Not everyone is a professional or even competent photographer, which, when you’re traveling, can really create some trouble for the memories department. Everyone’s smartphone is outfitted with a pretty fantastic lens and numerous filtering and editing capabilities; however knowing how to see, compose, and time a great shot is still an inherent and essential part of taking great photographs.
That being said, sometimes you come across a place, person, or event that’s so spectacular it honestly doesn’t seem possible to take a bad photograph of it. Burma is one of those places. If you’re a mediocre photographer and you’re on your way to Burma, you’re in luck. Here are six Burmese sites where great photos are almost guaranteed.
1. Pyin U Lwin
One of the strangest places in all of Burma to visit, Pyin U Lwin is where you go to find ongoing evidence that Burma was ever a British colony. Established by the Brits as a vacation getaway in the early 1900s, the town is filled with European architecture and lovely English gardens.
It’s still utilized today as a place to visit when tourists and locals want to escape Yangon’s suffocating heat, so if you book a flight to Burma during the summer, be sure to include it on your itinerary as almost any photo taken in Pyin U Lwin will easily establish Burma as a destination unlike any other in the world.
2. Shwedagon Pagoda
The most sacred place in all of Burma, the Shwedagon Pagoda is over 2,500 years old. When it was first built, the pagoda stood around 26 feet high. Today, it is over 350 feet high, and the entire complex is covered in gold leaf and its highest stupa is covered in over 4,500 diamonds.
No matter the time of day or night, it glows, glints, and sparkles. Filled with temples, religious relics, monks, tourists, statues, paintings, fountains, stupas, and the faithful, the entire complex is a feast for the eyes and lens.
There are more Buddhist temples, stupas, and pagodas in Bagan than in any other location on the planet. At its most active in the 11th century, there were more than 13,000 temples here. While the number is quite smaller today, thousands still remain, including the popular Ananda Temple, which boasts glittering spires gilded with gold. The area is a stunning example of Buddhist architecture amidst deep green and luscious forest. All you’ll need to do is point, shoot, and marvel.
4. Inle Lake
A shallow and fresh water lake that sits almost 3,000 above sea level, Inle Lake makes for beautiful photos, in large part, because of the cultures of the native peoples who live around it and utilize it as a centerpiece of daily life. Two festivals occur here annually that feature colorful costumes and festive boats.
On a daily basis, however, what you’ll see is enough: The local fishermen use a one-of-kind rowing style where they stand at their fishing boat’s stern on one leg and wrap the other leg around their oar, and then they row with that leg-wrapped oar. It enables them to be high enough in the boat to see beyond the many floating plants in the water. The lake is also home to over 20 endemic species of snail and fish, and in November, December, and January, it hosts over 20,000 migratory gulls. It’s quite difficult to take a boring photo here.
5. Taung Kalat
Set atop an extinct volcano plug at 5,000 feet above sea level, Taung Kalat is a monastery that looks like something out of a fairy tale. Visitors must climb 777 steps barefoot to reach it, and along the way, be accosted by cute, but insistent, Macaque monkeys who want to be plied with treats. The monastery makes for excellent photos. The monkeys make for excellent photos. The panoramic view from the top makes for an excellent photo. The bare feet along the steps make for excellent photos. You get the picture.
6. Golden Rock
If you want to see a massive boulder that looks as though it’s about to plummet over a cliff and take the pagoda sitting on top of it with it, you’re going to love Golden Rock. Both the boulder and the pagoda are completely covered in gold leaf, and local Buddhists believe that Golden Rock’s balance is a miracle of the Buddha’s. When you see it, and when you document it with your camera to look at later, you will, too.
You don’t have to be the best photographer in the world if you go to some of the world’s best places. Hit these six spots when you travel to Burma, and you won’t be able to keep from taking some awe-inspiring shots.