With a tourist industry still in its infancy, Myanmar seemed like the perfect destination for a well-worn traveler like me, bored to death of the typical South East Asia sightseer trail. After a few weeks of planning, I set off for this promised land with thoughts of natural scenery, Buddhist temples and historical relics dancing around my head.

My trip to Myanmar has been one of my favourites and I have decided to put together an account of my journey featuring the most interesting things I saw and did. Hopefully this will inspire you to take at trip to this awe-inspiring country yourself.

Mandalay

My trip began in Myanmar’s former capital. Here I got acquainted with the country by wandering the busy and handicraft filled, Zeigyo marketplace and sampling milky tea and rice noodle soup (called Mohinga) at the street stalls. After a night of wandering the streets and surveying the locals, I awoke early the next morning for a climb up Mandalay Hill. The climb was worth the 45 minutes it took to reach the top as the scene of rolling hills, lakes and the palace grounds filled my view. The remainder of my day was filled with pagodas, Buddhist monasteries and the remarkable palace itself.

Bagan

Bagan is immensely popular because of its 41 square KM archaeological park filled with historic and magnificent temples. On my first visit to the park I made sure to arrive before sunrise as to catch a glimpse of that ever popular scene of hot air balloons drifting above the ancient ruins. When I finally retired my camera and pulled myself from the sight the rest of the afternoon was spent on foot, exploring some of the main temples in the park. On the second day of my visit I rented a bicycle and rode around for hours visiting some of the lesser known but just as intriguing temples.

Kalaw

This next stop was filled with lush mountains, lakes and minority villages. The city life was given up for a two day trekking adventure from Kalaw to Inle Lake. Before setting off I hired a guide and was led into the countryside to take in a sweeping landscape by day and a starry sky by night. Here I was able to meet many local people, sample their food and get a glimpse at their everyday lives. Inle Lake was just as spectacular as the route it took to get there and once I arrived I was greeted with sights of floating communities, stilted houses and quaint villages. The day was filled with canoeing and bicycling and the evening was spent enjoying the quiet.

Kyaiktiyo: A trip to Myanmar wouldn’t be complete without getting a glimpse of the Golden Rock. Here I took two days to trek up the 11 KM mountain and gaze at this mysterious pagoda. Although just a short stop on my itinerary and a daunting climb, the golden relic is worth the effort.

Yangon

The trip ended in yet another former capital. Here I spent my time exploring the famous Shwedagon Paya, the diamond encrusted golden tower and explored the many other religious monuments and buildings within the compound. It can be difficult to venture to all of the sites in a short visit but I made sure to see the Chaukhtatgyi Paya otherwise known as the Reclining Buddha which was spectacular within itself.

Myanmar is a mysterious and interesting country that I would recommend anyone to visit! Before you take the journey just remember to keep yourself safe and look out for some common problems. Make sure to avoid drinking tap water and be careful with the street food you choose to eat as hygiene is not always a top priority. Petty theft occurs but it is rare. Make sure not to flash your valuables or money around. Stay safe and enjoy your planning to this breathtaking and fascinating land.
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