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Burma (Myanmar)

Main attractions

Bagan, Burma
Bagan / Nicholas Kenrick, / CC BY 2.0

Comparatively seldom visited by foreign tourists, Burma (Myanmar) though is gorgeous, very diverse country with rich cultural and natural heritage.

Many little known landmarks are out of reach to general tourists and - possibly - not discovered yet, but some of those which are known better, belong to most surprising landmarks in the world.

Highlights of Burma are:

  • Pagodas. These amazing structures - very tall, often gold coated bell-shaped structures with spires - are Burman architectural "specialty". Many pagodas are adorned with huge amount of large jewels, precious metals and artworks. Amazing are Kuthodaw Pagoda - world's largest book, Shwedagon Pagoda, the 114 m tall Shwemawdaw Pagoda.
  • Historical cities. The capitals of medieval states in Burma were large cities with impressive fortifications, palaces and countless temples. Such abandoned cities as Bagan and Mrauk U have unique skyline thanks to huge number of temples.
  • Gemstone mines. World's best rubies and sapphires are found in Burma, here are found gorgeous spinels, jade, amber and many very rare gemstones.

Natural landmarks

Geothermal features

  • Cheduba mud volcano - Rakhine State. Enormous mud volcano, which often erupts. It emits also seeps of oil - e.g. it is natural petroleum spring.
  • Sai Khrone mud volcano and other mud volcanoes of Ramree Island - Rakhine State. Enormous, active mud volcano with prominent mud cone. Unique due to very strong eruptions, emitted gases sometimes burst into flames. Sites of legends about spirits.
Lower cascade of Anisakan Falls, Burma
Lower cascade of Anisakan Falls / Bessie and Kyle, / CC BY-SA 2.0

Waterfalls

  • Anisakan Falls (Dat Taw Gyaik Falls) - Mandalay Region. Gorgeous, some 320 m tall waterfall with several steps and spectacular tufa formations.
  • Bala Chaung Falls (Lawbida Falls) - Kayah State. Major falls with many steps. Some 35 m wide river falls some 350 m over the distance of 1.8 km.
  • Bungtla Falls (Bon Tala Waterfall) - Chin State. Some 460 m tall waterfall, with 9 major cascades.

Caves, cave temples

Many natural caves in Burma are used as Buddhist shrines and are adorned with statues of Buddha - thus they are both natural and cultural monuments.

  • Badah-Lin Caves (Padah-Lin) - Shan State. Two archaeologically important caves. Contain paintings and stone carvings from the Mesolithic and early Neolithic periods. One cave was inhabited in earlier times, 13,000 years old charcoal has been found here.
  • Kaw Gun Cave (Kawgon) - Kayin State. Amazing cave temple from the 7th century AD, adorned with thousands of Buddha images, made of terracotta and plastered on the walls. It is assumed that some 10,000 such images are plastered here. Cave contains undeciphered writing in unknown language.
  • Mondowa Cave - Shan State. Longest known cave in Burma, 1770 m long. At the entrance is located Buddhist temple.
  • Pindaya Caves - Shan State. Group of three caves, where the southern cave contains more than 8,000 statues of Buddha, mostly from the 18th - 29th century.
Ruby from Mogok, Burma
Ruby from Mogok / Rob Lavinsky, / CC BY-SA 3.0

Gemstone finds

  • Hpakan jade mine (Phakant mine) - Kachin State. Major find of high quality jade. World's largest jade stone has been found here - it is 21 m long and 6 m high.
  • Maingkwan burmite mine - Kachin State. Best known mine of deep red variety of amber - burmite.
  • Mogok ruby and sapphire mines - Mandalay Region. In the river beds around Mogok city are found some of the best rubies and sapphires in the world, as well as some 60 other kinds of gemstones - including such beautiful rarities as taafeite, sinhalite, johachidolite and others. Gems are mined here since prehistoric times.
  • Mong Hsu ruby mines - Shan State. Richest find of rubies in the world, many stones have very high quality. Some 95% of faceted rubies in the world are mined here.
  • Namya ruby and spinel mines - Kachin State. Find of high quality rubies and spinels.
  • Pain Pyit mine - Mandalay Region. One of the numerous Mogok mines, unique due to finds of extremely rare gemstone jodachidolite, as well as the rare hackmanite.

