Photo Of The Day: U Bein Bridge Sunset

Myanmar’s iconic U Bein bridge, near the ancient Burmese capital of Amarapura, is a much beloved (and photographed) site among tourists and visitors to this intriguing Southeast Asian nation. Today’s shot, taken by Flickr user American Jon, is a fantastic example of what makes this ancient wooden structure so visually captivating. The teak bridge’s long expanse, when photographed against the early morning/late day sun, makes for a striking silhouette. This particular shot is all-the-more eye-catching due to the dramatic clouds in the background.

Taken any great photos during your travels? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Flickr user American Jon]

Travels In Myanmar: Under A Night Sky

I had no idea what to expect that morning in Yangon. Inside the city’s once grand but now decrepit train station, a few lonely bulbs fought weakly against the dark. Across the arrivals hall was the silhouette of my transport, an intimidating iron locomotive. I moved hesitantly towards this slumbering rusty giant, past anonymous passengers squatting on the cracked cement floor, huddled in the chill of pre-dawn. The station’s shadows whispering with nervous energy. Who knew where this day was headed?

In the vague outlines of my journey, only one detail was certain: I was in a country called Burma (or was it called Myanmar?) and determined to witness a mysterious festival of “Fire Balloons” in a distant Shan State town of Taunggyi. Beyond that, I knew little. The previous day I had wandered into a travel agency hoping to find a way to get to the festival. Buses and flights there were full, and the agent had suggested heading north to the rail depot at Thazi to arrange further transport. It sounded like a half-baked plan. But with dwindling options and a burning desire to witness this strange festival, I had agreed.

As I considered my uncertain itinerary, the shaky locomotive rumbled its way out of the station in a fog of anxious dawn. The ancient carriage embraced a landscape of endless, monochrome-green farm fields, shrouded in a mist of faint light. A treacherous white-hot sun soon pierced the horizon, igniting a furnace of unrelenting heat. Out the window I could make out distant water buffaloes lumbering across shimmering rice paddy fields, trailed by men hidden beneath sun hats. Amtrak this was not.

Inside the train car, red-robed monks stripped to the waist in the warmth, fanning themselves with wilting sports pages. Meanwhile, men puffed on fragrant cheroot cigarettes, the smoke curling its way into every orifice and fabric. Young boys roamed the aisles hawking glistening nooses of freshly plucked chickens, while the heat painted sweat stains in mosaics on my pants and shirt. I sat stewing in this pungent mixture of sweat, billowing cheroot smoke and grease, drowning in second thoughts as the reality of the unknown journey inched forward.

My motivation for visiting Burma had so far escaped introspection. Romanced by visions of countless travel writers and the exotic, I had left my job and life behind, traveling alone to this reclusive Southeast Asian nation in search of something different. I wanted to have an adventure and discover some deeper meaning to my journey. But as the hours bobbed and squeaked past tiny wooden villages and muddy brown farm fields, fat and thick with monsoon rain, I felt invisible and wracked with uncertainty. I desperately craved something familiar – an anchor to the reality I had discarded far behind in my relentless search for discovery.

Twelve dripping, exhausted hours later, a small triumph shook me from my daze. Thazi! I made it! But Burma wasn’t ready to let me off easily. The plan was to meet some other travelers in Thazi and find a ride – but I was the only one there. Come to think of it, Thazi didn’t even have a bus station. It was no more than a dusty main road littered with stray dogs and wobbly Japanese pickups. It was nearly dark and I was fenced in by my stupid choices. Growing nervous with dwindling options, I stumbled to a nearby pickup truck owner and pleaded for assistance.

“Can you…take me to Taunggyi?” I asked haltingly. The man sized up the tall foreigner in his midst, grinning at his luck.

“Maybe tomorrow. 20,000 kyat.” he spat out, with a smile.

My shoulders sagged. The vehicle was barely upright, let alone roadworthy – the cream-colored exterior was polka-dotted with rust. Four balding tires looked ready to deflate or burst, I couldn’t tell which. But the prospect of spending the night in that strange city, alone, drove me to further action.

“I’ll pay 10,000, and I want to leave tonight,” I countered.

The owner grimaced and crossed his arms in thought. Meanwhile a visibly intoxicated man and several kids crowded behind us, intrigued by the transaction. The cost was worth less than a dinner back home, but it felt like something large was at stake.

“OK, we go – but very far. You pay 15,000.”

