Myanmar is situated in Southeast Asia and is bordered on the north and northeast by China; on the east and southeast by Laos and Thailand; on the south by the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal; and on the west by Bangladesh and India. The country covers an area of 261,228 square miles ranging 581 miles from east to west and 1,275 miles from north to south. Myanmar stretches from the islands of the Andaman Sea in the south, right up into the Eastern Himalayan mountain range, giving a variety of marvelous cultures and enriched nature while the central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands. Myanmar is the perfect place to travel as it offers a rich culture, vastly different to that of the west. The culture of this unique country has lasted since the time of the Roman Empire, with many of the local traditions and customs that are still practiced throughout the nation today. Nominated in the top ten favored countries of the world to visit since 2011, Myanmar has strongly becoming a destination to enrich your travel and exploration interest in this part of Asia has to offer.
Myanmar has three main seasons; hot, rainy and cold season. Hot season is from March to May, rainy season is from June to October and cold season is from November to February. The tropical monsoon is usually cloudy, rainy, hot, humid summers and less cloudy, scant rainfall, mild temperatures, lower humidity during winter. Best travel time of the year is the winter, from November until February when it is dry and rather cool (20-30°C), and with little humidity. It seldom rains in these months. In the mountain areas of the Shan and Chin states, it can get very cold at night. The northern state of Kachin experiences snow quite often. Warm clothing is advisable for those travelling to Mrauk U
PEOPLE & ETHNIC DIVERSITY
With the population of over 60 million, Myanmar is made up from 135 national races, of which the main national races are Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. There are more than 100 ethnic groups in Myanmar. Some of the Ethnic groups are listed as Akha, Palaung, Padaung, Naga, Taron, Eng and many more near extinct tribes. The religions are maily Buddhist then followed by Christian and Muslim. The major language is Burmese, but minority ethnic groups have their own languages. English is widely spoken and understood
The earliest primates known today as Pondaung Man, resided in Pondaung, northern Myanmar about 40 million years ago. After those eras, many city states emerged, and then came the 3 empires. In the third century BC, Myanmar was already unified into one strong empire. The first Myanmar Empire was created by King Anawrahta of the Bagan Dynasty (1044-1077 AD). The second Myanmar Empire was created by King Bayinnaung of the Taungoo Dynasty (1551-1581 AD). The third Myanmar Empire was led by King Alaungpaya of the Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1760 AD). These three great kings were well-known in the Myanmar history for their bravery and good leadership. In 1885, King Thibaw, Queen Supaya Latt and the royal family were taken to Ratanagiri, India and Myanmar fell under the British Rule. Myanmar became a British Colony from 1885 until 1948. Since then, the country has been in one of the longest running civil wars that remains unresolved. The country was under military rule from 1962 to 2010, and in the process has become one of the most untouched nations in the world.
As most of Myanmar people are Buddhists, they respects the rules of Buddhism, which are the same in other Buddhism neighbor countries. Neat and respectful dress to visit religious shrines is advisable while footwear will be asked to be removed outside monasteries and pagoda. Revealing clothing is unacceptable off the beach. Shorts are generally fine, as long as they aren’t mini short. Local Burmese people and children are often astonished by the dirty and tattered clothing worn by some travelers. Long sleeve shirt and easy removable footwear or having a little plastic bag to carry your shoes/sandals for pagodas tour is recommended.
Beckoning someone by crooking your finger is very rude. The correct way to call someone over is to wave at them or call their name. Never mind if the locals sometime look at you and laugh or giggle, they simply curious about your ages and why you travel if you are a senior traveler. To ask for the bill in a restaurant or shop, pretend to write on your palm with the other hand. You‘ve got it.
Not all shrines open for visitors allow taking photos. Your guide will advise whenever it is inappropriate to photograph a site or a person. (For example, do not photograph military installations, bridges, guard posts, etc.), don’t touch a monk if you are female as he is not allowed to touch or be touched by a woman, or accept anything from a woman’s hand. Some religious areas are not open for women, better having your guide to advise you prior to the visit
In general, Myanmar is very safe for travelers. Violent attacks are almost not to be happenned, although theft is might sometime be a problem. When possible, secure your valuables in the hotel safe. Remember to record your traveler’s cheque numbers and credit card information, just in case.
Do not leave your wallet or cell phone in the back pocket of your pants or anywhere else that’s easily reached (like an outer zip-up part on a backpack). Be especially vigilant in markets and other crowded places like ports, ferries and train stations.
Use common sense and don’t walk alone after dark, both for visionary and safety problems. Except for the country, it is advisable to always walk on the pavement though it is small many a time. Streets are pretty dangerous sometimes with fast hop-on, hop-off local buses, be ware.
Traffic is crowded but not to chaotic. Taxi is negotiable before you get in or better have it arranged by your hotel receptionist to get the right taxi firm.