Thứ Bảy, 11 tháng 8, 2018

Visiting Bagan - Beyond Pagodas and Stupas


Bagan owns over 2,200 pagodas and stupas. Apart from learning religious and old architecture, there are many active activities for travelers to find out other sides of myanmar country such as culture, citizen and spectacle.

1. Ballooning ride

This is the best, funniest way to catch the panorama of Bagan. Unparalleled aerial spectacle from hot air balloons will actually carry amazing moments to travelers as contemplating this majestic construction ensemble. Balloon journeys usually departs on early morning, the unique time in a day to observe luxurious sunrise, when primary sunbeams shine down roof of antique stupas. Surely this way will captivate photographers. With a location on a balloon, you be able to possibly capture fantastic shots and create great photos.
Myanmar Balloon ride
Important note: Balloon ride is not avalable from April to Sep due to weather conditions. The most charming time in day for ballooning is early morning (from 5AM)

2. Biking on semi-dessert, sandy paths or up to mountains

A new way to admire quaint pagodas and stupas, on two wheels, as breezes drift over you. By pedaling, you be able to stop at anywhere you want to talk to locals you meet, who may be in way to pasture, go to market or farm. Your cycling trip be able to be interrupted by herds of cows or goats ambling on roads.
For travelers who indulge in tour adventure, you may carry a mountain biking trip, heading to Mount Popa and its spectacular hilltop temple, the best holy site for meditation in burma. This exotic mountain used to be a volcano, which is 1518m high and located 50 km from southeast of Bagan. On the cycling tours to Mount Popa, you will find jungles, green fields and golden temples spires. Pedaling around the mount, you be able to uncover rustic villages and palm gardens.
Bagan biking tours

3. Wonderful Cooking class

If you like to understand partly Burmese cuisine (soup, salad, curry), let attend a cooking class. The teachers will performance you different types of herbs and vegetables which are typical food materials in Burmese cooking. You could travel market with the teachers to select and purchase ingredients as well as spices. On the class, the chef will performance you the traditional preparation and cooking methods. Habits of eating and traditions of the Burmese are explained as well.
Toddy juice, which is gotten from the buds in early morning, is a special considerate of food in Burmese cuisine. The favorite white-liquor, palm sugar and a local afternoon Sky Beer are made from this juice. A cooking class will bring you to encounter toddy palm climbers, observe their simple life and daily routine in palm gardens.
Cooking class in Bagan

4. String Traditional Puppet show

Puppetry is called “yoke thé” in Burmese. “Yoke thé” performances originated from the royal art and were gradually adapted for the wider populace. Bagan is an old capital so it is also the land of puppetry. Burmese marionettes are greatly intricate and delicate as they contain 18 or 19 wires for male and female characters in turn. Every puppet is controlled by only one puppeteer.
You can see puppet show in Bagan at restaurants or hotels.
String puppet show in Bagan

5. Touring by ox-cart or horse-cart

Ox-cart and horse-cart are the traditional modes of transport in Bagan. You should try traveling as a real Burmese by a horse-cart or ox-cart ride. It is truly fun which surely bring you a new experience. A cart ride could lead you to off-beaten-track temples and plain villages for authentic discovery.
bagan horse cart ride

Suggested tours:
Photos in this post credit to SEA WANDER Team


Differences of Buddhist Architecture Among Indochina Countries

Five out six of Indochina countries including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and myanmar principally practice Buddhism, but it will be a big fault if you believe Buddhist architecture in these nations are the identical, and just or Vietnam is enough. The reason results from differences of Buddhism sects, cultural influences and folk beliefs. In fact, Buddhist team traveling to burma ples of the countries are beautiful distinct.

AN OVERVIEW OF BUDDHIST ARCHITECTURAL FORMS:

  • Stupa: A bell-shaped structure containing Buddhist relics, very widespread in burma. It’s called “zedi” in Burmese, “that” in Lao, “chedi” in Thai and “mộ tháp” in Vietnamese. A stupa of Vietnam, a small rectangular structure, is unlike stupas of the other countries.
  • Monastery temple: Common in Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, known as “wat”.
  • Pagoda: The main form of Buddhist architecture in Vietnam, completely different to “pagoda” of China.
  • Buddhist monastery: be able to be found a lot in burma, Thailand and Cambodia, known as “kyaung” in Burmese and "vihear" in Khmer.

IN DETAILS THAT VARY AMONG INDOCHINA COUNTRIES

1. In myanmar, get to know about "paya" and "kyaung"


many Myanmar’s Buddhist constructions are gold-covered, very grandiose and intricately decorated. Sparkling gold shines brightly over thousands of stupas, temples and shrines throughout the country, from the smallest village shrine placed in a bough of an antique tree to enormous stupas and temples of big cities.

Paya - that literally means "pagoda" but not truly "pagoda" as ones you are familiar

The most common equivalent of “pagoda” used in the country is “paya”. However, “paya” is unlike the ordinary meaning of English term “pagoda”. It’s translated as a “holy one”, where people, deities and places connected with religion. “Paya” is a generic term referring all stupa, temple and shrine.
There are two kinds of “paya”: the solid, bell-shaped “zedi” and the hollow rectangular “pahto”. "Payas" was constructed as a symbolic Mount Meru.
  • Zedi (stupa): A mightily spiritual structure constructed to conserve “relics”: objects taken from the Buddha (pieces of bone, teeth and hair), or holy materials. Early “zedi” during Pyu period is hemispherical or bulbous (e.g. Kaunghmudaw pyay in Sagaing). The up to date style is much more graceful – a curvaceously lower bell merging into a soaring spire.


