Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar is a country that has only recently opened up its doors to the outside world after remaining in relative isolation for the past 50 years to reveal all of the extraordinary treasures and secrets it has been guarding all this time.
Bordering India to the northwest, China to the northeast and Thailand to the east, Myanmar is the largest country by geographical area in mainland Southeast Asia. On the world map it almost resembles a mirror image of Thailand, only slightly larger in size and extending much further to the north.
Visitor numbers have been snowballing here, as Myanmar has been undergoing a tourist boom since 2011, although the country received just 2.9 million tourists in 2016, a 38% decrease from the previous year’s number.
Because Myanmar is still a relatively uncharted travel destination in Southeast Asia, it has great appeal to adventurous travellers and to those that like to get off the beaten path. Visitors are primarily attracted to the country by rumours of dazzling golden zedis or stupas (some of them over 100m in height), gigantic reclining Buddha images, isolated hilltop monasteries, awe-inspiring caves, breathtaking waterfalls, landscapes peppered with thousands of ancient temples, vast sparkling lakes with stilt houses and floating markets, fascinating rare ethnic minority groups and much more. With the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea lying to the west, Myanmar also has some incredible beaches and islands but for the moment many of these are sadly out of bounds to independent travellers or are completely uninhabited.
Food is generally very inexpensive and transport is overall quite affordable throughout the country, especially train travel, which is dirt cheap. The only downside of Myanmar’s tourist economy is that accommodation can be a little pricier than the equivalent standard in say, Thailand. This is due to rapidly increasing tourist numbers and the supply of guesthouses not having caught up with the demand yet. However, this issue has been exaggerated by many travel blogs and guidebooks. The truth is that we almost never had to pay more than $9 for a double room when we travelLed Myanmar in 2016 because we shopped around a lot. We also had no problem with finding working ATMs and the Wifi wasn’t half as bad as we expected. Things are changing fast in Myanmar.
We travelLed Myanmar for just 28 days in 2016, as that is currently the maximum length of stay that the tourist visa grants foreign visitors. We first entered the country by land from Thailand at the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border crossing. We then made a slight detour to the south, going as far as the port town of Mawlamyine, before briefly visiting the capital city of Yangon and then travelling north by train to explore the rest of the country. We concluded our trip at the iconic Inle Lake and then had to backtrack all the way back to the same border crossing by which we entered in order to exit the country.
The following videos of the destinations we visited in Myanmar are arranged on this page in the order that they were filmed, so that you can better imagine what the journey was like.