Stepping into Burma (Myanmar) is like stepping into a bygone era; the traditional longyis, the artfully applied thanaka seen on faces in every crowd, turn-of-the-century crumbling buildings, time-honored crafts, and historic ruins. There are small inconvenienes like a lack of ATMs and modern infrastructure, and you may draw more attention here as an outsider; new reforms have only recently ended the longtime tourism boycott once requested by Aung San Suu Kyi (known as The Lady to local citizens). However, you’ll be fascinated by this mysterious country, and surrounded by some of the most friendly and honest folk around.
Burma's biggest city lays claim to the largest number of colonial buildings in Southeast Asia, in addition to Shwedagon Pagoda, with its gold covered stupa, a highlight and symbol of the city. Yangon offers many sites worth visiting, from museums to street markets. We can walk through Old Rangoon, Little India, plus visit the famous Bogyoke Aung San "Scott" Market, the Reclining Buddha, Royal Lake, or bustling Chinatown! Time permitting, we can also travel outside of Yangon, via Bago, to see the Golden Rock, or take an extended trip to the beach.
Mandalay is the previous capital of Burma, second largest city in the country, and the religious and economic hub of the upper region. One popular option is to travel between Mandalay and Bagan via scenic boat on the Irrawaddy River. In Mandalay, you’ll enjoy visiting Shwenandaw Monastery, Kuthodaw Pagoda, and Mandalay Hill, where British and Indian troops lost to the Japanese during World War II. Then outside of town is Sagaing Hill, covered by pagodas, temples, monasteries and nunneries, and in nearby Amarapura township, you’ll find the longest teak bridge in the world!
A wonderful watery world of stilted villages and crumbling stupas, Inle Lake is an absolute must experience in Burma and exploring it with your local host is a true natural adventure. The amazing hydroponic cultures of floating gardens of tomatoes and flowers and the mountains that tumble down towards the lakeshore, blurring the distinction between heaven and earth, provide peace and tranquility for many a traveler. It is also a wonderful setting to be spontaneous and your host can arrange things like canoeing, cycling, walking through lush countryside, and, of course, visiting the Intha people famous for their leg rowing.
Bagan contains the remains of 2,000 pagodas, temples, and stupas that once stood in splendor before the sword of Kublai Khan. In this peaceful, rural setting, you can ride in a horsecart and watch a sunset from a temple terrace, imagining Burmese life from the 11th to the 13th centuries.There are also blacksmiths, boat builders, cigar makers, and silk and lotus weavers, in addition to colorful rotating weekly markets!
Regions in Burma
“Traveling is not just seeing the new; it is also leaving behind. Not just opening doors; also closing them, never to return. But the place you have left forever is always there for you to see whenever you shut your eyes.”