Burma officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, commonly shortened to Myanmar. It lies on the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea coast with Bangladesh and India to the west, China to the north, and Laos and Thailand to the east. Myanmar is the world's 40th largest country and the second largest in Southeast Asia. It is also a country rich in jade and gems, oil, natural gas and other mineral resources.
It is a land of hills and valleys and is rimmed in the north, east and west by mountain ranges forming a giant horseshoe. Enclosed within the mountain barriers are the flat lands of Ayeyarwady, Chindwin and Sittaung River valleys where most of the country's agricultural land and population are concentrated.
This country is perfect for those seeking a unique trip to a beautiful, exotic locale. Eat your weight in complex, well-spiced Burmese cuisine and enjoy a balance of luxury and adventure in this rapidly developing nation. Travel to Myanmar for a true taste of adventure and the country’s breathtaking scenery. Explore the varied topography of Myanmar and learn more about the cultures within the nation.
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Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Burma (Myanmar). From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom's height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2000 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day covering an area of 42 sq. km. Nowadays, this intriguing destination features a beautiful reflection of Buddhism development from time to time. Visitors are to immerse in the distinguished architecture of different centuries with distinctive legends while being impressed by the stunning landscapes and colorful workshop.
Bagan shows Myanmar architectural heritages from the 11th to mid 14th centuries. For many visitors Bagan is the more extraordinary of the two cities and this because of the view. The ruins of the more than one hundred Angkor temples stand alone and isolated in thick jungles, and only from the top of the tallest temples it is not possible to see others in the distance. Sprawling across a vast dusty plain, the ruins of Bagan are unhidden. There being no trees to obstruct the view, one may gaze over forty square miles of countryside, upon literally thousands of temples. It was said to be that each and every household was able to donate an enshrined Pagoda, because of their faith in Buddhism believe and also because of their wealth. The famous pagodas included Su La Ma Ni Pahto, Dhamma Yan Gyi Pahto, Ananada Temple, Shwe San Daw Paya, That Byin Nyu Temple, Mya Zedi, Pya Thada (or) Pya That Gyi Pagoda, Shin Arahan Oak Kyaung, Gaw Daw Palin Temple, Mingalar Zedi, Soe Min Gyi Pagoda, Ape Yadana Temple, Sein Nyet Ama and Nyimma Pagoda, Naga Yon Temple, Dhamma Yazaka Zedi.
Located in Shan State, Inle Lake is 22km long and about 11km wide. The lake is at 1328 meters above sea level. It is one of the most unique areas in Southeast Asia as the second largest lake in Myanmar with its diverse ethnic culture and special water agriculture. It also contains over twenty species of snails and nine species of fish which are found nowhere else in the world. The floating water hyacinth is the major product of this region. Many hand made products such as bags, baskets are made from water hyacinth.
The people of Inle Lake (called Intha), some 70,000 of them,live in four cities bordering the lake, in numerous small villages along the lake's shores, and on the lake itself. Most transportation on the lake is traditionally by small boats, or by somewhat larger boats fitted with single cylinder inboard diesel engines. Local fishermen are known for practicing a distinctive rowing style which involves standing at the stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar. This unique style evolved for the reason that the lake is covered by reeds and floating plants making it difficult to see above them while sitting. Standing provides the rower with a view beyond the reeds. However, the leg rowing style is only practiced by the men. Women row in the customary style, using the oar with their hands, sitting cross legged at the stern.
The principal cultural and economic city of upper Myanmar, and former royal capital, Mandalay still evokes images of a romantic bygone era. The royal palace and its impressive surrounding gate sit at the foot of the imposing Mandalay Hill. Positioned on the banks of the mighty Ayeryarwaddy River, Mandalay lies within easy striking distance of former colonial hill stations (Maymyo), ancient cities (Ava, Amarapura, Mingun) and other cultural attractions.
Ngapali Beach Myanmar is the most beautiful beach among the beaches in Myanmar. It is accessible by flight which takes about 45 minutes from Yangon, by car about 14 hours drive along the Rakhine Yoma mountain range. Yangon Airways, Air Mandalay and Air Bagan fly from Yangon to Ngapali daily and there are also direct flights from Heho and Nyaung Oo to Ngapali. The best time to visit is during October to May.
