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Myanmar Travel

Myanmar and things to do

A new Myanmar (Burma) travel guide
Here local experts are writing and no internet copycats and unqualified "me too visitors". What makes the country different to other tour destinations is the unique cultural background of 135 different ethnicities.

With roots reaching deep into India, China, Malaya, and Negritos of the south sea make the country interesting for exotic holidays. There are adventure destinations and spectacular beach scenes on the mainland and islands with more 2000 km coastline scattered in the Andaman Sea. The country borders Thailand to the east, Bangladesh, and India to the northeast plus China to the north.

Here are all possible temperature and climate zones, from the icy mountains with glaciers of the north in Kachin State which are an extension of the Tibetan Himalayas to the tempered environment of Shan State with hills Inle Lake and an average of 1000 m height, see the travel pictures for more, the tropical climate covers the center and all the way down until the southern tip at Kawthaung .

The top 15 Myanmar Destinations

Burma shakes slowly off the colonial times, the communist plus military madness and moves into modern life. Today Myanmar is one of the best holiday destination in this part of the world. A unique blend of culture and outdoor fun, trips to Myanmar (Burma) fascinate.​

Our website brings you a comprehensive package on almost everything which is interesting for a traveler, such as culture, folklore, shopping, gemstones, islands, beaches, snow, ice and the off-shot trails of the Tibetan Himalaya Mountains

Holiday in Myanmar with great lakes, exotic tribes, pristine jungle, sightseeing, relaxing and nightlife, river cruises, air and road travel plus hundreds of pictures and videos. Here is every information for great tropical holidays in Myanmar (Burma).

Yangon International Airport is the start for a vacation
Arrival at Yangon Airport which is the biggest in the country and only one of two receiving international flights, the other is Mandalay.

The airport is quite new and works efficiently. The only problem is immigration, they are really slow since most of the counters are not working, there is nobody.

Main travel destination is Bagan

Burma Photos
The dry central region around Bagan is the second travel landing-place, the first is the old capital Yangon. 

The famous city of Bagan on the Irrawaddy river is where most tourists head to for visiting the unique temple and pagodas, this old city is famous for the Buddhist monuments which are indeed something unique. It is also a compact showcase of Myanmar (Burma) history. 

The dry central region is the destination of most tourists to Myanmar with Bagan as the unique temple and pagoda destination. This old city is famous for the Buddhist monuments which are something really new in particular in that quantity.

Main day tours are to Mount Popa and some Monasteries in the vicinity. When you are around it is highly recommended to take a local tourist guide because only they have the knowledge to show you what's up. This is many temples and pagodas precinct are closed and only they know where the keys are to enter them in the safest way because often these brick buildings are in bad shape. No other than local tourist guides know to handle this because they won't get the key to enter the buildings. If you can't enter and have a look you will miss half of the city. 
  1. Buddhist Pagoda in Bagan
  2. Native Myanmar Travel
  3. Temple interior in Bagan
  4. At Mount Popa
  5. trip to the pagoda
  6. People in Bagan
  7. In the monastery
  8. Bagan shopping

South Myanmar and the Myeik Archipelago

Exotic island trips could start at Kawthaung which is the southernmost city opposite Ranong in Thailand.

There is the connection with small ships and longtail boats but it needs a visa to enter the country and that visa is available in their Bangkok Consulate only.  

It is clearly visible how surreal these people work. Kawthaung has also been used as entry point for liveaboard trips into south Myanmar's Myeik Archipelago an ideal place for tropical vacation.
  1. south Myanmar islands
  2. south Myanmar beaches
  3. living on the beach
  4. south Myanmar girl
South Myanmar is a pristine area in the Andaman with around 1000 islands around somehow similar to the Indian side. Since colonial times the government didn't allow anyone in. The only issued fishing licences to Thai vessels and allowed some live-aboard yachts for scuba diving from Phuket which have to clear formalities at Kawthaung and move into the island world for underwater exploration.

That is probably the best until now for travelers, the islands could be a prime exotic travel destination but they don't do anything. Although they allow now (2016) to enter the country at land borders (Kawthaung) but it won't mean a lot because it still needs a visa from the embassy, e.g. Bangkok. But there is a way to do you it with fewer problems, call Thailand 022 670 390 that is Friendly Star Travel in the capital, they can handle it when you send the passport and pay the fee. All this was changed some time ago again  but something is still working it could be a way when needed.

The southernmost point of the country in that area is Kawthaung and the interesting part for south Myanmar island holiday starts at Myeik.

135 different ethnicities
Tribal Photos
What makes the country different to other tour destinations is the unique cultural background.

