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Burma voted top travel destination of 2012

A trip to Burma could prove the location of choice for those planning a Southeast Asia holiday after the country was voted the top travel destination of 2012.

Burma has won the Top Country prize at this year's Wanderlust Travel Awards after the magazine's readers were asked to vote for their favourite travel destination of the preceding 12 months.

The country achieved an average score of 96.98 out of 100, putting it top of the pile ahead of destinations such as Peru, New Zealand and Bhutan.

For many years, Burma was considered off limits by tourists due to the strict military regime in charge of the country.

But recent political reforms have opened up this mesmerising, unspoilt corner of Asia to travellers and the country has quickly established itself as one of the top must-visit places on earth.

Indeed, it was voted the Top Emerging Destination by Wanderlust readers in 2011 and finished fourth in the magazine's Top Country poll last year.

Wanderlust's co-founder and editor-in-chief Lyn Hughes, who visited Burma in 2011, commented: "Burma is wonderful: atmospheric scenery; talented craftspeople; astonishing temples; great souvenir shopping; yummy food. I didn't want to leave!"

She recommended visitors to Burma make time to check out Yangon's (Rangoon) grand colonial buildings and the incredible 'Golden Pagoda' Shwedagon Paya, explore the upcountry outpost of Mandalay and make a trip to the stupa-studded plains of Bagan, cradled by the Irrawaddy River.

It follows the recent news that the number of overseas visitors to Burma topped more than one million in 2012, a 30 per cent increase on the year before.

Meanwhile, Burma was also represented on Wanderlust's Top Cities of 2012 list, with Bagan coming in fourth place.

The most popular city among travellers, however, was Hoi An in Vietnam, followed by Cusco in Peru and Kyoto in Japan.