*** Sea Wander recommend Shwedagon, Sule (Yangon), Shwezigon (Bagan)and Uppatasanti (Naypidaw) as the typycal of state of the art "zedi".
zedi-myanmar-buddhist-architecture
Shwezigon "zedi" in Bagan
  • Pahto” (Buddhist temple): Its interior was adorned by a series of impressive frescoes. A Mon-styled “pahto” is a big cube with small windows and inner corridors, known as “gu” or “ku”.


*** Sea Wander strongly recommends a get to to Bagan where you be able to find hundreds of "pahtos": Dhammayangyi, Gawdawpalin, Htilominlo, Sulamani, Ananda, etc.
Gawdawpalin buddhist architecture
Gawdawpalin "pahto" in Bagan

Traditionally, only “payas” were built of permanent materials (brick, stone). Inside “payas”, numerous images and multiple shrines were set for cult.

Kyaung - living place of monks and nuns

It is the destination where monks and nuns live, study and practice mediation. Most of the “kyaungs” in the country were made of wood, even the royal ones in Mandalay. The most significant part of a “kyaung” is the “thein”, a consecrated hall where monastic ordinations happen.

*** Sea Wander suggests some must-see "kyaungs": Shwe Yaunghwe in Nyangshwe, close to Inle lake; Shwenandaw (or Golden Palace monastery) and Bagaya in Mandalay.

2. In Vietnam - The architecture has elements of Taoism, Confucianism, Vietnamese folk belief and matriarchy


The term “pagoda” (chùa) is used to refer Buddhist temples in Vietnam. Nevertheless, Vietnamese pagoda, which is regarded as a destination to worship the Buddha, is completely unlike Chinese pagoda, which is an eight-sided tower built to house the ashes of the deceased.
Vietnam buddhist architecture
But Thap pagoda, Vietnam


Vietnamese pagodas were made of wood, generally brown and simple-designed with small or medium scale. In front of a "chùa", usually there is a white standing statue of Quan The Am Bo Tat (Goddess of Mercy). Inside the main sanctuary are representations of three Buddhas: A Di Da (Amitahba), the Buddha of the past; Thich Ca Mau Ni (Siddhartha Gautama), the historical Buddha; and Di Lac (Maitreya), the Buddha of the future. Nearby, eight statues of eight Kim Cuong (Genies of the Cardinal Directions), images of La Han (arhats) and various Bo Tat (Bodhisattvas) were set. Female Buddha images are quite renowned owning to the impact of matriarchy.

In some “chùa”, an altar is put aside for Taoist divinities such as Jade of Emperor and Queen of Heaven. Every pagoda has an altar for funerary tablets commemorating deceased Buddhist monks (often buried in stupas near the pagoda) and lay citizen.
Vietnamese pagoda buddhist architecture
Stupas (mo thap) in Phat Tich pagoda, Bac Ninh, Vietnam, where have ashes of deceased monks


A very impressive variation of Goddess of Mercy showing her with multiple arms, sometimes multiple eyes and ears, permitting her to touch, see and hear all, be able to be found at some pagodas in North Vietnam.

*** You be able to want to know about some top typical Vietnamese pagodas, e.g. But Thap, Phat Tich (Bac Ninh); Yen Tu (Quang Ninh); Tran Quoc,Tay Phuong (Hanoi) and Thien Mu (Hue).

3. In Cambodia - Buddhist temples built of stone, under influences of Hinduism and the sun cult


Most of ancient Khmer Buddhist temples (“wats”) were built of perishable materials (stone, brick…), extremely giant and sophisticatedly carved. During the period of Angkor, only religious constructions were built of stone, often mixed with laterite, tiles and timbers in a featured proportion. The “central sanctuary” based in the core is the most important part of a Khmer “wat”, which is confined by concentric layers of walls, said to be the residence of the main deity. A gallery, another attraction, is a passageway running along the enclosed walls adorned with celestial dancing Apsaras, and the axis of the temple. This structure have blind doors and windows that helped in keeping evenness in entrance ways. Colonettes were widely used as an embellishment along doorways. Tremendous noticeable "wats" has entrance buildings (gopura), which feature a corbel arch and gigantic stone faces of Avalokiteshvara.
Cambodia buddhist architecture
Blind windows with colonettes in Angkor Wat temple
Angkor buddhist architecture
An entrance building (gopura) in the Complex of Angkor


The decorative motifs of Khmer temples were under the influence of Hinduism, with patterns depicting Hindu deities (comprising Apsaras, Devatas, Dvarapalas, Naga, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, etc), and using of Hindu origin structure like quincunx (linga). Some of the temples were built as pyramids, symbolic of the cosmic Mount Meru in Hindu mythology. The sun cult impacted on Khmer Buddhist architecture too. Most of the “wats” were erected in eastern orientation to glorify the rising sun. Some archaeologists believed that position of most Angkor monuments corresponded to marking out the solar path, according to the solstitial alignments.

*** Sea Wander suggests: when taking the excellent Khmer "wats" in your Cambodia go to account, starting with Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Takeo, Preah Khan, Banteay Srei and Kbal Spean (Valley of 1000 Lingas) in Siem Reap; and Koh Ker in Preah Viihear.

