From here, the best next destination you could head to is Mandalay, Bagan or Inle. Some travelers also head down south or to the west.
It is highly recommended to go to Mandalay after Yangon, instead of Bagan. Mandalay is huge and it is the city where more than half of the entire monk in the country lives – which makes it a very interesting place to go, especially for cultural purposes. Here you can see, Mandalay Palace, the World's biggest book, and the Mandalay Hill. From here, you can also explore the outskirt of the city; Sagaing and Amarapura. You can extend, from Mandalay, your trip to Pyin Oo Lwin and Hsipaw. Since Mandalay is the intersection point of the Upper Myanmar, you always have to backtrack to Mandalay. There is no way to go to Bagan from Pyin Oo Lwin, however, you can get to Bagan from Hsipaw.
Pyin Oo Lwin
Pyin Oo Lwin is a small town two to three hour-drive from Mandalay. It is only one and a half hour-drive if you go there by private car.
When you get to Pyin Oo Lwin, you will the first impression of being a sleepy town, locals seem like walking slow and not in hurry at all. The buildings are pretty, you can clearly see the British architectures everywhere. A half an hour drive from the town center, you can visit a beautiful waterfall – Dat Taw Gyaint Waterfall. This waterfall is surrounded by nature, a perfect place to relax and maybe fall asleep.
It is no question why Bagan is a must see in Myanmar. A sea of countless temple tops pierce the clouds and the forests; plumes of dust coalesce at the spires of ancient stupas; the faded outlines of forgotten Hindu demigods beckon from the great platforms, and all the while the serrated tips of the Arakan Mountains loom in the background. Seeing Bagan by balloon is becoming increasingly popular, and offers a truly unique view over this 26-square-mile land of temples.
Next on our list of what to see in Myanmar is Inle Lake, which is the second largest lake in the country and occupies one of the highest elevations. It is located in Shan and is home to numerous endemic species of snails and fish. Unfortunately, their numbers have dwindled but that should not be a deterrent.
Stilt houses pepper the waterway and the only way to see them is by boat. As you head towards the village of In Dein, you’ll be greeted by two groups of old pagodas, the Shwe Indein pagodas and Nyaung Oak pagodas. Some are in ruins while others have been restored.
Kalaw has risen in the Myanmar tourist scene to become one of the favored destinations for trekkers and adventurers hitting the country’s eastern mountains. Perched high up on the ridges of the Shan hills, the spot began life as a mountain town under British rule, intended to offer a respite from the Asian heat of the plains below.
Today, visitors can still enjoy the cooling breezes of the highlands, along with a clutch of laid-back guesthouses, excellent food markets, and – most importantly – hiking without the need for a permit!
Ngwe Saung Beach
Myanmar beaches aren’t exactly the first places you think of going to when visiting the country. But these little known gems are incredibly picturesque and have all the hallmarks of great beaches. Palm trees, blue seas and pale sands offer the perfect place to spend lazy days soaking in the sun. Ngwe Saung or Silver Beach is one of the most popular. There are scuba diving and snorkeling facilities too if you want to explore the water. Cafes and restaurants nearby serve up dish after dish of lip-smacking seafood and snacks.
Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda (aka Golden Rock)
It may be small but Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda or Golden Rock in Mon State is one of the most striking pagodas because of its location. It’s perched on a boulder that’s covered with gold leaves. The boulder itself seems to defy gravity as it perfectly balances itself on another rock atop Mt. Kyaikhtiyo. It’s believed that the boulder remains in its unusual position by virtue of the hair relic enshrined in the pagoda. And, legend has it that the boulder is supported by a strand of hair from Buddha. Whatever the reason, the unusual and dramatic attraction makes it one of the most sought-after Myanmar places to visit.
Remember these things before heading to see the temples or monasteries in Myanmar:
▪ Wear proper clothing. Cover your shoulders and legs to give respect.
▪ Footwear (including socks) is not allowed when you enter a temple.
▪ Remember to pay the Archaeological Zone fee (20 USD or 25,000 MMK) in Bagan. This is valid for five days.
Myanmar, sandwiched between India and the mainstays of Southeast Asia, certainly has its fair share of awesome things to see though. You can experience the frenetic pulse of modern Burmese life in the pagoda-topped metropolis of Yangon. Or, you can hike wild hills in the old lands of the Shan Kings, meeting lake farmers at Inle and the rusting relics of British rule in Kalaw.