Myanmar Landmarks: Incredible Sights You Don’t Want to Miss

Myanmar is a country full of intrigue for most travelers. Known for its breathtaking natural scenery, rich religious history, and fascinating culture, it’s a small but mighty country with an abundance of remarkable places to explore. The country has been subject to a pretty turbulent political history, and as a result it has spent years off limits to international travelers; but many parts of the country have now been opened up, allowing visitors to finally explore everything Myanmar has to offer. 

Myanmar’s landmarks are remarkably diverse in their offerings. From the diamond-clad spire of Shwedagon Pagoda, to the sleepy fishing villages surrounding Inle Lake, the sites and attractions in this incredible country are completely unique. Read on to discover the famous landmarks in Burma that you can explore on your trip to this truly special place.

Historical and Religious Landmarks in Myanmar 

1. Bagan 

The banks of the Irrawaddy River are home to one of the most famous landmarks in Burma: Bagan. This ancient city is a mesmerizing archaeological site, renowned for its vast expanse of over 2,500 well-preserved Buddhist temples, stupas, and pagodas. Dating back to the 9th century, Bagan was once the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, a flourishing center of Buddhism, and today it is home to the largest concentration of Buddhist monuments in the world.

Bagan, the most famous landmark in Myanmar
Bagan: a landmark in Myanmar, where history meets the horizon

Travelers can explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site by touring its vast amount of intricately decorated temples and monuments, as well as take sunrise hot air balloons to admire Bagans’ spectacular skyscape.

Bagan is well connected to the rest of the country by plane, train, and bus, so it’s an easy addition to your Myanmar itinerary.

2. Shwedagon Pagoda

Another famous landmark in Myanmar is Shwedagon Pagoda, a religious site perched atop Singuttara Hill in the city of Yangon. This site is a symbol of spiritual devotion within the Buddhist religion and is adorned with over 8,000 gold plates. The sacred site is believed to enshrine relics of four Buddhas, including strands of Gautama Buddha’s hair.

Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the most important religious sites in Myanmar
The Shwedagon Pagoda, in the city of Yangon

Shwedagon Pagoda is recognized as the most revered pagoda in Myanmar, so it attracts a huge number of pilgrims and tourists. Visitors to the pagoda can admire its massive diamond-encrusted spire, intricate carvings, and unique architecture whilst wandering through the temple complex. It’s one of the most famous religious landmarks in Myanmar, so is very worth visiting.  

3. Mingun

Mingun is another one of Myanmar’s fascinating landmarks. This large pagoda can be found 10 km north of Mandalay, and the site is known as the largest unfinished pagoda in the world. Once intended to be the largest stupa in the world, a myriad of factors meant it was left incomplete; the most famous of which being a prophecy that the king would die if construction was finished. Today, the unfinished pagoda stands as a reminder of the grand aspirations of King Bodawpaya in the late 18th century.

Mingun at dusk: one of Myanmar's fascinating landmarks
Mingun: one of Myanmar’s fascinating landmarks

Visitors are able to explore the pagoda’s massive brick structure and cracked facade on a trip to Mingun, and it’s a great day trip to go on from Mandalay. It’s also worth climbing to the top of Minguns terrace during your visit– the panoramic view of the river and surrounding countryside is spectacular. 

4. Golden Rock

Perched majestically atop Mount Kyaiktiyo in Myanmar, the Golden Rock stands as one of Myanmar’s most famous landmarks, and is steeped in mystique and religious significance. To reach the awe-inspiring Golden Rock, travelers must traverse through winding country roads from Yangon, before ascending the mountain by a combination of foot and truck.

The Golden Rock is a striking landmark in Myanmar, poised in mystique.
Golden Rock: Myanmar’s mystical balance, defying gravity.

Once you reach the top, you’ll find a sight that hardly looks as though it’s real. Local legend has it that the rock remains precariously balanced because a single strand of Buddha’s hair is enshrined between the rock and the cliff… whether you believe the legend or not, it’s a pretty impressive sight and is one of the most famous Burma tourist sites. 

5. Hpa An and The Kyaut Ka Latt Pagoda

Situated in southeastern Myanmar, Hpa An is a town that is home to some of Myanmar’s most breathtaking scenery, including the Kyaut Latt Pagoda. Perched dramatically atop a limestone pinnacle, this pagoda rises dramatically out of a lake, almost appearing as if it’s superimposed onto the horizon.

The Kyaut Ka Latt Pagoda in Hpa An
Hpa An – The Kyaut Ka Latt Pagoda

Travelers can access the site by boat, gliding along the tranquil waters of the Thanlwin River. As you approach Kyaut Ka Latt, the striking sight of the pagoda greets you and the sheer size of the pagoda becomes clear. Many of Myanmar’s landmarks feel like something out of another world– but Kyaut Ka Latt might take the crown in that category. 

