Myanmar has only just opened itself up to mass tourism again. Formerly known as Burma it was a British colony so it held few secrets from the world but until recently the regime was fairly repressive. Visitors were not really welcome and they did not want to go anyway. That has changed and Myanmar family tours have meant that the country is catching up quickly. Its infrastructure still needs development but in many ways the fact that Myanmar has been fairly isolated means that it has resisted outside influences. Tourists on Myanmar family vacations will see that large neighbours, China and India have influenced the country historically.
Rangoon was the capital in colonial times; the name was subsequently changed to Yangon but about a decade ago the regime selected a green field site in a more central position in the country as the new capital; Naypyidaw. At this stage there is nothing to warrant its inclusion in Myanmar family travel plans. Yangon is the likely entry point for all overseas visitors so that is the starting point in the south of the Country.
The dominant landmark actually overlooks the City from a hill above. Shwedagon Pagoda is 2,500 years old and its gold and diamonds means its stupa stands out from far away. It is arguably as spectacular at night when lit up.
If you are driving around Yangon you cannot miss Sule Pagoda; it is like a traffic island and in contrast to the busy traffic outside it is extremely tranquil once you enter. There are two cathedrals, Saint Mary’s and Holy Trinity while Musmeah Yeshua is the city’s synagogue.
There are lakes and green areas to see as well but on Myanmar family tours you will see more impressive examples out in the countryside if you wish to visit the regions where there has been little development for generations.
The ancient capital of Bagan is arguably the highlight of Myanmar; all the family will enjoy this city that still holds 2,000 religious buildings; it used to be 10,000 at the height of the Burmese Empire between the 9th and 13th Centuries. Marco Polo recognised its beauty, calling it the ‘’gilded city.’’ Ananda Temple is probably the pick, 12th Century, though it was damaged by an earthquake in 1975. On its 900th anniversary, the spires were gilded and there is a week-long festival varying within the weeks of December and January when 1,000 monks and a host of locals enjoy a festival.
There is the chance of a great view over the city but whether all the family can negotiate the 777 steps to get to the monastery, Taung Kalat that is located on the top of an extinct volcano is questionable. Certainly Myanmar family vacations will include the possibility.
This city often mentioned in poem and song is an essential part of any Myanmar family travel. It is another former capital and the last palace that the Burmese monarchy built is here. Almost half of the population are of Chinese descent or indeed recent arrivals from China.
It suffered fairly badly during World War II with many things destroyed though renovation and reconstruction has taken place subsequently.
• Shwenadaw is a monastery made entirely of teak inside the royal palace complex; it was one of the few things to survive the bombing but has lost its external gold. There are wonderful carvings in wood and stone to compensate and plenty of gold inside.
• Maha Myat Muni Paya is a very holy site which visitors, male only, can add gold leaf to a place already covered with gold and diamonds.
It is possible to enjoy a cruise, seeing the nearby forest and gorges and observing local village life from the Ayeyarwady River where the freshwater dolphins are an additional attraction. At sunset the place to go is Mandalay Hill where there are a number of temples and monasteries and a great view over the city.
Inle Lake offers another chance to see local life. Myanmar family tours will include a trip on to the lake in a long boat to see the fishermen, the houses on stilts as they have been for generations and farmers tending to their crops.
Pindaya Caves are the other natural highlight. There are certain to be locals meditating somewhere within the caves that hold thousands of Buddhas put there over many centuries.
Other Inland Highlights
• The Golden Rock Pagoda (Kyaiktiyo) in Mon State is 5 hours from Yangon but from the description work out for yourself whether it will be worth the trip. The Pagoda sits on a giant boulder that looks as though it will fall at any second. It is a major pilgrimage site because of the claim it has a strand of Buddha’s hair.
• Mrauk U was once a fortress and its walls are very thick; a good defence against the strong winds. It was a trading town on the Kaladan River. It is in one of the wettest regions of Myanmar.
• Shwemawdaw Paya in the Bago complex is over 100 metres high and up to 1,000 years old. It is a stunning site; gold and diamonds make it visible for miles.
This is Myanmar’s top seaside resort; it is located on the Bay of Bengal. The sandis white and the sea clear blue. There has been considerable recent development as more and more people have begun to visit Myanmar. It is certainly a place to relax or take a break from Myanmar family vacations. The best time to visit is at the end of the rains from November until April before the place reverts to being a quiet coastal location through the rainy season.
Myanmar’s tourist industry is growing and its people will certainly make you welcome. There is plenty of variety and a good tour company will ensure that Myanmar family tours provide the best of the country to clients. There is history, religion, culture, great cuisine and a wonderful natural environment. A great place for a family holiday.
Read more: Top things to do in Myanmar