A great deal has been changing over the last couple of years. This Southeast Asian country has gone from being a military junta isolated from the world to a nation pursuing democracy which opened up following the 2010 elections and the November release that year of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who had been under house arrest for almost 15 years.
Burma remains a rustic place to visit and it is relatively undeveloped. The country is yet to be completely overwhelmed by Western fashion. Everywhere you go you’ll encounter men wearing skirt-like longyi, women smothered in traditional make-up and betel-chewing grannies. People get around in trishaws and horse and cart. Drinking tea is enthusiastically embraced in thousands of traditional teahouses. Life continues to move at a snail’s pace and modernisation has been equally slow, but change is coming and each day sees more new cars on the streets, but they still share the roads with horse carts, trishaws, bicycles, and motorbikes.
Of course all of this is part of Burma’s charm. Equally alluring are its gleaming pagodas, historic temple complexes that rival Cambodia’s great Angkor complex, and lush landscapes distinguished by forested mountains, tranquil lakes, picturesque rivers, and impressive caves.
Not yet jaded by tourism – tourists remain a novelty in Burma – the Burmese are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet and encounters with locals are a highlight of a trip.