Myanmar, better known in the past as Burma, is at the crossroads of trade routes between India and China. An excellent location was the key to the rapid development of ancient civilization, but Myanmar became open to tourists only a few years ago. Before that, the country's borders were strictly guarded and only selected people could get an entry permit. The land itself is a fantastic combination of majestic gold pagodas and, at the same time, a low standard of living of local people. It retains a special flavor of tastes, traditions, and even religions. This amazing and mysterious country attracts sophisticated travelers and adventurers.
Myanmar is divided into seven administrative regions, seven states (National Districts), and six self-governing zones, which were declared under the 2008 Constitution.
What to see and where?
Naypyitaw has been the main city of the Asian state of Myanmar and the most atypical capital in the world since 2005. It is situated on the site of the former village, between two mountain ranges of Shan Yoma and Bago Yoma. Unlike other Asian cities, life here flows in a measured way, and there is no traditional noise and fuss. Roads and streets look deserted, which is bewildering for tourists. This is not surprising, as Naypyitaw is one of the 10-most unusual capitals and ghost cities in the world. The main attraction is the Uppatasanti Pagoda, with its 99-meter-high spire rising above the town. It is located on a hill, which offers a panoramic view of the capital. There is a lot of greenery in the city, sprawling with lush colors. These landscapes look particularly colorful, surrounded by mountains.
Yangon is the former capital of Myanmar and the largest city in the entire region. It is famous for its identity and is loved by tourists for its special flavor: the streets are full of British colonial architecture, skyscrapers rise next to each other, and gilded Buddhist pagodas shine. Yangon's trademark is the golden Shwedagon Pagoda. One can review carvings, stupas, and temples endlessly. Colonial structures are scattered throughout the city but are in a pitiful condition. In the region, it is worth visiting the Sule Pagoda, the Hindu Temple, the glass Sein Yaung Chi Pagoda, the Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary. You can learn about the history of former Burma in the National Museum. Yangon is considered to be the cleanest settlement among Asian capitals. Here the urban style is in harmony with the jungle and developed infrastructure with comfortable hotels, restaurants, and boutiques, ready to provide tourists with everything they need.
Pagan (or Bagan) is the ancient capital of the kingdom of the same name on the territory of modern Myanmar. At present, on the site of the ancient city, there is an archaeological zone with thousands of pagodas, temples, stupas, and monasteries. Since 2019, it is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is interesting, but the city of Bagan itself does not exist, there is a small airport, and then begins the zone with archaeological excavations. This place is called "the city of thousands of temples," and there is talk about the magical influence of local land on travelers. The date of origin of the Bagan kingdom is considered to be 850 BC. Here lived alchemists and palace revolution and bloody battles happened. In 1975, there was a powerful earthquake, which destroyed Bagan. Attempts to restore the ancient city were unsuccessful, until recent times. Tourists are offered interesting excursions through caves and display the most significant monuments of architecture.
Mandalay is a majestic city that spreads out on the Irrawaddy River in the north of Myanmar. It is known all over the world as the center of the Buddhist religion. There are 700 pagodas here, each of which is notable for its unusual architectural beauty. Mandalay was founded in 1857 by Mindon Min, and 30 years later, the city was occupied by British colonizers, which influenced the general appearance of the town. The main attractions are Buddhist temples and palace buildings. Mandalay Hill, Royal Palace, Shwenandaw Monastery, Sandamani Pagoda, Kuthodaw Pagoda, the Atumashi Monastery, Kyauktawgyi Pagoda are just a small part of the temples located in the city and its surroundings. The infrastructure of Mandalay is well-developed, and there are five-star hotels of famous networks and guest houses to choose from. Restaurants prepare national dishes and delicacies of Chinese cuisine. There are a huge jewelry market and tourist resorts.
Mrauk U, the oldest city in the Rakhine State, is now part of the county in Myanmar. It was founded in 1431, and for a long time had been closed not only to tourists but also to locals. Mrauk U itself is lost between mountains and hides the secrets of past centuries. The area attracts with its unique pagodas and temple complexes, the main of which are Shittaung, Htukkanthein, Andaw-thein. In the vicinity of Mrauk-U, there is Koe Thaung pagoda, which contains 90,000 images of Buddha. Today, active restoration works continue, thanks to which the pagodas and temples regain their former grandeur. The city has a symbolic place to visit, the U Bein Bridge. It's a place where people tend to meet sunsets. Going beyond the horizon, the sun colors temples and military buildings in a warm shade, making the constructions even more picturesque. This is a fantastic area where the descendants of the ancient Arakans, the Rohingya, and the Bengali sub-ethnos still live.
Resorts of Myanmar
It is not only the fans of antiquities and Buddhist culture who go to the picturesque Asian country. Tourist destinations are actively developing here, where snow-white beaches of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea are breathtaking.
Ngapali is a resort located on the Andaman Sea coast. Transparent water, snow-white sand, and luxurious bungalows await fans of beach recreation. Locals say that in Ngapali, "land and sky have switched places". It is one of the most beautiful resorts in Myanmar.
Ngwesaung — the resort's sandy beaches stretch along the Bay of Bengal. It is a kingdom of peace, silence, and relaxation. The coastline is generously covered with greenery: palm groves shelter from the sun, creating a pleasant rustle from the gentle breeze.
Inle. Here, the rest on the lake, surrounded by mountains, will be unforgettable. There are 17 original villages here, water buffalo bathes in the lake, and in the middle of the water, on piles, rises the Jumping Cat Monastery. Entertainment includes a floating market, hot springs, and learning how to make clothes from lotus stems.
National peculiarities of the citizens of Myanmar
- Myanmar is a country rich in precious stones. It is no wonder that locals sell sapphires, topaz, lapis lazuli, and jadeites right in the market. It is impossible to leave the country without a valuable souvenir.
- The locals chew betel all the time. It's a nut wrapped with tobacco in a green leaf, greased with chalk liquor. Due to excessive use of betel, the asphalt in the cities is covered with red saliva – not the most pleasant sight.
- Myanmar celebrates its New Year in April, and instead of giving gifts, they water each other. These days, all shops and offices are closed for three days — you should take this into account before traveling.
- The local week is eight days. The fact is that Wednesday is divided into two days — Wednesday morning and Wednesday evening. It does not affect the transport schedule and work, but you need to know about it.
- Grasshoppers and locusts are not baiting tourists, but are a part of the national food that you can buy at the butcher shop.
- Local women wear a brown mask made of thanaka tree bark on their faces. To evaluate its healing properties, you can buy a cream with thanaka.
- Burmese profess Buddhism and zealously honor the traditions of their religion.
Cities in Myanmar
Myanmar is ready to offer a sophisticated traveler the most ancient temples, incredible natural scenery, and original attitude towards life. It is here that people live, where girls are stretching their necks with special rings. In Myanmar, they believe in astrology even more than in Buddha, and only in Myanmar, you can feel that time can stop.