6. Mount Popa

Mount Popa is one of Myanmar’s most impressive geological wonders. This dormant volcano is situated 1518 meters above sea level and is steeped in mythology. It’s a 777 step climb to the top of Mount Popa, and at the top travelers are greeted with a monastery, Popa Taungkalat, which is the most important site in Burma for Nat pilgrimage. The Nats are spirits who have been worshiped in Myanmar throughout history, and many pilgrims visit Popa Taungkalat to pay homage to the spirits.

Mount Popa: Myanmar's majestic peak, rising above the clouds
Mount Popa – Photo by Laura D’Addio

As you might imagine, there’s a fantastic view from the top of Mount Popa. It’s a solitary volcanic peak and is the highest point as far as the eye can see, so the panoramic views from the top are uninterrupted. 

7. The Ancient Capitals of Ava and Amarapura

The ancient capitals of Ava and Amarapura are poignant reminders of the Myanmar’s of the country’s rich history and cultural heritage. Located in close proximity to Mandalay, these former royal cities boast a wealth of historical landmarks, including ancient palaces, monasteries, and pagodas. To visit these sites, travelers can explore independently– but to learn about this region’s history in depth, it’s well worth traveling with a tour guide.

Highlights in Ava include the remnants of the royal palace, the teak Bagaya Monastery adorned with intricate carvings and the serene Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery. Meanwhile, in Amarapura, travelers can stroll along the iconic U Bein Bridge, the world’s longest teak bridge, which offers stunning views of Taungthaman Lake. Additionally, they can also explore the former royal palace complex of Maha Ganayon Kyaung Monastery, where monks still gather for their daily alms.

The iconic silhouette at sunset of the U Bein Bridge
U Bein Bridge: Myanmar’s iconic silhouette at sunset

8. Gokteik Viaduct

The Gokteik Viaduct is one of the most impressive landmarks in Myanmar. This impressive railway trestle, built in 1899, is one of the highest bridges in the world, spanning across a deep river gorge. The viaduct was constructed in the early 20th century during British rule in Burma, and it still serves as a vital transportation link today, connecting Mandalay and Lashio.

The Gokteik Viaduct is one of the most iconic Myanmar's landmarks
Gokteik Viaduct – Photo by Swan Htet ( X Y ) on Unsplash

The bridge is part of a longer three hour train journey from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin, through some of the country’s most beautiful countryside scenery. Riding across the viaduct is an adrenaline-fuelled event – the train windows are open and you can stick your head right out, dangling over the mammoth drop below. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted!   

Natural Landmarks in Myanmar: 

1. Inle Lake 

Inle Lake is one of the most remarkable natural landmarks in Myanmar. The large mountain lake is located within the Shan Hills at an elevation of 880 meters above sea level, and it measures around 22 km in length. The lake is one of Myanmar’s two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and is home to a remarkable number of endemic species including nine species of fish, and over twenty species of snails that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Inle Lake: Serenity and reflection in Myanmar's waters
Inle Lake: a serene natural landmark in Myanmar

As well as providing the opportunity to spot diverse wildlife species, another reason travelers choose to visit Inle Lake is to get a glimpse into rural Burmese life. The banks of the lake are home to multiple ethnic groups including the Intha, the Shan, and the Bamar, amongst others. Many of these communities live in traditional bamboo and wooden houses on stilts, traveling around the lake in small wooden boats and using unique fishing techniques as a source of income. A visit to Inle Lake is a great way to learn about rural life in remote areas of Myanmar.  

2. Mergui Archipelago

Mergui Archipelago is easily one of the most surprising places in Myanmar. This group of approximately 800 islands can be found along Myanmar’s southern coast, and it consists of postcard-worthy beaches that are yet to be spoiled by mass tourism. Many of the islands remain uninhabited and some haven’t even been named– this is one of the most off-grid and secluded places you can visit in Asia.

Mergui Archipelago: a cluster of lush, green islands surrounded by the clear, blue waters off Myanmar’s southern coast
Mergui Archipelago: untouched islands scattered across Myanmar’s seas

The main population in the Mergui Archipelago is the Moken, a semi-nomadic ethnic minority group. Traditionally, they lived at sea and traveled around on boats, fishing as their livelihood- but today, increasing numbers can be found settled on islands around Mergui instead. Reaching the secluded shores of Mergui is quite the journey, and permission to visit the islands can only be obtained by a licensed tour provider so it’s not possible to organize a trip independently. However, it’s a destination that is undeniably worth the effort if you want to explore some of the most beautiful islands in the world.

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Lasciati ispirare per il tuo prossimo Viaggio


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