Depart the United States, en route across the Pacific bound for exciting Bangkok, where the innate friendliness and hospitality of the Thai people await your arrival. As the golden temples of Thailand are left in the distance, your flight wings you to Myanmar (Burma). Begin your stay with a tour of the city and a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma’s most precious gem.
Fly above the brilliance of glittering temples to the plain of Bagan, one of Asia’s richest and most prestigious archaeological sites. Dating back to 108 A.D., the remaining 2,000 or more pagodas, stupas and temples orate the former elegance and brilliant stature once displayed across this wondrous land. Bagan was the center of Buddhism during its “Golden Age.” Knowledge of that historical reality provides the local inhabitants with a measure of pride that reads so clearly across their faces and in their strides. Bagan is a tranquil and wondrous town that, once visited, will long be recoded as a special place in your diary of fond memories.
A morning drive across the countryside to the city of Monywa will offer a variety of colorful sights. Pass by country villages seemingly left behind by the passage of time. Monywa is known for its glittering Than Bodday Pagoda, housing more than 50,000 statues. Next morning visit the caves at Powintaung as well as Shwebatuaung, unique within all of Southeast Asia. Continue on to Mandalay, center of the political, cultural and spiritual ethos of Myanmar.
Visit the Mahagandayon Monastery, where 700 monks and novices join together for their one daily meal. Visit a variety of artisans who provide marble Buddha sculpting, silk weaving and gold-leaf pounding. Nearby, the Irrawaddy River offers a myriad of dramatic sights that provide the viewer with an excellent portrayal of life on the river, Burma’s true lifeline. Bamboo rafts to Chinese-like junks move both passengers and materials in a never-ending procession of boat traffic on the waterway.
Fly to He-Ho, gateway to Inle Lake. Drive across pine-scented woodlands to the town of Pindaya, famous for its once hidden caves. Thousands of Buddha images can be found within these caves, some richly gilded, dating back hundreds of years. A morning drive takes you across the furrowed hillsides of this fascinating region, sighting farmers and their buffalo preparing for a full day’s effort aside the background of chortans and temples. Travel across beautiful tree-lined hills where the Pao and Danu carved out their homeland as you approach magnificent Inle Lake.
Vast and beautiful, Inle Lake stretches some 9 miles in length and 4 miles in breadth. It is here that you find the unique “leg rowers” who, while standing atop their longboat, wrap the lower leg around the oar and paddle both passenger and product to Inle’s innumerable floating villages. Your visit on the lake will include visits to the local temple, monastery and marketplace, all within one of the most remarkable settings imaginable.
Wing your way back to Yangon for an afternoon of rest prior to boarding your return flight to Bangkok in preparation for your journey homeward. All too soon your holiday has drawn to a close, but with those precious memories in mind, the experience will last for a lifetime.
Burma, now called Myanmar, is a crossroads between Asian countries: Tibet and China to the north, India and Bangladesh to the west, Laos and Thailand to the east. As a result, it is a blend of several ethnicities and cultures.
Once the wealthiest nation in Southeast Asia under British rule, Myanmar has struggled politically and economically since its independence in 1948.
The present government, run by heads of state with strong military backing and influence, quite openly encourages tourism. They have rebuilt the roads, improved air transportation and safety, and constructed five-star hotels, making Myanmar a haven for those who prefer unique journeys away from crowded, more widely known, destinations.
The traveler who makes the trek to Myanmar is rewarded with many wondrous sites. Chief among them is the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. A most holy shrine, the local Burmese make offerings there to their patron gods, or Nats, from sunrise to sunset. In Pagan, the panoramic display of temples and chortens, a symbolic form of Buddhist architecture representing the elements and enlightenment, is one of the most breathtaking in all Asia.
In Myanmar, you can view well-preserved monuments and sights few outsiders have seen. The residents of Myanmar are gracious and welcome travelers with genuine warmth and hospitality.
The guides at First Cabin Travel will help you appreciate the history and culture of Myanmar, and help you navigate this emerging tourist destination.