“This is Burma and it is unlike any land you know about.”

-Rudyard Kipling, Letters from the East (1898)-

Things are changing everywhere in the world, but perhaps this global metamorphosis can be best portrayed in Myanmar, where tourists are flooding in as the travel barriers are being broken down. With every government sanction dropped comes another wave of intrepid travellers that pour in through the Yangon airport. There will come a day when the borders with Thailand open and this pristine, culture rich destination will be drowned by the tsunami of budget backpackers that will force their way up from the neighbouring kingdom.

myanmar for budget backpackers
The Beads Of Prayer. Inle Lake, Myanmar.

For now, Myanmar still has it all. Stunning beaches, ancient temples, lost villages and places that are so off the map that Lonely Planet has yet to mention them. If you are an intrepid traveller that loves to feel like you’ve discovered new lands, then Myanmar is for you. But this once hidden and little visited treasure is now being discovered on a grand scale, so how long do you have? It will probably be a while before the borders open, but this hasn’t totally stopped tourism.

Since you have to book a flight from a neighbouring country, it’s only kept out those who are less adventurous or on a smaller budget. There is still a few years left for the main trail in Myanmar, but if you’re on this website which is created for those with a soul for the unknown, you won’t be staying on that trail anyway. In which case, Myanmar’s expiration date is still years and years away.

There will always be places here to unearth, where tribes and villages lost in time will be amazed to see a foreign face. In this article we’ll tell you how to get off the path and why you need to do it soon.

myanmar for budget backpackers
A Thoughtful Glance. Inle Lake, Myanmar.

With the easing government regulations comes the opening of “permit zones”, where the adventurous and travellers with bigger budgets can venture off the beaten path and find themselves in the thick of the Burmese culture. For those who don’t have the budget, or the time to plan for these expensive permits, there are places you can reach that are close to the “permit zones” where you can feel that great feeling of discovery.

We would recommend that you make your way to Hsipaw in the north end of the country. Here you can ignore the tours and head out to nearby villages and find yourself in places where few other travellers have gone. From Yangon, you can head south past the gilded rock of Kayaiktiyo and find yourself amongst fishing villages where the locals will be pleased with your efforts in exploring so far south.

Go to the extremely popular Inle Lake, but don’t just stay in the northern edges of the lake, head as far south as you can. Hire a boatman who is willing to take you to the limits of the “no permit zone” and wander around villages where life hasn’t changed for centuries!

inle lake for budget backpackers
Fishing Friends. Inle Lake, Myanmar.

Sure there are many places in Myanmar that are “off the beaten path” but you know what?… You’re in Myanmar! You’re already somewhere that few other people go. A place so mystical that most people will be amazed when they hear that you’ve set foot on such an exotic country. Myanmar is by no means a major vacation hotspot (although it is changing) so don’t worry about being on the “tourist trail”. There are so many amazing things to see on that trail.

The mind-boggling temples of Bagan are so incredible that no number of other tourists could take away from their grandeur. They go on for so many kilometers in every direction that even with the hordes of tour buses that descend on this place every day, you can find a piece of it to yourself.

Ask the locals where there favorite spots are and you’re likely to find yourself watching the sunset next to a couple of praying Burmese devotees, rather than other travellers. Bagan is one place that you HAVE to see, and soon! The amount of people who are starting to see these temples is taking its toll on these ancient structures and the Burmese government has a habit of over-restoring their crumbling relics. Bagan will not be like this forever, so this is a major reason you must go to Myanmar now.

backpacking myanmar
One of the many ox & carts in Bagan

As the floodwaters of mass tourism rise in Myanmar, the chances of witnessing its authentic culture diminishes. For now, you can visit its temples, talk to its blissfully sheltered population and witness its time warp atmosphere. Myanmar is one of the last true travel frontiers on our planet and it is going through a major transformation as we speak. You need to pack your bags and book your ticket.