Man made landmarks

Bagan, Burma
Bagan / Marc Veraart, / CC BY 2.0

Historical cities

  • Bagan temple city - Mandalay Region. An ancient temple city with 2217 temples (initially more than 5000) built mainly in the 9th - 11th centuries, once the most important centres of Buddhism in the region. More than 300 temples contain frescoes. Served as a capital of several ancient kingdoms. Although most of the temples are not in active use, locals continue to use them for some religious activities. These numerous high and beautiful buildings create a unique skyline.
  • Inwa (Ava) - Mandalay Region. Ruins of the ancient capital, founded in 1364. Rebuilt several times throughout the history, abandoned after earthquakes in 1839. Ruins of pagodas, stupas and palace.
  • Mrauk U - Rakhine State. Temple city, capital city of Rakhine kingdom in 1430 - 1785. More than 200 impressive temples and other structures have been preserved here, found also diverse stone carvings and other monuments.
  • Sagaing temple city - Sagaing Region. Former capital of Sagaing Kingdom in 1315 - 1364, royal capital of Burma in 1760 - 1763. Numerous pagodas are located in the city.
  • Sri Ksetra (Thaye Khittaya, Tharay-Khit-taya) - Bago Region. Ruins of the largest capital of Pyu state, founded in the 5th - 7th centuries and abandond before the 1057. This was the largest Pyu city, larger than Bagan and Mandalay. City was encircled with 13 km long, 4.5 m tall walls from brick. In the central part was located enormous palace complex.
  • Ywama village - Shan State. A village built in stilts above the Inle Lake. This village can be travelled by boat, there are built also walkways. Several similar villages in the lake are - Iwagyi, Intha and others. Not less interesting are the endless floating gardens on the lake.
Wood carvings in Shwenandaw Monastery, Burma
Wood carvings in Shwenandaw Monastery / Thomas Schoch, / CC BY-SA 3.0

Buddhist monasteries

  • Bagaya Kyaung monastery - Mandalay Region. This monastery is built from dark teak trees in 1838. Buildings are embellished with exquisite wood carvings.
  • Ohn Don Monastery - Magway Region. Beautiful monastic complex, built in 1742 AD. This complex of wooden building is ornamented with woodcarvings, it has gilded and laquer decoration.
  • Popa Taung Kalat - Mandalay Region. This beautiful monastic complex sits on top of an extinct volcanic plug, rising 170 - 180 metres over the surrounding area.
  • Sale Monastery - Magway Region. Well preserved monastic complex, built from wood, with outstanding woodcarvings. Now serves as a museum.
  • Shwenandaw Monastery - Mandalay Region. This monastery was built in the 19th century from teak wood. Buildings are very ornate, adorned with woodcarvings. The only remaining historical building of the Mandalay Palace complex.

Temples and pagodas

Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, Burma
Kyaiktiyo Pagoda / Arian Zwegers, / CC BY 2.0
  • Ananda Temple - Bagan, Mandalay Region. Well preserved, 51 m tall Buddhist temple, built in 1005. Temple has unusual architecture - a blend of Mon and Indian architecture styles. Contains many art values.
  • Bawbawgyi Pagoda - Bago Region. A prototype of the unique Burmese pagodas, this 47 m tall pagoda is built before the 11th century AD by Pyu culture.
  • Dhammayangyi Temple - Mandalay Region, Bagan. Massive temple, the largest in Bagan. Built in the late 12th century.
  • Gawdawpalin Temple - Mandalay Region, Bagan. Giant temple, second tallest in Bagan. Constructed in 1227.
  • Hsinbyume Pagoda - Mandalay Region. Beautiful, shining white pagoda, built in 1816. This is unusual pagoda, with seven concentric terraces. It represents a model of the mythical Mount Meru.
  • Kuthodaw Pagoda - Mandalay Region. This gilded stupa is 57 metres high, with other 729 stupas with stone inscriptions. These buildings comprise the world's largest book and were constructed in 1857.
  • Kyaiktiyo Pagoda - Mon State. This small pagoda on an enormous, gold covered boulder is located on the edge of a cliff. According to legend it is held in its place by a strand of the hair of Buddha.
  • Mahamuni Pagoda - Mandalay Region. One of the most sacred places in Burma, this ornate monastic complex was built in 1785 and rebuilt in the late 19th century. Contains the statue created after the likeness of Buddha in his lifetime.
  • Mingun Pahtodawgyi (Mantalagyi Stupa, Unfinished Stupa) - Mandalay Region. Ruins of giant, incomplete stupa. Construction was started by eccentric king Bodawpaya in 1790. It was planned to build a 150 m tall temple, but it was left unfinished intentionally, due to a superstition. Now this is the largest pile of bricks in the world.
  • Phowintaung - Sagaing Region. Complex of Buddhist caves, consists of 947 decorated, artificial caves. Many caves have beautiful frescoes and statues. Created mostly in the 14th - 18th centuries.
  • Shite-thaung Temple - Rakhine State. Large and much revered temple, built in 1535 - 1536. The main hall of the temple is surrounded by a maze of corridors, lined with countless reliefs of religious substance.
  • Shwedagon Pagoda - Yangon Region. Gilded and 98 metres tall, this stupa is richly adorned with jewels. It is the most sacred pagoda in Burma. Initially built in the 6th century, rebuilt and extended, one of the most impressive architecture monuments in the world.
  • Shwemawdaw Pagoda, Burma
    Shwemawdaw Pagoda / Vera & Jean-Christophe, / CC BY-SA 2.0
    Shwemawdaw Pagoda - Bago Region. An enormous gilded pagoda that is 114 metres in height. It was originally built in the 10th century and rebuilt several times.
  • Shwemokhtaw Paya - Ayeyarwady Region. Very old pagoda, first built (reportedly) in 305 BC. Rebuilt several times, now 47 m tall. Upper part is coated with 6.3 kg of pure gold, middle part - with silver and lower part - with bronze. Adorned with 829 diamonds, 843 rubies and many other precious stones.
  • Shwe Myint Zu Pagoda - Kachin State. This gilded pagoda is built in Indawgyi Lake and is accessible by a long footbridge.
  • Shwesandaw Pagoda - Bago Region. One of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Burma, guilded, 99 m tall pagoda. Built in 1057.
  • Shwezigon Pagoda - Bagan, Mandalay Region. Gilded pagoda, one of the prototypes of Burmese pagodas. Completed in 1102, believed to enshrine a bone and tooth of Buddha.
  • Sule Pagoda - Yangon Region. Reportedly more than 2,500 years old pagoda, coated with gold. Central place of the city.
  • Thambuddhei Paya - Sagaing Region. Very ornate pagoda, resembling Borobudur in Indonesia. Built in 1303, rebuilt in 1939, contains more than 500,000 images of Buddha.
  • Thatbyinnyu Temple - Bagan, Mandalay Region. The tallest temple in Bagan, 61 m tall. Built in the middle of the 12th century.