Adrenaline surged. Taunggyi was now within my grasp! How naive I was. The truck still needed to fill with passengers and goods before it would depart. We waited for what seemed like hours. Six women climbed into benches in the back. Three more men perched themselves above the truck’s metal scaffolding. A precariously stacked bundle of wicker baskets was lashed to the roof. The truck looked less like transport than a vehicular Jenga game ready to topple. I sat on the curb, eyes wide and mouth agape. The drunken man from earlier hovered over me babbling, gesturing at the pickup and chuckling.

The evening was well under way before we departed. I climbed into the pickup’s front cabin with the owner and a young camouflage-clad man named Mikey, my knees jammed against the dash and head poking against the cabin’s roof, backpack shoehorned beneath my knees. The intimate seating arrangements encouraged Mikey to strike up a conversation.


“Where you come from?” Mikey inquired in his halting English.

I got asked this question a lot while I was in Burma. Frequently the desired answer had less to do with learning your citizenship than simply conjuring your state of mind.

“Man, it’s been such a long day, I can’t even remember anymore” I groaned.

We set off shakily, our pickup struggling to gain speed with its massive load. A horse-drawn cart rolled past, leaving our shaky vehicle in the dust. Shortly after departing Thazi, the pickup had its first breakdown. An hour later, the owner stopped to secretly siphon gas into the tank from a roadside oil drum. As we drove, Mikey chain-smoked unfiltered cigarettes blowing smoke in my face in between eruptions of flatulence and cackling giggle fits with the driver. Spending the night in Thazi began to look like an attractive option.

Despite the setbacks, I realized my earlier anxiety was gone. Each unexpected stop seemed less like a challenge than a bizarre novelty. I found myself smiling at the ridiculousness of it all. Mikey even bought me a can of iced coffee, trading a grin and thumbs up of solidarity. As I sipped my shockingly sweet Coffee King beverage, I happened to glance up at the night sky, which had unfurled itself behind the Shan foothills like a blanket of twinkling brilliance. Sparkling meteorites zipped and swooshed with startling frequency. Distant constellations seemed to pulse and move like the rhythm of a cosmic ocean. In my semi-lucid state, I stared in wonder, mouth agape. At that moment, all the doubts, insecurities and vanities of my journey faded. This was exactly where I needed to be.


After each repair, we were back on the road, our ride wobbling ever higher in the foothills of Shan State. The smooth pavement became a dirt road treacherous with potholes. It was not much more than a single car wide, and we had to share with the hulking Chinese semis lumbering past, showering our vehicle with aromas of diesel fumes and dust. It was all I could do to keep from gagging on these noxious clouds, fortifying myself with the knowledge that clean night air would soon return to my window, along with that luminous sky.

Seven hours passed before the lights of Taunggyi shined in the distance, glittering like a city on a hill. It had been over 20 hours since I left Yangon that morning. I found the nearest guesthouse, banged on the door until it opened and collapsed on a bed. My longest day soon faded into the memory of the stillness of night.

Life frequently requires us to make decisions without fully understanding their impact. I keep asking myself the same questions about my purpose and finding no clear answers. Where am I headed? What’s the point? With so much uncertainty and doubt, it’s easy to believe I’ve lost my way. Except that I haven’t. Whenever I have these moments of doubt I remind myself to take a deep breath, and look up at the night sky. Suddenly I find myself transported back to that night in Burma when I rediscovered my purpose, gazing up at a blanket of stars shimmering with light.

The magic of Bagan – 3 days in Burma

Bagan is an ancient city in a troubled country. Thousands of temples, pagodas, and stupas unfold across the dusty plains as if they have grown here organically from the ground for millenia. It is a place that feels older than time. The ambitions of this primeval capital are evident in every direction. The sheer number of ancient structures is at once baffling and awe-inspiring. No place on earth reflects this grandiose quality of scale as much as Bagan.

Reaching Bagan requires some motivation, but the journey is worth it. First, one must travel to Burma’s old capital, Yangon (Rangoon). This is possible and cheap on Air Asia and can be accomplished from either Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur. Alternately, JetStar flies to Yangon from Singapore. Once in Yangon, traveling to Bagan can be accomplished by domestic flight, bus, or train. Flights can be purchased at Yangon airport or through a tour company in advance for under $100 each way. The flight takes under one hour. While several airlines exist, I prefer Air Bagan. By train, the journey departs in the afternoon and arrives the morning of the following day. For train timetables, check the man in seat sixty-one. If you are really a sucker for torture, take the overnight bus from Yangon to Bagan. Both train and bus tickets can be purchased at the Yangon train station. Upon arrival, all visitors are required to purchase a $10 ticket for entry to Bagan.

