Our road to Myanmar

by Tanya Parry on 31 July 2015, 14:07PM

A little bit about me…
On completion of my degree I decided to pursue a career as a Travel Consultant at Travelbag, incorporating my passion for travel and culture with my love of planning and tailor making experiences. I have now made travel a massive part of my existence and truly believe life is not meant to be lived in one place. Like so many others, I have developed somewhat of a fascination with Asia and Indonesia. The culture, cuisine, weather and the people draw me back to its vibrant cities and stunning beaches.


Recently I was invited by Travelbag to take a trip of a lifetime to Myanmar (formally named Burma). Although I had heard wonderful stories from others who already had the privilege of visiting, no account can truly capture the pure enchantment I experienced during my visit.


I will however do my very best to translate it for you!


Day one:

 
Mingalabar! We were welcomed into the wonderful (and very warm) city of Yangon! The sun was shining and it wasn’t too long into our drive that we started to appreciate the heritage of the city. If you are interested in colonial architecture and history, Yangon is an absolute must see. You may also consider accommodation at The Strand Hotel to further enhance your colonial experience.

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The highlight has to be the majestic Shwedagon Pagoda, which is actually visible from many different aspects in the city. I have never seen a religious site glisten quite so beautifully, even from a distance, it even proceeds to light up the sky at dusk. Take the time to visit the site up close as here you will find many other pagodas, temples and Buddha images to appreciate. You will find that local families spend their days out here, praying before the Buddha. That’s something that is quite unique, as areas like this are usually full of tourists. To experience another side of Yangon we took the ferry over to Dala. Here you are taken from the built-up area and transported to an array of local villages, giving you more of an insight into modern day local culture. That was a real an eye-opener and it’s a definite must see.


Tip: Yangon has many beautiful parks and local markets to be enjoyed, take a walk around them and remember to dress suitably for the religious areas


Days Two & Three:

A short flight with Mann Yadanarbon Airlines took us to Ngapali Beach and, in my opinion, pure bliss. Unlike some of the more commercial Asian beach destinations, Ngapali is untouched and boasts crystal clear waters. We stayed in the Amazing Hotel which has stunning sea front villas and is perfect for a relaxing few days on the beach. As you can imagine, the sea food here was completely fresh and absolutely delicious!

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Tip: The time to visit Ngapali is now! We all know how precious it is to find a beach location that isn’t swarming with tourists but still houses a further selection of luxury beachfront hotels such The Amata and Ngapali Bay.

Day Four:


The day we had all been waiting for... Bagan. It didn’t take long before its transcendence became apparent.  Having climbed to the top of one of the temples, we gained a 360 degree view of the surrounding landscape. Thankfully, we were blessed with clear skies; enhancing the distinctively breath-taking views over the temple dotted plains. We spent the day exploring the interiors of the temples and learning more about the life of the Buddha. We also spent some time experiencing Nyaung u, an authentic Burmese village which gave us the opportunity to purchase some local goods and mingle with the vendors. The mystical atmosphere surrounding Bagan is something I will truly never forget. I found it mysterious, exciting and vibrant, but also gentle and romantic. What better way to end the day than a relaxing sunset boat trip across the Ayerwaddy river (don’t forget your picnic and a bottle of wine!).

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Tip: After a long day of exploring, retire back to my personal favourite Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Hotel and experience luxury accommodation in a truly stunning setting overlooking the Ayerwaddy River. Noted by the locals as the best location in Bagan


Day Five:

We arrived into Mandalay airport bright and early. Our day consisted of strolling along U Bein, admiring the longest teak bridge in the world and observing how locals live in the villages on either side. In the afternoon, we visited the Shwenandaw Monastery and were able to witness a day in the life of the monks and nuns who reside there. This was a unique and humbling experience and you really gained an insight into the Buddhist faith in practice, which dictates a good work ethic, belief and good will. In the late afternoon, after sampling the local tea, we were driven up to Mandalay Hill and admired the iconic view across the whole city. It was another example of Myanmar showcasing its natural beauty from every angle, and a true highlight of the trip.

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Tip: One or two days in Mandalay is ample. Spend the first half of each day sightseeing and then relax around the pool at The Sedona, before embarking into the city for a bite to eat and a spot of shopping late afternoon!


Days Six & Seven:


Just when I thought Myanmar had played all of its cards, we landed in Heho and transferred to Inle Lake. Wow! For me, this was the location that exceeded my expectations. We spent two days here cruising down the lake in traditional fishtail boats, vising local villages, religious sites and markets on the water, and marvelling at the way the local farmers live their lives self-sufficiently. The beauty of the lake itself is enhanced with the mountainous views in the distance. An additional highlight was our cycle to a local vineyard where we admired the view whilst sampling various wines. We spent our last afternoon relaxing at The Novotel Inle Lake in the infinity pool, which offered a magnificent view over the lake.

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Tip: Spend one night in the village of Nyaung Shwe where you are able to walk to local shops and restaurants. Our accommodation here at View Point Lodge was central and had a charming boutique feel to it- I was most impressed with the hosting and not forgetting to mention the delicious breakfast!


Day Eight:


Home time for the Travelbag team. We flew to Yangon and connected back over to Bangkok; what an amazing journey! Special thanks to Diethelm travel and specifically our guide Niy Niy, who kept us smiling and laughing everyday. A very knowledgeable and warm hearted individual who clearly loves his job and country.

 If you are a seasoned far east traveller like myself and are looking for a new experience to incorporate into your next multi-centre holiday, Myanmar will definitely provide you with exactly that - and so much more besides.
The key here is not to expect miracles or five star service as this is country that is learning and developing with every new tourist that enters. Therefore, it is imperative you embrace its nature to get the most out of your experience. You have a very unique opportunity to visit a country that is still very much in its infancy compared to its bordering nations; and it was impossible for me to not find that completely and utterly endearing.


I hope my journey has inspired you to take your interest in Myanmar to the next step. Thankfully it is part of my job description, and of course a pleasure to share my experiences, so please do get in touch!


I look forward to putting an itinerary together for you very soon.


Tanya Parry
Travel Consultant (Travelbag Chester)
Direct line: 0207 001 4224

 

Here are some photos I took on the trip:

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