5 of the best exclusive experiences in Burma

Burma may be decades behind the rest of the world in many respects (and therein lies its charm), but there is one area in which no traveller to Burma need compromise, and that is luxury travel. Though the market is in its infancy, there are some truly spectacular hotels and experiences already available in Burma to those in the know.

1. Explore the foothills of the Himalayas in exclusive luxury

Putao, on the fringe of the Himalayas, is one of the most remote and beautiful destinations in Burma. The region was all but inaccessible to visitors until recently, and even now the road is only open for four months per year (and then only to Burmese nationals). By air is the only way to get there at all, but those who make the trip are well rewarded for their pains.

Malikha Lodge, with its stunning mountain views and rooms equipped with hot tubs and open fires, offers visitors to Putao the chance to combine adventurous exploration with perfect luxury. The lodge runs exciting jungle treks, elephant rides, rafting excursions and visits to local tribal villages, giving you an exclusive insight into a region long hidden from the outside world.

Relax-at-Malikha-Lodge-in-stunning-Putao

Update (March 2016): Regrettably, it has been brought to our attention that Malikha Lodge keep caged bears on their premises for the entertainment of visitors. We do not support this practice, and as a consequence we no longer recommend this accommodation. Please be careful not to stay at hotels that perpetuate cruelty to animals!

2. Take a hot air balloon ride over Bagan

The pagoda-studded plains of Bagan are one of the world’s most enchanting landscapes. Bagan was once the centre of the great Pagan Kingdom, a great empire that ruled most of Burma in the 11th and 12th centuries. During this time, successive monarchs built more than 10,000 Buddhist stupas on the Bagan plains, over 2,500 of which remain today.

To fully appreciate the scope of this monument to human industry, view it from above, in perfect silence, from the basket of a hot air balloon. You will meet your pilot at the launch site before dawn, taking off in time to catch the sunrise as it pierces the morning mists that shroud the temples.

Hot-air-ballooning-over-Bagan

3. Charter a yacht in the Andaman Sea

The islands of the Myeik Archipelago, scattered along the southern prong of Burma as it projects into the Andaman Sea, are the setting for the sailing trip of a lifetime. Charter a luxurious yacht, and you can set your own course to explore these largely uninhabited islands – where the sand is white, the sea is emerald green, and the vegetation is lush and almost completely untouched. Think Koh Phi Phi before the rest of the world caught on, and you’d be close. Just don’t tell anyone else!

Yachting-in-the-Myeik-Archipelago

4. Enjoy a luxurious cruise on the Irrawaddy River

If you have come to Burma in search of a little Raj-era romance, there’s no better way to turn back the clock than by floating along the “road to Mandalay” on a beautifully reconstructed paddle steamer. The original Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, which plied Burma’s waters from 1865 until the Second World War, was revived in 1995 and now boasts a fleet of painstakingly crafted boats finished in brass and teak.

One of the most popular routes is the classic overnight cruise from Mandalay to Bagan, although you might prefer to opt for a more adventurous, multi-day journey into the little-visited north. An unbeatable combination of luxurious comfort and colonial elegance.

Enjoy-a-luxury-cruise-on-the-Irrawaddy

5. Relax on Macleod Island

Macleod Island, a pristine atoll in the Myeik Archipelago, is the island paradise of travel fantasies. The Andaman Resort is the only man-made structure on the island, and it has no pretensions to five-star service or luxury. What it does have is total seclusion in the midst of utterly unspoiled nature, and as you dive amongst the corals of its coastal areas, relax on the immaculate sands, and enjoy guided kayaking trips around the caves and mangroves of the shore, you’ll be exploring a world almost entirely untouched by modern development. This is true exclusivity, and it’s worth its weight in gold.

Macleod-Island-in-the-Andaman-Sea

Alastair Donnelly is Director at InsideAsia Tours.

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Comments (1)

  1. Stéphanie says:

    I am going to Myanmar and Laos beginning 2016, I will definitely try to experience one of these 5. Nice article, very much appreciated.

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