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3 Burmese towns in Top 10 fastest growing destinations: Agoda

File photo of Kyaukkanlatt Pagoda and Monastery near Hpa-an, the Karen State capital. (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)

The Burmese towns of Moulmein, Hpa-an and Hsipaw are among the fastest growing destinations in Asia for European tourists, according to online travel reservation giant Agoda.

In a press release today, the Singapore-based hotel and flight booking agent announced a list of its top ten Asian destinations that are seeing the fastest growth in visitors from Europe over the past 12 months, based on booking data from millions of Agoda.com customers.

Among the top ten were three cities in Japan, Siquijor Island in the Philippines (listed as number one), a resort each in Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia, and the three towns in Burma, officially known as Myanmar.

“Bookings in Mawlamyine [Moulmein], capital of the Mon State, nearly doubled from 2014,” said the press release. “The town is known for its colonial period architecture and bustling waterfront, while the charming town of Hpa-an, surrounded by picturesque mountains, saw bookings by Europeans up 85 percent versus last year.”

The third Burmese destination, Hsipaw, is situated among the tea plantations of Shan State, and is famed for a cliff-hugging railway journey from Mandalay. In recent years it has become popular with hikers and nature enthusiasts.

“Some amazing destinations in Myanmar are slowly opening up thanks to improving infrastructure. The traditional tourist loop – which used to include just Yangon [Rangoon], Mandalay and Bagan – is expanding,” said Errol Cooke of Agoda.

Burma’s tourism authorities are taking strides to entice greater visitor numbers. Less than two weeks ago, the Ministry of Immigration announced that three border checkpoints are now open to foreigners entering from Thailand with e-visas.

The new border crossings will allow overland access to Moulmein, Hpa-an and Hsipaw, which are each located in ethnic regions of eastern Burma.