For years I’d been trying to convince friends to go with me to Burma, or now I should say Myanmar. You may be asking yourself why, but here are a few of my reasons:
- Myanmar only opened its borders to tourism around 2010 – For years, much of the country was closed to tourists & businesses due to an oppressive military government
- As a result, you don’t see fast food chains or the usual signs of globalisation – Myanmar still has that ‘untouched’ feel that few of the Asian countries now have
- The valley of Bagan is scattered with over 2,200 temples, pagodas and monasteries – During the kingdom’s height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were built
Bagan Valley, Myanmar
The Kayan Lahwi or ‘long neck’ tribe lives around Inle Lake – Those ladies that you see in pictures with extremely long necks, bound by spiralled gold necklaces and wearing colourful clothing, they live on floating islands and little villages in Northern Myanmar!
- Prices are still cheap! But not as crazy cheap as you’d imagine, because there aren’t yet a huge amount of facilities to cater for tourists (i.e. hostels)
I’ll follow up on this post with my highlights of the trip and a little more insight into local culture and people. But for now, here are the more practical tips & logistics.
Our itinerary was strict, because of our 12 day holiday, we were only left with 10 days after travel. Reason for this being that of course we went for the cheapest option possible – £350 return flights which included a fun 8 hour stopover in Beijing..fun times! But what the hell, we’re young 🙂
In that time we did Yangon – Bagan – Mandalay – Inle Lake – Yangon
We travelled mostly by bus which was not the most pleasant but perfectly comfortable and extremely cheap (around £9 from Yangon to Bagan for a 12-13 hour journey). To save time however we did fly from Inle Lake (Heho) back to Yangon for £100 – it’s worth it just to experience the 3rd world airport: no computers, flights & boarding announced on pieces of cardboard held up by a little man and called out with a megaphone 😀 Quite different from London airport security!
I love to discover new cuisines as I travel, and apart from maybe the really funky stuff, I’m quite open to try new things.
I must say that although Myanmar cuisine is influenced by its neighbouring countries, it’s probably the most poor among them in my opinion. They eat a lot of stews and rice, they love their spice, but also quite a lot of grease.
We tried to be careful since we had such a short amount of time and rigid schedule, but of course I managed to get food poisoning…
Travel tip: DO NOT eat at the bus resting stations! The food in these ‘food courts’ if you can call them that has been lying around all day in the scorching heat.. not so fresh!
In Yangon we stayed at Agga Youth Hostel
In Bagan we stayed in a really cool hostel run by Italians called Ostello Bello Bagan
In Inle Lake we stayed at Joy Hotel
The other places I won’t bother mentioning as they weren’t anything special.
Travel tip: Make sure to visit Myanmar sooner rather than later, because my guess is that in 5-10 years time it will be another Thailand, jam-packed with tourists, chains & Westernisation!