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Myanmar (Burma) - Exploring this Hidden Gem
I was slightly apprehensive of what to expect in #Myanmar #Berma, and how silly of me! It was beautiful in every aspect. The #culture was extremely enlightening, the locals are beyond friendly and the #nature is outstanding. At extremely #affordably prices, you can eat, sleep and explore this hidden gem.
I had 2 weeks to spend in Myanmar before heading on to Thailand & Cambodia etc, and I was unsure of how I would like the country due to the little information about it and the fact not many people had travelled there. The country only recently opened its borders to tourists and turns out I had no reason to doubt the country - I loved it! It’s now up the top of my list as one of my favourite countries I’ve been to and I plan on re-visiting soon.
turns out I had no reason to doubt the country - I loved it
I started in Yangon which had an awesome cookery school and a few amazing temples but it wasn’t my favourite place.
It’s a big city, dirty and doesn’t feel overly safe. I was staying in a hotel room on the 4th floor which ran out of running water... not ideal. That being said, once I’d encountered a few more people in food stalls, I realised people are just reserved and shy but very friendly and curious! I also went and visited the famous Shwedagon Pagoda which is immense and very beautiful!
visited the famous Shwedagon Pagoda which is immense and very beautiful
I then went on to Mandalay, the old capital, which is very much the opposite of Yangon. It’s still a city, but all low rise, very relaxed, hardly any cars and even some horse and carts still being used in everyday life. Here, I had some amazing traditional local food at a restaurant I thought would be very expensive. I ordered one dish and 8 extra sides came out with it! Then a selection of dried fruits and nuts were brought out for dessert.
I had some amazing traditional local food at a restaurant
Again, I was worrying unnecessarily, as the cost of the meal and a drink came to the equivalent of US$4 - bargain!
I went on a day tour starting in Inwa which has old palaces, pagodas and even had a horse cart ride through some of the ruins, and then headed to Mandalay Hill which is quite the climb but worth it for the magnificent views from the top of the temple. For the sunset, I was taken to U Bein Bridge where I rented a seat in a little boat and was paddled out on to the river to watch the beautiful sunset from the water.
Mandalay Hill which is quite the climb but worth it for the magnificent views
Inle Lake was next and is famous for its fishermen who paddle their boats using a leg which allows both hands free to use fishing nets.
Hotel Inle Inn Pindaya
I went on a private boat tour across the lake to see this and the traditional fishing villages, with the guide taking me to this house where his wife had prepared a cooked lunch for us. It was amazing of course.
his wife had prepared a cooked lunch for us. It was amazing of course
I was also taken to a several other stilt huts on the river showcasing and selling various merchandise, the main contenders being decorative glass, traditional cigars, and long neck tribeswomen.
I also went on a little river cruise on a smaller wooden boat/raft where a woman paddled lazily down the river with her small son and stopped to show me a beautiful teak buddhist monastery. There wasn’t much else to do in this relaxed area except wander around and get lost in the lazy town which suited me fine.
Last up was Bagan, which is so beautiful. I went hot air ballooning here at sunrise using a company called Balloons over Bagan.
It was spectacular and still is possibly my favourite experience. There are about 2000 temples in Bagan in a very small area and at sunrise it is so picturesque.
It was spectacular and still is possibly my favourite experience
Sunrise Balloon Ride
Hsipaw Trekking Tour
2 Days Mandalay Motorbike Tours
I also stayed in a great hotel here with a waterfall shower and big comfy bed, costing US$30 per night which was average value compared to the rest of Asia I think. The slightly pricier accommodation balances out with cheap good transport, tours and food though and makes for a perfect budget destination with heaps of culture and history.
I also stayed in a great hotel here with a waterfall shower and big comfy bed