Myanmar, golden land

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is dubbed the “Golden Land” festooned with numerous Buddhist structures and images. Boasting as one of the earliest homes of mankind, Myanmar is amongst the most mysterious and least-travelled nations in the world. This Buddhist land is an ideal destination for travellers to bask on sun-drenched beaches, to immerse themselves in picturesque landscapes or to delve into a plethora of history and rich culture. Read more...

This sacred land is imbued with the wonderfully quaint traditional delights of Asia which are rarely found elsewhere. The undulating terrains dotted with virgin jungles, magnificent mountains, sprawling pristine coastlines, coupled with a rich and glorious heritage spanning more than two thousand years offer savvy holidaymakers a wide range of travel selections from laid-back indulgence to intrepid adventure. Spectacular monuments and ancient cities attest to a vibrant culture that is still home to 135 different ethic groups.

Whether you cruise on the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River, drift over the ancient city of Bagan by hot air balloon or search for the elusive tiger on the back of an elephant, there is always a feeling of adventure. With upgrades to the of transport system and an increase in the number of flights, new and exiting “off-the-beaten-track” destinations are gradually being opened, from mountain trekking and rafting in the far north to world-class diving in the Mergui Archipelago. But all above, Myanmar offers the warmest welcome in Asia.

YANGON & THE COUNTRYSIDE

Yangon is the cosmopolitan capital city and gateway to Myanmar. The city is known for its lush tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes and is referred to as the “Garden City of the East”. It was founded by King Alaungpaya on the site of a small settlement called Dagon when he conquered lower Myanmar in 1755. The name Yangon means “End of Strife”. The city today still maintains its colonial charm and gracious turn of the century architecture. Towering over the city is the magnificent gold-encrusted Shwedagon Pagoda - one of the country’s most beautiful treasures and a place to observed devout Buddhists as they meditate and pray.

Other recommendations in Yangon include Chaukhtatkyi - the Reclining Buddha, the colorful markets of Chinatown, a Meditation Centre, Sule Pagoda, Botataung Pagoda, Kaba Aye Pagoda, Maha Pasana Guha Cave, Kalewa Monastery, the Buddhist Art Museum, the National Museum, Naga glass factory and the Bogyoke Aung San (Scott) Market.

Travel tips

The culture of Myanmar is a result of unique peoples mixing together over the centuries. Indeed, there is evidence of the region known as Myanmar being settled for over 13,000 years. Furthermore, for thousands of years, the Myanmar culture has been influenced by Buddhism and it has made its mark on many aspects of life.

Some of the most interesting festivals in Myanmar are unique to small localities. When planning to travel to Myanmar, contact your travel consultant to see if any local festivals will occur during your itinerary. Some of the larger festivals in Myanmar are:

Shwedagon Pagoda Festival: This holiday falls in March and is the largest pagoda festival in the country. Scriptures are read 24 hours a day for the week preceding the festival, and weaving competitions are held using traditional looms to make robes for Buddha statues in the pagoda as well.

Thingyan Water Festival: The largest and most important holiday in the country, marking the traditional new year. Water is joyfully thrown at everyone to wash away the past year and famous sticky rice balls are a traditional treat. The Thingyan Water Festival usually falls around mid-April.

In general, there are no serious health or safety risks when traveling in Myanmar. However, it never hurts to take precautions. Please consult your healthcare provider to see if they recommend any vaccinations or other medications when traveling.

In large cities and other crowded areas, be mindful of your belongings such as cameras, mobile phones and wallets/purses.

The Myanmar Kyat (MMK) is the national currency and the current exchange rate with the US Dollar is 1 = 1,290 MMK (as of February 2016).  ATMs are available in large cities and many of them work with overseas ATM cards. Some larger hotels and shops accept credit cards, and this method of payment is becoming more common. Keep in mind that some merchants may charge small fee and that international transaction fees may apply.

The Myanmar postal system can mail letters and postcards worldwide for reasonable rates. International shipping companies such as UPS and DHL are available in Myanmar as well if there is a need to ship something quickly.

SIM cards for mobile phones are cheap and widely available. Short term data packages for mobile phones are very inexpensive and easy to set up. Get in touch with your travel consultant to arrange a SIM if you wish to use your mobile phone upon arrival.

Updating

Passports with more than six months of validity, as well as valid visas, are required for entry into Myanmar. Many travelers are eligible for the Myanmar e-visa system. Contact your travel consultant to ensure that you have all of the necessary documentation to apply before traveling.

When traveling to Myanmar, remember to be flexible and keep an open mind. Many traveler frustrations begin with differing expectations and miscommunication. If there is an issue, try to stay pleasant, smile and enjoy the experience. The people of Myanmar are very proud of their country and culture and are proud to showcase their nation to international visitors.