Myanmar as a country had never been on my bucket list. It was not even on my to-consider list, until my friend and I decided to visit our Burmese friend. We planned a short trip and visited Yangon, Bagan and Inle, spending about 2 days in each state.
Before flying to Myanmar, I had the expected travel fears:
Will I be ok with the food there?
Will I get diarrhoea?
How much of culture shock can I take?
Will the toilets be ok?
Is the place clean?
Will I be bored?
Is there 3G available?
You bet I went well-equipped with my snacks and first-aid pills. However, my travel concerns were mostly unfounded. The food was more than ok – in fact I think I put on weight from eating so much! In terms of cleanliness, I can’t say the country’s very clean as Singapore has set a very high benchmark for the definition of cleanliness. As for the toilets, personally, they can be quite a woe for me in the outskirts, so I try to go when I’m at someone’s house visiting, or when a coffee-shop looks alrighty-clean.
21 Photos that Will Make You Want to Visit Myanmar
— Bagan —
I had high hopes of Bagan, very sure I will not miss a single sunrise or sunset. Alas, the weather had other plans; it was cloudy or rainy during those times hence I didn’t get a spectacular sunrise/sunset. However, what Bagan had to offer for the rest of the days were more than enough.
Bagan (pronounced “ber-ga-n”, not “bear-gen” nor “bah-ga-n”) is an ancient city in the central of Myanmar. There are more than 2,000 temples, stupas and pagodas, forming the Bagan Archaeological Zone, constructed from the 9th to 11th centuries when Buddhist kings are the rulers of Bagan Dynasty#. If the exterior of the structures already impressed you, wait till you see the insides. The pagodas I visited all had Buddha statues inside. Some of the temples also had very detailed wall murals, which were amazing to discover.
Bagan Quick Tips:
Temple attire: No shoes or socks are allowed in pagodas, everyone will be barefooted. Keep your shoulders and knees covered.
Arriving in Bagan: I took an overnight coach ride from Yangon to Bagan which took 9 hours in total, reaching Bagan at 6.30am.
Bagan Archaelogical Zone: Foreigners need to pay 25,000 kyats to obtain a card pass used to enter the Bagan Archaelogical Zone. This pass is valid for 5 days. Keep it handy when you’re in Bagan, authorities might ask to check it especially at the bigger temples.
Hot-Air Balloon Rides: These rides are available by season only, typically from mid-October to mid-March, due to weather. (a detailed review here)
Getting around in Bagan: E-bikes are very popular among foreigners in Bagan, or bicycles. Roads in Bagan could also refer to sand paths, so take note! My local friend rented a MPV car with a driver to send us around.
Sunrise/Sunset: Majority of the Buddhist monuments have banned people from climbing them. Add to the recent earthquake which did more damages, climbing is prohibited more than ever. We climbed up a steep staircase of Shwesandow Temple to await sunset.
— Yangon —
Yangon is the largest city in Myanmar. Its highlight is Shwedagon Pagoda, a shimmering structure plated in gold with its upper dome adorned with more than 5,000 diamonds and precious gems.
— Inle Lake / Taunggyi —
I wanted to visit Inle Lake just to see the balancing fishermen with my own eyes. Inle gave us so much more, with its views.
Are you thinking to visit Myanmar?
Stay tuned for more posts on the country soon!
Visited: Sept 2016
All photos are by me except the one of me knelt in front of the reclining Buddha, which was taken by my friend, Thihan Kyaw.
# Information from Irrawaddy
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