Where is Myanmer?
CurrencyThe local currency is the Kyat which is divided into 100 pyas.
Kyat notes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 45, 50, 90, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10000.
What's the weather like in Myanmar?Myanmar is an all year round destination. Hilly regions in the north and northeast enjoy cool temperate weather. Rainfall is also very low in central regions the rainy season.
Bagan is temple town which is one of Myanmar's main attractions. The area known as Bagan or, bureaucratically, as the ‘Bagan Archaeological Zone', occupies an impressive 26-sq-mile area, 118 miles south of Mandalay and 429 miles north of Yangon. The area's most active town and main transport hub is Nyaung U, in the northeast corner. About 2.5 miles west, Old Bagan is the former site of the village that was relocated 2 miles south to New Bagan in 1990. Between the two is Myinkaba, a village boasting a long-running lacquerware tradition. One thing to keep in mind, particularly for travelers exploring the region, it's an overgrown village and lacks anything resembling a night scene, although it does have basic traveler amenities.
The Shwezigon Pagoda is one of the oldest and most impressive monuments of Bagan. Most noticeable is the huge gold plated pagoda glimmering in the sun. The design of the Shwezigon Pagoda has been copied many times across Myanmar over the centuries. Several shrines and temple buildings have been added to the complex since construction of the stupa in the year 1090. As the pagoda enshrines a number of sacred Buddhist relics, it is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. After dark the pagoda is wonderfully illuminated by spotlights that give the place a mystical atmosphere.
The Htilominlo temple is a large majestic structure towering 46 meters high. Its design is similar to that of the Sulamani, which was built about three decades earlier by the previous King. The monument is named after its builder, King Htilominlo who was also known as Zeya Theinkha and Nadaungmyar. According to legend, Htilominlo was chosen to be the next King out of the five sons of King Narapatisithu. The five sons stood in a circle with a white umbrella in the center. When the umbrella would tilt and point towards one of the sons, that son was to be the next King. As the umbrella pointed towards Htilominlo, he was chosen. It is said that the Htilominlo pagoda was built on the spot where he was selected as the next King.
Sulamani was built in 1181 by Narapatisithu (1174-1211). This temple was known as "crowing jewel" and it stands beyond Dhammayangyi Pagoda. This temple is a more sophisticated temple than the Htilominlo and Gawdawpalin. Combining the horizontal planes of the early period with the vertical lines of the middle, the temple features two storeys standing on broad terraces assembled to create a pyramid effect. The brickwork throughout is considered some of the best in Bagan.
The Ananda temple is one of Bagan's best known and most beautiful temples. It was one of the first great temples to be built in Bagan and is well preserved. The temple is found near the Tharabar gate, the only gate remaining of the original 12 in the old Bagan city walls.
The Ananda Pagoda, also named Ananda Pahto and Ananda Phaya is a single storey structure built towards the end of the early Bagan period. The architectural style shows Mon and North Indian influence. The temple's most distinctive feature is the gilded sikhara, the tower like spire on top of the pagoda. The reflection of the gilded sikhara is visible from miles away over the Bagan plains. After dark the Ananda Pagoda is lit up by spotlights creating a mystical atmosphere.
Thatbyinnyu Temple is the tallest of the pagodas in Bagan, rising up the equivalent of about 21 stories. And being close to both Ananda Temple and Old Bagan, it's one of the easiest to visit.Despite its prominence on the skyline and close proximity to the famous Ananda Temple and Old Bagan, there's much about Thatbyinnyu Temple that remains a mystery. It's believed to have been built during the 12th century, but there aren't the tell-tale inscriptions of the type at many other pagodas that would confirm it. And much of the interior has been whitewashed, covering over most of the original paintings and frescoes.From a distance, Thatbyinnyu Temple looks quite different to most of the other pagodas in Bagan.
Another complex with an attached drama, this was commissioned by King Narathu to atone for his sins of assassinating his father, brother, and wife. The eccentricity of this king is reflected in the building's finely set brickwork (it was noted that he executed a bricklayer for his not too perfect masonry work - gaps are too wide) and its unfinished construction (work abandoned after he himself was assassinated). These generate so many riddles and mysteries that lead to be known as ghost haunted temple for some inhabitants. From estimates, there were roughly 6 million pieces of bricks used in the construction of this temple. Dhammayangyi Temple is the most massive structure in Bagan which has a similar architectural plan to Ananda Temple.
