If you believe the words of U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, the hermetic nation of Myanmar (formerly Burma) may genuinely be opening up to the world.

Clinton's travels with popular democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi in December of last year were the catalyst for increased interest the closed nation, promoting a friendlier image of the mysterious land.

The Burmese people have always had a reputation for being some of the world's kindest, most welcoming individuals, but nearly 50 years of military rule virtually closed off this Southeast Asian treasure to the world.

Now, the leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the opposition party that has urged foreigners to stay away since 1996, have a new message: We want people to come to Burma.

The NLD revised its boycott to encourage independent travel late in 2010 following Suu Kyi's release from house arrest. As a result, Myanmar is fast becoming a hot new destination for travelers along the ever-popular route through Southeast Asia.

With timeless towns, towering pagodas, and fervently Buddhist locals, Myanmar promises the authentic Asian experience that's fading in neighboring Thailand.

CLICK HERE to read the complete, in depth story or press Start to view the slideshow.