects, including a dolls head, cans, bottles and medical instruments. These were tools to some kind of ceremony much in the vein of Vodun (AKA Voo-Doo). Although fascinating, much to our regret the searing midday sun was threatening to toast our feeble English constitutions and we were forced into the relative shelter of the central temple where an unrelenting throng hurled votive foliage at the feet of Nat statues.

Before long we were drawn to what our ears discerned as the unmistakably unhinged sound of live traditional Myanmar music. We found ourselves ushered into a small pavilion where the image that was to confront us will stay burned into out retinas for eternity: a pair of exceptionally glamorous old drag queens dressed up to the nines with K5000 notes safety pinned all over their costumes and a stream if cigarettes, often a handful at a time, being piled into their twisting orange lips and red grinding pan stained teeth working a dense crowd into a froth. They were, in the terminology of the nat pwe, ‘spirit wives’, wed to the Nat that Taungbyone festival celebrates. Alongside the duo at all times were their crew of fag-hags, fanning them and feeding them booze, starting with beer and ending with entire bottles of rum. As the crazed music ignited the formidable sound system the crowd became increasingly ecstatic. The women were dancing with equal drunken fervour to the men, punching fistfuls of holy leaves in the air, one by one falling into a fit of violent shaking as they were possessed by a nat spirit, to be respectfully carried aside to avoid their flailing limbs damaging the grinning children nearby.

The jubilant jigging, leaping and air punching of the crowd was infectious and we waved our holy branches on high. While regrettably not possessed by a Nat, due to the wild enthusiasm we received for our taking part, we felt in danger of incurring the wrath of a sprit wife for stealing the limelight. In Taungbyone more than anywhere else in Myanmar we were constantly filmed and treated like celebrities – it seemed that few people had ever seen a white face – so we pressed on in search of the next adventure.

Passing makeshift photo studios where you could have your picture taken dressed up as a Myanmar princess with a choice of lurid oil painting backdrops, and a huge cinema tent with an incredible rattling old projector, we found ourselves in a field of terrifyingly ramshackle fairground rides and sideshows. We made a hasty exit from a miserable animal show, complete with tiny cages, mangy monkeys playing cymbals accompanied by hellish feedback from numerous conflicting sound systems, and a truly odious ticket seller with an enormous bare sweaty paunch. Next we tentatively boarded a ferris wheel hoping for a cool breeze and a good view, only to find it was made of decaying wood, seemingly held together with Sellotape and powered not by an motor but by human beings. A troupe of ten or so lithe young boys climbed, monkey like, to the top in order for their weight to start it all turning in the manner of a pet mouse wheel, and proceeded to hang on to the rickety spokes, often upside down as the wheel whizzed round, completing their performance with a nonchalant backflip to dismount.

Feeling elated but overwhelmed by the blistering heat and crowds we avoided the miles of near stationary traffic jamming the access roads by jumping on motorbike taxi back to Mandalay. The day was too dense with one bizarre encounter after another to fully recount here. Nevertheless, if you like the sound of this festival and ever have the opportunity to go, do not miss it. Every year it lasts the whole week preceding the August full moon, and as the biggest of all the Nat Pwe it attracts the gay and transvestite community and fervent animists in equal measure from every part of the country. Although it didn’t stop us, knowing some Myanmar language will do you well as virtually no one we met spoke any English whatsoever. We went on a weekday four days before the full moon itself. Any busier and I think we might have suffocated, so probably best to get there before the weekend if you can. It’s under an hour from Mandalay (which incidentally is a wonderful and almost disarmingly welcoming city – ignore the guide books telling you it’s not) and your guesthouse can tell you where to get a pick up or motorbike taxi.

Jussi Brightmore 14.9.14

Hide

Myeik Archipelago diary

We found the idea of a four-day cruise in the warm, sunny and isolated Myeik Archipelago – visited by so few tourists – immediately appealing, and put it at the top of our list of things to do on our four-week stay in Myanmar.

Only a limited number of authorised cruises have access to the archipelago, and to get there you need to go via Kawthaung, right at the southern tip of Myanmar on the border with Thailand; make sure that you’re in Yangon in plenty of time to catch the plane to Kawthaung: the flight takes three hours, including two 20-minute stops in Dawei and Myeik. Going by road takes a tortuous five days by bus and may sometimes not even be possible at all.

