For the first time in years, I actually felt a little fear and anxiety before leaving on my trip to Myanmar. I thought I had travel down. I hadn’t felt this nervous about traveling since the very first time I left the United States. After a few trips around the world, I realized travel shouldn’t be nearly as daunting as people typically make it out to be. I should have been calm. And yet there I was, frantically searching the web for reassurance and panicking in my apartment the week before I left.
The main sources of the panic? The threat of mosquitoes and a lack of vaccinations. I’ve become so relaxed about traveling recently that I often don’t even think about things like vaccinations anymore. Though it helps that I received most of my shots before coming to China in 2015. What I had forgotten was that I probably needed some boosters, new shots, or even some medicine (i.e., anti-malaria pills). I didn’t even have bug spray or know where to get a strong product with DEET.
Realizing how unprepared I was for my trip, my anxiety kicked in. I messaged Lisa who I was going to be traveling with, and we both began to worry. I talked to friends who I knew had been to all the places we were visiting, and they told me I’d be okay. “Just find some bug spray and be mindful of what you’re eating and drinking. You’ll be fine,” they reassured me.
This helped a bit, but the anxiety monster still followed me around on the trip. I kept reapplying bug spray (which I ordered online and got less than 24 hours before my flight) and would freak out a bit every time I found a new mosquito bite. I was very careful about all the food and water I consumed, as I was afraid of getting typhoid.
But hey, it’s been over a month and I’m alive and well. Looks like all of my worrying was for nothing! I had a truly wonderful time on this trip, despite all my worry. We were there for a week, and I’d love to go back again!
The nice thing about Myanmar is that it’s still relatively untouched by tourists. Tourism is definitely growing, but it’s still in its infancy. Maybe it’s just the Burmese way, or maybe it’s because tourism hasn’t blown up too much yet, but the people there are incredibly friendly and polite. Everyone we met was truly lovely and a pleasure to talk with.
Our one-week itinerary included Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle Lake. I’ll be writing a more in-depth post about our entire trip in case anyone is looking for some help planning their own trip. For now, here are some highlights from our trip. These were my absolute favorite parts that I have deemed as must-dos for anyone visiting these areas of Myanmar.
++Get your hands on some tea made with condensed milk
Here they use condensed milk in their tea. I did not expect to love this as much as I did. It was sweet and delicious, and it left me craving more. We ended up getting this more than once in a day. Just couldn’t resist!
++Taking a horse and carriage tour of Bagan
Yes this means you’re out in the heat longer, but it also allows you to take in a lot more of the scenery. It’s slower paced and makes the whole day feel like more of an adventure. Our second day we took a taxi, and while we did see a lot more, it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable. I felt very removed from everything, the heat seemed worse after getting out of the air conditioned car, and to be honest I was kind of templed out. I just didn’t enjoy the taxi as much, but feel free to make that decision on your own!
++Ubein Bridge near Mandalay for sunset
I read so much about going to Mandalay Hill for sunset, but our taxi driver insisted we go to Ubein Bridge instead. We were a bit hesitant at first, but after realizing this was the same bridge that we saw a ton of sand paintings of in Bagan, we quickly agreed to take his recommendation. Guys, this was my favorite sunset of the entire trip. It was crowded yet still felt peaceful. I don’t know about you, but I find that incredibly impressive!
++Boat tour of Inle Lake
I didn’t love every aspect of this, like the restaurant we were taken to or the fact that shops were set up everywhere for us to buy things, but the boat trip itself was awesome. I grew up on a lake, so this made me feel right at home. It made for a really relaxing day with some insanely beautiful views and insight into the daily lives of people living here.
I was definitely careful about where I ate; as I mentioned before I was quite paranoid about getting typhoid. However, I loved the mix of Thai, Chinese, and Indian food that existed. It was like taking all the things that are great about food and mixing them together in one place. So yummy!
And there you have it! My absolute favorite bits. There were many more enjoyable things on the trip, but these left the biggest imprint on me. If you go to Myanmar, don’t miss these things!
If you’ve already been there, leave a comment letting me know your favorite things and where they are. I’d love to know your thoughts!