Shwesandaw Temple is the "sunset temple", where foreign and Burmese tourists alike gather every evening to view the spectacular Bagan sunset. Get here early, as the top levels are small and space is scarce. There are many peddlers around the temple selling T-shirts, drinks and souvenirs. The climb up is a reasonably easy 5 minute walk up a flight of stairs, but the steps get narrower and steeper near the top. Not recommended for those with vertigo, but if you can make the climb, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking sunset as the the temples and landscape are set ablaze in golden sunrays. A good compromise is to climb to the 3rd or 2nd highest level, where the steps are much more manageable than the topmost level, is less crowded, and the view is just as good.
50 kilometers southeast of Bagan in Central Myanmar at the base of Mt Popa is a solitary peak topped by gold stupas. The Popa Taungkalat shrine is the favoured home of 37 Mahagiri Nats or aminist spirit entities, statues of which can be found at its base. To reach the top, you need to remove shoes and socks and climb the 777 steps to the summit. Along the way are a multitude of monkeys expecting treats. Sometimes they can get a little aggressive so it's recommended that you keep a tight grip on your possessions! Popa means "flower" in Sanskrit and you will find bottled flowers that you can purchase as offerings at the temple. A 45 min hike up to the peak will reward you with a spectacular view. If the weather is clear you might even spot the temples of Bagan.
Bagan View Tower
The Bagan tower is also called Nann Myint tower has been open to public since April 2005. The tower is located at the eastern part of Bagan archeological site. A huge 5 stars resort has been built at the bottom of the tower. Nann Myint means "The high palace" in Myanmar. Nann Myint Viewing Tower is the ideal one stop viewpoint for visitors to Bagan to see the wonders of over 2000 ancient architectural temples and monuments of the 11th to 13th century.
The tower has a height of 60 metres. The tower has a total of 13 levels. At the first floor, there is a small galleria with souvenir shop. The first 2 levels are meeting rooms, from level 5 to 7 are the offices rooms, from level 11 to 13 are the viewing rooms. There are also restaurants at the top levels. About 2000 visitors can enjoy the panoramic view of Bagan from the Nann Myint Tower.
Yoke thé (Myanmar Puppet Show)
Yoke thé is the Burmese name for marionette puppetry. Although the term can be used for marionettery in general, its usage usually refers to the local form of string puppetry. Like most of Burmese refined art, yoke thé performances originated from royal patronage and were gradually adapted for the wider populace. Yoke thé are almost always performed in operas. Burmese marionettes are very intricate and dexterous as they employ 18 or 19 wires for male and female characters respectively, and each puppet is controlled by only one puppeteer.
Bagan Morning Market
While dawn should be spent watching the amazing sunrise on the plane of Bagan, the early morning can then be dedicated to wandering around the market. There are actually three towns around Bagan. Old Bagan has few commercial interests. New Bagan and its stately hotel complexes is a bit too high end. Nuang U is the town where backpacking visitors typically stay when seeing the temples. It is a thriving community with numerous guest houses, restaurants and shops, but it's the market that appeals to me the most. While the formal market area has plenty of craft items for tourists, every morning the locals come out in force to buy and sell produce on a dusty patch of ground between the ramshackle buildings making up the permanent market of Nuang U. T
Indein is one of the small villages of Inle Lake located on the western bank of the lake. A Buddha image has enshrined at a whitewashed stupa, which is on the summit of a hill. Below the stupa around the hill are cluster of hundreds of ancient stupas most are ruins overgrown with bushes. The pagoda hill is quiet and calm. One could feel the pleasant cool breeze with the sweet rings of the bells hanging at the umbrella of the stupa. Mesmerizing view from pagoda hill release the fatigue and refresh everybody who ascend to the peak. This mysterious place is at the end of the marvellous Indein creek, which connected with Inle Lake just after the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. The creek is narrow with many twist and turns. Since the both sides are paddy fields you can see the farmers ploughing and harrowing by water buffaloes.
Phaung Daw U Pagoda
Phaung Daw U Pagoda is the most famous pagoda in Inle lake region. The pagoda houses five small gilded images of Buddha, which have been covered in gold leaf to the point that their original forms cannot be seen. The five Buddha Images represents the Kakkusandra, Kaunagamana, Kasatpa, Gautama and Arainmareya Buddhas of this world.
