After many years of isolation, Burma, or Myanmar as it is officially known, finally offers travellers the opportunity to experience its rich culture. Burma retains the aura of a bygone era with a winning combination of diverse landscapes, stunning temples - 2000 alone on the plains of Bagan, smiling faces and a wonderfully laid back way of life.
The Himalayan foothills in the north tumble into the watery world of Inle Lake - home to floating gardens, stilted villages and crumbling stupas before giving way to jungles of the south with thousands of ornate pagodas and temples dotting the countryside in between.
See the unique one legged rowing style of the Intha men on Inle Lake, walk the U Bein bridge to meet the monks at sunset, watch the sunrise at the temples of Bagan, shop for lovely handmade fabrics in the Shwe-gyi-do Quarter in Mandalay and take a scenic cruise along the Ayeyarwaddy River.
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Sitting on the east bank of the Ayeyarwady River is Mandalay, the last royal capital of Burma with the magnificent complex of Mandalay Palace being a key drawcard. At the ancient city of Amarapura, Mahagandayon Monastery is home to several thousand young monks and if you get there for mealtime you’ll see hundreds of robe-clad monks queuing up for their lunch. The U Being Bridge in Amarapura, the oldest and longest teak bridge in the world set over the beautiful Taungthaman Lake is a popular spot for travellers, as is the laid back cruise of the Ayeyarwaddy River towards Bagan. For a real local experience, after you’ve seen Bagan’s famous temples, head to the riverside town of Nyaung-U and into the hustle and bustle of the morning market It’s a real hive of activity, there’s an abundance of local produce and handicrafts on sale.
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