Myanmar has been popping up all over travel tags and instagram feeds this past few months and that’s because it’s so beaut. The people are warm, welcoming and friendly and there’s a lot to learn about the history and the culture here, that I guess many won’t be so familiar with given the country was closed to tourists until 2012. I’ve been on a whirlwind adventure learning about the political, religious and social past that has made this beautiful country what is it today.
But WHERE shall I visit, experience and of course shoot some awesome instagram photos I hear you cry.
Top Tip: when visiting temples you have to cover your shoulders and knees, and take off you shoes. I recommend either midi dresses or long loose pants and a t-shirt. Sandals make your life easier taking your shoes on and off if you’re visiting a few in one day. Traditional Myanmar dress is a Longyi, a long wrapped skirt which goes down to your ankles – easy to pop on over shorts or a shorter skirt and available for a reasonable price (up to a fiver or so) literally everywhere you go!
Ok, here’s my favourite spots from the tour which have made for beaut Myanmar Instagram photos #doingitforthegram:
1. Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
Firstly the Shwedagon Pagoda is an architectural masterpiece, and the most sacred and impressive Buddhist site for the people of Myanmar. Explore the nooks and crannies of this 114 acre site, pay your respects to the Buddha statues, pour water of the Buddha that represents your day of birth and capture the light glinting off the gorgeous gold pagoda.
There’s a great spot (I think) in the large tiled area opposite the Northern Stairwell – there’s a palm tree and the golden stupa right in view.
2. Myatheindan Pagoda, Mandalay
This temple, also known as Hsinbyume Pagoda can be reached via boat up to Min Kun, followed by a short walk. As I mentioned in my instagram this pagoda was built in memory of a princess, in 1816 by Bagyidaw one of the Kings of the time. The beaut architecture represents the physical description of the Buddhist mythological mountain, Mount Meru. Climb up on the wave like structures and get some awesome dynamic shots.
3. U Bein Bridge, Mandalay
No visit the Mandalay is complete without a stroll across U Bein Bridge at sunset. Although there’s hoards of tourists trailing across this seemingly unstable structure it’s a pretty special spot. Catch the sunset over the oldest and (once) longest teakwood bridge in the world as you cross Taungthaman Lake. Take a set of stairs down about half way (at the right time of year) to find a small field of sunflowers, capture the sunset and get awesome silhouettes of visitors from below.
4. Kuthodaw Pagoda & the World’s Largest Book, Mandalay
A buddhist stupa which is over 57 m high, but most interestingly contains the world’s largest book. Making up this book are 729 stone-inscription caves, each containing a marble slab inscribed with Buddhist teachings. Visit this impressive buddhist site at around 3/4pm for the gorgeous low day light, get lost amongst the books and use colours in your photos to really capture the bright white aspects of this beautiful site.
5. Sunrise, temples & balloons, Bagan
Old Bagan has over 2,000 temples and is a beautiful city for photography. Until recently you were able to climb onto the temples for higher shots with temples. It’s now forbidden as over the past few months one tourist actually died which is so sad, and another broke their hip, however you will see some people doing it regardless. Having walked nearby many of them it seems pretty dangerous as firstly some of them are 800 years old and secondly given their age a lot of the bricks and stones have crumbled already. You don’t wanna be crumbling down with them.
Recommended exploration includes renting an Ebike and exploring the temples at sunrise and sunset for the most magical light, and during the day to capture their impressive red/brown tones. Head up to Nyaunglaphet Hill for sunrise with balloons and reflections over the lake, and sunset with temples. OR, if you’re able to take a balloon ride and see the temples across the city from above (most of my tour group did this and it looked amazing)!
6. Inle Lake
Wizzing across this lake early in the morning and during sunset was a one my trip highlights. The wind in my hair, some great travel friends sat right behind me and gorgeous views across the water, it was truly magical. As you approach the top of the lake via boat there are many traditional “fishermen” who hold the large cage nets and use their legs to row their oar on their boats.
Sadly they’re only now doing this for the tourist photos but if you wait a little while further down the lake there’s the real fishermen with their newer nets, but still using the same rowing technique. Photograph the activities on the lake at any time of day for gorgeous light, reflections and to capture a moment in time in such a beautiful location.
7. Myanmar Beaches
As mentioned in my diary post the other day, Myanmar’s beaches are a hidden gem. Watch every changing colours drop below the horizon during sunset, have fun with silhouettes in the ember glow and make the most of the magical landscape in front of you. Check out Ngapali for these coconut tree characters, Maungmagan Beach, Paradise Beach and many others on the Dawei Penninsula.