At the center is an ornate shrine with a pedestal, on which the five more than 800 years old images of the Buddha are kept. So much gold leaf has been applied to the images that they have become unrecognizable as Buddha images and look like a solid mass of gold. Every day Buddhist devotees come to the monastery to pay their respect to the images and apply more gold leaf, which only men are allowed to do. The images are believed to have been brought to the Inle Lake region by Alaungsithu, King of the Bagan Empire in the 12th century.
Nyaungshwe is located south of Sakangyi and south-west of Taunggyi. Bawrithat Pagoda lies in the southern part of the town. It is the tourist hub for visiting Inle Lake and Inlay Lake Wetland Sanctuary. It consists of one main thoroughfare with numerous side streets and a few parallel roads. The main street has numerous shops, several restaurants, a few stupas, travel agencies and a market (located behind the storefronts). Near the end of this road, a bridge crosses the river channel near an impressive mirror-tiled stupa.The town serves as a marina for the numerous long boats carrying tourists into the lake. The lake itself is located a few kilometers south through a river channel. Nyaungshwe can be reached by bus, car, or by plane via the airport in Heho, located about a one-hour drive away. Nyaungshwe is the main access point for Inle Lake.
The must-seen place for any tour to Inle Lake, Myanmar is Gapechain monastery. The monastery is not only special itself in architecture but the amazing train of such the lazy creature as cats to become professional entertainers
Nga Phe Kyaung is a wooden monastery, which was built on stilts on Inle Lake, Myanmar just north of Ywama. This monastery was built in 19th-century on stilts with an amazing collection of Buddha statues. The monastery set on wooden and mosaic pedestals that are hundreds of years old. The most famous feature of this monastery is for its cats that were trained by the monks to jump through small hoops.
The monastery has indeed become a kind of refuge for cats. The monks take tender loving care of their four-legged friends, and much to the enjoyment of the spectators the cats performed tricks: for a piece of food they jump through rings which the monks hold up high.
One of the Asia's largest and most spectacular ancient monuments is a wonderful Pagoda named Kakku. It contains over 2.000 stupas with origins dating back many centuries. Its exists not only as an outstanding example of tradition art and architecture but also as a testament to the religious devotion of one of Myanmar's many ethnic minorities. the Pa-Oh. For many centuries. the Pa-Oh has lived in peace. Cultivating their land and devoting much of their energy and limited wealth to creating monasteries and pagodas. Kakku is about 33 miles from Taunggyi. It will take about 3 hours drive by car. Kakku is located in the Shan State. Kakku is in the territory of Pa-Oh people. There are over 2000 stupas packed closely together in ranks and covering an area perhaps a square kilometer. The main stupa is around 40 meters high. the mass of the spire surrounding it uniformly. But each one is an individual masterpiece. The particular remarkable about the whole site is its good state of preservation.
A hidden village dramatized by the greenly scenery mountains amid the Shan Plateau near the Lake Inle is Sagar. A boat trip to the village of Sagar is beyond your imagination. Gazing at the blue hazy mountains, feeding groups of water birds that are chattering here and there on the Lake, scattering floating vegetation's and happy-and-content Inthas (native to the Lake Inle) in their leg-rowing small boats.. are some unique spices appetizing those who are hungry for nature and cleanly environs. The Sagar village, once must have been a thriving town of Sawbwa (the heredity prince), is a place of unexplored. All are intact and unspoiled. Reach up the Sagar village which takes a half-day boat ride. There you find blushing faces of Pa-O tribe, welcoming smiles of the villagers amidst the dotting religious buildings (pagodas & monasteries). Witness the two Ms (Maze & Mystery) there and let the solution be found in your own tune when you come in Sagar.
Mount Kyaiktiyo (Kyite Htee Yoe), famous for the huge golden rock perched at its summit, is one of the three most sacred religious sites in Myanmar, along with the Shwedagon Pagoda and the Mahamuni Temple. Pilgrims come here from far and wide to worship and add gold leaf to the rock, which seems to defy gravity by delicately balancing on the edge of the 1100-metre high mountain. For many visitors, the rock (standing 7.6 metres tall) and the gilded pagoda which sits on top of it (itself 7.3 metres tall), which are said to cover a hair of the Buddha, are the main draw, but another reason to make the journey are the panoramic 360 degree views of the surrounding Mon State mountains from the summit. Bear in mind that the summit area can get very crowded during the peak season from November to March.
