If you are looking for your next holidays destination, you might consider going to South East Asia. People often think of Thailand, Cambodia or Indonesia which have the most famous and touristic places. Nonetheless, one of my biggest crushes was Myanmar. Here are 5 reasons to go there.
1. Discover part of the Asian culture
Myanmar is the largest country in South-East Asia and is still opening to tourism and international exchange. You will get a realistic image of Asia: a booming continent, with traditions held for centuries, making its way to the international scene. You will also notice a disparity between an emerging middle-class and the rest of the population. You might have a cultural shock if you have never been to Asia before. I do like the surprises you get from such an experience. Myanmar’s culture is rich and the landscapes vary from rivers to montains to rice fields. Take a bike (electrical or not) in Inle Lake and admire the rice fields, make a stop in one of the restaurants along the road and eat some traditional rice noodles and seasonal fruits.
Then, go on a small boat tour on the lake and discover one of the oldest fishing technics, have lunch or dinner in one of those stilt houses. Go to the famous golden temple Shwedagon in Yangoun. Walk upstairs for the nice view at the top. In Mandalay, I enjoyed wandering in the night markets such as the flower market with so many scents and colours. Last but not least, visit Bagan and its old city. People often want to see sunsets because of their romantic aspects. I personally enjoy sunrises too. My advice would be to take a bike early in the morning to find a nice and empty temple. Choose your spot and wait for it. I find it so peaceful and enjoyable to start your day that way. You will definitely be in the best mood for the rest of it.
2. Authentic and less touristic places
Since the country is still opening to tourism you will easily find less touristic places than in other south-eastern asian countries like Thailand or Cambodia. Also, the surface area of Myanmar will allow you to feel space in almost every place you will visit. The fact that the destination is still not so common among many, offers you the opportunity to wander in sites that are still rather authentic and untouched because not a lot of tourists have been there yet.
3. People are kind and open-minded
It is true that I found fewer people who could speak English. In restaurants for example menues were also not always translated into English. Nonetheless, I met sweet and helpful people always smiling at me and curious about where I came from. They are proud of their Buddhistic heritage and will be more than happy to give you a little insight of it. We had long talks with monks to get to understand what their life was all about. And I think they are so many things we could learn from those ancient ways of thinking and treating each other. We also took pictures with our hotel staff who were so welcoming to us from the beginning. A landlord lady from a place we were staying in would bring us a fresh typical lassi* every morning when we woke up. Even people on the street might come and talk to you. It is indeed a fantastic way to learn more about their culture and lifestyle.
4. Find peace and calm
If you are trying to find some peace and time to reflect on your daily life or you just like to meditate, Myanmar is the place to be. The quietness of Inle Lake, the spiritual sense of Bagan will allow you to get back to yourself, keep you still for a while and then take action in the changes you have been postponing for a some time now. So take a deep breath in, breath out and let it flow in you.
5. You’ll want to come back to Asia
You will not have had enough for sure. I stayed 10 days in Myanmar and I still want to go back to Asia so bad. There are those places on Earth where you feel at home because it reminds you of how it feels to take care of yourself from time to time. You will finally take a minute and think about what you are, what you want and what you are yet to become.
Read: My top 10 Asian dishes
*a yogurt based drink popular in India and Myanmar for instance with different flavors and spices