Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda, linking to Pictures of Yangon, Bago and Golden Rock.
really avoid busy Yangon but street life is moderately interesting and Myanmar's
#1 pagoda complex, the great gold Shwedagon, is fantastic and well worth
a few hours.
Yangon is good for souvenir shopping too.
Demand for holidays to Burma has risen dramatically since the National League for Democracy (NLD), the political party of Aung San Suu Kyi changed its attitude towards tourism in the country and more freedom is on the way.
Tour operators are getting overwhelming interest and tourist facilities in Yangon are being stretched to the limit.
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This divinely backward, beautiful country known officially as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar but also Burma, offers sunshine to excess (in winter) and tranquillising landscapes of rice fields and palm trees, a rural idyll studded
with gold and white pagodas and peopled by calm, friendly
Locations are both gorgeous and bizarrely interesting, local food is tasty, beer is good and cold, prices are cheap and crime of any sort - other than that committed by the military authorities - is very, very rare. More information.
A Lake Inle fisherman, linking to Lake Inle Pictures.
Inle is an attractive, tranquil 20km long lake in Burma's Shan Hills, awash with
interesting characters, such as leg-rowing fishermen
and ethnic tribes trawling the markets, as well as floating
tomato fields and cats jumping through hoops, but not much in the way of ancient pagodas, though a side trip to Kakku will provide a stupendous overdose of stupas if required..
Bagan sunset, linking to Bagan Pictures.
Few ancient sites in the world have such incredible panoramic views
or great sunrises and sunsets like Bagan (formerly
Bagan is set in one of the world's most peaceful rural locations and
is one of the three best Buddhist archaeological sites in the world, along with Angkor (Cambodia) and Borobudur (Indonesia).
Thousands of tourists still come here every year - in spite of the disgraceful government - but quickly disappear into this 40 sq km
(16 sq miles) mass of 2,500 pagodas and stupas built between the 11th and 13th centuries, surrounded by the Irrawaddy River (aka Ayeyarwaddy), peanut and sesame fields.
Monastery in Amarapura, near Mandalay, linking to Mandalay Pictures.
Mandalay was the last great capital of Burma, is now Burma's second city and at the core
of their culture and religion. It's
a city of over one million people, but leafy, flat and a haven for winging
flocks of bicycles - and just like birds, none have lights!
There's no shortage of things to see and do in the city, and getting
to them in the comfort of a trishaw is one
of a tourist's special pleasures, though a lot of the place is quite modern.
A big city but plenty
of trees, trishaws to get you around and some worthy sights, especially
the teak monasteries, Mandalay Hill shrines and views and three old cities within tripping distance.
A Bagan woman "a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot", linking to pictures of Burma people.
Burmese people apart from army personnel, politicians and perhaps Rangoon city slickers are mostly charming, simple, relaxed farming folk with little English language but ready to offer help and friendship to individual travellers who are not being trucked around in buses or staying at government owned 'luxury' hotels.
By email: "We have been to Burma on four occasions. Each was a delight. The people are so kind, friendly, helpful and interesting. Bagan is an astonishing place, with all its temples, and a balloon flight over it is amazing. We stayed in old Bagan among the ruins by the river, then took a local boat to Mandalay, sitting among the Burmese, with their fruit, cigars and goats – so colourful.
Ngapali beach has some very comfortable hotels, great for walking to local fishing villages – you step back 100, 200 years. Go to the little roadside shacks and eat fish, freshly caught. They love having you and, most importantly, your money goes to them and not to the government. For the same reason, buy trinkets from the locals and drink in their cafés.
We also like the east and the many minority groups that live there. Inle Lake has villages on stilts, silversmiths, silk weaving, tobacco leaves being rolled into cigars and fruit and vegetables grown on the lake – these people are so inventive". Francis Moss, UK.
Best Myanmar weather: November- February. Often 30C+ (84F+) except in the highlands, such as Lake Inle, where nights can fall to 10C.
Worst: April-May; extreme heat. e.g. 35C+ (95F+).
June-October: the rainy season, especially wet in the far south around Yangon.
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