people and cultures – inspiring journeys
sharing meaningful discoveries in Asia
– Myanmar or Burma?
– Yangon and Shwedagon
– Yangon Art Scene
– Mandalay and Royal Cities, Hill Stations and Trains
– River Journeys
– Bagan ancient sites
– Hsipaw in Shan State
– Inle Lake and Shan State
– Crossing into Shan State at Golden Triangle
– Mrauk U and Rakhine State
– Flying to Myanmar
– New E-VISA Link!
– Follow CURRENT NEWS and ISSUES
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, conjures up images of Rudyard Kipling, the tinkling of temple bells amidst golden spires and the smells of spices and incense. Myanmar is a complex country of over 65 million people. Ethnologists have identified 111 different linguistic groups but 67 are officially recognized divided into 8 national races: Bamar, Shan, Mon, Kayin (Karen) Kayah (Karenni), Chin, Kachin and Rakhine. The term Myanmar refers to the nation with all its ethnic groups. Burma was the name given by the British taken from the term Bamar, the largest ethnic group comprising 60% of the population that mostly inhabit the Irrawaddy plains. The remaining 40% is made up of the various other ethnic groups inhabiting the more resource-rich mountainous border areas.
Recent developments have certainly brought in New Hope and Light but the road ahead is a long one with many challenges.
But it seems there is no turning back to opening up the country. An explosion of mobile phones, Wifi, Facebook and the selfie- culture has arrived- all unthinkable just a few years ago!
A building boom is happening with increased traffic- it is difficult to keep up with daily changes. But hotel prices have stabilized, communications so much easier, including booking hotels online.
E-VISA works very well… see link below with alot more flight information.
Mindful and Responsible Tourism supports the growing private sector and the people inside Myanmar do not wish to be isolated.
One point of past years of isolation is that Myanmar remained the least influenced by the outside world in terms of everyday traditional life. Devotion and spirit remained strong within a multitude of cultures. Now following decades of brutal military rule and human rights abuses, there seems to finally be some light in the tunnel. As the people begin to look outward, hopefully wisdom and peace can prevail with new enlightened leadership.
Internet Links below: note that internet sites can often be up and down. Once in country, Wifi is increasingly available.
A Journey to Myanmar usually begins in Yangon and a visit to stunning Shwedagon Pagoda. A magical time to visit is late afternoon as evening light emerges when throngs of people come to worship. Early morning light is also very beautiful and also a much quieter time.
Bogyoke Aung San (Scott’s) Market:
Most visitors find their way here to seek out crafts, textiles or gems. Visit Yoyamay the shop of Daw Khun Shwe to see a collection of ethnic textiles- upstairs in Main Building www.yoyamay.com
Yangon Art Scene is thriving with galleries and gatherings worthwhile to check out:
Park Royal – close to railway station and walking distance to downtown and Scott’s Market www.parkroyalhotels.co
easy to explore area on foot avoiding the traffic jams…!
walk to Scott’s Market, Sule Pagoda, and the great little park by Independence Monument filled with locals early mornings and afternoons. Also wonderful to explore the street food scene!
EAST: new bright and modern facility www.east.com.mm
City Star Hotel clean and comfortable behind City Hall and just across the street is the Independence Monument Park: www.citystarhotelyangon.com
North of City Center:
Classique Inn: small boutique home style: www.classique-inn.com
The Governors Residence (Orient Express Group) www.governorsresidence.com
Food in Yangon:
Feel Myanmar – a favorite place for locals as well to try different Myanmar dishes. Pyi Daung Su Yeik Tha Road in the Embassy area. (just down from Indonesian Embassy)
Padonmar Restaurant – more upscale in beautiful house also in Embassy area on Kha Yae-Bin Road.
Centre of Burmese arts- puppets, kalaga tapestries, gold leaf making, silk weaving. Although much of the city has grown into a modern China-fied sprawl, the old part of Mandalay with its many beautiful old monasteries is very interesting to explore.
Kuthodaw Pagoda has the worlds largest book of Buddhist teachings on 729 marble slabs.
The Mahamuni Pagoda houses one of the countrys most sacred Buddha images which is still considered a living, breathing Buddha. Each morning just before dawn, a face washing ritual takes place with hundreds of worshippers coming to pray and receive blessings.
