You may have read from Myanmar travel blog (Burma old name) that has recently opened its doors to international visitors after more than half a decade of political and cultural isolation. This isolation may have led to a widespread lack of modern conveniences (ATMs and Internet) outside of major cities, but it also preserved Myanmar’s indigenous culture, a rarity in a world that has been overrun by Western influence. In Myanmar, you can still meet men in a traditional garb of ‘longyi’ skirt chewing ‘paan’ or a mixture of betel leaves and areca nut; Karen women in colourful ensemble selling produce in a local market; elderly Chin women sporting tattoos on their faces; leg-rowing fishermen of Inle Lake; and practically everyone wearing a moisturizing face make up called ‘thanaka.’
Consult the Myanmar travel blog for safe places to visit as there are still pockets of civil unrest especially in the Thailand and Chinese borders. Outside of the cosmopolitan Mandalay and once-capital Yangon, the UNESCO-protected archaeological site of Bagan beckons with more than two thousand temples and pagodas as befitting a capital of the ancient kingdom of ‘Pagan.’ Then there are vividly colorful Buddhist festivals that transport golden figures of Buddha aboard adorned boats that make stops in villages around Inle Lake. If you are into jewellery shopping, Myanmar or Burma is one of the world’s finest suppliers of rubies and lacquerware. Find out which suppliers are reputable from Myanmar travel blog to avoid getting scammed.
Myanmar Travel Blog Tips and Hints:
- Customs and Etiquette. As in the rest of Southeast Asia, respect towards the elderly and persons of authority is a large part of the Burmese code of behavior. In relation to respect, you also need to be aware that the feet is the dirtiest part of the body, and as such, should never be pointed at anything or anyone, like the elderly or the image of Buddha. Entrance to holy places like pagodas require bare feet and conservative dress, so you may have to rent a ‘longyi’ (tubular skirt) and leave your footwear at the gate if getting inside Shwedagon Pagoda or other pagodas of lesser stature. In conversation, out of sensitivity to what the Burmese went through under the military junta, refrain from asking them politically charged questions. Censorship in Burma still remains an issue. Be thoroughly familiar with basic courtesy by reading up Myanmar travel blog.
- Currency. The Burmese use ‘kyat’ but visitors are allowed to use dollars. Be sure, however, that the dollar bills you have are crisp and do not have folds and creases. If going to an exchange center or paying for something in the local currency, keep a keen eye on swaps (of damaged banknotes) in the moneychangers. For updated foreign currency exchange rates, consult Myanmar travel blog and find out where you can get the best rates.
- Transport. Because of a decades-ban on importing vehicles, transport in Myanmar is generally poor. The road infrastructure can also benefit from a lot of improvement, and driving is both done on the right-hand side and the left. For long-haul travels, flying is a better option.
- Safety. Myanmar’s government does not exactly have a stellar record when it comes to human rights. But since the election of freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s image has mellowed somewhat, and it is in fact safe to travel around major tourist sites like Yangon, Mandalay, Ayeyarwady, Bagan and Inle Lake. There are still areas, however, that require a government permit to enter, like the states of Kachin, Kayah and Rakhine. If you stick to the well-travelled route, however, you will mostly be safe.