TOP 5: UNIQUELY MYANMAR’ EXPERIENCES
Part of the fun of traveling away from your hometown is experiencing something different- new scenery, new culture, new activities. What’s the point of going to a new place if everything is the same as it is back home? These introductions to new places open our minds and enrich our understanding of the world. Plus, these travel experiences create indelible memories and, sometimes, create unexpected but cherished friendships.
These days it feels like many parts of the world are homogenized, with Starbucks on every corner and familiar food and clothing brands lining the shelves. But Myanmar is blissfully authentic. While recently more modern facilities and international brands are appearing, the country and its people remain deeply traditional and unique. In this blog post, our team at Myanmar Diaries shares with you our top 5 travel experiences that can only be had in our home country, Myanmar.
Yangon Street life
Yangon may no longer be the administrative capital, but it is certainly the cultural hub of Myanmar. The city’s streets thrive from early morning to late at night with small markets on the sidewalks, tiny shops selling noodles and other culinary delights and city residents heading to and from their places of work. The city is a microcosm of Myanmar: people from dozens of different ethnic groups call Yangon ‘home’ and thus the offerings on sale range from Indian-influenced saris to spicy Kachin dishes, colorful Chin textiles to fresh-from-the-vine Shan vegetables. A walking tour around Yangon – morning or night- unveils all of this and more. Spend time on foot, passing historical buildings from the Colonial era as well as soaring structures reflective of the country’s slow-but-steady modernization. Sit down for a cup of tea at a streetside stall and observe the daily lives of the locals, capturing the uniqueness of Myanmar in every view!
Mandalay, U Bein Bridge
You can watch the sunset anywhere in the world. So what can make a sunset in Myanmar unique? How about capturing the event at the world’s longest teak bridge? Located on the outskirts of Mandalay, U Bein Bridge is one of the city’s iconic sights…and for good reason! Built in the mid-1800s, this 1.2 kilometer teak structure is the largest of its kind in the world! It spans the placid waters of Thaung Tha Man Lake, helping local commuters move easily between the villages on either side. Visiting at the end of the day is a magical experience that should be high on your ‘to do’ list in Myanmar! Wander along the bridge with the locals, perhaps stopping for photos with your new ‘friends’ or to buy a traditional snack from one of the vendors. Then find a quiet place on the shore to sip a cold drink as the sun casts its last rays of light over the bridge and the waters. This is Myanmar magic at it’s best!
Bagan : An Ancient Kingdom like no other
Machu Piccu is amazing. The temples of Angkor are mind-boggling. And Egypt’s pyramids are something to write home about! But Bagan’s architectural site is entirely different from these and every other famed archeological zone in the world. Bagan has more than 2000 religious monuments, the vast majority of which were built between the 9th and 13th centuries. Scattered around the flat plains of Myanmar’s dry zone, the pagoda spires rise above fields and villages as far as the eye can see. And with few tourists around, you will get an experience that is truly unique! We suggest to explore by electric bike- similar to motorized scooters- to venture off the roads and through the network of small lanes that connect the temples and villages. You won’t want to miss Shwezigon, Ananda and Dhamayangyi Pagodas and we are sure you will find plenty of other smaller monuments that will ‘wow’ you!
Life on the water at Inle Lake
Imagine using a boat to go to school or to do your shopping. Imagine waking up and going for a swim out your front door. Imagine picking tomatoes for your dinner from floating gardens behind your home. This is no fantasy- this is what life is like for the people living on Inle Lake! A day exploring Inle Lake will introduce you to this unique world. Entire villages are built on stilts, not just the houses but also the schools, shops and government buildings such as the post office! See the lake’s residents, from the Inthar ethnic group, going about their daily routine using boats rather than bikes or cars. And get a close up look at their unique agrarian techniques- from their innovative floating gardens filled with vegetables to the incredible leg-rowing skills of the local fishermen. Inle Lake’s timeless traditions are sure to be a memorable chapter of your Myanmar holiday!
Myanmar Culinary Delights
Rounding out our list of ‘uniquely Myanmar experiences’, is perhaps our favorite: Myanmar food! And although we know you may miss a bit of home cooking while on your holiday, we encourage you to discover the local flavors while visiting. In Myanmar, food is not just fuel for daily activities; it is a cultural experience that will provide you with a richer understanding of the place and its people. Starting in the early morning, head to a tea shop for breakfast or a beverage. Tea shops are gathering places for people of all ages. You may see kids with their parents before setting off for school, businessmen discussing the day’s transactions or friends chatting before their work day begins. Slurp a bowl of mohinga, Myanmar’s favorite breakfast soup, a sip a cup of sweet, milky tea to have a truly local experience. Midday, curry shops are the best bet for culinary indulgence. Chose from a variety of meat or tofu-based curries and watch as the table fills with complementary side dishes, such as pickled vegetables, crispy okra (ladyfinger) and spicy dipping sauces. Late afternoon is the favorite time of day for many Myanmar residents! Kids getting out of school and workers looking for a pick-me-up to get through the end of the day indulge in delicious snacks such as samosa salad, rice flower pancakes, fresh fruit juices and more. As dinner rolls around, we suggest seeking out a barbecue shop. These open-air shop feature dozens of varieties of skewers loaded up with meat and veggies. Choose a selection and let the grill master do the work, while you sip on a cold beer and rub shoulders with the locals! The food is superb, the price is right and the experience is uniquely Myanmar!
There you have it! Our top 5 ‘uniquely Myanmar travel experiences’! At Myanmar Diaries we are proud of our country and want to share its amazing qualities with you. So join us for all of these adventures and more- we would love to help you create incredible memories during your Myanmar holiday!