A few years ago it would not have been possible to relax and enjoy a holiday in Myanmar. Myanmar private tours are fairly recent, a result of the government softening its approach to democracy. There were no hidden secrets in Myanmar, formerly Burma, because it had been under British control for many years prior to independence so people were well aware of its riches. Now Myanmar tour packages offer the chance to see them again.
Myanmar tours generally start in Yangon even though it is no longer the capital; it is still the main ‘’port’’ of entry with direct international flights from many countries in Asia and beyond. The lack of foreign contact in recent years means that Myanmar has hardly been influenced by the things that have affected some of its near neighbours such as Thailand. In some ways it is richer for that. Here are the three main cities that will form the main content of Myanmar tours:
There is clear evidence of colonial history in Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon. It is comfortably the largest city in Myanmar but the regime has created a capital elsewhere in recent years; Naypyidaw, a green-field site 300 kilometres from Yangon to the north. It is not just the British that have had an impact here; the Chinese and Indians, two of Myanmar’s large neighbours have also influenced development.
The highlight of Yangon for tourists beginning their Myanmar private tours here is the Shwedagon Pagoda, translated into the Golden Temple. It is over 2,000 years old and covered in gold and diamonds. The complex is fairly large and worth a thorough ‘’investigation.’’
Elsewhere there is a cathedral, synagogue and other pagodas before you move on from the very south of Myanmar to see what else it has to offer.
Bagan was the capital of the first Myanmar Empire and many tourists will find that it has some real archaeological wonders that some will judge to be a match for the famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It was a city visited and much admired by Marco Polo. At that time it was thought to have as many as 10,000 temples and even today it has 2,000 temples and stupas.
Ananda is one that Myanmar tour packages will certainly include. It was built in the 12th Centuryand although damaged by an earthquake 40 years ago, it has been restored and is the focal point for pilgrims, especially the week-long festival held in December or January each year. A 1,000 monks take part, a colourful and spectacular sight.
Equally impressive is the view over Bagan provided from the extinct volcano where Taung Kalat, an ancient monastery sits. It does take effort to get there with 777 stairs to be climbed but the rewards are worth it.
Mandalay’s fame has come about partly because of poem and song. It was once the country’s capital and remains the second largest city in Myanmar. Its palace was built in the middle of the 19th Century by King Mindon who selected the location for his new capital. Mandalay existed long before that and it includes several landmarks that will be included in Myanmar tour packages.
Shwenandaw Monastery on the hill is teak, beautifully carved, offering great views over the city. Its external gold has been removed but there is still some inside.
The 4 metre high Buddha statue of gold and jewels is in Maha Myat Muni Paya. Prince Min Shin Saw built Shwe Kyi Myin Paya in the 1st Century.
There is much more to Myanmar than those three cities, some natural and some man-made.
Inle Lake provides a chance to escape to a cooler climate. It is in the mountains of Shan State, the home of several hill tribes. Long boats are the means of travelling on the lake to see the villagers’ homes on stilts and observe their daily lives. Myanmar private tours would be incomplete without including some aspect on the ordinary people and their lives.
Pindaya Caves are fairly close by. They are a place for meditation and contain thousands of images of Buddha made of anything from teak and marble to cement.
The Ayeyarwady River flowing between Bagan and Mandalay is a great place to take a cruise during Myanmar tours. You will travel through gorges, past jungle on either side and hopefully see the freshwater dolphins that often follow the boats.
The coastal strip has lovely beaches both on the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Myanmar’s resorts are still fairly quiet and a great place to relax after hectic Myanmar travel packages.
Mrauk U is in fact on the coast but its attraction is its history and culture. It was an old trading port that at one time was extremely wealthy. It is now quiet but the pagodas and temples demonstrate its former importance.
Three hours south east of Yangon is Kyaiktiyo, a pagoda built on a gilt boulder that balances very precariously. It is difficult not to think it will fall at any moment yet it has not done so.
Shwemawdaw Paya is covered in gold. It is within a large complex in Bago and standing over 100 metres it is visible from far away as its jewels sparkle. It is known to be 1,000 years old.
Indochina is the richer because Myanmar has opened its doors to foreign visitors once more. It can now be incorporated in tours of the whole of Indochina, the rest of which has been influenced by another colonial power, the French. The people of Myanmar are naturally friendly but tourists need to show them, and their religion, due respect.
Myanmar private tours aim to provide clients with a broad understanding of the Country, its people and its many landmarks. There is a high and low season because of the monsoon rains but Myanmar tours are available all year round with rain a minor inconvenience with so much to see and do in the country.
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