Car and Driver vs. Flying for Myanmar?

Aug 6th, 2014, 01:04 PM
  #1  
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Car and Driver vs. Flying for Myanmar?

My sister is travelling to Myanmar in September, she bought tickets spur of the moment, maybe without thinking (broke up with the BF, wanted to get 'away'...She sure is getting FAR away!)
She will be landing in Yangon Sun Sept 6th at 11:30pm , and departing Yangon Sun Sept 14th 1:10am

She hasn't made any plans yet, but wants to see Bagan and Inle Lake. Would hiring a car and driver be a safer option to flying? Or would that just kill all the time she had on the ground?
Her budget (excluding international airfare) is about $1800USD. Do you think this is too low?

I think she is leaning towards a car&driver, as that way she can have a guide throughout- she enjoys small group tours, but did not plan one for this trip. Maybe flying would mean getting a new day-guide for each location?

Can anyone recommend (or tell us ones to avoid) a tour company?
needmorevacation is offline  
Aug 6th, 2014, 01:38 PM
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IMO, she has little time in the country that a car and driver makes no sense. The two easily accessible "wow" locations are Bagan and Inle Lake. I recommend 3 to 4 nights in each, she doesn't have enough time to for that. I' suggest that she fly to Inle Lake as early as possible on Sunday morning. (Your dates and days don't line up, but I will assume the dates are correct, giving her a week in country). Three nights at Inle Lake gives her two full days, one day for Sankar, the southern part of the lake, the other day for the main part of the lake, including InDien. Tell her not to do the tourist circuit, but to tell the boatman where she wants to go. After two days/three nights at Inle, fly to Bagan, spend three nights there and spend two full days on a horse cart visiting temples. Then return to Yangon and spend a day, making sure to visit Shewedagon Pagoda.

Se should daily be able to do this on her budget, assuming she doesn't plan to stay at the Strand. I'd highly recommend that she contact an agent in Yangon and have the agent book hotels and flights for her. The agent can also book transfers, car and driver, guide, etc, but tell her not to book her boat or horse cart through the agency, as she will pay double.

Also, she should start reading about the country now. This is a place where the more research you do in advance, the more rewarding the trip will be. Here is a list to get her started: http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...-bookshelf.cfm
Kathie is offline  
Aug 6th, 2014, 01:42 PM
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Lots of good companies in Yangon. Do warn her not to use a foreign company - she will pay at least twice as much. We used Santa Maria for both of our trips.

If she wants a guide to hold her hand for the whole trip, her budget may be a bit low. She really doesn't need a guide anywhere. The boatman will take her around Inle Lake (she should read up on the sites in advance) and a horse cart driver can take her around Bagan. Most of the people she comes in contact with will speak at leaf some English.
Kathie is offline  
Aug 6th, 2014, 01:43 PM
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Sorry for the typos - auto-correct drive me crazy! She should easily be able to do this on her budget...
Kathie is offline  
Aug 6th, 2014, 01:46 PM
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Driving in Myanmar is not recommended - roads are not good, distances are great. A local tour company such as Santa Maria (used by many on this forum) can make arrangements for hotels and flights. Guides would be available at each destination, if that is what she wants. She will need airfare from Yangon to Bagan, Bagan to Inle and Inle to Yangon + 8 nights lodging. If she is willing to stay in modest accomodations, $1800 may be doable. She should contact Santa Maria with her budget and proposed plans.
Craig is offline  
Aug 6th, 2014, 01:59 PM
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Thank you both!

Kathie you are right, she arrives 11:30 Sunday Night, Sept 7th. Leaving 1:10am the 14th.

I will have her reach out to Santa Maria!

So looks like-
Monday- Fly to Inle
Tuesday- Inle
Wednesday- Fly to Bagan
Thursday- Bagan
Friday- Bagan
Saturday- Fly to Yangon
needmorevacation is offline  
Aug 6th, 2014, 02:14 PM
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I would flip that - 2 days Inle, 1 day Bagan. Keep in mind that flights are often very early in the morning, allowing a full day of touring thus she would have 2 days in Bagan, which is plenty unless she is really into temples. She will really need 2 full days on the Lake to get a feel for it. Morning starts work best and the flight/drive will get her there mid-day. Also, Bagan may be preferable done first, depending on available flights...
Craig is offline  
Aug 6th, 2014, 05:09 PM
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She needs to get started on a Visa.
wintersp is offline  
Aug 6th, 2014, 05:30 PM
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Actually she needs to get going really fast, not only with the visa. It is low season, but even then it is short notice and communications aren't exactly quick with Santa Maria. Get moving now...
Craig is offline  
Aug 7th, 2014, 10:55 AM
  #10  
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I will pass all of this along- thank you!
needmorevacation is offline  
Aug 9th, 2014, 10:47 AM
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Just a word about road travel in Burma...However bad the planes are, the roads are a nightmare for getting place-to-place. Except for the dual-carriageway roads connecting the airports to the cities at Rangoon and Mandalay, all other main roads are two-lane, single-carriageway, with buses, trucks, cars, motorcycles and carts sharing, one lane each way.

Complicating matters, the traffic travels on the right, as in the US and Europe, but many (if not still most) buses, trucks and cars in Burma are right-hand drive, as in UK, Australia etc. Which means they must carry a navigator alongside the driver to his left, to say when it's safe to pass to the left.
Consequently there are many near-misses and crashes on the main connecting highways, and some terrible accidents when passengers alight from public buses into the stream of traffic.

This weird situation came about in the 1980s when one of the generals who was president at the time decided in the name of de-colonisation from British influence that he would change the flow of traffic from left to right, completely without warning or consultation. Unfortunately, owing to past sanctions, the vehicles remained right-hand drive in a right-hand traffic flow.

In a roundabout way, that's why Burmese aircraft still have ashtrays in the seat armrests.

Hopefully, now that the nation is a member of ASEAN, the generals may be forced to upgrade the fleet to the level of Vietnam Airlines, Garuda, Silk etc, which are all excellent safe airlines.
mareeS55 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2014, 11:59 AM
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Well, I traveled exclusively by road in Myanmar. But that was 2004 and I was trying to keep as much money as possible out of the hands of the government. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I got a good look at the countryside, but it's out of the question for the time your sister has.

If she has any interest in Buddhism and temples she should not short change Bagan (although I prefer Angkor Wat), but if she is more into scenery she should give the time to Inle Lake.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 9th, 2014, 01:00 PM
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Agree with MareeS55 and Thursday.

Road travel is an adventure. And being stuck in a right-hand drive saloon car, with no a/c, and clapped out suspension only adds to the fun.

Yangon to Bagan is 2 days, Bagan to Inle is 2 days, and Inle back to Yangon is 2 days. So by road, in relative comfort, you need 2 weeks.
LancasterLad is offline  
Aug 10th, 2014, 04:05 PM
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I flew from Yangon to Bagan, Bagan to Heho (Inle Lake), and Heho to Yangon. No problems, felt just like a U.S. airline. One flight was delayed an hour.

Tickets were inexpensive. I booked everything online through Oway.com.mm (where I could compare airlines, flight times and prices) and had no problems. They communicated well and notified me when a flight time changed.

Firsthand report: http://www.esmetravels.com/category/...r-travel-blog/
Esme_Travels is offline  
Aug 11th, 2014, 12:05 PM
  #15  
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Thank you all! I will pass along this additional information to my sister!
needmorevacation is offline  

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