If you’ve always wanted to be able to say “I was there before all of those hotels”, now is the time to go. With jewels like Myanmar, there is a small window of time before mass tourism takes over and for this enchanting land, this time upon us.

Get out your backpacks, put on your travel hat and fly out to Myanmar. It was once known as the second most isolated country in the world, but this title will soon shift to Southeast Asia’s second most visited country. Get there before it’s too late!




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Go To Myanmar Before It's Too Late!

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Written by

Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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23 thoughts on “Go To Myanmar Before It’s Too Late!

  1. I’ve been reading through your Burma guides. So looking forward to be going there early next year! Can’t wait to explore it all! ;D

  2. Thanks for the comment Audrey! Myanmar/Burma is an amazing country. You’ll find the scenery, the traditions and the people to be fabulous. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. Enjoy your trip! Safe travels.

  3. Every time I read posts about Myanmar I get so anxious. I want to visit so badly as soon as possible. I really hope that there are at least a few years of buffer before it begin to commercialize.

  4. I think there is still some time! Don’t worry 🙂 Myanmar is a spectacular country and we highly recommend going there. It still feels lost in time and like we said in the article, even though there are the main touristy sites, you can still veer off the trail a little bit and find a place of your own!

    Cheers and safe travels.

  5. I’m booked for travel in January and making arrangements for transportation and lodging. I’m definitely considering the backpack route but am having trouble finding hostel-like contacts. I saw you referenced HostelWorld but they don’t have anything for Myanmar. How did you arrange for housing? DId you just show up?

  6. Hey Robert,
    Myanmar’s a great place for backpacking! The best way to find accommodation there is to use Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet. The Lonely Planet book for Myanmar is very handy and has plenty of rooms for all budgets. Use the LP for phone numbers, give the hotels/hostels a call. If you’re going there during high season be sure to call at least a couple of days in advance, as many hotels book up.
    If you want I can email you a list of the places we stayed and how much they cost.
    Hope this helps.
    Enjoy your trip!

  7. Yes, please send the list of where you went. That can be a good baseline for planning this trip.
    Thank you!

  8. Awesome!
    Have a great time, it’s an amazing country. Let us know if you have any questions.

  9. Hello,

    I am travelling to Burma in a week´s Time, and i am looking for accommodation. Would you happen to still hâve the adresses of thé hostels you have been to?

    Thank you very much for your help.

  10. Hey Diane,

    We don’t have the addresses of the hostels, but you could just look them up and hopefully find the address online. Many of them don’t have email addresses, just phone numbers.

    Yangon: Whitehouse Guesthouse
    Bagan: New Park Hotel
    Mandalay: Ad-1 Hotel
    Hsipaw: Mr. Charles Guesthouse
    Inle Lake: May Guesthouse

    I hope this helps!

  11. Great post. It does sound like such a cool place and this article makes me want to go even more. I’ll just have to save up the funds to go.

  12. Hey Ross, thanks for the comment.

    Myanmar is still up there as one of our faves…get there soon!

  13. You guys are amazing! I need to use your guide to visit my own country, seriously!!

  14. Is it safe/possible to travel to birma at this moment?? The dutch government gives a negative travel advice for half the country, especially the border with thailand.

  15. Hi Luuk,

    Government websites are always over the top when it comes to security and safety abroad. If we listened to the Canadian Government, we’d never go anywhere 🙂

    Having said that, check out up to date forums like Lonely Planet Thorntree to get some advice, and do your research online before going.

    When we were there, it was incredible and totally safe (2012)

  16. Very Nice, Some solid tips and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  17. Great post ! Some solid tips and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
    I am Myanmar. I also proud for My country..

  18. I would agree with this! Myanmar still has that untouched feeling about it, even in 2017. Although, I reckon it would have been even more amazing back in 2012. The people are still so interested in us foreigners which is so refreshing, it still feels a little bit like the final frontier in South East Asia. Our favourite destination of our trip so far!

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