Previously known as Burma, Myanmar has enjoyed a recent boom in its tourism industry. Suddenly this small nation located in Southeast Asian is all over the news. A few things that have contributed to this increase in the recent economic growth, political stability (the civilian government took over power from junta), and several land mapping changes. Enough about that, let’s move on to the nitty-gritty of Myanmar tourism, shall we?
Beware of the Chaotic Traffic Jam
As a tourist, you are most likely to arrive via the Yangon International Airport which is located in Mingaladon, Yangon city. From there you take a taxi to Yangon town, which is the largest city in Myanmar and is also the former capital city. Currently, Naypyidaw (Nay Pyi Taw aka NPT) is the capital city. However, you’ll experience more city life in Yangon, even if the hotels here are more expensive as compared to NPT.
This city is full of motorists driving tuk-tuks, bicycle taxis, and handcarts. If you are lucky enough to survive being hit by a motorist, you’re most likely to bump into a street vendor. The town is that chaotic. But for what it’s worth, tourists don’t mind, and the locals are used to it.
However, if chaos is not your thing, try booking your hotel in NPT. Despite being the capital city, it is less occupied and still maintains extensive green lush vegetation. The hotel zones for foreigners are in Pohbbathiri, ekkhinathiri, and Uttarathiri. Never mind about the zones just remember your hotel name. The taxi drivers are quite knowledgeable.
The Popular City Market
This market is located in Yangon. If you choose to book your hotel in NPT, then you’ll use a taxi to the city market. The road joining the two cities is well maintained, and there are more than enough PSVs commuting as well. In this market, you’ll find a variety of commodities that will intrigue you.
First of all, the market is home to several street food vendors. The fastest way to sample a country’s cuisine is via the street food vendors. Try them out in the evening; you’ll find several of them in one spot. Chinatown, (24th to 19th streets) in downtown Yangon, is a favorite street food joint. If hygiene worries you, pop into the nearest café. They are cleaner than street food vendors.
Secondly, City Mart, Myanmar’s largest supermarket has a vast collection of products including foreign brands. So if the local cuisine doesn’t go well with your taste buds, you can always grab something from the supermarket.
There is also a market for antiques and locally made clothes. Grab yourself a souvenir to take back home. Finally, from Little India market head straight to the 26th Street (across the main road), for fresh meat and seafood.
The Local Cuisine
Myanmar is one of those countries that take pride in their local cuisine. You will spot several vendors hawking food around the major cities and especially around the bus and train terminals. Other than that, several street food vendors are strategically located along busy streets. The smell of freshly cooked food is always tantalizing.
Some of their typical delicacies include;
- Mohinga (rice noodles swimming in delicious fish broth).
- Dosa (a thin rice crepe) with peas, vegetables, and other toppings.
- Tofu thoke or salad (A mixture of tofu slices, fried shallots, kaffir lime leaves and a light dressing).
- Laphet thoke (pickled tea leaves salad).
- Burmese curries.
Guavas, mangoes, and large ripe bananas are very popular in the city.
The Capital City
Back at NPT, be sure to check out MICC 1 and 2 (Myanmar International Convention Centres). This is where official business goes down. Events and conferences are held in these centers. MICC is also strategically located near the foreigner's hotel zones. Therefore, you shouldn’t worry about finding your way back to the hotel.
These centers are also an excellent spot to catch up with family and friends back at home because they have free unlimited access to super-fast Wi-Fi.
Finally, wind down your evenings at the Water Fountain Park. The golden sunsets are a sight to behold. The fountain is also an impressive tourist attraction. The water dances in rhyme with the music. You also get a vast play area and a tall tower for unobstructed views of the capital city.
Take Home Point
Myanmar is a lovely place to sample what the Asian society has to offer. The people here are down to earth and always willing to help. Unlike other Asian countries, security in Myanmar is excellent, and you don’t always have to keep an eye on your luggage.
A word of advice:
Stay away from the train as a means of transport if you are a soft-spoken person. They are always overcrowded, and you’re likely to get several shoe bruises from passing and standing passengers. And when crossing the streets, beware of rowdy buses. They’ll never stop for you to cross.
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