‘Don’t you ever find a nice country to go to’ is the standard response when i tell my mom about the next country i plan to visit. I have never received the meaning of nice, nor have i bothered finding it. It so happens that i am traveling just when the country is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Especially if the wrong reason comprises words like genocide…anyway that’s a matter apart.
Why Myanmar? Because Bagan, because temples, because heritage.I am serious, people might talk about treks and lakes, which can be found in India aplenty. Not that temples aren’t, but there is something magical about Bagan, you can read it on my post about the place later.
In a nutshell, Myanmar feels like a long lost brother of India that adopted certain bad and good habits besides sitting on a Buddhist throne. The people, sights, smells, customs, etc. would seem very familiar to anyone who has traveled to India. But, a big but, the people. I hardly came across anyone who charged like they owned the place or beggars swarming around till you pay up or even shopkeepers pestering tourists. Something most tourists will echo if you compare the two countries.
Should I go: Of course, the sooner the better. It is a country yet to feature in the radar of mainstream tourism, and when it does, expect some of its innocence to be lost. So pack up and head there as soon as you can.
Cost: For 13 days
Flights: USD 350 (INR 23000)
Visa: USD 50 (INR 3300)
Stay and food: USD 165 (INR 10,000)
Transportation and sightseeing: approx USD 70 (INR 4500)
Total: USD 635 (INR 42,000)
That’s excluding shopping. Carry enough, there’s a lot to buy
Visa: damn easy, apply online, get the e-visa in 3 days. Costs USD 50
Flights: Most connect from Bangkok and the frequency to both Yangon and Mandalay are good.
Stay: Hostels are quite inexpensive, an average bed night at a quality hostel would cost about 6 USD with breakfast
Currency: Dollars and Eur accepted in most hotels but local transactions are in Kyats (about 1350 to a USD). The exchange rates at the airport are good. Mind you, it’s almost impossible to exchange GBP.
Ideal duration: To cover the basics in a relaxed pace, I’d say 2 weeks is perfect. This is not a country to rush through, trust me, you’ll regret if you do
Food: Plenty of vegetarian options. After the 3rd day, if you don’t frown at the sight of fried rice or fried noodles, do write to me! Yeah, you can OD on it. Besides, the famous Shan noodle soup can give the former two a break, especially if you are itching for a peanut flavoured dish
Language: Well, Burmese is the language everyone speaks. English is manageable in the big cities. Learn some phrases, it helps. Otherwise, people are just too nice to care about what language comes out of your mouth.
Not to miss:
– Sunrise at Bagan
– Sunset at Inle
– Bogyoke Market in Yangon
– Wandering aimlessly
– One of the noisy puppet shows
– Shan noodle soup
Yeah, that’s about it.