Are you thinking about traveling to Southeast Asia? In this article, you will find 12 of the most interesting facts about Myanmar, the largest of this region’s mainland countries. Myanmar borders with China, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Laos.
Only recently, Myanmar has experienced a sort of tourism mini-boom. In this blog post, we would like to show you some of the reasons why.
Ancient temples, pristine beaches, superb gastronomy, and a cultural spectrum await you in Myanmar to be discovered. So visit Myanmar before it gets too crowded. It will in the near future.
If you are not convinced yet, check these astounding facts below.
- Population: 53,582,855
- Capital: Naypyidaw
- Official Language: Burmese
- Currency: Kyat
- Islands: 800
- Highest Mountain: Hkakabo Razi, 5,881 meters above sea level
- Country Area: 676,578 km2
- Religion: Theravāda Buddhism
- Official Website: https://tourism.gov.mm
- Country Number: +95
- Time Zone: UTC+06:30 (MMT)
- Country Code: MM
Interesting Facts about Myanmar
1. Myanmar is Known for 2 Different Names
Myanmar is also known as Burma. And not only you, me, or its people call it both. Even the American Government still refers to this country for its old name.
Furthermore, do you know what the main demonym for Myanmar people is? Burmese. And the language they speak is Burmese.
The story is simple. Burma was the old name from the colony times and remained so until 1989. Then, the ruling military government decided to change it. Consequently, Burma became Myanmar.
This was done, mostly, to coin a name that would refer to all ethnicities in the country. At that time, the capital city was Rangoon, and they also changed the name to Yangon.
2. Yangon is Not the Capital City anymore. They Changed it
This is truly one of the most interesting facts of all Myanmar. Naypyidaw, the actual capital of the country, was entirely built in this century for that very purpose. The city is also called Nay Pyi Taw.
As we have just discovered in Fact 1, around 30 years ago, Yangon was still Myanmar’s capital. Yangon is also the largest and (arguably) most important city in the country. More so, the busiest airport in Myanmar is in Yangon, which receives most of its tourists.
At the beginning of this century, the government decided to move the capital and constructed the new city of Naypyidaw (or Nay Pyi Taw) to accomplish that.
3. Long Neck Women are from Myanmar
I’m sure it’s not the first time you see a picture of a woman wearing brass coils that appear to elongate their necks. They are actually very famous, and, likely, you have already seen them before. Either in a documentary, an internet article or in a magazine.
These women belong to the Kayan people, and this technique is genuine. They actually live with that thing in their necks the majority of their lives. It’s cultural. These women start using those brass coils since childhood and rarely take them off. They can actually do that.
Nowadays, most Kayan villages and communities lie close to the Thailand border, and some of them can be visited by tourists.
4. There are Direct Flights to Myanmar from most Major Asian Cities
Ok, we get it. Yangon is not Chicago in terms of air traffic. It’s not even Buenos Aires. Still, it’s much easier to visit Myanmar today than possibly ever before.
Many major Asian cities offer daily direct services to Yangon. If not daily, at least several times a week. This list includes, but it’s not limited to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Taipei, Dhaka, Tokyo, Beijing, and Seoul.
This fact makes it very easy to connect Myanmar with other Asian countries. And you can even combine a couple of destinations in a single trip. Some Western Asian cities like Doha and Dubai also operate periodic direct flights to Myanmar’s most famous city, Yangon. If you are in Europe, or America, this is the best way to connect and visit Myanmar.
5. Most Rubies in the World are Burmese
This is a truly interesting fact about Myanmar. It is believed that around 9 out of 10 rubies in the world come from Myanmar. Can you believe that?
These precious stones have their origin at Mogok, a rather central city in Myanmar. Mogok is actually known as The Valley of Rubies, and there are tours to the region you can join.
But, Myanmar rubies are not all about quantity. They are also stones of excellent quality. Their red colour is intense and fluorescent, famously known as ‘pigeon’s blood red’. Unfortunately, nowadays, not many rubies are mined from Myanmar. However, Myanmar doesn’t live only from its rubies. Many other precious stones originate here, such as jade and sapphires.
So, remember, next time you buy a ruby, ask where it’s from.
6. It’s Easier to Visit Myanmar Now than Ever.
This is true. And it’s the reason why the Myanmar tourism industry is starting to boom.
