A stay in Yangon holds much fascination and appeal in itself, yet there is also much more of Myanmar to discover beyond the country’s largest city and main international gateway, in destinations like Mandalay and Bagan.
A stay in Yangon is surely a must on any trip to Myanmar, with its intriguing historical sights, bustling city pace of life and accommodation choice that includes some of the finest colonial hotels in Asia - such as The Strand Yangon built in 1901 and Belmond Governor’s Residence dating from the 1920s - alongside three to five star Yangon hotels.
A must-see attraction in Yangon is the spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda, built some 2,500 years ago and which can be seen on the city’s skyline for miles around. This and many other fascinating sights and sounds are found throughout the city, and when it’s time to venture further afield into Myanmar, Mandalay is a great choice.
The country’s second largest city and the last royal capital of Burma, Mandalay is around 440 miles north of Yangon. With a population of one million, it is an economic hub and considered the centre of Burmese culture. Various elements of tradition and culture can be seen in Mandalay, which is also known as the ‘cycling city’ due to the preference of many of the citizens here to travel by bike.
Air Mandalay, Air Bagan and Yangon Airways all operate daily flights between Yangon and Mandalay, some of these direct services and others one-stop. Myanmar Airways International has a once weekly service, on a Thursday.
Also, Thai carriers Bangkok Airways and Thai AirAsia both offer daily direct flights linking Mandalay with the Thai capital Bangkok.
As part of plans to develop Myanmar’s airport infrastructure, Mandalay International Airport is to be transformed into a logistics hub with the aim of creating direct transportation of goods to and from other countries in Asia and Europe. The Ministry of Transport has a long-term vision and strategy to turn Myanmar into a major passenger and cargo aviation hub for the ASEAN region. The country’s geographical location places it within range of non-stop flights from all continents except the Americas.
Just over 430 miles to the north of Yangon is Bagan, where the enchanting landscape offers over 2,000 temples and stupas. The pagodas here are mostly covered in reddish colour and religious monuments found in the area were built more than 1,500 years ago.
Different modes of transportation are available to explore this fascinating destination, be it by car, horse cart or bicycle. An idyllic sunset boat trip can also be enjoyed along the Ayeyarwaddy River, taking in the sunset while sipping on a cool drink.
Air Mandalay, Air Bagan and Yangon Airways also operate daily flights between Yangon and Nyaung U (Bagan), some of these direct and others one-stop.
Daily flights are also available between Mandalay and Bagan.
Myanmar’s tourism performance is surging, with the destination welcoming a record 2 million plus foreign visitors for the first time in 2013. It recently announced a target of 3 million foreign tourists for 2014 and 5 million for 2015. Foreign investment is also seeing a boost, including in the accommodation sector with new hotels in Myanmar adding to room supply. Local media has reported that out of 960 hotels granted operating licenses across Myanmar since July 2013, 302 have opened in Mandalay and 238 in the Yangon Region. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism indicated 48 new hotels in Myanmar were due to open in coming months, accounting for a 37,024 room boost in room inventory.