The best of the rest: Photos from Myanmar

A collection of photos from across Myanmar (Burma). The landscapes, the temples, the people and the food.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Photos of Myanmar

Firstly, thank you for being so patient with all my posts from Myanmar over the past few weeks. I know there were a lot of them but I have felt quite inspired to share all the wonderful experiences I’ve had.

Also, it’s a country that does not have the same awareness as many of its more popular South East Asian neighbours and I feel like there’s been a genuine interest from everyone who reads Time Travel Turtle – so thank you very much for that.

For my final post (yes, you can breathe a sigh of relief, it’s come to an end), I wanted to publish a collection of photos that didn’t fit in anywhere else.

Some of these I like because of the aesthetics, some I like because of the warmth of the faces (a recurring theme through all of my travels in Myanmar), and some I wanted to share because they capture the beautiful uniqueness of the country.

In case anyone is interested (and I have had a few people ask), I shoot with a Canon 600D with a pretty crappy kit lens (18mm – 55mm).

I rarely take the camera off automatic because I work on the assumption the tiny processor in the camera is smarter than I am.

(Also I don’t know what all the little images on the knob are… is the icon of the running man with no feet only for taking photos of South African crime scenes?)

And I also do a bit of touching-up on the computer to hide the fact I didn’t pay attention to where the light source was.

So, that all being said, I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along on the journey through Myanmar. Please let me know if you’re ever planning to head there yourself because I would love to hear all about your impressions.

And now, here are the rest of the photographs:

Modern Buddhism

Religion permeates through almost everything people do in Myanmar and it’s impossible to avoid. 90 per cent of the population is Buddhist and it dominates the infrastructure.

Quite often the main ‘sights’ in a town are the pagodas and temples – not just because the Myanmar people put such an emphasis on them but because they are beautifully-built and elaborately-decorated.

The most famous is the Shwedagon Pagoda… but there are many more.

Photos of Myanmar, Burma
Photos of Myanmar, Burma

Ancient Buddhism

The ruins of the ancient temples throughout the country show you the history of Buddhism in Myanmar. Although the area of Bagan is the most famous, you’ll find sprinklings of ruins in many other places.

They are still revered (and you’ll often find people praying at the ancient statues) but they’re not always maintained to the highest standards.

Photos of Myanmar, Burma
Photos of Myanmar, Burma

The rural landscapes

It’s really dry this time of year and you can see that in the landscapes outside of the big cities. There’s a haze which is always hovering just above the ground, giving the country a rather ethereal feel when the sun is lower in the sky.

Most people outside the cities work on the land, tending to their crops, and it’s the backbone of the society here.

Photos of Myanmar, Burma
Photos of Myanmar, Burma

Smiling children

The smiles – oh, the smiles! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the people in Myanmar have a genuine friendliness to them and are so welcoming of foreigners.

How can you not have our heart lifted a bit when you see these open faces with their broad smiles?

Photos of Myanmar, Burma
Photos of Myanmar, Burma

Everyday karma

I love this shot, not because it’s particularly well-taken, but because of what it shows.

To get good karma, people sometimes will buy captive animals and then set them free. This young couple is buying some fish that they will take to the lake across the road and release.

Their faces say it all.

Photos of Myanmar, Burma


The food in Myanmar has a bad reputation but unfairly, in my opinion. There’s a great range of cuisines with some really interesting tastes.

And the food is usually extremely fresh because it’s probably come from a nearby farm or lake.

Having said that, I have no idea what these are and I wasn’t brave enough to find out.

Photos of Myanmar, Burma

The Irrawaddy River

The Irrawaddy River has been the lifesource of these parts for centuries. Commerce, transportation, food – it provides it all.

This sunrise also shows you how beautiful and peaceful it can be at parts.

Photos of Myanmar, Burma
Photos of Myanmar, Burma

Monks and nuns

With religion being such an important part of life here, many young people choose to spend some time devoted to Buddhism. You’ll see lots of monks and nuns everywhere you go, normally just going about their daily life.

A peek into a monastery (like the first photo below) shows you the routine they must go through as part of the religious studies.

Most monks eat just two meals a day and all the food is donated by people hoping to increase their karma and community standing.

Photos of Myanmar, Burma
Photos of Myanmar, Burma

Mandalay Hill

The walk to the top of Mandalay Hill is one of the iconic things to do in Myanmar – I went up there just after visiting the Mandalay Palace.

It’s a long way up but the journey is filled with fascinating little altars and temples along the way. The view from the top, as the end of the day approaches, was made more spectacular by the vivid clouds.

Photos of Myanmar, Burma
Photos of Myanmar, Burma

The Burmese script

Even though I couldn’t read a single word and had a lot of trouble even speaking Burmese, I found the symbols of the language to be really beautiful.

There’s something about all the curves and circles which make any sign look like a piece of art to me!

Photos of Myanmar, Burma


If you like shopping, then Myanmar might not be the place for you. There are no nice big malls or designer shops.

In fact, there are (thankfully) very few souvenir shops as well, save for around the most popular attractions.

This shop is not aimed at tourists – it’s for locals who want to buy something to leave at a pagoda as an offering.

Photos of Myanmar, Burma

Getting to a Buddha

The entrances to the country’s pagodas are often as interesting as the pagoda itself. Sometimes it can be a long and steep staircase, sometimes through the wilderness, and sometimes along a lengthy covered passageway like in the photo below.

