Burma has always been a great value for travelers with Australian Dollars in their pockets, but it hasn't always been possible, or easy to travel in. As the political situation eases and tourism begins to take route, it's a great time to get in early. And, it's not a country that all of your friends will have visited! Hence, we've added it to our Top 10 Value Destinations for Australian Dollar Travelers for 2016. Don't wait!Myanmar was #2 on our list of Top Indie Travel Destinations for 2013!
There are disagreements about what to call this country. Is it Burma or Myanmar? Something else? The political situation in Myanmar, or Burma, is unstable, but the country has been able to do something that few places can, undergo a somewhat violent change in power without making the destination unsafe for travelers. Back to the name, in 1989 the English translation of the country was switched from 'Burma' to 'Myanmar' and depending on who you talk to both names are used interchangeably.
Why you should add Burma to your trip
- Take a flying leap off the beaten path and get your explorer senses tingling in a place where you can explore for days yet only see tourists in your hostel. Go soon, because Burma’s opening up and it won’t be so isolated for long.
- Stepping into Burma is like stepping back in time. Its cities have barely changed since the 60s and its tribes live as they have done for centuries. Nowhere else in Asia will you see such untouched lifestyles, relics, religions and landscapes.
- Live in the lap of luxury or out of a backpack. Sculpt any trip to Burma around your budget. If you’re feeling flush, fly from city to city, stay in mind numbingly glamorous hotels, and eat western food. Or travel overland, book into hostels, and eat local to stretch your dollars.
- Get lost in the Temples of Bagan. Once called The City that Tramples on Enemies, Bagan is an ancient temple city unmatched anywhere else in the world, with thousands of temples stretching to the horizon across a parched, dry landscape.
- You can’t get bored in Burma. If you ever get enough of its vibrant cities, its pristine nature, its ancient culture, you can escape to some of the best beaches in the world.
Indie Travel Tips
- People are friendly and the general standard of English is high, so don’t be afraid to talk to the locals. Who knows what adventures you might unlock.
- While the vast majority of shops and tour guides are honest, there are still the occasional bad eggs. Make sure you ask around to ensure you’re getting a reasonable price, and bargain hard.
- Buses and planes are constantly canceled or rescheduled without notice, so if you’re pushed for time, arrange your trip with a local travel agent so they can help you if things go pear shaped.
- Keep a Longhi (Burmese sarong) or long shorts on hand since you’ll need to cover your knees whenever you visit a temple or Buddhist site. If you’re female, you’ll need to cover your shoulders, too.
- Cruise the Irrawaddy, from Mandalay to Bagan or back the other way on a luxury cruise or a ferry. Either way, you’ll be rocked to sleep by the bobbing of the boat as you watch temples drift by on the shores and overtake fishermen in dugout canoes .
- If you’ve spent a lot of time exploring Yangon, don’t spend too much time in Mandalay. It seems to lack the absorbing atmosphere of Yangon. When visiting Burma you can’t avoid sending money to the Junta, but you can lower your contribution to their coffers. Avoid high end hotels, travel overland, eat at local places and use rickshaws/auto rickshaws. The general rule is, if it’s high end they get a cut of it.
- Incomes are still painfully low for most Burmese. Spread your tourist dollars around when you can by using a different driver every day and eating in different local restaurants.