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Day One – Explore Old Bagan by bicycle
One of the best things about Bagan is its remoteness and lack of tourist hordes. It is a tough place to reach, and therefore you will have much of it to yourself. If Bagan existed in a more tourist friendly country, then this would not be the case. This combination of ancient splendor and tepid tourism is unparalleled in the modern world. It makes for great exploration. You are free to take it all in without dodging flappy-hatted loons shuffling off of tourist buses.

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Renting a bicycle and exploring Bagan brings to focus the completeness and size of this ancient wonderland. The emptiness is haunting and not unlike traveling back in time. Thousands and thousands of crumbling pagodas stretch out for miles – baking in the hot Burmese sun. Find a dirt road and set out in any given direction, stopping to investigate charming ruins along the way. When entering temples, be sure to always leave your shoes or sandals at the entrance, or you risk offending your gracious Burmese hosts. You will meet several kind locals, many of which speak English. Some sell handmade paintings and lacquerware for attractive prices. Near dusk, climb to a peaceful vantage point on a tall pagoda and watch the sun set beyond the ethereal plains.

After the sun sets, stop into a local eatery for dinner. Yar Pyi Vegetarian Restaurant is a family run affair and serves delicious vegetarian platters.

For lodging, Kaday Aung is a great low cost option with $21 rooms and a nightly puppet show. For an upscale option, Kumudara is a great hotel. Both options have swimming pools. A night swim is a great way to end a day on the dusty plains.

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Day Two – Mount Popa and rural villages
Start your day with breakfast at your hotel or guesthouse and arrange for a driver to take you to Mount Popa and the nearby volcanic plug of Taung Kalat. Mount Popa is an ancient volcano reaching a mile into the sky from the flat plains of central Burma. Taung Kalat dramatically erupts out of the earth next to Mount Popa – a striking aberration in the rolling hills and plains. A monastery precariously grips the pinnacle of Taung Kalat and is a popular point of pilgrimage. Gangs of monkeys occupy the 777 steps that slither to the top. The macaques posture for edible handouts and generally cause mischief.

bagan burmaAt the summit, Popa Taung Kalat Monastery is home to the 37 Great Nats – ancient spirits of Burmese legends. Many of the Nats died violent deaths and have lived on in spirit form atop this steep precipice 30 miles outside of Bagan. The worship of Nats predates Buddhism, though has been widely incorporated into the Buddhist religion, especially in rural Burma. Pilgrims give offerings to specific Nats for specific types of spiritual assistance, ranging from beauty to luck. For example, an offering of whiskey to Min Kyawzwa will give you immense luck in gambling. In life, Min Kyawzwa lived a rowdy life filled with boozy cockfighting and expert horsemanship. The Nats’ place atop Taung Kalat and their worship as ancient spirits is analogous to Mount Olympus and the gods of Greek mythology.

The climb is not arduous at all, though bring some water. Since you must leave your shoes at the entrance, you will be humbly sidestepping monkey poo en route to the summit. The views from the top of Taung Kalat are unparalleled, and on a clear day, you can see all the way to Bagan.

After leaving the Mount Popa area, visit one of the many rural villages that hug the bumpy road back to Bagan. Rural families are extremely welcoming and will give you a silent tour of their iron age cooking apparatuses and moody bovine roommates. Outdoor classrooms are filled with little monks and villagers will offer free handfuls of salty fresh cooked peanuts. There are many rural delights in small villages where life is undeniably simple.

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Day Three – Temple hopping with a guide
On your third day, hire a local English speaking guide to show you some of the main temples in Bagan. Hiring a local guide is very inexpensive and will provide an informative angle on Bagan’s history. Your guide may also want to indulge in the taboo of discussing the Myanmar political situation. While cruising across the temple scattered lowlands, your betel nut chewing comrade may wax political on a number of eyeopening topics. The setting and topical nature of conversation can make for a powerfully resonating experience. Don’t press the political topic though. Some guides are government employees, or worse, spies. It is wise to err on the side of caution when discussing politics and to let your Burmese hosts instigate conversation. Your guesthouse or hotel will be able to arrange a sufficient guide.

