Top 5 reasons to visit Burma
They call it the Land of the Golden Pagodas, because Burma is studded – throughout the countryside and cityscape – with the most spectacular gilded temples. They could just as easily call it the Land of the Smiling People, or the Land of the Amazing Sunsets, or the Land of the Tasty Noodles. Burma is all of these things and more!
There are so many things to recommend Burma as a fantastic holiday destination, with something for everyone – culture, scenery, adventure. Here are our Top 5 Reasons to Visit Burma:
1. Burma is beautiful!
We’ve mentioned the golden pagodas that decorate the country, but this magical land is beautiful even without adornment. Three major river systems – the Irrawaddy, Chindwin and Mekong Rivers – and two mountain ranges – Mount Victoria and southeast Asia’s highest mountain, Hkakabo Razi – form a dramatic landscape and encourage great biodiversity. There are areas of jungle and rain forest, endless rice fields and glorious beaches. And if that wasn’t enough, Burma boasts the most spectacular sunrises and sunset.
2. The people
Visitors to Burma will be struck by how good-natured, friendly and cheerful the Burmese people are. They wear traditional Burmese clothing, a colourful woven sarong known as longyi, and the women and children are often daubed with thanaka, a cosmetic white paste applied in patterns to the face and arms. And of course there are the monks. In their maroon robes, and of all ages, Burma’s half a million Buddhist monks are a common sight. In the markets, on the streets, in the fields, by the temples, the Burmese people will welcome you with a smile.
3. There is so much to see
There is so much to see in Burma that a holiday is never long enough to take it all in. Remote tribal villages with their huts and bullock carts, where a visitor can see local crafts and walk in the terraced paddy fields… The bustling streets of downtown Yangon where new commercial high-rise hotels and office towers rub shoulders with the fin de siecle architecture of graceful old colonial buildings… Bagan, where 2200 temples and pagodas built in the 11-13th centuries remain scattered across the plains… Inle lake, where the people live in stilted wooden houses, farm vegetables and fruit in floating gardens and row with one leg.
Bright, colourful, busy festivals pepper the Burmese year and are very much a part of life. From the Shwedagon Pagoda festival to Thingyan (Water) festival, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda festival to Thidingyut (the festival of Lights) and the Taunggyi Balloon festival, there are many celebrations for visitors to enjoy.
4. The food is great
The great diversity of Burma’s ethnic minorities have contributed to a cuisine that is varied and exciting. Marked by the extensive use of fish, there are also many salads, rice and noodle dishes, and soups. Burmese food has also been influenced by its neighbours – Thailand, India and China – and as with most cooking in southeast Asia, there should be a balance between the four primary flavours of sour, salty, spicy and bitter. Well-known dishes include Mohinga, a rice noodle and fish soup normally eaten for breakfast; Laphet Thohk, a salad made with green tea; Paratha and Pe Byouk, a popular street food of flat bread and boiled beans or peas.
5. Burma will change the way you see the world
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” (Miriam Beard)
When Burma emerged after decades of oppression and international isolation, it had to forge a a new relationship with the world. Although things are changing rapidly in the country, at the moment the visitor is still awarded real insight into Burma’s traditional culture and heritage. As its society moves into the future over the coming years and the tourism industry continues its unprecedented boom, how Burma navigates the transition to a major tourist destination – not to mention a player on the world stage – will be interesting. One can’t help but hope that the Land of Golden Pagodas, Smiling people, Amazing Sunsets and Tasty Noodles remains unscathed.