Five Hilights of the Yangon in Myanmar – Nomadic Boys

Author: , October 25th, 2017

Yangon in Myanmar

Yangon Myanmar is a very cool city. Whilst it has a modern face with trendy bars and fancy restaurants, it has also retained its colonial charm with some of the best preserved buildings from the days of the British Empire. The tea house culture has held strong and let’s of course not forget the standout highlight, the stunning Shwedagon Pagoda.

Yangon used to be the official capital city of Myanmar until 2006 when the government officially proclaimed the newly built city of Nay Pyi Daw as the new capital. Yangon nonetheless remains the cultural and commercial heart of the country as Nay Pyi Daw struggles to attract a similar atmosphere.

These are our 5 favourite not-to-miss highlights in Yangon, which we think every traveller should have at the top of their Myanmar bucket list.

Connecting with Buddha at the Shwedagon Pagoda

The Shwedagon Pagoda is a marvel to behold. It is the main iconic site in Yangon you can’t miss. The main gold-plated dome is so impressive, it will take your breath away. It is topped by a stupa containing over 7,000 diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.

At 99m (325ft) tall, the Shwedagon Pagoda is Myanmar’s largest temple, and as such, it dominates the Yangon city skyline. It also considered the most sacred temple of the country because it is believed to contain relics of the 4 previous Buddhas.

We visited in the evening around sunset and loved the ambience. It attracts a large number of visitors, both tourists and locals who come to worship. But despite the large numbers, there is a strong feeling of peace and tranquility here, which we did not feel in other temples we visited in our travels across Southeast Asia.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Myanmar Gay Travel Resources

Oceanlink Travel – Gay Vietnam Tour Operator

Author: , April 21st, 2016

Oceanlink Travel

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay:

Oceanlink Travel assembles members having great passions for the tourism industry. Besides that, our travel product team also specializes not only in running classic tours but also in offering unique and sublime tour programs by bringing tourists deep impressions of culture, local people, and cuisine in Vietnam. Especially, our leading programs are pre-wedding photo shooting, wedding and honeymoon packages for LGBT Tourists. We can turn tourists’ dreams of love into reality by our thoroughness and thoughtfulness, so as to ensure that the tourists will have truly memorable experiences in Vietnam.

Why is Oceanlink Travel trusted to provide these leading packages for LGBT tourists?

  • In-house photographer & stylist
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See the Oceanlink Travel Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in Vietnam

Old Bagan and Ananda Temple – Carlos Melia

Author: , February 19th, 2016

Carlos Melia

Carlos MeliaOff the luxury and comfort of Belmond Road to Mandalay for an afternoon exploring Old Bagan and Ananda Temple, which ended on a marvelous Sunset gazing over the Archeological Site atop a Pagoda.

First we took the small boats off our luxury cruiser, and to the banks of the Ayeyarwady River and a private bus took us to the entrance of Old Bagan.

From there we went on a full visit of the Ananda Phaya or Ananda Temple.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog

Myanmar Gay Travel Resources

Myanmar Excursions Part Two

Author: , February 1st, 2016

passport-magazine-belmonds-orcaella-cruise-through-burma-4

Dreamy and surreal, we drift in a hot air balloon over the fabled Plains of Bagan where, as far as the eye can see, golden temples and stupas jut skyward, and, in the dawn light, we see the molten sun creep above the distant violet-hued mountains. Floating over a cluster of brick pagodas bordering a field, I turn around in the wicker gondola and below us appears the impressive Dhammayangyi Temple where dozens of early risers enthusiastically wave and point cameras at us as we languidly drift past.

Nearing the ruined walls of Old Bagan, a flock of birds flies below, a shifting breeze nudges us onward. To the West, the broad curve of the Irrawaddy River wends down from the mountains of Kachin State on the China border to the Andaman Sea. Before we gently land near a schoolyard between the trees at the river’s edge, I briefly glimpse the white-and-red-trimmed Belmond Orcaella, the five-star riverboat that will soon become home base after having traveled in Burma for ten days on our own.

