Aung San Suu Kyi is a name synonymous with the country both know as Myanmar and Burma and her election to parliament, after years of house arrest, has prompted curious foreigners to explore the long-isolated country in the wake of landmark reforms, which look set to make the nation more accessible to the world.
Although a burgeoning destination with holidays in Burma accommodation is still difficult to find and forward planning is advised. In the country’s largest city of Yangon, a popular site is the bustling Bogyoke Aung San Market. Shoppers crowd the outdoor bazaar which is full of makeshift tents selling traditional clothing, antiques and other trinkets.
Forests, including dense tropical growth and valuable teak in lower Burma, cover much of the country, including areas of acacia, bamboo and ironwood. The diversity of wildlife is surprising to many as in upper Burma there are: rhino, wild buffalo, wild boar, deer, antelope and elephant. Smaller mammals are also numerous, ranging from gibbon and monkey to flying fox.
A point to note is to get the best exchange rate when in the country travellers should ensure they take US dollars and they are crisp and clean. Unlike the rest of the world, only pristine US dollar bills are accepted in Myanmar. Even if travellers find exchange places that accept damaged notes, traders are likely to only offer 50 per cent of the value of the bill. Travellers are also advised that due to past counterfeiting, USD$100 dollar bills with serial numbers starting with AB or CB are not accepted. There are very few cash machines to get funds from.