4. In Laos - Unpretentious "wats" but charmingly and meticulously adorned.


Lao Buddhist architecture shares a similarity to Siamese (Thai) architecture, and is influenced by Khmer architecture as well, but it’s unlikely by its modest appearance. Constructed of relatively light materials, unpretentious Lao “wats” appear with gentle charm and elegance rather than an imposing, grandiose looking like Khmer “wats”. A Lao wat is characterized by steep-tiled roofs, frescoes, mosaic, carved and gilded decorations depicting the natural world, mythical creatures, and the events of Buddha's life. Its compound comprises clusters of buildings, in which, the Sim (ordination hall) is the most significant, largest and most elaborately ornamented building, where treasure was sealed in its foundation, and monks are ordained. Generally longer than wide, it was set on a multi-level platform and made of brick covered with stucco. Inside it, at the far end, a large Buddha image is positioned on a dais. Without it, other main buildings involve a meeting site (Sala), meditation and living quarters (Kouti), a manuscript library (Ho Tai), bell tower (Ho Rakhang), drum tower (Ho Kong), and stupa (That). Lao-styled stupas has curvilinear design and four-cornered shape. It’s tall, thin and modelled on an opened lotus bud.

Phat That Luang in Vientiane is a Lao "that" (stupa)


Complicatedly and charmingly decorative elements found over Lao wats are not only imbued with religious and sacred meanings, but also added aesthetic appeal. The high-peaked roofs are layered in strange numbers to correspond with Buddhist doctrines. The edge of roofs has a repeated flame motif that are said to catch evil spirits accessing the building. Stenciled designs on a red or black background can be found on surfaces of most buildings. Also under the affect of Hinduism, Lao "wats” possess elements of Naga and Mount Meru on roofs and at entrances; while metallic adornments called "Dok So Fa" (pointing to the sky) on rooftop are manifestations of the universe belief. These structures are also well known for Buddha images performing special Lao-styled mudras (gestures), such as calling for rain, lying down and hospitable death after attaining Nirvana.
luang prabang buddhist architecture
A Lao wat in Luang Prang

*** Sea Wander recommends "wats" in Laos to get insight: Pha That Luang, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Si Muang, Wat Ong Teu, Wat Mixai (Vientiane); Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Mahathat (Luang Prabang)

5. In Thailand - The architecture inflenced by diverse cultures


The most outstanding traits in Thai Buddhist temples ("wats") are the swooping multi-tiered roof-lines, distinct decorations, marvelous interior murals, vivid colors, lovingly crafted and gilded Buddha images.

The Thai “wat” is a group of buildings that each serves a private purpose and is set within a walled enclosure. In addition to being a place where the lessons of Buddha were educated, the Thai wat was traditionally a school, hospital, community center and even an entertainment venue. Functions of diverse buildings within a complex be able to be recognized through sets of designs.

This structure consists of two parts: the Phutthawat and the Sangkhawat. The Phutthawatis dedicated to the Buddha, generally including several buildings like "chedi" (stupa in the form of a bell-shaped tower), prang (Thai version of Khmer temple towers), wihan (a shrine hall containing principal Buddha images), etc. The Sangkhawat covers living quarters of monks.

The style of Thai stupas is very diverse depending on which culture it was influenced: famed ‘corn cob’- shaped stupas developed from Khmer“wats”; stupas with multiple facets and tiers orginates in Lan-na (Laos); square, angular stupas that resemble elongated pyramids is Mon in style (Myanmar); and traditional “chedis” could be viewed in Bangkok.
thailand buddhist architecture
A corn cob - shaped stupa developed from Khmer architecture in Lopburi


*** Let's discover Thai Buddhist architecture via Wat Arun, Wat Traimit, Wat Benchamabophit (Bangkok); Sokhothai historical park; Ayutthaya historical park; Lopburi; and Wat Chedi Luang (Chiang Mai).

Your "pocket" dictionary of Religions & Buddhist Architecture while traveling to burma, Vietnam and Indochina countries


VOCABULARYMEANINGS
Stupa (zedi, that, chedi)A dome-shaped structure erected as a Buddhist shrine.
MonasteryA building in which monks live and worship.
Arhat(in Buddhism and Jainism) Someone who has attained the goal of the religious life.
ColonetteA small, relatively thin column, often used for decoration or to support an arcade.
Corbel arch An arch-like construction method that uses the architectural technique of corbeling to span a space or void in a structure, like an entranceway in a wall or as the span of a bridge.
Blind door/windowAn imitation of a door or window, without an opening for passage or light.
NagaA member of a semidivine race, part human and part cobra in form with multiple head, associated with water and sometimes with mystical initiation.
Mount MeruA sacred mountain with five peaks in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist cosmology and is considered to be the center of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes.
Nirvana(in Buddhism) A transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the ultimate goal of Buddhism
Avalokiteśvara(Lord who looks down) A Bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas.
Bodhisattvas(in Mahayana Buddhism) A person who is able to reach Nirvana but delays doing so out of compassion in order to save suffering beings.


More readings and suggested adventure related to this topics:
  • Practicing Buddhsim in Vietnam and burma
  • A Guide for Meditation tour in burma
  • From Bodh Gaya (India) to Yangon (Myanmar) in 8 days to adventure from the sacred homeland of Buddhism in India to myanmar


Practice of Buddhism in Indochina countries

Buddhist practice in Indochina countries has both similar and different points, coming along with special values and positive influences on culture and sacred life.
firstly, let know two major branches of Buddhism, which are different expressions of the identical teachings of Buddha.

THERAVADA & MAHAYANA

Theravada (Teachings of the Elders, Lesser Wheel School, Southern Buddhism)


As the earliest, oldest teachings of Buddha founded in India and found in Pali literature, Theravada school orients devotees to become an "arhat" (who attained Nirvana) by merit making and obeying Five Percepts of the Buddha.

