September 8, 2017
Travel articles about Myanmar are invariably met with the conclusion that travel in Myanmar is ready to boom and that travelers should get in while the getting is good. Indeed, there are already high-end, luxury hotels awaiting exclusive guests in locations that aren’t overburdened with tourists.
Any journey through Myanmar will undoubtedly be a spiritually rewarding experience, and that can be accompanied by luxury venues that blend Southeast Asian charm with history and service.
One of Asia’s most fascinating colonial landmarks, the Victorian-style The Strand hotel, built in 1901, is a turn-of-the century masterpiece of architecture facing the Yangon River.
For the spiritual explorer, The Strand is found in the peaceful southern reaches of Yangon, sheltered from the hurly-burly of the city, but still close enough for the sights.
The Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, is just a short 4-kilometer walk away – 15 minutes by car. Just north of that is Ngar Htat Gyi Pagoda, the famous reclining Buddha, and the Lim Chin Tsong Palace.
Featuring authentic period furnishings and chandeliers, The Strand has served as an iconic backdrop to many avid explorers over the years. Guests can enjoy a variety of gastronomic experiences from high tea to fine dining in the Strand’s restaurant options, including The Strand Café, The Strand Restaurant, and Sarkies Bar at The Strand, named for the Raffles entrepreneurs that created the hotel in the 19th century.
Sanctum Inle Resort
Sanctum Inle Resort is found east of the eponymous lake in Myanmar’s north and is a newcomer to the resort scene. The 94-room resort is found in an isolated corner of Maing Thauk Village, half on land, half on stilts. Undoubtedly, the Burmese cuisine from Chef Saw Tin Lin Oo is one of the highlights of the Sanctum Resort Experience. Heralded as one of the World’s Most Outstanding Hotel Debuts on a Conde Nast Traveler Hot List earlier this month, Sanctum is on the up.
Guests flying in from Heho will find a pleasant drive through bucolic villages on the way Nyaung Shwe, from which travelers can choose to switch to a boat to reach Maing Thauk. The isolation doesn’t preempt the fun; there are plenty of activities to keep visitors interested. Just a stone’s throw away is the Red Mountain Estate Vineyard & Winery, and Sanctum released a “Wheel and Wine” tour earlier this year that combines cycling with vineyard bliss.
Aureum Palace Hotel Bagan
From its exquisite entry pavilion to the spacious two-story villa accommodation, Aureum Palace Hotel is the luxury option for exclusive travelers to Bagan. One of few hotels conveniently located in Bagan’s archeological area, the Aureum Palace boasts an impressive infinity pool with a breathtaking view of the pagodas.
Surrounded by 27 acres of tropical garden, the Nan Myint Tower found on the Aureum Palace grounds is a 60-meter tower from which to look out over Bagan. The luxurious spa and health club compliment what is already a wellness retreat in one of Myanmar’s most peaceful locations.
Extensive dining options are available, from a banquet room to al fresco dining with a view of the pagodas, serving exquisite international cuisine. Each room has an elegant interior designed with traditional Burmese aesthetics, incorporating carved wood and local fabrics.
Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort
Found just south of Old Bagan and situated on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, the Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort is incredibly close to the famous historical sites and temples of Old Bagan. In fact, it’s just a few meters away.
Initially used as the Government’s guesthouse for elite visitors, the Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort is somewhat modestly priced for such a stellar location. Following extensive renovation and upgrades, the accommodations are still more humble than some of the more high-end chains, but outside of Aureum Palace there are few better options in Bagan. From deluxe classic rooms to garden view bungalows, guests can watch the hotel’s resident peacocks roam the grounds.
Thiripyitsaya boasts panoramic river views, perfect for watching sunsets, and a myriad of activities – from carefully designed private meditation classes to traditional lacquerware painting workshops.
Belmond Governor’s Residence
Once the home to the ruler of Myanmar’s Southern states, the charming Belmond Governor’s Residence is a colonial-style mansion dating back to the 1920s, situated in the elegant embassy quarter of Yangon just ten minutes away from the city center.
At Belmond – a name attached to so many timeless luxury experiences in Asia – the colonial mixes with modern comforts. When it comes to dining, the hotel offers the Burmese Curry Table Buffet, the Midon Lounge for relaxing, and the Kipling bar for cocktails named after – well, you know who. The spacious rooms are sumptuously decorated with teak and silk.
Much like The Strand, the Belmond Governor’s Residence is in South Yangon, far from the noise of the city, but still very much in the center of this spiritual city, just a short walk from Chinatown, Bogyoke Park, and a pleasant two-kilometer stroll from Shwedagon Pagoda.