Photograph by Pascal Sittler, REA/ReduxThe fledgling "Burma Spring" has opened an unprecedented travel window into mystical and mysterious Myanmar. As the Southeast Asian state tentatively emerges from 50 years of isolation, pro-democracy advocates urge visitors to seek out authentic geotourism experiences supporting local communities. The country’s poor infrastructure makes solo travel through Myanmar’s unexplored valleys and ancient villages challenging at best. To visit the must-see ruins of ancient Buddhist temples in Bagan (pictured here), bike to the Amarapura Monastery, and cruise down the Irrawady River (immortalized by Rudyard Kipling as "the Road to Mandalay"), sign on with an established outfitter like Woodland Travels.
Founded in 1995 by Myanmar native Win Aung, Woodland specializes in guided treks to some of the country’s most remote and exotic locales, including the Mergui Archipelago islands, where you can kayak the mile-long granite formations of Great Swinton Island. And, although Myanmar’s military government moved the country’s capital to remote Nay Pyi Taw in 2005, daily Singapore Airlines flights from New York and Los Angeles connect to Yangon (Rangoon), the former capital and largest city.