Mahayana (Greater Wheel School, Northern Buddhism)


This school encourages citizen to perfect themself based on the six necessary virtues: generosity, morality, patience, vigor, concentration and wisdom, but with aim to protect others.

>> Theravada see Mahayana as a misinterpretation of the Buddha’s primary teachings, while Theravada is seen more austere, ascetic and harder to practice.

BUDDHIST PRACTICE IN EACH COUNTRY


Theravada is practiced mainly in myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand while Vietnam is the only country in Indochina following Mahayana.

myanmar - Natives are knowledgeable about their religion.


As the deepest Buddhist-practicing country, myanmar leads the world in terms of the proportion of monks in its population and the proportion of income spent on religion. That’s why Buddhist constructions are widespread in burma with a huge quantity, high density and broad scale, making the country be called “the land of a million stupas”. A stay in Bagan will prove this quote.

Theravada Buddhism is practiced by 89% of the Burmese. Primary received by the Mon, Theravada has spread and dominated all the country. It has been practiced in conjunction with indigenous Nat (spirit) worship. Burmese Buddhism is given a featured status. Natives are very proud of their beliefs and keen to discuss them.

Burmese Buddhists
The devotees adhere to Five Precepts of Buddha, which require abstinence from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct and intoxicating substances. They attempt for a better future life by merit-making activities such as offering food for monks and donating to Buddhist monuments, and performing regular worship at Buddhist temples. Children will be sent to monastery to receive a Buddhist education.

Every Burmese household contains an altar or shrine to Buddha, with at least one dedicated image of Gautama Buddha. Taking off footwear and shocks are compulsory when entering a Buddhist temple to show homage. Let remember this fact when you visit to myanmar.

Monk ordination
Every Buddhist male is expected to temporarily become a monk and live in a monastery twice in his life: once as novice monk between the ages of 10 and 20, and again as a fully ordained monk after the age of 20. All men and boys under 20 are ordained as monks in the novitiation ceremony (Shinbyu), a very important opportunity to Burmese families.

Monks dress maroon robes while nuns are identified through pink robes. All things possessed by monks must be offered by lay community. In the morning, monks and nuns will walk in row to receive offerings of food.

Relation to traditional festivals
There are many important Burmese festivals related to Buddhism, like Full Moon Day of Tabaung (the merit-making day for Buddhists), Thingyan (Water New Year Festival, the time to celebrate Shinbyu), Full Moon Day of Kason (the day watering Maha Bodhi tree), Full Moon Day of Waso (start of Buddhist Lent), Thadingyut Festival (end of Buddhist Lent), etc.
Full moon day of Kason, watering the Maha-Bodhi tree - Myanmar festival
Full moon day of Kason


VIETNAM - The sole country in Indochina practices Mahayana school.


Mahayana Buddhism has played a dominant role in religious life of the Vietnamese, with the most popular sect in the country is Zen (Thien), and the second largest one is Dao Trang, primarily practiced in the South. Vietnamese Buddhism is originally blended with elements of Taoism, Confucianism and Vietnamese folk beliefs, and influenced by matriarchy with existence of female Buddhas such as Quan The Am Bo Tat, Quan Am Thi Kinh, Man Nuong Phat Mau, etc. In pagodas (chua), Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are worshiped beside countless Taoist divinities and spirits, local deities, helpers, and historical figures who dedicated to the country.

Religious life of devotees
Buddhism has a amazing affect on the thinking and behavior of Vietnamese people. They suppose that things a person reaps today is what he or she has sown in the past. They believe in rebirth and that their present life is a reflection of actions in their previous life.

The practice of Buddhism is like throughout the country, with gaining merit is the most common and fundamental practice. Buddhist pagodas have been regarded by many Vietnamese as a physical and sacred refuge from an uncertain world. Though the majority of the population has a vague notion of academic Buddhist doctrines, they often invite monks to participate in their life-cycle ceremonies such as funerals.
practice-of-buddhism-in-vietnam
The Vietnamese get to pagoda in the early New Year


Monks' functions
Vietnamese Buddhist monks commonly chant sutras, recite the life of Buddhas (particularly Amitābha), do repentance, pray for rebirth of the deceased in the Pure Land, predict fortunes, advice where a house should be constructed, perform acupuncture, etc. Most sutras are in Classical Chinese and are merely recited with Sino-Xenic pronunciations, making them incomprehensible to most practitioners. Chanting are practiced regularly at dawn, noon, and dusk, comprising Nianfo (a way of repenting and purifying bad karma), Dharani recitation and Kinh Hanh (walking meditation).

CAMBODIA – Most Buddhists think in ghosts and spirits.


The history of Buddhism in Cambodia has lasted for nearly 2000 years, across a number of successive kingdoms and empires. Approximately 95% of Cambodia's population follows Theravada school, which has existed side-by-side and intermingled with pre-Buddhist animism and Hinduism. The religion penetrated the country through two streams: the earliest one entered Funan kingdom via Hindu merchants and was influenced by Hinduism; the latter one were various Buddhist traditions that Mon citizen (Myanmar) brought to Angkor Empire.

Buddhism and belief in spirits
Most Cambodians travel Buddhist temples for the major Buddhist holidays. Few Cambodians abstain from all of the Five Precepts of Buddha. However, they still trust reincarnation and the idea that which they receive today is derived from past actions, same to the Vietnamese.

