Four years ago, in 2012, my travel partner suggested we start planning a photographic trip to Myanmar. He sent me endless newspaper articles regarding civil unrest and the impact of the military government which suggested the need for caution in planning our travel itinerary. I booked my ticket but unfortunately, my travel partner changed his mind!
With trepidation, I ventured alone to this country which had only recently opened its doors to tourism. I could not have been more surprised by the relative ease of travel and the welcome I received from the Burmese people. The ancient Buddhist sites and ethnic cultures make this country a must-see for travellers who think outside traditional tourist destinations.
As a solo "older" female traveller, there has to be a reason why I am now booking flights for my third adventure back to this wonderful country. Not only are there endless photographic opportunities in Myanmar, (formally Burma) but it would have to be the safest country I have travelled. For the record, I did not witness monks rioting in the streets or any civil unrest. Being prominently Buddhist, the Burmese people are welcoming, friendly and helpful to tourists.
I felt safe and secure with the knowledge that there always seemed to be a friendly local willing to help me find the bus station or someone who could speak a little English.
Yangon is home to the magnificent, 2500-year-old, golden Shwedagon Pagoda and a hot air balloon flight over the ancient temples of Bagan is something which you should not miss. Don't forget to include a day trip out on Inle Lake to visit one of the small markets where colourful, ethnic minority groups trade their fruit and vegetables.
Despite many tour operators advising the need to book accommodation ahead of departure, I found there are plenty of small hotels and guest houses with available rooms starting at $30.00(Aus) a double, where breakfast is included in the tariff.
Bus travel is often long and rough but it provides a wonderful opportunity to see the passing countryside and meet other travellers.
Travelling in Myanmar is not expensive but it does take time and a little patience. Relax and learn about the Burmese culture which is fast changing and eager to catch up with the rest of the world.
Don't delay, make Myanmar your next travel destination!
By Penny Frederiksen
October 8, 2016