A Travellerspoint blog

Notes and Errata on Myanmar Travel

Please scroll below a few pics of the authors for our observations on Myanmar travel.





If you read our blog entries from Meanderings in Myanmar, you may gather that we love the Burmese people. We think that meeting people in Myanmar is the principle reason to come here. That being said, travelers tend to have an effect on local folks and that will change people, especially in more tourist areas such as Hsipaw, Inle Lake, and Mrauk U. Following a familiar pattern of tourism development, most Burmese in tourist areas don’t benefit from the influx, they fulfill low paid service jobs and work longer hours away from their families during the busy season without reaping much reward. We are concerned Myanmar will follow a similar pattern of tourism development to its neighbors, Thailand and Cambodia. Soon the frequented tourist sites in Myanmar may have the same hustle and bustle, cynicism, and offer similar challenges if you are trying to have authentic encounters with locals. Another concern would be the development of sex tourism and the exploitation of young women here by unethical foreigners who have plenty of the money and resources that most people here do not.

One Danish woman we met who has been travelling to Myanmar for 15 years described Burmese perfectly as “heart people.” If you want to find such people, come quickly. If you have flexibility in your vacation schedule, consider offseason or shoulder season travel when destinations are not inundated and local people have more time to chat and get to know you. We visited Bagan in March when everyone said that it would be too hot, and enjoyed nice mornings and hot afternoons poolside. The temples were empty and we had them all to ourselves! We visited Myanmar again this month in October and only encountered rain a few times, and enjoyed the unhurried atmosphere as things were just starting to ramp up for high season. Above all please be kind to the Burmese that you meet in your travels. People in Myanmar love to encounter foreigners but don’t always understand your questions or remarks in English. You make a lot more friends and a much better impression with a smile and a slower rephrasing than with impatience or anger. Burmese are incredibly gracious and want to help, just give them a chance! Also please don’t let money get in the way of making a new friend or giving someone a little extra to eat. We saw a few encounters where travellers would get heated over a dollar or 2 difference of opinion, without regard to the fact that Burmese are literally struggling to survive, being one of the poorest countries in the world.

Posted by mjschrum 08:07 Archived in Myanmar Tagged village lake bagan monastery buddhist asia southeast myanmar tourism poverty burmese travelers inle hsipaw rakhine Comments (1)

Bagan Day 4

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We headed out this morning to soak up a bit of Old Bagan. It is a shaded, acacia-lined area with many beautiful temples and a very relaxed feel. We visited Bupaya, an ancient and often visited Stupa near the river. We posed for some pictures with a couple of school groups and enjoyed seeing the excited kids milling about and creating havoc.



Huge pig, flying squirrel and gourd conquered!

Afterwards we sought out a veggy restaurant, Be Kind to Animals The Moon, a popular pick for tourists with lots of birds nests hanging from the rafters and a friendly staff.

To the Moon Alice



We finished our morning visit at the largest temple in Bagan, Dhammayangi Pahto, that was the site of much evil doing by a King who commissioned it and has a reputation for being haunted. We managed to walk around it without seeing any Nats or ghosts but I wouldn’t venture there after dark!



Looking tough on the E-bike

Posted by mjschrum 04:35 Archived in Myanmar Tagged temple bagan old myanmar sulimani pahta nyuaung gubyauknge nagayon Comments (0)

Bagan Day 3

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We returned to one of our favorite areas of Bagan, the South Plain. It holds fewer of the more popular sites and is far less trafficked, much nicer for a leisurely visit. We went to the Payathonzu Group first and checked out the amazing murals. It is a 13th century temple and wasn’t finished before the mysterious exodus from the city. Li Li, an enterprising painting seller and keyholder, gave us a nice tour and opened Thambula Temple next door so we could look at the impressive artwork there.

Thambula Temple, South Plain Bagan

Inscription stone with temple history in Pyu Language (No longer spoken)

Hidden gem with awesome murals inside- not telling where


We took a walk around a nearby temple undundergoing reconstruction and then headed to the village for refreshments. Afterwards the pool beckoned to relax for the rest of the afternoon. Bagan is gaining in popularity, even since 18 months ago when we visited previously. It is not hard to see why. Below the pics is an intro to a writeup in the London Daily Telegraph appearing last month.


Bagan in central Burma is one of the world’s greatest archeological sites, a sight to rival Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat but – for the time being at least – without the visitors. The setting is sublime – a verdant 26 square-mile plain, part-covered in stands of palm and tamarind caught in a bend of the lazy-flowing Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) river and framed by the hazy silver-grey of distant mountains.
Rising from the plain’s canopy of green are temples, dozens of them, hundreds of them, beautiful, other-worldly silhouettes that were built by the kings of Bagan between 1057 and 1287, when their kingdom was swept away by earthquakes and Kublai Khan and his invading Mongols. Some 2,230 of an original 4,450 temples survive, a legacy of the Buddhist belief that to build a temple was to earn merit.
Most are superbly preserved or have been restored by Unesco, among others, and many contain frescoes and carvings and statues of Buddha, big and small. Only a handful are regularly visited, and though tourist numbers are increasing and the hawkers are beginning to appear, this is still, by the standards of sites of a similar beauty and stature, a gloriously unsullied destination. (London Daily Telegraph August 2013)

Posted by mjschrum 03:45 Archived in Myanmar Tagged temple bagan old myanmar sulimani pahta nyuaung gubyauknge nagayon Comments (0)

Bagan Day 2

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We had an ambitious morning and lazy afternoon today in Bagan. We E-biked west toward Old Bagan from our hotel in New Bagan to visit Gubyauknge Temple. This temple is known for its murals in excellent condition. There are no photos allowed but we enjoyed our extension-cord illuminated tour by a nice young guy selling lacquer items nearby. Myazedi, (Emerald) Stupa is next to it, housing a 4 sided pillar bearing an inscription consecrating Guyaukgyi and written in four languages, Pyu, Mon, Old Burmese and Pali. This stone has allowed scholars to decipher the lost Pyu language.





At nearby Nagayon, the main Buddha image is twice life size, and paintings decorate the corridor walls which house 28 buddha images. In the afternoon we lazed about and sat poolside, enjoying the gorgeous hotel surroundings all to ourselves while the tour groups ceremoniously fulfilled their overladen itineraries.







Posted by mjschrum 07:00 Archived in Myanmar Tagged temple bagan old myanmar sulimani pahta nyuaung gubyauknge nagayon Comments (0)

Back to Bagan

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Back to Bagan
We are finishing our trip in Bagan, the Unesco World Heritage ancient city in central Myanmar. It is 50 square miles of temples (numbering in the thousands) so we didn’t get to all of them today, just one in fact. Sulimani Pahta is the crown jewel of Bagan temples in terms of dramatic architecture. It combines horizontal planes of the early Bagan period with the vertical lines of the middle period. The masonry is so remarkable that even a needle cannot fit between the bricks. We weren’t planning on visiting it today but sitting out forlornly in the distance as we were biking down the road back to New Bagan, it beckoned us for a visit.









We went to Nyaung U, the local town, at noon to get an air ticket back to the capital on our electric bikes. Bagan entrepreneurs just introduced them and for $8 a day you can buzz around at 15 mph on an electric bike which allows more options in visiting the widespread temples at Bagan.


Posted by mjschrum 05:41 Archived in Myanmar Tagged bagan u myanmar sulimani pahta nyuaung Comments (2)

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