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Adventure Guide: Myanmar (Burma)
Text by Sara Goudarzi

Time Line: Alan Rabinowitz's Irresistible Force | Adventure Guide: Myanmar

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Myanmar has been ruled by a military dictatorship since 1988. Critics of the government say tourism dollars, specifically, those that go toward visas, departure fees, and any tour bookings with Myanmar Travels & Tours, the state-run travel agency, help fund the rampant oppression of citizens. Others, including wildlife biologist Alan Rabinowitz, contend that tourism provides citizens with much needed income and contact with the outside world: "Most tourism-related businesses are owned by private citizens. If tourism dries up, the people will suffer." Travelers are advised to stay at locally owned lodges, avoid government-affiliated tour operators, and check the U.S. State Department's travel advisories (www.travel.state.gov) before flying to the capital, Yangon (Rangoon). 
 
GETTING THERE: Singapore Airlines (www.singaporeair.com) offers two flights daily from New York ($1,560) and three flights daily from Los Angeles ($1,450) to Yangon. 
 
OUTFITTERS AND TOURS: Due to poor infrastructure, even devoted DIY travelers should consider enlisting a tour company. Rabinowitz-recommended Woodland Travels Co., Ltd. ($1,260 for 13 days; www.woodlandtravels.com) is an established local outfitter that will take you to all corners of Myanmar, including the lush, unexplored Hkakabo Razi and Hukawng Valleys. In the south, Wilderness Travel ($3,995 for 12 days; www.wildernesstravel.com) specializes in tours of the remote islands of Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago, where you can kayak the mile-long (1.6-kilometer) granite formations of Great Swinton Island, look for wild pigs on the shores of Lampi Island, part of a national park Rabinowitz helped to establish, and snorkel among rays and reef fish in the coral gardens of Hayes Island. For a private tour, sign on with experts at Geographic Expeditions (www.geoex.com), who will customize a trip to anywhere in the country, including a visit to must-see ruins of ancient Buddhist temples in Bagan, for about $400 a day. 

Time Line: Alan Rabinowitz's Irresistible Force | Adventure Guide: Myanmar

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VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Discover Alan Rabinowitz's plan for the jaguars of Central America in a segment of Wild Chronicles, National Geograhic's news magazine airing on public television. Watch the video >>  

[To view this video, you need the latest version of Quicktime.] 




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