Ngapali Beach has been promoted as a major tourist destination in Myanmar. Several resorts and hotels are located in Ngapali, usually of the high end - such as Bayview Ngapali, Amata Resort, Amazing Ngapali and also the government owned Anawa. Ngapali used to have private bungalos, but these were torn down in the late 1990s to make way for the development of hotels. Apart from the normal beach activities, excursions like visiting the small fishing villages and local markets; exploring the countryside by bicycle and a boat trips to the magnificent offshore islands can be experienced in Ngapali. There is also the 18-hole Golf Course just 15 minutes drive from the hotel to fulfill the taste of beach golfers. Besides the vibrant culture, pagodas, temples and jungle of mountains in Myanmar, there are also some of the most pristine beaches in all of Southeast Asia. Miles of empty white sand beaches, brilliant turquoise seas, all backed by towering coconut palms, Ngapali is Myanmar’s premier beach destination. Intimate resorts offer visitors the chance to swim, sail, kayak, and feast on lobster and prawn by candle light as the sun sinks into the Indian Ocean. Ngapali is the perfect place to unwind and savor those few precious weeks in Myanmar.
Ngwe Saung Beach is also on the western coast of Myanmar on the Bay of Bengal, nearly directly west of Yangon and a bit south of Ngapali. It has become popular with tourists in just the last four or five years and the quality of the beach, sand and water is comparable to Ngapali Beach. Until recently, the beach could be reached only by car (about 5-6 hours drive) from Yangon, or by a tourist ferry that would make an overnight trip (but sometimes the boat would not run if they did not have enough bookings).
An unspoilt 15-km stretch of silvery sand and modern amenities have made Ngwesaung a popular destination for less budget conscious tourists from Lower Myanmar. Still Ngwe Saung has much to develop. Its choices for nightlife activities remain paltry, even by local standards. Chaungtha and Ngapali beaches have greater choices of nighttime activities. At this point, a nearby elephant training camp is a main daytime attraction at Ngwe Saung.
Yangon (also known as Rangoon) is a former capital of Burma (Myanmar) and the capital of Yangon Region. Yangon is a combination of the two words (Yan) and (Koun), which mean "enemies" and "run out of" respectively. It is also translated as "End of Strife". Used to be the British’s colonial country, Yangon has the charm of colonial signature and preserved culture with such long boulevards with tree line, British styled houses and beautiful garden attached to the residential area. City Halls, Churches, Water Management Buildings and many other outstanding landmarks provide you a vivid image of British. There are many peoples in Yangon including Burmese, Chinese, India and they expose their own culture in a beautiful way.
There are many things you can do and see in this wonderful city. Shwedagon Pagoda must be the first name in your mind. This spectacular golden pagoda – it is also called The Golden Pagoda – is the religious symbol of Myanmar and also the most famous landmark of Yangon. Its color is even more sparkle at night under the sky of Yangon. On the road of the Shwedagon Pagoda, you can visit some other spots of beauty in Yangon like the 2,500-year-old Sule Pagoda or heading to the central Yangon for a shopping at the mall. The second name may be the Bogyoke Market, also known as the Scott’s Market where one can buy anything in one place. Besides two famous places above, Yangon boasts many other interesting places for you like the Mahabandoola Park, National Museum, Inlay Lake and some Cathedrals such as St.Mary and Holy Trinity… Moreover, you can take part in many activities in Yangon. The Circular Train may be the ideal choice for a fascinating day with 1$ and passport. Cuisine is also an important part of the Burmese. In Yangon, you can join in the cooking demonstration or take a cooking class with the guide of an expert chief. Yangon is the land of restaurant, you can find any country’s gastronomy in this small city, from Italian, Indian to Japanese and Korean. Some famous names you must visit if you want to experience the food in Yangon like Seven One One Restaurant on Anawratha Road, 999 Shan Noodle Shop with unforgettable noodle, Feel, Hla Myanmar with the local dishes, Golden City Chetty – an ideal choice for tasting Indian cuisine and Soe Pyi Swar – best choice for the vegetarian.
Yes, most foreign nationals except ASEAN members and a select few countries are required to obtain a visa before visiting Myanmar. Citizens of the European Union, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. among others, are eligible for a tourism eVisa, which is valid for three months from the issuing date and allows a single-entry stay in Myanmar of up to 28 days. The cost of the eVisa will depend upon your nationality. There’s one catch: an eVisa will only allow you to enter the country through Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, or Mandalay international airports, but these are how most visitors enter Myanmar anyway.