The Cambodian identify themselves as Buddhists, but their version of Buddhism consists of forms of ancestor worship, shamanism, and animism. They, whether professing to follow Buddhism or not, believe in a luxurious supernatural world. When being sick or in crisis, they see supernatural help from diverse spirits assumed to occupy in objects found in houses, Buddhist temples, along roads, and in forests. In almost all Cambodian dwellings, and even Buddhist temples, there are spirit houses and small shrines to appease bad spirits and keep them away their home.
practice-of-buddhism-in-cambodia
Spirit houses in a Cambodian temple

Monks’ functions
Buddhist monks are significant part of Cambodian life. They participate in all formal village festivals, ceremonies (e.g. Naming infants), marriages and funerals. They use astrology to realize auspicious dates for important events. They are often healers and practitioners of up to date psychiatrist. For centuries monks were the only literate citizen inhabiting in countryside. They acted as teachers to temple servants and monks.

Monk ordination
It is common for Cambodian men to become monks for a short period of their life - usually a few weeks or a few months - to take merit to their parents and to become closer to their Buddhist faith. This is usually done earlier in life, starting at age 13. Today less than 5 percent of men become monks. Older women, particularly widows, often opt to reside at the pagodas as helpers in order to not be a burden to their families.

Relation to traditional festivals
such as myanmar, most significant festivals of Cambodia are connected to Buddhism, for instance, Chol Chnam Thmay (New Year festival), Pchum Ben (the memorial day for deceased ancestors), Meak Bochea (commemorates the last sermon of the Buddha), Vissakh Bochea (anniversary of the birth, death, and enlightenment of the Buddha), etc.

LAOS – Buddhism has been a strong force in the culture.


Buddhism in Laos is a featured version of Theravada custom, as it’s based on Laotian culture, and closely tied to animism and beliefs in ancestral spirits, especially in rural areas After Theravada school was officially adopted in the 14th century during the reign of Fa Ngum, Buddhist temples (wats) were progressively built on foundations of former animist shrines, and Buddhism started to dominate the sacred belief in Laos.

The influence on Lao culture
Buddhism has been a strong force in Lao culture and remains a considerable affect in the local daily life today. Each Lao village owns a own “wat”, where villagers hold festivities and rituals. Buddhist images are found everywhere in shops, homes and offices.

Buddhism defines the Laotian character: frank, friendly, polite and generous. A typical day begin early with offerings for monks and a trip to the market to buy food. Wats are crowded in mornings and evenings with citizen chanting Buddhist prayers. In Laos, Buddhism brings peace and joy to the citizen as well as several festivals, which are breaks in an agricultural working year.

Lao Buddhists are very devout. They follow Four Noble Truths taught by the Buddha: suffering exists; suffering has a cause, which is the thirst or craving for existence; this craving could be stopped; and there is an Eightfold Path by which a permanent state of peace may be attained. Individuals are not expected to reach Nirvana in lifetime. Nevertheless, through their moral actions, they be able to develop karma for their next incarnation by obeying Five Precepts of Buddha and gaining merit via support to Buddhist community, usually donating food to monks and nuns.
practice-of-buddhism-in-laos
The Lao gain merit by donating food for monks so as to evolve karma for their next incarnation.

Monk ordination
Most Lao men join a monastery or temple for at least a short period of time prior to marriage. Tremendous of them become monks for the rest of their lives. Induction as a monk brings splendid merit to one’s family, evolve karma of deceased relatives, and also a way to receive Buddhist education.

The temples of Laos were once seen as "universities" for monks. Lao monks are highly esteemed and revered in Lao communities. Based on Lao Buddhism, Lao women are taught that they be able to only attain Nirvana after they inclue been reborn as men.

THAILAND - Buddha's teachings inclue been supported for a millennium


93.6% of the population in Thailand follows Theravada school. Over various eras, Thai Buddhism contain had influences of its neighboring Buddhist countries: Mon (Myanmar), Khmer (Cambodia), India, Sri Lanka and China. There are three main forces affecting the development of Buddhism in Thailand: Theravada school imported from Sri Lanka, Hindu belief received from Cambodia, and the folk religion of the country.

Buddhist life
Thais possess followed and supported the Buddha's teachings for more than a thousand years. Every Thai community, no matter how small or how poor, pools its resources to build an ornate temple to ensure everyone has a destination to practice. Numerous men experience a short period as a monk, commonly in their childhood. The locals also donate food for monks every day.

Much of Thai life takes destination around temples or monasteries, where they come for worship, praying, sermons, meditation, ceremonies, receiving advises for family matters, schooling children, customary medicine, and finding peace in mind. Brightly colored garlands and bits of scripture, which are Buddhist offerings, are often hung in front of boats, buses and tuk tuk so as to bring splendid luck and ensure safety on each trip. Such as Cambodians, Thais also believe in ghosts and spirits, and build spirit houses in front of their dwellings, even shopping malls, office buildings, etc.
practice-of-buddhism-in-thailand
Garlands, also used as Buddhsit offerings, are hung in front of boats so as to take fantastic luck and ensure safety.


Thais believe the Buddha's teachings to be priceless, so no money is asked or expected in return for meditation instruction. In numerous mediation centers, such things as accommodation and food are free.

Thứ Ba, 7 tháng 8, 2018

Best Picked 2018 and Top Suggested in 2019 by SEA WANDER

Check out SEA WANDER's top picked journey list in 2018 and notice our expert propostion for myanmar journey in 2019

Saying goodbye to the year of 2018 – according to Vietnamese calendar where head quarter office of SEA WANDER located and prepare for new year festival according to Burmese calendar in April 2015, let SEA WANDER look back together to our top favorite tours in 2014 and our expert is going to recommend new choice for an good myanmar in 2015.

