(Photography by Scott Stulberg, please take some time visit his website to see some of his incredible work, it’s more than worth it – http://asa100.com/)
For most of it’s years, Burma (Myanmar) has been torn by one of the world’s longest running civil wars, making it hard or even near impossible for anybody to travel into the country.
The release of human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi and many other political prisoners along with an election of a civilian government has seen the country start to recover from it’s years of war. They have become more accepting of westerners visiting the country and Burma is slowley but surely opening it’s doors to visitors.
This is a prime time to visit, before the rest of the world realises this hidden beauty.
A Balloon Ride Over Bagan
Between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were built in Bagan, with still over 2000 surviving. A balloon ride over these at sunrise or sunset is something not to be forgotten in a hurry.
(Photograph by Raul Cruz)
The people of Burma are probably the happiest people you will ever meet. The country is mostly populated by Buddhist communities and their belief that everybody should be treated as friends really shines through.
Most of the people have been shut off from the outside world for many years and are excited and welcoming towards any people coming in to visit. You will get no ‘tourist prices’ or unfriendly gestures and most people’s English is good enough to be able to sit and have a conversation with.
(Photograph by Scott Stulberg)
The Stunning Landscapes
From the temples at Bagan to the fisherman at Inle Lake, Burma’s landscape will not dissapoint. You will see rice paddies in the south and awe inspiring mountains in the North. Burma is a photographers dream, from capturing the unique people, to waking up early to capture a sunrise in Mandalay, there is beauty everywhere.
Don’t be fooled though, Burma isn’t just temples and rivers, it boasts some of the worlds most untouched and quiet beaches, fringed with coconut trees, like Ngapali Beach with stretches along the Bay of Bengal.
Things to know before you go;-
Language Spoken: Burmese but a lot of them do speak a bit of English.
Best time to visit: November to February. This way you miss the monsoons from March to May and the intense heat in the summer.
Best airline to fly with: There is a limited amount of airlines that fly from the UK to Yangon. Thai Airways being the more pricey option flying from London with a stop off in Bangkok and Singapore airlines being the cheaper but longer options stopping over in, you guessed it, Singapore.
Price of a visa: A tourist visa will set you back £14.00 and is valid for 3 months.
Money: The local currency is the kyat (pronounced “jaht”). Burma is starting to get more and more ATM machines but these are only in built up places and obviously not in rural villages, make sure you plan accordingly and have more than enough cash on you than you think you will need.
Safety: Burma is one the safest places to visit in South-east Asia, crime or violence is nearly unheard of against travellers and tourists which in turn is ideal when your carrying around lots of cash! It is odd for the locals in Burma to see anyone travelling alone and this can sometimes attract attention but certainly not in a bad way, they are curious people and are confused as to why you are eating or walking alone and will sometimes accompany you so you don’t feel lonely. Burma is a near enough a perfect place for a female solo traveller or in fact any traveller!
Main things to pack?: A flash light and clothes that cover you up! The reasons are simple, Burma along with a lot of other South East Asian countries suffer from a lot of electrical black outs. It is advised to pack things that cover you up as of course Burma is mainly populated by Buddhists therefore the country is very conservative in the way they dress.
Last but not least: Don’t mention the military junta government. The country is coming out of the long and dark tunnel and looking forwards not backwards.
So what you waiting for?