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Southeast Asia, explained

Burma: hotels all booked up in Yangon

Exploding interest in crumbling backwater overwhelms hotels
Yangon hotels 2012 02 16Enlarge
A Burmese girl looks out the window waiting for an overnight train to leave the Mandalay train station in Myanmar. (PAULA BRONSTEIN/AFP/Getty Images)

A warning to foreign tourists pouring into newly popular Burma: don't touch down in Yangon without a hotel reservation.

This well-reported piece in The Irrawaddy suggests an unpleasant fate awaits those who fail to secure rooms in Burma, officially titled Myanmar, the pariah state-turned-travel hot spot du jour. 

"They might end up walking the streets all night or sleeping in a monastery ... there will simply be no beds for them," a travel agent in Yangon told the outlet.

For now, Burma's infrastructure can't keep up with its buzz. The nation's crumbling British colonial architecture and stuck-in-time vibe -- secured, in part, by heavy Western sanctions -- play a large part in constituting Burma's tourist cachet.

But while I'm sure a wave of new hotels are on the horizon, for now you'll want to lock in those hotel bookings before you land.

And, remember, Yangon has no ATMs, so bring a gigantic brick of extremely pristine, smudge-free $100 US bills. If Benjamin Franklin has one whisker out of place, the black-market money exchange crews will reject your bill in a heartbeat.


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