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Burma

5

Reasons to Visit Burma

  • Boat trips

    The famous Irrawaddy River flows through the heart of the country for 2,000km to a vast Delta region southwest of Rangoon and provides an important role in everyday life. A journey on this most majestic of rivers is a highlight of any trip.

    Boat trips
  • Hill tribes

    Burma is home to an astonishing number of ethnicities each with their own traditional dress and customs, and in many cases, language and religion. For the most rewarding encounters we recommend heading to the hills of Shan state where it’s possible to stay in remote villages and receive the most genuine of welcomes and hospitality.

    Hill tribes
  • History

    Burma is steeped in history and the legacy of various kingdoms and rule is very much in evidence throughout the country from former ancient capitals and grandiose royal palaces around Mandalay to the faded colonial grandeur of Rangoon’s municipal buildings built by British hands.

    History
  • Local markets

    Whether you are shopping for gems in Rangoon’s Scott Market, betel nut in Kalaw or intricate lacquerware in Pagan there is no better way to immerse yourself in the way of life than to soak up the atmosphere of a local market.

    Local markets
  • Temples

    Wherever you travel in Burma you will only be footsteps away from a temple providing an opportunity to witness the quiet reverence of the Burmese people. Climb up to a viewpoint amongst the ancient stupas of Pagan at sunset, visit stilted temples by boat at Inle Lake or marvel at the shimmering Shwedagon Pagoda.

    Temples

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Highlights of Burma

    • Visit the floating market on Inle Lake
    • Inle Lake sits at around 1000 metres above sea level in the Shan State and offers respite from the heat of the central plains. This unbelievably beautiful landscape is renowned for its five-day floating market, stilted villages and Intha fishermen who have perfected the art of leg-rowing to give respite to their tired arms during long paddles from shore to shore.
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    • Trek to remote hill tribes in Kengtung
    • This sleepy town is nestled in mountain valleys deep in Shan State. Not many tourists venture this far east but the rewards of doing so are countless. Trek to remote hill tribes who tend the fields in traditional dress, absorb the local Khun culture, relax with the locals in countless tea-shops and get lost in the labyrinthine of stalls at the early morning markets.
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    • Marvel at the huge Golden Rock Pagoda at Kyaikhtiyo
    • Rising 1,100 metres above sea level this small golden stupa stands on the top of a huge boulder which is balanced precariously on the edge of a cliff. This is a site of pilgrimage for many Burmese who people believe a hair from the head of Buddha is responsible for keeping the rock in place.
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    • Visit the colossal Paya Mingun
    • The ancient city of Mingun sits on the western bank of the Irrawaddy River 11km upriver from Mandalay and is noted for King Bodawpaya's colossal yet unfinished Mingun Paya. The original bell cast to complement the Paya is the largest un-cracked ringing bell in the world.
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    • Explore abandoned temples in Mrauk U
    • Stumble across abandoned temples dating back to the 15th-18th centuries and travel by boat to traditional Chin villages, whose female elders still bear testament to the age-old custom of facial tattooing.
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    • Relax on Ngapali Beach
    • This beautiful beach stretches for over 3km and is the perfect place to unwind and watch local life unfold. Dont be surprised to see the local villagers walking their oxen and buffalos along the beach!
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    • Walk amongst the temples of Pagan
    • More popularly known as the 'city of four million pagodas', Pagan is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia, with over 3,000 temples covering an area of 40 square kilometres. Take a balloon flight at dawn for a unique vantage point of this spectacular temple landscape.
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    • Ride in a horse-drawn trap around Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo)
    • Maymyo is 1,070 metres above sea level and was used by the British during the colonial era as a summer retreat to escape the heat of Mandalay. Take a ride in a horse-drawn trap around this quaint town passing gabled houses and Anglican churches and visit the immaculate botanical gardens.
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    • Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset
    • Around 4pm in the afternoon you will be met by your vehicle, driver and guide for an afternoon exploring vibrant central Rangoon followed by an early evening visit to the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. You will witness the magical atmosphere as the sun dips below the horizon and darkness falls in this most holy of places.
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    • Take a train trip over the Gokteik Viaduct
    • Travel by train from Maymyo to Hsipaw (near Maymyo) and you will pass through some of Shan state’s most picturesque countryside and across the infamous Gokteik viaduct. Built in 1900 by the Pennsylvania Steel Company, this imposing steel bridge spans a 300-metre deep river gorge. The train makes a slow and steady crossing through this remote, jungle-clad landscape presenting some of the most breathtaking views in Southeast Asia.
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Our country specialists have travelled the length and breadth of Burma - here are a few of their favourite things to do

Burma, or Myanmar as it is sometimes known, is a colourful mixture of festivals, costumes and cultures which blesses every visitor with lingering memories of stunning temples, smiling faces and a wonderfully laid-back way of life.

