Rangoon (Yangon) is the principal city and home to the glittering Shwedagon Pagoda, a jewel encrusted pagoda that is also an excellent place for people watching as thousands of locals flock here every day to contemplate the Buddha’s teachings.
The Shan Highlands lie on the eastern side of Burma and the rolling plains and mountains reward the cyclist with great views and panoramas. Depending on the route you take and your interests the cycling can be more of a challenge. A sweeping descent from Heho brings you to Inle Lake, where you can leave the bikes behind and use long tail boats to learn how the different tribal minority people live on the waters in their stilt houses.
The temple studded plains of Bagan are an undoubted highlight of any visit to Burma. Observing the sun rise or set over the panorama of ancient temples is a magical experience and the whole area is perfectly suited to bicycles.
As you cycle your way across the country you are sure to be greeted by smiling locals calling out ‘mingalabar’ – meaning ‘welcome’ in Burmese. It is these encounters and the scenes of everyday rural life that you see along the way that stay with you just as much as the magnificent temples.
Burma is in the tropics and has three seasons. You can visit all year round but the best time to come is from October to February as temperatures are not too hot and there is less chance of rain. Temperatures rise from March to mid-May, then the rainy season runs from May through to October.