Home to 135 ethnic groups, a solitary abode for monks, and a region whose colonial facades are still apparent, Myanmar is a sheer treat for the wanderlust. Trishann Henriques explores its cultural melange
Away from the urban clutter and concrete jungles lies Myanmar untouched and still at the brink of greatness. One of Southeast Asia’s jewels, Myanmar is frequented by tourists who revel in the freedom of unplanned travel and exploration. One of the major factors that draw tourists from far and wide is its undoubted beauty. In Myanmar, guides, tour packages and luxurious commute are anything but readily available. But in spite of this unconventional form of travel a visitor won’t be disappointed. It is in fact the unpredictability that translates to one hell of a vacation.
An amalgam of cultural diversity, religious sanctity and natural beauty awaits the wanderlust set to take on this Burmese journey.
Myanmar is accessible by road and by flight. Although air travel is a lot faster, the journey by road will be a new experience altogether. Much longer in duration, the travel by road comes with its share of idyllic sceneries, stopovers at new locations and a lot of time for contemplation.
Myanmar has a number of options for accommodations. From budget lodges and guesthouses to mid-priced and expensive hotels, there’s a place to stay for people with every kind of budget. However, irrespective of where a person stays, they will be required to pay a 10% mandatory service tax.
The kyat, the currency of Myanmar, translates to 0.062 Indian rupees. Although a very low Indian exchange rate, once the cheapest Southeast Asian country, today the prices in Myanmar have escalated because of the sudden growth in tourism. An Indian tourist can get away with allocating an average of Rs. 3,500-4,000 per day obviously depending on a number of different factors like location, accommodation, local travel, etc.
An authentic Burmese meal will have you well covered, appetite-wise. While its cuisine is concoction of Chinese, Indian and Mon delicacies, the food is not void of its own uniqueness. Closer to bucolic locations, a tourist can indulge in authentic Burmese preparations like leq-p’eq, its unofficial national dish moún-hìn-gà and several other noodle preparations.
Where to Go
BAGAN’S ANCIENT KINGDOM, MANDALAY
A time traveller’s dream come true, the ancient city of Bagan is symbolic of not only the rich culture and heritage of Myanmar but also of grand architecture created centuries ago. A tourist can get around by bicycle exploring the wonders of this ancient city that has remained untouched and uninhabited ever since its creators fled. For a person endeared by history and ancient civilisations, the city is pure heaven. One can spend an entire day and even a good week visiting the temples and the archaic relics housed by them in all their wondrous glory.
SHWEDAGON PAYA, YANGON
Visible from every part of Yangon, the Shwedgon Paya is a cultural delight. Adorned with 27 metric tons of gold leaf and clusters of diamonds and other gems, the paya is unlike any other the world over. The grandiose with which it’s been built is proof of the diligence and respect that the Burmese people have toward Buddha, in whose memory the stupa stands.
What to Do
SIGHT-SEE BY BOAT
Misty blue waters, beautiful floating gardens and fishermen waiting for a profitable catch are sights a tourist will witness at the Inle Lake. While most travellers choose to explore the lake using a motorised canoe, the actual treat is using one of the traditional boats used by the locals to get around the lake.
HOT AIR BALLOON OVER THE IRRAWADDY RIVER
Running from the north to the south of Myanmar, the Irrawaddy River is the exemplary force behind the trade and commerce in Myanmar. Playing a poignant role in the economy of the country, the river is also one of the most popular tourist attractions. A cruise about its calm waters is mediocre an adventure in comparison to a hot air balloon ride over it. Bird’s eye views of pagodas, beauteous sceneries on its banks and a hundred or more tributaries diverging from it comprise picturesque hot air balloon journeys.
• Don’t miss 4-day long New Year celebrations in April
• Best time to visit November through February
• Must-visit place Golden Rock Pagoda
• Must-visit beach Silver beach (Ngwe Saung)
• Must-have dish Mohinga (moún-hìngà)
• The climate Tropical monsoon climate, including considerable amount of sun and humidity, and a good amount of rainfall
Volume 4 Issue 2