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The small township of Amarapura is one of the most authentic places you can visit in Myanmar. Once the country's capital, the city is now quite low-key, with very few cars and little noise, and is a popular day trip for visitors of the neighboring—and much larger—city of Mandalay. One of the biggest draws is the U Bein Bridge crossing the Irrawaddy River, the longest teak bridge in the world. Built in 1849, the bridge is now rather rickety with several missing planks, though that doesn't stop a heavy amount of traffic from crossing it daily.  
Credit: jmhullot/Flickr 
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The Irrawaddy River is one of the great rivers of Asia, stretching from the Himalayas to Myanmar, eventually emptying into the Andaman Sea. Alongside temples and ox-plowed fields, many shanty-type houses, bamboo shacks, and entire villages line the riverbanks. The river is a staple for everyday life in Myanmar, from transportation to irrigation to meal preparation.  
Credit: Utenriksdept/Flickr 
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Myanmar is blessed with a population of diverse ethnicities—the most striking of which are the Padaung (or Kayan) people. Originally descendants of the Mongolian Karen group, they are small in number and rarely travel outside of their area. Their most distinguishable trait is their custom of neck stretching. This ritual is a sign of feminine beauty and often translates to family status through the number and value of each ring. The rings are first applied when the women are around five years old.  
Credit: Diliff/Wikipedia 
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Inle Lake is the second-largest lake in Myanmar and home to an estimated 70,000 people living in one of the 18 villages lining the lake or in floating houses. The inhabitants are largely self-sufficient and make a living from fishing or tending to the outlying crop fields. Local fishermen have become known for their unique style of rowing, standing on one leg at the stern of the boat and wrapping the second around the oar; this allows them to see past the floating reeds.  
Credit: Petr Svarc 
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Yangon is the hub of activity in Myanmar and most often the gateway for international travelers. Up until 2005, it was the capital city of Myanmar, since replaced by the remote city of Naypyidaw. Yangon is home to more than five million people, all coming from diverse backgrounds. Though mainly composed of Burmese residents, Chinese, Indian, Dutch and other Western expats make up a growing minority.  
Credit: fyunkie/Flickr 
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The Shwedagon Pagoda, or Golden Pagoda, is one of the most famous Buddhist pagodas in Myanmar. Located in Yangon, the outside walls glint with the glare of 5,448 diamonds, 2,317 rubies, sapphires, and other precious gems and 8,688 sheets of gold that compose the exterior walls. The very tip of the stupa is crowned with a 76-carat diamond. Some of the most sacred relics of past Buddhas are preserved within the domed shrine. Sitting high on top of Singuttara Hill, Shwedagon dominates the skyline and is visible from miles away.  
Credit: Corbis 
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It is a common sight in Myanmar to see young monks walking about the streets in their distinctive orange robes. Most monks practice an intense daily routine, requiring them to rise very early in the morning to partake in Buddhist rituals.  
Credit: fyunkie/Flickr 
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The ancient city of Bagan is one of the more tourist-friendly areas to visit, as there are more than 4,000 Buddhist pagodas and temples to explore. Amid the temple-lined plain, the actual city streets are full of ancient architectural designs, mural paintings, frescoes, and stone inscriptions.  
Credit: Marc Veraart/Flickr 
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The pagodas and temples of Bagan compose the largest population of Buddhist shrines in the world, some dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries. For spectacular vistas and photo opportunities, take a hot-air-balloon ride at sunset with a company called Balloons Over Bagan.  
Credit: Hilarie Kavanagh 
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During the day in Bagan, rent a horse and cart to fit in with the locals, a traditional and classic mode of transportation.  
Credit: jmhullot/Flickr 
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About 30 miles east of Bagan is Mount Popa, a place most known for (and often confused with) the adjacent hilltop monastery Taungkalat. The only way to access this spectacular piece of architecture is by ascending a 777-step staircase wrapping the side of the mountain. Taungkalat holds quite a spiritual significance with Buddhists; it is said to house 37 spirits, known in Myanmar as Nats.  
Credit: exfordy/Flickr 
 
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