Emirates Airlines flies from London to
Yangon International Airport, via Dubai.
Return flights start at £799 from Gatwick
or £839 from Heathrow, including taxes.
Prices for Balloons Over Bagan start at
£225 per person. easternsafaris.com
The Belmond Road to Mandalay river
cruise starts from £1,663 per person,
including a three-night cruise from Mandalay
to Bagan, domestic flights, transfers,
excursions and all meals. belmond.com
WHEN TO GO
Visit between October and March to avoid
the hottest and wettest months. November
is ideal, when the rainy season is over and
temperatures are lowest.
WHERE TO STAY
The Areindmar Hotel in Bagan, doubles
from £56 per night. areindmarhotel.com
The Belmond Governor's Residence in
Rangoon, double rooms at £170 per night,
including breakfast. belmond.com
The Chatrium Hotel in Rangoon, suites
start at £155, including breakfast.
WHERE TO EAT
The Strand, Rangoon, hotelthestrand.com
Lucky Seven, Rangoon, 49th St
Star Beam, Bagan, near New Bagan Market
Cookery classes in Bagan can be arranged
with Inside Burma, from £32
FIND OUT MORE
NEED TO KNOW
monastery: a mind-bogglingly beautifully
aged teak building with intricate carvings
and majestic high-ceilinged rooms.
�e cruise itinerary also incorporates
several market visits, which are thoroughly
recommended: frenetic, otherworldly and
a throbbing hive of sights and scents from
Asia and beyond.
After three nights cruising south, our
boat docked in Bagan. �e whole area is
a majestic archaeological showcase spread
over 26 square miles and scattered with
temples. I checked into the Ariendmar
Hotel in New Bagan, a peaceful crescent
of spacious rooms with - most importantly
- a swimming pool. Temple treks are
definitely hot work.
You'll find plenty of places in the small,
dusty towns of Bagan offering moped
hire, perfect for independently exploring
the spread-out sights. Nothing compares
to a 45-minute hot-air balloon ride above
Bagan, however: it's the best (albeit
most expensive) way to appreciate the
singularity of the area. To ensure a hazefree
sunrise and the clearest vistas, it's best
to visit in November.
For a change of pace I booked a
cookery class in Bagan with InsideBurma
Tours, which includes
a head-spinning visit
to Nyaung U market to
buy ingredients. Using
a charcoal grill and a
small ember pit, we
then cooked traditional
curries and salads at the nearby Mya
Yadanar restaurant. �e class ended with
a sprawling lunch spread - the primary
reason for signing up.
Stuffed to the limits both intellectually
and physically, I retreated to Burma's
south-west coast to discover the gorgeous,
sparsely populated white sands of Ngapali.
A beach break here is an expensive but
classy affair; expect prices to decrease but
crowds to surge as development continues.
WATCHING THE SUN RISE OVER
THE RIVER EVERY MORNING WAS
THE BEST PERK OF THE CRUISE
With the larger Hanthawaddy
International Airport planned to open
north-east of Rangoon in 2022 and
an increasingly progressive political
landscape, Burma's future looks bright.
Rich in cultural and natural beauty,
not to mention its youthful, inspiring
population, the country is currently a
stellar prospect for explorers. Looking
for 2016's hottest destination? Burma
has my vote.
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: THE TOP�DECK POOL ON
THE CRUISER BELMOND ROAD TO MANDALAY; THE
BEAUTIFUL SHWENANDAW BUDDHIST MONASTERY; THE
POOL AT THE ARIENDMAR HOTEL IN NEW BAGAN;
STATUES AT THE U MIN THONZE PAGODA, MANDALAY;
BEACH BREAKS IN BURMA ARE SET TO DROP IN PRICE