Top Five Reasons to Cruise Myanmar (Burma)
In this article, you will find the Top five reasons to Cruise Myanmar (Burma). Myanmar is a country located in the heart of Southeast Asia bordered by Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, Thailand, and the Bay of Bengal. There are many ways to visit this spectacular country, but here are our top five reasons to cruise.
One of the top five reasons to cruise Myanmar would have to be the spectacular landscape you see as you cruise the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers. The region has an unspoiled beauty of centuries ago. You will not see skyscrapers, apartment complexes, or shopping malls along the river. What you will see are small villages, farmers tending to their crops with ox and yoke, lush green hills, palm tree-dotted shorelines, beautiful golden plains, ancient monuments, and spectacular blue skies that change to a palate of reds and oranges as the sun dips below the horizon.
Myanmar is home to many architectural marvels. The city of Bagan, just off the banks of the Irrawaddy River, is home to more than 2,000 unique temples, pagodas, and stupas constructed between the 9th and 13th centuries. Each structure has its own unique design, with many featuring distinct Buddha images, hand painted frescos, and intricate stone carvings. Other examples can be found among the small river towns along the Irrawaddy River, such as the remarkably preserved British colonial buildings and a beautiful 19th century teak-wood monastery in Sale, and the gilded Mya Tha Lun Pagoda of Magwe, with breathtaking views of the surrounding river. Throughout the Irrawaddy River valley, you will find spectacular examples if construction and architecture.
Myanmar and the Irrawaddy River Valley have a very rich and interesting history that will fascinate any history buff or casual observer. Archaeological evidence has shown that modern humans have occupied the region since about 11,000 BC. Eventually, many city-states began to appear throughout the Irrawaddy River valley, and were eventually consolidated into the ‘Pagan Kingdom’ around the mid-11th century, lasting nearly 250 years. Later, the region split into smaller warring states for several centuries. More recently, in the mid-19th century, Myanmar (Burma) fell under British rule following three ‘Anglo-Burmese Wars. Myanmar would not regain independence again until after World War II, thanks in part to national hero General Aung San. In 1962, the military took control of the country through coup d'état, maintaining full control until democratic reforms began in 2011. In November of 2015, the National League for Democracy, party of Aung San Suu Kyi (former political prisoner and daughter of General Aung San), won an absolute majority in the national parliament and in April of 2016 Aung San Suu Kyi assumed the role of State Counselor (similar to Prime Minister).
A very diverse range of cultures exist within Myanmar, especially along the Irrawaddy River, which brings life to much of the country. The culture that exists today is centered around Theravada Buddhism and the local Bamar culture. Bamar culture has been greatly influenced by cultures of neighboring countries such as China, India, and Thailand. This can be seen most prominently in the language, cuisine, music, dance, and theater. However, in a traditional village, the monastery is the center of cultural life, and Buddhist monks are well respected throughout the local community. Theravada Buddhism says that insight must come from a person’s experience, application of knowledge, and critical reasoning.
Myanmar is known to many as the land of smiles. This is reflected by the warmth and hospitality of the local people you will meet as you travel the country. From the local villagers you will meet along the Irrawaddy River to the crew members aboard the ships that ply the waters, you will always find a smiling face greeting you. The local people always seem to be happy to share their culture, history, and experience with those willing to learn.