The Golden Rock (Foreigner Entrance Fee MMK6,000 - unavoidable unless you get a pass from a previous tourist, good for 2 days) is one of the most important religious sites in Myanmar and a dream destination for devout Buddhists. The site comprises a pagoda built atop a massive granite boulder, which has been balancing on the edge of a cliff face since antiquity - indeed, the boulder's worryingly tenuous grip on the cliff has held for so long that it features in Buddhist mythology: The boulder is said to be anchored to the mountain by a lock of the Buddha's own, ascendant hair. The boulder itself is decorated with leaves of gold, historically and contemporaneously affixed by monks as part of a pilgrimage to the location.
The rock is a quite spectacular sight, especially at sunset when it's lit up by the setting sun and electric lights gathering a huge crowd of pilgrims and monks.
The city is an amalgamation of British, Burmese, Chinese and Indian influences, and is known for its colonial architecture, which although decaying and beyond appreciation, remains an almost unique example of a 19th-century British colonial capital. New high-rise buildings were constructed from the 1990s (and some are scarily unoccupied and left as ghost skyscrapers and hotels as seen along Upper Pansodan Rd) as the government began to allow private investment (while former national government buildings such as the massive Secretariat Building, as the capital is shifted to Naypyidaw, have been left to rot). However, Yangon continues to be a city of the past, as seen by its longyi-wearing, betel nut chewing and spitting pedestrians, their friendly or even familial attitude towards strangers, its street vendors and its pungent smells.
Images of sandstone and cast bronze. original clay votive tablets and many evidence of Bagan Period culture. and also the items of Pinya. Innwa. Taungoo and Nyaung Yan Period can be viewed in the Myanmar Historic Period Showroom. The visitors can study the articles such as made of pure solid gold and decorated with gems which were displayed in front of the throne to the left and right in customary order when the Kings of Myanmar gave audience to receive homage. in the Royal Regalia Showroom. Myanmar Traditional Folk Art Showroom and Myanmar Performing Arts Showroom were in the second floor. Myanmar Art Gallery No.1 and No.2 were on the third floor where the copies of the drawings upon the walls of the 11.000-year-old Pyadalin cave. copies of the wall paintings from the thousand- year-old vault-based temples and stupas of the Bagan Period. reproductions of paintings of successive periods are exhibited.
Mandalay Hill is a 240 metres (790 ft) hill that is located to the northeast of the city centre of Mandalay in Burma. The city took its name from the hill. Mandalay Hill is known for its abundance of pagodas and monasteries, and has been a major pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists for nearly two centuries. At the top of the hill is the Sutaungpyei (literally wish-fulfilling) Pagoda. A panoramic view of Mandalay from the top of Mandalay Hill alone makes it worthwhile to attempt a climb up its stairways. There are four covered stairways called saungdan leading up the hill from the south, southeast, west and north, and convenient seats of masonry work line these stairways all the way up. A one-way motor road today saves time and also makes it accessible for those who are unable to climb up the stairs, leading to an escalator and a lift to the pagoda at the summit.
Kyaikhmawwun Yele Pagoda
Kyaikhmawwun Yele Pagoda is a Buddhist pagoda located in Kyauktan Township, Yangon Region, on a small island in Hmaw Wun Creek, a tributary of Yangon River. The pagoda was built with many Buddha's relics inside. Two things are noticed, the water level never rises to cover the pagoda, and there will always be enough room for everyone who come to visit the pagoda (meaning, even the pagoda has small room for visitors somehow it is always balanced out between those who is coming & leaving). It is approximately 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of Yangon. This unusual temple was built under King Bawgasena in the third century BCE. The temple hosts an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures and other fine demonstrations of Burmese Buddhist artwork and craftsmanship.
Twante Pottery Village
Twante is a small provincial town famous for its pottery activities, 25 kilometers far from Yangon. An interesting way to reach Twante is to take the passengers ferry in Yangon and to reach Dalla from the other bank of the river. The ferry ride gives a chance to observe the boats and the port activities but also provide a panoramic view on the massive old colonial buildings along the river. After reaching Dalla, a pre-arranged car or a local taxi can bring you to Twante. The transfer takes around 45 minutes on a narrow road through paddies fields until to reach the small town of Twante. Twante is well known for its pottery activities handled by few families since several generations. To visit one of the workshops gives an interesting view of the process of making the pots.
