Myanmar's general election ended peacefully on Sunday.

Polling stations closed at 4.00 p.m. (local time) and open counting of votes followed in the presence of contesting candidates, local and international observers and the public, Xinhua reported.

The Union Election Commission said it will officially release the election results starting Monday stage by stage.

In Sunday's elections, 33.5 million eligible voters cast votes at more than 46,000 polling stations across the country.

Government leaders, parliament speakers, military leaders and party leaders were among those who enthusiastically cast their votes at polling booths scattered across constituencies in the nation.

A total of 6,038 candidates involving 91 political parties and 310 Independents contested for more than 1,000 seats at three levels of parliament in the elections.

Of the total, 1,733 candidates ran for seats of the House of Representatives (Lower House), 886 for the House of Nationalities (Upper House), 3,419 for regional or state parliaments.

This is Myanmar's first free nationwide election in 25 years, the Southeast Asian nation's biggest stride yet in a journey to democracy from dictatorship.

The party of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to win the largest share of votes cast by an electorate of about 30 million, who will choose from among thousands of candidates standing for parliament and regional assemblies.

But a legacy of military rule means she cannot become president after the election, even if her National League for Democracy (NLD) wins a landslide, and many voters voiced doubts that the generals would accept the result.

There has been concern about the fairness of the election after it emerged that about 4 million people would be unable to cast a ballot.

Religious tensions, fanned by Buddhist nationalists whose actions have intimidated Myanmar's Muslim minority, also marred the election campaign.

Still, there was a palpable sense of excitement among voters as they went to polling stations.

"I've done my bit for change, for the emergence of democracy," said 55-year-old former teacher Daw Myint after casting her vote for the NLD in Yangon."I do hope everything goes well in this historic event."

Suu Kyi's car inched through a scrum of news photographers outside the Yangon polling station where the 70-year-old Nobel peace laureate came to vote.

Khin May Oo, 73, voting at the same polling station, said he believed the country was at a turning point, but he was worried about the army. "I'm not sure whether they will accept the election results," he said.

Suu Kyi won the last free vote in 1990, but the military ignored the result. She spent most of the next 20 years under house arrest before her release in 2010.

She is barred from taking the presidency herself under a constitution written by the junta to preserve its power.

But if she wins a majority and is able to form Myanmar's first democratically elected government since the early 1960s, Suu Kyi says she will be the power behind the new president regardless of a constitution she has derided as "very silly".

Even if the vote is deemed free and fair, one-quarter of parliament's seats will still be held by unelected military officers.