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Situated on the most westerly point of Southeast Asia, you will find a country scattered with gold. The fertile lands along the banks of the Ayeryarwady River are littered with pagodas, some shiny, others deepened to a rich patina over many years. Myanmar, formerly Burma, is one of the most physically diverse and beautiful countries in the region. From its sublime landscapes, rich history, serene people and deeply Buddhist culture, it is a destination like no other and a remarkable country to visit. Myanmar offers a wealth of wonders that are not beset by hordes of tourists and many return praising the cheerful, kind, hospitable people of this country and their fortitude. Until recently, only the most intrepid travellers ventured into Myanmar, but there is an increasing sense of optimism and now may be the best time to explore this fascinating country and encourage democratic change –before the multi-national conglomerates roll into town. Myanmar is brimming with treasured sights: from sunset over the Shwedagon Pagoda in the capital, Yangon, to dawn breaking over the stupas and temples of Bagan, and cruising along the Ayeryarwady or Chindwin rivers. If Bagan is the historic heart, Inle Lake is the spiritual magnet, and of course Mandalay, forever immortalised in Kipling's evocative stanzas. Head a little further into Southeast Asia and you'll discover this quietly proud country, unfolding into a patchwork of stunning landscapes and unforgettable views.

Myanmar with A&K
A&K might have Myanmar's (Burma's) best vehicle fleet, but we're always open to expanding and improving it - even if it's just a temporary addition, purely for your enjoyment. When our guide, Goldene, saw her party admiring the Yangon (Rangoon) colonial era buses, she worked some instant travel magic. While everyone tucked into lunch, she slipped away to flag down a driver and negotiate a private charter. The guests emerged to find one slightly dilapidated, but seriously photogenic, wooden bus waiting to return them to their hotel. 'It made our trip,' they wrote

The knowledgeable and charming Goldene - she has guided the likes of George Soros and Mick Jagger - is one member of our brilliant team offering an authentic taste of Burmese life, where surprises and spontaneous excursions are par for the course. You've also told us about four-hour hikes in the central mountains that ended up taking double that time because every single village wants to host a welcome meal; and golf courses where caddies disappear into lakes to fetch your wayward drive before placing the ball on a perfect fairway lie. Myanmar is truly unique.

Yet for all it unexpected treats, divine landscapes and rich Buddhist culture, this blossoming East Asian flower remains a challenging place to visit, with a young infrastructure. Choose an Abercrombie & Kent Myanmar (Burma) holiday in 2016, 2017 and you're in the safe hands of one of the country's oldest private travel companies. Established in 1997, it's part of an experienced, superbly connected regional network of staff on call 24 hours a day.

They'll show you Yangon's (Rangoon's) cobbled streets and elegantly fading architecture, before heading north to Inle Lake's stilt houses, where fishermen make one-legged rowing look ludicrously easy. There's Bagan's plain of 2,230 temples, a site to rival Angkor Wat, and you can cruise the Ayeyarwaddy or Chindwin rivers, gliding serenely past villages, paddy fields and pagodas.

They're wonderful sights, truly wonderful, but we're pretty sure you'll remember the people most of all. A&K arranged for one guest to visit the tattooed village ladies near Mrauk U. Forget bland formalities, she heard their passionate views about river damning and very real fears of flooding. Myanmar (Burma), as we say, is a holiday like no other.

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