Photos of Myanmar, Burma

Worshipping a Buddha

This Buddha statue is considered to be the most important in all of Myanmar. It’s called the Mahamuni Buddha and is in Mandalay.

The reason it is so special its because it’s said to be one of only five images made during the Buddha’s lifetime. Two others are in India and the other two are in paradise.

You can see by the crowds who sit down in front of it to worship how special it is to the local people.

Photos of Myanmar, Burma

Making a Buddha

But, of course, it’s much easier to have your own Buddha statue in your home. If you need one, these guys can make one for you!

Photos of Myanmar, Burma

The cat monastery

There are temples and monasteries devoted to all sorts of things. Here, on Inle Lake, is a monastery devoted to cats.

They rule this place and can go and do what they want. It used to be called the Jumping Cat Monastery but I was told by everyone they have now retired and prefer to spend their days just lazing about and waiting to be fed. Pfft – cats!

Photos of Myanmar, Burma


And finally, if you don’t like cats, or if you like cuteness (and who doesn’t) here are some Burmese puppies. Enough said! 🙂

Photos of Myanmar, Burma

47 thoughts on “The best of the rest: Photos from Myanmar”

    • It’s a really different feel to any of the other countries I’ve been to in SE Asia. It’s a pity you’re not going to be able to pass through because there’s never been a better time!

  1. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your posts and photographs and found them both entertaining and thought provoking. They reminded me why I loved visiting Myanmar so much in 2010 and why I look forward to hopefully returning again this year.

    Thanks for sharing and happy travels on wherever your next adventure takes you!

    • Thanks, Kellie. I’m a bit jealous that you got to go in 2010… it would have been a different experience then. Let me know if you make it back this year because I would love to hear if you think it has changed at all.

  2. Great post. We saw the same things mostly. The cats did jump when I was there! Did you see the royal barge on Inle? I did not think that Inle was over commercialized. All together, excellent coverage of Burma!

    • Those bloody cats have become so lazy. All they do now is laze about. A few little jumps wouldn’t hurt them, would it? 🙂
      I don’t think I saw the barge… at least, I didn’t realise if I did.

  3. Your entire series has been fantastic and I’ve enjoyed every single bit of it, well done! I’m sad it’s over… these photos do cap it all wonderfully. I did see the jumping cats pre-retirement – they would jump through hula hoops held up by the monks. A bit strange but oddly entertaining. I don’t know what the food is like these days but 20 years ago it was inedible and refuge was sought in Chinese restaurants. And one last thing – too bad you couldn’t capture Burmese singing. I don’t know if it’s still like that but Burmese love to sing – all night, every night, loudly, right outside your door or window. I’ve now been hit with such a wave of nostalgia I’m going to hunt for my missing photos again… an outstanding series, it was…

    • Awww… thanks Leyla.
      I know what you mean about the singing. It’s really sweet to wake up in the morning to hear someone sweeping the pavement and singing outside your window, or cooking in the kitchen and singing. The only problem is that ‘Gangnam Style’ seems to have finally hit Myanmar so there were quite a few people who would sing that… or at least, the two lines that anybody knows 🙂

  4. The food is called “Mote lin ma yar” which literally mean “Married couple snack”… I don’t know why they named like that… There’s actually male and female version of that snack…
    The one with quail eggs and the one without it… it is made of rice flour, added spring onion and boiled bean. And of course, it is safe to eat. 😀

  5. Great photos! Myanmar does seem to be more underdocumented than other South East Asian countries so it has been interesting getting an insight into it via your posts. I love the photo of the sunrise on the Irrawaddy River and, of course, the puppies!

    • Thanks, mate. If you need to find people for your ‘smiling faces’ series then you won’t have any troubles in Myanmar. You might have to start a whole new website just to fit in all the shots you could take here! I can’t wait to read your stuff when you make it there this year!

  6. Hey buddy – I shared this post before I even read it as I knew it was going to be good!

    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts from Myanmar/Burma it is somewhere I have always wanted to visit over the past 5-6 years but I just haven’t made it yet.

    Great pictures too 🙂

  7. PUPPIES!!! They are super cute! Love that sunset photo, gorgeous. This is definitely a country that intrigues me, and your posts make me more interested in going someday.

  8. Loved the first two images! I shoot with a Canon 550 which is the older version of the one you have. I shoot mostly on aperature priority – which is a pretty easy manual setting to learn to use. Its a good way to start learning how to use the camera to its full potential. Oh and that kit lens isn’t too bad actually – I have taken good images with it!

    • The sunsets were all so incredible. I’ve never seen such rich colours!

      And I’m pretty sure the crop is sugarcane. They grow quite a lot of it (and make a delicious juice from it, by the way!)

  9. I share your views about Burma. Such a change from other countries in the region where one is often plagued by hawkers, beggars and scammers. The people are shy but this adds to their charm. Inle Lake is a wonderful place to visit and in particular the little villages on the periphery. In Rangoon and Mandalay one gets the impression that the people are trying to catch up now the country is opening up to tourists. There are great opportunities for pictures of the people and their culture. M

  10. Thanks for your recommendation for our country.Now we have seen more beautiful places as kalaw,Hpa-An,Ngapali beach and so on.We are welcome fromaround the world.


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