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8 places that are no longer off-limits to travelers

By: Josh Lew on Aug. 9, 2013, 4:24 p.m.
Shwedagon Buddhist pagoda in Yangon, Burma

Photo: calflier001/Flickr

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Myanmar, formerly Burma, was until recently ruled by a military government that was known for its heavy-handed responses to any sort of opposition. Though it never suffered from an all-out civil war, the political situation made travel difficult and occasionally dangerous, if not impossible. The combination of a huge and mostly peaceful democracy movement, foreign pressure and an aging leadership finally led to elections and the opening up of Myanmar to international tourists and journalists in 2011. Myanmar is still rough-around-the-edges, lacking a lot of the tourist infrastructure that is found in neighboring Thailand. But the crumbling colonial-era buildings, teeming streets and markets of Yangon, the legendary city of Mandalay in the north, untouched beaches in the south, and amazing ancient sites like the ruins of the ancient temple complex at Bagan truly make this an attractive country for intrepid travelers. With even remote Laos and the formerly wild streets of Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City now firmly on the tourist map, Myanmar is one of the last countries where you can get an unfiltered look at Southeast Asia.