Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been an intriguing country with a long history in Southeast Asia. With her doors closed to the outside world for many decades, Myanmar is slowly opening her doors to the world again, welcoming visitors back to the Golden Land. Their doors opened up a few years ago and many opportunities appear, slowly opening up to the world, with tourism and travel being one of the key industry sectors to benefit Myanmar in her quest for economic development and growth.
I recently went for a short 4D3N trip to Yangon (with 2 nights in Yangon), Myanmar, my maiden trip to the Golden Land and I was really looking forward to it. Coming from different perspectives of a traveler, photojournalist and hospitality graduate, my 4 days of adventure was a fruitful and interesting travel photography adventure. Besides being a leisure trip, it was also an ideal timing to observe the business opportunities in the tourism, travel and hospitality sectors.
The streets of Yangon left me a deep impression for a very different reason, left hand drive like the United States of America, vehicles of both right hand and left hand drive are allowed on their roads in Yangon. Different brands and types of cars are filling up the roads and it’s starting to get crowded. There aren’t any motorcycles allowed on the roads in Yangon (they only appear in the night). The public transport buses is going to be a challenge for the international visitors, the culture of riding public transport is kind of no rules yet you know how to board and ride the buses to your destinations. Taxis are your home sedan cars with a taxi sign pasted on top of their roof, operating without meters.
Urban landscapes are slowly changing and more high-rise apartments are appearing in Yangon. The mixture of new and very old buildings together side by side is a common sight and this is probably going to change in the next 3-5 years. I can sense the change in the air, new building constructions, buildings and sub-urban hubs. The changes will take time and it’s happening right now in Yangon.
The culture and lifestyle is like going back in time, where the pace of life is not that fast and furious yet (with the exception of the traffic on the roads). The markets and roadside stalls, give Yangon its distinctive sights and character. I had an interesting time walking down the roads and trying to discover some old photography treasures within them, although unsuccessful, I might just try again to find some treasures there! For street photography lovers, you would love Yangon for its roadside markets and stalls, and the night street scenes at their Chinatown.
One of my best travel photography memories there in Yangon was the Shwedagon Pagoda. It’s absolutely gorgeous, grand and amazing. No simple words can describe, just photographs and being there personally to soak in the stature and ambience of the Shwedagon Pagoda, will you feel the words that sometimes travelers can’t describe. I didn’t get to spend enough time there and I probably need at least a half-day trip to Shwedagon Pagoda when I visit Yangon again in the future. The colonial building in the heart of the Downtown area, where the Sule Pagoda is located, shows the roots and connections with the British Empire.
What are the opportunities for Myanmar in their travel and tourism sectors? In my personal opinion, it’s primed for some big massive growth and expansion. There is a need for more accommodation and Yangon is going to be the springboard for travelers moving out of Yangon to other world famous areas such as Bagan and Mandalay. The coastal areas and many islands located at the Southern part of Myanmar are a really huge potential area for tourism and hospitality expansion, an area that I will cover about shortly in another post.
Maybe we need to give them 5 to 10 years; maybe they can do it with a shorter time frame. Along with new infrastructure developments, relaxation of visas into Myanmar, we will probably see many changes and improvements. Let’s hope that the markets, lifestyle and roadside stalls are still a part of the new country in the future. Myanmar is definitely a photographer’s dream destination; check out my earlier post on 7 Days in Myanmar! I am planning a trip in the future to their famous destinations such as Inle Lake, Bagan, Mount Popa, U Bein Bridge in Mandalay and Kyaiktiyo Pagoda a.k.a. Golden Rock. I will love to produce my own personal 7 Days in Myanmar travel photography book in the future!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to the Golden Land!