Beautiful Burma

by Lesli Heron 

For some people with wanderlust, the lure of exotic lands and people so unlike home are what keep them going. For others, it’s the opportunity to immerse themselves in history and culture. Luckily, travel to the various regions in Asia satisfies most travel hankerings. One location you might consider adding when travelling to the more well-known travel destinations of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, is Burma (Myanmar).

You can visit Burma throughout the year, but the best time is between October and February when the weather is neither too hot nor wet. There are so many options, including neighbouring countries, to make your trip to the region memorable and as busy, or relaxed, as you like to be on vacation.
While in Burma, you might want to ensure you put some of these options on your must-do list:
  • Tour the 2500 year-old Shwe Dagon Pagoda, the largest and oldest golden monument on earth, where Burmese kings and queens have donated their body weight in gold to the pyramid.
  • See the golden throne of the last Burmese king that just might outshine those of emperors, maharajas, Charlemagne, Louis XVI, Napoleon, Cleopatra and William the Conqueror. You’ll marvel at the throne’s carvings that depict many a tale.
  • Explore Kuthodaw Pagoda at the foot of Mandalay Hill, the home of the white marble Buddhist bible. Inscribed on 729 marble slabs and placed in individual temples within a square, it is an unbelievable site.
  • Ring the Mingun Bell, a wonder at a height of 26 feet and weighing 90.55 metric tons.
  • Visit the 2400 year-old miracle Golden Rock, Kyaiktiyo Pagoda. You have probably seen images of this golden boulder precariously balanced on the edge of a cliff.
  • Tour the amazing floating-islands and row a boat in the highest and largest lake in SE Asia.
  • See living mummies. That’s right, living mummies. These are the preserved bodies of Buddhist monks that are said to be still growing nails and hair decades and centuries after death.
  • Feel small by visiting the largest reclining Buddha in the World, the Shwethalyaung – a colossal, 181’ long reclining statue of Buddha. It is said to have been built in 994 AD, lost when Bago (Pegu) was destroyed in 1757, and then rediscovered under a cover of jungle growth in 1881.
  • If you are pagoda and miracle weary, you might enjoy scuba diving among the coral of the southern Myanmar sea. Or, for the extremely daring, you may wish to climb Khakaborazi Peak, the highest peak in southeast Asia and sister mountain to Everest. If more calming pursuits are what you are interested in, spend a bit of time with a fortune-teller and see your future or enjoy a bit of shopping to get some great deals on jewelry.
Before you go, keep in mind, you will need a visa, so make sure you have that in your trip planning. While there, you will want to refrain from kissing and hugging in public, pointing at things with your feet, sitting with your back to a Buddha image, or acting inappropriately toward a sacred thing such as a Buddha image or touching a monk. And before you leave, make sure you understand what needs to be declared to Customs so you don’t have items confiscated when you depart.