An Alternative Guide to Travelling Myanmar

For a long time, travel in Myanmar was dominated by visits to the “Grand Four” of Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake, with Ngapali Beach tagged onto the end. 

It has been exciting working in Myanmar tourism as more of the country opens up to foreign travelers. This is the case of places such as Loikaw in Kayah State, Chin State and more recently Mogok and Nagaland. 

However recently the space in which travel agents are able to operate in is shrinking. The area around Putao, much of Northern Shan State and Mrauk U are no longer places that Sampan Travel would confidently take guests to. 

This has led travelers and tour operators to be more imaginative in how they go about creating innovative itineraries. It is not about avoiding the “Grand Four + 1” but about thinking more creatively about what to do when there. 

Here then are five alternative ways to explore Myanmar’s “must-sees.” 

Yangon’s museums

Most museums in Myanmar are dire. Accept this, put aside all expectations, and then head to the Drug Elimination Museum. The Museum sets out to tell the story of how drugs ruin lives and how the Myanmar authorities have risen to the challenge to eradicate the evil and purge the country. 

Putting aside the truth or otherwise of these claims, the clumsy narrative and blundering pictorials make for a part-horrific, part-humorous ride through Myanmar drug wars and junta-propaganda.