The most comfortable time to visit is during the cool season, which is also the least humid time of year and has the clearest air – however, this is also the peak tourist season. If you can put up with the heat and/or rain, then you will find it easier (and often cheaper) to book accommodation outside the cool season, and there will be less crowds at popular destinations. From February until the beginning of the rainy season, much of the country (particularly north of Yangon) can be dusty and hazy, sometimes hindering long-distance views. Myanmar is a large country and temperatures can vary significantly. As a general rule, temperatures and humidity become lower at higher altitudes; in Chin State in the west and parts of Shan State in the east, temperatures can get close to freezing, and in the Himalayan far north they may drop below zero. Monsoon rains are the most persistent in Yangon and the south and west; in the centre of the country, around Mandalay and Bagan, showers will generally be more sporadic in the rainy season (and you are likely to experience more sunshine).
Myanmar has a tropical climate, with the southwest monsoon bringing rain from May to October. Roads can become impassable, particularly from July to September. The central plains, however, receive only a fraction of the rain seen on the coast and in the Ayeyarwady delta. From October onwards the rains subside; the best time to visit most of Myanmar is from November to February, when temperatures are relatively manageable.
Myanmar is still not a heavily touristed country, making it a fantastic destination if you love to travel but hate the crowds. The biggest tourist hubs in Myanmar are Yangon, Mandalay, Inle, and Bagan, all of which offer amazing historical and cultural sights. But if you’d like to venture into lesser-known and little-visited Myanmar, you may want to consider cycling through Myanmar, which will allow you to see villages and local life off the beaten path. Or, our adventure tourS of the Putao region in Kachin State are fully customizable and will bring you face to face with the Kachin people, river islands, and jungles of this beautiful and remote part of Myanmar. To mingle with locals who reside in the mountains, you can trek into Hsipaw in Shan State, an enchanting town where you’ll be welcomed to immerse yourself in the culture and lifestyle of the Shan people. Hpa An, the capital of the ethnic minority state of Karen, also makes for a captivating trip to remote and mountainous Myanmar, with the karst peaks surrounding the picturesque town.
Myanmar is a great destination if your family shares a spirit of adventure. Burmese hospitality is truly heartwarming, and after years of political repression and isolation, many Burmese people are now welcoming foreign visitors with open arms. When you combine this with some of Southeast Asia’s most unspoiled and undeveloped countryside, you can expect your family holiday in Myanmar to abound with friendly people, a variety of outdoor activities, and plenty of opportunities to share an authentic Southeast Asian experience. Children will also love thingyan, the Burmese New Year festival that falls in April. Traditionally, water blessings were given to family, friends, and statues of the Buddha to start the year right. This long-time cultural tradition has evolved into a fun-loving celebration, where entire villages and cities throw a multiple-day water fight!
Although the difficulty of buying a SIM card may have plagued previous travelers to Myanmar, we’re happy to report that things are changing. MPT, the state-owned mobile service provider, is getting some competition with the arrival of Ooredoo and Telenor, two foreign-based companies providing cheap, local SIM cards with 3G. While Ooredoo and Telenor offer cheaper prices, MPT tends to offer the better coverage due to how established they are. You can find Myanmar SIM cards and pre-paid data plans at the airport on arrival, or at operator offices and mobile phone shops in all the major urban centers, such as Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan. Depending on the service provider, a 3G SIM will cost you somewhere between 1,500 to 5,000 kyat (US$1.50 to $5).
As with any Asian country, it’s customary to tip your Myanmar tour guide and driver. We recommend giving each about US$10 per group per day. As for tipping at hotels and restaurants, in Myanmar it’s not expected but appreciated. If you want to tip your hotel porter, we suggest giving US$1 per piece of luggage carried, and for restaurant staff, about 5 to 10% of the bill.
The availability of Internet is increasing in Myanmar, with wifi and access points in most hotels. However Internet speeds are often very slow and unreliable, particularly in rural areas.
Credit cards can be used in some hotels, restaurants and shops however use will be very limited. Myanmar is still largely a cash economy, so it is best to still carry cash.
ATMs are available in all cities and most major towns. At times these can prove unreliable due to frequent power cuts or running out of funds, so you may need to try several ATMs when withdrawing funds. It's advisable to still bring cash to exchange. Foreign currency is no longer accepted for purchases in Myanmar.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Far East Travel are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
With overland border crossings close to impossible for independent travellers, almost everyone arrives in Myanmar at either Yangon or Mandalay airports. There is also an international airport in the capital Nay Pyi Taw, although few airlines use it at present. The international flag carrier, Myanmar Airways International, only serves destinations within Asia. The cheapest way to reach Myanmar from outside the region is usually to fly to a regional hub such as Bangkok or Singapore. Current routes within Asia include flights to Yangon from Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bangkok. Connections with Mandalay are limited to Dehong, Kunming and Bangkok.
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