Myanmar has had a difficult past but thankfully the country has come through it and has turned into my favourite destination in South East Asia. Every time I go back to this gem I fall more in love with it and discover something new, there is so much to explore in this majestic country because a lot of it is still untouched.
The last time I was there, I was with my buddy Paul Hurdsfield. I was really happy seeing his reaction to the country because he seemed to like it as much as I do. In fact, every single person I have met who has been to Myanmar loves it! It’s rare to find that. When you’re in restaurants or in bars you will end up chatting to a variety of different travellers, everyone has a smile on their face and chat all night about just how much they love the country.
I have been lucky enough to visit Myanmar on over 15 occasions, so I decided to give you 3 main reasons why this is my gem in South East Asia. I ran these past Paul Hurdsfield before I wrote this article to make sure he agreed.
The local people can make or break any destination. Everyone always talks about how friendly people are in neighbouring Thailand and Cambodia, but you won’t have experienced anything like it is in Myanmar. The country is just opening up so people are very keen to help visitors and also show them as much as possible. People are so kind that some travellers try to ignore them because they think they must want something or are trying to scam them – the truth is people are just being kind and friendly!
Shwedagon Pagoda is the holiest temple in this Buddhist country, that means it must be pretty special indeed. Locals and tourists throng to the pagoda everyday, as you stroll around the huge golden pagoda you will groups of locals praying, chanting and lighting candles. The best time to visit is in the evening as the sun is going down, you will see the golden leaf reflect the lights and also hundreds of candles are lit around the pagoda itself – don’t be shy because you can light one too. Interesting fact, no building in Yangon is allowed to be built higher than Shwedagon.
My favourite place in the country by far. I love being out on the water in a long tail boat cruising along Inle Lake with mountains to your left and right. Here you get to meet the Intha people who live on the lake, in houses raised above the water by stilts. You will visit goldsmiths, weaving, temples and more, having lunch on the lake is also a great time too.