The ancient royal capitals of Amarapura and Inwa (Ava) can be visited in a day and across the river is Sagaing, home to monasteries and nunneries.
Mingun: always great to be on the river! Approx 1 hour boat ride upriver from Mandalay is home to what would have been the world’s largest stupa had the project of King Bodapaya been completed before his death in 1819.
Short walk away is the Hsinbyume Pagoda strikingly white like frosting on a cake. Built in 1816 by King Bagidaw in memory of his wife Princess Hsinbyume.
Phaung Daw Oo (PDO) Monastic School
A highlight in Mandalay is to visit the Phaung Daw Oo (PDO) Monastic School where a highly progressive monk has over the years, developed a school allowing over 6000 poor lay children, monks and novices free education. A free clinic also serves the school and surrounding community. Run entirely on private donations, the school is also blessed with a wonderful library facility. Visitors are always warmly welcomed and students are thrilled to have the chance to practice English. The school is an example of what can be possible in helping to educate a future generation. www.pdo-education.blogspot.com
Rupar Mandalar: lovely oasis short drive from center: www.ruparmandalar.com
Hotel Red Canal: in town off the former palace moat: www.hotelredcanal.com
The Hotel Emperor Mandalay:
great location directly off the moat on 74th Road between 26/27 Streets. Very welcoming staff with great service. www.hotelemperormandalay.com
A nice veggie restaurant called Marie Min is around the corner: www.happycow.net/reviews/marie-min-mandalay-11956
Emerald Land Inn: small family-run hotel- on 14th Street.
look it up on Booking.com
Mandalay Marionette Theatre: www.mandalaymarionettes.com
Green Elephant: www.greenelephant-restaurants.com/restaurant-mandalay.htm
A Little Bit of Mandalay: www.littlemandalay.com
Mandalay to Bagan:
A 3 or 4-night river trip down or up the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady River)
The Amara boat developer now operates 2 new boats with 5 cabins called Chindwin and Ayeyarwady Discovery:
Pandaw Cruises: luxury cruising on replicas of the former Irrawaddy Flotilla steamers. Offering a variety of cruises and expeditions on the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers:
RV Yandabo is a beautiful day boat: www.yandabo.com
Another 1-day local express boat between Mandalay- Bagan: Check out: www.shwekeinnery.com
Monywa: ancient caves with Buddha images and mural paintings approx 136km west of Mandalay. After an overnight in Monywa, continue by road to the confluence of the Chindwin and Irrawaddy Rivers and have a local boat arranged to get you downriver to Bagan.
Monywa accomodations: www.winunityhotels.com/monywa_home.html
Thiripyitsaya Resort luxury located on the river: www.thiripyitsaya-resort.com
Hotel @ Tharabar Gate: www.tharabargate.com
The Moon Restaurant a wonderful vegetarian oasis.
Look for and the sign that says: Be Kind to Animals located at entrance to Ananda Temple. www.happycow.net/reviews/moon-vegetarian-restaurant-bagan-13803
Thazin Garden: a small hotel that was always my favorite. Hope it is still running well! www.thazingarden.com
Horsecart Exploring – plan to have at least a day to set off on back paths exploring pagodas lost in time.
Contact Minthu- Horsecart #54. Minthu speaks great English and some German too. Usually stands by outside of Hotel @ Tharabar Gate. Mobile: 09-431-4927309-431-49273 or try to email in advance: firstname.lastname@example.org
Balloons over Bagan: consider a sunrise treat: www.easternsafaris.com
Lotus Collection – really beautiful work and lovely people. Tucked away in New Bagan behind the LawKanat Hotel.
Also wander around the lacquer workshops in Myinkaba Village.
Mya Thaw Tar family very friendly and look for the Golden Cuckoo sign to see the back showroom of higher-end quality.
Pyin Oo Lwin former British Hill Station known as Maymyo
escape the heat, ride on horsecarts, enjoy the beautiful botanical gardens.
Train from PyinOoLwin to Hsipaw via the famous Gok Hteik viaduct built by the Americans for the British in 1901- another timeless journey! The train originates in Mandalay but takes 4 hours to reach Pwin Oo Lwin.. so best drive this sector in just 1.5 hours and then travel by train from Pwin Oo Lwin station to Hsipaw- approx 7 hours.
