5 Non-Touristy Places to Visit in Myanmar

photography by: Explore Unbound

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Few countries in the world captivate one’s imagination quite like Myanmar. Elegant pagodas adorn the landscape, from Yangon to the most remote border regions. Hardly visited natural wonders stand waiting to be explored. You can find sparkling beaches, tranquil lakes, and even Himalayan peaks within this fascinating country’s borders. But what captures the hearts of most visitors is how welcome they feel in this once secluded land. This is especially true when off-the-beaten tourist track, in these five incredible places that most travelers overlook.

Ngapali Beach

Most travelers in Southeast Asia think of Myanmar as a place to see Buddhist temples and colonial hill stations. What few know is that Myanmar has a remarkable coastline, and Ngapali Beach is its crown jewel. Stretching for miles in either direction, Ngapali is best explored on a rented bike, going at your own speed along the paved seaside road. In this way, you can best get a sense of the region’s striking diversity. In some parts, you will feel like you’re cycling through Bali, as you see modern, wooden villas and white sand beaches roll by, while in other areas, you might stumble across remote fishing villages, or pagodas set right by the water, reminding you of the unique culture of people who live in this paradise every day. But one thing in Ngapali is constant – wherever you go, you will find sky-high palm trees lining the shore, making for picture perfect sunrises.

All along Ngapali Beach, you'll find stunning beach-side villas, like these at Amara Ocean Resort

photography by: Explore Unbound

Mergui Archipelago

As a further testament to Myanmar’s incredible shoreline, look no further than the Mergui Archipelago. It is almost unbelievable that a place like this exists without being overrun by tourists. Located in the southernmost region of Myanmar, Mergui encompasses more than 800 pristine tropical islands, yet most are hardly visited. Those who do make the trip have the surrounding Andaman Sea all to themselves, only to be shared with the region’s abundant wildlife and the semi-nomadic Moken, who have roamed Mergui for centuries. Naturally, one of the best ways to explore such a remarkable environment is on a liveaboard dive boat. Underwater, you’ll see vibrant coral, manta rays, turtles, reef sharks, and even whale sharks if you are lucky. Back onshore, you can find mouse deer, giant lizards, and gibbons in the dense jungles on many islands. But hurry up and visit, as it won’t be long before the rest of the world learns of this utopia!

The Turquoise waters and rugged shorelines of Mergui

photography by: Explore Unbound


Believe it or not, Myanmar is home to a small slice of the Himalayas, where you can find the highest mountain in Southeast Asia! The snowy summit of Hkakabo Razi stands at 19,295 feet (5,881 meters), meaning only the strongest climbers will make it to the top. But if you are adventurous, you can get a close up view of this Himalayan giant from its base camp, or you can attempt a climb of Phogun Razi, a 11,433-foot peak in the region. For a truly unique activity, you can go on a multi-day white water rafting trip on the Nam Lang River, through forested canyons and Class III and IV rapids. Whatever you do in the remote north of Myanmar, be sure to bring your friends along, as you aren’t likely to find many other tourists here.

One of the best adventures in Myanmar is white water rafting in Putao, yet few tourists know of the region

photography by: Explore Unbound

Mrauk U

If you are looking to visit temples in Myanmar, Bagan has likely come across your radar. It’s a magical place, where hot air balloons fly over a desert landscape sprinkled with thousands of pagodas. The only thing not to love is the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit each year. In contrast, Mrauk U is hardly visited at all. While this is occasionally due to political tensions, it is more often due to visitors not knowing about its existence, or being deterred by the fact that it is only accessible via boat. But this archaeological wonder is well worth the effort it takes to get out there. Unlike Bagan’s flat and arid setting, Mrauk U is surrounded by lush hills and forests. This makes exploring its temples a wondrous experience, especially when the region is shrouded in mist and pagodas can only be seen as you draw near.

The temples of Mrauk U are as impressive as those in Bagan, but far less visited

photography by: Explore Unbound

Hpa An

Hpa An is the place to go if you want to get off the beaten path, but you can’t venture too far from Yangon. It’s a quiet village with an understated beauty, where you can really get a sense of everyday life in Myanmar. Most visitors to Hpa An can’t pinpoint why they like it so much, but for many, it’s the highlight of their trip – the picture of Myanmar’s charming authenticity. At the same time, you can find some of Myanmar’s most interesting adventures here. You can climb to the top of nearby Mount Zwekabin for some stunning panoramic views of the area, which are particularly striking at sunset. You can also explore one of the many caves in the region, some of which house pagodas and vast populations of bats. But one of the most unique activities has to be rock climbing next to a hot spring, where you can soak your pain away after a hard work out.

Hpa An is the perfect place to detox in the quiet countryside

photography by: Explore Unbound


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photography by: Explore Unbound