For the last few years Myanmar has been on the radar of many adventurous travellers. And it is only a matter of time before package tourists will come in droves. Hotels are already sprouting in many locations and while we cannot stop progress, we can at least beat it to the punch.
Traditional ways live strong in Myanmar. Witness the leg-rowers of Inle Lake, the ethnic villages of the north and trishaw and carts in the streets, all watched over by betel-chewing grandmothers.Take a boat ride down the Irrawaddy, contemplate the 4000 stupas scattered across the plains at Bagan, see Shwedagon Paya and Mandalay Hill at sunset and stare in disbelief at the Golden Rock, as it balances precariously on the edge of a cliff.
Start your trip in Yangon, where the streets, markets , colonial buildings and temples of the old downtown have a feeling all its own. Further out, the golden stupa of Shwedagon Pagoda, one of Buddhism's most sacred sites, is the star attraction here.
A fun way to interact with local people, markets are also great places to pick up an offbeat souvenir or two. Arguably the best is Bogyoke Aung San Market in Yangon.
For many people serene Inle Lake is the highlight of their visit to Myanmar. Travel by boat or bike and visit local markets, stilt villages, and see the famous leg rowers balance precariously on their crafts as they empty their nets.
Up in the hills, follow centuries-old trading routes and observe the daily life of the local hilltribe villages or witness the harvest in full swing on a trek through minority villages around Kalaw or in the remote Chin Hills.
A busy congested city and transport hub, people flock to Mandalay to climb Mandalay Hill, memorable for its beautiful views. Or visit U Bein, the longest teak bridge in the world and a popular sunset stroll for locals. Join them, or hire a boat to get spectacular photos of the bridge and the people on it silhouetted against the setting sun. This land is not called the Golden Land for nothing!
Cruising down the mighty Irrawaddy between Mandalay and Bagan is a great way to watch villages go by, see farmers work their fields and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Both the sheer size of Bagan and the hundreds of temples and stupas will impress you. But it is the sweeping vistas - of balloons rising over the plains at dawn and of pink, red and orange sunsets at day's end, that will remain with you forever.
Nearby. the top of Mt. Popa, an ancient volcanic plug topped with a temple, is reached via nearly 800 steps.
One of the holiest Buddhist sites in the country, Golden Rock is also one of its most spectacular. The precariously balanced boulder is coated in gold and is at its most magical at dawn or dusk.
Finally, the beaches in Myanmar are among the best in Asia and Ngapali Beach, with its pristine white sand and clear blue sea is one of the best. Hit the water or relax on the beach, cocktail or book in hand!
Change is coming to Myanmar but one thing that will remain constant is its gentle and engaging people. Contact us to find out how to make your Myanmar dreams a reality.
Myanmar: Highlights, experiences and best time to go