5 Reasons to Visit Yangon, Myanmar
Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, is by far the most exciting place in the country to be right now, as former political exiles, Asian investors and foreign adventurers flock in. As Myanmar's commercial and artistic hub, it's Yangon that most reflects the changes that have occurred since the country reopened to the world. There's a rash of new restaurants, bars and shops. And there are building sites – and traffic jams – everywhere.
Healthy, delicious, and largely reliant on fresh produce, locally farmed livestock, and freshly-caught fish, the fare in Burma defines farm-to-fork. The local people truly live off the land and try to make use of everything in their dishes, and not waste food.
Relatively Untouched Archeological Sites
Few places in the world offer the sheer volume of historic archeological sights that Myanmar does, and no place showcases the amount better than Bagan, a former capital of Myanmar. Arguably the best way to see the temples rising above the jungled canopy of Bagan is by taking a hot air balloon ride. The capital city of Yangon is home to probably the most highly decorated (and visited) stupa in the world—the 361-foot-high Shwedagon Pagoda.
While the repelling, kayaking, and hiking is certainly amazing, the adventures offered in Myanmar come with a few additional perks. Most of the terrain is still largely uncharted, with few tour groups traversing the country’s jungle-clad limestone peaks. There is a seemingly endless variety of things to see by kayak, such as the stilt villages that punctuate the grassy coast of Inle Lake; by bike, such as the thousands of temples hidden all throughout Bagan, with only a fraction of them seen from the main road; or by foot – we suggest trekking through the small villages that make up the sprawling Shan Plateau, such as Htee Thein.
The Rivers and Their Villages
Part of what makes Southeast Asia so special lies in the fact that much of it is still relatively unchartered, and this is especially true for Myanmar. Thanks to its location along the Irrawaddy River, you can board a river cruise and sail through the truly untouched riverside villages that have formed along the banks. Mornings on the river might begin with the sound of devotional chanting from the riverside monasteries, and you’ll certainly pass by hundreds of fishing canoes, local ferries transporting passengers to and fro, and perhaps even a frolicking, friendly dolphin.
The People are kind.
You can’t walk down the street in any of Myanmar’s cities or villages without encountering one thing—a smile. Unlike other cities that are largely reliant on the tourism trade, the hospitality, kindness, and care offered by the Burmese people is completely genuine.
But in many ways Yangon has hardly changed at all. The city remains focused on Shwedagon Pagoda, an awe-inspiring golden Buddhist monument around which everything else revolves. Then there's downtown, its pavements one vast open-air market, which is home to some of the most impressive colonial architecture in all Southeast Asia.