The people of Myanmar believe that the sunrise and the sunset hold a great deal of spiritual significance. Once you’ve experienced one for yourself, and have seen the splendor and majesty of one with your own eyes, we’re sure you’ll feel it too.
From a hot air balloon in Bagan
Bagan’s hot air balloons have become iconic symbols of the city. It is impossible to envision the city’s skyline without these balloons dotting the hazy, multi-colored sky.
When to go: Between October 1st and April 15th. Peak season is January and February. Monsoon season starts at the beginning of May, so balloon flying is difficult (and likely to be canceled/rescheduled)
Where to go: The balloons usually fly over the Bagan Archaeological Zone. Take off times vary depending on sunrise time, and take off times vary depending on the company you decide to book with.
U Bein Bridge, Mandalay
This precarious, rickety, wooden bridge looks like a crossing you want to stay far away from. However, it is actually one of the most recognizable sites in all of Myanmar. Construction of what is now the oldest teak bridge in the world was completed in 1851 and is made up of remains of the royal palace of Inwa, a former Burmese capital city. Sunset and sunrise are both popular and beautiful here, though sunset attracts a bit of a larger crowd.
Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
The whispered prayers of pilgrims harmonizing with the sunshine reflecting off of the country’s most famous golden pagoda will leave you feeling wistful, contemplative and awe-struck by the unimaginable beauty right in front of your eyes.
Hours of operation: Seven days a week, from 4 a.m. – 10 p.m., with the last admission being at 9:45 p.m.
Known also as the Golden Rock Pagoda, this Buddhist pilgrimage site is one of the most magical and most mysterious in all of Myanmar. The small pagoda, measuring a mere 7.3 meters (24 feet) in height, rests on a giant granite boulder on the edge of a mountain and is covered from top to bottom with gold leaves that have been stuck on by male pilgrims. Buddhists believe that the Buddha’s hair has kept the boulder from falling, thus making sunset or sunrise here a truly bewitching and humbling experience.
Hours of operation: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
How to get there: The best option is to go on an organized tour from Yangon with a bus tour or a private transfer.
Be left with sheer awe and infatuation of the beauty and tranquility of the setting or rising sun from behind the mountains and over the lake, creating an atmosphere that can be likened only to supernatural.
How to get here: If you’re coming from the city of Mandalay to Inle Lake, you have the option to take a night or day bus, which takes about 6-9 hours.
The view from here requires a bit of effort, but that only makes the reward that much sweeter. You have two ways to reach the top: you can drive to the upper parking lot and take an elevator or escalator to the hilltop, however, more often than not, these are out of order. That being said, you are better off taking the option that is more reliable, albeit more difficult, via the hillside-clinging stairways. The trek up will take about half an hour, so be sure to wear comfy shoes.
Once you reach the summit, you will be rewarded not only with a magnificent view, but also with the opportunity to converse with the monks who frequent the viewpoint in order to practice their language skills with foreigners.
The Irrawaddy River
Relax on a boat with a cocktail while watching the Irawaddy dolphins playing and swimming about, all while the blood orange sun slowly disappears behind the mountains the line the river dotted with stilt-standing huts and palm leaves. Boat owners live on their boats so renting on in time for sunrise or sunset is simple, as long as you remember to negotiate with them!
Estimated cost: 5,000 kyat (about $4)
Finding the perfect sunrise/sunset spot is part and parcel to planning your trip to Myanmar. It is not an exaggeration to say that this country is the sunrise/sunset capital of the world. There are no words that can convince you of this… you have to see it with your own eyes to believe it.