Not so long-ago Myanmar was a country shrouded in mystery. It was difficult to get in, and there was not much of a tourist industry. Before that, Myanmar was part of the British Empire, known then as Burma. It was heralded as an exotic location full of tremendous natural scenes, and a rich culture. And prior to that Burma has had a rich history as an occasional empire and a dominant force in Southeast Asia. Now that Myanmar is opening to tourism, there can be no more exciting location to visit, as so much of the country is unspoiled by commercialism and it retains its true cultural character. Here are four places that you must visit on your trip to Myanmar.
- Yangon: Formerly Rangoon, Yangon is the heart of Myanmar. It was indeed the capital until the government built a new capital city to the north named Napyidaw. Yangon is now a major destination, and therefore excellent accommodations can be had. There are even 5 star hotels in Yangon, so there is something for every traveller. Yangon has more colonial era buildings than anywhere else in Southeast Asia. In the centre of the city is the 200-year-old Sule Pagoda, and also in Yangon there is the famous heavily gilded Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar’s most sacred site.
- Bagan: Founded in the 2nd century AD, Bagan became one of the most powerful cities in Asia. From 1044 to 1287 the Bagan Empire constructed 10,000 religious monuments and 3000 monasteries in what is now considered the Mandalay region. The incredible scale of construction and the sheer number of historical sites that remain, make Bagan a must-see location for any visit to Myanmar.
- Mandalay: If you make it to Bagan, you are already in the Mandalay region, but there is still more to see. Mandalay is also the name of the second largest city in Myanmar and it is located on the eastern shore of the famous Irrawaddy River. Mandalay is considered the cultural centre of Myanmar. In the centre of the city is the Royal Palace, which represented the last capital of Independent Myanmar before colonization. Another famous attraction is the Zegyo Bazaar. Mandalay is one of the most historic places in the world. And the true heart of Myanmar.
- Inle Lake: This lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar, and it is the centre of several cultural practices, and the home of many festivals. The sheer beauty and the rich cultural heritage have made this a favourite location for tourism. Inle Lake is famous for floating villages and many markets offering local crafts. The Intha community live and work exclusively on the lake. Inle Lake is also renowned for its breath-taking view, which is described as otherworldly.
If you are seeking an exotic and unique location, there is no place less travelled than Myanmar. It’s recent interest in providing quality tourism has opened many areas to the travelling public that have not been seen since World War II. Coinciding with this is the fresh and unspoiled culture that cannot be experienced in any other place in the world.