Hsipaw was home to one of the last Saophas of Shan State, Sao Kya Seng. He married Austrian Inge Sargent who became his princess in the 1950’s Her story and tragic disappearance of Sao Kya Seng is written in Inge Sargent’s book: Twilight over Burma.
The house continues to be looked after by the niece of Sao Kya Seng and hopefully this part of history can be preserved. www.amazon.com/Twilight-Over-Burma-Princess-Kolowalu/dp/0824816285
A film has been done by an Austrian producer and hopefully can be seen soon.
Tai House Resort is a very charming place to stay in Hsipaw! They also arrange local treks with well trained local guides supporting the Shan Youth Network. www.taihouseresort.com
Inle Lake, Shan State
The Intha people row their boats while standing up, paddling with one leg, balancing the boat with the other. Spend a few days exploring the floating gardens and monasteries, the traditional markets and visit a family with a tradition of weaving cloth and monks robes from lotus stems.
Golden Island Cottages – 2
staff warmly welcome you here, experience the hospitality of the Pa-O people, sister tribe of the Karen ethnic group.
Inle Princess – more upscale: www.inle-princess.com
Pindaya is another lovely small Shan town with a sacred cave housing over 9000 Buddha images. There are lovely walks to monasteries and you can visit villagers making mulberry paper.
Inle Inn Pindaya has a very charming atmosphere: www.pindayainleinnmyanmar.com
Crossing into Myanmar at the Golden Triangle from Thailand
It’s very interesting to visit Kengtung– culturally more related to Lanna, the former Kingdom of Chiang Mai.
Very accessible in surrounding villages, one can visit Akha, Eng and Palaung ethnic groups.
ENTERING Myanmar by Land Crossing at the Thai Mae Sa/Tachilek Golden Triangle border will require a Myanmar Visa in advance.
If flying into Myanmar on E-VISA, EXIT by land crossing is now possible.
Domestic flights operate from Kengtung or from Tachilek onward to Heho for Inle Lake, or to Mandalay, Bagan and Yangon.
Travel overland from Tachilek or Kengtung to Heho or Mandalay is still restricted.
Flights may be available from/to Lashio which is two hours drive from Hsipaw.
Mrauk U in Rakhine State in the west of the country, is another special place to visit.
Journey up the Kaladan River back in time to Mrauk U where the Shittaung Pagoda houses 80,000 images of Buddha. And very impressive are the Vesali Buddha images dating back to 5th century.
Vesali Resort Hotel – simple and charming try email: email@example.com
Mrauk U Princess Resort – for luxury- check out via Booking.com or Agoda.
Flying into Myanmar:
from Bangkok: daily flights to both Yangon and Mandalay:
from OLD DON MUANG Airport in Bangkok:
Chiang Mai- Yangon and direct to Mandalay: www.bangkokair.com
from Kuala Lumpur to Yangon on: Air Asia or Malaysia Airlines.
from Singapore: by Silk Air the regional carrier of Singapore Airlines www.silkair.com Check on thru fares using Singapore Airlines from your home country.
JetStar Asia – Singapore’s low cost carrier www.jetstarasia.com
from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City:
Vietnam Airlines www.vietnamairlines.com
Siem Reap and Phnom Penh – new direct services with MAI Myanmar Airways International Airbus aircraft. Follow up to see if this service still operates: www.maiair.com
Direct flights into Yangon also available from:
Hong Kong: Dragon Air/Cathay Pacific
Seoul: Korean Air and Asiana
Tokyo: ANA All Nippon Airways
Doha: Qatar Airways
Kolkata and Gaya: check Air India schedules may be seasonal.
Domestic flights within Myanmar:
Websites usually do not work very well so it is best to have internal flights secured by a local agent in Myanmar.
New domestic carriers include:
Golden Myanmar Airways and Asia Wings.
E-Visa service works very well!
Valid for entry by air into Yangon or Mandalay.
Here is the official government site: www.evisa.moip.gov.mm
FOLLOW CURRENT NEWS and ISSUES:
The Irrawaddy – www.irrawaddy.org