Lotus Silk Shawls, Scarves, and Longyi
Lotus thread is the rare produce of Myanmar and since you will not find it anywhere else in the world, it is better that you buy its fabric when in Myanmar. The process is quite painstaking and time consuming, which makes it extremely priced and luxurious. Visit Nyaung Shwe village and other nearby places to Inle Lake to buy genuine lotus silk shawls and scarves as a souvenir & gift. Longyi is a comfortable traditional skirt that is worn by both the Burmese men and women, it is a wraparound skirt that is either made in simple cotton fabric or more sophisticated silk thread, in both ways it is equally comfortable. When worn by men, it is called Paso and in case of women, it is called Htamein, it comes in different designs from the plain simple fabric to printed one. Longyi skirts is a great attire to wear during your stay in Myanmar as well as a great gift and souvenir for a Myanmar idea to take back home.
Shan Paper Umbrella
Burmese people are skillful people, and these paper umbrellas are clear examples of it, while visiting Inle Lake Myanmar you can actually visit one of such paper factories and buy some for yourself and your friends as a souvenir. These umbrellas are handmade, the motifs and designs are created and painted directly on the paper, and they are pleasant enough to make these masterpieces in the presence of visitors also.
What to eat in Myanmar
Shan khauk swè
The dish most commonly associated with Shan State is this combination of thin, flat rice noodles in a clear, peppery broth with marinated chicken or pork, garnished with toasted sesame and a drizzle of garlic oil. It's served with a side of pickled vegetables.
Compared with most Burmese noodle dishes, it's relatively simple, verging on bland, but is reassuringly comforting and consistently delicious. A "dry" version, with the broth served on the side, is also common.
Rice noodles with pork and/or chicken, bean sprouts, rice flour gel, rice flour fritters, dressed with soy sauce, salted soybean, rice vinegar, fried peanut oil, chilli oil, and garnished with crisp fried onions, crushed garlic, coriander, and pickled white radish/mustard greens.
The Burmese have an obsession with deep-frying foods in oil -- in Myanmar, it's practically impossible to avoid fried foods. The majority of snacks found on the street or in tea shops -- samosas, spring rolls, savory fritters, sweets, breads -- are deep-fried, and many noodle dishes are topped with akyaw, deep-fried crispy garnishes.
One deep-fried dish particularly worth seeking out is buthi kyaw, battered and deep-fried chunks of gourd. When served hot, the thin, crisp batter conceals a soft, slightly watery interior of tender gourd, and the fritters are typically served with a sour/sweet dip made from tamarind that can be made savory with the addition of bean powder.
A visit to a traditional Burmese restaurant is more than just a meal, it's a culinary experience.
As the name suggests, curry is the central element, but after you've chosen one -- typically a meaty, somewhat oily curry based around pork, fish, shrimp, beef or mutton -- a seemingly never-ending succession of side dishes will follow. These include rice, a tart salad, a small dish of fried vegetables, a small bowl of soup and a large tray of fresh and par-boiled vegetables and herbs to be eaten with various dips. Dips range from ngapi ye, a watery, fishy sauce, to balachaung, a dry, spicy mixture of chillies, garlic and dried shrimp fried in oil.
At a Muslim-run curry shop the soup might be a combination of lentils and root vegetables, while the sides might include a few crispy pappadum. By the time it all arrives, you'll be face to face with a spread of dishes that seems to include all the ingredients, textures and flavors of Myanmar. After you've finished, you'll also get a traditional Burmese dessert -- a lacquer tray containing pickled tea leaves and nuts, or a jar of chunks of palm sugar.
Tea Leaf Salad
Perhaps the most famed Burmese food is lephet -- fermented tea leaves. The tart leaves are eaten on their own, typically as dessert, but they're also served in the form of lephet thoke, a salad of pickled tea leaves. To make the dish, the sour, slightly bitter leaves are mixed by hand with shredded cabbage, sliced tomatoes, crunchy deep-fried beans, nuts and peas, a splash of garlic oil and pungent slices of chili and garlic. The dish is versatile. It can be a snack, an appetizer or, coupled with a plate of rice, a meal. It's also considered a stimulant: the Burmese says that eating too much lephet thoke can