Top choices in 2018 by our customers:

  • burma photography tours and more specified option - Photography with Balloon ride in Inle Lake and Bagan 07 days - Photographers felt very much in love with myanmar. And we created the tour to provide best chances to capture the most striking pictures in their journeys.

  • Yangon Countryside adventure 03 days – the very short tours for customers inclue limited time in their plan. The adventure is also cheap enough to meet almost all budgets because it has no involve in domestic flight while giving you top iconic sites of myanmar but also different aspects of burma with friendly countryside.

  • Tastes of myanmar in 05 days – that is the shortest overland tour in burma that allows you to carry all Yangon – former capital, Bagan – the largest archeological destination and Mandalay – the antique capital in the North. That is best choice for short-timer travelers.

  • myanmar Off Beaten tour 14 days – that requires you should contain a relatively fantastic physical health as we are going to carry you to reveal most remote parts of this country. However, the experience and sceneries rewarded back are the ones you never forget.

  • Inle Trekking to Kalaw 07 days – the most renowned trekking trails in burma that offers you brilliant views of lake, mountains, cloud and special, colorful images of ethnic people you encounters on the way.

  • myanmar final Luxury tours 10 days – taking this adventure you will shortly forget burma as a newly-opening, developing country but the one may propostion you the top glamorous services while keeping their fantastic sides of friendliness and not yet touristy.

Top suggested journey in 2019 by SEA WANDER

  • Yangon Off shore excursions 01 day – multiple options especially for grand cruise’s passengers docking in Yangon port in 01 – 02 days. As an experienced off-shore services operator in Vietnam, we carry this advantage to myanmar to help our customers enjoy the best sides of this wonderful country within few days.

  • Trekking from Kalaw to Loikaw 06 days – Taking from our expert inspection in Dec 2014, we introduce you the newest trekking site - Loikaw. Loikaw quiet remain no touristy but the spectacle and cool weather could convince any travelers. We make this tours with responsible mind of bringing customers in small sized group to make minimum effects to locals.

  • Caving journey in Hpa-An and Countryside in Mawlamyine 06 days – HpaAn is the sole place in South burma where you can do caving tour. This adventure is our intention of combining natural caving beauty with local culture and graceful countryside of myanmar.

  • Luxury Anawrahta Cruise for fantastic Irrawaddy 08 days – This is the newest river cruise in burma setting its original sail September 2015. SEA WANDER is proud to be one of the very original agent to proffer this cruise to cruise fans.

  • myanmar Foody adventure 09 days - The special tour for foody lovers to reveal the special aspect of burma culture. SEA WANDERcreates this tours to bring you relax from street foods, traditional cuisines to very elegant meals in top restaurants.

  • The bests of myanmar 12 days – Classic but never get enough, the tours as its name cover the best highlights of burma and is wrapped in very ideal duration for most home-away vacation. Having its shot in 2014, SEA WANDER silent recommends it for all types of travelers coming to myanmar in 2015.

That is our sum-up list in 2018 and suggested list in 2019. They will be very best guide for you starting a journey planning to myanmar. Providing you contain different ideas with us, why not drop us a message or tell us your idea by customize your have tour here!
Happy New Year 2019 with best wishes from SEA WANDER Team!

Thứ Hai, 6 tháng 8, 2018

Top Important Festivals in burma

burma has several festivals during a year with most of activities related to Buddhist religion. Let go with SEA WANDER to uncover some of the most important festivals in this great country

1. Full Moon of Tabaung


Full Moon of Tabaumg Festival is the traditional merit-making day for Buddhists. It takes place in the full moon day of the 3rd lunar month in Burmese calendar (often in Feb of be able to as in western calendar.)
  • 2017 date: 11 February
  • 2018 date: 01 March
  • The spiritual purposes of this day comprise: not to involve any good-hearted of sins, do only fantastic deeds, purify one’s mind.


Myanmar Full moon festival


On this chance, Buddhists go to pagoda and carried out merit-making activities. The meaning of this festival is to show veneration to Buddha and his teaching.
According to the legend, Full Moon of Tabaung festival marks the 4 fabulous events happening at the Veḷuvana bamboo grove, close to Rājagaha in northern India ten months after the enlightenment of the Buddha. As recorded, four auspicious facts are:
  • 1,250 disciples came to find the Buddha on this evening without being summoned.
  • All of them were Arhantas or Enlightened Ones. They were ordained by the Buddha himself.
  • The Buddha gave Arhantas the principles of Buddhism, which are: to cease from all evils; to do what is good; to cleanse one's mind.
  • It was a full-moon day.


The Myanmar’s greatest pagoda festival, namely the Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda festival is taken site on this time. It begins with the nakyake shitsu ceremony that supply offerings for 28 Buddhas, followed by a 10-day nonstop recounting by the Pathana (Buddhist scriptures) about 24 causes of worldly phenomena.
Other pagoda festivals are held on this day, including the Shwe Settaw Pagoda Festival in Minbu Township and the Alaungdaw Kathapa Pagoda Festival in Sagaing Region (Mandalay).

2. Thingyan New Year Festival


Organized from 13rd to 16th April coinciding with Easter, this is the Water Festival - the biggest festival - to welcome New Year in burma. Water symbolizes for purity that could clear away all sins, diseases and bad lucks. So citizen splash water to each other to start a new year with a cleansed soul.
In burma, the festival is commonly known as Thingyan, which means “change”.
It lasts over 4 days:
  • Akyo-nei (Thingyan Eve)
  • A-kya nei, A-kyat nei and A-tet nei (the final)
  • The fifth day is Hnit hsan ta yet nei (New Year’s Day).

