Burma, officially Myanmar, is a country just on the brink of change. There is still time however to see this country as it has always been, to cruise the timeless banks of the Ayeyarwady and visit the ancient temples of Bagan.
Start your trip off in the right key with a river cruise from Bagan to Madalay, a 110 mile journey north. Cruise the calm waters of the Ayeyarwady River as you float into Burma, a country just beginning to change after being controlled by the military for more than twenty years.
Temples of Bagan
These incredible temples rival even the most spectacular ruins like Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat. The best part about them though is that they’re largely undiscovered: no lines and no tourists getting into your camera’s frame. The temples were built by the kings of Bagan between 1057 and 1287. After that, the kingdom was destroyed by earthquakes and invading Mongols.
Today around 2,230 of the original 4,450 temples survive.
Bet you didn’t know…
In Burma, a week has 8 days! Wednesday is split into two, midnight to noon is Bohdaha, the day that Buddha was born.
Burma is just slightly larger than France and is made up of no less than 135 ethnic groups.
When to visit
There are three seasons in Burma: hot season (March-April), rainy season (May-October) and cool season (November-February). Peak tourist season is during the cool season when daily highs reach a comfortable 32°C. During the hot season, temperatures can rise higher than 36°C.
Don’t forget you need a visa to enter Burma. These can be issued in the same day from the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok or in advance at the embassy in London. It costs around £16. Tourist visas are valid for three months and are processed in about 10 days.
How to get there
There are limited international flights into Burma. The easiest way to enter the country is via a low cost flight from either Bangkok or Singapore. Air Asia and Jetstar are good (and cheap) choices. From London there are always cheap flights to Bangkok so why not start your trip in Thailand?
The most direct way to reach Yangon (formerly Rangoon) is to fly from London via Thai Airways with one stopover in Bangkok. Flights start at £639 (return, taxes included) with an average journey time of 15 hours.
Have you ever been to Burma? What were your impressions?