Myanmar is one of Southeast Asia’s if not the world’s less visited countries. There are numerous reasons for this and you can draw up your own conclusions as to why it is so. But the country has now opened up to tourism. Fortunately, Burma is still relatively untouched by it, making Myanmar a highly attractive travel destination.
“This is Burma,” wrote Rudyard Kipling, author of the Jungle Book. “It is quite unlike any place you know about.” His description cannot be any truer, even until today. This is a land of thousands of temples and pagodas (as seen in Bagan and unlike any other place on Earth), where men literally wear skirts (no, not kilts, but longyis), where fishermen row their boats with their feet, where locals (both men and women, but mostly women) apply yellow looking make-up on their faces (called thanaka), where the elderly warmly greet you with their blood red teeth (as a result from chewing betel) and monks teach their cats to jump through hoops. Let’s get started!
First things first, the people here are super friendly! That is also an understatement; it is just so difficult to describe the warm hospitable nature of the Burmese. They really love to make friends, and making friends from abroad is their specialty! You will really feel welcomed here in Myanmar.
Yangon serves as a great introduction to the country. This is the Myanmar’s largest city and former capital, which it held until 2006 (the capital has since moved to Naypyidaw). The city still serves as the country’s cultural and economic center. This is where you will get to see Shwedagon Pagoda, that huge golden stupa you see on postcards and guidebooks about Myanmar. There are also smaller but still impressive stupas in the city that are worth seeing, as well as the National Museum where Burmese history and culture will be revealed to you.
Want to see the laws of gravity being defied? The Golden Rock in Kyaiktiyo is the place to see this phenomenon. As the name implies, a golden granite rock (which is the result of pilgrims pasting it with golden leaves) is on the edge of crashing down from the edge of a cliff. For good measure, a small pagoda is built on top of it! This is a very sacred spot in Myanmar and is frequently visited by devout Buddhists from all walks of life.
Inle Lake has got to be the lake of firsts. Where else have you seen people row their boats with a paddle attached to their legs? Where else have you seen Buddhist monks teaching their cats to jump through hoops? The reason behind the fishermen’s unorthodox rowing style is that weeds here can grow pretty tall, so by standing and rowing with their feet, they can see better. Makes sense, don’t you think? But another more important reason is that it frees up both hands, very critical when trying to catch fish. Keep this in mind next time you are fishing on a rowing boat.
Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, a simple wooden temple perched by the lake is famous for their jumping cats. These felines possess amazing athletic ability and dexterity and if you miss your pet cat at home, you should certainly stop by here.
The poetic sounding Mandalay is your next destination in your exploration of this wonderful country. Just hearing the name Mandalay evokes images of Burma old. However, the former capital city is not that old at all, it was founded as recently as 1857. One of the main attractions at Mandalay is the pagoda and temple filled hill (ironically called Mandalay Hill). The view on the hill top is very impressive but you must overcome the challenging set of stairs. If you feel that you cannot make it up the stairs, then a one-way motor road is there to ease your trip uphill. Another interesting site to visit is Mandalay Palace. It is the primary symbol of Mandalay, so it should constitute a visit.
The silhouette of temples and pagodas set against the horizon greets you as you approach Bagan. Upon closer inspection, you will surely be impressed. Imagine over 2000 temples and pagodas in an area of about 40 square kilometers. That’s right, this is the largest area of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world. There is just too much to see here, so why not explore the area on horse cart? Others choose to see Bagan from the skies on a hot air balloon. Not a bad choice indeed.
The Very Best of Myanmar tour is 13 days of memorable experiences in Burma. You will skim over jade lakes, amble on horse carriage through golden plains, hustle through city streets and meet friendly locals as you delve into one of the most astonishing countries in all of Asia. If you would like to see more Burmese tours, then check out our Myanmar tours page. These tours have been carefully inspected and compiled to ensure that you get the most of this fascinating country. You are more than welcome to mix and match certain aspects from different tours to form your own specific program. Just tell us where you would like to go and what you love doing on our tailor made page and we will work towards your perfect itinerary.
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