Burma (or Myanmar) is a hidden gem nestled between India, Thailand and the Bay of Bengal. Years of being cut off from the outside world means that this newly emerging democracy appears to be lost in time; men dressed in longyis stroll colonial boulevards, ancient temples punctuate city skylines and untouched countryside rolls into hill tribe villages. Step back into a bygone era here and experience pure Asia in the cities and towns, where the temples and pagodas are hives of activity, and in the countryside where life goes on unchanged; Burma holidays are filled with a sense of true exploration.
In a country where monks are modern-day celebrities, Burma’s religious treasures reign supreme: follow pilgrims to glittering Swedagon pagoda or climb the steps to Taungkalat Monastery, precariously perched on top of a volcano plug, and any holiday is crowned by a stunning sunrise hot air balloon flight over the fields of Bagan, dotted with hundreds of ancient stupas. To head further from the beaten track, travellers with steady sea legs can board a yacht to sail around Burma’s remote, beautiful Mergui Archipelago and enjoy a glimpse into the life of the traditional sea gypsies.
Only recently opened for foreign tourists, visitors keen to discover Burma as it is should begin planning a visit almost immediately before crowds, modernity or other cultural influences begin to dilute or alter the perfectly-preserved ancient customs that Burma’s kept tucked away for so long.