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The Sunday Times Travel writers Mark Hodson and David Wickers.

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Burma

Mark and David's verdict:

Burma is one of the world’s most fascinating and beautiful destinations, its people gentle, warm and genuinely friendly. Although Burma is ruled by a brutal military dictatorship, the release from house arrest of the democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi makes us believe that now is the right time for tourists to discover this hidden gem.

Recommended tour operator: TransIndus

TranquilityAwe-inspiringInle LakeSplendour

TransIndus says

Burma is one of the cultural treasures of Southeast Asia, a beautiful country steeped in Buddhist and animist tradition, yet effectively cut off from much of modern life. These elements combine to give it a beguiling dreamlike quality.

  • Emerging destination
  • Group and private tours
  • River cruises

For many travellers, Burma has acquired a near-mythical status. Immortalised by Rudyard Kipling in his poem, Mandalay, it was a British colony until 1948 and has been under harsh military rule since 1962. Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent most of the past 20 years in detention, was released to rapturous scenes in November 2010.

Anybody lucky enough to have visited Burma knows it is uniquely beautiful. The 3,000 temples at Bagan – best seen at dusk – are an incredible sight, as is the towering gold-plated Shwedagon Pagoda in the capital, Yangon.

In the north, mist-covered Inle Lake is home to the so-called one-legged fishermen, while Mandalay is the centre of Burmese culture. Remote hill tribes can be explored on gentle treks.

But what makes Burma truly special is its people. In spite of many years of political repression, they remain gentle, optimistic, friendly and open.

TransIndus is passionate about Burma. Our founder, Amrit Singh, was born and raised there. She has always believed that responsible tourism is the way to support the people in their fight for freedom and democracy. Now campaigners in Burma and the UK have come to the same conclusion, removing their opposition to small-scale tourism.

Our tours do not use any military-owned hotels or airlines. We use small privately-owned hotels, car hire companies and private guides, ensuring that the vast majority of your money goes directly into the hands of local people. Choose from escorted group tours (up to 16 people) or private tailor-made itineraries.

The best introduction to the country is our 12-day whistle-stop Essential Burma group tour. Our 20-day Active Myanmar tour is an adventure-filled combination of cycling and walking trips to remote monuments, minority villages and wild mountain summits.

We also have some very popular river cruising options – a great way to gain an insight into rural life in Burma.

Find out more about our holidays to Burma.

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