Myanmar (Burma)

After international sanctions were lifted in 2012, Myanmar has been put to the top of travel destination lists and it has quickly become the hot new place to visit.  Closed off to the world for centuries, this is a fascinating country, which is as warm and welcoming as the ruling military junta were harsh and oppressive.

Yangon: This ex-capital is a wonderful juxtaposition of modern life and Myanmar’s colonial past.  The colonial buildings abound, particularly along the Strand Road, and the Strand Hotel is not to be missed – even if it’s just for a cocktail at Friday night’s happy hour.  Don’t miss a visit to the glittering Shwedagon Pagoda, the most revered Buddhist temple in the country.

Inle Lake: From the Intha’s unique style of fishing to their floating markets and stilt houses, Myanmar’s second largest lake is worth a visit.

Hsipaw: This is a small rural town with a far richer history.  This was one of the most powerful towns in the Shan State and the best place to find out more is at the Shan Palace.

Pyin-Oo-Lwin: The British hill station is now a busy town on the road between China and Mandalay, but remnants of this romantic getaway can still be found.  Beautiful Tudor buildings and the botanical gardens can be seen from a ride on an old stagecoach.

Mandalay: This city was devastated by WW2 and has since been reinvented by the Chinese, yet it offers so much to visitors that it is trying to reinvent itself as the cultural capital of Myanmar.

Chin State: Recently opened up to tourists, this is a tough destination to travel to, but any visitor is rewarded with great scenery and incredible people.  The tattooed women whose faces illustrate a tradition going back to the 5th century represent a changing culture.

Bagan: was once capital of the Kingdom that fully integrated Buddhism into the country.  Myanmar now has the highest proportion of Buddhist monks in any Buddhist country. This unique landscape sprinkled with thousands of temples and stupas is often the highlight of a trip to Myanmar.

Rakhine State:  Ngapali Beach is the main draw for tourists to this State, not least because religious wars have left most of the state hostile.  If you have the time & the area is safe, a boat ride to Sittwe and journey to Mrauk-U is unmissable.  If you thought Bagan was impressive…

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