Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar is a country rich in history and culture and has a language with roots that go back 1,200 years. For the most part Myanmar remains untouched and tensions between the dictatorship and ethnic minorities in favour of democracy have had a negative impact of tourism. Its culture is primarily based on Theravada Buddhism and is heavily influenced by its neighbours.
The former capital of Yangon (Rangoon) is the country’s largest city with a population of four million. Despite this, it still feels like quite a green city, full of trees, which make it quite picturesque. At night, Yangon is a hive of activity with its wide boulevards filling up with street sellers offering traditional food, farm produce, handmade ornaments and an array of other cheap products.
Bagan, in Mandalay province, is a marvellous city to visit. The former capital of the Bagan kingdom is a fascinating city which still has thousands of ancient pagodas spread across the plains with the Ayeyarwaddy River running through the middle. The city itself was destroyed in 1287; however, the pagodas still remain and it is one of the most remarkable sites in Asia.
The city of Mandalay is the epicentre of culture and the most authentic city in Myanmar. It was the last capital before the British took over and is the second-largest in Myanmar. Mandalay province contains some spectacular scenery, with winding rivers, rising mountains and glorious sweeping plains. Much of the province still remains totally virginal.
It is advisable to stay in medium to high end hotels as low budget hotels are generally pretty dirty and can be unsafe. That said, mid-range hotels are comparatively cheap. The cuisine has been influenced by China, India and Thailand but still has its own unique flavour.
When to go to Myanmar?
Myanmar has three seasons. Fall from October to February next year. The rainy season is from July to September. Autumn is more suitable for tourism in Myanmar. In the rainy season, it rains day and night in Yangon, and very little rain in Bangan and Mandalay. From November to February, tourists to Myanmar are very crowded because of this time there is little rain, mild climate. In May, July and September very few tourists come to Myanmar. The tourist season is winter, the price will be more expensive, if you save money, just select the empty season.
Yangon International Airport is the primary international airport in Myanmar and operates flight domestically as well as to a small number of destinations in Southeast Asia and two in India (Gaya, Kolkata). Travel inside Myanmar is relatively restricted due to poor infrastructure and certain areas being no-go areas. A rail network connects Yangon to most of the country; however, van hire is the best way to get around.