Bagan, Myanmar © CortoMaltese_1999
Myanmar, still known as Burma to many, is fondly referred to as 'the Golden Land' because of the abundant use of gold leaf on its temples and shrines. It is a country with a rich diversity of cultures, religions and languages - home to more than 100 ethnic groups - and a history spanning over three millennia, reflected in some of Southeast Asia's most opulently adorned temples. The majestic gold-plated Schwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, the temple ruins of Bagan, and the mystical Mandalay are just some of the unique drawcards that bring visitors to Myanmar's well-guarded borders.
Myanmar is situated along the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, and its northern borders stretch all the way up to the Eastern Himalayan mountain range. It borders India to the west, China to the north, and Thailand and Laos to the east. One third of Myanmar's perimeter is uninterrupted and largely undeveloped coastline.
This scenic country has a rocky political past. It was a British Colony from 1885 until 1948, and since independence has largely been ruled by a military dictatorship. However, Myanmar has taken long strides towards democracy in the last few years. Certainly, this once secretive and isolated country has enthusiastically flung open its borders to travellers, and although ethnic conflict is still a problem, foreigners are seldom the target of this violence. In fact, Myanmar has one of the lowest tourist crime rates in the world, so travellers can relax in the knowledge that their trip should be trouble-free.
Myanmar has only recently emerged as an international travel destination due to its internal politics, but the lovely beaches, incredible historical attractions, snow-capped mountains, and jungle wilderness have already attracted lots of attention. Myanmar is one of the most authentic and unspoiled countries in Asia, an irresistible destination for travellers wanting to experience the ancient traditions of the continent.