A mysterious and alluring country, Myanmar has recently become an emerging destination in Asia.
Formerly known as Burma, this state in the heart of the Southeastern Asia offers insight into a still relatively unknown world. It tempts curious visitors with stunning temple landscapes, and a sealed culture that has only opened up to the world within the last decade.
Tourism has been enjoying somewhat of a boom in recent years, especially while the travel experience maintains an air of authenticity, which is reasonably difficult to come by in a world that steadily becomes more globalized.
It may take a month to uncover all the uniqueness Myanmar has to offer, but no matter how long you choose to spend, the following guide will help out with everything you need to know when planning a visit.
It’s interesting to note that if you were to research why Myanmar has two names, you might struggle to find a concrete answer. Such is the country’s diverse and often turbulent history, that Myanmar and Burma are used interchangeably depending on where you go and who you speak to.
The ruling military junta changed its name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989, a year after thousands were killed in the suppression of a popular uprising. Rangoon also became Yangon. But some countries like the US and UK do not recognise the legitimacy of the regime that changed the name.
Regardless of what you call it, perhaps the country is best summed up by English writer Rudyard Kipling, when he said “…it is quite unlike any land you know about.” Apparently he only visited for three days, but it was enough to make such an accurate observation.
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If you’re looking for romance, but want something different this summer, consider these 5 destinations – perhaps an unexpected choice, but we guarantee you’ll cherish the memories for a lifetime.
My first real exposure to Burma (Myanmar) was while watching Anthony Bourdain’s Emmy award-winning ‘Parts Unknown‘. The country was featured in the very first episode of this long running TV series, and I was immediately excited to go. My travel senses were quickly sparked, as was a curiosity about a country that had been isolated from the rest of the world for 60 years. I wanted a first hand experience like Anthony Bourdain.
Luckily I was in Kuala Lumpur at this time, and on visiting the Burmese consulate I received my tourist visa on the same day. Burma is still one of South East Asia’s biggest hidden gems. You can tell that from the number of people applying for a visa.
Myanmar is a country which has been off limits for many years; isolated from the rest of the world due to decades of a brutally oppressive regime. Though following the lifting of Western sanctions, Burma – also known as Myanmar – has become a magnet for tourists. And it’s not hard to see why.
Myanmar is a country full of mythical landscapes and wondrous sights: From golden-gilded Buddhas in Yangon, to a thousand temples scattered across the countryside in Bagan, it is a beautiful and culturally rich country. “You can still drift down the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River in an old river steamer, stake out a slice of beach on the blissful Bay of Bengal, or trek through pine forests to minority villages scattered across the Shan Hills without jostling with scores of fellow travellers.”
But the big draw is the chance to see a country where the 21st-century world has barely touched. This is the least visited country in South East Asia, which has managed to preserve the look of old Asia. It’s a place where Buddhism is still a way of life.
Myanmar is a country of contrasts. The traveller’s eye sees glittering temples, women in brightly coloured headscarves, and fishermen rowing with one leg while standing on the other. But dig deeper and you’ll find that Myanmar is a country with a dark past and her people have endured the worst.
While travelling through Myanmar we learned that the country and her people had a lot to teach us.
Truth be told, we didn’t know much about Myanmar’s recent history before deciding to travel there. But upon reading Emma Larkin’s Finding George Orwell in Burma before our departure, we were suddenly aware that the Burmese people had been through hell.