After spending nearly a half century walled off under military rule from the rest of the world, from 2011 to 2021 Burma (renamed Myanmar) experienced a decade of progress in its political system, economy, and society – including finally opening up to tourism. Sadly, though, just over a year and a half ago the military took control again and the ruling junta has since then been cracking down – sometimes brutally – on all of that progress. Yet the same time tourists have continued to come, and the Ministry of Tourism has continued to roll out initiatives to encourage yet more visitors.

And it must be said that for the most part, tourists in the most popular areas to visit remain pretty much unaffected by the strife, which is most notable in less visited areas, including parts of Kachin state, northern Shan state, southern Chin state, and Rakhine state (home to the Rohingya Muslims, who have made headlines in recent years because of the junta´s abuses against them).

So while safety in the more visited parts of the country is perfectly fine – and street crime, for instance, is very low – whether you choose to come or not for ethical reasons is up to you (just do keep in mind that your tourist dollar or euro or whatever your relevant currency mostly goes to help ordinary Burmese working in tourism and hospitality, even more than benefitting the dictatorship). But it´s still worth noting what an amazing destination this is for so many reasons.

First off, the rich Burmese cultural heritage – with influences from neighboring China, India, and Thailand – and an astonishing wealth of ancient temples, pagodas, monasteries, palaces, and colonial architecture.

Then there are breathtaking landscapes, from lush jungles and pristine beaches to scenic lakes and dramatic mountain ranges, with rewarding experiences in many of these settings including fabulous hiking, biking, and caving.

The ethnically diverse Burmese people, too, are a huge factor – warm, welcoming, and spiritual – and travellers can often have the chance to engage with them, learn about their customs and traditions, and even participate in some of their various festivals and ceremonies. Since tourism is relatively new here, you can still have a more authentic and uncommercialized travel experience than in places like Thailand, for example (though to be sure, there are definitely parts of Thailand where that is also still possible, but perhaps fewer).

The delicious cuisine, too, will absolutely delight you, with specialities such as Burmese curry (milder than Thai, for example, and making use of dried as well as spices), mohinga (a fish noodle soup), and tea leaf salad.

Read more in my post Burmese, if You Please: 6 Musts in Myanmar/Burma.




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