Burma (Myanmar) is an enigmatic land of golden pagodas, natural wonders and smiling faces that – thanks to 2015’s election results – are shining anew in their welcome to the world. Visit an ancient collection of over 2,000 temples and pagodas that stud verdant plains, witness the perilously perched Golden Rock at Kyaiktiyo or take to the waters for floating villages and atmospheric river cruises.
Despite its recent past, Burmese hospitality has never been called into question. A deep-rooted belief in Buddhism and an – albeit enforced – isolation from Western excesses have helped to preserve a kindliness of spirit in the local Burmese that is truly affecting. With no Burmese word for tourist, visitors are greeted quite sincerely as ‘guests', and if there's only one thing you take with you from your tailor-made holiday in Burma, it will likely be memories of its gentle, friendly people – considerate, inquisitive, humorous and helpful.
But there’s much more to Burma than a wave of positive ambition; as Kipling once wrote, Burma is ‘unlike any place you know about’. Start in colonial Rangoon (Yangon) where faded architecture frames the magnificent golden domes of the Shwedagon Pagoda before moving north to royal Mandalay’s moated palace. Then, look to the floating markets and gardens of Inle Lake and Pagan’s (Bagan) grandiose ruins of empires past that stretch for as far as the eye can see. In between you’ll find lofty mountains and mile upon mile of emerald rice paddies, empty beaches and dense forests as you discover why this beautiful country is one of Asia’s finest treasures.