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10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Myanmar Now

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Friendly Locals in Myanmar
Friendly Locals in Myanmar

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Myanmar Now

Myanmar, oftentimes called Burma, is a Southeast Asian country that is known for having deep Buddhist roots. Although most parts of the country is undeveloped, Myanmar boasts a certain kind of elegance that attracts certain kinds of travelers. Sometimes, attraction is hard to put into words. That is why we’ve written down 10 reasons why Myanmar is attractive, and why you should visit it now.

Hot Air Balloon in Old Bagan
Hot Air Balloon in Old Bagan

1. Well-preserved stupas (pagodas)

Monasteries are some of the highlights of Burmese culture. Monks and pagodas have played significant roles in the country’s history, especially during the British Rule in 1824 to 1948. It therefore does not come as a surprise how these aspects of Burmese life are venerated and preserved even today.


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Visit Myanmar to see Shwedagon Pagoda
Visit Myanmar to see Shwedagon Pagoda

The country takes pride in the preservation of several temples and pagodas. Some of Myanmar’s most well-known pagodas are found in the ancient city of Bagan and the country’s largest city and former capital, Yangon (Rangoon). Bagan’s cityscape mostly consists of pagodas, or stupas, as called by the locals, and is known in the country for having the most pagodas. Meanwhile, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in the country is the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Parts of the 99-meter tall pagoda are covered in genuine gold plates, and is believed to be home to very important Buddhist relics.

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2. It is home to some of the most beautiful Buddhist pilgrimage sites

Inside the Pindaya Caves
Inside the Pindaya Caves By Uthantofburma at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0

The Pindaya Caves in Myanmar are collectively a famous Buddhist pilgrimage site. These caves are known for being home to not just hundreds, but thousands of Buddhist statues and images that date as early as 1750. The southernmost cave of the three caves alone are nearly 150 meters in length from north to south, and contains over 8,000 images of Buddha.

3. It is also home to the largest Buddhist statues in the world

The Maha Bodhi Tataung region in Myanmar is home to two the largest Buddha statues in the world—one of which is the Giant Standing Buddha. Soaring at 129 meters high, the statue was built with 31 floors, in reference to the 31 planes of existence in Buddhism.

Giant standing Buddha
Giant standing Buddha By Wagaung at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Conveniently just next to the colossal standing statue is the largest reclining Buddha statue in the world. Since it is hollow inside, travelers can enter the statue. There are over 9,000 images of Buddha inside. Together, these two giant statues are surely impossible to miss.

4. River retreats

Chindwin River
Chindwin River By Wagaung at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Running at 1,207 kilometers long, Chindwin River is the country’s largest tributary that flows into the largest river in Myanmar, the Irrawaddy River. Chindwin has peaceful waters and offers some of Myanmar’s least seen beauties. The river passes by quaint villages and other scenic sights. The Maha Bodhi Tataung’s giant Buddha statues are also visible from this river.

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5. Burmese cuisine

Like my home country the Philippines, Myanmar has several ethnicities. This means that each region has their own version of Burmese cuisines… and if you’re a foodie, giving each of these a try will definitely complete your trip to Myanmar.

Mohinga
Mohinga By Charles Haynes, CC BY-SA 2.0

Burmese cuisine usually consists of rice, starches, beans, and a variety of vegetables, and are usually seasoned with fish sauce and fermented fish. Some traditional Burmese do not use beef and pork because of religious influences (Buddhist and Muslim, respectively). Some of Myanmar’s must-try dishes include Burmese curry and the traditional breakfast bowl of Mohinga.

6. Contemporary art galleries

The contemporary art in Burma is oftentimes identified by having religious and political aspects, which are mainly influenced by the country’s history. In the recent years, however, Burmese contemporary art has developed into something rather unique among the nations in Southeast Asia.

Galleries in Myanmar photo by New York Times
Galleries in Myanmar photo by New York Times

Min Wae Aung is a famous contemporary painter who is known for depicting a stylized form of Buddha. She partly owns the New Treasure Art Gallery in Yangon, where other works of young contemporary artists are being exhibited. Other art galleries in Yangon include Inya Art Gallery and Anawmar Art Gallery, which both showcase a diversity of Burmese talents.

7. Unspoiled lands

With cities like urban Yangon aside, Myanmar is actually home to many rural, unspoiled lands. The rural areas outside of Yangon consist of agricultural and fishing communities. These communities can be seen along Inle Lake, the second largest lake in the country. Inle Lake borders four cities and small villages that have a total population of about 70,000 people.

Inle Lake
Inle Lake

Quaint villages, stilt houses, farmlands, and lakeside houses are just some of the interesting views one can see here. Manual boats and pedal bicycles are the major modes of transportation in this area.

Friendly Locals in Myanmar
Friendly Locals in Myanmar

8. The longest and oldest teakwood bridge in the world

During the British Rule in the country, Myanmar produced nearly 75% of the world’s teak. Today, although Myanmar’s economy focuses more on precious stones like rubies, its legacy of being the world’s leading teakwood producer can still be seen in the U Bein Bridge, the longest and oldest teakwood bridge in the world.

U Bein Bridge
U Bein Bridge Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=598476

Completed in 1851, the 1.2-kilometer bridge stretches over the Taungthaman Lake. Because of its age, some teakwood pillars have been replaced by concrete; however, the majority of the bridge has been untouched.

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9. Beautiful parks

The Kandawgyi Lake was built as reservoir by the British to supply clean water in Yangon during the colonization era. Now, the lake is housed by a park that is known to both tourists and locals alike.

Kandawgyi Lake
Kandawgyi Lake By Htoo Tay Zar Own work

Although the park is also a famous jogging area for most during early mornings, it is best to visit Kandawgyi Lake during the sunset, because it’s the time when the burning orange of the sun hits the golden Shwedagon Pagoda from afar, and the reflection of the glowing stupa is clearly mirrored on the lake’s surface.

Friendly Locals in Myanmar
Visit Myanmar Now

10. Friendly locals at Lintha Village

Ever since a British woman established a school in Lintha Village, English has been extensively taught here. Lintha Village is very small, rustic, and undeveloped, so it’s not the typical tourist destination that one usually thinks of.

Friendly Locals in Myanmar
Visit Myanmar to meet Friendly Locals

It’s just a small village with friendly people, and enthusiastic children. You can talk to the pupils there or donate a book or two in the local library. After all, as the writer Tim Cahill would say it: “a journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”

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