Over the past few years, Myanmar has gone from a niche hot spot to one of the most in-demand destinations. The country is home to bustling markets, numerous parks and lakes, and the towering, gilded Shwedagon Pagoda which contains Buddhist relics and dates to the 6th century. Luxury cruise lines including Seabourn, Silversea and Regent Seven Seas Cruises call at Yangon, along with Holland America Line and Oceania Cruises. On the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers, there has been an explosion of new offerings particularly from boutique operators such as Belmond, AmaWaterways and Sanctuary Retreats. Highlights include Mandalay Hill which is popular with hikers. The climb takes a good 30 minutes or longer if you allow for stops. At sunset, young monks gather at the summit with tourists for some language practice. For shopping, try the night market with vendors selling food, army hats and clothes. The Sut Ngai sells Kachin fabrics and costumes. In Mandalay, the Green Elephant restaurant is popular for its multi-dish set menus and the Sin Chun Yin barbecue restaurant has a famous stuffed grilled-fish dish that comes with tamarind dipping sauce.
PLACES TO STAY
New, modern hotels are springing up in Yangon every day, but to experience the Myanmar of days gone by stay at one of the city’s historic gems. The Strand, right on the riverfront, played host to Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham and Lord Mountbatten in its heyday, and is still suitably grand. Other historic options include The Savoy and Belmond Governor’s Residence.