Set in the beautiful region of Southeast Asia, Myanmar was originally called Burma. The country changed its name in 1989 under the military junta that ruled at the time. People are still called Burmese and the official language is still Burmese.
Visitors to Myanmar can trek in the magnificent valleys and spend the night in remote ethnic-minority villages. Travelers can head to the rice fields, explore caves and climb to mountain-top monasteries.
Without a doubt, Myanmar is a spiritual place with authentic kind people whose belief system is strongly rooted in Buddhism.
Facts about Myanmar's History
Myanmar's history starts 13,000 years ago, from its first-known human settlers to today's Burmese people. Based on records, the earliest inhabitants were the Tibeto-Burman speaking people. They established Pyu city-states and adopted the Theravada Buddhism.
During the ninth century, the Bamar people accessed the upper Irrawaddy valley and built the Bagan Kingdom. The Burmese language soon took over. Several kingdoms ruled over Myanmar after the Bagans including the Kingdom of Ava, the Hanthwaddy Kingdom, and the Shan States. Wars were certainly a big part of the struggle between kingdoms to rule over the region.
The Taungoo Dynasty unified Myanmar in the 16th century and became the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia, even if for a short period. Several Taungoo kings worked on establishing smaller but stronger kingdoms in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Konbaung Dynasty continued to work hard on restoring the kingdom. They followed the Taungoo's reforms that produced significantly important literate states in Asia. War, was inevitable and the Konbaung fought with its neighbors to maintain control.
As it has been true for many Asian countries, colonization was unavoidable. The British colonized the country and brought about severe changes to Myanmar's agrarian society. British rule highlighted the differences that existed within the country's ethnic groups. After Myanmar became independent, it has been caught in one of the longest civil wars in the world. This beautiful country was under military rule from 1962 to 2010, as a result it is one of the least developed nations in the Asian continent.
Why visit Myanmar?
It is undeniable that until not long ago, going to Myanmar on holiday was not a bright idea. The civil war made it off-limits to curious Westerners. Fortunately, after decades of military rule, the country has reached a democratic reform. Myanmar has opened its borders to travelers from around the globe.
One of the main reasons to visit the "Golden Land" is the ancient city of Bagan, home to a large temple site surrounded by lush nature. Bagan was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, which helped unify the entire country. While you're in Bagan you can hop on a hot-air balloon and see the amazing site from above.
Besides the many man-made structures and temples, the country has white sanded beaches and islands where you can relax and unwind. Read on to discover some additional useful information for your trip.
Myanmar Basic Information
- Time Zone:
When to Go
The beautiful country of Myanmar enjoys a tropical climate. From May to October, the southwest monsoon brings rain to the country. Some roads can be heavily impacted by the rain, especially from July to September.
The central plains of Myanmar are much dryer. The best time to visit Myanmar is from November to February, temperatures are manageable for foreign visitors. From March onwards, the weather is unbearably hot. Bagan and Mandalay see temperatures in the 40 degrees.
Myanmar is a good destination for:
Myanmar Entry Requirements
You need a visa.
If you have your visa ready and a valid passport with at least six months of validity from the time of entry in hand, you should have no trouble entering Myanmar either by air or land.
There is no requirement for you to show an onward ticket out of the country in order to enter Myanmar.
Check travel regulations and customs restrictions on their official website: http://www.myanmarcustoms.gov.mm/
Myanmar Country Atractions
Myanmar is a magical destination with beautiful temples surrounded by nature. When visiting Myanmar, be sure to visit one, if not all, of its main attractions.
Shwedagon Pagoda: This is Myanmar’s most sacred Buddhist Pagoda. Located in Yangon, this ancient structure is decorated with 27 metric tons of gold, diamonds, and gems. Visitors are advised to head to this landmark as early as dawn.
Bagaya Kyaung: this monastery is located in Inwa. Built in 1834, it is supported on 267 teak posts. Travelers can admire the intricate peacock and lotus-flower motifs. To this day, this is a living monastery with a little school.
Shwe In Bin Kyaung: a top choice in the city of Mandalay, this meticulously carved monastery is a magnet for locals and visitors alike. The design features balustrades and roof cornices that are engraved with funny stories.
Dhammayangyi Pahto: set in Bagan, this Buddhist temple was built during King Narathu’s reign. When the king was killed, the construction of the temple stopped. The temple is visible from any area in Bagan, it’s a massive building worth seeing.
Inle Lake Region: a beautiful, long lake bordered by lush, floating gardens and marshes. Travelers will see villages and temples rise above the water.
Sagaing: it is one of Myanmar’s pilgrimage havens. Sagaing is a significant monastic center and a peaceful escpae from Mandalay’s busier atmosphere. There are many pagodas and temples to see.
When you visit Myanmar, there are a few things you should know beforehand. We’d like to share some important advice and general tips on how to behave in this lovely country.
- Remove your shoes before you enter a pagoda or a religious place. It’s a good idea to carry a plastic bag to put them in.
- Don’t use your feet to point at a Buddha, this is a sign of disrespect in the country and in most of Asia.
- Arrange a tour guide. The tourism industry is quite new in the region, and it’s not as easy to get around as it is in other countries like Thailand. A local guide can help you get the most out of your travel experience.
- Travel light. By this, we mean that you take light clothing. You should also consider long skirts or dresses and light pants. A lot of the temples and monasteries will expect you to cover up before entering.
- The written and spoken language is Burmese. Know how to say hello and thank you.
- Don’t be alarmed if you see caged birds being sold outside a temple. Beware that in the Buddhist tradition, birds are bought by worshippers to be set free. This action is made to earn good karma.