Burma – 14 things you can only do here

Burma – 14 things you can only do here

Wherever your intuition leads you on your trip to Myanmar, you will undoubtedly get a lot of new impressions, be it just sitting in one of the city teahouses or some unusual ceremony.

We have selected 14 things that are definitely worth doing.

Burma – 14 things you can only do here

1. Have breakfast in the teahouse

Tea houses for Myanmar are not just cafes, they are a kind of social institutions that live by their own rules. In them, friendly waiters flash between tables, pouring a new portion of tea and serving snacks. Stop by one of them to try the national favorite soup, mohinga, or the Chinese traditional donut, char kway, along with delicious milk tea.

Burma – 14 things you can only do here

2. Rafting down the Irrawaddy River

The Irrawaddy River meanders from the foothills of the Himalayas, through Mandalats and Bagan, to the Andaman Sea. It is Myanmar’s most important waterway and is regularly used by both luxury cruise ships and small boats. Choose a boat of your own taste and climb aboard to see what life is like on the main river of the country. And yes, be careful: river dolphins live in the Irrawaddy, don’t miss it.

3. Plunge into the past

From the colonial-style streets, afternoon tea, to the mystical references to Orwell’s Burma Days, the influence of the British Empire is very noticeable here. And perhaps nowhere are these echoes more felt than in Memjo, a former railway station on the hill, where horse-drawn carriages are still the main means of transportation. Everything would be fine if these carriages did not move against the backdrop of teak mansions and city fortified towers to the ringing of a huge bell cast in honor of the jubilee of George V.

Burma – 14 things you can only do here

4. Try tea leaf salad

In Myanmar people love tea so much that they even eat it – in the form of a special salad, lahpet thouq. In addition to tea leaves, the main ingredients: garlic, beans, tomatoes, green chilies and a special dressing that resembles pesto in appearance, but with a high caffeine content.

This is a very popular dish among those who want to wake up.

Burma – 14 things you can only do here

5. Immerse yourself in Buddhism

One of the versions of Buddhism – Theravada – is distinguished by a lot of magic, which is felt both in stories and legends, and in conversations about temples. To get into the spirit and experience the difference, climb Mount Golden Rock,

Chat with the wandering monks at Pha An Pagoda and go up to the Buddha statue (via Mawlamyine).

6. Get to the Spirit Festival (nat ceremony)

The essence of this ceremony is dance, which is considered a kind of ritual of worshiping spirits. And this ceremony is one of the main ones for the believers of Myanmar. The faith itself is based on the idea that the world is ruled by undisciplined spirits. They can only be pacified by constant “gifts” – alcohol, money and music, which is somewhat contrary to the restraint and tranquility of Buddhism. But it seems that the residents themselves do not feel any imbalance and believe in both.

The largest spirit festival takes place every August in Taungbyone or Mount Popa, the most important spiritual center of Myanmar.

Burma – 14 things you can only do here

7. Take a train ride

Myanmar’s old, slow trains may not seem like the most convenient way to travel, it can be inconvenient and very long, but in return you will get a unique opportunity to watch the locals and maybe even chat.

Burma – 14 things you can only do here

8. Try thanaka

Every morning, local women and children paint their cheeks with a yellow liquid called thanaka, which both protects the skin from the sun and serves as a cosmetic product. The liquid itself consists of apple tree root, but smells a little like sandalwood. But you will almost immediately feel its effect: the cream will soothe irritated (or burnt) skin and give a wonderful smell.

9. Try on longyi

The next step after the thanaka cream is to try on a long skirt, which is worn by both men and women here. The men’s version (a paso) is distinguished by a knot and a more discreet pattern, while the women’s version (a htamein) is usually decorated with a more expressive pattern and a more beautiful belt around the waist. Choose the fabric you like and go to the tailor.

10. Become addicted to jaggery

Caramelized jaggery is one of the most favorite sweets for many locals and tourists. Some even call it “Burmese chocolate.” It can be sold either without additives or with coconut or sesame seeds.

11. Try local punch made from palm juice

All over Myanmar you will see bamboo stairs leading to the tops of palm trees – this is a sure sign that palm sap is extracted here, from which punch or wine is subsequently made. This is the only alcoholic drink that is produced in the country, and can only be found in budget bars in small towns – in close proximity to juice sources.

Burma – 14 things you can only do here

12. Get a taste of village life

Head to the hills of Shan State on one of the most popular trekking routes along Inle Lake. Or head north to Hsipaw and Kyaukme. Whatever you choose, you will probably have to spend the night in one of the mountain villages. And it will be an amazing experience.

Burma – 14 things you can only do here

13. Go to the market

Barefoot porters carry fruits and vegetables in narrow aisles, vendors lean on sacks of onions and smoke cigarettes, and shoppers sample mangoes and choose fresh fish. Even if you don’t need anything, just take a walk through one of the morning markets and you will definitely want to try, if not buy something.

Burma – 14 things you can only do here

14. Getting drenched at the Thingyan Festival

In theory, Thingyan is a week-long festival celebrating the Myanmar New Year (usually held in April),

when everyone must come to the conclusion that Buddhist truths are indisputable, but in essence they are just water skirmishes on a very large scale.

In April it is usually very hot, so it all starts with children going out into the streets to splash each other and passers-by, and eventually everyone gets involved. The celebration reaches its climax in Mandalay: here the hoses are used and musical accompaniment is added.

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