If you’re looking for a travel destination that’s different, Myanmar may be the place for you.
It won’t take long after you touch down at Yangon’s International Airport to realize you’ve arrived in a place like no other.
Your taxi driver will be wearing what looks like a skirt, and chewing betel, which is why his mouth is crimson red. His steering wheel might be turned upside down, and there may be a hole in the floor of the vehicle.
This kind of strangeness will continue throughout your trip.
Yangon lacks international brand saturation, and has plenty of gleaming pagodas, lakes, parks, a vibrant street life, and friendly locals.
There are some great hotel options here, including the Strand Hotel, which has taken in guests like Jagger, Kipling, and Maugham. Built in 1901 by a Brit during British India’s heyday, Victorian influences are everywhere.
Not too long ago everyone was in bed by 9 p.m. because there was nothing to do after dark. Things have changed, with new bars opening all the time, and plenty of places to drink with friendly locals.
One such place is 19th Street – it’s loud and lively, but not a tourist trap. It’s an authentic local experience, a strip of outdoor bars and the best grilled fish in town.
The temples are spectacular, the most famous being Shwedagon Pagoda. It is simply the nation’s pride and joy.
Other attractions include the Thaketa Crocodile Farm and the Drug Elimination Museum, which despite its strange name offers interesting insights into the country’s drug problems.
For shopping, you can hit the Bogyoke Aung San Market and pick up any kind of souvenir you need. For an authentic Myanmar market experience, try the Mingalar Market located in Yangon’s Muslim area.
While many visitors will want to venture upcountry during their trip, don’t overlook Yangon itself, which has plenty to offer. Image/flickr.com