From about 135 different ethnicities reaching deep into India, China, Malaya and Negritos of the south sea ideal for interesting holidays.

About 2000 km coastline with plenty of tropical beaches along the main coast and on around 1000 islands scattered in the Andaman Sea off the southern coast plus great mountains are also not great tour destinations. The country borders Thailand to the east, Bangladesh, and India to the northeast plus China to the north.

  1. Salone or sea gypsies
  2. Myanmar girls near Bago
  5. smoking men chin tribe
  7. tribal chin girl
One of the main attractions is the unique Buddhist oriented atmosphere which culminates in the pagoda and temples at Bagan and exploring some of the 130 ethnicity attending festivals enjoy the climate fishing and boating trips national parks and wildlife reserves islands and trekking adventure read more.

Here are all possible temperature and climate zones, from the icy glaciers of the north in Kachin State which are an extension of the Tibetan Himalayas to the tempered environment of Shan State with hills Inle Lake and an average of 1000 m height, see the travel pictures for more the tropical climate covers the center and all the way down until the southern tip at Kawthaung

The high mountains in the north are rather unusual adventure trips they are snow capped the whole year and covered with glacier this are the extensions of the Tibetan Himalayas reaching up to almost 6000 m with the Mount Hkakabo Razi the highest peak in South East Asia read more.
North Myanmar Mount Hkakabo Razi with plenty of snow.

Countless attractive beaches are along the west coast and the islands.

The West coast at Ngapali Beach is the top waterfront destination and has excellent beach resorts. Actually at Ngapali, Ngwe Saung, and Chaungtha plus Yangon / Mandalay / Bagan are the best hotels in the country.

Ngapali Beach is the most popular for the foreigner on the west coast. It is facing the Bay of Bengal. At this part of the Indian Ocean currently are the most popular beaches.

South island beaches in the Myeik archipelago

South Islands and Beaches are around in the Myeik Archipelago and all the way down to Kawthaung which is the southernmost city in the country bordering Ranong in Thailand an ideal holiday destination for scuba diving and adventure travel in the northern mountains read more .

The start for tours is Phuket using small yachts on living aboard trips. Other beaches with hotels and resorts are Ngwe Saung and Chaungtha west of Yangon reachable via road travel of about 5 hours. Since they improved the street there is no problem to drive there anymore. The most interesting are the island waterfronts but it is difficult to reach them.

Cruise to Kawthaung and the temple island

Kawthaung is the southernmost town this was Victoria Point during the British occupation across the bay is Thailand the city is well known for the visa run means when it expires take a tour and get a visa extension stamp which is very convenient if you are on vacation read more.
In the Myeik archipelago the harbor of the city

The Myeik Archipelago lies off the southwest coast down to Kawthaung with almost thousand islands this has a great tourist potential once the area is opened completely and developed this coast strip is known as Tenasserim or Thanintharyi.

It is thinly populated and never played any substantial part in holiday travel or any development of the country. The hills reach down in a narrowing peninsula to the former Victoria Point the southernmost limit.

In south Myanmar

Travel Photos
South Myanmar has over one thousand paradisic islands one more pretty and pristine than the other this is a great area for sun seeker vacation maker.

In the north of the globe are millions of tourist who like just that but the government had never been open up this oportunity for the Myanmar people to get some money into the pockets of the poor. 

Instea of making Myanmar people wealthy the government sit around in Naypydaw and waste their time with useless bla-bla and filling the pockets of a few people. There is a lot of money in the country but the government is not capable to create the legal framework for investment.
ship travel in the Andaman Sea Myanmar
Myanmar Photos
The high mountains in the north are rather unusual adventure trips bacause difficuly to access.

Although there are several flights per day from Yangon to Putao which is the main city up there.

The capital of Kachin State is Myitkyina

Higher regions are many and some of them are snowcapped the whole year. Covered with glacier somehow like the Alps, his are the extensions of the Tibetan Himalayas reaching up to almost 6000 m with the Mount Hkakabo Razi the highest peak in South East Asia.
  1. Hkakabo Razi with 5881 meters
  2. Climbing Mount Popa
  5. local warriors
  6. native road travel
  7. Deep valleys in Kachin State
  8. icy mountains

About Burma are plenty of myths positive and negative

Unfortunately, the world hears Burmese news almost always all negative country negatively dramatized from the BBC services as the front end of the old colonial master and other media ( Muslim Aljazeera from the Islamist hardliner in Qatar ) and other publications.

The Anglo-Burmese relationship never was a good one since the very early colonial days when the British conquered Burma until they left, leaving back a looted country in a big mess. Everything that happens today has its roots in British colonial times. When the English left Burma there was no aid and the WW II just had ended.

