Traditional and intriguing.
To visit kite-shaped Myanmar, located between Thailand and Bangladesh, is to take a step way back in time. Age-old traditions are everywhere: Women and children smear thanaka (made from tree bark) on their faces and men don longyi (wrap-around skirts) and spit blood-red betel juice on the sidewalk – locals split prayers between spectacled Buddhas and (often playful) animist nat spirits. Most visitors stick with Myanmar’s four main attractions. Yangon (Rangoon) is the booming entry point with an English-colonial center and the stunning 2,500-year-old gold-leaf pagoda, Shwedagon Paya. Myanmar’s quieter second city and erstwhile home to kings, Mandalay boasts plentiful ancient theater and music to see plus nearby ancient sites like the 4,000-foot-long (1.2 km) U Bein’s Bridge used by commuting monks in saffron robes. Down the Ayeyarwady River is Bagan, the ancient site of 3,000 temples reachable by horse cart. Across the plains to the cooler Shan Hills is Inle Lake, where you can take dug-out canoe rides past floating markets or arrange mountain treks. Getting around Myanmar isn’t always smooth: hiring a driver with a car might be the easiest, but there are plenty of bus, truck, train, and plane connections too.
Note: The military dictatorship that runs Myanmar has kept Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy, under house arrest for most of the last two decades. Some visitors follow her call to boycott travel to Myanmar, but most locals want people to come.