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7 Reasons Why You Should Visit Burma Rudyard Kipling wrote: ‘This is Burma and it will be quite unlike any land you know about.’ How true his words were. And how relevant they remain as Burma slowly emerges from a period under the military administration that began in 1989. For years, opponents of the military regime and human rights campaigners advocated avoiding the country. This was for fear of endorsing the regime’s injustices. But with recent human rights improvements, and the blessing of Aung San Suu Kyi herself, tourism is again recognised as being in the interests of the Burmese people. Burma’s stunning scenery remains substantially unspoiled by the excesses of organised tourism that have changed other parts of the world. So it’s a great time to discover for yourself what Rudyard Kipling meant when he wrote. To whet your appetite for the attractions offered by Burma and its welcoming people, here are nine reasons, ranging from amazing archaeological sites to mouth-watering food, why Burma should be on your must-do travel list… 1.

It’s still remarkably unspoiled

Because Burma (officially known as the ‘Republic of the Union of Myanmar’) has been so isolated from the rest of the world, its tourist industry remains immature. What’s more, Burma offers travellers a uniquely unspoiled experience. Hopefully, this won’t change too fast in future (but don’t hold your breath…). If the merest mention of Burma has intrigued you, the smartest thing you can do is visit now and travel responsibly to help preserve as much as possible of the country’s magic.

People make any destination and the Burmese are among the warmest and most welcoming that you’ll ever meet. This is particularly remarkable given the social and political challenges that Burma’s faced over recent decades. You’ll find their excitement at meeting foreign visitors infectious and charming as you exchange words of each other’s languages, buy your classic longyi sarong or pose for shared photographs full of happy smiles. 2.

Mandalay and Ava

Whether mention of Mandalay evokes thoughts of Rudyard Kipling or the lyrics of more recent artists such as Robbie Williams, the onetime capital of Burma that Kipling knew in the nineteenth century remains a top attraction for visitors – and Chinese property developers. Although it may not be quite the place it was in Kipling’s day, Mandalay, on the banks of the mighty Irrawaddy, has to be on your tour itinerary – if only for Mandalay Hill with its stunning views and lore about Buddha’s foretelling of the founding of a great city. A few miles southwest of Mandalay is Inwa (Ava), which was Burma’s ancient imperial capital between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries. Numerous sackings were followed by rebuilding; it was only after a major earthquake in 1839 that Ava was finally abandoned. Now, a small-butfascinating selection of monasteries and ruined pagodas await you among the area’s palm-flanked padi fields. 3.

Bagan’s 4000 temples

If Burmese tourism has a ‘poster child’ it’s probably exotic Bagan. The country’s greatest archaeological gem has more than 4000 temples to amaze you within its 26 square miles. Allow plenty of time to make the most of Bagan and remember to visit the Shwesandaw Paya ‘sunset pagoda’ for photographs and unforgettable memories.


Inle Lake

‘If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else.’ wrote Kipling in his most famous poem. Not only should his words inspire you to visit Burma, but to head for the east of the country while you’re there. Inle Lake, an hour’s flight south east of Mandalay, is the biggest attraction in eastern Burma. It’s an entrancing area, characterised by limpid waters where local fishermen ply their trade, as they have for centuries, by rowing while standing on one leg. Every vista is backed by a horizon of velvety mountains, the region’s characteristic floating villages and myriad temples. With so many of Burma’s ethnic groups living in Shan State – in particular, the Shan, Taungyo and Intha peoples – this is a cultural treat to treasure for ever when you eventually leave Burma. 5.


Yangon (formerly Rangoon) is another of Burma’s former capitals (the latest is the uninspiring Naypyidaw, which was founded by the military government in 2002). When in Rangoon, you should definitely visit what is arguably Burma’s premier tourist attraction – Schwedagon Pagoda. For maximum impact and the most striking memories, visit the gold, diamond and ruby covered pagoda during the ‘magic hour’ around sunset and marvel at its mesmerising appearance. 6.

Delicious Cuisine

Given the influence of Chinese, Thai and Indian cooking, and the range of ethnic minorities within its borders, it’s no surprise that Burma’s cuisine is diverse and delicious. As anyone who has encountered Burmese cooking through the country’s scattered diaspora will know, you can look forward to a strongly fish-and poultry orientated cuisine, wonderful a thoke salads and, of course, the traditional breakfast savoury breakfast soup called Mohinga. Your eyes and taste buds will thank you…


The Myeik Archipelago

When Burma is discussed, most people will immediately think of Rangoon (now Yangon), Bagan or Mandalay. But hundreds of other lesser-known destinations wait to reward you with a unique adventure. Among these is the Myeik Archipelago at the extreme south of Burma. The archipelago, with its ‘sea gypsies’, unspoiled beaches, clear waters and fascinating wildlife, is one of the wildest and least-discovered secrets of emerging Burmese tourism. Indeed, most of its inhabitants won’t ever have seen a tourist. Highlights include Moken Village on Bo Cho Island, the impressive Pyi Taw Aye Paya temple overlooking Kawthaung town, and the elusive wild elephants on Lampi Island. If you only venture away from Burma’s better-known sites once, you really should consider the Myeik area – you won’t be disappointed. These are just seven reasons why Burma should be on your travel bucketlist. So read Kipling’s ‘Mandalay’ and the many recent articles about Burma in the travel magazines, book your flights, pack a copy of Daniel Mason’s novel The Piano Tuner and make sure you take an umbrella if you’re going during the rainy season. Then immerse yourself in the culture, spectacular landscapes, mouthwatering food and warm welcome from Burma’s people before it becomes just another stop on the south eastern Asian travel circuit.

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7 Reasons Why You Should Visit Burma  

These are just seven reasons why Burma should be on your travel bucketlist. Then immerse yourself in the culture, spectacular landscapes, mo...

7 Reasons Why You Should Visit Burma  

These are just seven reasons why Burma should be on your travel bucketlist. Then immerse yourself in the culture, spectacular landscapes, mo...