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Some of the top temples in Bagan include Shwezigon Pagoda, Ananda Temple, Dhammayangyi, and Thatbyinnyu. Shwezigon houses Buddha’s tooth along with some of his bones. The glittering dome was originally built in the 12th century and is a fine example of a golden stupa. It is similar to Shwedagon in Yangon, except without the crowds. Ananda temple in Old Bagan is almost a thousand years old and done in an entirely different style. The monk architects that designed and built Ananda were murdered by King Kyanzittha after completion to insure that no temple like it would ever be built again. The structure is said to be perfectly symmetrical with an interior ambiance similar to a Himalayan cave. Onward, the massive Dhammayangyi temple is the largest structure in Bagan, but the interior has been mysteriously bricked up.

bagan burmaExploring the larger temples and stupas is a rewarding experience. Your guide can explain the contours of history surrounding each temple, framing the significance of their existence. At each temple, you must remove your shoes and socks before entering. Since many temple grounds have large outdoor areas, your feet will be scorched by the sun baked tile and brick ground. Racing between shaded clearings like a hobbled geriatric is an awkward and humorous component to temple exploration.

Near dusk, head over to Shwe San Daw pagoda. Follow the steps up to one of the high terraces for a great view out over the plains. It is the perfect location to watch the sun set over Old Bagan and the Irrawaddy river to the west – a worthy ending to a sidestepping journey through time.

Other things to know
American dollars are widely accepted in Burma, but be warned, every dollar is heavily scrutinized and few will be appropriate enough for the intense Burmese qualifications. U.S. dollars cannot be too old or too new. The bills must also not have any creases or markings. The smallest marks, creases, and blemishes are examined like a diamond under a loupe.

Of the $1000 I brought with me to Burma, about $200 was in good enough condition to be accepted anywhere. It drove me crazy. The meticulous attention to detail was made all the more ironic by the decrepit looking Kyat that only my crispest U.S. dollars would be exchanged for. Kyat were frequently taped together and falling apart.

Since there are no ATMs in the entire country and credit cards are essentially useless, it is easy to be put in a very uncomfortable situation. I suggest bringing Baht for insurance since the Thai currency is not scrutinized at all and is generally accepted at a decent rate.

All photography by Justin Delaney

South by Southeast: Top 10 Southeast Asia

There’s a lot to see in Southeast Asia. Over the past five months, as I’ve traveled through this amazing region, it’s something I’ve experienced firsthand. From mind-blowing jungle ruins to outstanding food and world class beaches, there’s a never-ending wealth of curiosities for visitors. But with so much to see and do, it’s hard to know what to prioritize. Is Angkor Wat really as awesome as you’ve heard? Where should you go in Vietnam? Is it safe to eat the street food?

If you’ve been thinking about that dream trip to Southeast Asia but didn’t know where to start, today’s post is for you. We’re going to run through ten of Southeast Asia’s most amazing attractions, from the outstanding food to the best adventures and most awe-inspiring sights. Expect to find a few of the Southeast Asia’s most famous spots, along with my favorite “off-the-beaten path” Southeast Asian destinations from more than five months on the road. Ready to visit one of the world’s most fascinating regions? Keep reading below for our top ten picks…#10 – Bangkok’s Khao San Road
You simply can’t make a top 10 list on Southeast Asia without mentioning Bangkok’s Khao San Road. Love it or hate it, it’s the standard first stop for most Southeast Asian itineraries. The sheer volume of travelers, sizzling street food and range of shady characters ensure there’s always a good time and a story waiting to happen.

#9 – Street food in Ho Chi Minh City
The variety, quality and value of eating in Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is beyond compare. From the freshest ingredients to crispy French baguettes to the most extreme culinary adventures, the food scene in Saigon is sure to amaze and delight. Check out Gadling’s “South by Southeast” investigation of eating in Saigon if you want to learn more.

#8 – Thailand’s Tarutao National Marine Park
It’s really hard to pick a favorite island in Thailand. There’s literally hundreds of them. But when we saw the secluded beauties that make up the Tarutao National Marine Park in Southern Thailand, we were hooked. This chain of wild, jungle islands offers beach camping, peace and quiet and some amazing snorkeling. Though Ko Lipe has gotten rather busy, Ko Adang, Ko Tarutao and Ko Rawi remain delightfully undeveloped.