Water festival Myanmar


On Thingyan opportunity, Thaya Min God from the heaven come down to the earth on his annual go to. At the exact time of Thaya Min God’s arrival, booming of cannon sounds. After that, traditional rites are carried out to welcome the God.
amazing humor prevails during the festival time. Citizen with buckets, pots and cans of water splash to anybody passing over. Powerful water pipes are everywhere to douse citizen. Decorated cars or carts are driven around to throw water to everybody and get wet in return. Children use water pistols to drench their friends and relatives. In large cities like Yangon, hoses and hydrants in gardens, water balloons and even fire hoses are also used for the festival.
No passer-by will escape from drenching, no matter whether they are Buddhist or non-Buddhist, Burmese or non-Burmese, except monks, elders, sick ones and of course pregnant women.

Read more: Our top 7 tips to relax your Water festival in burma. Enjoyable, getting more fun and forgetable experience in burma.


Soaked to skin, even with water in nostrils, ears and eyes then being laughed, as the spirit of Thingyan, is called as cheer and friendship.
All corners of the country become absolutely jubilant and vibrant. Burmese damsels apply thanaka on face, pin sweet scented yellow padauk flowers on hair and dance on road.
On the final day, some citizen silent sprinkle water onto others and say an apology, something such as “Thagya Min God left his water tube and he will come back to get it.”
In the traditional way, young citizen will wash hair for their adults by beans and barks of acacia rugata tree. Fish and even bigger animals are released back to lakes and rivers with the wish: “I release you once, you release me ten times.”

3. Kason Watering Festival – Buddha Day


As the most important day in Buddhist world, this day is taken destination in the time that all ponds, lakes and creeks decrease to its lowest level. Kason, the second month of Burmese calendar (usually in May), is deemed as the hottest month in the hot season.
Kason full-moon day signify 4 most significant days in Gotama Buddha life time:
  • The day he had been prophesied to become the following Buddha. Dipankara Budha predicted that the hermit Sumedha would become Gotama Buddha, the latest one in this Buddha world.
  • The day he was born
  • The day he achieved ENLIGHTENMENT (became a Buddha)
  • And the day he entered PARINIRVANA (passed away)


The Burmese celebrate this day by watering the Maha-Bodhi tree at diverse myanmar pagodas. Maha-Bodhi is the spiritual banyan tree which Gotama Buddha sat under when he attained enlightenment.
Kason Watering Festival


As Kason is the hottest month, the earth is truly dry. To show respect to Gotama Buddha, citizen pour water on the foot of Maha-Bodhi tree to be sure it does not die of drought during hot summer. This ceremony has become an important part of burmese culture on every full-moon day of Kason. Buddhists will march in a large procession to Maha-Bodhi tree or to pagodas to pour scented water.

4. Full-moon of Tazaungmon (Tazaungdaing or Festival of Lights)


Also known as Festival of Lights, it is held on Tazaungmon - the eighth month of Burmese calendar (usually in November). This day marks the end of the rainy season.
Tazaungdaing Festival is to honor the introduction of Buddhism in myanmar. On this day, robe-weaving competitions to create unique yellow monk robes named matho thingyan are held over the country during two consecutive nights (the preceding night and the full-moon night), most salient in Yangon’s Shwedagon pagoda. Contestants will work continuously from night to sunrise. These robes will be offered to monks in the Kahtain ceremony.

More reading: Festival of Lights (or Lighting Festival in Myanmar) in November annually: the activities, the best places to enjoy and suggested tour program to get there.

Tazaungmon festival myanmar


This custom commemorates the well-known story about the Gautama Buddha’s life. Understanding that the Buddha would soon pass away, the Gautama Buddha’s mother, Maya, spent the whole night weaving yellow robes for him. Her sister Gotami (Buddha’s aunt) then kept on this habit and offered new robes annually.
Nevertheless, the main significance of this festival is light, as many suppose this festival has existed even previous the introduction of Buddhism in burma, to honor the God of Light and the awakening of Lord Vishnu. Sparkle fireworks, fire balloons are sent to the sky and multicolored lanterns are lighted. It is also said that the Gautama Buddha would return to Tawadeintha on this day to go to his mother’s reincarnated spirit so people illuminate the path for him by lighting candles and lanterns.
In Shan state, long queues of people holding traditional lit lotus flower lanterns march on roads. Especially in Taunggyi, hot air balloons made from bamboo and mulberry paper are released on air as offerings to Tavatimsa, the heaven in Buddhist cosmology, or as a way to drive away evil spirits. This custom is also held in Naypyidaw and Pyin Oo Lwin.
Also on this opportunity, tremendous citizen come back home to pay homage to elders. Almsgiving and charity consisting of sautuditha feasts are also common during this festival, regarded as merit-making activities.

Top myanmar Beaches & Best Time for Beach Holidays

burma beach is rather different from ones in SE Asian country. Beaches in myanmar (Burma) is very pretty, untouched, and quiet however those beaches are not ideal for swimming all year around, especially summer time - from April to Aug.

Having a long coastline but myanmar (Burma) beaches are not known for such as other countries in Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, it is so regretful if you don’t enjoy the sunshine on these beaches as reaching Southeast Asia. Tremendous of myanmar beaches are unspoilt and undiscovered, reminiscent of Thailand’s beaches 20 years ago, absolutely peaceful and still. Endless island and untouched beaches, burma is truly an alluring place for lovers of the sea.
Here is the list of the top beaches in myanmar country.

