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Do not miss to explore Yangon, the country's largest city, which is now a home to bustling markets, stunning parks and lakes, and the towering, gilded Shwedagon Pagoda, which contains Buddhist relics and dates to the 6th century. Let the offerings of Myanmar be a great feast to your senses. Visit Myanmar and get lost in the incredible landscape and magnificent historical monuments that speak for its existence.

 

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Myanmar

Myanmar is a spectacular country and, full to the brim of iconic sights, it stole a piece of our hearts the moment we stepped off the plane and landed into the crazy, wonderful and inspirational country. Myanmar boasts an incredible array of things to do: from stepping back in time at Inle Lake to the chaotic royal capital of Yangon to the breathtaking Bagan temple plain, Myanmar remains as one of South East Asia’s hidden gems.

Watch the sunrise over the Bagan temple plain

Bagan sunrises are truly breathtaking and, watching the sun light up the Bagan temple plain, is an iconic Myanmar moment. The temples stretch as far as the eye can see, a morning mist rises over the plain, a rainbow coloured sky emerges through the darkness and hot air balloons drift over the horizon.

Climb the 777 steps of Mount Popa

Mount Popa is a Myanmar postcard sight: a sacred monastery, with stupas glistening gold, perched atop an extinct volcano. 777 steps lead the way to the top of Mount Popa, the headquarters of Myanmar’s most powerful Nats, and the route is lined with monkeys keen to get up to mischief with the tourists in their search for food! Mount Popa is a popular half day trip from Bagan.

Get lost among the thousands of Stupas at Kakku, Inle Lake

One of Myanmar’s most spectacular pagodas, Kakku is a Shan State hidden gem. It is a collection of 2,478 stupas commissioned 2,000 years ago and it is a religious centre for the Pa’O people, a Buddhist tribe from Myanmar. It’s accessible by a half day trip from Inle Lake and, due to local laws, it is required to take the trip with a local guide.

Take a sunset boat ride on Inle Lake

Inle Lake is one of the most stunning lakes in the world and the stilt houses and Buddhist temples rising from the marshy reeds only add to its appeal. The best way to experience Inle Lake is to take a ride on one of the slender long tail wooden boats and experiencing the silence and emptiness of the lake is an absolute privilege as is watching local village life while floating by. Inle Lake can certainly hold its own on the sunset front: the beautiful colours of the Myanmar sunset reflect from the glass like lake making for a picture perfect setting.

Be amazed at the sight of hundreds of ancient stupas at Indein, Inle Lake

Hundreds of red, white and brown stupas stand in varying states of disrepair on a hill in Indiana Myanmar village located at the end of a narrow creek directly off Inle Lake. The journey to Indein is a joy: the twists and turns of the creek took us past farmers, accompanied by water buffalo, tilling the rice paddies and families bathing along the banks.

Experience the calmness of Shwedagon Pagoda at night

Shwedagon Pagoda is a real treat at any time of the day but there’s something special about the quiet calm of visiting after dark. The pagoda is the most sacred Buddhist Pagoda in Myanmar as it is believed to contain the relics of four previous Buddhas and, at night it’s filled mostly with worshipers. The golden beauty of the Pagoda is breathtaking after darkness falls.

Step back in time at the Shwenandaw Kyaung Monastery, Mandalay

Once part of the Royal Palace, the Golden Palace Monastery near Mandalay Hill is adorned with spectacular teak carvings of Buddhist myths. It’s completely different from any of the other religious sights in Myanmar and an absolute highlight of Mandalay.

Like many countries in Southeast Asia, there is a predominately wet season, a predominately dry season, and the shoulder seasons in between.  The best times to go are between mid-November to mid-February. After that, it gets ridiculously hot (around April), followed by the monsoon starting in May.

 

Myanmar offers a wide choice of accommodation in all its principal tourist centres (including impressive hotels in Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay), and the number of beds looks set to soar, as travellers' interest in the destination continues to grow. During the peak season from mid-November through January, vacancies in the most popular hotels can be hard to come by and you'll need to plan ahead.

 

Burmese cuisine is characterised by extensive use of fish products such as fish sauce, ngapi (fermented seafood) and dried prawn.

Mohinga is the traditional breakfast dish and is Myanmar's national dish. Seafood is a common ingredient in coastal cities such as Sittwe, Kyaukpyu, Mawlamyaing (formerly Moulmein), Mergui (Myeik) and Dawei, while meat and poultry are more commonly used in landlocked cities like Mandalay. Freshwater fish and shrimp have been incorporated into inland cooking as a primary source of protein and are used in a variety of ways, fresh, salted whole or filleted, salted and dried, made into a salty paste, or fermented sour and pressed.

Burmese cuisine also includes a variety of salads (a thoke), centred on one major ingredient, ranging from starches like rice, wheat and rice noodles, glass noodles and vermicelli, to potato, ginger, tomato, kaffir lime, long bean, lahpet (pickled tea leaves), and ngapi (fish paste).

 

You’ll need a tourist visa to enter Myanmar, but the new E-Visa online system means it’s easier than ever.

It costs $50, is valid for 28 days in the country and best of all, you’ll likely find out if your application has been approved within a matter of hours.

Keep in mind that in order for your visa to be accepted, you must be arriving at Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw or Mandalay international airports.

Don’t forget to carry a printout of your acceptance letter when entering and leaving Myanmar.

 

Finding reliable healthcare is difficult in Myanmar, and local healthcare facilities should only be used as a last resort. Your best chance will be in Yangon, but you'll be better off over the border. Travel with any medications from home, and avoid buying over the counter medication in Myanmar altogether.

For the vast majority of visitors, travel in Myanmar is safe and should pose no serious problems. Some areas of the country remain off limits due to ongoing civil war and/or landmines. In off-the-beaten-track places, where authorities are less used to seeing foreigners, local officials may ask you what you are up to.

You’ll need to take off your shoes when entering religious places, so pack your flip-flops for those days you want to visit temples and pagodas.  Take a plastic bag with you or buy one from the many sellers outside the pagoda. Some pagodas may have storage for your footwear.

Never point with your feet or aim them at a Buddha, It’s considered bad form.

Don’t eat or pass things with your left hand

Using your left hand to offer things to people is considered rude as it’s known as the hand that assists in toilet behavior.

Keeping in mind this is a country where the average income is less than $350, tipping is always appreciated but not compulsory.

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