Today Myanmar is still one of Southeast Asia’s most untouched regions. The country’s vastness and relatively low number of tourists means that active travelers can still feel like true explorers here. Landscapes vary impressively within a matter of hours, and travelers will often find themselves in places with no tourist activity. From the dry plains of Bagan and its thousands of temples, to the lush hills of the Shan State or the turquoise waters of Mergui Archipelago – each adventure will take place in a stunning and entirely different backdrop.
It’s this wonderful range of scenery, the country’s mysticism and the intimate hospitality of its people that offer exotic and memorable experiences. Any cycling tour or hiking program will be punctuated by numerous tea breaks in villagers’ houses, with locals who are as equally curious about the travelers they encounter as the travelers are about them.
The eastern region of Myanmar is the bountiful garden of the country. Lush mountainous areas turn especially bright and green after the rainy season and contrast the characteristic orange soil here, and colorful patchworks of crops cover rolling hills, particularly those surrounding the charming town of Pindaya and the old hill station, Kalaw. What makes this region so great for active travel?
- Terrain here is great for hiking, with dirt tracks crossing villages nestled in the hills. There are many ascents and descents as most villages are either situated within the hills or on top of hills. Dense forests provide ample shade (bamboo forests in particular).
- There is a balance here between tar road, dirt tracks and winding roads that are perfect for cycling as one traverses the hills.
- A wonderful cultural diversity, home to many different ethnic groups (the Pa O, Akha, Lisu, etc.) who still wear their traditional outfits on a daily basis and welcome travelers with warm smiles.
Central Myanmar encompasses the culturally rich UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bagan and the religious hub, Mandalay. Tall palm trees are dotted along the dry plains here, and the Irrawaddy River shows off its immense size as it flows from North to South. This region of the country is known for its religious and historic atmosphere, with thousands of temples and Ancient Royal Capitals. What makes this region so great for active travel?
- Roads here are flatter than in the east, and are especially suitable for cycling. Longer stretches can be undertaken on tar roads almost exclusively. Cycling tours here can easily be done from one city to another.
- There may be fewer villages to encounter along the way than in the Shan State, but there are endless temples, stupas, and pagodas to be explored.
The Chin State of western Myanmar has dramatic landscapes with deep valleys and high mountain ranges (Mount Victoria is situated here at a height of 3000 meters). The area has been isolated for a long time but is now open to tourism, offering off-the-beaten-track, hidden gems. Here travelers will occasionally find snowy hilltops in winter, impressive waterfalls and dense pine forests. What makes this region so great for active travel?
- The majestic mountain ranges and rocky valleys make for thrilling and challenging hiking tours.
- The area offers a special remoteness, with infrastructure just developing and villages spread further apart – travelers will enjoy a true escape into nature.
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