The Most Thrilling Adventure Activities in Myanmar

Kyauk Ka Lat pagoda in Hpa-An, Myanmar
Kyauk Ka Lat pagoda in Hpa-An, Myanmar | © leonovo / Alamy Stock Photo
Chase Chisholm


Looking for an outdoorsy way to reach the banks of Inle Lake or a rugged new rock formation to edge? The “Golden Land” has it all. From the northernmost village of Putao to the southernmost reaches of the Mergui Archipelago, here’s Myanmar’s ultimate adventure guide for the ultimately adventurous traveler.

Reach for the peaks of Myanmar’s northern stretches

Hiking the Himalayan Landscape of Putao

The draw of Putao in Kachin State is its pure elusiveness. Very few travelers have experienced this spectacularly jagged Himalayan landscape. Hiking is what brings most tourists here. However, trekking near this northernmost settlement in Myanmar is much more expensive and challenging than other routes.

Usual hikes take two to four days and remain relatively close to Putao. Anticipate paying up to approximately US$200 per day, which covers services like porters, meals and accommodation. Some much longer journeys to higher peaks along the Indian border (lasting up to two weeks) can be organized.

Anyone other than a professional mountaineer need not apply to climb nearby Hkakabo Razi – thought to be Southeast Asia’s highest mountain!

Putao Trekking House, No. 424/425 Htwe San Lane, Kaung Kahtaung, Putao, Myanmar, +95 1 656 905

The picturesque scenery of Putao and its snow-capped mountains, northern Myanmar

Scenic Whitewater Rafting in Kachin State

Whitewater rafting is a newcomer to Myanmar’s more extreme excursions. Try a one-day rafting and trekking combo just outside of Putao for approximately US$100 per person. Gorgeous sections of the Mula Creek and Malikha River can be explored. Rapids in Kachin State are mostly for intermediate rafters and multi-day trips are possible.

At times the government of Myanmar may not permit foreigners to hike or raft in areas of Kachin State. Plan ahead and ensure access will be allowed.

Discovery Treks, No. 9-10, 2nd Floor, 42B Pantra Street, Sanchaung Township, Yangon, Myanmar, +95 1 388 330

Bike around the ancient city of Bagan

Taking an electric scooter to speed by Bagan’s templed terrain might be faster, but biking around Myanmar’s most famous ancient city is the more untrammeled approach to getting intimate with its history. It’s also cheaper. Bicycles can be rented for less than US$5 a day from most hotels or guesthouses.

Mornings and before sunset are the best times to pedal—both for cooler temperatures and marvelously lit views that are iconically Bagan. The condition of the bikes isn’t always ideal, and a helmet might be an additional small fee. But, hey, cheers to adventure!

To see any place from the back of a bike is one of the best ways to get to know it, and this is especially true for Bagan. Plus, there’s no need to worry about a battery running out in the middle of, well, seemingly nowhere.

Dhamma-Yangyi Temple in Bagan

Trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake in Shan State

Trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake is a popular way to experience the agricultural side of Shan State. Extraordinarily breathtaking scenery will join for the entire trip. Hikes usually take three days to complete and there are various pathways that cut through fields filled with anything from rice to tea. The steepest part of the journey is right outside of Kalaw.

Solo or group trips can be arranged with local guides who will take care of reserving basic accommodation in homestays or temples, as well as food and baggage transport. The cost per person is approximately US$50 a day.

The busy season for hiking between Kalaw and Inle is during Myanmar’s winter months (November to February). Expect to share the trails and temple floors with many other adventurers during this time.

Women near Kalaw Shan state in Myanmar

Ascend new heights in Hpa-An, Myanmar

The Myanmar Rock Community is bolting uncharted territory in Myanmar—rock climbing. It’s a group of climbing enthusiasts from all over the world with a mission to expand Myanmar’s rock climbing scene. Areas just outside of Mandalay and Hpa-An are currently the hotspots for scaling, but the sky’s the limit for mapping out new crags across the country.

Picturesque Hpa-An promises a variety of rock climbing routes between moderate and expert-level (5.9 to 5.12). One of the main sites, approximately 10 miles out of the city, is located near Bayin Nyi Cave. Bayin Nyi is a Buddhist temple complex built on a karst formation—Hpa-An’s signature look.

Hpa An, Kyauk Kalap monastery

It’s possible to get to Bayin Nyi by taking local transport, but renting a motorbike for about US$10 a day is recommended. Bayin Nyi becomes somewhat of an island in the rainy season. For some added fun, try getting there by boat for approximately US$1.

Keeping climbs open in Myanmar depends on continuing good relationships with locals and especially monks. Be respectful. Don’t mess with religious structures. Additionally, the Myanmar Rock Community relies heavily on generous donations. Consider supporting the crux of this kind of adventure.

View from Linno Gu with Zwe Lin Thaya and Kyar Inn Pagoda

Discover Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago—the world’s dreamiest of destinations

Spend afternoons bobbing about hundreds of unexplored islands. Dive into incredibly diverse coral reefs. Swim with astonishing underwater life. See what’s so beautifully enchanting about Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago. Go indulgent and book a sailing or a diving tour.

Average all-inclusive cruises cost well over US$2,000 for seven to nine days at sea. Even operators offering only dive trips for the same duration of time charge as much as US$1,500—meals and accommodation included.

The only way to truly discover this longed-for adventure of a lifetime is to save up. The Mergui Archipelago is an unforgettable opportunity worth the splurge.

Mergui Princess, Yangon, Myanmar, +95 942 110 7472

Great Swinton, Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar

1. Sea kayak off of Myanmar's southern tip


Kayaking off of beautiful Boulder Island (Nga Khin Nyo Gyee Island,), Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar.
© agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo

After spending hours lounging Andaman seaside, hop on a sea kayak, go hiking, island-hop or go snorkeling. This private island and resort combo mixes the comforts of modernity with the lavishness of paradise. Nyaung Oo Phee Island is one of several tropical getaways off Myanmar’s southernmost coastline. Guests can stay in bungalow-style tents surrounded by bright blue hues of pristine ocean. Make this an adventuresome yet relaxing last stop on your ultimate adventure trip in Myanmar!

Victoria Cliff Resort, Nyaung Oo Phee, Myanmar, +95 59 51 657

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