The fact is that the country is much more open now to receive tourists than it was in the past. And much more developed as well. And this trend is likely to go on. Myanmar is still cheap to travel around (compared to other countries in Southeast Asia), and it’s easier to get a visa than ever before. Last but not least, as we’ve said before, you have plenty of flight connections from other Asian significant cities.
It’s still not the most accessible place to go for a vacation, but it’s certainly getting better. And it offers some fantastic places to discover, both naturally and culturally. If you can, it’s a good idea to visit Myanmar now, before it’s getting too crowded.
7. Taking a Street Food Tour in Yangon is an Amazing Experience
Food is one of the main reasons we love to visit new places. You know it’s true. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. We love going to museums, ruins, beaches, hikes, and excursions. But we also love to eat and taste new dishes. It’s part of what makes us humans.
Fortunately, Myanmar is no exception when it comes to bringing exciting dishes to the tables. Yangon street-food tours are a fantastic way of tasting several local dishes in a couple of hours and learning about the stories behind them. But also of watching these street chefs in action while visiting some parts of the city you wouldn’t do otherwise.
8. The Largest “Book” in the World is in Myanmar
Is it really a book? It’s not a real book, but actually a collection of large stone tablets containing the Tripitaka, which is the canon of the Theravada Buddhism.
There are more than seven hundred tablets, totalizing almost a thousand and a half pages. Great for that summer-vacation read!
The tablets, which can be visited today at the Kuthodaw Pagoda, used to have gems on them, which were stolen, unfortunately.
9. Beaches in Myanmar are Spectacular
One of the most interesting (yet somewhat unknown) facts about Myanmar is that this country has hundreds of kilometers of beautiful and pristine beaches. And by that, we mean Turquoise blue beaches. Yeah, white sand, crystal clear waters, palm trees, and excellent seafood.
Although some other Southeast Asian countries also have excellent shores, Myanmar has many to choose from. The most important and developed is in Ngapali. So if you can pick only one, you can’t go wrong with that option. Another excellent beach resort, closer to Yangon, is Ngwe Saung.
If you like to explore and discover new places, it’s an amazing country to so. Are you looking for a beautiful beach vacation? Try to visit Myanmar after October but before May.
10. Shwedagon Pagoda is so Impressive that we Could do an Entire Article About it
The most famous pagoda in Myanmar is also the place with the most touristic importance in Yangon: the Shwedagon Pagoda. And a place you definitely have to visit if you ever travel to Myanmar.
Although some say this building is more than 2,500 years old, the most scientific approaches put it closer to 1,500. Whatever the case, it’s not only ancient but also a massive site of pilgrimage for Buddhists.
You might have heard that this pagoda contains hairs from the very Buddha. We don’t know about that, but what it does have is a tremendous monetary value. The exterior walls of Shwedagon are filled with gold, and its umbrella, believed to be worth 3 billion dollars, contains thousands of precious stones. One of those stones is a 76-carat diamond.
Anyway, visit Shwedagon if you can. It’s one of those places in Myanmar you just have to visit.
11. They have a Golden Rock
This huge iconic stone is actually the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, located relatively near to Yangon. There are many legends around its origin and current state. Whatever the case may be, it’s a pretty distinct spot, totally worthy of a visit.
It is another huge site of pilgrimage for Buddhists and a favorite among tourists.
12. You can See the Bagan Temples from a Balloon
The ancient city of Bagan is one of the most important places in all of Myanmar, and one of the most visited ones. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains thousands of temples, monuments, and pagodas. Some of them are actually almost 1,000 years old.
An incredible tour offered here is the possibility of taking a balloon ride and go on up for a view not to forget. Doing so, you will not only get a perfect panorama of the immensity of this region but it will probably be an experience of a lifetime. It doesn’t come cheap though.
Myanmar is a rather unknown yet fantastic place to spend your next vacation. As we have seen in this article, many things can captivate you. And all of them are different: some are cultural, some are natural, some are human.
So if you’re thinking about spending some days in Southeast Asia, give Myanmar a try. It’s never been easier to travel there, it’s developing its tourism industry more and more, and it’s still a reasonably cheap destination to visit. It definitely one of my favorite countries in Southeast Asia.