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“When I first came to Burma in 1985, three years before Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy was formed, you were only allowed in for seven days, so it was all a bit of a blur.”

“Since Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest two years ago, and her call to end the unofficial 15-year tourism boycott, it is all changing. Fancy hotels appeared and people like me feel they can finally go back.”

“With a population of over four million, Burma’s former capital (Yangon) is noisy and steamy hot, but we escape to the Governor’s Residence, a lovely teak 1920s mansion – all verandahs, shady pool and delicious banana-flower salad eaten outside in lantern-lit darkness.”

“We’re up before dawn for the 20-minute walk to the Shwedagon Pagoda. The 325-foot-high, golden-domed ancient Buddhist extravaganza is Burma’s number-one attraction: a forest of spires glowing gold in the sunrise.”

“A one-hour flight north lands us in the ancient capital of Bagan, home to the world’s largest and most spectacular collection of stupas, temples and pagodas, dating back to the 11th century.”

“About two hours away is the fantastic Mount Popa, a cluster of pointy gold domes perched stop a winding staircase, high on a rock, like the castle in the Disney logo.”

“The second day of the trek is just as beautiful. As we stride towards Inle Lake in the early morning, we wobble across bamboo bridges, loiter through shady forests and navigate a treacherously steep descent, marvelling at villagers struggling upwards with giant baskets of provisions strapped to their heads.”

Getting there

Check out The Ultimate Travel Company’s 17-day Ultimate Myanmar itinerary – featuring the Governor’s Residence, Bagan, Inle Lake and more.