Burma February 2013

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Jan 1st, 2013, 08:34 PM
  #1
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Burma February 2013

Hello Everyone,
I'm planning on a two week trip to Burma this coming February and was hoping for some tips from recent travelers. I visited Burma in 2000 when I was only 12 and haven't done much traveling since.
My boyfriend and I will be arriving in Bangkok on February 4th and plan on staying somewhere close to the Myanmar Embassy. From online reading I gathered that the visa process takes two days. We will book a flight into Yangon from Bangkok while in the city. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get the cheapest flights?
From Yangon I would like to visit Bagan. I'm also interested in going to Kawal and hiking down to Inle Lake from there. I am also intrigued by Mrauk U.
We are on a very tight budget and cannot afford to stay in even mid range accommodations. Under $20 would be the best. Does anyone have a suggestion of the cheapest place to stay in Yangon?
Also what is the cheapest way to travel from Yangon to Bagan... I'm guessing it is a bus ride.
It seems that most people who are planning trips here have a very detailed itinerary. I'm hoping just to wing it.
Any thoughts/suggestions will be much appreciated.
Many thanks and happy new year!
sqs88 is offline  
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 05:41 AM
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I'm sorry to say that this will not be easy. Burma has become THE place to go, and things are pretty much booked up in advance. Prices have tripled since the last Lonely Planet edition which was published in Dec. Still, you will need the LP guidebook to do your planning. You will want to email inexpensive guesthouses for rates and reservations. Winging it doesn't work very well when all of the accommodations are full. You might do ok, you might end up sleeping on the floor of a guesthouse lobby or closet on tables at a tea shop. One person on Thorntree reported being unable to find a room in Mandalay and sleeping in the street. Many have reported flying out of the country early because of lack of accommodation.

The visa process in Bangkok can be in one day if you are willing to pay extra, or three days if not. It is generally less expensive to get your visa in advance n your own country (which would also mean you wouldn't have to stay in Bangkok). The cheapest flights are on Air Asia, but it is cheaper if you buy far in advance (like right now).

Cheapest way from Yangon to Bagan is bus. You can also take a bus to Kalaw (I assume that is what you mean) to trek to Inle.

Mrauk U, while wonderful, is unlikely to be in your future for this trip. The area has been closed because of ethnic violence. ALso, it is an expensive place to get to - requires flights and boat/ferry - no way to get there by road.

Frankly, you might want to wait a year to go, until some of the infrastructure catches up with demand, and until you have the money to make this trip work for you.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 06:55 AM
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Thank you Kathie.
Unfortunately this is the only time available for me to go. When visiting the region in 2000 Burma was my favorite place so I don't want to miss out on it. Hopefully everything will work out okay.
Do you know if it is possible to leave the country via Tachileik?
Thank you.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 07:03 AM
  #4
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Kathie has covered the landscape pretty well--although having just returned from 24 days in Burma, we did meet up with quite a few people who had made reservations not that long before their trip--and who found accommodations--most at MUCH higher prices than they would have had to spend if they'd reserved well in advance--or at very very low end places (servants' quarter w/o hot water--on the floor in a monastery, although these were during a huge festival). OFten people could only get a night at one place and a night at another, so a great deal of time was spent looking for a place to stay rather than seeing Burma. And people did decide to leave rather than keep having these experiences--AND finding out that they didn't have enough CASH --or PERFECT Bills with them. If money weren't an issue, I'd say you'd have a better shot at finding last minute places, but since it is, you'll probably lose out by doing it in a last minute way.

If you want to wing it, later in the year--May, June--the summer months--would probably be easier, but then, of course, you're facing the heat and the monsoons. Good luck.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 07:23 AM
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It takes a special permit (takes 2 weeks to get approval) plus a mandatory guide to exit at Tachileik, and you have to fly into a city closeby. So the cost of exiting at Tachileik is much more (3x-4x) the cost of a flight.

520 is right, you'd have a better chance of winging it during low season.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 07:37 AM
  #6
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Thank you Kathie and 520. Unfortunately this is the only time I have available to travel. Luckily my paws aren't too soft so I'd happily stay in the floor in a monastery. Thank you both for your time a consideration when answering my questions!
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Jan 12th, 2013, 05:27 AM
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Accommodation in Burma is extortionate at present. Prices are rising weekly. We've just returned home two days ago from 3 weeks there, fortunately we did all our bookings in 2011, but the hotels still tried to screw us.

There is no infrastructure to spread the demand at present, so I'm telling friends to hold off for a year or two, the demands on tourism are just too frantic.

People are starting to feel ripped off and disappointed.

Go to Laos instead.
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Jan 12th, 2013, 06:53 AM
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Maree, could you tell us which hotel tried to screw you and how? I know the infrastructure is under a lot of pressure, but I'd like to hear the details.
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Jan 12th, 2013, 02:39 PM
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Chatrium Hotel at Royal Lake, Yangon, tried to downgrade us to a cheaper room than we had already paid for 12 months in advance, wanted to charge us extra for the room standard we had already paid for. Nice hotel and all, great location and facilities, staff etc, but this type of gouging is apparently becoming commonplace in Yangon because of unmet demand.

Obviously Burma is flavour of the month at present, but don't expect paradise. It's about where Thailand was in 1975, in terms of development and tourism infrastructure. I remain ambivalent about the political situation and governance, which struck me as being on about the same corruption level as Indonesia.

Fortunately, we spent most of our 20 days outside the capital, in villages and smaller towns. Life flows along like the rivers, a steady current underpinned by Buddhism, and like most Buddhist countries in Asia the people are very generous in nature.

Burma brought back many good memories from our early travels in Asia in the 70s, but nobody should go there with blinkers on as regards the political situation or the distance the country needs to travel to even remotely approach the living standards of some of its Asian neighbours.
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