Myanmar, also known as Burma, is nestled in Southeast Asia and shares her borders with India, Bangladesh, Laos, Thailand and China. Myanmar’s rich heritage and timeless appeal ensure that whether it is your first or 21st visit, there will always be something to mesmerise you! So, before you book your family trip to this enchanting destination, here is some information to help you plan better.
Must See Attractions in Myanmar
The most iconic landmark in Myanmar is this 2,500-year-old revered Buddhist temple in Yangon. It is said to house strands of Gautam Buddha’s hair and other holy relics. The shimmering pagoda is encrusted with gold plates and diamonds. The vibrant complex consists of many temples, stupas, and statues and is a sight to behold.
Travel tip: The pagoda is open daily and the last admission is at 9.45pm. Please follow the dress code.
Officially known as the Bagan Archaeological Zone, this 26 sq. mile temple town is counted among the world’s greatest archaeological sites. More than half of the original temples (almost 4,500) survive and they are a sight to behold. Located on the banks of the Irrawady River, amidst the trees on the plain and with the distant mountains in the horizon, this is definitely a must-visit site when it Myanmar.
Travel tip: The most exotic way to see this gorgeous landscape is in a hot air balloon! Visit the Bagan Archaeological Museum to know more about the history of the temples before setting out to explore them.
The Inle Lake Region:
Get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and head into the serene calmness of the Inle Lake Region. Here you can explore floating gardens, stilt houses and see the life of the Intha fisherfolk who call this beautiful place home. The Inle Lake Region is an unforgettable experience.
Travel tip: The best time to visit is between October and February. Try to catch the annual Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival in October.
This extinct volcano is quite the draw for the hikers and adventure enthusiasts. But what is not to be missed is the dramatic Popa Taungkalat Monastry perched spectacularly on a huge rocky outcrop. The sheer cliff faces surrounding the monastery offer a thrilling vista and the shrines within offer a refuge from the hectic everyday life.
Travel tip: Beware of the macaque monkeys who will help themselves with anything they can lay their hands on! The hike up Mount Popa takes about four hours one way and is not suitable for beginners.
Before you head out:
Myanmar has been under military dictatorship for most of the past six decades. It was only in 2015 that Myanmar voted in its first democratically elected government in over 50 years. Thus, the nation is still struggling to create an identity for itself while retaining and conserving its ancient civilisation and culture.
Medical: Make sure you and your family are immunised against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Polio, Tetanus, Japanese Encephalitis B, Rabies, Tuberculosis, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Malaria before traveling to Myanmar. Try and avoid public hospitals. Ask your hotel for recommendations about private hospitals and doctors, should you require medical assistance. Stock up on your regular medications.
Attire: It is prudent to dress soberly while in Myanmar. It is a country steeped in religion and culture. Try to ensure that knees and shoulders are covered. Covered clothes would also keep the mosquitoes at bay.
Tipping: Tipping is not a common practice in Myanmar. Having said this, hotel staff and guides may be tipped. An interesting custom in the country is ‘tea money,’ offered for voluntary services.
Accommodation: Myanmar has something to offer everyone, from the budget traveller, to the backpacker to the uber rich looking for exotic colonial experiences. Rates range from US$8 to US$25 per night for a basic guesthouse; about US$30 per night for air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms; and around US$300-US$400 per night for the prestigious hotels in Yangon.
Travel: With tourism still in its infancy, buses and flights are the most preferred modes of transport. Bus tickets can cost between US$7 and US$30, depending on the length of the journey. Luxury ‘VIP’ buses are available on many popular routes at a higher cost. Flights within the country range between US$40 and US$200 one way.
- Tap water is unsafe for drinking.
- Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations, these can get violent.
- While areas, where foreigners are allowed to travel, are usually safe, there is still civil unrest in many parts of the country, especially in the border areas. Try and avoid these places.
As Rudyard Kipling said, ‘This is Burma, and it will be quite unlike any land you know about.’ So get ready to discover the unknown.