New destinations in Myanmar are emerging

Tour operators start to venture to new areas

New tourist destinations are emerging in Myanmar as tour operators strive to cater to visitors looking for experiences beyond the “big four” of Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake.

Khiri Travel, for example, will offer from October a new tour linking Bagan and Mrauk U. Located in Rakhine State, Mrauk U is home to hundreds of temples and pagodas, but attracts small tourist numbers as most travellers need to fly to Sittwe and then take a boat.

“Southern Chin State and Mrauk U are beautiful areas, and it’s certainly an area that can use more economic development,” says Edwin Briels, general manager of Khiri Travel Myanmar.

Despite security issues in Rakhine, Briels believes Mrauk U is a safe place to travel to. “Khiri Travel carefully follows the advice of the Myanmar government, which considers Mrauk U safe for travellers. The destination feels very peaceful and quiet,” he said.

Meanwhile, Remote Lands has introduced a tour to Loikaw, a remote town in Kayah State with attractions including the 11th century Taungkwe pagoda, a weekend market and remote tribes that live a few hours’ drive from the town.

“Our clients are always looking to explore new areas that aren’t as heavily touristed as Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake,” Jay Tindall, co-founder of Remote Lands, told TTG Asia, adding that Myanmar Airways’ recent addition of direct Yangon-Loikaw flights makes Loikaw more accessible.

Three Pyu city states have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, to which Tindall commented: “We definitely expect the UNESCO status of the Pyu cities to raise interest in the area and will be promoting it more actively.”

Other destinations gaining interest include Pyin Oo Lwin and the trekking destination of Hsipaw in Northern Shan State.

TTG Asia

[pictured: Mrauk U; photo by Jmhullot; Creative Commons licence]

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