Two hours later, my traveling companion, Peter, and I board the Belmond Orcaella where we’re offered cool minty drinks and the staff genially welcomes us for our weeklong cruise through Burma–an exotic country seemingly preserved in time. Now that international sanctions have been lifted, tourism is booming; well over two million visitors arrived in 2014, compared to about 800,000 in 2010. Catering to well-heeled and adventurous travelers, the recently launched Belmond Orcaella (Orient-Express re-branded as Belmond), named after an endangered river dolphin, rises up three decks, is 200 feet long and 40 feet wide, with a shallow four-foot draft enabling it to pass unencumbered over shoals in the dry months.

By Bill Strubbe – Full Story at Passport Magazine

Myanmar (Burma) Gay Travel Resources

Myanmar Excursions

Author: , January 31st, 2016

Myanmar

Rich in history, culture, and tradition, in Myanmar (formerly Burma), a bygone Asia still endures. In fact, it must be among the few countries in the world still beyond the clutches of McDonalds, Coca-Cola, and ATM machines. But modernity is rapidly encroaching, and ever since the military regime began shifting power to civilian leaders in 2011, business people, diplomats, and eager tourists are flocking to the country with Yangon (formerly Rangoon) poised to become Southeast Asia’s next boomtown.

YANGON

Dawn stirs like a sepia-toned fantasy with motes of sunlight streaming through the plantation shutters onto the teak floors, as a chorus of birdsong come from the lavender jacaranda and flaming coral trees. Here, the morning unfolds at a measured, languid pace suited to the tropical climate. Under the twirling ceiling fans on the grand veranda dining room of the restored 1902 mansion, now the Belmond Governor’s Residence, one half expects to glance up from the morning paper and spot the likes of Somerset Maugham or Rudyard Kipling taking tea, or if it’s closer to the cocktail hour, perhaps a shot of Mandalay Rum.

Golden pagodas, colonial-era buildings, traditional shop houses and moldering jazz-age mansions form a low-rise fabric unique to Asia, the whole stitched together by tree-lined avenues swarming with buses and cars. On Yangon’s bustling riverfront boulevard, Strand Road, stately buildings like the Customs House, the Central Post Office, and the British Embassy bear witness to the city’s turn-of-the-century status as one of the British Empire’s key commercial hubs. A haven of tranquility, the Strand Hotel, among Yangon’s best-preserved colonial edifices, has cosseted globetrotters almost continuously since the Armenian Sarkies Brothers, owners of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, opened it in 1901.

By Bill Strubbe – Full Story at Passport

Myanmar Gay Travel Resources

Carlos Melia – Sunset Gazing in Myanmar

Author: , December 7th, 2015

Carlos Melia - Myanmar

Quintessentially Bagan experience, planned and timed to perfection by the team at Belmond Road to Mandalay Luxury River Cruise. Nothing more simple, yet more unique this to me is the true and mere definition of luxury travel. So we deboarded our gorgeous Road to Mandalay Cruise, mighty floating on the Ayeyarwady River, and were transferred to the shores of Old Bagan, to begin our afternoon experience, which began exploring Old Bagan and followed by our Sunset gazing along local Buddhist Monks atop a pagoda expereince.

Carlos Melia - MyanmarThis is what you do, you look around for the highest hopefully least crowded pagoda, out of the over 2200 still remaining, and to your guides concern you climb and climb and climb to enjoy this breathtaking sunset over Bagans Archeological Site. Yes, indeed, the Buddhist Monk presence was an unexpected gift of life.

Bagans Archeological Zone, dates back to the Pagan kingdoms height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day. One the main attractions of Myanmar, it is seen by many as equal in attraction to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

I mean, it is one pagoda after the other and on, and on, and on. spread in and area of 13 x 8 km, centered around Old Bagan. Quite frankly there is not much to say, but indeed much to see, so I hope you enjoy my photo gallery.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog

Myanmar Gay Travel Resources

Carlos Melia – Transitioning from Yangon to Bagan

Author: , December 2nd, 2015

Bagan, Myanmar - Carlos Melia

My day began very early at Belmond Governors Residence, my hotel in Yangon. 5AM our bags should be at the door of our rooms to be collected. Was time to say goodbye to Yangon and move to our next destination, Bagan where we would boar our luxury boat Belmond Road to Mandalay, our home for the next 5 days, on our voyage along the Ayeyarwady River, to our final destination Mandalay. But before that could happen, lots of things were planned for our day transitioning from Yangon to Bagan.

