Why now is the best time to visit Burma

(Last Updated On: March 17, 2017)

It is likely you’ve not only heard of Burma’s appeal but seen evidence of its beauty – photos of hot air balloons gliding over Bagan’s ancient temples and glittering stupas, monks crossing the U-Bein Bridge at sunset and the leg-rowing Intha fisherman sailing down Inle Lake, using one leg to balance at the front of the boat and the other wrapped around the oar to gracefully propel forward. These stunning images have become more and more prevalent in travel magazines, newspapers and websites since the opening of Burma’s borders to tourists.

U Bein Bridge in Burma
U Bein Bridge across Taungthaman Lake in Burma

Their closure was due to Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically elected Burmese politician and Nobel Peace Prize winner, requesting an international tourism boycott. The country was under the rule of a military dictatorship until 2011 with any money from tourism going straight into the hands of the military junta. Much has changed since these unfortunate times with the employment of a new president in 2015, the country’s first civilian-appointed administration in half a century.

It is now time for Burma’s astonishing landscapes, peaceful Buddhist temples and welcoming people to shine. Unlike some parts of neighbouring Asian countries, the 21st century western world has not yet infiltrated the local way of life and it is a well preserved example of Southeast Asian culture.

A trip to Burma is like travelling back in time – oxcarts clatter along roads free of Starbucks, MacDonald’s and Irish pubs, you’re more likely to be drinking out of a coconut on Burma’s beaches instead of a bucket of alcohol, and Buddhism continues to shape the country’s identity.

Glass skyscrapers are slowly creeping up into Yangon’s skyline but are yet to dominate it. The kind and friendly locals are happy to see visitors, their previous absence a signal of an unsettled time. While a couple of years ago the country tourism industry was starting to develop and was struggling slightly with the previously unheard of visitors, the demand is no longer exceeding supply. There is now a broad portfolio of hotels to choose from ranging from the luxury, including the Governor’s Residence once the home of the regional governor transformed into a serene hideaway, to great value hostels frequented by backpackers around the world.

However with all next big things, word travels fast – stories amongst friends, photos shared on social media and a recurring occurrence in newspapers’ travel sections.

Burma has a wealth of things to fascinate curious explorers that friends back home may not even have heard of let alone visited – the sacred Golden Rock leaning over Mount Kyaiktiyo, the glittering golden 110-metre-high Shwedagon Pagoda and the crystal clear waters of the Bay of Bengal on Ngapali Beach.

Shewedagon Pagoda, Yangon
The view of the Shewedagon Pagoda in Yangon

Whilst Burma has already had a slight surge in tourism, this has not had an effect on the country’s charming ancient ambience but just the benefits of improving the infrastructure. There are working ATMs throughout Yangon, sporadic WI-FI in hotels, albeit of the slightly sporadic nature, and the ability to travel around on public transport. With the majority of international travellers still choosing Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, we cannot recommend planning Burma as your next holiday enough before the inevitable crowds of tourists changes the landscape of the country forever.

Trips to Burma from On The Go Tours

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