Statues of Buddha

  • Laykyun Setkyar - Sagaing Region. Giant statue of Buddha, with 116 m height it is the second tallest in the world. Built in 1996 - 2008.
  • Shwethalyaung Buddha - Bago Region. Giant sculpture of a reclining Buddha, 55 m long and 16 m tall. One of the largest monuments of Buddha in the world. It is believed that this Buddha was built in 994 AD, rediscovered in 1880.
U Bein footbridge from teak tree, Burma
U Bein footbridge from teak tree / Ralf-André Lettau,

Bridges

  • Goteik Viaduct - Shan State. Very impressive railway viaduct, built over a gorge in 1900. Viaduct is 682 m long, 102 m high.
  • U Bein footbridge - Mandalay Region. The longest bridge from teak tree, 1.2 km long. Built in the early 19th century from unwanted teak wood from a dismantled palace.

Sites of legends

  • Mount Popa - Mandalay Region. Forest covered mountain, a site of legends. Many locals believe that here live the most powerful Nats in Burma and thus it is important Nat worship center. Special rituals should be obeyed when visiting this mountain.
  • Tamanthi forest of were-tigers - Sagaing Region. According to multiple legends and stories of many local people, in Tamanthi Wildlife Reserve are living were-tigers - beautiful girls in day time and dangerous tigers in the night. In this area have been preserved vast primeval forests with very high biological diversity. Forests extend for hundreds of kilometres.
Mingun Bell in 1873, Burma
Mingun Bell in 1873 / Bourne & Shepherd, / public domain

Man made landmarks

  • Kyardor megaliths - Chin State. The Kyardor village has many megalithic structures, made from rough stones and still in use.
  • Mandalay Palace - Mandalay Region. The last royal palace in Burma, built in 1857 - 1859. This palace is of great symbolic importance to Burmese and, although much of it was destroyed in World War II, it was rebuilt in the 1990s. Palace complex is 413 ha in size and is surrounded by 2 km long and 6.86 m tall walls.
  • Mingun Bell - Mandalay Region. Second largest existing bell in the world. Weight - 90,178 kg, diameter 4.95 m, height 6.31 m. Made in 1808 - 1810.
  • Supreme Court of Burma - Yangon Region. Enormous, ornate building in Neo-Baroque style, built in 1905 - 1911.

List of described attractions by states and divisions

Burma is divided into 7 states and 7 divisions:

Ayeyarwady Region
Bago Region
Chin State
Kachin State
Kayah State
Kayin State
Magway Region
Mandalay Region
ArrowPopa Taung KalatBuddhist shrines
Mon State
Sagaing Region
Shan State
Rakhine State
Tanintharyi Region
Yangon Region

Map of Burma

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