#7 – Exploring Angkor Wat
With almost two million visitors a year, it’s clear that Angkor Wat is one of Southeast Asia’s most popular tourist attractions. When you first set eyes on the stone giant that is Angkor’s main temple, you’ll understand why. The intricate carvings and sheer size of this ancient archaeological marvel are simply mind-blowing. If you’re heading to Cambodia for a visit make sure to check out our 5 Angkor Wat tips.

#6 – Burma’s Taunggyi Balloon Festival
Burma (Myanmar), is the forgotten country of Southeast Asia. Visitors stay away because of the country’s hard-line military government. But those who make the trip inside this cloistered country come away awestruck by the sights and humbled by the friendly, welcoming citizens. This is particularly true at the annual Balloon Festival at Taunggyi, where hundreds of giant hot air balloons are launched into the sky over an eight day event. Make sure you read up on responsible travel to Burma if you want to go.

#5 – Wandering Luang Prabang
Is Luang Prabang the world’s most beautiful city? Achingly beautiful colonial French architecture, serene Buddhist temples and elegant palaces make this former royal capital of Laos a must on any Southeast Asia itinerary. Make sure to enjoy the town’s top-notch eating at spots like Tamarind and enjoy Luang Prabang’s buzzing night market.

#4 – Motorbiking the Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle, a remote region bordering Northern Thailand, Laos and Burma, just might be one of Southeast Asia’s last great exotic destinations. The area’s curvy mountain roads and remote villages make it haven for motorcycle trips. Increasingly popular routes, reliable maps and cheap bike rentals make it easy for even novice cyclists to grab a helmet and hit the open road. Check out our guide to motorcycle trekking to get started.

#3 – The Gibbon Experience in Laos
Want to feel like a kid again? Try sleeping in a tree house and flying around on zip lines in the jungles of Northern Laos, home to the legendary Gibbon Experience. This one-of-a-kind eco park is pioneering a new model of forest conservation and sustainable tourism. Not to mention you might get to see some wildlife and it’s a crazy good time too.

#2 – Trekking in Luang Namtha
Chiang Mai has Southeast Asia’s most popular treks, but they are often overcrowded and disappointing. Instead, head to Luang Namtha in Northern Laos, an increasingly popular base for hikers looking to visit remote hill tribe villages. Imagine waking to the sound of roosters, bathing in a river and drinking moonshine with a village chief.

#1 – The ruins of Bagan
Move over Angkor Wat. There’s a new champion in town. The ruins of Bagan, a stunning complex of over 2,000 deserted temples in Myanmar, is quite possibly the world’s most amazing sight. Spend your days exploring the ghostly structures by horse cart or bike, discovering ancient Buddhist murals and climbing hidden staircases to gorgeous 360 degree views. If you want to read more about Myanmar, check out our guide to ethically visiting this fascinating country.

Gadling writer Jeremy Kressmann spent the last five months in Southeast Asia. You can read other posts on his adventures “South by Southeast” HERE.

South by Southeast: Who goes to Myanmar?

Who does visit Myanmar these days? For Southeast Asia travelers exposed to a daily diet of CNN, Myanmar is literal no-fly zone, a destination with an infamous reputation for unrest, opium and political repression. Even as other “notorious” Asia destinations like Cambodia and Vietnam emerge into adolescence on the global tourist stage, Myanmar remains largely hidden from view – a mysterious actor shrouded in myth and secrecy.

It’s been nearly two years since Gadling’s Leif Pettersen first visited Myanmar, lifting the curtain on a country of sacred Buddhist shrines, Betel chewing and nary a fast food chain in sight. Not surprisingly, in the years since Leif’s visit, not much has changed. As I soon discovered, everything moves more slowly in Myanmar, from the masochistic 15-hour bus rides to the condensed milk that slowly oozes into your cup of Burmese tea. This “slowness” is further exaggerated by Myanmar’s isolation from the international community and the devastating Cyclone Nargis which hammered the country in 2008. The country’s already-meager tourist industry is still reeling from the shock.