Early morning began with coffee at my room at Belmond Governors Residence, and ready I was to head back to Yangon International Airport to take our flight to our next destination in Myanmar. The fantastic team of Belmond Myanmar, made all so seamless and effortless. As we arrived to the airport, each of us was handed its ticket, and off we were whisked to the VIP Lounge. My luggage, was being escorted and guarded by their professional team, and the next time I saw it was at my cabin, onboard the Belmond Road to Mandalay luxury river cruise, in Bagan.

Right on time, we boarded our one hour and twenty minutes flight up north, onboard a 70 seater ATR 72-500 by Asian Wings Airways. I must say I was quite impressed with their service. Comfortable seats, a basic meal and we were landing in Bagan.

Mingalaba and welcome to Bagan, said the stewardess. Bagan, an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Burma, today known as Myanmar. Capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar.

Bagan, Myanmar - Carlos MeliaAs we landed in Bagan, our private transportation was waiting for us, to take us to our first stop of the day, Bagans open market. A local fruit, vegetables and crafts market. It was love at first sight, mingling with the locals, and getting lost for almost an hour, exploring the narrow alleys, and seeing the life of Bagan passing and happening right in front of me. Quite a a colorful, bustling and raw introduction.

You will notice on my photos, women with faces whitened by a powder/cream. This is called Thanaka, a yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from ground bark. It is a distinctive feature of the culture. Mainly used by women, apart from cosmetic beauty, thanaka also gives a cooling sensation and provides protection from sunburn.

Next stop, and the one I was expecting with great anticipation, was the Archeological Zone of Bagan. During the Pagan kingdoms height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

One the main attractions of Myanmar, it is seen by many as equal in attraction to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I mean, it is one pagoda after the other and on, and on, and on. This was just a brief introduction, since we would spend the next day and a half exploring the site, which is defined as the 13 x 8 km area centered around Old Bagan.

Bagan, Myanmar - Carlos MeliaSomething I learnt very quickly, was that Pagoda is a generic word, that can describe both a Stupa massive structure, typically with a relic chamber inside and a Temple hollow gu-style temple is a structure used for meditation, devotional worship of the Buddha and other Buddhist rituals.

Surrounded by the local people of Bagan, we did a technical stop to enjoy some refreshments, prepared by the staff of Belmond Road to Mandalay literally my third breakfast of the day. And next we carried on to Bagan House, a lacquerware workshop. In the meantime, the excitement of boarding the Road to Mandalay, kept building and growing bigger and bigger.

Lacquerware craftsmanship originally came from China in the 1st century AD. Traditionally extraordinary fine lacquerware bowls were produced with a combination of horsehair and bamboo to make them very flexible. Lacquerware is crafted from a mixture of the juice of the Thitsi tree and ash applied on the surface of objects such as woven bamboo or wood.

Lacquerware is found in Thailand and Laos, but the best examples are crafted in the villages around Bagan. So we visited Bagan House, and artistic lacquerware work shop, were we learn and witness, the process step-by-step. And of course, I did some shopping, getting the piece you will see further below, an unfinished yellow plate, which caught my eyes, and I took from the hands of the craftsman .

It was now almost noon, and we were ready to head on to the pier to meet our floating luxury hotel, for the next five days while sailing along the banks of the Ayeyarwady River, visiting remote villages and temples. And there she was, the mighty Belmond Road to Mandalay, waiting for us, and all I was able to say was SHE IS A TRUE BEAUTY .

Belmond Road to Mandalay, cruises along the mighty Ayeyarwady River, taking in the countrys most mesmerising landscapes from the deck of this luxurious river cruiser. Stop off to explore rural villages from a bygone era, see saffron-robed monks go about their daily rituals, and marvel at the golden spires of pagodas which soar out of the lush jungle. I was prepare for the journey of a lifetime, and I will soon share it with you, on my next posts lunch was served and ready for us. So time for a break.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog

Myanmar Gay Travel Resources

Carlos Melia – Sunset At The Iconic Shwedagon Pagoda

Author: , November 30th, 2015

Carlos Melia - Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda, known as well as the crown of Myanmar might be as well, the most iconic landmark of Myanmar, one of the most famous pagodas in the world and a very important monument for Buddhist religion. According to some, the pagoda is 2,600 years old, making Shwedagon the oldest pagoda in the world.

