Top 10 Things You Need To Know About Myanmar | Wanderers Collection
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
In this article we take a look at Myanmar as a travel destination. Myanmar, officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and also previously known as Burma, is comprised of many ethnic groups and has a population of over 54 million people. The country has been moving forward with the democracy that it has long struggled for and despite the ongoing social and humanitarian concerns; much of Myanmar is worth discovering.
Tourists are now encouraged to come and visit this incredibly diverse country, and with so much natural beauty; you won't be disappointed! Wander around popular sights such as Inle Lake, Shwedagon Pagoda, Bogyoke Market and discover how this destination is embracing sustainable tourism. Backpackers will have endless opportunities to explore all that is Myanmar!
This guide shows you how any traveller can use their own voice to help the local people; by playing their part as a responsible tourist in Myanmar.
Tourism is one of the fastest developing sections in #Myanmar; providing jobs for many people in the local community. However, it is still lacking the balance between the famous cities and the options to visit its remote areas. Depending on location, there are places where you need a special permit to visit. Make sure you contact an official local tour operator before you go to these sites.
We strongly recommend you follow these basic practices during your travels:
- Leave nothing but your footprint when you explore and respect the local customs
- Do not buy products made from animals which are marketed to tourists
- Plan your itinerary to minimise carbon emissions
- Bring environmentally products that don't harm the waterways
- Use Public Transportation or if safe walk when possible
Respect Burmese Culture
Myanmar is a typical Buddhist country meaning that the local customs should be respected by tourists.
You may enjoy the local experience more appropriately by following this general advice:
- Dress modestly when you visit a pagoda or temple (knees and shoulder should be covered)
- Remove your shoes for any visits to religious sites and before going inside
- Do not touch anyone on their head; it is considered to bring bad luck for them
- Ask for permission when you take photos with local people or of religious monuments
- Do ask women for handshake or a hug first before engaging with them
- It is advisable to ask your tour guide when you travel off beaten tourist track for an appropriate manner in the community
-Mind your tone of voice and speaking volume and aim to respect areas designated for prayer
-Do not disturb people when they are praying or partaking in meditation
The best practice is to spend your money in different places than just the major city. When planning your #itinerary, if you can craft a program with stops to many different sites, you will then contribute better to the places you will pass by. Importantly, #travel to picturesque sites such as Hpa An, Kalaw, Mrauk U, Pyin Oo Lwin, Kyaing Tong as they promise some of the most authentic travel experiences in Myanmar. You can wander around and actively help the local #community by spending your money on local accommodation, food, drinks and transportation.
It is advised that you do not give money directly to kids who appear to be involved in street begging or selling gifts to tourists; this does not help to break the ongoing cycle of #poverty and exploitation. Instead, do aim to support the many wonderful Social Enterprises in the community that provide alternative opportunities through education and job training.
Eco-tourism is all about travelling in a #sustainable and ethical way which does not cause harm to the environment or the people who live in the area. Whilst the majority of tourists flock into the famous Shan State for the trek to Inle Lake, other destinations like Lashio and Pyin Oo Lwin have something to surprise you.
These sites offer a beautiful mixture of fascinating local ethnic #culture and unspoiled scenery. Elephant Camps which are established in Kalaw and Bago are home to mahouts that are no longer able to work. The camps craft daily tours with activities to replant the #forest and take care of the #elephants. Another thing you can do during your holiday is to choose Eco-friendly accommodation or reside at one of the many Eco-lodges. If you are looking for a recommended Eco-lodge in stunning surroundings you can check inn at either - Inle View Point or Boulder Bay Ecolodge.
At each city you stay, your direct contribution to the community is really appreciated. Stay at the locally-owned hotels, eat at local restaurants, and hire the transport from a private company. If you prefer a good tour package, we suggest you book with these responsible tour operators in the region who support the community in a variety of ways:
One stop Myanmar: They have a private hospital to help the poor and are involved in charity campaigns all year round
Proniti Travel: A company that is specialised in adventure tours - They offer programs to help various communities where their tours are operated
Myanmar Adventure Outfitters: They do tours with a home stay in the far north area - The local families benefit directly from the tours they provide
Support Social Enterprises
The concept of a Social Enterprise is still new in #Myanmar, but the positive outcome of these companies is great for the #country. From Yangon to Bagan, there are a number of social enterprises that focus on vocational training and creating jobs for local people. Some of the best examples that you can easily visit are:
Hla Day Shop in Yangon - an enterprise designed to support the producers who may be suffering disability, social exclusion, and living below the poverty line
Sanon Training Restaurant in Bagan - the a perfect place to savour Burmese dishes prepared by the young people receiving work training in the kitchen
Sunflowers Organic Dye Weaving Studio in the Inle Lake area - the price may be a little expensive but you are contributing to conserve a beautiful traditional work which is part of the history and culture of Myanmar
Elephant Experience in Green Hill Valley - here you can visit the elephants who have retired from the timber industry and are now being cared for at this amazing sanctuary
If you are interested in learning more you can find more information on where to visit here Myanmar Social Enterprises.
- Myanmar has some of the most precious stones in the world but please purchase stones which are certified and do not buy from unregistered sellers
- Escape from group travel and take a private tour for a unique experience
- Do not buy handcrafted timber products which are cut from the local rain forests
- Leave nothing but your footprint and please do not litter
- Be respectful when using a camera, especially around monks and elders, ask them first
- Share your wonderful experience with your family and friends
Have you been to Myanmar? Share your thoughts in the comments below and check out these incredible photos from Unsplash of Myanmar.
Travel For Change would like to thank travel writer Tan from Travel To Work for contributing this article to our responsible tourism community.
Please visit his blog Travel To Work for further information on Myanmar and explore his amazing travel content including this article '10 Places To Visit in Myanmar'. All recommendations in this article are contributed by Travel To Work.
Myanmar has areas which are prone to civil unrest due to political instability and ongoing conflict between the ethnic groups and military forces. Please check appropriate Government websites prior to organising travel to the region.