Easily overlooked by tourists in the rush to head north from Yangon, southeastern Myanmar more than justifies a diversion. If nothing else, it’s worth seeing the holy sites of Bago before heading up to Mandalay – easily done given the city’s location at a major junction – but further south you’ll find more riches in store.
The most iconic attraction in the region is the boulder-and-pagoda balancing act at Kyaiktiyo, although the walk up the mountain and the experience of being among believers at the top are likely to be just as memorable as the Golden Rock itself. Further south, you can search out old colonial buildings and a ridge packed with pagodas in the former British capital of Mawlamyine. Don’t miss the boat trip from there to Hpa-an, a town that makes a great base for day-trips or for an overnight visit to a mountain-top monastery.