When you think of Burma (also known as Myanmar), your mind might turn to its troubled history and political unrest rather than cycling holidays and sightseeing. But this beautiful Asian state, still relatively free of western influence, is a fascinating place to visit and makes for an incredible, stunning setting for a two-wheeled trek.
Just a few of the stops on our Cycle Burma tour
The freshwater Inie Lake is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Burma. 13.5 miles long and seven miles wide, it’s home to nine species of fish that you won’t find anywhere else in the world, like the crossbanded dwarf danio and the Sawbwa barb (they’re cute little things, look ’em up). Around the lake you’ll spot floating gardens and woven bamboo houses sitting on stilts; these are the homes of the 70,000 strong Intha tribe. On day three of the tour you’ll get to stop for lunch with a local Intha family after cycling around the lake, surrounded by floating homes and bustling village life.
The town of Pindaya is famous for its stunning limestone caves. Overlooking the placid Pone Ta Loke lake, the winding tunnels and chambers that make up these incredible caves are full of thousands of gilded Buddha statues – definitely a sight to write home about. Elsewhere in Pindaya you can find traditional bamboo hats and umbrellas being made in the street, expansive tea plantations and breathtaking scenery everywhere you look. What more could you want from a cycle ride?
Amarapura, meaning ‘city of immortality,’ is the former capital of Burma. Next you’ll cycle through this ancient town, known for its traditional silk and cotton weaving and for the U Bein Bridge – the longest teak bridge in the world, made from the old palace’s salvaged teak columns. Spanning 1200 metres across the Taungthaman Lake, it’s a gorgeous place to stand (or sit in the saddle) at sunset.
In central Burma you’ll find the pilgrimage site of Mount Popa, a majestic volcano 1518 metres above sea level, as well as the Taung Kalat Shrine at the top of the nearby volcanic plug. Atop the 777 step staircase (which is home to hundreds of monkeys), you’ll find a beautiful golden monastery, Popa Taungkalat – a stunning site close up but just as beautiful from the ground, watching the golden stupas (Buddhist monuments) shimmer in the sun. Oh, you’ll also be surrounded by Burma’s most powerful ‘Nats’ – Buddhist spirits – who call Mount Popa their home.