Volunteer in Myanmar with Friends for Asia
Volunteer in: Thailand - Vietnam - Nepal - Bali

About Myanmar

Once tightly controlled and isolated, Myanmar is slowly testing the waters of international openness and democracy. Decades of isolation mean that Myanmar has seen relatively little development since British colonial times, though that’s sure to change soon given the wave of international investment rolling in.

Game at Children's Home

Despite the onset of modern reforms, Myanmar is still a troubled land. Decades of oppression have created a legacy of conflict of political upheaval in place of the economic boom that the rest of Southeast Asia has experienced. In some parts of the hinterland, ethnic minorities have lived at odds with the central government and are in drastic need of humanitarian aid. However, as the country emerges from a 50-year reign of dictatorship, the swelling sense of optimism is palpable.

Myanmar has a long way to go before the world can truly embrace it as a free and open democracy, but the ongoing reforms are encouraging. With that in mind, there has probably never been a better time to travel and volunteer here. Visitors who volunteer in Myanmar today actively contribute to the country’s future successes, building infrastructure and bolstering communities along the way.

Exploring Myanmar

There is so much to see and experience in Myanmar, not least the diverse network of more than 100 ethnic groups that converge here. Many ethnic minorities suffered discrimination under the military junta, and volunteers naturally gravitate to these communities in need.

Orphanage Volunteer Project 1

But there’s much more than cultural diversity to appreciate in Myanmar. The following are among the most popular traveler attractions in Myanmar:

  • Shwedagon Paya: one of the finest pagodas in the world, spectacularly adorned with gold plates and more than 5,000 diamonds
  • Bagan: an ancient city with more than 2,200 ruined temples, best enjoyed from overhead in a hot-air balloon
  • Lake Inle: a vast mountain lake in remote region that hosts more than 30 ethnic hill tribes
  • Mt Kyaiktiyo: home to the spectacular ‘Golden Rock’ pagoda, balancing precariously on the edge of a cliff more than 2,200 meters above sea level

Travel Back in Time in Myanmar

Sarah Teaching English 2

Travelers feel as if they’ve traveled back in time when they visit Myanmar. In this bygone age, the prevalence of traditional clothing, betel-nut chewing villagers and old-world modes of transport are charming – even intoxicating. Likewise, the lack of franchise convenience stores, unreliable (often non-existent) cell phone service and slow, intermittent Internet service are refreshing at first – though they can also be frustrating.

But this is the price travelers pay for a glimpse into the way the world used to turn. This window won’t last much longer, either. Increased tourism and international investment promise to fundamentally change the way of life in Myanmar. For all the good that development will do for the county and its people, it’s still laced with a bittersweet tinge. (Indeed, when 7-Eleven announced plans to open stores in Myanmar, you could almost hear an audible groan from the independent travel community.) In any event, this country’s opening to the world is an opportunity worth seizing. Volunteer in Myanmar now, before this window to the past closes forever.