Myanmar: Top 10 Things for First Time Visitors to See and Do in the Country Once Called Burma

Travel Destinations

Country Holidays has been traveling in and bringing travellers to Myanmar since the 1990s. When asked if there was anything no first time traveller should miss, they came up with this Top 10 List to things to see and do.

Note: the following post was originally published on 7 February 2015

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, a.k.a. Burma, is emerging from decades of isolation and welcoming an increasing number of foreign tourists.

Just 5 years ago, fewer than 800,000 foreign tourists visited Myanmar. By 2013, the number had risen to 2.04 million.

Is Burma, as the country is often called, Southeast Asia’s tourism flavour of the month?

While many advocacy groups discourage tourism because of Myanmar’s dismal human rights record, others think the tourists visiting the country provide economic benefits to the country’s civilians. It also gives them a window on the world.

A Chance to See ‘Old Asia’

Owing to Myanmar’s political situation, the country has not undergone the rapid development that other countries in the region have experienced, giving visitors a chance to witness what Lim Kok Yong, Hong Kong General Manager, Country Holidays, calls “Old Asia”.

“Myanmar was caught in a time warp, cut off from the 21st century due to its political situation,” Kok Yong says

“It is one of the last frontiers to see Old Asia. In the recent past years, it opened up and many rushed in, wanting to experience it before mass tourism caught up. Of course, it is also an amazing place to visit in terms of landscape, historical sites, and culture.”

Formerly known in the West of as Rangoon, Yangon offers the 93 square metre golden Shwedagon Pagoda, which shimmers brilliantly at sunrise and sunset.

Then there is Pagan, a 20-square-kilometre plain scattered with more than 2,000 temples; Inle Lake, which is dotted with the floating villages of ethnic minorities; this list goes on.

First Mover Advantage

When it comes to organizing trips to Myanmar, Country Holidays has something of a “first mover” advantage.

“We started visiting and bringing people to Myanmar while few ventured there in the 1990s,” Kok Yong says.

“Not only do we ensure smooth logistics, recommend unique charming deluxe boutique hotels, and field some of the best guides, we are also very proud to seek out unique experiences totally off the beaten track.”

Examples include taking travellers to an elephant orphanage on the Shan Plateau or arranging having picnic lunches beside a little known thousand years’ old pagoda.

Whatever your views on Myanmar’s political situation, the country  is chock-a-block with fascinating points of interest for travellers.

Myanmar According to Country Holidays

An old friend from Palo Alto, California, got in touch, saying that he was planning a trip to Myanmar.

Knowing that I travel quite a bit in Asia, he asked me to suggest some things that he should see or do – especially things that were off the beaten track.

Since I haven’t been to Myanmar yet, I turned to my good friends at Country Holidays and asked them to come up with a list of 10 things that any first time visitor to Myanmar should not miss. 

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