Governed by civilian rule since 2011, Burma, officially called the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a countryunspoilt by mass tourism, which can't be ignored. Unfortunately, the government still restricts relations with the Burmese, but that doesn't prevent exchanges with a smiling and extremely generous population, open to the world and eager to meet people. Predominantly Buddhist, the country also welcomes other religious and ethnic minorities which sometimes have to assert themselves to survive.
Everywhere you go, it's the Buddhist devotion which strikes you. Upon arrival in Rangoon (now called Yangon), admire the Shwedagon Pagoda, a masterpiece of Buddhist architecture, before taking a stroll in the Kyauktada district on the banks of the Irrawaddy river. Don't miss the sanctuary town of Bago (Pegu), near the capital.
Nicknamed the city of jewels because of the extraordinary delicacy of its jade, Mandalay is for exploring by bicycle or in a tuk-tuk for climbing the hill and admiring the sunset. But perhaps you'll prefer Amarapura, the city of immortality for the Burmese, where the famous teak bridge is located, which is crossed by hundreds of Buddhist monks all day long?
Or perhaps it's a cruise from another era on the Irrawaddy, to reach the city of Bagan (formerly Pagan), which will tempt you. Hundreds of temples rise up on a vast plain, as testament to the magnificence of a past civilisation.
On the west coast, stroll on the beach at Ngapali or Ngwe Saung which has the reputation of being more chic. Immerse yourself in Buddhist devotion in front of the Golden Rock near Hpa An, then make your way to Moulmein (renamed Mawlamyine) and theisland of Bilu Gyun, completely off the beaten track. Finally, treat yourself to the untamed South and its wild coasts, which are again difficult to access.