Myanmar (Burma) is a truly lush destination relatively untouched by tourism, offering a rare window into a less urbanized biodiverse landscape of Southeast Asia. Burma is expansive country, stretching from the sparkling islands of the Andaman Sea in the south right up into the Eastern Himalayan mountain range. Burma has a heritage dating back over two thousand years, and is home to over 135 different ethnic groups, a diversity that sometimes results in tension. After the First Burmese War, the Ava kingdom ceded the provinces of Manipur, Tenassarim, and Arakan to the British. Rangoon and southern Burma were incorporated into British India in 1853. All of Burma came directly or indirectly under British India in 1886 after the Third Burmese War and the fall of Mandalay.
Burma was administered as a province of British India until 1937 when it became a separate, self– governing colony. The country became independent from the United Kingdom on 4 January 1948, as the "Union of Burma". It became the "Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma" on 4 January 1974, before reverting to the "Union of Burma" on 23 September 1988.
On 18 June 1989, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) adopted the name "Union of Myanmar" for English transliteration. This controversial name change in English, while accepted in the UN and in many countries, is not recognized by opposition groups and by nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States.
As of this past year, Burma is no longer under military rule, which in some ways has led a more stable political environment. The government in Burma is striving to build up a feeling of safety, to invite more tourists to visit. As part of that effort, the country’s tourism infrastructure has been developed to feature many five star properties, intimate boutique hotels and family guest houses in all the major centers, as well as stunning mountain and beach resorts.
In addition to high quality facilities, Burma also boasts one of the lowest tourist crime records in the world, so visitors can rest assured their holiday will be carefree from start to finish.
Things To Do
- Attend performances of Burmese traditional popular theatre, known as pwe (show). Performances take place in religious festivals, weddings, sporting events or even funerals, and sometimes last for an entire night.
- See traditional dance forms (nat pwes), which pay homage to the spirit world, and catch some marionette theatre (yok– thei pwe), widely practiced during the late 18th century in Mandalay.
- Explore Burma's rich opportunities for ecotourism, trekking and safaris. The best parks include the Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park (northwest of Monywa); Hlawga National Park (near Yangon); Popa Mountain Park (central Myanmar); Lampi Island (Myeik Archipelago); and Shwesettaw Wildlife Sanctuary (located in Minbu).
- Enjoy water sports on Burma's lovely beaches. Popular spots include: Kanthaya Beach (Rakhine coast); Maung– ma– gan Beach (Taninthayi coast in the south); Ngapali Beach (Rakhine coast); and Chaung– tha Beach (west of Pathein).