Some of the world’s greatest natural and archaeological treasures are hidden in Asia. That’s why I’m very excited to visit some of the not so familiar to the regular travellers countries, like Myanmar a.k.a Burma. This county is so captivating and exciting to be. Tourism in Myanmar is a new lifestyle for the locals, the contrary recently opens their borders to the travellers who are curious enough to go there. So when I heard that I can visit Myanmar I planned my visit immediately. The thing that makes this amazing country so appealing for the travellers is not knowing what will happen there. How the people will react to seeing a tourist and how they will treat me?
Apparently people embracing the foreigners and were so fascinated by the presence of outsiders. They were so excited and curious with big smiles on their faces. Everywhere I go they say hello to me, shake my hands, even a hug, and a wonderful reaction.
Myanmar is an eye-opening experience for anyone visiting the country, there is 98% of the population following and practising Buddhism. On every corner, there is a temple. And people are very respectful of their beliefs and religion. It is defiantly a holly place.
Yangon – an ancient city
I arrived at my first stop in this fascinating country – Yangon. While no longer the capital of Myanmar, the city is full of sights and things to see. The architecture and modern developments mixed with the gleaming Buddhist temples and pagodas.
Main highlights are the Shwedagon Pagoda, the colonial-era Kandawgyi Lake, and the Chauk-htat-gyi Buddha Temple showcasing one of the country’s largest reclining Buddha statues.
Browsing through the city and admiring the local’s lifestyle I was tempted from the delicious street food ventures. Myanmar food has been influenced by China, India, Thailand and ethnic minorities. The authentic local food is very cheap and diversified. A piece of advice to everyone who plans to go there, have in mind that there is no roaming service, probably your credit card will not work and you have to bring with you US dollars, but they have to be like brand new. Another place to enjoy there is the Downtown market. It’s a vast open-air market, which is home to some of the most impressive colonial architecture in all Southeast Asia.
Bagan – the ‘sea of temples’
Another city I had the chance to explore is Bagan, filled with over 2,000 temples built between the 9th and 13th centuries. The locals believe that if they build a temple all of their sins will be forgiven. Perhaps that’s why Bagan is fondly known as the ‘sea of temples’. The city is preserved all of the country traditions and in fact, there is not a single form of modern entertainment.
The best way to discover the temples is by walking the narrow streets among them and another way is from hot air balloon rides. The city is really photogenic, like an Asian fairytale. The most spectacular and impressive temple in Bagan is the golden Shwezigon Paya. The temple is located in the northeast of the city. It is so beautiful, elegant, very delicate, elaborated, the golden pagoda in an excellent state of restoration.
To walk around the pagoda is easy. There are white pathways that remain cool despite the sunlight and in general, is very clean. And one of the best thing that I enjoyed all of this for an amazing price! Bagan is one of the cheapest tourist destinations. Meals here cost me $1-$5, and mid-level accommodation was at $40 – $60.
Inle Lake enchanting nature
I wanted to dig into the Myanmar nature and there is no better place to do that than the Inle Lake Region. Picture a vast, serene lake fringed by marshes and floating gardens, where stilt-house villages and Buddhist temples rise above the water, and Intha fisherfolk propel their boats along via their unique technique of leg-rowing. To experience this amazing region I took a boat trip. Whit confidence I can tell, that this is one of the best boat trips I’ve been on. It’s a really magical experience riding the longboat and stopping off on the little villages on the lake shores. During the trip saw the floating market, several pagodas in stilted villages on the lake. For the locals in Inle, region sailing is like walking for us. Every house has its own little canoe to move around and if they just want to go for a walk they need to paddle all the way to the closest town.
Mandalay – the cultural capital
My next Myanmar discovery was Mandalay – the second biggest populated city in the country. It was the most important city for Myanmar (Burma during this period) culture during the time the British were in charge. It was also the most important place for Buddhist learning. The local people saw Mandalay as a symbol of culture and religion. Mandalay is famous among travellers with attraction places such as Mandalay Royal Palace, Mahamuni Pagoda, Kuthodaw Pagoda, and Mandalay Hill. The numerous temples and monasteries reflect the cultural and religious of the city. My top 3 places there were –The Mahamuni Pagoda, which is it an image of 13ft-tall seated Buddha statue, a nationally celebrated image that’s popularly believed to be some 2000 years old. The second thing was Mandalay Hill which is an amazing place to visit around sunset. But to go there I had to walk up 1700+ steps, but fortunately with beautiful things to see along the way from Buddhist monks, nature paintings, to perfect views till I reached the top which was a breathtaking experience and the sunset is beyond my imagination.
To wrap up this trip I had to say that it was one of the most authentic cultural experiences I’ve had. This county is slowly waking up for the world and inviting it to its rich culture and nature. Still, only a small part of the country is open for the tourist. It’s really worth visiting the country, Myanmar will totally change your perception and will open a totally new world in front of you.
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