Step Into One Of The World’s Least Explored Civilizations
Right up till the early 90s, Myanmar’s doors were largely closed to the outside world with a non-existent tourism industry. Shrouded in political unrest and mystery, much of its natural beauty remained hidden until today.
In this article we’ll bring you on a rare journey into the undiscovered world of Myanmar with its countless pagodas and undiscovered gems that have only recently been open to the world to see.
Important Note: All Singaporeans require a visa in order to travel to Myanmar that requires 14 working days to process, so do apply for it way in advance for a fuss-free adventure.
Before you read on, feast your eyes on the sights of Myanmar in this video we filmed:
1. Travel along the Irrawaddy River and view the U Bein Bridge
The best time to take a private charter out on the Irrawaddy River would be at sunset. What we did was walk to the midpoint on the U Bein Bridge before taking the stairs down to board the boat to get across the bank.
The boatmen would line all the boats along the river just so we could have the best view of the sunset. This view of the sunset from the waters is simply breathtaking and felt like the prelude of an amazing Myanmar adventure ahead.
2. Learn how the Burmese national dress is made
In Myanmar, you’ll always see the locals dressed up in their traditional costumes wherever you go. From the locals at the market to the guides that take you around, you’ll notice the constant cotton top paired with a longyi, or a sheet of cloth worn around the waist.
Longyis are used on a daily basis while the more intricate ones are used for celebratory events such as weddings or functions. Be mesmerized by the amount of work and how intricately these articles of clothing are made. I personally stood there with my eyes glued at the repetitive motion of thread weaving and intertwining.
3. Walk Through Ancient Monasteries & Temples
In a country so rich in history and culture, a visit to the monasteries and temples are a must. Here is a list of a couple you would need to check off your list:
– Shwenandaw Monastery
This monastery built in the 19th century is renowned to be built entirely out of teak wood and it’s beautiful wood carvings. The interior of the monastery has been finely carved with burmese art and laminated with gold.
– Kuthodow Temple
Admire the world’s largest book in the Guinness Book of Records engraved on marble slabs at the temple that is 57 meters high with most of it laminated with gold.
4. Cycle off the Beaten Path to the Villages littered around the City
Take a bike tour around the city of Mandalay to experience first hand how Myanmar is like as a local. This is not for the faint hearted, but boy was it an experience. Properly prepped and pedaling off with our trusty mountain bikes through streets and zipping through lanes till we we greeted with vast paddy fields and villages was quite an adventure.
Tip: Look for our guide, Tommie.
5. Conquer your fear of heights one Stupa at a time
Here’s to the land of a thousand stupas – They were not kidding about the number of stupas and pagodas here in Bagan. There were stupas big and small all around us as we drove through the roads. Climbing to the top of the stupas would give you a stunning view of the land around you but trust me, it’s not one for those with the fear of heights like myself.
Being surrounded by such work makes you wonder how long it took to build the countless temples, pagodas and stupas – It was as if someone decided to select copy and paste a thousand times. Jokes aside, the warm tones and hues of orange which filled the land as the sunset was a sight to behold. Be entirely immersed in the atmosphere of wonder and majesty as you spend your first evening in Bagan.
6. Take a Pony-cart ride of your life that you will NEVER EVER forget
If you’d ask me, the BEST way to see Bagan is on a pony-cart. Upon booking, the pony-cart would arrive promptly to pick you at your doorstep for an entire day of adventure in Bagan. It is fitted cushions and a sunroof that would keep you all comfy for the ride. Brace yourself though for the heat as the experience one that is entirely opposite to the air-conditioned cars that we’ve been so accustomed to. This, is the beauty of the whole experience.
In the essence of travel and adventure, step out of your comfort zone. Unfortunately, this dwindling trade is one that would disappear if we opt for the more modern and conventional mode of transport. With a couple of destinations under my list of destinations travelled, this experience was one that I would not have gotten anywhere else. You would be familiar with casual horse-cart rides from point A to point B, but chartering a pony-cart for an entire day of sightseeing? This one takes the cake.
Take the first step and have a light-hearted chat with the friendliest cart drivers as they take you to your next destination. You’ll be surprised how much you could learn from them about their culture and way of life. You could take a stop to snap pictures for your travel album anywhere you like. And the best part of it all, the rate for the entire day charter would leave you surprised and wouldn’t be one that would burn a hole in your pocket.
Tip: Look for our guide, Lin.
7. Have your very own @beautifuldestinations moment at one of the BEST spots for a Hot Air Balloon Ride
If there was one thing that would propel me straight to Myanmar, it has got to be the hot air ballooning pictures I’ve seen all over the internet. With a sight like this, I was lost for words. Trust me when I say that you ‘ HAVE TO SEE THIS FOR YOURSELF’ to fully comprehend how marvellous an experience this is and how it would be one that you would remember for life.
Do your research and have a ballooning flight booked before you proceed with flight tickets as they are on pretty high demand. Check thoroughly for advice and reviews of the best climate conditions for your flight as well.
One of the most romantic experiences I’ve ever encountered to date. Catching the sunrise and having a view of a land filled with thousands of stupas from above was one what I will never ever get anywhere else in the world. We were even treated to a glass of champagne to celebrate a successful flight!
Let’s take another moment to marvel at this sight, shall we?
8. Take the ultimate Wefie
While you’re on top of the world, end your trip with a Wefie that’ll make this moment last forever.
Price: US$380 per person
Kickstart your adventure with SilkAir!
SilkAir is currently the only airline that flies directly from Singapore to Mandalay, with Mandalay being a key city in Myanmar for domestic transfer to Bagan. SilkAir is a full service carrier which means you’ll get inflight meals, 30kg baggage allowance and wireless entertainment system called SilkAir Studio which allows you to stream blockbuster hits, short features as well as your favorite music all on your laptops or handheld devices for absolutely free. Instructions on how to stream the media content can be found on a instruction guide available on the aircraft.
One thing that really stood out for me were SilkAir’s seats that were so unbelievably comfy I almost didn’t want to leave the plane.
SilkAir currently flies to Mandalay three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Stand a chance to win a pair of return tickets to Mandalay on SilkAir. Click here to find out more on the contest, airfare and Booking.com accommodation deals and get double Changi Rewards Points for all bookings to Mandalay made between 26 April and 11 May 2016! In our “The Road Less Travelled” series, we’ll embark on adventures to 4 lesser travelled cities in Indochina and the Philippines. Stay tuned for our upcoming guides and videos!
Read more from The Road Less Travelled Series
- 20 Laos Moments That Will Make it the Asian Road Trip Experience Of Your Life
- 11 Reasons Central Vietnam is the Ultimate Getaway
This post was brought to you by Changi Airport.