Burma: A Photo, A Thousand Words

Mother and Daughter - Inle Lake, Burma
Mother and child – Kalaw, Burma.

While the Burmese junta (military government) has well earned its appalling reputation among human rights organizations and the international press, the people of Burma have an acclaim of their own among travelers as some of the kindest around.

Therefore, when we departed for Burma (Myanmar), we did so with high expectations. Its people, cities, landscapes, Buddhist temples – and even its food – well exceeded them.

Our photos from Burma perhaps express that best.

Warning: If images of smiling people upset you, please do not continue.

People of Burma Photo Set

Giggling Girls with Headscarves - Kalaw, Burma
Laughing girls, Kalaw to Inle Lake Trek.

It bears repeating: the kindness, resilience and resourcefulness of the people of Burma is inspiring. If news of the economic crisis gets you down, view this photo set to cheer you up. Through oppression, dire economy and even natural disasters, the Burmese people continue to show up…with a humanity that brings tears.

Burmese Food and Markets Photo Set

Burmese Street Food - Rangoon, Burma (Yangon, Myanmar)
Street food on the streets of Rangoon.

Burmese cuisine doesn’t have the best reputation, but we found it a delightful combination of influences from Southeast and South Asia. Street food in Burma is generally terrific: fresh, tasty and incredibly cheap. The markets, home of many of our best experiences, are also beautiful.

Landscapes and Sights of Burma Photo Set

Buddha and the Monks - Inle Lake, Burma
Morning procession of Buddhist monks at Inle Lake.

While the people of Burma stole the show for us, what Burma has to offer in terms of tourist sights and experiences – from Buddhist temples to trekking opportunities – is not too shabby either.

For those of you interested in planning a trip or digging deeper into Burma, check out more photos organized by location:

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  1. Don says

    Kudos you guys on such a lovely photo. I took a vote on this being the
    best of your best and the “eyes” won. It is such a touching scene
    capturing the innocence of a child and the warm and secure presence
    of a mom. Is it best left alone for the observer to contemplate some
    meaning or might you have a poster child for the children of Burma.
    I look and look and look and I am sure I will look some more. They will
    surely touch the heart of all who do the same. Thanks.

  2. says

    Burma is one of my all time favourite places. Just like you said it’s the resilience you seen on the peoples faces and in their spirit.Their hospitality is overwhelming. I was given tea in peoples humble homes and offered food from their plates. These folk have literally nothing tangible, but their faith, humour, and belief in Buddha is rich. I was there in 2005 and still have very very clear memories of this country. Thanks for sharing your trip.
    Question:When I was there it was relatively easy to get travel permits to closed areas such as Muse and into China. What was it like for you?

  3. says

    Thanks everyone.

    @Cate: Burma is probably on many “favorite places” lists. When we were there, permits were very tight and much of Shan State was off-limits. The official story is because of rebel groups. The real story, we’re told, is because of the junta’s disinterest in shedding additional light on the lucrative opium production and trade in Shan State.

  4. MC says

    My husband and I are traveling to Rangon and Bagan next month. Can you recommend places to stay (hostels/guesthouses)? We want to make sure we steer clear of government backed accommodations. Thank you in advance!

  5. says

    @MC: That’s great you are planning in advance to stay clear of government hotels. In Rangoon, we stayed at Ocean Pearl Inn and Mother Land Inn (contact details, as well as information on food and what to do in Rangoon here). In Bagan, we stayed at New Park Inn near restaurant alley. Check out the practical details at the bottom of this post for more information on where to eat and getting around Bagan. Enjoy your trip!

  6. MC says

    Audrey – Thank you so much for your prompt reply and suggestions! We’re very much looking forward to visiting this amazing country. Cheers!

  7. says

    Burma is definitely in the list of my next travel plan. I used to and still prefer backpack tour. Now getting married and with 2 kids, I don’t think is possible to do that. Have anyone been to the country by packaged tour, is it fun or too restricted?

