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Myanmar


Golden Land "Myanmar"

Myanmar, also known as Burma, is nicknamed by people as the Golden Land. It is a “Buddhism Nation” with Buddhist pagodas scattered all over the country. Myanmar, officially Union of Myanmar, is the largest country in the Southeast Asia, or on the Indochina peninsula, as far as its territory is concerned.

Tips: Why is it called "The Golden Land"?

Myanmars love gold, for them gold is the most precious metal. Gold is used everywhere in Myanmar: the Buddhist buildings, monasteries, personal decorations of the nobles, and so on. Most pagodas in Myanmar are covered with gold leaf, even for those who cannot afford to use gold paint in the present day. It's not an exaggeration to say that you will see golden things or gold-covered monuments in every direction you turn.

Location

Situated in Southeast Asia, Myanmar is bordered on the north and northeast by China with a border line of 2185 KM (1357 miles), on the east and southeast by Laos and Thailand, with border lines of 253 KM (157 miles) and 1800 KM, (1118 miles), respectively. On the south it is encircled by the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, and on the west it borders upon Bangladesh with a border line of 193 KM (120 miles) and with India 1463KM (909 miles).

Together, the location and topography of the country create a diversity of climate conditions.
Seasons such as summer, winter (rainy season) are effected by the changing of wind directions because of the annual monsoon. The Myanmar government is giving priority to forest conservation and the greening of nine arid districts in central Myanmar, especially after the cyclone hit Myanmar in May 2008.

Thanks to those different types of landforms and the unique weather condition, Myanmar is blessed with a rich diversity of habitat because of its unusual ecological variety. There are more than 3000 mammal species, 300 reptiles and around 100 bird species living in this land. About 7,000 species of plants grow here. Burmese have a great appreciation of such a rich pool of biodiversity, and the government has stipulated strict regulations to protect its biological resources.

A land full of diverse cultures, Myanmar is the home to over 100 ethnic groups with different traditions and customs. Some of the tribes are nearly extinct. All have been greatly influenced by Buddhism like many other Southeast Asian nations, with over 80 % of the population following Buddhism. The remainder follows Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and still others are animists.

Myanmar is the common language in Myanmar, but some minority ethnic groups are still maintaining and using their own languages. Nowadays large cities like Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan are becoming more and more visitor-friendly as a greater number of English speaking travelers visit the country.

History

Myanmar is believed to be one of the cradles of human beings. The Pondaung Man that was named after the place where its fossils were found is believed to have lived 40 million years ago. As early as the third century BC Myanmar had been unified into one single regime. Throughout its history, there were three major empires. The first Myanmar Empire was led by King Anawrahta of the Bagan Dynasty (1044-1077 AD); the second by King Bayinnaung of the Taungoo Dynasty (1551-1581 AD); and the third by King Alaungpaya of the Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1760 AD). All of these three empires were prosperous in their times under their kings' excellent leadership. In 1880s Myanmar was brought under control by the British and became a British colony from 1885. It was not until January 4, 1948, that the nation declared independence from the British government. After a short period (14 years) of democratic republic regimes, since 1962 the nation has been ruled by military juntas.

Culture

Seated between two of the world's great ancient civilizations, China and India, Myanmar contains elements of those two cultures and also maintains that of it own with native primitive characteristics. Buddhism has always influenced people of their daily behaviors. Reverence for elders and authorities, being hospitable, kind and friendly have long been, and still are, considered to be great virtues. Like in many other Asian nations, keeping close family ties is important in Myanmar cultures.

Yangon

Yangon is the capital city of Myanmar, featuring evergreen and lush tropical vegetation. There are beautiful parks and lakes scattered around, and Yangon has earned the title "The Garden City of the East". Prior to the founding of Yangon, the city site used to be called Dagon. It was in 1755 when King Alaungpaya conquered Lower Myanmar that he built the city of Yangon here.

Being the capital city, Yangon also abounds with interesting sites.

World Famous Shwedagon Pagoda

One of The main attractions of sightseeing in Yangon is the world famous Shwedagon Pagoda. The following words were written to praise the Shwedagon Pagoda by one of the earliest English merchants and travelers to Southeast Asia, Ralph Fitch, after visiting the magnificent pagoda:

....it is called Dogonne, and it is of a wonderful bigness, and all gilded from the foot to the toppe...it is the fairest place, as I suppose, that is in all the world; it standeth very high, and there are foure ways to it, which all along are set with trees of fruits, such wise that a man may goe in the shade above two miles in length....

It is honored to be one of the most sacred Buddhist pagodas among the Burmese for enshrining the relics of the past four Buddhas in the pagoda. It is a grand pagoda surrounded by many satellite pagodas. Today the pagoda is 99 meters (326 ft) in height, with sparkling decorations of colorful stones like diamonds and precious stones on the top of the pagoda. There are many small traditional shops where different sorts of handcrafts and art works can be found along the stairway up to the scared shrine. As you walk around the golden shrine on the platform, you will feel a sense of peace and quietness probably only found in a place like this.

Because of the influence of Buddhism, there are pagodas and Buddhist buildings all over Yangon. In the heart of downtown Yangon is the Sule Pagoda, which is believed to be more than two thousand years old. On the bank of the Yangon River is the Botatauang Pagoda featuring the legend of one thousand army leaders who guarded the Buddha's hair relics brought by King Okkalapa two thousand years ago. There is also the Kaba Aye Pagoda and Mahapasana Guha Cave that was built to commemorate the World Sixth Synod of Buddhism in 1954.

