When it comes to luxury travel in Asia, what destinations spring to mind? Is it island hopping in the azure waters of the Andaman Coast or enjoying 5* facilities in Asia’s most eco-friendly city, Singapore? Maybe you dream of sailing in Halong Bay or relaxing in a treetop hotel in a Balinese forest?
How about Myanmar?
This former pariah state has been quietly stepping further into the travel limelight in recent years and investment in the tourism industry continues to grow. Yet, it isn’t just modern development that makes Myanmar a great luxury travel destination. In Myanmar, it is the decadence and mystery of the country’s ancient history and colonial past that has travellers falling in love.
This guide to luxury travel in Myanmar will give you a taste of the vibrant mix of luxury experiences in 3 of the country’s most popular destinations.
Yangon Luxury Accommodation
Our top pick for accommodation in Yangon is the impressive Strand Hotel, which lies across the street from the Yangon River. We recently featured this grand hotel in our selection of top heritage hotels in Indochina for its colonial beauty, unchanged or added to since 1901.
Extravagant Dining Experiences in Yangon
Extravagant dining does not necessarily mean 5* star restaurants and expensive ingredients. To us, eating luxury means fresh, high-quality produce and unique atmospheres in which to enjoy it.
In Yangon, where there are plenty of high-end dining options, we love to head to 19th street to feast on local barbecue. Amid the crowds you will find stall after stall serving fresh vegetables and a variety of meats, marinated and ready to grill. Here you can eat on the street but dine like a king!
Top Attractions and Activities
The title ‘Golden Land of Myanmar’ is brought to life among the gilded temples of Yangon, the country’s biggest city. With their gold-leaf exteriors and diamond topped spires, the opulence of Burmese Buddhist temples will astound even the most jaded traveller. We recommend wandering through the orderly streets of downtown Yangon to admire Sule Pagoda when you first arrive, and then heading out for a whole afternoon in the glow of Shwedagon Pagoda.
A great tour guide, who is a fountain of knowledge and charm, can make a trip. In Yangon, you can meander through the former capital alongside a trained tour guide from the enterprising Yangon Heritage Trust. Delve into the intriguing history of the city with stories and anecdotes from every period of history and understand a little of what makes modern day Yangon so fascinating with a truly knowledgeable guide by your side.
Yangon is also the perfect place to shop for unique Burmese souvenirs at the bustling Bogyoke Market. From colourful and delicate umbrellas to exquisite examples of lacquerware, Myanmar is full of traditional craft and design that you’ll want to take home. You can use this souvenir guide to help you know what to look out for.
Bagan Luxury Accommodation
Set amid the crumbling temples of Bagan Archaeological Preservation Zone, Aureum Palace Hotel blends beautifully in its historic location. With 5* facilities and decadent spa services, available steps away from the awe-inspiring sites of Bagan, you could not ask for more from a stay in this city.
Extravagant Dining Experiences in Bagan
Afterhours access to the temples of Bagan is as exclusive as it gets and at the beautiful Aureum Palace you can wine and dine in style while looking out over temples lit up against the night sky. Soak in the history and magic of Bagan as you enjoy a feast deserving of Myanmar royalty and enjoy a variety of traditional Burmese music and dance performances.
Top Attractions and Activities
The number one extravagant activity in all of Myanmar is the balloon ride over Bagan and what an experience it is. There is no other way to achieve such a dramatic overview of the thousands of temples scattered across the Bagan countryside than high up above in a hot air balloon. Couple this with a golden sunrise and a post-balloon champagne breakfast and you’ve had the ultimate luxury experience before it’s even 9am.
While a sunset over the temples is certainly not to be missed, watching sunset as you cruise along the Ayeyarwady River may be a highlight of your trip to Bagan. With a drink in hand, and your travel companions around you, soak in the peaceful atmosphere as the water around you turns to gold.
Once you’ve had your fill of temple-hopping, head out of the city to spend a day or two around majestic Mount Popa. We recommend basing yourself at the Popa Mountain Resort where you can enjoy panoramic views of the plains of Bagan and the magical mountain-top Taungkalat Shrine, while sipping on cocktails in the pool or on your private balcony. The resort is open to day-trippers, as well as overnight stays.
Inle Lake Luxury Accommodation
When it comes to resting your head in Inle, you want to find a hotel that mirrors the serene atmosphere of the lake. The Sanctum Inle Resort, built to resemble the quiet tranquility of a Buddhist monastery but with luxury amenities, fits the bill perfectly.
Extravagant Dining Experiences
One of the best fine dining restaurants in Inle sits on the lake itself and also boasts a hydroponic garden and private cooking classes. Inle Heritage Restaurant is located in an old teak house on the southern tip of the lake and is known for serving up Burmese classics created from home-grown ingredients. They also host art exhibitions and have an onsite cat sanctuary!
Top Attractions and Activities
The innovative locals of Inle Lake build their homes on stilts over its shallowest parts, row their boats out to fish in its center and grow their produce in floating gardens on its surface. In recent years, the influx of tourism has seen an increase in all new ways to make an income on the lake with exhilarating boat rides to visit handicraft workshops selling local products. Visit artisan cigar factories, get creative with silversmiths who use local gem stones in their bespoke jewellery and find unique fabrics made from the floating lotus flower and take home souvenirs that will forever remind you of this beautiful place.
Is there anything more decadent than sipping a glass of wine in the afternoon sun? In Inle you have the unique opportunity to drink locally produced Burmese wines as you gaze over the lake and surrounding mountains. The rolling hills surrounding Inle Lake are the perfect climate for growing grapes and the inspiring team at Red Mountain Winery has created a beautiful space among the vineyards to drink, eat and socialize with friends. The Winery is only 6km from Nyaungshwe and the road makes for a great cycling route.
Step off the beaten path and venture to the far south of Inle Lake to discover the fascinating stupa forest of Indein. Wander up a long and beautiful path through the forest to find hundreds of magnificent 16th century stupas, many of which have been untouched for centuries and left to the overgrown jungle. Others have been restored and gleam brightly next to their crumbling neighbours. With Buffalo Tours, you can enjoy a gourmet picnic overlooking the stupa forest before a boat ride on the lake back to your hotel.