Myanmar was closed from the outer world for almost 5 decades when it was under the military regime. Aung San Suu Kyi is the most influential Burmese politician and the President of the National League of Democracy, an opposition party of Myanmar. She urged the world to boycott tourism in the country for 15 years. Until recently since 2011, she removed tourism boycott and encouraged tourists to visit the country from across the world. I visited the country in December, 2016.
Though the infrastructure has not yet been so accommodating to tourists as other neighboring countries like Thailand and Laos, yet it is a beautiful and culturally rich country. It has some breathtakingly lovely places to visit that can easily rival those of Thailand or Laos – you must consider planning your next travel to Myanmar.
To start with different regions of Myanmar, the lowlands of the Irrawaddy Delta has the largest city of the country – Yangon. It which is no more a capital, yet it remains the country’s commercial heart and also the center of its spiritual life. The vibrant streets of downtown Yangon, the glorious Shewdagon Paya, and the glittering golden stupa of Sule Paya at the heart of the city provide an engaging history of the country.
The new capital is at Nay Pyi Taw, which is in the Central Myanmar, has only one prominent landmark called Uppatasanti Paya, meaning “Peace Pagoda”. It houses a Buddha tooth relic from China, and is a replica of the Shwedagon Paya of Yangon. Tourists mainly flock to Central Myanmar to visit Mandalay and Bagan. Mandalay is the main commercial center of Upper Myanmar dominated by the walls and moats of the Mandalay Royal Palace. Visiting the top of the Mandalay Hill and do not miss the day trips to the nearby beautiful places like Amarapura, Sagaing, Mingun, and Inwa. The archaeological zone in Bagan near the banks of Irrawaddy river has thousands of pagodas, some more than a millennium old. Day trip to Mount Popa – an extinct volcano, which now looks like a beautiful green oasis over above the hote plains – from Bagan is recommended.
Eastern Myanmar is symbolized by the appeal of the hilly regions of the Shan state. One of my favorite destinations here is Inle Lake, a large shallow lake excellent for staying at a resort overlooking the lake and visiting the floating stilt villages by a relaxing boat trip. You can also consider trekking around Kalaw, which has an appealing beauty, not far from Inle Lake. The eastern region also has the Golden Triangle – the border between Myanmar, China, and Thailand – and Taunggyi – the Shan state capital located in the heart of the Golden Triangle – which is popular for trekking trips from there and visiting people from hill tribes.
South-eastern Myanmar has a coastal stretch fringing Thailand with many offshore islands. The most popular attraction here is the Golden Rock – a golden boulder perched at the summit of Mount Kyaiktiyo. Other popular places are the former British capital of Mawlamyine further south and a boat trip from there to Hpa-An, a riverside picturesque town.
Western Myanmar is mostly about remote mountainous regions and some lovely beaches like Ngapali beach on the Bay of Bengal. You can do boat trips to nearby islands from the beach, and enjoy a relaxing holiday.
Northern Myanmar, unfortunately, has travel restrictions due to the history of conflict between the army and ethnic group. The region consists of the southern reaches of the Himalayas and many ethnic tribes. You can still visit few of the tribes in traditional mountain villages by trekking there from towns such as Hsipaw – a guided tour is recommended for safety.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Myanmar?
Myanmar has two distinct seasons – dry season during October-May and wet season during June-September. The hottest time of year is March-June. Central Myanmar usually stay dry all around the year except some heavy downpour during August. The best time to visit is November-February, but it is the busiest time as well, so to have a perfect balance of weather and less crowd, you can choose the end of October.
How to Plan Your Myanmar Vacation?
Visit my blog posts on Myanmar. They will surely help you plan your vacation.
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