Burma/Myanmar, has probably not been at the top of your travel list. Until recently, this South East Asia country was boycotted by travelers because of a hard line military government, that disallowed opposition to its rule. Economic sanctions have been in place for decades.
But now, the Burmese democratic opposition is supporting responsible travel to Burma… (avoid tourist establishments with ties to the govt.) & the boycott: lifted.
So it’s time to go!
I just went with four girlfriends… although we saw this undeveloped country from a unique perspective: from a boat in bikinis almost 24/7.
Yes, I visited the mainland town of Kawthoung…
but I spent most of my 8 days cruising the some of the hundreds of islands in the Mergui Archipelago in the Andaman Sea, just off the coast of Burma.
How you travel there is up to you. Staying on land: it is very rough. Gotta be careful about what you eat… it is very primitive and raw – not many places like this left in the world. Very little internet service – it is reported on www.travel.state.gov that one tourist at a hotel tried sending a photo via email and was charged $2000. The govt reportedly views all emails as well. But – the things to see on land are incredible.
By sea: Gorgeous. Peaceful. And I admit – totally decadent. Not many people can afford to charter a yacht and do this.
Having said that, going by sea is a subject about worth learning…. There are responsible tours that don’t have ties to the govt & help locals. These tour groups can assist you plan and even charter your own yacht.
We had a fantastic guide with us the entire time and felt completely safe. The locals we encountered were kind and happy to see us -
some invited us into their homes…
and the fishermen invited us on their boats.
It is an utterly different world, and snatched a piece of my soul.
To travel by boat, you get to visit places where there are no other tourists… we didn’t see any at all, except a Russian dive boat, and probably saw total about 40 other people/locals the entire time we were there.
We were anchoring at uninhabited islands… stand up paddling every morning to a beautiful sunrise…
walking every day on virgin sand littered with whole, unbroken shells.
Our favorite we named ‘Sand Dollar Beach” because curiously enough, only sand dollars littered the shore.
And did I mention oh so blue turquoise waters?
We sailed near dolphins…
and witnessed sunsets that would make even non-believers faithful.
Another advantage of the boat: We also felt safe eating the food because our crew stocked it form safe sources.
In my upcoming posts I will highlight specific islands or attractions from my trip. This is just a brief overview.. I know I can’t do this trip justice, but I will try.
If you are at all interested in exploring this region of the beautiful world, here are some sources – I can’t recommend them personally because I’ve never used them, but it is a place to start. Like I always say, “Dream Big.”
Some of the yachting companies I’ve researched charge around $1800 per person for 7 nights… that includes food and water activities – no entry visas, etc. The fuel is really expensive, so with the price of gas going up, so may your chartered yacht experience.
Also a good current resource is www.lonelyplanet.com/myanmar-burma.
I didn’t find our own government’s website to be as current.