Honeymoons in Burma (Myanmar)

Honeymoons in Burma (Myanmar)

With its jewel-encrusted temples, glorious beaches and enchanting islands, Burma (Myanmar) is the honeymoon spot of the year. Alexandra Gregg explains why

Burma (Myanmar) officially opened up to the western world in 2013. For honeymooners that can only mean one thing: it's a great place for avoiding the crowds. Whether you're seeking pure relaxation or rich culture and history, romance is abundant in this unspoilt South-East Asian land - everywhere from its lively cities, bustling with street markets and holy temples, to its hushed, lakeside farming villages. Here's our pick of the best things to do on your honeymoon in Burma…

Embark on a horse-carriage ride through Bagan

You could rent a car for you and your loved one but, do that, and you'll miss the greatness of Bagan as its temples rise elegantly from the streets around you. Instead, trot through the foggy avenues of this ancient city in a traditional horse-drawn cart. Rentals range from 10,000 to 15,000 Kyats (£6-9) per day. Some drivers - the oft-praised Min Thu for example - even allow you to book your excursions in advance.

See the sunset from Shwedagon Pagoda

No visit to Burma is complete without a trip to the Shwedagon Pagoda. Built 2,500 years ago, the pagoda is deeply spiritual and is believed to enshrine strands of Buddha's hair and other body relics. Add a touch of romance by visiting this sacred Buddhist site at sunset, when you can fully appreciate its millennia-old splendour as splashes of orange and red sky bounce off its glittering, golden cladding. The icon and its abundant temples are open from 4am-10pm daily and entrance is $8pp (£4.75).

Get blessed at the Popa Taungkalat Monastery

Participating in the Popa Taungkalat Monastery's traditional Buddhist blessing will be one of the most unforgettable parts of your honeymoon. The monks in this holy house - which sits atop Mount Popa - will perform the ceremony for visitors, promising couples good luck and happiness in their future together.

Sail down the Irrawaddy River on a romantic cruise

The Irrawaddy (or Ayeyarwady) River is Burma's lifeline, its main waterway. It reveals natural beauty, a profusion of wildlife and an effortless romance that has stirred the imaginations of some of the greatest writers: remember Rudyard Kipling's poemMandalay? Cruises can be arranged as part of a guided holiday or separately but, undoubtedly, a voyage down this river is a journey like no other. Animal lovers should keep their eyes peeled for otters and river dolphins beneath the surface, as well as leopard, wild boar, Bengal tiger and Malayan Sambar along the forested riverbanks.

Enjoy a candlelit dinner at one of Myanmar's best restaurants

For authentic Burmese and Thai cuisine in a luxury setting, try The Padonmar Restaurant (lotus flower) in Yangon. Expect home-cooked delights such as river prawn curry, radish sour soup and winged beans salad. The prices are reasonable too, meaning visiting this traditional eaterie is the perfect excuse to sample and share as many dishes with your spouse as possible - it would be rude not to! The restaurant is open from 11am-11pm daily.

Take your love to new depths in the Myeik Archipelago

Dive into Burma's deep south with a visit to the Myeik Archipelago. Its 800 diverse islands are home to intertwining mangroves, wild elephants, monkeys and more. You can explore Lampi Island in a double kayak, meet sea gypsies on Bo Cho Island and discover coral reefs devoid of tourists beneath the surface of the Andaman Sea. This secret collection of islands is a diver's paradise - perfect if you and your partner are looking for an underwater safari.

Diving and snorkelling is best done with a PADI-certified guide from the Myanmar Andaman Resort as the seas can be rough. Also, visiting the islands by boat requires a permit so you must travel on an organised tour or guided daytrip.

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Get there? There are no direct UK-Burma flights. China Southern flies from London Heathrow to Yangon, via Guangzhou, China, from £431pp return. Total journey time is around 30 hours with stopover. Domestic airlines connect Burma's main tourist towns.

When to go? Jan-Feb or Nov-Dec is the dry season where temperatures and rainfall are at their lowest. Monsoon (Jun-Oct) is best avoided.

Where to stay? Finding somewhere cheap and clean to stay in Yangon is tricky, but the Motherland Inn 2 delivers on both fronts. Doubles are from USD$25p/n (£14.80) including breakfast. That price even includes a free airport pick-up and drop-off shuttle for international flights too! Alternatively, if you want to splash out for your honeymoon, try The Strand. Rooms start from USD$400p/n (£237.80) but this British gem, built in 1901, just oozes colonial charm and even offers tailored honeymoon packages.

Pictured: Sunset panorama of Bagan.

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