Thanlyin (or Syrium)

On the Bago River, Thanlyin serves as a major port in Yangon. The port is famous for the Kyauktan Ye Le Pagoda which is on a small island in Hmaw Won Creek about 13 miles away from Thanlyin. With a long history, it was built in the third century BC, and has a large collection of artworks and crafts such as Buddhist paintings and sculptures. It has a long history of being a tendering port. As early as the 10th Century, many western merchants were attracted here. Following these businessmen were Catholic missionaries. A large church building established in 1750 still exists in the city today.

Bago

This place has long been regarded by many earlier European visitors as one of the most important seaports in south Myanmar. It is an ancient city which used to be the capital city of the Mon Empire from the 11th Century to 13th Century. Today it is more famous for the well-preserved Theravada Buddhist structures. The Shwe Maw Daw Pagoda about 2000 years old, with a height of 113 meters (370 feet) is the most famous Myanmar pagoda in southern Myanmar. The Shwe Thalyaung Buddha statue, which can be dated back to 994 AD is 55 meters (180 ft) long and 16 meters (52 ft) high, and is the second largest Buddha in the world.

Mandalay

Mandalay is the capital of Mandalay Division in north Myanmar. Now it remains the second largest city of Myanmar. It has become the hub of politics, economics and culture of upper Myanmar. It was the capital of Myanmar's last royal imperial; there are still many places and scenes that witness the glory of the splendid culture of the old capital. There were many ancient capital city buildings in Myanmar's history. Most of them have been destroyed; however, the Mandalay Palace is relatively well preserved. The traditional crafts, carvings, paintings and constructions are all

a good reflection of its status as a culture center.

The Irrawaddy River, which flows into the city from the northern border with China's Yunnan province, has brought a great number of Chinese immigrants over the past two decades. The increasing number of Chinese is changing the demography of this city.

Based on its cultural heritage, Mandalay has become a center of tourism in upper Myanmar. You can visit solemn Buddhist buildings and sense the peace and tranquility they bring out; there are old and authentic Myanmar cultures you can enjoy. The picturesque countryside scenes are equally appealing for modern people who have become so trapped by the daily pressures of study and work.

Mingun Bell

There is a large ringing bell in a small town named Mingun, about 11 KM (7 miles) north of Mandalay. It is 3.6 meters (about 23 ft) high, and the mouth has a diameter of about 4.9 meters (16 feet), with a weight of 90.5 tons. Made in 1810, the bell has kept its good shape.

Pahtodawgyi

This stupa is famous for being an incomplete construction. First started in late 1790 during the reign of King Bodawphaya, it took so long to finish the building that the king died before witnessing the completion of the stupa.The building stands 49.6 meters (163 ft) high, which is about one third of the original plan of 160 meters high. It has survived through many serious earthquakes in history as witnessed by its cracks. Two mythical lions stand in front of the building.

Sagaing

This Division of Sagaing is famous for the widely- scattered Buddhist monasteries and pagodas along the bank of the Ayayarwaddy River. For a long time it has served as an important religious center in upper Myanmar. From 1760 to 1764, it was the royal capital of Myanmar. Over the Ayayarwaddy River is the 16-span Ava Bridge that links Sagaing with Mandalay 21 KM (13 miles) away.

Bagan

Bagan is famous of being a historical city in the center of Myanmar. It abounds with ancient towns and buildings, and remnants of Buddhist culture. With numerous pagodas and stupas, it is one of the most important and renowned pilgrimage sites for Buddhism followers. It was the capital site of the first unified ancient Myanmar kingdom, the Bagan Kingdom from the 11th to the 13th Century, and for many other kingdoms later. The ruler of the kingdom, being a devote Buddhist, ordered that many Buddhist buildings should be constructed. Ever since, it has become one of the holy lands of Myanmar culture and Buddhism culture. Even now, walking around the ancient city, pagodas and stupas can be seen everywhere you go. During the 11th Century to the 13th Century, approximately 10 thousand pagodas were built, so calling Bagan a Land of Pagodas is not an exaggeration. Many of them have survived wars and natural disasters. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has tried but failed to enlist Bagan as a World Heritage Site for its abundant Buddhist culture, but was hindered by the military government.

There are some places well worth visiting: the Ananda Temple presents you with the most elegant and marvelous arts; you can find the tallest temple is Thabinnyu ; and the Dhamayangyi, to be the biggest building. If you want to find out what the first Myanmar stupa was like, visit the Shwezigon Pagoda.

Inlay Lake

Inlay Lake, located in the Shan States, is the second largest lake in Myanmar. It is one of the most famous tourist spots in upper Myanmar. With a beautiful landscape and fascinating views, it has been a popular place for people to spend their summer holiday. September and October are like a festival season in this region--first Hpaung Daw U Festival, then Thadingyut, or the Festival of Lights. During this period of time, people dress up with their colorful costumes and celebrate with traditional activities like boat racing.

Due to its distinctive beauty, more and more tourists are choosing to travel here. To respond to the boom of tourism, a great number of tourist infrastructures are being constructed and accessibility has been ever increasing to attract travelers from all over the world.


 

 

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