Announcing that you’re traveling to Myanmar with kids is likely to raise more eyebrows than if you were planning on traveling to other Southeast Asian destinations. Yes, there are serious political problems in parts of the country but Myanmar also has a reputation for being a beguiling destination for a family holiday with lots of activities and adventures for all ages. Unlike the fast-developing countries in Asia, Myanmar lures your kids with nature-friendly activities and glorious landscapes as well as offering unique educational opportunities. You need to remember that Myanmar is still a developing country with much poverty.
Safety standards aren’t up to the standards you’d expect in the West. Watch out for planks with rusty nails sticking out, basic toilet facilities, and uneven sidewalks.
There are numerous things to do in Myanmar with kids ranging from the exploration of ancient capitals and mesmerizing pagodas to having fun on tropical beaches. When traveling with your children, it is recommended to stay in the registered hotels, guesthouses, motels, resorts, or inns.
Here is a list of some of the top things to do in Myanmar with kids.
Yangon City is a real gateway for entering Myanmar and learning how the local people live and work in their homeland. When traveling to Yangon with kids, you will discover some amazing streets where you can witness authentic Burmese life. While you are there, you should definitely visit the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, which will teach your kids a little bit about the Buddhist faith. The perimeter of the base of the Pagoda is 1,420 feet and its height 326 feet above the platform.
The tip of the stupa, far too high for the human eye to discern in any detail, is set with 5448 diamonds, 2317 rubies, sapphires, and other gems, 1065 golden bells, and, at the very top, a single 76-carat diamond. You can also take your kids to experience the Bogyoke Aung San Market and enrich their knowledge at the Bogyoke Aung San Museum. Family-friendly accommodations here include the gorgeous Belmond Governor’s Residence, Sule Shangri-La, Savoy Hotel Yangon, Thanlwin Guest House, and The Willow Inn.
With around 2,200 temples and pagodas of the 9th-13th centuries, Bagan Myanmar is definitely the mecca of Buddhism and a place where your kids can fulfill their curiosity and adventurous spirit. If you and your children fancy an Indiana Jones experience, then these ancient ruins are your opportunity. Atmospheric photos of the ancient temples of Bagan are the very images that have inspired thousands of family travel bucket lists. The Bagan hot-air balloon ride is so famous and fun that all families want to try it out, but please note that it is only available to kids over eight years of age.
When traveling around Bagan with kids, you can hire tuk-tuks by the half-day; be aware that it gets incredibly dusty at times so you might want to pack scarves to cover your children’s mouths. If you’re traveling with older children, bicycle rental is an option. Hiring a horse and cart is also a fun way to get around for shorter sight-seeing excursions. Together with your little travelers, you will discover Bagan via a closer and more local-friendly approach. During the horse and cart journey, expect to see the men growing cotton or peanuts on their farms, you can watch the women weaving, and your kids can practice saying “Hello” – which sounds like, “ming-gah-lah-bahr” − to the local kids in the Burmese language.
Some recommended places for families to stay in Bagan include Aureum Palace Bagan Hotel, The Bagan Lodge, The Hotel@ Tharabar Gate, Blue Bird Hotel, and Shwe Yee Pwint.
Go to Thanaka Museum to learn about Thanaka powder − the white paste that the local women and children apply to their faces. In the museum, there is also a lacquerware workshop where your family can witness how skilled artisans create the artworks.
Inle Lake is the second biggest lake in Myanmar. Located in the Shan State, it is surrounded by the majestic Shan mountains and offers plenty of interesting things to do with kids of all ages. Opt for a boat trip to discover Myanmar’s symbolic lake, the local life around the riverside, and the off-the-beaten-track villages. The wooden long-boats are the most common mode of transportation across the water, you’ll glide past water gardens, wooden houses on stilts and locals going about their daily life activities.
You can even enjoy homemade meals with the locals in their houses. Spend time watching the local artisans at work in their workshops. You’ll see traditional weavers, silversmiths, and you can watch how the craftspeople make paper, produce cigars, carve wooden boats, and extract fibers by hand from the lotus roots, which grow on the lake. These cottage industries are thriving sources of livelihood in Myanmar, and the delicate skills are inspiring. For youngsters this is a great education about where things come from; your kids probably have no idea of the amount of work and skill that goes into creating everyday items.
A trip to Inle Lake with kids wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a local Intha market. The markets move locations daily but your boat driver will know exactly where the next one is. After you’ve passed the tourist stalls selling the souvenirs, you’ll catch a glimpse of the real market that serves the local Intha people.
Most of the restaurants at Inle Lake are built on stilts looking out over the waterways or lake itself, and they make for some unique dining experiences. Here you can dine on whole fresh fish, tomato and eggplant salads, Shan-style sticky rice, which is usually a hit with kids, and stir-fried vegetables. If your kids are missing familiar Western food, ask for fried chips, not French fries; most restaurants serve these delicious home-cooked potato crisps.
Family-friendly places to stay at Inle Lake include the Inle Princess Resort, Aureum Palace Inle Lake, Sanctum Inle Resort, Thanaka Inle Hotel, and Novotel Inle Lake Myat Min.
Your kids will love meeting the elephants at Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp, which is a family-run elephant sanctuary that houses the old and disabled elephants rescued from the harsh logging industry. There are various options for a day tour in this elephant camp to surprise and please children of all ages. Your kids can attend the Daily Care Program where you can cuddle, feed, and bathe the large animals.
On the western side of Inle Lake, Nga Hpe Kyaung monastery was once renowned for its jumping cats, trained to leap through hoops during the slow hours between scripture recitals. There isn’t much cat-leaping to be seen these days, as the new generation of cats here prefers slumbering to gymnastics but your kids will get to stroke many of the resident felines, and the whole family can enjoy viewing a collection of ancient buddha images. Constructed four years before Mandalay Palace, the huge wooden meditation hall has statues in the Shan, Tibetan, Bagan and Inwa (Ava) styles displayed on ornate wood and mosaic pedestals.
After so much exploring, both you and your kids will be ready to hit the beach for some pleasant relaxation. Ngapali, famed as the best beach in the country, is about relaxing and enjoying the sun, but other activities include taking trips on local fishing boats; kayaking; snorkeling or scuba diving amongst the brightly colored fish; and cycling or motorbiking down the beach and around some of the local villages. Look for the famous hanging palm tree on the beach, it makes for a great photo opportunity. Fresh fish is the signature food at Ngapali, the numerous restaurants offer delights such as fish curry, grilled calamari, huge-sized shrimps and much more.
As a world-class beach destination, Ngapali has some amazing resorts which offer ultimate family facilities such as cinemas, kids’ playrooms, and local theater performances. Sandoway Resort, Thande Beach Hotel, and Kyaw Myanmar Hotel are some of the most popular hotels for families looking to stay near Ngapali Beach.
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