Central Myanmar Travel Guide

The majestic Shan Plateau makes up most of the scenery in central Myanmar. Smack in the middle lies the ancient city of Bagan (Pagan), and is a must see for lovers of archaeology. Home to more than twenty fascinating old temples, the walled city is also a great stop off point for exploring Heho - the gateway to the north - and the beautiful Inle Lake.

Bagan has a lot to offer and will keep history lovers busy for weeks. The awe inspiring Ananda Temple, built in the 11th century, is still in constant use. Other temples of interest include the Gawdawpalin Temple on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River, the Mahabodhi Temple and the Buphaya Pagoda.

The historic golden Shwezigon Pagoda of Bagan became a prototype for all stupas built after it. This is a perfect place to watch the sun setting over the lush green city. For a glorious sunrise, head for the terraces of Minyeingon Pagoda.

Take a boat down the river to Pakkoku and admire ancient temples and pagodas, or visit the excellent Bagan Museum, full of antiquated treasures and Buddha images. Away from the city you can climb Mount Popa with the other pilgrims to enjoy panoramic views of the Bagan plains. Close to Bagan are the stunning ancient temples of Htilominlo and Upali Thein.

Visit gold leaf industries in Mandalay and soak up the ancient atmosphere, unchanged for hundreds of years, in some of the city’s wonderful craft markets and stone carving workshops. Fascinating places of historical interest include the golden Eindawya Pagoda, the Shwyattaw Buddha and the revered Mahamuni Pagoda amongst many others.

When you’ve had enough sight seeing, Inle Lake makes for a wonderful retreat. With more than 200 villages dotting its banks and with its mountainous backdrop, Inle Lake is the perfect place to unwind. Near the main town of Nyaung Shwe, a beautiful old Shan palace still remains. Enjoy the floating gardens of the Nankand Canal, and applaud the ‘one legged fishermen’ who row down river with one leg to fish.

If you haven’t seen enough pagodas, Phaung Daw U Pagoda, named after the royal bird, is well worth a visit while you’re at Inle Lake. At Ywama village there is a floating market held every five days, and at the Nga Phe Chaung Monastery watch in wonder at the monks’ treasured show jumping cats.

Onward Travel

Explore More