Go List 201325 PLACES TO GO IN 2013
Why Go Now Few countries have shot to the top of travelers' wishlists as quickly as Myanmar (also known as Burma) has done in 2012. After decades of political isolation, headline-making visits from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama confirmed the country's return to the Southeast Asia tourist trail. Of course, intrepid travelers have been visiting this forbidden land for decades, drawn by epic sunrise vistas of pagodas by the thousand at Bagan; photo-ops of rustic floating villages on Inle Lake; and the deep Buddhist culture and timeless traditions that pervade the place. As Myanmar's doors open to the West, its unspoiled atmosphere is unlikely to last. Go now while it still feels undiscovered. –by Arabella Bowen
Where to Stay Small-ship cruises are a terrific way to explore Myanmar and spot remote floating villages along the way; several new itineraries will debut in time for peak season in 2013, most notably from Grand Circle and Orient Express. If you prefer to base yourself on land, Orient Express's colonial Governor's Residence is the place to stay in Myanmar's capital, Yangon; in temple-rich Bagan, book the Thande Hotel for an old city stay with Ayeyarwady River views.
Insider Tip Exploring Bagan's temples with a knowledgeable guide and a horse-drawn cart is the most memorable way to go. Fodorites rave about local guide Min Thu; contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as you know your dates, as he tends to get booked up, fast.
Word of Mouth " The main message is: GO NOW!!!! Our time in Myanmar was fantastic and we are so glad we went. Although it required more energy than our other trips to SEAsia, it was well worth it. Things are likely to change rapidly . . . everyone [should] go there as soon as possible, [as] it is very hard to know what lies ahead," says Fodorite FromDC, who visited Myanmar for the first time in July.
When to Go Simply put: Winter. November to February are the driest and most-temperate months. March to May can be unbearably hot. The long rainy season starts in May, peaks from July to September, and continues into October.
Plan Your Trip Start planning using Fodor's Myanmar Travel Guide.