Passionate travellers know that Myanmar has landscapes of temples and jungle-covered mountains, long rivers, ancient cities and – most surprisingly of all – spectacular beaches.
The gorgeous west coast resorts are peaceful and pretty perfect for younger kids. Older kids will love the beaches too, just make sure to let them see some of the country before settling down by the sea.
Flights from the UK to Yangon and Mandalay all year round take between 14 and 16 hours.
Daily flights from Yangon to Ngapali on the west coast take under one hour.
The Pyu Ancient Cities in Central Myanmar are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Buddhism in South East Asia.
Fantastic beach resorts, historic hotels in Yangon’s Colonial Quarter, international five star hotels in Bagan and charming family villas on the west coast.
Myanmar isn’t a secret but it is significantly less touristy and developed than most other East Asian countries.
Colourful annual festivals like Yangon’s Pagoda Festival in February; Lake Inle Boat Festival in October; Taunggyi Balloon Festival in November.
The country’s strong family-centred culture’ s warm and inclusive for kids.
Where to go and stay in Myanmar
Ngapali, Western Myanmar
Bagan, Central Myanmar
The former capital, better known as Rangoon, is where most visitors arrive in Myanmar. It’s a breathtakingly exotic city with many of the country’s most celebrated sacred sites and nowhere else has quite the same long and fascinating heritage. The grand colonial architecture is a little faded in places but still magnificent. Shwedagon Paya – Myanmar’s legendary pagoda – justifies an overnight stay itself. And teenagers will love the brilliantly noisy clamour and colour of Chinatown for stranger than strange markets, street food and sheer eccentricity.
Don’t miss: 45m high Sule Paya and the surrounding Colonial Quarter; the booksellers on Pansodan Street; food and puppets at Bogyoke Aung San Market; a rickshaw tour of Dala Town; Inya Lake where Aung San Suu Kyi was held under house arrest for 15 years.
Ngapali, Western Myanmar
From November to March, temperatures in Ngapali hover between 27 and 30˚ every day. The skies are blue, the beaches are bone-white and the Bay of Bengal’s waters are warm and crystal clear. Gorgeous resort hotels string along the coast against lush, green jungle-like forest. Fresh seafood is the staple of pretty restaurants in tiny fishing villages. Locals wander along the sands selling fruit and Buddhist monks occasionally stroll by. Try to imagine Thailand’s islands about twenty years ago and that’s Ngapali now.
Ngapali is an hour’s flight from Yangon.
Ngapali Beach is the largest and loveliest of the four beaches surrounding Ngapali Town. It’s also where to find exquisite waterfront resorts, discretely spaced overlooking flawless white sands and the Indian Ocean.
The atmosphere’s laid-back and barefoot, jet skis and outboard motors are forbidden on all beaches.
Days here are spent, swimming, kayaking, exploring local towns, trekking, hiking and cruising in traditional wooden sailboats.
An idyllic beach holiday for younger kids and a brilliant finale to a tour of Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay with older children and teenagers.
Don’t miss: kayaking through mangrove swamps; Kippling Bay and Linthar Village; spas on Ngapali North Beach; cycling along the coast; the golden pagodas of Thandwe; Salone Buddhist Monastery; climbing Amata Mountain; snorkelling at Pearl Island.
Bagan, Central Myanmar
The spiritual heartland of this mysterious country, whether you think of it as ancient Burma or modern Myanmar, is the central plain of Bagan. A 67km² landscape where thousands of towers and temples pierce dense jungle canopies and seem to stretch to an infinite horizon. It’s one of the most breathtakingly beautiful areas in Asia and shouldn’t be missed if you’re travelling with older kids.
The city of Bagan is the centre of the Bagan archaeological complex and the best base for touring.
Old Bagan, on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River, is touristy but still quite picturesque and atmospheric, good for top and mid-range hotels.
There are over 2000 temples and stupa in the area. The collective landscape is astonishing and the most historic monuments are included in a range of tours.
11th century Ananda Pahto is the most revered of all the Bagan temples.
Guided bike tours are a fun way for kids to see the major temples and avoid cultural overload.
