THINGS TO DO IN MYANMAR
Myanmar is home to delicious cuisine, stunning architecture, colourful festivals and pristine beaches – the variety of experiences is unparalleled! Make sure to discover all that this alluring and fascinating country has to offer. Explore different activities by theme in this section.
With more than 800 islands in the Andaman Sean, diving in this mostly undiscovered area should be on the top of the wish list of any Scuba diver. Ngapali and Ngwe Saung, two beach destinations on the west coast of Myanmar (Bay of Bengal), offer good and easy scuba diving possibilities as well. Despite the undisputed potential of its over-2000 km tropical coastline, the scuba diving industry in Myanmar is still very much in its infancy. For decades the coastal waters were more or less prohibited for tourist divers, and a few operators from Thailand approached the ‘Burma Banks’ with 6 or 7-day live-aboard dive safaris from Phuket and Khao Lak. Slow developments have been seen in Myanmar’s scuba diving offer, despite the rapidly growing interest in Myanmar as a beach and scuba diving destination. The most beautiful dive sites in the Southern Mergui Archipelago were first only reached through Thai dive safari operators based in Ranong, a border town. In total there are now only five reliable Myanmar scuba diving operators at the time of writing, offering trips to already known dive sites in the Southern Mergui Archipelago, and to dive sites in Ngwe Saung and Ngapali. With hardly any other diving group in sight, and with still many undiscovered dive sites around, diving in Myanmar is a true adventurous experience.
The best diving of the region is in the southern part of the Mergui Archipelago, with 6 or 7-day dive safaris departing from the Thai-Burmese border town of Kawthaung. Famous dive sites like Black Rock, Little Torres Islands, High Rock, Shark Cave offer sightings of beautiful soft corals, gorgonians and massive intact table corals. Colorful creatures such as cuttlefish, ghost pipefish and frogfish are often seen here. Apart from the abundance of batfish, dogtooth tuna, and giant barracudas, these sites are especially famous for encounters with the larger pelagic species, like manta rays, leopard sharks, lemon sharks, nurse sharks and whale sharks. Experienced diving is required, since many dive sites can have sweeping currents, sometimes downwards when going deeper. Another option for good scuba diving is the Myanmar Andaman Dive Resort on Mecleod Island in the Mergui Archipelago. This eco-lodge has a PADI Dive centre that offers different dive packages and scuba diving courses.
With more and more hotels spreading along the beautiful white sand beach, Ngwe Saung offers relaxing day trips of Scuba Diving. A 1,5-hour sail off the Ngwe Saung Coast two islands offer shallow, easy and charming dives. But more dive sites are currently discovered. North Rock (Bird Island) is usually done first in a calm drift dive along the eastern side of the island. Southern Island offer similar dive sites with beautiful table coral gardens lots of bannerfish, butterfly fish, boxfish, scorpionfish, lionfish and triggerfish, and murray eels and sea snakes. The southern Island is also famous for it is rare frogfish. Further west from these islands are some interesting, yet quite unexplored pinnacles which offer deeper dives, with higher chance of seeing bigger marine species.
Ngapali offers diving around some of the islands and bays with sites that are far from fully explored. Similar diving is expected as in Ngwe Saung with coral gardens and the typical tropical marine life.
TREKKING & HIKING
This Way to Adventure!
Blood-pumping adventure can be found trekking and hiking through Myanmar’s diverse landscapes and breathtaking scenery. Some of the best places for trekking are from Kalaw to the vast Inle Lake, Myanmar’s beautiful Shan state, and up north by Putao. Putao is perfect for adventure-lovers to ski, hike, and mountain bike. Another famous hike is northeast of Mandaly through Hsipaw, renowned for its waterfalls and natural hot springs.
Just a short drive from beautiful Bagan is Mount Popa, which requires a hike up hundreds of stairs to enjoy the gorgeous panoramic view at this ancient volcano’s summit. Some destinations require authorization one month in advance, but most do not have restrictions. Be sure to check with your tour operator.
RAFTING & WATER SPORTS
Popular water sports at Myanmar’s pristine beaches such as Ngapali and Ngwe Saung include snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking. White water rafting is also a great and increasingly popular activity for those seeking blood-pumping adventure in Myanmar, and the best rafting spots can be found in the northern part of the country. The Malihka River, one of the major tributaries of the Irrawaddy, is a thrill-seeker’s dream. The rapids have ratings of 4 and 5 on a scale of 6, which give rafters the exciting opportunity to enjoy their river experience to the fullest.
In the far north of Myanmar around the untouched, rugged wilderness of Putao, the May Kha and Nam Lang Rivers are perfect for intense and unforgettable rafting experiences. Keep in mind that many areas in northern Myanmar required a permit, so check with your tour operator about arranging a trip.
Active travelers will not be disappointed with the vast range of cycling opportunities in Myanmar. Cycling is a popular activity that provides a close-up and scenic tour of the country. Joining a cycling tour is perfect if you’re looking for an organized, multifaceted way to sightsee. Popular cycle tours include: mountain biking, city cycling, and countryside biking. Myanmar has everything a cyclist could want in an adventure: stunning landscapes and spectacular rock and limestone formations. December and January are especially wonderful times to enjoy a Myanmar cycling adventure, as during this time the weather is not too hot and there is little rainfall.
HOT AIR BALLOONS
Hot Air Ballooning is a signature activity in Myanmar, and the city of Bagan is the ultimate destination to experience it. This gorgeous area comprises thousands of pagodas and lush vegetation that make for an unforgettable ride! Enjoying these breathtaking views over such an alluring city is unparalleled to other hot air balloon rides. Rides typically take place at sunrise or sunset when the views over Bagan’s ancient pagodas are exceptionally beautiful and washed in a golden hue. This unique and memorable experience will stay with travelers for years to come. While in the hot air balloon, a champagne toast at the top is a must!