Path approaching Shwedagon in Yangon, Myanmar. Image courtesy of Mike Aquino.
An 8-day, 7-night trip between Myanmar and Thailand's top destinations that demonstrates how both countries are, to use a colloquialism, “same same but different”.
You'll only need eight days to see Myanmar and Thailand's top destinations: a collection of tourist stops between two countries that complement one another where culture and history are concerned.
Yangon in Myanmar has the largest number of well-preserved colonial buildings in all of Southeast Asia, all accessible through a tour in the city centre. The tour covers a side trip to Bogyoke Aung San market, where you can purchase traditional Myanmar handicrafts or gem stones like rubies, sapphires and jade.
The Shwedagon Pagoda rises above all of Yangon, a massive gold-plated stupa that reputedly contains relics from the four past Buddhas, and commands the devotion of most Myanmar citizens.
Bagan has few of Yangon's crowds and modern buildings, but this old city's infrastructure has a more noble pedigree: formerly the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, Bagan saw over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries built within its borders during the 11th and 13th centuries.
A tour of Bagan includes stops at notable pagodas within Bagan and neigboring Nyaung-U: the massive Ananda Temple; the symmetrical Htilominlo; the intricate Shwezigon; before watching Bagan's famous sunset from atop Pyathadat Gyi.
Inle Lake is Myanmar's second-largest, home to the Intha and their unique waterborne way of life. The Intha cultivate floating gardens and row boats with a unique upright one leg-rowing style. Their villages around the lake include artisans making silver, cheroots (cigars), paper, and silver. Temples like Hpaung Daw U Pagoda are an Inle Lake must-visit, as is the Inthar Heritage House, home to a growing colony of Burmese cats.
The Thailand resort town of Pattaya has plenty to recommend it beyond its beaches: orchids at the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden; shopping at the Central Festival Pattaya Mall; fun elephant shows; and a massive Buddha image carved by a laser into a rock face.
Finally, Bangkok's tourist paths are well traveled but still worth seeing: the Dusit Palace complex containing Vinmanmek Mansion, the “world's largest golden teak mansion” built a former King; the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha temple (Wat Phra Kaew); the Four Face Buddha at Erawan Shrine; and consummate city experiences shopping at Central World and dining at Baiyoke Sky Tower overlooking the metropolis.
Vinmanmek Mansion in Bangkok, Thailand. Image courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
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