Experience Myanmar’s most iconic sunset in Bagan
Easily the most iconic sunset scene in Myanmar is of Bagan’s glittery pagodas silhouetted by an otherworldly reddish-orange skyline filled with soaring hot air balloons. If riding in a balloon basket is too costly (packages start at around US $340 per person), the next best spot would be atop a temple. However, the government of Myanmar may be enforcing stricter climbing bans due to safety risks associated with scaling pagodas in Bagan.
If this is the case, opt for Nan Myint Tower and enjoy dinner with the sunset on the ninth floor, or go directly to the observation deck on the 12th. Nan Myint Tower isn’t the most attractive structure around, but its astonishing views almost make up for it. Admission is approximately US $5 for tourists.
Mount Popa is a dream at dusk
Mount Popa is a well-known pilgrimage site for nat (spirits associated with Buddhist belief in Myanmar) worshippers. Locals often refer to both the volcano and its neighbouring volcanic plug as Mount Popa.
Hiking up Mount Popa or ‘Mother Mountain’ to catch a sunset smoldering over the expanse of the Myingyan Plain is worth the effort. Taung Kalat Monastery located up 777 steps at the top of the nearly 2,500-foot volcanic plug is definitely the focal point from this perspective.
A private taxi for a half-day trip from Bagan to Mount Popa and back can be arranged for approximately US $40.
Evenings on Inle Lake
Basking in a calm sunset on Inle Lake as fishermen prepare to head home and stilted villages get ready to settle down for the night is the perfect way to end a long day of sightseeing by motorboat. Grab a bottle of wine (or three) from nearby Red Mountain Estate Vineyards and Winery, pack a light picnic dinner and let the sunset lap against the boat as it pours over the surrounding hills of Shan State. An all-day boat rental from Nyaungshwe starts at approximately US $15.
The Shwedagon Pagoda is even more dazzling at sunset
The golden hour is certainly the recommended time of day to fully appreciate the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Temperatures are cooler, there are many people dressed in gorgeous local attire to observe and the colours of sunset combined with the goldenness of the Shwedagon’s stupas make for a truly awesome sight.
Pour water over a statue of Buddha in the area that goes with the day of the week you were born, and then locate a step to sit on and watch night fall upon this ancient marvel. Foreigners pay approximately US $10 to enter.
The sunset from above Malawmyine
Cradled in the mouth of the Tanlwin River in Mon State, Myanmar, is the city of Malawmyine. Once referred to as ‘Little England’ during the British era, Malawmyine served as Britain’s first established capital in Myanmar, and is still an extremely important trading hub and port for the country. Many colonial remnants remain throughout Malawmyine today — especially in the form architectural design.
For a panoramic look at this historic city, Kyaik Than Lan Pagoda is the place to roost. It rests on a ridge overlooking the city and captivates even the most seasoned of sunset chasers during the ‘golden hour’.
Golden Rock in sunset
Myanmar’s gigantic Golden Rock in Mon State is an absolute stunner at all times of the day as it looks as though it could roll off the side of Mount Kyaiktiyo any minute. And above this balancing gold-covered boulder perches Kyaiktiyo Pagoda – one of Myanmar’s most visited pagodas.
Mount Kyaiktyio is nestled within lush, hilly terrain, offering a picturesque view not to be missed at sundown. The entire complex has several restaurants and overnight lodging options to take full advantage of allowing the horizon turn from dusky to darker. Be careful, though. If the sunset nudges the Golden Rock too hard by sneaking a kiss goodnight it really might just tip over!
Get to Kyaiktiyo Pagoda by truck from Kinpun at the base of Mount Kyaiktiyo (under US $3 per person). There is a foreigner entrance fee of approximately US $6 once at the top.