Some people argue that you shouldn’t visit Myanmar in order not to support their oppressive regime. That’s a valid argument. I respect that.
However there are enough reasons why you SHOULD visit Myanmar and I’ll talk about those:
1. Not a lot of tourists
Because of the ongoing conflicts with oppressed minority groups, certain regions being closed off to tourists all together and a negative advise from most embassies, Myanmar has very few tourists still visiting.
That’s where your opportunity comes in! Few tourists means you’ll have the place to yourself, which is a rarity nowadays. And if you stroll a bit further than the 3 main highlights included in every tour 🙄 (Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake), you’ll find yourself to be the ONLY tourist there. Which is just awesome! 😈
2. It’s safe
Despite all of the above, it’s totally safe. The conflict zones are closed off for tourism anyway. Don’t forget, Myanmar is a huge country (bigger than Germany or France for example), so you won’t get anywhere near anything dangerous. It’s actually a lot safer than neighboring and frequently visited countries like Thailand, Laos, Cambodia … who have a ton of unexploded land mines and bombs from the Vietnam war and the Khmer Rouge still laying around. Just sayin’ 😎
3. Super friendly people
Out of all the Southeast-Asian countries we visited, the people from Myanmar were by far the friendliest. They are genuine and they try to help you with a big smile on their face.
They are not trying to rip you off and they are not rude, like we’ve experienced in Vietnam for example. They know the value of tourism for their income and so they treat you as an honored guest. Not as a walking ATM machine 😛
And if you get the opportunity, try a homestay. The family takes you in as one of their own. You eat their food and sleep in their house. Experience local life as it is.
4. It’s cheap – great value for money
Because of their political history, they haven’t been able to evolve as fast as Thailand or Vietnam for example. Which means it’s still massively underdeveloped in many aspects. This also means you can get most things very cheap. A decent enough (local) dinner for 2 in a restaurant would cost us around 2 euros 😮
As a reference, the GDP per capita in Belgium (or Western Europe in general) is 30x the GDP per capita in Myanmar. So go figure
5. Beautiful historical architecture
THE MAIN attraction of Myanmar in my opinion is the enormous amount of historical buildings, temples and sites. And they are still digging, excavating and rebuilding …
The most known of course is Bagan. The biggest temple site in the world !! More than 100 square km’s of Indiana Jones is waiting for you to explore. (Read all about it in my Bagan blog post) But Bagan is by far not the only interesting site. Go visit Mrauk-U as well, or the caves of Monywa, or the old capital Inwa, or the wooden temples around Inle Lake … just to name a few other gems 😎
6. Amazing natural landscapes
If you’re not into old buildings, that’s fine, take in some of the best natural landscapes. It’s a huge country, so plenty of opportunities to get some dirt on your new walking shoes.
The most threaded, but well worth it, is the trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake. This 3-days trekking takes you over hilly terrain, through rice terraces and agricultural fields, through small villages and ends up at the vast Inle Lake. Or rent a scooter and drive through the karst mountains over at Hpa-An. Or relax in one of the luxury resorts at Ngapali Beach under the palm trees. Or climb up the steep slopes of Mount Popa to enjoy an elevated sunset from the monastery.
Needless to say, we had a great time in Myanmar !! 😀
If you’d like to visit Myanmar, but you don’t know where to start: I suggest you read through our perfect 28 days itinerary to get some ideas! You’re welcome 🙂