“This is Burma, it is quite unlike any place you know about”, wrote Rudyard Kipling, and a century later the statement still holds true. Lying between Bangladesh, China, Thailand, India and Laos, Burma is a sovereign state in South-east Asia. With a past laden with culture and tyranny, it is a place that has kept its identity alive in the midst of globalisation. You can see men roaming around in longyi and women wearing thanaka, people travelling by trishaws and horse carts, and drinking the much savoured delight, tea. The best part is that this simplicity is not boring but striking, providing you the much needed calm.
Burma has been described by Forbes as “the time capsule of British colonial treasures” because of its brilliant architecture. It is the land of magnificent pagodas, glorious mountains, stunning stupas, and generous locals. It is the land where pious monks win over rock stars. Scattered with temples and opportunities for adventuresome, it lets you enjoy your spiritual as well as the wild side. The major attractions which must be explored on a holiday trip to Burma aka Myanmar include:
Yangon: It is the spiritual centre of the country. Visit Yangon to marvel at its incredible architecture like that of Shwedagon Pagoda.
Inle Lake: Every person who visits Inle swears by the beauty of its waters. This 22 KM long freshwater lake is a must visit for every traveller. You can easily visit some lesser known attractions near the lake like Kalaw, popularly known as the ‘Pine City’. Red Mountain Estate Vineyards and Winery is located not far from the lake, where you can taste the best wines of the area.
Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy): Undoubtedly the most celebrated river in Burma, Ayeyarwady is famous for its ferry rides. These ferry rides can last from hours to days depending upon the time you have. The river provides the perfect setting to enjoy beautiful sunsets and spectacular views of the river.
Bagan: It is an ancient city on the banks of River Ayeyarwady. Take an air balloon and cherish the breath-taking scenes dominated by Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas, and ruins.
Hsipaw: If trekking through remote valleys and rough mountains is on your cards, Hsipaw in northern part of Myanmar is the place to be. It is the ideal place to experience Burmese hospitality and bond with the locals.
For food: Burma boasts of bountiful rice fields. Rice, therefore is quite liberally used in its cuisine. Like the rest of it, Burmese food too, is simple but delightful. Do not forget to try mohinga, thohk, nga-htamin, hto hpu nwe and the many curry dishes that the place is famous for. The dishes are made in a particular manner with select spices and hence have a distinct flavour to them.
So pack your bags to drift down the Ayeyarwady River, spend lazy days by the beach on the blissful Bay of Bengal, trek through the pine forests, encounter interesting locals and tribals, be dazzled by the ‘winking wonder’ of Shwedagon Paya, contemplate the 4000 sacred stupas scattered across the plains of Bagan, indulge in sumptuous meals, and most importantly rediscover spirituality.