The only positive they left behind was Rangoon today Yangon which functioned quite well and a rail network and the river ship business of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, plus a somehow working education system.

One Burma disaster ended and a chain reaction of more disaster started even into the 21. Century. The two most recent nature disaster where the Burma cyclone and the Tsunami some years before.
We try to show you this poor ASEAN country mainly from the positive side with excellent pictures and videos of great Burmese people and nature we don't go into politics.

Our website is somehow visually oriented with lots of Myanmar pictures taken and collected over more than two decades including old shoots from Anglo-Burma times and before. Burma has a great nature to explore and is an ideal exotic travel destination, in the north the Himalayas and all the way down into the tropical Andaman Sea in the south bordering Thailand, everywhere you will find exotic food. Burma and the rest of the world don't understand each other most of the time, but this has political reasons.

About Myanmar & Burma History

Burma has been vandalized by the British colonialist for almost 200 years before WW2 and was already known in history before as Myanmar Naing Naing.

Luckily the country started to wake up at the beginning of the 19xx but it still took until 2011 to see some substantial progress and tourism could be a means of recovery.  Myanmar (Burma) is well connected to all major capitals in Asia via Yangon Rangoon Airport and has plenty of good hotels at the interesting places in the country that include excellent beach resorts at Ngapali and Ngwe Saung plus  Chaungtha and currently (2016) they are building several elsewhere. Also major travel destinations such as Yangon (Rangoon) Mandalay, Inle Lake, Bagan etc. have enough above average accommodations. The only real problem is electricity and very unhygienic environments outside the bigger hotels and restaurants.

The country is still negatively dramatized from media such as Al Jazeera plus BBC,  AFP and other "Western and Arab Media". This is a combination of the old colonial master and Islamist media. The Anglo-Burmese relationship never was a good one since the very early colonial times since the English considered themselves as the master the other must follow, partly they even do it today although they are a secondary country, they just don't know it, or maybe don't want to know it.

Burma (Myanmar) is just behind south Asia Indian peninsula and has always been an exotic country that enriched the world with monuments of Buddhist religion and diversified ethnicity plus an abundance of gemstones of almost all variants

Already in the first centuries of
ourera some mighty political systems have been existing within the boundaries of today Myanmar. This was Lower Burma or Mon State and Central or Upper Burma with the Pyu and the coastal areas at the Bay of Bengal south of Bangladesh which was then Arakan and today Rakhine.

The continuous process of developing cities, agriculture, architecture, and art lead to impressive monuments we still can see today, although decay and fire wiped out many of them there is still an amazingly rich cultural heritage including fine arts of the middle ages of our dimensions.

Impressive Sakyamanaung Pagoda in Rakhine (Arakan)
Impressive Sakyamanaung Pagoda

Although Burma has great influences from India in terms of religion, philosophical and linguistic it developed in its own way and created new arts and culture. The ideological basis of Indian art and culture was based on Hinduism and Buddhism, next to Christianity and Islam, one of the three rough world religions which developed in north India.

Burmese Buddhism Shwedagon Pagoda
Burmese Buddhism Shwedagon Pagoda

During the first centuries of
ourera the religious and philosophical teaching of Buddhism spread over all countries of the Far East and South East Asia and was an important factor in the development of China, Japan and all countries of Indochina. Buddhism found its most active adherents in the circles of the ruling and privileged society. They not only patronized the new religion but demanded their own way of propagation, popularization and consolidating. All this happen over several hundreds of years and most history of that time is still buried in the darkness of the past.

Ancient Pagoda from 14 Century at Pyay
Ancient Pagoda from 14 Century at Pyay

It was in India during the time of the third ruler of the Mauryan dynasty of King Ashoka andKing Kanishka, the third ruler of the Kushan Dynasty (2nd century CE), in Ceylon, in the 3rd century CE and the Japan of the 7th Century, Tibet in the 7th Century in Burma (Anawrathas
; 1044-1077), in which all this somehow settled and started new developments.

It tells a story of culture and violence over more than thousand five hundred years. Around two thousand religious edifices and
ruinsstill stand from that time in the dusty plains of central Myanmar just beside the Irrawaddy or Ayeyarwady river.

time ago there were over 4000 of them but, decay, flooding and several earthquakes made them crumble and been washed away. Wars and in fights within the dynasties and families took its toll. But it still shows a great culture who was able to continue over such a long period of time. The actual end to Myanmar Kings and dynasties came when the British conquered the country.

