If there’s one thing that can bring any person of Myanmar to smile, it’s a foreigner waving and singing out “Mingalabar!”
That simple greeting, which is essentially a Buddhist blessing, can change any experience in Myanmar from ordinary to extraordinary. Tourists in this country are not as common as neighboring Thailand, and it has yet to be added to the circuit for many Westerners traveling through Southeast Asia. So with a small gesture of acceptance and a willingness to embrace the culture, tourists visiting here are still able to surprise and delight locals. And the beaming smiles that are returned—radiating from elderly monks as much as small children—are enough to boomerang that delight back at even the most distracted traveler.
Visiting Myanmar is challenging in so many ways. Internet is still hard to come by. Transportation is somewhat sporadic. And yet, it’s arguably the easiest place to travel in the entire world. The people and their welcoming demeanor make it so. Few places in the world are this way. Maybe it’s the years the country has spent closed off from the rest of the world, or maybe it’s simply in the blood, but there are genuine human experiences to be had on the streets of Myanmar.
Authenticity is easy in this country, and the tourist experience is more influenced by what locals want to provide than what they think Westerners want to experience. Here, you won’t find many places to buy cheap Western clothes or international call centers or global brand advertisements. But you will find guesthouses and hotels and guides and even average citizens who will go out of their way to make you feel at home in their country.
The genuine personality of the country is reflected in a few accommodations that embrace the welcoming hospitality that make Myanmar special. Our favorite boutique hotel in the country is the Inle Princess Resort at Inle Lake. Eco-friendly and hyper-local in design and structure, this hotel is genuine, authentic and absolute comfort.
We have been to Myanmar a handful of times now, and it’s the authenticity that keeps us coming back and loving it each and every time. We truly believe that travelers looking for a genuine experience off the beaten path will flourish here. Mingalabar!