  8. says

    @greatworld: You could check (or post a question at) the Lonely Planet bulletin boards (http://www.thorntree.lonelyplanet.com) for recommendations for non-government run tours that are family friendly and not too restrictive.

    Another idea is to arrive in Rangoon/Yangon and find someone you trust to take you around the country in a private car as a private tour for your family. We had many offers of this and saw recommendations posted for drivers/guides, but decided to take public transport instead.

    I think you’ll have a wonderful time with your family in Burma – local kids are wonderful, too!

  9. says

    Hi Audrey, thanks for your reply. I will definitely prefer non-government run tours. Will check out the travel site that you have recommended for more information.

  10. says

    We always recieved news messages from Myanmar people, they are complainted about committees of temple and please see at below.


    Dear Sir and Madam,

    We are Myanmar group in Malaysia; we lived in Malaysia over decade and always went to one of temple in Taman Desa Jaya, Kepong, Kuala Lumpur and we were very sad and regreting with the committees of temple because they are using our monks in wrong conception of Buddhist teaching or Buddhist rules. We came to temple to help our monks and respected of our religion.

    That temple is president of name:Yip Kum Fook, that our monks said and he is invited our monks from Myanmar to in charge of that temple but without pay anything to our monks, added he and his not respecting of our monks and sometime he ordered of his people to collected item such as paper, mineral water etc. without inform any words to our monks. In our religious believed we can’t take anything of holy place, if we done we are sin.

    In pervious, our monk said the committees always asked money from him, when our monks gave RM20,000.00 in cash on 2001 to the committees, then committees keep silent, later committees make problem with our monk again and cancelled of our monk Visa permit to stayed in Malaysia, then our monks( Sadayaw Nandiya) go to Australia and our monk not come that temple at long time. “Yip Kom Fook gave our monk notebook computer for to cover of that amount of money our monk said”

    Many local people around temple said, now no more people come to this temple because committees is always make problem and we are heard from local people said: Yip Kum Fook ordered of his people to put fire of Hindu temple at Taman Daya, Kepong because he needed that place to make his business about many years ago. “Everybody known what he done for Hindu temple at Taman Daya, Kepong”

    Last time also he invited police to arrest the monks at holy place(temple) and locked the temple without afraid and shameful of people because he believed committee is big and has more authority, also his son always say to people: this temple is belonging of his father. “This temple donated from public, we are work hard for this temple”

    This temple the committees always changed the monks, now they change the new monk to in charge of temple, this new monk also complaint the bad things of committees because committees also wait for donation box only, they without help anything to our monks. And committees controlled of our monks not to talk more or complaint more, our monks lived there as slaver and afraid of committees members.

    In new building where remaining of Buddha statue marble; we have renovation of Buddha statue because that Buddha statue is put very low, we lift to highest the committees don’t like and unhappy. In our country, anyone be able to come temple to worship the Buddha but in Malaysia is different temple controlling by committees.

    We hope everyone preserve of Buddhist teachings, and please safety of our monks, not see only money as this of temple. When we asked some of our people ( Myanmar) and local people, the committees are very low of idea because is very narrow mind and without education of religions. And committees will not disturbing of our monks, monks are like our father to take care of Buddhism and temple is like our place of resolving of our problem.

    Recently, our monk(Sadayaw Ashin Indaka original from Madalay, Myanmar) has been staying in this temple also unhappy because the committees are not pay anythings to him, he is working in hardly to advise people and we also unhappy and very sad when heard the bad news from our monks. Sometime the committees people came and shouting in the temple without have any reason and done what they need to do, our monk said, the committees of this temple don’t have Buddhist teachings in their mind, may be next time Buddhist can destroy.

    From Myanmar Buddhist group in Malaysia but many word complaint by local Buddhist community in Malaysia. If anyone receive of this message(email), please forward or send to your friends to protection Buddhism in Malaysia.

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