We had the recent opportunity to explore Myanmar for the first time. We liked it so much and had such a great experience that we think others should go too. The fame of Myanmar is growing, but it is still very unknown to many. We find it an adventurous place where our traveler skills were tested, but there was so much reward in experiencing a place that is just emerging from obscurity.
Making plans as best you can
Our first set of challenges came from trying to plan a trip as we usually do. Arranging our own transport from the airport to the bus station, finding out bus schedules between cities and how to exchange cash etc. There is little to no information online at least not in English. Myanmar is as functional as any other country we’ve seen, there exists all forms of public transportation, taxis and tour services. Our question was not really if we would find these things but how to access them, what would they cost and when one can access them. At the end we went armed with some basic knowledge of taxi fares, bus routes and stops, but speaking to several people on the ground and using basic travel skills of bargaining and prudent decision making that allowed us to get by.
Could we have done the pre-packaged high dollar tour of taxi’s guides and everything laid out? Sure that option exists here and for many might be a better way to get around Myanmar. What we learned and want to share however is that you can do it yourself using all the available means of transit, exchange and logistics available to everyday people. If you want to see a list of our specific tips about what we learned in Myanmar click here.
Enjoy the novelties of new infrastructure and timeless hospitality
So one of the coolest things about Myanmar’s recent arrival onto the tourism stage is much of the infrastructure is new. In Naypyitaw, the planned capital, there are respected hotel chains from around the world like Kempinski, M Gallery, Hilton, Marriott and others. New highways, bridges and temples are under construction, so it is a moment to witness a real renaissance and change in our own modern time. At the same time Myanmar’s relative obscurity up till now has preserved a very intact society where mixes of religions, ethnic groups and traditions gave us authentic displays of a living culture. One way to interact with this is to go to the huge temples and pagodas.
These golden and stone spires dominate the landscape. Daily lives of people center around them as we saw deep religiosity and fervor. The hospitality and friendliness of people is expressed by their very outgoing and curious nature. Many times language was a barrier but friendliness was loud and clear. Whether in the top city hotel or in the cheapest bus between Yangon and Naypyitaw we found the local people to be helpful and concerned if our stay was enjoyable. That alone makes the destination so worthwhile.
Get in on the ground floor
Myanmar has challenges, it offers a lot of fascination and eye opening experiences too. The primary reason we recommend you get yourself there soon is to enjoy a unique moment where the country is juxtaposed between its unique past and its future development. The country will take a long time to reach the touristed status of its neighboring Thailand, but there is something magical about how it is right now, different, raw and just right for the traveler looking to see the world differently.