When in Yangon, you will feel its omnipresence, and you will be literally draw to it as a magnet. It can be seen from most places of Yangon day and night as the golden roof illuminates the city. The best time to visit, is right before sunset, to be able to appreciate the site, atmosphere and colors, pre and post sunset.

Carlos Melia - MyanmarLocated atop the Singuttara Hill, is this 99 metres (325 ft) tall pagoda, which is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas. There are replicas of Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar, like Uppatasanti Pagodalocated in Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar. Completed in 2009, it is similar in many aspects to Shwedagon Pagoda, but its height is 30 cm (12 in) less than that of Shwedagon.

The pagoda is said to contain eight hairs of the Buddha. Being that Myanmar practices the Theravada Buddhism, adds to its prestige. The pilgrimage to Shwedagon Pagoda is to Buddhist, is much the same way Kaaba at Mecca means to Muslims. The main gold-plated dome is topped by a stupa containing over 7,000 diamonds, rubies, topaz and sapphires, the whole giddy concoction offset by a massive emerald positioned to reflect the last rays of the setting sun.

Before visiting Myanmar, make sure to know the day you were born and the time. It is important for Burmese Buddhists to know on which day of the week they were born, as this determines their planetary post. There are eight planetary posts, as Wednesday is split in two (a.m. and p.m.).

They are marked by animals that represent the day. Each planetary post has a Buddha image and devotees offer flowers and prayer flags and pour water on the image with a prayer and a wish. At the base of the post behind the image is a guardian angel, and underneath the image is the animal representing that particular day. The base of the stupa is octagonal and also surrounded by eight small shrines (one for each planetary post). It is customary to circumnavigate Buddhist stupas in a clockwise direction.

Carlos Melia - MyanmarOne of the many experiences that stood out during this journey across Myanmar, all created by the local expect team of Belmond, was the Oil Lamp Lightning Ceremony at Shwedagon Pagoda. We lit the whole circumference of the pagoda with oil candles. Was such a moving and unforgettable moment and sight. A symbol of moving out of darkness and towards the brilliant future. A must do experience.

The Shwedagon Pagoda is open every day of the year from 04:00 AM to 22:00 PM. Last admission is at 21:45. Entrance fee to Shwedagon is $8 per person. A guide will cost an additional $5. When visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda, it is advised to dress modestly. You have to wear trousers or at least knee length shorts or skirt; t-shirts with elbow length sleeves are also expected. You must enter the Shwedagon barefoot.

Was time to get my shoes back and head back to Belmond Governors Residence, to get ready for an evening hosted by me for our group, at the grande dame of Yangon, Le Planteur Restaurant. I can say after my visit to Shwedagon Pagoda, that I have checked yet another box of my travel bucket list. A landmark I have admired for years, and once of the main purposes of my visit to Yangon. And most definitely had not disappointed at all.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog

Myanmar Gay Travel Resources

Carlos Melia – A Day in Yangon, Myanmar

Author: , November 22nd, 2015

Carlos Melia - Myanmar

It was time to give my warm Mingalaba ” Good Morning ” to Yangon, and off I went, escorted by the expert team of the Belmond Governor’s Residence, on a full day experience tour of Yangon. I will let mainly the images do the talking, and pinpoint some tips and must see/do while in there.

Carlos Melia - MyanmarMy stay consisted of two nights, and I felt it was the perfect amount of time to enjoy the destinations and see all that needed to be seen. Hope you enjoy my day exploring the vibrant and contrasting Yangon (also known as Rangoon), former capital of Myanmar (Burma) and the the country’s largest city with a population of over five million.

I wish to dedicate this, and all my Myanmar post, to Mrs Aung San Suu Kyi. And congratulate her on her massive win on the latest elections. I happened to be in Myanmar, weeks before the election took place. Such a pivotal moment in the life of Burmese people and a new era to come. A true example that convictions ethics, values and character cannot be undermined and dreams cannot be crushed by power.

It was a hard decision, to leave Belmond Governor’s Residence, a blissful mirage of tranquility, but have to be done. It was my time to take the streets of Yangon and see what this was all about. There was one thing I know about Yangon, well actually more than that.

