The Irrawaddy is the crucial artery which connects Burma’s main cities, snakes through its glorious countryside and reaches as far as the border with China. Cruising along it is not only an incredibly leisurely way of getting from A to B but an enriching experience too. Just in case you needed convincing, we’ve compiled our top five reasons to cruise in Burma.
Imagine Asia’s top destinations for 2016
As 2015 draws to a close, we’ve put together a list of our top five destinations to visit in Asia in 2016…
Burma – set for a tourism renaissance in light of the recent elections
Off limits for years, when Burma reopened its borders a few years ago it started to creep back onto intrepid travellers’ wish lists. Despite this, it still hasn’t been an easy ride for Burma, but we’re expecting all this to change. The landslide win by the National League for Democracy in Burma’s recent general election is set to really put Burma on the tourist map. Everything about this enigmatic Golden Land demands exploration: gilded Buddhist temples, trekkable landscapes, celebrated life-giving rivers, pristine beaches, sublime historic cities, tribal communities, and some of the world’s most impressive monuments. We’re delighted to see Burma finally set to get the attention it deserves, and believe 2016 will be a game changing year for the country’s tourism industry. The sooner you can get to this mysterious land the better; at the moment it is fabulously untouched by mass tourism, meaning a holiday to Burma in 2016 will offer a true unspoiled gem.
Borneo – we’re marking 2016 with our new Borneo guidebook
Borneo is the world’s third largest island, packed with plenty of natural assets: underground caves, pristine orangutan-filled rainforests, dramatic waterfalls, sparkling white sand beaches, and half of the planet’s known plant and animal species. Exceeding expectations for those with a spirit for adventure and an appreciation for endangered wildlife and cultural richness, travel doesn’t get much more exciting than this far-flung paradise. Borneo has long been one of the most popular destinations with Imagine clients, and to celebrate this, in 2016 we’re bringing out our very own Borneo guidebook. Already a work in progress, we’re expecting to have the finished product in our hands in early 2016, and you’ll be able to request your free copy! We are so excited about this latest addition to the Imagine Guides, and are expecting to create a record number of Borneo holidays in 2016!
Laos – having recently celebrated 20 years of UNESCO status, the appeal of Laos will only continue to grow
As one of the world's few remaining communist states, this former backpacker’s paradise is on fast-forward for tourism, tempting with forest-clad mountains, sleepy islands, ancient ruins, ornate Buddhist stupas, superb landscapes, and fascinating rural communities. Having clamped down on the gap year antics that Laos had developed a reputation for, this enticing country known as the ‘Sleeping Beauty of South-East Asia’ has become an increasingly appealing luxury destination over recent years. The historic former royal capital of Luang Prabang, perhaps the country’s main gem, captivated the travel news this month with its innovative ‘Elephant Caravan’ project in celebration of the country’s 20 years of UNESCO status. We love to see Laos getting a bit of exposure in the news, and are sure that these wonderful celebrations, which focussed on raising awareness about the threats to Asia’s elephants and rainforest, will leave a legacy across the country for years to come. Now that Laos has shaken off its boozy backpackers and is becoming a more revered destination, we can’t think of a better time to head to this refreshingly slow paced country.
Japan – sure to unveil some new technology in 2016 that is crazier than ever
The Land of the Rising Sun, a stratovolcanic archipelago of 6,852 islands in the Pacific Ocean, defies the imagination. Few places on the planet provide such an intricate blend of East and West, and fewer still blend the past, present and future so seamlessly. From Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, tea ceremonies, sumo tournaments, and beautifully-clad geisha, to sleek shopping malls, high-tech gadgetry, delectable cuisine and awe-inspiring scenic wonders, Japan will forever be an enigma. This intriguing country just seems to get better year on year, as the insane technology advances another step further and creates an even more mesmerising clash of past with present. With the country’s use of technology growing ever more ingenious, we can’t wait to see the crazy new inventions that arrive in Japan in 2016.
Cambodia – a humble country whose tourism presence grows every year
Fuelled by awe-inspiring antiquities, time-etched temples, colonial architecture, white-sand beaches, and floating villages, Cambodia is a beguiling country that never ceases to amaze. Tourism here is still relatively in its infancy, but it guarantees must-sees throughout the country and less crowds than some of Asia’s other tourist hotspots. The iconic temple complex at Angkor is of course an essential port of call on any Cambodian journey, but heading away from these you will find some real untouched delights, from the colourful floating villages of Tonle Sap to the idyllic sun-kissed sands of Sihanoukville and Kep. Growing its tourism presence every year, if you make 2016 the year you visit this wonderfully humble country you can still get there ahead of the masses.