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Leg-rowing fisherman of Inle Lake, Myanmar
Leg-rowing fisherman of Inle Lake, Myanmar (28 November 2003)
© Timothy Tye using this photo

Myanmar is the biggest country on mainland Southeast Asia. Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar is a country that tends to stir up controversy. It splits tourists into two camps: those who shun it for its atrocious regime, and those who visit it nonetheless. In a way, Myanmar reminds us of a saying, that "what we do not know, we do not love, and what we do not love, it is easy for us to criticise." That, unfortunately, is the case with Myanmar, a country that has remained suspended in time while the rest of Asia marches ahead into the 21st century.

Myanmar Travel Guide is created to help people who are planning a Myanmar tour. Myanmar is not a pricey destination. What you would face are infrastructure challenges. I hope that this budget travel guide can do justice to all that the country has to offer.
Shwedagon Pagoda
Shwedagon Pagoda at dusk (20 November 2003)
© Timothy Tye using this photo

Cities & Places of Interest

  1. Naypyidaw - capital
  2. Yangon - biggest city
  3. Amarapura
  4. Bagan
  5. Bago
  6. Dala
  7. Inle Lake
  8. Kalaw
  9. Kawthaung
  10. Kyaiktiyo
  11. Mandalay
  12. Maungmagan Beach
  13. Mingun
  14. Ngwe Saung Beach
  15. Peik Chin Myaung Cave
  16. Pindaya Caves
  17. Popa Taungkalat
  18. Pyin U Lwin
  19. Sagaing
  20. Ywama
It is not difficult to find people who refuse to visit Myanmar because they cannot agree with the regime that runs the country. AsiaExplorers maintains that all countries in Asia, regardless their political climate, is worth a visit, as long as it is still safe to go there. And as far as Myanmar is concerned, it is still relatively safe.

By visiting a country, we get to see things for ourselves, and not take everything reported to us at face value. There is nothing like visiting a country to confirm what we have heard to be true or otherwise. While we may not be in full agreement with the government that runs the country, we should also ask ourselves whether ostracizing the country will at all benefit its people. At the very least, the presence of foreign eyes in the country deter its government from excesses that we can report back.

While it may be true that in cases like Myanmar, tourists only get to visit the sanitized regions, and not places which its government is not fond to show, nonetheless the influx of tourist and the tourist dollar is much needed to alleviate the suffering of the Myanmar people. Visitors to Myanmar may be keen to note that just fifty years ago, this was one of the richest countries in Asia, a nett exporter of rice, wealthier than Korea and Taiwan. How is it possible that within a short space of time, Myanmar has regressed from the richest to the poorest?

Ayeryarwady River Cruise
Service with a smile at the Ayeryarwady River cruise (23 November 2003)
© Timothy Tye using this photo

To say that Myanmar is poor may also be incorrect. It all depends on the yardstick we use to measure wealth. If wealth is measured in dollars, then Myanmar is way behind the rest of Asia. But if it is measured by living standard, then they may not be so far behind. Bear in mind that Myanmar is predominantly a rural community. Generally, the people are religious. Their devotion to Buddhism is visible from the amount of gold leaf that clad the many stupas and Buddha images throughout the country. If a dollar amount is placed on all the gold and precious gems cladding the temples, then Myanmar is far from poor. The wants of the people is vastly different from those living in Singapore or Hong Kong. Moreover, the people's aspiration may be vastly different from those of other Asian nations. Becoming a monk may hold a greater sense of fulfillment than the 4Cs of car, condo, credit cards and career.

Mandalay Hill
Mandalay Hill at sunset, Myanmar (22 November 2003)
© Timothy Tye using this photo

Myanmar Travel Information

Time Zone: 6½ hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
Currency: kyat
Language: Burmese, spoken by 80% of the population.
International Dialing Code: 95
Population: 48 million (2007)
Religion: Theravada Buddhism (90%), with minority observances of Muslim, Hindu and Christian
Electricity: 230V 50Hz
Electrical Outlet: 2-pronged round pin and 3-pronged pin plugs. See details at http://www.kropla.com/electric.htm
Driving: On the right side of the road.

Burmese with tattoo
A body of work - workman with tattoo (20 November 2003)
© Timothy Tye using this photo

Nyaung-U Market
Tim with vendors at the Nyaung-U Market in Bagan (20 November 2003)
© Timothy Tye using this photo

Further Reading

  1. Geography of Myanmar
  2. Currency of Myanmar
  3. Cities in Myanmar
  4. Brief History of Myanmar
  5. Changes in Place Names in Myanmar
  6. Shopping in Myanmar

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