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Thailand and Burma: The Highlights

| Words by Rachel McCombie | ,

Our top 10 highlights of Burma & Thailand.

Thailand and Burma are such fascinating and diverse countries that putting together a list of highlights was an interesting challenge. Time is short so we – controversially for many in the Insider Journeys office! - whittled down our favourite highlights to just 10. Not happy with our selection? Then please leave your suggestions below!

  • 1. Bangkok, Thailand

    Buddhist temples are juxtaposed with the chaos of a modern city, complete with innumerable tuk tuks, incredible restaurants and a famously exotic nightlife. With a good public transport system featuring the famed Sky Train, this great Asian city is ripe for exploration!

  • 2. The River Kwai, Thailand

    For a real rainforest experience, head into the jungle and stay in a riverside lodge on the banks of the River Kwai. The River Kwai was made famous by the Alec Guinness film, fans of which will also want to visit Kanchanaburi, the town where the events of the story originally unfolded during the Second World War.

  • 3. Sukhothai, Thailand

    The best of Thailand’s many ruins, make it Sukhothai (which translates as ‘dawn of happiness’). The country’s former ancient capital had its heyday in the mid-13th to late-14th centuries, and its tantalising remains are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited sites in Thailand.

  • 4. Chiang Mai, Thailand

    A popular spot on the tourist trail, Chian Mai still has much to offer for travellers seeking local insights and authenticity. Take a hike through the surrounding mountains for spectacular views, relax in the grounds of a monetary and dine in one of the many local restaurants specialising in northern Thai cuisine (Lanna food).

  • 5. Sunset over the Bagan Plains, Burma

    Dotted with thousands of temples and pagodas dating from the 9th century, this incredible landscape is the perfect place to view a breathtaking Burmese sunset. Even better, take a balloon flight (45 mins per ride) and see this astonishing sight from above or explore by bicycle.

  • 6. Inle Lake, Burma

    Take a boat trip to explore the floating villages and workshops of the photogenic Inle Lake. This shallow lake is surreal, punctuated by houses rising out of it on stilts. A short bike ride from the lake you will find a fledgling winery and some of the nation’s many ethnic minorities like the Pa-O.

  • 7. Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma

    Said to have existed for over 2,500 years, Burma’s Shwedagon Temple is a gleaming gold pagoda in central Yangon. A resplendent feature the top of its stupa is encrusted with 4,531 diamonds, the largest of which is a whopping 72 carats.

  • 8. Golden Rock, Mt. Kyaiktiyo, Burma

    At night, candles are lit and prayers chanted as pilgrims meditate. Sadly you can only partake in the ritual of affixing a square of gold leaf to the boulder if you’re a man, but just being in the presence of this astonishing structure and seeing the views is more than enough to make summiting worthwhile.

  • 9. The People

    Burma is home to at least 14 ethnic minorities and Thailand is world famous for its ever hospitable and playful locals.

  • 10. The food

    Thai and Burmese cuisine is exotic, spicy and bursting with flavour. Fresh herbs and spices such as lemongrass, chilli, ginger, coriander and galangal are used, along with lime, tamarind and coconut. Burma is acclaimed for its tea leaf salads and rich noodle soups (pictured).

What would you add to our list of Thailand and Burma highlights? Please leave your comment(s) below!