Including Burma, or Myanmar as it’s now known, on your Southeast Asian travel itinerary is a great way to see some of the sights that other travellers might’ve missed off on their world travels.
As the country only relatively recently relaxed its borders, many backpackers deemed the place off bounds when visiting this part of the world. Those that did make the trip often limited their exposure to just the biggest city Yangon, previously known as Rangoon.
This means that while you won’t have as an easy time travelling around the country as you would in places like Thailand and Malaysia, you will be rewarded for your efforts with some truly unspoilt sights and experiences.
This is especially true if you aim to see more than just Yangon and visit some of the other cities such as Mandalay and the wider countryside. Although it is worth noting that large parts of the country are restricted to foreign travellers.
Is Myanmar Difficult to Travel?
While the country is certainly easier to gain access to now, with visa applications much more likely to be granted, the years in relative isolation have made this country much less developed than its neighbours.
This means you won’t find the streets lined with 7-11s and ATMs as you do in any Thai town, big or small. While the locals are friendly enough, don’t expect the services in place that make westerners feel so at home in countries like Malaysia and Singapore.
This is definitely not a criticism. The whole reason most people set off on their travels was to experience different cultures, ways of life and customs and traditions. Marvelling at being able to order rice in McDonald’s or buying a Moon Cake in Starbucks isn’t quite the exposure to local culture many of us imagined when leaving home for a trip to the far flung corners of the world.
So while travelling around Burma or Myanmar isn’t as easy as in other more travelled countries, the relative difficulties are more than compensated for by the feeling of being somewhere undiscovered and unexploited, at least by Western tourists.
Must See Places in Myanmar
Mandalay is the second biggest city in the country and is considered the centre of Burmese culture. This makes it a great place to stop off on your excursion into the country. While the city can be found pretty much right in the centre of the country, it is also located on the banks of the Irrawaddy River.
Getting in to the city is easy enough thanks to the regular direct flights from Bangkok run by Air Asia and Bangkok Airways. You can also take the train from Yangon for those with more time on their hands and a desire to take in the scenery while making the journey.