If you prefer package and beach holidays then Burma (also known as Myanmar) probably isn’t for you. If you like adventure, ancient culture, history and something a bit different, then Burma has much to offer, is very safe, and a wonderful experience for both children and adults. When my husband suggested Burma a few months ago for the family holiday, my immediate reaction was ‘no thank you!’, but after some research, I discovered that Burma is actually becoming quite a popular holiday destination and is safe for kids. So I said ‘OK, let’s do it!’. My main concerns were how safe it was to travel, especially given the political situation of the country and unrest in recent years, and of course health.
There are always health risks associated with travel to developing countries, especially when traveling with young children. I wanted to make sure that we had adequate first aid supplies for things such as stomach upsets, cuts and burns, pain relief, infections etc.
Our first aid kit consisted mainly of essential oils, many of which have powerful antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and healing properties. I recommend and use doTERRA essential oils due to the purity, potency and indigenous sourcing of these oils.
I’m very pleased to say that other than the occasional mild stomach upsets, we all stayed fit and healthy throughout the whole trip. Our list of ‘must have’ travel items and some tips on staying healthy while traveling is included at the end of this blog.
Why Travel to Burma?
Burma is a country steeped in history that has seen massive changes in the past few years: a partly elected semi-civilian government, the release of Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi; access to the worldwide web, including some sites critical of the government; and the arrival of plane loads of Western tourists with dollars to spend.
Following the lifting of Western sanctions, Burma has become a lot more accessible as a holiday destination. During the days of British rule it inspired writers such as Orwell and Kipling and boasts some wondrous sights: over three thousand temples scattered across the countryside in Bagan; the leg-rowers and floating gardens of Inle Lake, majestic rivers like the Ayeyarwady (Irewaddy), bustling Cities like Mandalay and Yangon (Rangoon) and the gravity defying Golden Rock.
Burma is a country relatively untouched by globalisation and although this is changing rapidly, there is still a strong sense of the old Orient here. It's a place where Buddhism is still a way of life, men still wear a ‘longyi’ (sarong) and women wear traditional sandalwood makeup.
Until recently, mobile phones costs were prohibitive for most people and ATMs were a rarity. At the time of our visit however in January 2015, most people now have mobile phones, ATMs are widespread and Wifi is readily available (albeit unreliable and painfully slow at times). Seeing monks with not only mobile phones but selfie stick attachments came as a bit of a surprise.
There is much to do in Burma for children, and as mass tourism is still in its early days, western children are a real hit with the locals. Our children felt like movie stars as they were frequently whisked away by Burmese tourists or monks for endless rounds of photos.
The Burmese people are very friendly, very helpful, and we felt very safe the whole time we were in the country. Our children’s favourite activities were exploring the amusement park in Yangon, taking various modes of transport including rickshaws, tuk tuks, horse and carts, motorbike taxis and e-bikes (battery powered motor scooters), exploring the temples at Bagan and the caves at Hpa-an. These experiences will last them a lifetime.
When to go
The best time to visit is during the cool, dry season between November and February. Days remain very warm but it can get chilly at night in the hills. We travelled during January and the weather was very pleasant. But be warned it is also the high season; prices rise and hotels particularly in centres like Yangon fill up quickly.
Ethical and Responsible Travel
After more than two decades, foreign visitors are no longer being asked to boycott visiting Burma on ethical grounds, but challenges still exist. We wanted to make sure that during our visit, our $ benefited the local communities as much as possible.
Traveling around was relatively straightforward. We had read that taking internal flights was a good option, but we found that overnight bus trips worked well (cheaper and better for the planet). Indeed, some sleeper busses come with fully reclining sleeper beds, individual TV screens and an on-board hostess. We also took a 12 hour boat trip on the Arawaddy river from Mandalay to Bagan which was a relaxed and pleasant way to travel and a nice change from buses. Taxis although un-metered, were cheap and convenient.
Health was our main concern while we were away. Here are some recommendations to help minimise the risk of sickness and infection while on holiday and our ‘must have’ travel first aid kit. I actually took my entire oil collection with us, but below is the essentials that I really wouldn't want to be without:
- Be very mindful for what you eat and drink. Use purified water for brushing teeth. NEVER drink the tap water and check ice and fruit juices are made with purified water. Make sure food is freshly prepared, cooked thoroughly, and only eat fruit that you can peal or wash with purified water.
- Always carry a hand sanitiser and use before eating. We used doTERRAs On Guard foaming hand wash and also made up a spray bottle of On Guard oil and water for times when running water was not available (such as on bus trips).
- Take a good probiotic that does not require refrigeration such as Ethical Nutrients Travel Bug (available from most pharmacies) or doTERRA’s PB Assist (for good gut health).
- Use a good multivitamin such as doTERRAs LifeLongVitality supplements (for adults) or A2Z (for children), (for immune system support).
- doTERRA On Guard soft gels (for immune system support).
- doTERRA Digestzen soft gels (for stomach upsets).
- doTERRA Correct X (for wounds and healing - I LOVE this!).
- Fractionated Coconut Oil (FOC, for soothing dry skin and diluting essential oils).
- The following doTERRA essential oils:
- Melaleuca (antiviral, insect bites, cold sores, wounds)
- Lavender (for insect bites, burns, skin irritations and sleeping)
- Peppermint (for cooling, reducing fever, stomach upsets)
- Frankincense (for calming, headaches, inflammation and healing)
- Sandalwood (for sun protection, mixed with FOC)
- Clove (for pain relief)
- Helicrysum (for bruising and rapid healing)
- Respiratory blend* (for coughs and colds)
- Protective blend* (for boosting immunity, fighting infection)
- Soothing blend* (for pain relief and bruising)
- Digestive blend* (for digestive issues and stomach upsets)
- Grounding blend* (for calming)
- Calming blend* (for sleeping)
- Repellent blend* (for insect repellent)
* Click here for doterra brand name.
Travelling with essential oils gave me peace of mind that we had effective first aid solutions when needed. I used most of the above list every day and I would not have wanted to undertake such a trip without these natural remedies. If you would like to learn more about doTERRA essential oils, then click here or do get in touch with me for further information or to try some samples. Happy, healthy and safe travels!
This information is not intended as medical advice. Everyone should make their own health care decisions, with advice from qualified professionals. When travelling overseas, check with the travel bureau in your country of origin to for an up to date review of safe travel for your chosen destination.
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