Myanmar is a beautiful country, ‘the Land of Golden Pagodas’ with over 55 million people and bordered by Thailand, China and India.
We arrived in Yangon in the evening on the first day and we visited Shwedagon Pagoda. It is a huge and impressive pagoda to witness. We returned to Yangon on the last day of our trip to transit to our flight to Hanoi.
We spent some time in the city which has such busy traffic. We do not recommend taking a city tour in Yangon unless you have a special request to do so. We found ourselves overheated while walking through the streets, and had to leave our vehicle due to all of the cars and buses being stuck in lines of trafic for long periods of time. The very old buses that are used in Myanmar reminded me of Vietnam in the 1980's.
We met many of the local people, enjoyed talking with them to understand more about their personal lives living in Myanmar. Our guides were great especially Thanda, a young woman guide in Mandalay who made our trip so memorable.
We spent two days visiting Bagan, where there are more than 2000 pagodas and monasteries. We enjoyed watching a young village woman cook local foods over a wood fuelled fire which we enjoyed tasting. We also enjoyed chatting with the children who stood nearby the Irrawaddy River where we watched a beautiful sunset while traveling on a boat.
We found the need for more outdoor events and planning in Mandalay to balance our visiting the temples and pagoda. We decided not to see more temples and pagodas when we were in Mandalay. The people of Myanmar are very devoted to Buddhism and the pagodas are invariably crowded with worshippers. Some of pagodas do not allow woman inside and being close to the Buddha. The women obey the restrictions and worships outside.
We had fun riding on Ox carts even though the road was very bumpy. We also walked along the famous U Bein Bridge which was constructed using teak wood. It is best to visit there at sunset.
Our last stop was spending two days at Inle Lake. It is a large lake — about 45 square miles — but quite shallow with the average depth being about 6 or 7 feet in high season and a half of that in low season. The population lives both along its shores and in dwellings on the lake built upon stilts. There are interesting floating gardens where tomatoes are grown and the garden is made of bamboo sticks. The fishermen stand on one leg on the end of narrow flat dugout boats and fish with nets and traps while paddling and steering the boats with the other leg wrapped around the paddle. It is very unique and impressive. We also visited several cottage industries on the lake, including colorful weaving, handmade paper, silk and silver makers. These small businesses and factories show the difficult working conditions for everyone, but we were invariably greeted and made to feel welcome. There are some good local restaurants built on stilts along canals in the floating village. We highly recommend staying in the lake area rather than in the local town.
Finally, we recommend traveling from November to March so that you can have opportunity to ride a hot air balloon to have great overview Bagan’s landscape at sunrise. However, this time period will be high season and the tour cost is also higher than low season. We traveled in May when it is not as hot as in April, and since it is low season, there are less tourists and the cost is lower too, the only travel limitation is that the water levels in the Irrawaddy River and in Inle Lake may be somewhat lower during this season of the year.
Thank you for reading!
SilkStar Holidays Team