Recently, serial traveller Grace spent four months travelling South East Asia, a fortnight of which she spent exploring the wonders of Myanmar. Here, she tells of bustling streets, bumpy trains and thousands of stunning temples…
Myanmar (known by the British as ‘Burma’) is fast becoming one of the top destinations for travellers in South East Asia. With its unique culture, fascinating history and stunning collection of temples you can see why more and more travellers are choosing to delve into this culture haven. Here are my top 5 places to discover the magic of Myanmar…
The bustling streets of Yangon are a people watcher’s paradise. Monks in their bright orange garments, street vendors selling home rolled cigars and children collecting their morning alms. You will easily spend a day wondering the side streets and exploring the local tea houses. The street food is also a must. For less than £1.00 you can try the ‘shan noodle soup’ and sit on the pavement to watch the busy world of Yangon dance by.
The sheer scale of this golden pagoda will take your breath away. Cover your shoulders and knees and head to the Shewdagon Paya for a spectacular sunset. Located about a ten-minute taxi ride from Yangon, you are greeted by huge golden dragons and a grand staircase which you must make your way up (luckily there are escalators) to find the Pagoda. What greets you is one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites. The Pagoda reaches almost 110 meters and is covered with hundreds of gold plates and 4531 diamonds, one of which is 72 carat!
THE TRAIN FROM YANGON TO BAGAN
If you like 5-star service, Michelin star food and beautiful Egyptian cotton bed sheets then this train journey is not for you. However, if you like incredible sunsets, seeing the heart of a country and an adventure then buy your ticket now. The ride is bumpy – I mean fall out of your seat, drinks and luggage flying everywhere bumpy! Your seat may collapse and your bathroom plumbing may be extremely questionable. However, the scenery is stunning. Local children wave to you at every opportunity, farmers and their herds share the train tracks with you and as the sun sets over the unspoiled landscape you can take a sip of your cold(ish) beer and know that you are seeing the real Myanmar. Not to be missed!
THE TEMPLES OF BAGAN
Rise at 5am, hire an electric scooter and set off to see one of the most stunning collection of temples in the world for sunrise. 2200 pagodas await you. Find one that’s deserted and watch the sunrise over the landscape dotted with temples as far as the eye can see. Then spend the day whizzing from pagoda to pagoda. There are some that are crowded with locals trying to sell you everything and anything so try and find some of the quieter locations for a private wander. Are these the eighth wonder of the world? I don’t know, you’ll have to come and decide for yourself!
A magical world set on top of a glistening body of water which captures the imagination, keeps you taking photos all day and leaves your wallet empty and bags full of the exquisite handicrafts. Grab a long boat and local guide for the day and tour around the many artisan workshops on the lake. As you enter the lake you’ll spy the infamous fisherman posing with their nets and one leg in the air. This iconic image has become so associated with the lake that although they no longer use this method to fish they will still pose for a photo. Next visit the silver smiths, silk weavers, cigar makers, umbrella factories, black smiths and many more. You WILL want to buy everything.
For more from Grace, follow her on Instagram: @gmsdooey