Having traveled throughout South East Asia I can say with confidence that it is one of my favorite destinations. I am always inspired by the different cultures and the sights and sounds experienced with every turn. There is a sense of adventure, yet at the same time it feels serene and peaceful.
One of the less traveled countries is Myanmar, better known as Burma. Myanmar has been off most folks travel radar for quite a number of years due to the political struggles of their military-dominated government.
But thankfully, Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the nation’s first democratically elected Prime Minister, was freed in 2010 after spending much of the past two decades under house arrest and is now ready to reenter the country’s politics amid signs of political and economic reform. This is exciting and has re-opened the idea of travel to this beautiful country.
That said, there are several wonderful ways to explore Myanmar’s cultural, spiritual and scenic gifts. Top on our list is cruising the Irrawaddy River on the Road to Mandalay – the fabulous 5 star river boat owned by Orient-Express Hotels. The food, care, staff and experience upon the boat is amazing. You won’t find a more relaxing way to see the country – after all, the river runs the length of the country from north to south and all of the more important places to visit lie along its path.
A country of thousands of Buddhist temples – now is the time to see this country before it becomes as commercialized as Thailand. One of the most stunning examples of this is the site of Bagon which many folks are already familiar with as it is a World Heritage site (with some 5000 monuments). You’ll also visit the Bogyoke Aung San Market in Yangon for some of Myanmar’s most beautiful crafts (especially lacquerware and textiles!) and experience the wonderful food which is a mixture of Chinese and Indian influences.
Pricing on the Road to Mandalay varies and we find that quite often there special rates available throughout the year.
Another option is an over-land trip with one of our favorite tour operators. This would allow you to visit a few more out-of- the-way places and give you a little more time for a few unusual cultural experiences.
For example, you might have dinner with a prominent local family in their home, and learn from them about Burma’s rich culture and history. Or even go to the home of a famous Burmese chef, who will give a fascinating cooking demonstration and tasting during cocktails. Afterwards, sit down with the chef and her family and feast on local delicacies including various hin(curries), thouq (spicy salads), mohinga (fish soup with noodles) and of course the staple food – rice. Yum!
Or cruise from Mrauk U by local motorboat to visit a village of the Laytu minority people, distinguished by their spider-net tattoos on their faces. Meet local residents and learn about their ways of life through your expert guide an interpreter. Continue on to villages of Cheik and Sinke famed for their hand-weaving, where the villagers will give you a hands-on demonstration. There are so many unique and unforgettable opportunities all while staying in the best local hotels. Since these journeys are customized, pricing is unique to each itinerary and is available on request.
Let us know if any of these experiences are what you have been dreaming of and feel free to contact us for a free consultation.
May all your travels stir your soul and change your life forever – Ales.
A special ‘Thank you’ to Orient Express Hotels for the beautiful pictures.