1. Ngapali beach - the most popular beach in burma (Burma)

Myanmar Ngapali beach

Dreamy coasts, idyllic palm lines, pristine white sands and the blue crystal-clear waters of Bengal Bay, these are words numerous travellers say about Ngapali beach. This best myanmar beach is also extremely impressive thanks to pretty fishing villages, likeable boats bobbing on the waters and ox-drawn carts ambling along the Ngapali coastline. Although Ngapali beach is currently experiencing some changes of a construction boom, there's silent a lot of virgin spaces.
The name of the beach "Ngapali", has no meaning in Burmese, but derives from the Italian "Napoli" (the city of Naples).
Ngapali beach has a host of complex accommodations from small beach huts to luxury villas and bungalows. Fresh seafood is abundant and great. Sea sports for travelers are also various, consisting of snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking, cycling and golf. Ngapali beach is a fabulous site of Myanma (Burma) to watch the gorgeous sunset over the Bay of Bengal.

The peak season at Ngapali beach is from November to March, because of its very kind weather. Even at the high season, Ngapali beach is a quiet, drowsy, early-to-bed site, however, the prices might be skyrocketed. Things are nearly enchanting during the rainy season (April to Sep) when flights drop to once a week and most hotels either shut or keep open only a handful of rooms.

2. Ngwe Saung beach (Silver Beach)

Ngwe Saung Silver Beach) Myanmar

Ngwe Sung beach is in south of Ngapali - the most known for beach in burma (Burma) - and closer to Yangon, comprising 15 km of white sand bordered by tall, lush palm trees swaying in winds. Sea at Ngwe Sung beach is as pure as in Ngapali, but this beach has not well developed, which is an actually relaxation spot to do nothing.
From Yangon - Myanmar's former capital, you can bring a 35-minute flight or a six-hour street trip to reach Ngwe Sung beach. If you want a more challenging experience, let select a 16-hour boat tours from Yangon to the gateway town of Pathein.
Ngwe Sung meaning Silver beach has several marine sports for travelers such as scuba diving and snorkeling. You may hire a motorbike to find out the 15-km beach and conquer the hard sand sections. The seafood here is splendid -- lobster, shrimp, crab, fish -- and if you are on the seaside early in early morning you will maybe notice fishermen coming in with fresh seafood on their hand.

3. Chaung Tha beach

Chaung Tha myanmar beach

Chaung Tha beach is 25 miles west of Pathein. Close to Yangon, this beach is hugely popular to Burmese middle-class families from the city. Chuang Tha beach, to be honest, is not as beautiful as Ngapali or Ngwe Saung beaches. The reasons are the sand isn’t as white and the beachfront is a jumble of hotels. However, it’s an suitable destination to notice how Burmese play and rest on beach.
If you’re here during the peak season and want to flee from from the crowds, let get a boat to reveal neighboring islands. Carry along your contain snorkel and you be able to notice a world of tropical fish.
Chaung Tha isn’t fit as a deserted beach, but it is clean, sunny, the easiest beach to reach in burma.

4. Kanthaya Beach

Kanthaya myanmar beach

Kanthaya beach is worthy to hit if you truly want to get away from development and state of the art civilization. This beach of myanmar (Burma) is unspoiled and undeveloped, naturally captivating, empty and really peaceful. There are no beachside sports and shops, and that is just its main attraction. You will be impossible to book a hotel in improve, but you are sure to see a room when you arrive.
Kanthaya means “Pleasant” in Burmese. This burma beach is shallow and 4.5-km long. Unlike the white sandy beach of Ngapali, 100 km north, the sand here is golden and a bit gritty. You can walk along the coast, climb small hills, watch birds and talk to local fishermen.

featured notes for enjoying burma beach holidays:

  • Beaches in myanmar has its low season in rainy season from be able to to October because it rains almost all days long. Ngwe Saung & Chaungtha beach are available on this time however the sea is not very much pretty and clean due to lots of mud. Most hotels and resorts in Ngapali beach are closed actually. Some hotels in Ngapali beach, if open, will offer very broad discounts. The bad weather of rains will lead to flights limited and cancelled with very short before notices.
  • The best alternatives for beach holidays in burma from be able to to October are beaches in Vietnam - that are the most beautiful in summer from be able to to September. The connection is so easy with a short, cheap flight from Yangon to Ho Chi Minh city by Vietjet Air. Contact us to manage!
  • The criterion of myanmar beach holiday costume is a jean and T-shirt. Not kidding, that is true, the Burmese swim in their jeans. Others wear shorts or cotton pajamas, but obviously there is no room for bikini. However, this is still exception for foreigners.


Increase Zone Fee to Bagan, myanmar

Bagan zone fee increased since January 01, 2015 from US$ 15 to US$ 20 per person. This fee is applicible for all foreign tourist with one-time payment at the local airport.
burma Ministry of Culture announced the increase of Bagan Zone fee to US$ 20 per person. This fee is applicable for all foreign tourists coming into Bagan. The prior price was US$ 15 per person. The fee is collect one time at the local airport.
Bagan zone fee tickets
A sample of the zone fee tickets since it was US$ 15 per person
(Photo credit to SEA WANDER
Inspection in August 2014)

Bagan is an important archaeological zone that is recognized by UNESCO. With a single payment of the zone fee, foreign tourists could access all stupas and temple here up to 2,200 items and further historical sites. Among them, the most typical ones that can not be missed are Ananda temple, Shwesandaw temple or often known "Sunset temple" because tourists come here climb up to the top for the panoramic view of the whole Bagan and the Shwezigon pagoda - a smaller version of the iconic Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon.

seawander.asia - SEA WANDER is going to charge this change for our next bookings. For the bookings confirmed previous the announcement, seawander.asia will absorb this increase.