About four millenniums ago nomads of the
Australoide type came into the area this were probably the ancestors of the Mon of today. When browsing the pages be aware that often the same names are used at different locations.

1. to 4 Century: The feudal state of the Pyu around Peikthano was formed.

in the Srikshetra Museum at Pyay

A sitting Buddha sculpture in the Srikshetra Museum at Pyay about 6th Century.

Zoom out

5. to 7 Century: The Mon kingdoms of Thaton and Pegu / Bago and Dvaravati (Thailand) were founded.

Myanmar war with Thailand
Myanmar attack at Thailand

Several wars between the two countries went on between the 16th and 19th century, the last ended with the destruction of the then capital Ayutthaya in 1766. After this, the city was moved further south and Bangkok was created, as a matter of fact, the Burmese were the aggressors almost every time. It seems to be a similar relationship as with the German and the French. The picture below were made in the Bangkok National Museum and the one above in an Ayutthaya Wat.

TheBurmese Thai War at Ayutthaya
The Burmese &Thai War at Ayutthaya

5th Century to 830: The Pyu kingdom of Thayekhetaya was founded and temples and pagodas were built plus some Buddhist art in form of sculptures and reliefs in terracotta and stone technique.

849 to 1044: Founding of Bagan in 849 and the attempt to create the first bigger state with the city as the center was started, first monument construction started.

1044 to 1077: The ruling dynasty was formed by King Anuruddha. The kingdom was expanded and subjugation of the Mons empire. The ruler brought
Buddhist scriptures or Tripitaka and relics back from Thaton after some battle with the Mon. Theravada Buddhism became the official religion and the traditional Nat cult was integrated into the local Buddhism.

1082 to 1112: Assassination of KingSawla a son of Anuruddha, after his younger son Kyanzittha became the boss. To improve Buddhism Kyanzittha made some cooperation with the Sinhalese.

Mandalay became the capital and

the British came, took over the country and exiled the King and Queen to India, at that time the country was on a level with the Meiji Dynasty in Japan at Mandalay they even had the first Streetcar in Asia.

British Army in Burma
British Army kill local people

The British colonialists destroyed a lot, stole plenty and looted the country since they wanted to keep it as a place to deliver raw material only, such as wood, simple textiles and other. At that time old Bagan was already of no importance. Only by the mid of the
lastcentury the area got a "weak up call" when the first tourist came in on a culture trip. Some of the first were historians from Russia, before USSR and East Germany.

With two thousand pagodas & temples on the Irrawaddy River east side, this old city is a historic treasure. Many years of waste and decay have gone by, still, unforgettable views are here. The monuments are spread over around forty square miles on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwady - river eastwards.

This city was the capital from 1044-1286 A.D. when the empire, so to speak, reached the zenith of its power for the first time. Actually the founding of the city (a group of 19 villages) took place quite early in the dim past (about 107 A.D.), but the illustrious dynasty of temple builders, which made the city strong and famous, started only in 1044 A.D. (i.e. 22 years before the Battle of Hastings in Britain). The story of the city may be told in two parts, before King Anawrahta and after.

Rome, or any other city, wasn’t built in a day and for this city to come into being, it had taken a long time to receive the tradition and influence of three former dynasties, Tagaung, Thaton, and Tharekhittaya. At the start (107 A.D.) atYone
-hut Kyun, it might just have been a fortress or garrison town.

The founder King Thamodarit, paid tribute to his Pyu descent by giving his fortress city the name Paukkan or Pyu Gama (which simply means a Pyu Village.) In everyday usage, the name changed to Bagan.

Two thousand pagodas & temples beside the Irrawaddy River
Two thousand pagodas & temples beside the Irrawaddy River

History is closely connected with King Anawrahta who made Kyaukse the granary of northern Myanmar. He made administrative reforms, dividing the kingdom into districts and appointing officers to look after all affairs and to collect fair revenue. For security, he established 45out-posts along the border of his kingdom.

In religion and culture, Anawrahta did not encourage the shabby customs of Aris, nor the popular celebrations of "
nat-pwe's". He looked for a true faith and, in 1056 A.D.

The Anawrahta's Kingdom of Bagan.

It was this King who made the city breathing and famous. Very important was that Mon craftsmen, Sanskrittextsartists and skilled workers numbering about 30,000 were also brought to the city. Anyway, destiny seemed to have sacrificed Thaton for the coming greatness of Bagan and also for the emergence of Myanmar as a leading Buddhist country today. Shin Arahan, the scriptures, Mon craftsmen, and Anawrahta, with his people, together started building the city.

