However, as Burma has taken a series of steps toward democracy, which began when the country’s ruling political party released Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, the tourism industry has grown. While Burma is not quite a holiday hotspot yet, more and more people are exploring this country that has long been referred to as the Golden Land. From ancient temples and gorgeous stupas to the city of Mandalay and quaint stilt villages, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Rudyard Kipling’s beloved country.
Here are 5 must-see highlights of the Golden Land:
1: Tempting Temples
There are more ancient temples and pagodas in Burma than anywhere else in Southeast Asia. Rangoon, the capital city, is home to both the Sule Pagoda and the Shwe Dagon Pagoda. After exploring these ancient sites, take a afternoon stroll through the busy markets in Rangoon’s historic centre, which is an eclectic mix of old colonial and Chinese quarters.
2: Remarkable Riverscapes
Cruise to the city of Bagan along the Irrawaddy River. From stunning riverside landscapes to stilt villages and floating gardens, this relaxing cruise will give you a glimpse into Burma’s ancient traditions and cultural diversity. Visit Yandabo to experience some traditional Burmese pottery making.
3: Picturesque Pagodas
Once your river cruise docks in Bagan, you will come face to face with over 2,000 pagodas. From Ananda Temple and Dhammayan-gyi to Shwezigon, the archaeological ruins in Bagan rival the Temples of Angkor. After a day of temple hopping, be sure to check out the Nyaung U market.
4: Gardens of Grandeur
After all that studious archaeological exploration, you are going to want to have a day of rest and relaxation. In other words, put the guidebook away. Spend the day strolling through the elegant gardens in Pyin Oo Lwin. Located in the Shan Hills, this colonial hill station is an ideal place to have a picnic and take in the scenery.
5: A Magnificent Monastery
Amarapura and Ava are two of Burma’s most famous ancient cities. The highlight in Amarapura is the Mahaghandayon Monastery. Today, you can still see Buddhist monks studying ancient texts at the monastery. Be sure to take the time to stop in the city’s silk and cotton weaving workshops. Ava, on the other hand, is known for the Myint Watchtower. Alms bowls are still being made in Myint today.
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons.