Visiting Myanmar, Seeing Burma
As protests against the government continue in Myanmar, we've wondered what it's actually like in the Southeast Asian country. You could, in theory, head over to check it out yourself, though going right now would fall somewhere between reckless and unbelievably stupid.
Both the US and UK governments give dire warnings against travel to the country, and the common refrain is that your visit shows support for the authoritarian military regime that controls Myanmar. It's true that some of your money will end up in the hands of the government, just as it does in most tourist destinations. And the democratically elected leader of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, has asked tourists not to visit.
On the other hand, your trip also bears witness to the situation in the country, and your presence reminds authorities that the world at large is watching. And far be it from us to tell you where you should or shouldn't go.
If you go:
The easiest way to visit is with a tour group, though you'll likely be corralled away from the gritty realities of daily life. Independent travelers can apply for visas in their home countries at Burmese embassies; the cost is $20. (If you're a writer, journalist or anything else that might sound seditious, you probably shouldn't admit it when applying.)
Flights on Thai Airways and Singapore Air (among others) land in Yangon, the country's largest city and the site of some of the largest protests in recent weeks. Also worth seeing is the newly-created capital city of Naypyidaw, built from nothing deep in the jungles of the nation's interior.
[Photo of Naypyidaw: David Longstreath/Associated Press]