Want to avoid the crowds? Head to a city or country on the State Department watch list. Want to avoid crowds and stay safe? Head to a city that used to be.
History moves faster than the travel industry and the best places to visit are often yesterday's war zones. The main reason the pendulum swings so far so fast is that tourists are a tremendous boon to struggling economies and are generally welcomed with open arms in places where unrest has led to instability. That makes traveling to formerly dangerous places smart for both selfish and humanitarian reasons.
Why You Didn't Want to Go: It's not so much that Yangon itself was dangerous, but it was a very dangerous place for a traveler to be during the years the junta shut itself off from the outside world.
Why You Want to Go Now: As Myanmar has opened to tourists, tourists have opened to the idea of traveling to Yangon. The city is now on every Southeast Asia checklist and is positively thick with travelers craving something authentic. Thing is, the city is decidedly old-fashioned and hasn't been too much effected by outside influence – yet. It won't be long before crowds make the trip to the golden temple of Shwedagon Paya and a night's stay in the gorgeous Governor's Residence more of a hassle than a pleasure. For now, there's nothing quite like it.
Credit: Merten Snijders / Getty Images