Myanmar is still pretty undeveloped in terms of tourism. There are plenty of historic attractions to explore, see, and marvel at. But there are very few activities that visitors can enjoy – Myanmar is not the destination, for thrill-seekers. A visit to Myanmar is more about seeing the country and meeting the people. No doubt, if the country continues to open up to the West and the world, this will also change the face of tourism in Myanmar.
The best way to enjoy the many cities and towns of Myanmar is basically to walk. Cars and vehicles are limited, which makes walking easy – nothing like the traffic jams and pollution in other Southeast Asian cities. In fact, in Yangon it is illegal to ride motorcycles in city limits. Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan can easily be explored on foot. If too tired or too hot, just flag down a tri-shaw, rickshaw, or taxi, which are inexpensive forms of transportation.
Yangon has five 18-hole golf courses for golfing enthusiasts to enjoy. Unlike in western nations, playing golf is cheap in Myanmar, however, rounds should be booked in advance. The oldest club is the Yangon Golf Club, which was established by the British in 1909. Other golf clubs in Yangon are: Pan Hlaing Golf Club, YCDC Golf Club, Myanmar Golf Club, and Yemon Island Golf Resort. For those wanting to visit Myanmar specifically to play golf, can arrange tours through GOLFnTours.
Thanks to the many expats living in Yangon, there are several recreation and sports clubs, which visitors can also use, but you should check in advance for day-use/non-member policies. Special events are usually open to non-members. Options include the American Club, British Club, and Australian Club. Many of the hotels in Yangon also have pools and sports clubs.
Sailing on Inya Lake in Yangon is a popular past-time on weekends and an activity that visitors to Myanmar can enjoy as well. The Yangon Sailing Club, which dates back to 1924, at the lake offers sailing boat and rowing boat rentals, as well as sailing lessons for beginners. On many weekends, there are sailing races on the lake, which are also fun to watch. There are also nice walking trails around the lake to enjoy.
Equestrians will be happy to know that there are horse riding possibilities at the Yangon Equestrian Club. The club is located roughly 12 miles outside of Yangon and offers a range of riding options, for beginner to advanced, as well as lessons. Ayeindamar Travels & Tours organizes special equestrian tours for avid riders, not only Yangon, but also in Mandalay and the Shan state.
Elephant riding is becoming a popular activity on offer with tour companies offering eco-tours in Myanmar. Elephants have played an important role in Myanmar, both in military use, logging, and ceremonial use. Today, although some elephants can still find work, many are being used for tourism purposes. Myanmar Heritage Travels & Tours offers, daytrips to elephant camps or longer elephant tours. On the other hand, Myanmar Travel Expert offers elephant trekking tours through some of the most beautiful mountains in Myanmar.
Few visitors realize that Myanmar actually has some nice beaches. However, visitors should not expect them to be built up like in Thailand, because they are not – at least not yet. There are two coastal options, one on the Bay of Bengal and the other on the Andaman Sea side - the Mergui Archipelago is an unspoiled range of island in the Andaman Sea, which may be the last frontier for divers and snorkelers. Although water activities are still limited, the beaches are unspoiled and waters unpolluted. Many tour operators can arrange beach vacations in Myanmar, such as Shan Yoma Travel & Tours or Niko Travels & Tours
Rock climbing has not really caught on in Myanmar yet, however, thanks to the many mountains, there are some excellent rock climbing venues. The highest mountains are found along the Chinese and Indian borders, such as the Khakaborazi, the highest peak in Myanmar. Most of these climbs are for experienced outdoorsmen only and are off the beaten track, therefore visitors should seek out organized tours or guides to stay safe. Some reputable companies include Adventure Silk Road Group and Scenic Gateway Travels & Tours.
Another up and coming activity is white water rafting. The Maykha River in the Kachin State in northern Myanmar offers some of the best white water in Southeast Asia. The river is actually the headwater of the great Irrawaddy River and offers great views and unparalleled rafting. Journeys Myanmar will organize expeditions to different parts of the Maykha River depending on the level of experience of visitors. Ayuda Myanmar Travel offers both day trips and longer that include exploring the waterways.