Friday, December 13, 2013

A Guide To The Land Of Golden Pagodas, Myanmar

Visiting Myanmar was an eye opening trip for me. Unlike other destinations such as Japan, Korea, Europe or even the US, Myanmar has a distinct feel to it. For one, it's far from a luxury trip where everything is catered to tourists, and secondly, it's a trip where you indulge in its culture and exotic places. There's certainly no bars, amusement parks, big shopping centers or squeaky clean streets; but there's vibrancy, life and culture. One goes to Myanmar for its busy streets, local delicacies, historic + cultural destinations, as well as the laid back lifestyle.

My visit was focused mainly on Yangon and the nearby town of Bago, and the highlight of my trip was visiting the iconic places in this two cities, in addition to my friend's wedding (which was why I happened to be in Myanmar in the first place).


a view of the Schwedagon Pagoda from Kandawgyi Lake


We were very fortunate to have local friends (the bride and bridegroom) to guide us during our time there, as it helped us a lot in getting around. English is definitely not enough to survive in non-tourist focused places, as the Burmese language is the main language of communication there, and most of the attractions are geared towards charging visitors. In Schwedagon Pagoda for example, foreign tourists have to pay an entrance fee of 8 USD, while locals can enter it for free. The same applies for almost all of the major tourist attractions in Yangon and Bago. 

And when it comes to money, it is always good to keep an extra day's worth of kyats (pronounced as jyats) - the local currency - with you. Money changers are hard to come by even in the city, and they operate in strange hours (open after 11am and closes at 5pm), so it's always good to carry extra kyats with you. It will be good to hire a local tour guide too (my friend told me that there were a lot of them operating in the city, and it'll be good if you want to visit off beat places, which you should, to sample the local life and culture.

To make this post easier to follow, I will be breaking down my trips in days so this post would not be an excessively long one. And not as confusing too.

Day Four: Wedding Reception and Scotts (Bogyoke) Market

I heard Mandalay is also another great destination to visit in Myanmar, so maybe I would drop by there if I ever return to Myanmar. But for now, do enjoy Yangon and Bago! :)


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