November to March temperatures rise up to 30˚ and the weather’s dry and sunny. This is the busiest time of year. Avoid March, April and May, it’s unbearably hot with highs of 40˚.
June, July and August is Myanmar’s rainy season, but in the dry central plain there’s little rainfall and temperatures sit between 25 and 27˚. This is the quietest and least expensive time to visit Bagan.
Northern Myanmar is a restricted travel zone and not recommended for family holidays. If you’re planning to visit, check out UK Government Advice first.
What do and see with kids in Myanmar
Yangon Cycle Tour An four hour cycle tour of Yangon with an English-speaking guide is one of the most interesting ways to get to know this great city a little better.
Inle Lake, Central Myanmar The floating world of Inle Lake is another must-do experience to add into a multi-centre tour of Myanmar. Fabulous for cycling and sailing and famous for water markets and gardens. Daily flights from Bagan take just 35 minutes.
Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, Inle Lake Known as the ‘jumping cat monastery’, for centuries Nga Phe Kyaung monks have traditionally trained cats to jump through hoops. An eccentric and amazing tour.
Bagan to Mandalay day cruise, Central Myanmar Take a day sail along the Irrawaddy River on a traditional Burmese junk. This family-friendly cruise follows the traditional route from Old Bagan to Burma’s ancient royal capital, Mandalay.
Shwedagon Paya, Yangon There are thousands and thousands of temples across Myanmar, but Shwedagon Paya is the most sacred Buddhist site in the entire country. Even if kids aren’t interested in the details, the gold-leaf coating is sensational.
Chaukhtatgyi Reclining Buddha, Yangon It’s possible to get Buddha fatigue in Myanmar, but the immense 14m high Chaukhtatgyi monument in Yangon restores most visitors. Chaukhtatgyi
Inle Lake Wetland Reserve, Central Myanmar This protected national park is home to traditional lake dwelling communities and one of the more accessible areas to see indigenous wildlife.
Hot Air Balloon Flights, Bagan Bagan has thousands of temples across a huge area, one of the few ways to see them all and appreciate the immensity and beauty of the complex is by hot-air balloon. Early morning flights are awe-inspiring.
Yangon Heritage Trust Tours, Yangon The Yangon Heritage Trust’s dedication to protecting the historic architecture of Myanmar’s capital is inspirational. Take one of their friendly two hour walking tours and all profits go towards the Trust.
Mandalay Marionette Theatre, Central Myanmar One of the most enchanting theatre performances ever, the Mandalay Marionettes shouldn’t be missed if you’re in the city. Traditional puppets are also for sale here.
Educational value for kids
When you visit Mandalay don’t miss a walk across Taungthaman Lake on the U-Bein Bridge – it’s the world’s longest teak bridge. In the dry season it crosses over gardens cultivated on the lake bed and. In the rainy season, lake waters touch your feet.
There’s a Buddhist relic at the heart of every ancient stupa in Bagan and most have fascinating stories attached to them.
Spotting dozens of species of birds on Nghet Pyaw Chaung Lake near Ngapali Beach is exciting, even for novice ornithologists.
Myanmar has South East Asia’s most diverse eco-system and an entirely new species of Gibbon was discovered here in 2016. Happily, it’s not a country for zoos and wildlife parks but a few UK companies offer specialist tours.
Visit Nampan Village and the floating gardens on Inle Lake.
Take a tour of Lintha Village in Ngapali – go early in the morning to see sardine fishermen and cutely gregarious local kids on their way to school.
Go island hopping on the Bay of Bengal aboard a traditional wooden sailing boat – Pirate Island and Pearl Island are top snorkelling spots and several tours include equipment and a beach barbecue.
Getting about with kids in Myanmar
Myanmar’s dense with rainforest, out of bounds in the north and proceed-with-caution on the Thailand border. The country’s dynamic rainy season is famously dramatic and often isolates entire regions. Domestic flights are the best way to cover longer distances and manage a multi-centre family holiday. In historic cities travelling around in tuk-tuk and taxis is the norm – more adventurous types can try ox or horse drawn carts. Cycle tours are a fantastic way to engage kids with heritage sites. There are overnight train services to Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake and Ngapali but, standards vary, so check before booking.