IN FOCUS: MYANMAR
Myanmar is a hidden gem of Southeast Asia; its majestic land, dominated by temples and pagodas, has been relatively unexplored by tourists. As the ‘Golden Land’ opens up to change and sanctions are lifted, more and more travellers are venturing into this spiritual country, with a huge increase in tourism since 2012. Thankfully, the pace of change has not been overwhelming. If you are planning a trip to Myanmar this year, here is a brief run-down of what you need to know.
Myanmar’s population is estimated at more than 47 million, with roughly three-quarters of the population living in rural areas, and the remaining in urban Yangon, Mandalay and Moulmein. Myanmar is made up of over 100 ethnic groups; about two-thirds of Myanmar’s population is Burmese (ethnically close to Tibetans and Chinese) and other minorities making up the other third.
The country is yet to be completely overwhelmed by Western fashion and it is common to see men wearing a skirt-like longyi, women in traditional makeup, and older women chewing betel leaves. Myanmar is rich in natural resources and beautiful scenery, but it is the gentle, humorous and inquisitive locals and their remarkable traditions that will be the true highlight of your trip.
ETIQUETTE IN MYANMAR
- Myanmar is emerging from decades of isolation, as such, it is still quite conservative in comparison to its neighbours
- Although people are a little more free to discuss politics, do not instigate political conversations
- Money is handed over and received with the right hand, with the left hand loosely supporting the right arm
- Never use your feet to point at a person or thing
- A smile always goes a long way, as does knowing a couple of words in Burmese
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
Accommodation in major cities such as Yangon, Bagan and Inle Lake (Nyaung Shwe) often fill up months in advance, so it’s best to get in early. A lack of infrastructure means it is very difficult to book your accommodation when you arrive and you will likely end up paying quite a bit more than you want.
- Observe beautiful natural scenery and the famous one-legged rowers of Inle Lake, whilst cruising in a local boat
- Visit Mahagandayon Monastery to see hundreds of monks collecting morning alms
- Admire the thousands of temples and pagodas surrounding the ancient city of Bagan
- Visit a local market and meet the warm, friendly people of Myanmar
- Gaze at the glittering Shwedagon Pagoda the country’s most sacred of all Buddhist sites, in Yangon
- Take in the panoramic views of Mandalay from Mandalay Hill at sunset
- Stroll across the magnificent U Bein Bridge, the world’s longest teak footbridge
- Meander through the maze of thousands of Buddha images housed in the Pindaya Caves
- Explore the historic town Sri Ksetra by oxcart in Pyay
- Admire unique Thanboddhay Pagoda, where entire walls are covered with Buddha images, in Monywa
Wendy Wu Tours’ fully inclusive tours make travelling to Myanmar easy, find out more on our itineraries and explore the highlights of Myanmar!