Myanmar (also known as Burma prior to 1989), meaning a fast and strong people, is a beautiful country in Southeast Asia and hasn’t always been a popular tourist destination. With places like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Cambodia etc. Myanmar hasn’t really been the one in the spotlight and isn’t the mainstream destination picked by any tourist when they decide to venture towards Southeast Asia. Many would say that it is because of the impending war and conflicts in the country but not many know that the tourist destinations and the entire country, as a matter of fact, is safe and there is no major war going on as such.
So the first and the foremost thing you need to worry about if you are going to Myanmar is actually nothing! So book your tickets, get your visa and get two copies of your passport (yes, that is mandatory) and set out to Myanmar!
The country, when in general talked about has an air of mystery and serenity at the same time about it and is a land of wonder and mysticism. The majority of the population is Buddhist and that’s why there is an abundance of pagodas and monasteries in throughout the entire country (all 2217 of them). There are a lot of Buddhist temples as well and as a tourist, out of respect, one should always wear appropriate clothing while visiting all these places.
Some general trivia about the country:
- The language is Burmese and hence the locals aren’t that well versed with English. So the language barrier is a serious thing but it isn’t that bad a situation also.
- Their currency is Kyat. One kyat is roughly equal to c. 89($) and that is about it. The economy of Myanmar is primarily production based and more than that, based on agriculture.
- The best time to visit this country is between November to March. This is the time when there is summertime in the country and because during the rest of the year it rains very heavily.
- Yangon is the capital city and is a must visit.
- The country is pretty safe and no mugging or any mishaps of that sort happen as the locals are really welcoming and you can really trust their integrity.
Now let us dive in and let’s see what all we can do in a country like Myanmar:
1. Fine and Dine
Well, the first thing you should know about while visiting any country is what it has offered for the palate. In the hotels in Myanmar, you usually get a pizza or a pasta meal for about $10 but that’s if you are all out of options. The best way to experience any country is by trying its local street food and Myanmar does have a lot to offer.
Sharing a border with India comes with sharing the kind of food made in India. The most famous street food items in Myanmar and the Indians would be surprised to know this, are the Samosa Salad and the Dosa Sandwich. Along with these, the local foods include the Mont Lin Ma Yar — Quail Egg Snack and the Mohinga which is a signature Burmese breakfast dish. There are also a lot of spicy dishes that are inspired by Thai food for the people who won’t be teary and can handle the spice. The option of western food like sandwiches and burgers is always open for those who feel like having that sort of food.
Yangon is the capital city of Myanmar and one has to go here for sure. Yangon has a lot of parks and a really big pagoda called as the Shwedagon Pagoda and it is has a layer of gold on the innermost sanctums and then on there are layers and layers of smaller and smaller stupas that are constructed just in front of one another and it is a beautiful sight to watch. Yangon also has a lot of churches and a very big Buddha statue and a dragon restaurant for the ones with a heavy pocket and appetite.
Mandalay is the second largest city and has a number of temples showing the amazing craftsmanship of that time. The intricate details make swerve the eyes and make you feel calm and at complete peace. The Mandalay Hill is also a major attraction and so is the longest wooden bridge.
Hpa-An also has a lot of Buddhist caves and one can go to these caves by taking rides in the ferries and the small boats that take you across.
5. Inle Lake
Inle Lake is the most beautiful lake in Myanmar and the sights to see there are truly breathtaking. This is a place good for photography as it is not only scenic but also the local fishermen here steer their boats in the most peculiar fashion with just one leg and one can get good snaps of that.
Bagan is an ancient city in the Mandalay region and probably one of the most visited ones in Myanmar. Bagan offers the most scenic sunsets but only if you are up to climb one of the stupas and sit there as the golden hour melts away to dusk. The hot air balloons are the real deal to watch as the sun sets over Bagan.
7. Up, Up and Away
In Bagan, one can go for the hot air balloon ride and that alone is a very famous attraction for most of the tourists. Although pricey (almost $350), you wouldn’t regret flying up above Myanmar with other ballooners and see the view from a different, more enticing spot.
8. ‘The Moon’ and ‘Sharkeys’
These are two must-visit restaurants in Bagan and one should try the food here. Good Burmese food is guaranteed along with the usual western counterparts as well
9. Pyin Oo Lwin
This place is straight out of an Indiana Jones film and was once a recreational spot during the times of British colonialism. The thing about Pyin Oo Lwin is that it has a magnificent waterfall by the name of Taw Gyaint falls and is the best option for a cool swim.
Who would have thought? But Myanmar has some of the best vineyards than there are to see and some good resorts quite close to them so that you can have your evenings to yourself with nothing but a bottle of Rose to give you company.
So these were a few things that you could do in Myanmar. And these are just skimming the surface. The country has lots to offer and now is the best time to visit as tourists are quickly picking this up as a favourable destination and before it gets too crowded, you should definitely pay a visit to this amusing country.