Escape the Mandalay heat as the British used to with a trip to Pyin Oo Lwin, an atmospheric hill town that has been a holiday getaway since colonial times. With cool breezes and tree-lined avenues, it's no wonder that Pyin Oo Lwin has managed to retain its appeal. Here, there's a rare beauty that doesn't exist elsewhere in the country, as the town's well preserved colonial buildings and iconic horse-drawn carts make it a relic of old Myanmar.
Many of the best old houses and estates are scattered in the area around Kandawgyi National Botanical Gardens, which itself covers 70 acres of lakes and parkland. After a trip to the gardens and a horse-drawn buggy tour of the colonial neighbourhood around Circular Road, check out the town's Christian churches, Hindu and Buddhist temples, and Muslim mosques to get a feel for the peaceful co-existence this town prides itself on. You'll be hungry with all that exploring, so make sure to schedule a stop at the market near the Purcell Tower: here you can sample local specialties like honey, dried fish and Burmese sweets. And once ready to get further afield? The sacred Anisakan Falls are a short scooter or taxi ride away, where a short hike through Burmese jungle gets you to the base of these crashing falls. It's free to visit and swim, and an ideal way to cool down before heading to the heat of Mandalay.