Myanmar : The land of beauty, tradition and history (Nov 2017)
My next destination : Myanmar.
The Indian passport is not the most travel-friendly, but we’re lucky to have few exceptions – and the Myanmar tourist visa is one of them. The Myanmar e-visa is easy to apply for, and allows hassle-free entry into Myanmar.
Myanmar tourist eVisa application form
Start with filling the online Myanmar tourist visa application form on the official Ministry of Immigration website. Apart from general information, you’ll need to provide details of your occupation and address in Myanmar, and upload a passport photo.
Myanmar visa fee for Indians
The processing fee for the Myanmar e-Visa for Indian passport holders is 50$ (~INR 3500). The Myanmar tourist visa I received was a single entry visa that allowed me to stay in the country for 28 days.
Processing time for Myanmar e-Visa for Indians
The official processing time to receive your Myanmar e-Visa via email is 1 to 3 days. I got mine within 12 hours of applying!
If you’re short on time, you could apply for the Myanmar tourist visa express service, which will ensure you receive it within 24 hours. The processing fee for the Myanmar tourist visa express service is $56 (~INR 3900).
My travel experience
People asked me, Of all the places why Myanmar? Well! I have heard so much about Myanmar and how ‘the time comes to a stand still’. So, I was very curious to see this place from a long time and now, I can finally tick this destination out from my travel to do list.
The first thing I did after landing was to get a sim and load it in my phone. The airport taxis generally charge around 10000 kyat. So, I paid the same and the taxi dropped me in the hostel (Baoba bed). This hostel was a quaint little place, decent breakfast and clean restrooms.
This trip I decided to stay in hostels, in all the places. I wanted to get the actual experience of backpacking.
Day 1 :
This was in China town next to my hostel. This is suppose to be the city center. It was very nice to see these markets and it was lively in the nights. I had dinner in these street side places and the dinner costed me about 1 USD. It was so cheap and tasty too.
Day 2 :
I had only a day in Yangon, so decided to visit only Swegadon pagoda. It had four entrances and all the entrances had lifts. One should remember which entrance they had taken to go inside, so that it gets easier to get down to the same place. I had left my slippers in North entrance and went to all the three entrances to check it out.
Tip: The entrance fee was 8000 kyat and it is valid for whole day. So, one can see sun rise view and also can go back for sun set view. Generally, lot of people don’t know this, a local told me about this and that’s how I got to know.
Then, I took a flight from Yangon and went to Bagan. I stayed in a hostel Ostello Bello, that was the best hostel I have ever stayed in. It was a happening place. Lots of travelers, and you will come across lot of people and friends. I had stayed in 4 bed female dorm for 3 days there and every day I got to know new people from across the world, which was an amazing experience.
Bagan: On the banks of the Irrawaddy River, more than 3,000 temples stretch across a 30-square-mile plain in Bagan, Myanmar (formerly Burma). Most were constructed between 1057 and 1287 during a building frenzy initiated by King Anawrahta, who formed the first Burmese kingdom in 1044.
The best way to go around Old Bagan is to hire an e-Bike and travel around. This worked really well because you can go to all Pagodas and temples of your interest and you are independent to do what you want to do.
Tip: Hostel Ostello Bello was the best in town to stay for backpackers. It had all the facility from Laundary, to restaurant, to concierge etc…
The best thing about staying in hostel is you can club with people to organize your day trips which the cost can be shared with others. That way you can travel in a budget.
This place is called Mount Popa which was around 80 km from Bagan. It was a nice drive of 1.5 hrs one way, had to climb around 850 steps to get to the top. That days workout was taken care in this place. The view from the top was amazing though. This is a one day trip, you keep a day for this trip.
From Bagan around 12 km away is this market, which is a tourist attraction. One need to go in the morning to see how busy this place gets to be. You can see the locals shopping for the weeks items.
It was amazing to see so many temples and Pagodas in one area. One can try flying in air ballooning in the morning which will give a complete view of all the pagodas in Bagan.
I had a chance to see few villages around Bagan, and this picture is captured in one such village. If you see these villages it explains how people lead their life and you will get to know how they are 30 to 40 years behind the current world is. But, that kind of simple living was interesting to see.
Today I left early morning at 4 am and took a 11 hrs boat ride from Bagan to Mandalay. It was a long journey but it was OK due to nice scenic places on the way. Met a lady called Elena from Germany who gave me company in the boat. In the boat they provided simple but tasty lunch. Evening snack was also given. But it would be a good idea to carry something to eat in the boat. By around 5.30 pm we reached Mandalay.
I had a day in Mandalay and decided to see the 3 ancient villages in Mandalay. Though there are many other interesting places in Mandalay, I had to choose 1 or 2 due to time constraint. I decided to see U Bain bridge, which is supposed to be the world’s longest natural bridge. Then the Ava village which is supposed to be one of the best villages to see and experience their living. I hired a scooter taxi which worked out cheaper and best for time management and had the flexibility of what I want.
Tip: Scooter taxi works out cheaper if you are traveling on a shoe string budget. You can hire the scooter taxi for a day and explore the whole area.
These are few pictures from Ava village.
These kind of street food are common there. I had a chance to try some of their food which was very tasty and also cheap.
I took a 2 hrs train from Mandaly to Thazi and halted that night in Thazi. Thazi is a very small town where there are only one or two hotels to stay. I stayed in the Moon hotel which was quiet OK for just a night stay. There are hardly 2 or 3 streets to walk around. People come here only to take the slow train, or else there is nothing to do in this town.
Early morning 7 am there is a slow train from Thazi to Inle lake. I took the slow train and it takes 11 hrs to reach Nyuangshwe. I would say this was the high light of my trip. It was such an amazing experience with scenic views. The train travels to an altitude of 3000 feet. Mostly the train travels in rain forest and stops in small villages which will make us think are there any access to these places.
This was in Pindaya caves which is around 80 km from Inle lake. This would be a day trip. It was a good decision to go there because it was an amazing place. There were around 1000s of Buddha statues inside this huge cave.
Tip: Carry a snack pack, there are not great places to eat. You get only basic food on street sides.
Tip: There are a day trip boat rides. If you book from hotels it will be more expensive but walk to the lake and check out with boat person there, you will get a good price.
Livelyhood on Inle lake…
These are few of the picture perfect view one can get in the Inle lake. These fishermen do fishing early mornings and pose for the tourist boats which cross their side.
These ladies carry the vegetables in the boat. The main mode of transport are the boats. The stilt houses and the boats parked outside those houses were amazing to see.
This is Indein village which is 2 hrs boat ride from Inle lake. It was a good decision to come here, this was an incredible place. We had crossed small villages and could see how the villagers live in these villages, how they use the lake bed to cultivate, how this lake is a back bone of these villagers…
These long neck women live around Inle lake. The custom of these tribes are from when they are young, they start wearing these rings around their neck. As they grow they add more and more rings to their neck and that’s how their neck is so long.
the Kayan Lahwi tribe, these tribes are originally from Myanmar and later fled to Thailand and stayed in refugee camps and Thailand had given them an area to settle and it is called the Karen Village. Now it has become a main tourist attraction in Chang Rai, Thailand.
All together this trip was a dream come true for me. Since, I had been thinking of Myanmar from a long time, I could finally make it happen. In this trip I came back with a lot of learning experience, new friends ,knowledge about the history of this place etc etc…
Now waiting for the right time to check out my next destination from the to do travel list…