But one thing I truly wanted to see, and it was the Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the most famous pagodas in the world and it is certainly the main attraction of Yangon. I mean you can’t help its omnipresence. Locally known as Shwedagon Zedi Daw The, it sits atop of a hill and is 99 meters high. It can be seen from most places of Yangon day and night as the golden roof illuminates the city.

First stop of our tour, not by coincidence, was the Secretariat Building. The Ministers’ Building, formerly The Secretariat is occupied an entire city block.. It was the home and administrative seat of British Burma and built in the late 1800s. The structure is more than 120 years old. It was where General Aung San and 6 cabinet ministers were assassinated on 19 July 1947. The building is currently on the Yangon City Heritage List and completely abandoned.

From there on, we left our luxury bus, and mingled with the flow of the locals, to stroll and explore the streets of Yangon. Men wearing casual and formal Longyi, Tanaka white faced women, and a busy pulse surrounded by the highest number of colonial period buildings in Southeast Asia. This is Downtown Yangon.

Carlos Melia - MyanmarAfter a full morning exploring Downtown Yangon, it was time to sample the local cuisine. So we came to Rangoon Tea House. Ragoon Tea House proposes a taste of local Myanmar – including my new favorite Mohinga – in a very comfortable clean environment. Read the Full post here …” Lunching like a local Dinning like a King in Yangon…”

After a succulent local lunch, was need to take a long, long, long walk. First stop was POMELO ( where I’ve got this lovely parasol). Where local art, helps those in need. The lovely selection of contemporary handicrafts produced by projects supporting disadvantaged groups in Myanmar.

Of course, me being ME, I could not resist stopping by the Strand Hotel, located right in Downtown. A total different experience to Belmond Governor’s Residence, but yet another great example of Yangon’s luxury hospitality. Excellent example of the Yangon’s past, Century-old building with magnificent architecture. One of the most iconic 5 star hotels in Yangon. Built in 1901, it remains as awe inspiring as it was in the early 20th Century.

Our next stop, was my least favorite, since I felt it was sort of a tourist trap. But perhaps, I have spent too much time in Asia, and particularly in South East Asia, and I have grown to appreciate this type of markets, when they are more local and real. Bogyoke Aung San Market, also known as Scott Market.

Carlos Melia - MyanmarBack on track to interesting things, was our next stop and last before my most awaited sunset visit to Shwedagon Pagoda, the Chauk That Gyi Pagoda and the Reclining Buddha. The most well-known Buddhist temple in Bahan Township, Yangon. It houses one of the most revered reclining Buddha images in the country, of 66 metres (217 ft) long. Buddha image is wearing a golden robe; the right arm of the Buddha is supporting the back of the head. The Reclining Buddha image is decorated with very expressive colors, white face, red lips, blue eye shadow, golden robe and red finger nails.

Around the Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha image is a number of shrines, one for each of the eight days of the week in Asian astrology (Wednesday is split in two days). Local people pray to the shrine belonging to the day of their birth.

And yes ladies and gentleman. The time had come to finally see the main reason of excitement, of my visit to Yangon. Finally after years of wait, I was right there at the impressive and gorgeous Shwedagon Pagoda. One of the most famous pagodas in the world – and believed to be one of the oldest – and it is certainly the main attraction of Yangon, Myanmar’s capital city. But you will have to wait for my next post to see in detail, my awaited visit during sunset, with a lovely surprise prepared for us by the team of Belmond. Hope you’ve enjoyed my day exploring the vibrant and contrasting city of Yangon.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog

Myanmar Gay Travel Resources

Featured Gay Friendly Tour Operator: Gekotour

Author: , November 19th, 2015

Gekotour

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Gekotour is not your ordinary travel tour experience. Our goal is to make a positive impact!! Learn from the ancestral Asian villagers: amazing authentic culture, delicious traditional cuisine, hand-made traditional handicrafts and environment stewardship. While on tour, learn new skills such as art, photography, cooking or yoga and meditation practice with expert Gekotour local guides and professional facilitators. Contribute wholeheartedly with local NGO and Non-profit organizations, family and local community operated businesses, and village monks and chiefs whose passion is to maintain their ancient culture, history, and cuisine. Sit back and reflect in remote communities in Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, South Korea, Cambodia and India, away from the hustling tour groups.

See the Gekotour Expanded Listing
on Purple Roofs Here