Burma, or Myanmar as of 1989, is an attractive and traditional country in South East Asia, abundantly scattered with mysterious ruined temples, vast rice fields, pine forests and hills. Mostly unaffected by the Western culture, it is an interesting place to visit if you wish to enrich your cultural view. Myanmar is fast becoming a tourism hot spot with visitors hitting its first million only in 2012, before doubling to 2 million in 2013 and hitting 3 million in 2014. This once isolated country is seeing a surge in tourist arrivals and here are the 10 experiences one must not miss when exploring Myanmar:
1. Visit Shittaung Paya
A temple built by King Minbin in 1535. Shittaung’s significance is the “Shrine of the 80,000 images”, suggesting the number of holy images found inside. Adorned with sculptures and reliefs, it consists of many stupas of various sizes.
2. Walk across the U-Bein Bridge
This is the longest teak foot bridge in the world, it is one of the most sought after sites for photos. Sustained by over a thousand poles, it stretches 1300 yards across the Taungthaman Lake.
3. Do not miss Mahamuni (Bahaman) Paya
The biggest and most impressive temple complex in the city of Mawlamyine. It includes a jewel-box chamber filled with glittering mirrors, diamonds and rubies.
4. Go inside Sule Pagoda
A Burmese stupa erected during the time of Buddha, over 2,500 years ago. A central symbol for Burmese and Yagon politics, around it hovers the legend that its actual site was once the home of a powerful spirit named Sularata. Its dome structure, finished with a golden spire, marks the city’s view.
5. Go on a food tour
The base of Burmese food is rice served with a diversity of meat, fish and vegetables dishes. Mohinga, considered the national dish, is a traditional breakfast. A Burmese rhyme hints the favorite products: “A thee ma, thayet; a thar ma, wet; a ywet ma, lahpet”, meaning “Of all the fruits, mango’s the best; of all the meat, the pork’s the best; and of all the leaves, lahpet’s the best.”
6. Hike on the hills of Shan State
An area also known as the Shan Plateau, representing the nation’s essential source for rubies, sapphires and other gems. Not very populated and located at about one-hour drive distance from Mandalay, the plains, averaging 1,000 meters in elevation, were once retreats for the British colonial officials from the Burmese summer’s heat.
7. Admire the flora at the National Kandawgyi Gardens
A botanical garden located by the Kandawgyi Lake. The flowers adorning the bridges create a beautiful view. The admission includes access to an unusual 12- storey tower, the Nay Mynt Tower, a swimming pool, an orchid garden and a museum of butterflies.
8. Watch a traditional game of Chinlone
Chinlone is the national sport of Myanmar. Played in teams of six, Chinlone is in fact a blend of dance and sport. It involves keeping a cane ball in the air while walking around a circle, using any part of the body but the hands. An over 1,500 years old tradition, it was once played to entertain the Burma royalty.
9. Get to know the country’s history through a cultural show
The Myanmar Traditional Dance Show, in the tropical park of the Mandalay Hill Resort, presents 1,000 years of history through music, dances and design. There are also many other performances, including marionette theatre or anyient (comedy) and various events that sometimes last for a whole night.
10. Take a ride with a hot air balloon
Take a hot air balloon ride to enjoy the spectacular view of the Bagan temples and the Ayeyarwaddy River. The flight time runs from 40 to 60 minutes, and inside the basket there is enough space for 6 to 8 persons.
Check out our Ultimate Guide to the Top 10 Best Travel Destinations In 2016 because Myanmar is included in it as well!