Tips for backpacking Burma
In 2011, Myanmar opened its doors to visitors after 15 years of a tourism boycott to avoid aiding the domineering military junta. Now with a democratically elected government, this country is improving its tourism infrastructure yet still struggling to cope with the enormous conflux of travelers. Mekong cruise Vietnam
If you are interested in backpacking Myanmar, do not miss to check out these tips, which can help you to maximize your stay in this culturally rich nation with some of the friendliest people you might have never met.
Book ahead in Burma
There is still a shortage of accommodation in the most popular destinations in Myanmar although new hotels are now popping up at an increasing rate.
Be prepared to do some research to find recommended places and spend a little extra as standards are generally lower and prices higher than in other countries in Southeast Asia.
Sometimes available, dorms range from approximately $10 to $20. The rooms of the mid-range hotel go for anything from $50–100 while the low-key guesthouse rooms go for $15–30 (though the lower end is usually fairly punk).
To get the best options, it is a good idea to book well in advance, especially in high season, during the months from October to March and do not forget to bring the reservation paperwork with you. It is well worth it to get a comfortable night’s sleep although you can lose some of the spontaneity of backpacking.
Travel by boat
Note that booking through agencies once you are in Myanmar is cheaper than from outside the country if you choose to take a domestic flight. Although noisy, bumpy and often uncomfortable, buses are thought to be the fastest mode of transport after flying. Conveniently connecting some major destinations, bus routes allow tourists to see a slice of rural life on the riverbanks while traveling in peace. Popular routes include Dawei to Kawthaung/Ranong, Yangon to Ngwe Saung and Mandalay to Bagan.
Aware of No-go zones
Due to these conflicts between different armed ethnic groups in Rakhine, northern Shan and Kachin state, there are some parts of those regions out of bounds for travelers. Take extra care in the areas bordering China, Laos and Thailand, where there have been armed clashes. Although for some restricted areas, permits are available, it is a must for you to apply with authorized tour agents at least a month in advance.
It is said that Burmese authentic food does not quite match up to that of its neighbors: it can lack the variety of flavor and depth of Indian curries and the inventiveness and freshness of Thai cuisine. However, it does not mean that it is impossible to find a decent meal, but – much like accommodation – to find the tastiest places to eat, you should do your research.
Food stalls, which serve a wide selection of different meat, fish and seafood, which you select, drop into a basket and hand over to have them grilled right in front of you, are easy, dependable and popular options. There are plenty of fresh, appetizing choices at the night market in Nyaungshwe, by Inle Lake and Yangon’s 19th Street. heritage line cruises
Think carefully before you speak
government came into power in Myanmar in the beginning of 2016. However, the military still hold around a third of the seats in government, and before people can freely express their views without fear of retribution, the country still has a long way to go. People still fear that a delicate issue of discussing politics with Burmese citizens will get them into trouble.
On the other hand, a great way to get a better understanding of culture and modern life in Myanmar is to engage people in conversations about their lives in general and how the country is quickly changing – without directly asking about politics.
The Burmese people are exceptionally warm friendly and welcoming; while you are there, do not miss a chance to get to know your hosts.
Asia Travel Lover