You do not need to be a serious athlete to take advantage of Myanmar’s outdoor playground. There are plenty of options to suit everyone, from half-day walks to week-long adventures. Here, we outline our favourite places for active escapes in Myanmar.
Inle Lake Region
The rugged hills around Inle Lake, Kalaw and Pindaya are filled with winding trails and hill tribe villages. With even an hour or two’s walk, you can be in a village untouched by time where the locals wear colourful costumes and speak their own unique dialect. Of course, the farther you go, the more spectacular the landscapes become and spending a night in one of these hill tribe villages is an unforgettable experience.
With its 2000 pagodas, Bagan is perceived as a cultural hotspot, not an adventure destination. But there is perhaps no better place in Myanmar — or even Southeast Asia — for a bike ride. The town is crisscrossed by a maze of narrow dirt and sand tracks that pass by some of the smaller pagodas. Biking through Bagan not only gives you an up-close view of the monuments but also connects you with the people who live in the villages surrounding the pagodas.
North Shan State
The town of Hsipaw is slowly growing in popularity with trekkers and nature lovers. Located on the road to the Chinese border, this charming town is surrounded by lush mountains and spectacular rice fields. While half-day treks will give you a taste of the natural beauty of Myanmar’s north, it is the overnight treks that really impress with their incredible views at every turn. Break up the journey from Mandalay to Hsipaw with a stop at Pyin Oo Lwin for a ‘warm up’. Take a gentle half-day hike to a spectacular waterfall then board a slow-moving scenic train for an adventure of a different kind.
Famous for its rubies and gemstones, Mogok has never garnered attention for much else. But it is set to take off as an adventure destination. The town is located in a valley and the surrounding hills boast amazing trails, hilltribe villages and spectacular views. Due to government regulations, overnight homestays are not allowed meaning only day-return hikes are possible but these are still challenging enough to satisfy adventure-lovers.
Hpa An & Mawlamyine
Hpa An and Mawlamyine are sleepy towns located to the southeast of Yangon. Hpa An boasts miles of emerald-green rice paddies, hidden caves and towering limestone karsts as well as the Salween River running along the town’s outskirts. Biking and trekking in Hpa An brings you closer to nature and takes you to farms and villages inhabited by friendly, hospitable locals. Mawlamyine is neighboured by Bilu Island, a sizable inhabited river island with quiet wide roads ideal for a bike ride. Easy to get to and blessed with beautiful landscapes, Hpa An and Mawlamyine are great locations for soft adventure.