Bagan captured my heart like no other place I’ve ever visited, and has cemented its spot at the top of my all-time favorites. This place stirred up my sense of adventure as I hopped on my bike with map in hand to explore the forgotten temples peaking out from above the trees. As popular as it is, you can always find a peaceful corner, away from the crowds. Lying back against the broken ledge, staring up at the open sky, I felt a deep connection to this magnificent place. To read more about our visit to Bagan, check out this link.
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Now is an exciting time to travel to Myanmar (Burma). Having had their first democratic election last year, the country is rapidly changing. On the precipice of a new era, the once isolated nation is opening itself up and everyone is taking notice. Even with all the changes, a lot of things are staying the same. This is a country steeped in tradition, and it’s not unusual to see people still wear the traditional longyi, covered in thanakha, and chewing betel leaves. In rural areas, there are still plenty of people traveling around in horse carts. It’s quite rare to find a country that’s not filled with Starbucks and McDonald’s. Myanmar right now is what I imagined Thailand was maybe 20 years ago. So what are you waiting for? Here are the cost breakdown of our trip to Myanmar to help you plan yours: Continue reading →
Ngapali is a beach paradise, not unlike those of Thailand or Vietnam; the only difference is that it is still relatively unknown and uncrowded – at least for now. It is easily accessible from the major airport hubs around the country like Yangon, Bagan or Mandalay via a short domestic flight. This untouched destination is known for its crystal clear water, fluffy white sand and fresh seafood. For more information on Ngapali beach, check out our other post. Below are five things to do while you’re in Ngapali Beach. Continue reading →
After traveling through Myanmar for 11 days, we were tired of temples and stupas and ready for some R&R at the beach. Ngapali is a sleepy fishing village that has not quite attained the international recognition the beaches in Vietnam or Thailand have. Its white sand and clear blue waters have cemented its status as the premier beach in Myanmar, however. Overlooking the Bay of Bengal, Ngapali beach is located about 7 km from the town of Thandwe. This idyllic palm-lined beach was found years ago by a homesick Italian reminiscing about Napoli. The laid back vibe here makes it the perfect location for some peace and quiet to recharge for a few days before heading back to reality. Continue reading →
Have you ever fallen in love with a place before you even got there? Ever since the first time I saw a picture of Bagan at sunrise, I obsessively scoured Instagram looking through other people’s photos, dreaming of a time when I would be there myself. My dream came true last year when I finally got to explore the Burmese plains and took over 3,000 photos during the 3 days that I was there. Even the great explorer, Marco Polo was in awe of this place, calling it “one of the finest sights in the world”. Continue reading →
The ancient city of Bagan, located on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River, is home to over 4,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas, and stupas. It is one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites, rivaling that of Angkor Wat, with ruins dating back to as far as the 11th and 12th centuries. Over half of the original temples have managed to survive the years. The stunning images of temples peaking through the canopy of trees is THE reason why I wanted to come to Myanmar. The reality was every part as amazing as I imagined. Continue reading →
When you’re tired of Mandalay with all of its heat, smog, and traffic – consider visiting the surrounding towns on the outskirts of the city on a day trip. Since these places are not too far away, you can either hire a taxi or rent a motorbike to take you around. To hire a car, you don’t really need an advance booking, just walk to a hotel where taxis are usually parked and haggle with the driver on the price and itinerary. We went with Mr. Po, our personal cabby, who took us to the villages for 45,000 Kyatt ($38 USD). Here is a breakdown of the places we visited, organized by location: Continue reading →
There are many attractions in and around Mandalay, but one of my favorites has to be the U Bein Bridge, located in Amarapura, a small town on the outskirts of the city. The aging structure spans Taungthaman Lake, stretching 1.2km (0.75 mi), making it the longest teakwood bridge in the world. Known for its beautiful sunrise and sunset, this place is easily one of Myanmar’s most photographed sites.
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Temples and monasteries are an integral part of life in Myanmar, and so we spent the good part of our visit in Mandalay temple-hopping. There are so many to visit, and each one is unique in its own way. Most of the pagodas we visited are within walking distance to each other located at the foot of the Mandalay Hill. Some of the religious sites charge a small entrance fee for foreigners, but you can buy a Mandalay archeological zone ticket that allows you to see all the places within the city and surrounding town for 10,000 Kyatt per person, valid for 5 days. On our first day we found a taxi driver, Mr. Po, who shared his expert knowledge of the area and helped us navigate the city. He would drive us to each destination and waited until we were done. It was especially helpful when we wanted to go to Amarapura and other nearby towns.
One of the best things for me to do after each trip is to go through my notes and photos as I start to write about my trip. It allows me to relive my trip and recall memorable experiences. Here are some of the places we visited in Mandalay:
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Since Burma was quite insulated until recently, Burmese food has not had a chance to spread to other parts of the world. Like most people, we had not tried Burmese food before setting foot in Myanmar. In fact, we’re still hard pressed to find an authentic Burmese restaurant in New York, our melting pot city. Our journey around the country was also a culinary learning experience. While there are some similarities and influences derived from other Asian cuisines, some dishes we tried were quite unique and like nothing we have had before. Similar to what we found in Yangon, food in Mandalay is both delicious and inexpensive, two of my favorite things. In fact, this is where we had some of the best and most memorable food of the trip. Continue reading →