Over the past five years, Myanmar has come a long, long way. Plagued by civil wars and human rights atrocities for as long as most natives can remember, the country formerly known as Burma has experienced untold hardships for decades. But 2011 saw the military junta finally dissolve and, since then, there has been a slow emergence from the dark days of yore, especially with the first civilian president, Htin Kyaw, being democratically elected earlier this year, opening Myanmar up to the world. And that means the tourist industry has been rapidly growing in the past couple of years as visitors clamour to see this incredibly beautiful land.
Myanmar’s ancient city of Bagan is Southeast Asia’s oft overlooked temple hotspot, boasting Buddhist pagodas and monasteries that once stood 10,000 strong. The total now sits at around 2,200 due to years of war, decay and earthquakes. But these most definitely need to be seen. And the phrase ‘get there before the tourists ruin it’ rings true, so we recommend travelling to Bagan out of peak season, which basically means heading there in the rainy months between late May and early October. However, bear in mind that because Myanmar’s tourism industry is nascent, it does have its pros and cons. The cons are that it’s pretty pricy due to the lack of competition and, although getting around isn’t exactly difficult, it is tougher than, say, neighbouring countries like Thailand. But the positives far outweigh the negatives when visiting somewhere so incomparably otherworldly. So, off we go on our journey to take in a pagoda or two... thousand.