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Beach trip in Burma. Best way to book it?

Beach trip in Burma. Best way to book it?

Old Sep 21st, 2012, 08:51 PM
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Beach trip in Burma. Best way to book it?

Hello

I am planning an 18 day trip to Burma. For a number of reasons I decided to go with a group tour, even though almost all my trips so far have been done independently. I chose a UK-based tour operator which does small groups and has the itinerary I wanted to do ( Yangoon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle with some hiking through the villages). The tour is 13 days and I have 4 days left to go somewhere else.

I am thinking of going to Burma’s Ngapali beach. I don’t want to do it through my UK tour operator (VERY pricey) and wonder what do I do to book it myself. Do I go through a local agency? I saw the Santa Maria name highly recommended, but wonder if they would work with me on such a short trip. Alternatively, I see a number of Asian/Burmese agencies advertising Ngapali trips online, but wonder how safe it would be to book with any of them. I also see nice hotels online still available for the days I need and bookable either directly with hotels or Asian/Burmese tour companies, or online intermediaries like Tripadvisor. Has anyone booked hotels in Burma online?

The bigger question is how do I book my internal flights. I heard that you can’t book internal flights independently…. I could see the flight schedule and the prices on Mandalay Air and can submit a request through the agent page. Does anyone know whether this is reliable or any other issues with it?

Thanks a million!
VitaO is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2012, 08:09 AM
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As of a few months ago, the online times were not reliable. Even when booking with a TA, flight times change, even up to the day of departure. I would contact SM and see if they could book the hotels and flights for you. You have nothing to lose by asking.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2012, 08:46 AM
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I agree, you want to book through a local agent. Santa Maria is excellent, but there are many others as well.

As Shelly notes, the flight times listed on the internet have little to do with when the flights actually fly. You want an agent to watch out for you on flights, let you know if the time has changed or even move you to a different domestic airline as necessary.

I do know people who have emailed Air Mandalay to reserve e flight, and they simply paid on arrival. The problem is that if you need to keep to a schedule that may not work for you, as the afternoon flight you thought you reserved no longer exists and you have to fly in the morning.

Also note that there are a number of fake airline websites pretending to be the actual airline site for a number of airlines in SE Asia. Air Lao, Air Bagan and Air Mandalay all have fake sites, all of which list an address in Europe (France or Belgium) and an address in Bangkok. All have a hyphen in the middle of the URL, all will take your credit card and charge it, none can deliver valid tickets.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2012, 08:47 AM
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One other note, on my first trip to Burma, I did book a couple of hotels online. I also paid more than I would have through an agent.
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Old Sep 28th, 2012, 01:37 PM
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Hi, We were in Ngapali in February this year. We booked our flights (from Heho to Thandwe and from Thandwe to Yangon), plus our accommodation at Pleasant View Resort (PLV), through Shan Yoma who are based in Yangon. I had emailed several Yangon based travel agencies, including Santa Maria, and Shan Yoma were the most responsive. We also got a much better rate at PLV by using them than booking directly with the hotel. We found them very reliable.
By the way, we absolutely loved Ngapali. Here's a link to my photos if you're interested.
Sarah
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8769775...7631644858013/
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Old Oct 26th, 2012, 09:30 PM
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An update on this and to thank you all for the guidance. (Also, Sarah, gorgeous photos of Ngapali!) I have contacted Santa Maria and they were very responsive and willing to book this short beach trip for me. All booked and seemed to have gone smoothly. SM says they will meet me in Rangoon airport to give me the flight ticket and finalize the payment. I was worried that there will be no hotels in Ngapali a week before Christmas, but I got my first choice hotel with full beach view room.
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Old Oct 27th, 2012, 01:13 AM
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Glad you liked the photos; it is the most beautiful place. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Sarah
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Old Oct 27th, 2012, 09:24 AM
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Lucky you - you got your first choice hotel! This year there are plenty of people who are having trouble finding any hotel.

Enjoy Burma!
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