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Visit Inle Lake with its floating vegetable patches and stilted homes

A photographer's view of Burma (Myanmar)

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Burma (Myanmar)

Cultural

By Barrie Parker, who traveled with us in January 2015

My wife, Narasri, and I have traveled fairly extensively in Southeast Asia and we’d wanted to visit Myanmar for a long time.

Traveling tailor-made allowed us to visit at our own pace and absorb the culture, customs and history of the country. It also enabled me to indulge in my obsession as a photographer.

Mandalay and its markets

Beginning in Mandalay, we explored the jade market, where craftsmen do very skilled marble cutting.

The extraordinary railway market is a sight to behold as vendors clear the tracks in seconds just before a train passes through.

We also walked across the world’s longest wooden (teak) footbridge, U-Bein Bridge, near the old capital city of Amarapura. 

U-Bein Bridge is the world’s longest wooden footbridge

U-Bein Bridge is the world’s longest wooden footbridge

In the air over the temples of Bagan

We left Mandalay and began a slow four-day river cruise on the Irrawaddy River to Bagan. We stopped off to visit many places of interest and several rural communities on the way.

In Bagan, it's impossible not to visit at least a handful of the some 2,000 pagodas or temples and to realise just how important Buddhist beliefs and practice are to the vast majority of the population.

We took a sunrise hot-air balloon trip over the temples on our second morning in Bagan, which was a magical experience.

A hot air balloon trip is a great way to experience Bagan's temples

A hot air balloon trip is a great way to experience Bagan's temples

Floating vegetable patches and leg-rowing fishermen on Inle Lake

We left Bagan to travel to Inle Lake in the Shan State by plane and transferred to our hotel by long boat. Around the lake are many small villages that connect to the main lake by narrow canals.

The homes on and around the lake are stilted and the transport is by narrow canoe.

Slivers of land have been harvested and float on the water, secured to the shallow base of the lake by wooded poles. The vegetables the locals grow are delicious. The lake is rich in fish and home to the unique leg-rowing fishermen, who stand in their boats to get a bird's-eye view of the fish in the very shallow water.

Take some time to watch the fishermen on Inle Lake with their unique leg-rowing technique

Take some time to watch the fishermen on Inle Lake with their unique leg-rowing technique

Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset in Yangon

Our final destination was the charming, busy old Colonial city of Yangon (previously Rangoon). We explored it over two days.

Our abiding memory was seeing the famous Shwedagon Pagoda just before sunset as the local residents paid their respects after work or school. There’s a quite magical atmosphere present as the sun dips and darkness falls on this most sacred of places.

The best time to visit Shwedagon Pagoda is just before the sun sets

The best time to visit Shwedagon Pagoda is just before the sun sets

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Start thinking about your experience. These itineraries are simply suggestions for how you could enjoy some of the same experiences as our specialists. They’re just for inspiration, because your trip will be created around your particular tastes.

Places Barrie and Narasri visited on their itinerary

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