Reasons to Visit
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
14 1/2 hours (Yangon, via Bangkok)
British Airways, EVA Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines & Thai Airways
GMT+6 1/2 hours
The best time to travel.
A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of.
Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year.
Travel is not recommended.
Snow or ski season.
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Further reading:Tours in BurmaWhen to GoItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationAbout BurmaCountry Guides
Other countries in Southeast Asia:BorneoCambodiaIndonesiaLaosMalaysiaPapua New GuineaThailandThe PhilippinesVietnam
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