In Kawthaung, we were met by a friendly and efficient link-man to . . . .

Read More
We found the idea of a four-day cruise in the warm, sunny and isolated Myeik Archipelago – visited by so few tourists – immediately appealing, and put it at the top of our list of things to do on our four-week stay in Myanmar.

Only a limited number of authorised cruises have access to the archipelago, and to get there you need to go via Kawthaung, right at the southern tip of Myanmar on the border with Thailand; make sure that you’re in Yangon in plenty of time to catch the plane to Kawthaung: the flight takes three hours, including two 20-minute stops in Dawei and Myeik. Going by road takes a tortuous five days by bus and may sometimes not even be possible at all.

In Kawthaung, we were met by a friendly and efficient link-man to our boat: he talked us through a deskful of police bureaucracy before taking us to our boat at Myoma Jetty – The Wanderlust, an elderly and leaky catamaran. We found to our surprise that we were the only passengers, but soon realised that there certainly was no room for more: we found it difficult to squeeze in tandem into our oddly-shaped cabin. But we were taken excellent care of for four days by the skipper, Mo; the guide, So-So; the engineer, Aung Min; and the trained cook, Mew-Ah.

The Wanderlust’s aging quirks, one of which was to occasionally drip on us as we slept, were compensated for by Mew-Ah’s excellent meals and our being generally pampered by the crew. We had a lot of interesting chats with So-So, who told us, among other things about his life, that he was going to send his five-year-old son to a monastery for a year when he became six, and that he himself had done so at the ages of eleven and seventeen.

We travelled in November, at the tail end of the rainy season – and it poured steadily for two days, which caused us to miss some planned snorkelling, fishing and jungle trekking; our first morning was spent on the scheduled stop at Nyaung Wee Island. We were interested to find that the large number of open-fronted shops/family dwellings were geared to only selling daily necessities to the crews of local fishing boats; we never saw as much as a shell necklace or any concession to the occasional tourist during the whole of our cruise.

It was interesting to talk (in translation) to these islanders about their way of life, particularly when we went by dinghy to a Moken (or ‘sea gypsy’) village, which was steadily getting larger. It was sad to hear that the government is now prohibiting practices central to Moken culture, including their tradition of fashioning boats from island trees. They told us that the government is keen for their children to have primary and secondary education, the latter being given on the mainland up to the age of 14, after which many of the children return to a life of fishing or shop-keeping.

On the way back to The Wanderlust, water got into the dinghy’s engine, which stopped; the skipper came in a kayak to explain that they couldn’t come to tow us, as the engine had seized up. Eventually we wheezed our way back…the crew’s mantra ‘It will be okay – no problem!’ did prove effective against all odds!

The next day, which was sunny, we kayaked up the exotic Lampi river, and later anchored at the idyllic Nga Mann Island, where we swam in picture-perfect turquoise seas and wandered on white sand on the edge of a jungle sporting wonderfully colourful fruits and flowers. Next we visited a village on Myauk Ni Island, again to have a most interesting conversation about the islanders’ daily lives – they see very few foreigners, only usually conversing with the fishermen who come for provisions.

The next day we awoke to cloudless sunshine, and again ambled along beautiful island beaches, always entirely to ourselves. For our last meal Mew-Ah excelled himself by producing a sumptuous lunch of soup-filled pumpkin and prawns in a delicious sauce. Then back in the sunshine to Kawthaung. This is an interesting town in itself, and people who come here to go on a cruise should allow time to wander through it: there are strong influences of India and Islam, which we hadn’t expected.

Despite the rain and the Wanderlust’s tricks, we found our cruise all we’d hoped for – fascinating, informative and above all, fun.

For more photos from the Myeik Archipelago, check out our Flickr photo album.

Sally Allender, 10th August 2014

Hide

Myanmar tours

Book tours suitable for a range of budgets
from our list of itineraries, or
create your own

Online ticket
booking

Get air, bus, train and boat tickets to the most popular destinations
in Myanmar

Business travellers information
Visit our special section for Myanmar business travel information

Find us on social media

Yangon, Myanmar

Wednesday 22 October


27° C

Recent activity