All hotels and resorts in the popular Ayeyarwady beach resorts of Chaung Tha and Ngwe Saung are fully booked for the Thingyan holidays, according to the Myanmar Hotelier’s Association.
Rooms in Chaung Tha Beach had been taken off the market temporarily due to a cyclone which made land last month, but have now all been reserved by holiday makers, a tourism operator told DVB. Private residences in nearby towns and villages are also said to be sold out.
“It is usual that the beach is always full of visitors during the festival, but this year room prices have doubled,” he said.
The celebration of Thingyan, Burmese new year water festival, remains a controversial topic 13 months into the coup. Resistance figures recently said that they believed participation would aid the military in demonstrating a return to normality, something it appears to be having successes in — notably to the publics and governments of neighboring countries — despite a marked increase in vicious raids across the country.
Despite this, some in the country are ready to celebrate Thingyan. Due to COVID-19 and the coup, celebrations of Burma’s most well-loved festival have been muted since 2019.
Tourist arrivals to the Ayeyarwady coast have been on the rise since early October, operators say, and its beaches are once again becoming popular destinations for weekend getaways from Yangon.
Others say that travel during the holiday period will disturb the operations of resistance groups, at the same time allowing the military to make better use of the country’s highway system — much of which has been made precarious for troops due to the planting of mines.
“I don’t want to have fun, especially at a time when many people are giving their lives. Instead, I would rather suggest donating money to end the revolution. We can have fun at any time, but not during the revolution,” a civilian told DVB.
On April 6, the Yangon People’s Strike protest group hung posters reading “ Revolution is not a Festival” across Yangon.
People’s Defense Force factions across the country have warned that they will step up paramilitary operations during Thingyan “to prevent the military from spreading propaganda”, and have urged people not to travel unnecessarily.
Whilst those leading the armed resistance, and a majority of Burmese netizens, urge people to protest Thingyan festivities organized by the junta, a number of prominent names in the country’s hospitality sector are running advertisements promoting private Thingyan parties.
Last week, the exclusive Star City mixed-use residential complex in Yangon’s Thanlyin township — developed by magnate Serge Pun’s Yoma Strategic Holdings — shelved well-publicized plans for a Thingyan DJ festival after a significant public backlash.
The military has begun erecting stages for its own curated celebrations across Burma’s major cities, and has announced plans for large parties in prominent locations — including Mandalay Palace, where troops are reported to be torturing detainees. Towns are expected to experience significant troop build ups as security forces move to control the events. Whether anyone will attend such spectacles is yet to be determined. yes