Why Myanmar is the Next Backpacking Paradise
Backpacking in Myanmar used to be totally impossible. In the aftermath of the Cyclone Nargis in 2008 and the general elections held by the regime in 2010 Myanmar gradually started to open up again, at least for foreign tourism. These days not only tour groups are welcomed who refill the regime`s empty pockets directly, but also individual travelers. Compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors, Mynamar`s (tourist) infrastructure is quite low at present. Nevertheless, Myanmar will be the next backpacking paradise of Asia. And I tell you why!
Low Travel Costs
A few years ago transport and accommodation options were so scares that travelers had to pay absurdly high prices only to receive basically nothing in return. But these days are gone. You can travel for around twenty US Dollars a day as I`ve recently shown in Travel Costs in Myanmar 2015. That said it can easily be compared with other Asian backpacking paradises such as Thailand, Indonesia or the Philippines. I personally spent 22.40 US Dollars a day while traveling through Myanmar. Check the diagram bellow for costs in US Dollars per day per item of expenditure.
Easy to Get a Visa, for Almost All people with a Passport
A quick look at the visa application requirements shows that for most people who own a valid passport (exception: African passport holders) it`s rather easy to obtain a visa for Myanmar nowadays. Notably in Bangkok, Thailand, you can get a regular tourist visa for Myanmar within a day or two. E-Visa is only an option if you fly into Myanmar.
Over Land Travel is Possible
While it was virtually impossible to cross Myanmar over land a year ago, the borders are now open, at least for the moment. So you can travel from Thailand to India and vice versa without even seeing an airport from inside. However, you still have to deal with some paperwork for the India-Myanmar border crossing weeks before you want to cross. And it costs you one hundred US dollars.
People in Myanmar are Extremely Friendly
I experienced the people in Myanmar (including all kinds of ethnic minorities) as very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. They are ready to assist you whenever you need help. They rarely try to rip you off. And they smile, even if life was and is not so fun for the great majority of the people in Myanmar. These smiles truly give you a good feeling no matter how hard a day of traveling is. Myanmar may be golden, but it`s the smiles that you will remember most about Myanmar.
Myanmar is Beautiful & Mostly Unspoiled by Tourism
Burma and especially a majority of its people went through exceptionally tough times in the last decades. The military regime sealed the country off from the rest of the world, ruined its economy and made any development opportunities impossible. This dark past (that has still not entirely ended) lead to the Myanmar as it is today. It remained mostly unspoiled by tourism. So it`s the perfect time to visit Myanmar as an individual traveler; no hassle, many invitations by locals, few entrance fees, few tourist prices, … And Myanmar is beautiful. Go assure yourself!
Time Travel Opportunity
Myanmar allows you to travel back into your grandmother`s time or even further back. In rural and urban areas, manual labour predominates. Machines are rare. Although truck-like vehicles exist, oxes still pull chariots loaded with all kind of goods. Women and men carry heavy bundles of firewood or bricks on their heads.
Myanmar is a Safe Place, at least for Foreigners
Paradise should be a safe place, shouldn`t it? If Myanmar should be a backpacker`s paradise, then it should be safe for backpackers to roam around the country without worrying too much about their belongings getting stolen. And guess what? It is safe. Every local will assure you that Myanmar is the safest place on earth at least once in a while. People walk around with their wallets and cellphones in their longyis, not even trying to hide what they got. If you`re still not sure about the safety status of Myanmar, I recommend checking other helpful online pages about Myanmar, e.g. go-myanmar.com.
Escape form the Backpacker Crowd & Mass Tourism
If you have enough of the massive backpacker crowd that roams forth and back between Vietnam and Indonesia, head to Myanmar. It`s still “backpacker free” except in some places along the main tourist trail (Yangon, Bagan, Inle lake, Hsipaw), if one can already speak of a tourist trail. Large groups of tourists I have only spotted in Yangon and Bagan, yet.
What is your opinion about Myanmar becoming the very next Backpacking Paradise? Do you see the same potential in Myanmar as the new Backpacker Country? Let me know about it!
Traveling Greets from India
Patric Ganz, alias Traveling Pat
Backpacking in Myanmar is awesome! THANKS for liking this article!