Anawrahtas Palace depicted in a mural

During Anawrahta’s reign and after, people became so well-versed in the scriptures that, it is said, even village girls could discuss metaphysics with the learned monks from a
Bagan monastery. Then there appeared exceptionally learned persons among the leisurely royal class King Kyaswa, Princess Thanbyin, etc. who held regular classes teaching
monksSanskrittexts !

Bagan Myanmar Today
Bagan Myanmar Today, it's dusty and poor

Thus the place of today, with the remaining two thousand monuments, though grand and splendid in old age, is just a skeleton of the great glorious past.

On certain placesplaces
it might be useful to hire a local photographer to assist you in finding the right places for pictures taking at the right time.

Myanmar cities used to have at least two names, formal and informal. (Shwebo of the last Konbaung Period had five names.) So, in formal declarations, it was described gradual as Arimaddana Pura, meaning the “City of Conquerors”, and as the name suggested, the first group of kings had quite a hard time just taming and conquering the wild environment.
It is said that from the dense forests around the Irrawaddy River, wild beasts, and fabulous birds like rocks harassed the people.

Even wild vegetation of ground bushes overran the paddy fields in the countryside. Brave knights like Pyu SawHti (the 3rd, king) appeared to do away with the wild ones.
Thus,Hngel-pyit-taung pagoda (where the great roc was shot) and Bit Phaya (where the wild gourd was cleared away) stand Anawrahta’s Kingdom (1044-1298 A.D.)

He was the 42nd. king of the dynasty and he came to the throne in 1044 A.D. He opened the stage of his regency dramatically by fighting and killing his half-brother KingSokkate in single combat.

He was hot-tempered and did many wrongs as a young king. But at heart, he was just and straight-forward, and he tried to repair his wrongs. Anawrahta did many works of public utility, such as repairing Meiktila lake and constructing irrigations and the also the temple building started.

Shin Arahan, known to be a dedicated missionary, came from Thaton. The dedicated monk and the dynamic king met to make the historic changes. Anawrahta became a pure Theravada follower with great zeal. First of all, he abolished the Ari gangs, driving some away and forcing most of them to work as laymen.

Manuha Temple Reclining Buddha
Manuha Temple & Reclining Buddha

Then to foster the true religion, he needed Buddhist scriptures. Because King Manuha of Thaton bluntly refused his decent request, Anawrahta made war on Thaton (1057 A.D.) and thus destroyed the Mon dynasty.

Thirty-one elephant loads of the scriptures were carried away. Manuha and family were taken prisoners after he built the Manuha temple. Even the palace sites of the kings had to change four times, though all were in the same vicinity but all possibly would have never existed without the mighty Irrawaddy River.

Irrawaddy River Bagan & Pagoda
Irrawaddy River Bagan & Pagoda plus small sailing ship

The present site at the Irrawaddy,

Tharabar Gate
Tharabar Gate

With walls and Tharabar Gate as seen today was one of the cities built during the reign of King Pyinbyu in 849 A.D. He was the 34th. king of the Bagan dynasty and started to prosper with commercial relations with Shans, Indian and Chinese in the east, Assam and Manipur in the west and the land of
Pyus and Mons in the south.

As regards religion, people of early times, with some
Pyus and other natives of the north mixed up, had diverse interests. Horse-riding Aris (monks) with pugilistic habits and other malpractices had migrated from N.W. India and they gained considerable sway over common people.

Then during the reign of "Thin-
ie-kyaung" (344-384 A.D.), the 7th. king of the dynasty, Mahagiri Nats came to Mount Popa and nat-worshipping was popular among all classes. Mount Popa is the abode of the Nats is an interesting day trip destination

Mount Popa and the nats
The city started to decline before the Mongols came in 1287 because all daily life was dedicated to pagoda building. Since that area was exempted from taxes income and revenues went down dwindled and weakening the state because of not much money left for public service.
This was only in economic terms, monument building still went on as ever and also in the same quality, the same aesthetic and quality of craftsmanship, this went on into the mid of the next century. The arrival of the Mongols had no much effect on the lives of locals, the place remained the cultural center for several more hundreds of years until the power shifted north to Ava and Mandalay.

The Mongols.

They were just ignored and embraced, the exotic Mongol warriors were rather a matter of curiosity but not friends. When the Mongols came in 1287 the city didn't really “fall” to them, naturally, the local regime was politically and economically destabilized, tribute and booty must have been paid but nothing really changed well into the 14th century.

Monastery scriptures

Monastic land ownership still increased and temple and pagoda complexes continued to be built and lavishly decorated. Much has changed until now with this high level of devastation over time and treasure hunting hordes. Monasteries kept historical data in scripture chests, among other.