But while Myanmar is indeed a tough place to visit, it rewards persistence. For Southeast Asia travelers willing to move beyond the media reports, one of the most incredible destinations on earth awaits your discovery: deserted temple ruins, gorgeous beaches, awe-inspiring festivals and most importantly, some of the friendliest, most welcoming people on earth. And despite what you’ve heard, Myanmar is actually one of the safest places to visit in Southeast Asia. Intrigued? Let’s start with a look at the details (and ethics) of visiting below…

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The Boycott
Let me dispense with the “elephant in the room” of Myanmar travel: the travel boycott. In short, the government of Myanmar has a long history of human rights abuses and political repression. This fact has long kept many travelers away, and many governments and organizations continue to urge travelers not to visit.

The pros and cons of visiting Myanmar could make up an article by itself, and there’s no simple answer to this question. Every traveler considering a trip should get the facts on the situation and answer this question for themselves. In writing about the country, my aim is to give potential visitors the information to help make that decision. A great place to start your investigation is over at Lonely Planet, which has a special section devoted to the debate surrounding travel to Myanmar.

Getting In

So what exactly is involved in entering Myanmar? Will you be strip-searched at airport? Taken hostage by balaclava-wearing rebels? Despite my initial misgivings, entering Myanmar was a relatively painless process. All that’s required is 30-day tourist visa available at most Myanmar embassies abroad for around U.S. $24. Any number of travel agencies, particularly those in Bangkok, can also guide you through the process if you’re willing to pay a little extra and/or don’t want to visit the embassy.

Getting Around

Traveling in Myanmar can be (literally) painful. Transportation options are slow, roads are poor and getting anywhere takes time. That said, the main transport options include:

  • Buses – Frequent buses connect the main tourist destinations in Myanmar. Buses are also the option most preferred by independent travelers, due to the fact they are privately (not government) owned.
  • Flights – if you’re not ready to tough it out for 15 hours on a stifling hot bus while your seat mate vomits out the window, flights are a good, if more expensive, alternative. Daily trips on Air Mandalay and Yangon Airways connect Myanmar’s major tourist sights. The state-run airline Myanmar Airways is to be avoided, both for safety and political reasons.
  • Taxis – another potential alternative to bus service hiring a private taxi, which can drive travelers between most destinations in Myanmar.
  • Trains – like much of the country’s infrastructure, Myanmar’s rail system is downright ancient. That said, daily trains are another (potentially) more comfortable alternative to the buses.
  • Boats – the most popular boat service runs between Bagan and Mandalay, with both a “fast” and “slow” boat service. Don’t let the world “fast” fool you: boat trips take anywhere from 9-15 hours.

For a complete rundown of options, refer to Lonely Planet’s excellent transportation overview.

What to See
The vast majority of Myanmar visitors spend their trip at “the big four” – a group that includes Yangon, Mandalay, Inle Lake and Bagan. The majority of these attractions, despite their supposed popularity, were relatively empty at the time of our visit. If you’re looking to get off the beaten track however, there’s plenty of small towns beyond these four main sights, begging to be explored. Here’s a quick roundup:

  • Yangon – Myanmar’s capital city until 2006, Yangon (Rangoon) remains the cultural and economic heart of Myanmar. Many visitors spend time getting lost in the city’s chaotic street culture and make a visit to Shwedagon Pagoda, one of Myanmar’s holiest Buddhist shrines.
  • Mandalay – the country’s second largest city, Mandalay is home to an intriguing patchwork of Chinese and Indian immigrants, royal palaces and plenty of good day trips, including the famous U Bein teak bridge in nearby Amarapura.
  • Bagan – if you think Angkor Wat is Southeast Asia’s most impressive temple complex, think again. The temple ruins of ancient Bagan are among the world’s most incredible archaeological sights. Spend your day biking among more than 2,000 deserted ruins, dating back over 800 years.
  • Inle Lake – arguably one of Myanmar’s most popular natural wonders, Inle Lake offers visitors an aquatic wonderland of floating vegetable gardens, jumping cats, and picturesque houses on stilts. A popular way to get around is by hiring your own boat for the day, visiting Buddhist temples and handicraft vendors.
  • Kalaw – the city of Kalaw is a popular starting point for treks, taking visitors past remote hill tribe villages and secluded Buddhist monasteries. Many travelers like to hike the short distance between Kalaw and nearby Inle Lake (around 2-3 days).

Hungry to learn more about Myanmar? Stay tuned…I’ll be sharing impressions and stories from my trip over the coming days.

Gadling writer Jeremy Kressmann is spending the next few months in Southeast Asia. You can read other posts on his adventures “South by Southeast” HERE.