The changes in Myanmar over recent years have been bewildering. In late 2007, its military junta was widely condemned for a violent crackdown on protests led by Buddhist monks. Then came Cyclone Nargis. After those traumatic events, the country saw the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and the victory of her pro-democracy party in a largely free election. Alas, such promising developments have now stalled due to the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Rohingya people in the Rakhine State and the international opprobrium it has aroused. Today, Myanmar faces steep challenges, and it remains to be seen if this beautiful country will resume a democratic path and if human rights can be restored.
Ayeyarwady Riverboat Cruises
Given Myanmar’s poor transport infrastructure, one of the most pleasant ways to see the country is aboard a luxury riverboat. The leading vessels provide well-organized excursions allowing passengers to experience relatively remote and unspoiled areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. The usual journey on the Ayeyarwady River takes four days and three nights to travel the 128 nautical miles downstream from Mandalay to Bagan or five days and four nights to sail upstream from Bagan to Mandalay.
The Belmond Road to Mandalay regularly plies this route, accommodating up to 82 guests. The ship boasts a gourmet grill restaurant, an observation deck, a piano bar and a small spa with two treatment rooms. For those who wish to follow a more adventurous itinerary or simply spend longer on the river, we recommend the stylish and intimate Sanctuary Ananda, which has 21 spacious suites, all with balconies, an outdoor pool and a spa. Cruises include a 12-day journey from Yangon to Mandalay, an 11-day trip on the Chindwin and a 12-day exploration of the upper Ayeyarwady.
To phone hotels in Burma, dial 011 (international access) + 95 (Burma code) + city code and local numbers in listings.
November through February is the coolest and most pleasant period of the year. The summer monsoon generally begins in late May and brings high humidity.
Rangoon, Tel. (95) 1-753-6509.
Kyat (MMK). Fluctuating rate valued at MMK1,295. = US$1.00 as of October 2020. Note: Our suggested hotels quote rates in US$.
10 ½ hours ahead of New York (EST). (Time listed is for DST in the West. Difference is one hour more November to mid-March.)