Htet Aung is our Reservations Agent at Thahara. Htet’s been with us for around 18 months now, and has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to travelling in and around Myanmar. Born and brought up in Yangon, Htet shares his favourite places to travel to in Myanmar along with the traditions that mean the most to him.
What do you like to do when you are on holiday?
Generally I like to travel with my family or with friends as I enjoy people’s company. I don’t really like to waste too much time waiting around in the hotel, and prefer to get out and about and explore as much as I can. This usually means early starts so I can catch all the action before lunch.
Lunch is really important for me, and I love to sample all the dishes in the area. Then in true Myanmar fashion, I love sipping tea and relaxing afterwards. This is my downtime period, where I can talk happily with the locals, relax after my lunch, and watch the world go past from my seat.
I love photography, so finding the best spot to take my photos, and coming back home with lots to share with everyone is very important for me. Usually as a result you’ll find me in pretty obscure places trying to capture the best shot.
Where do you dream of travelling to and why?
I dream of travelling to Mount Hkakabo Razi in northern Myanmar because it is the one of the highest mountains in South East Asia. I’ve never seen snow before and Mount Hkakabo Razi is covered in it year round. I think that would be a pretty special place to visit. I love hearing where our guests have travelled to though, and get inspired by their stories.
How would you describe yourself?
I’d say I’m pretty easy going and love to learn new things, whether it’s a new language, or discovering new countries. I love my job and take great pleasure in organising incredible experiences for our customers in Myanmar.
Where is your favorite place to travel in Myanmar?
It’s a bit of a cliché but I would have to say Bagan. Even though I’ve been there a number of times now, it’s still always a thrill to go back. Some of Myanmar’s most important monuments are located here, all within a couple of kilometres of each other. Looking out over these incredible temples at sunset or sunrise will send shivers down anyone’s spine.
What was your most recent adventure in Myanmar?
Most recently I went for a weekend getaway to the Golden Rock (otherwise know as Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda). It’s a great trip to escape from Yangon and only takes 2 days. I set off on Friday evening and arrived at the base camp in the early hours of Saturday. I enjoyed a few hours of sleep in a hotel I’d booked, before heading up to the top at the crack of dawn on one of the open trucks.
From the top, the views are amazing, especially in the morning as the clouds begin to clear. As a Buddhist, Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Myanmar, so I wanted to spend a full day at the top. I stayed at Mountain Top Hotel on Saturday night, before making my way back to Yangon on Sunday. It’s a very special trip and easy to organise.
What’s your favorite food in Myanmar and why?
My favorite food has to be a tea leaf salad (or Laphet Thoke in Burmese). The traditional recipe is made by mixing fermented tealeaves, tomatoes, cabbage, peanuts and peanut oil together. Different restaurants can sometimes add a few other ingredients, but those I’ve mentioned always make up the core of the dish.
I would have to say that my mum makes the best tea leaf salad that I’ve tried, but I also enjoy having it on the streets of Yangon. Lookout for the popular street food stalls where the locals are eating, and order some Laphet Thoke to try it out.
What do you want to see in Myanmar 10 years?
I’d ideally like to see the hotel and airline prices drop. I think my country Myanmar is such an incredible place, and it’s always so sad when some customers are put off by the prices and choose to go to Thailand or Cambodia instead. I always try to negotiate my clients the best possible price with our suppliers so that there’s every chance that they will come and visit.
Other then that, I’m just looking forward to more and more locations becoming accessible and exploring them along with you and our customers.
Give your best tip for someone travelling in Myanmar.
My best tip is travel to Myanmar in August and September. There are barely any other tourists around as most think it’s going to rain lots, but actually it’s right at the end of the rainy season and the heavy rains have already passed. You might get one or two days of rain, but these will be showers and will be over quite quickly.
As an added bonus (or maybe even the most important reason) the room prices at hotels during this time can be up to half the price as well. Then there’s the landscape which in September is incredible lush and green and there is so much life around, from the birds in the woods to the fish in the rivers. I love travelling during these months. Fantastic!
Three words that describe why we should travel
Enjoy, Learn, Refresh