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Let us send you tips for travelling through Myanmar and stories from the road …
The sparkling Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, the majestic ruined kingdom of Bagan, and the patchwork fields of southern Shan State are just a few of the gems that will seduce the most cynical of travellers.
Over the past few years traveller trails have been carved out around the honey spots of Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake – collectively known as Myanmar’s “Grand Four.” These are the most popular places to visit in Myanmar.
Yangon is Myanmar’s commercial capital. It is the thumping heart of the country’s industry and has a colonial splendour unrivalled in Southeast Asia. Bagan and Mandalay continue to attract history-wonks and culture vultures looking to savour the splendours of the first and last Burmese Empires.
At Inle travellers can skim over the placid waters of the lake, marvel at the one-legged rowing of the Inthar fishermen, and bask in the temperate climate of Southern Shan State. Inle is also a popular base from which to embark upon treks to the hill station of Kalaw and down to the “little lake” of Samkar and into Kayah State.
A visit to the Grand Four is often topped with a sojourn at the beach; most commonly the white sand beaches of Ngapali or the secluded bays of Gwa.
Myanmar remains untarnished by the stain of aggressive tourism and globalisation.
Across the breadth of the country men and boys continue to wear longyis (the long skirt-like garment similar to the Indian sarong), motorbikes have only recently overtaken trishaws and horse-and-cart as the main method of transportation for much of the population, and betel-nut continues to be chewed and spat to the ground in dark blood-red jets.
For those wondering where to go in Myanmar, it easy to avoid the tourist trail and with a bit of pluck and planning vast swathes of the country can be found where the communities have not yet been penetrated by western fashion and the landscape as far as the eye can see is free of cars, condos and cheap hotels.
Here are some of our favourites far-flung destinations in Myanmar …
At Indawgyi Lake – Myanmar’s largest lake – travellers can kayak from village to village, stopping to take tea in the company of chuckling novice monks. In Katha you can explore the town of George Orwell’s Burmese Days while in Mawlamyine it is possible to visit the pagoda that captivated a young Rudyard Kipling.
In the far north you can clamber over the fissured, frosty peaks of Chin State and across the deep valleys of Nagaland. In Kyaing Tong travellers will stumble upon settlements where the dialect spoken is utterly unique to those villagers and where recipes are being prepared as they have been for generations
… and down in the south, intrepid travellers can escape the crowds by motorbiking down to the secret beaches of the Dawei Peninsula and sail out to the seductive islands of the Mergui Archipelago …