Although there are areas that remain off limits, it certainly is safe for travel and remains one of the few global venues where innocence among the populace maintains a foothold. Large hoteliers have invested heavily and there are some grand choices for those seeking western-styled comfort with the addition of some excellent 4-star boutique hotels that offer great value.
Even today, in this era of global tourism, Myanmar remains cloaked in ancient mysteries. Yangon, its capital is the largest city and until the 18th century was only a small fishing village. The warm welcome given visiting travelers by the Burmese people adds to the enjoyment of your stay. One assured highlight in Yangon will be to stroll around the magnificence of the Shwedagon Pagoda during the soft glow of the afternoon sun. Buddhist pilgrims the world over visit this site and there is a seemingly endless flow of Burmese who make it their daily ritual to pay homage.
The four most popular places to visit are Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake. All four should be on the itinerary, however, so too should one consider Kalaw, a former summer retreat for the British, the nearby elephant rescue camp, and for those more adventurous, generally mild trek through the Palaung Villages with an overnight stay within the monastery.
For most, Bagan is perhaps the greatest highlight of the journey, it being one of the richest archeological sites in all of Asia. Dating back to 108 A.D., the town was destroyed by Kublai Khan in 1287. Most of the 13,000 pagodas, stupas and temples, which once graced the plains of the town are now long gone; however, the remaining 2,000 or more orate the former elegance and stature once displayed throughout the land. Bagan was known as the capital of Buddhism during its “Golden Age” and knowledge of that historical reality provides the local residents with a measure of pride that reads clearly across their faces and in their stride. The panorama of temples and chortans against a backdrop of distant hillsides and the might Irrawaddy River is as much an experience of feeling as it is a wondrous sight.
Vast and beautiful, Inle Lake stretches some 9 miles in length and 4 miles in breadth. Here you will find the unique “leg rowers” who, while standing atop their longboat, wrap the lower leg around the oar and paddle to their favored spot, hoping for a bountiful day for their efforts. As strikingly beautiful a setting as is Inle Lake, while there, excursions to the Indein Pagoda and Tha Le Oo should not be missed.
Bangkok, Thailand is the gateway city when considering Myanmar as your next holiday. The innate friendliness and hospitality of the Thai people await your arrival. Your on-going flight to Myanmar will wing you high above the jungle carpet to one of the least-traveled countries and to the wonder that is Burma.