The government's official policy of international isolation has left it relatively untainted by the excesses of modern living, and the country retains an aura of a bygone age.

Culture and beliefs

Living for decades under repressive military rule, it is perhaps only the people’s deep-rooted belief in Buddhism and spirit worship that has kept them strong. This belief is evident in the many ornate pagodas and temples that dot the countryside, from the Himalayan foothills to the jungles of the south. The Burmese have no word for tourist, just "guest" and years of isolation has allowed their natural friendliness to survive untarnished.

Burma in all its diversity

From the colonial city of Rangoon to the royal city of Mandalay, the numerous temples of Pagan on the hot and dusty plains to the natural grace of Inle Lake, where fishermen stand to row their delicate craft amongst lily-dappled water, Burma is an intriguing and beautiful land. Beautiful beaches, hidden temples, colourful hill tribes, bustling markets, magnificent archaeological sites and natural scenery make this a destination you will want to return to time and again.

Popular Places to visit in

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{FD3B3D13-6962-4954-9019-4504B4279D80} Golden Rock

Balanced on the edge of a mountain, one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimages in Burma is the Golden Rock Pagoda. Over the ages the rock has been totally covered with gold leaf. You can also climb to the top.

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{09A7054B-81A4-4331-84DA-40FE060E7220} Inle Lake

The shallow waters of Inle Lake are home to the Intha people, who actually live on the lake, building their houses on stilts and travelling across the lake using their bizarre style of leg rowing.

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{3E9392CA-DFA5-4ABF-AFD1-D321105293E8} Kalaw

Kalaw is located to the west of Inle Lake, and blends the influences of Indian and Nepalese cultures. The area is ideal for walks and treks and it is possible to discover little-visited minority hill tribe villages.

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{CCA99F26-CD5B-433A-82C9-5B2B3811E3E7} Kengtung

This quiet, laid-back town contains an interesting collection of temples and monasteries. You can see well-preserved and genuine customs of local tribes, many of whom can be seen in their traditional dress.

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{3AC6FDAF-B850-411F-818C-545E9AB35313} Mandalay

The capital of the Burmese kingdom before the colonial era, Mandalay is Burma’s second largest city. Highlights include the Shwenandow pagoda, which has some exquisite woodcarvings adorning its walls.

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{F25388C8-A8A2-4335-A867-9CB8599B7D71} Mount Popa

Pilgrims have been visiting the shrine at Mount Popa for over 700 years, climbing 777 winding steps to pay their respects to realistic, carved figures, denoting ancient gods.

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{622B4983-7723-4036-BB9E-7AC43169A2D0} Mrauk U

Mrauk U was the capital of Rakhine State from the 15th to the 18th centuries. There are abandoned temples and shrines in most fields and the tops of most hills.

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{8447B204-BF82-4883-9299-A88EA1B5FFDC} Ngapali Beach

Ngapali Beach is a beautiful, unspoiled stretch of coast. Its bustling market and cliff top pagodas, make this region well worth exploring. Leisure facilities include a nine-hole golf course and boat trips.

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{70B0F9B6-0DA8-462F-9ADF-AE9265A895AE} Pagan

Less famous than the temples at Angkor or Borobodur, Pagan is unquestionably one of the 'must sees' in Asia. There are over 3,000 temples here, and a popular way to see them is via a hot-air balloon trip.

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{1BF7ECF5-6865-4131-924D-6E890DF7807D} Rangoon

Once called Yangon, Rangoon is the former capital of Burma and still retains much of its colonial character. A highlight has to include the magnificent Shwedagon pagoda.

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Practical Info

Flight time

14 1/2 hours (Yangon, via Bangkok)

Timezone

GMT+6 1/2 hours

When To Go

Jan
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Feb
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Mar
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Apr
A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of
May
A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of
Jun
A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of
Jul
A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of
Aug
A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of
Sep
A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of
Oct
The best time to travel
Nov
The best time to travel
Dec
The best time to travel
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