Last Minute Trip to Burma Possible?

Old Jan 31st, 2012, 06:02 PM
  #1  
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Last Minute Trip to Burma Possible?

I've been playing with some thoughts and I'd like to know if they are practical:.

I'm planning to go back to Siem Reap next month, but would like to spend one of my three available weeks elsewhere. Bangkok Air's 3-leg discovery pass rates are not much more than just going BKK-REP. I just spoke with them and they have seats for BKK-Siem Reap- Yangon-BKK at the moment.

I would be leaving the US about Mid-Feb and going on to Burma in early March.

1) Can a Burma trip be pulled off with this little time for planning?

2) Do they do Visa on Arrival, or can I get a visa in BKK?

3) If you've been to Burma where would you go with only 5or 6 days? I'm thinking fly into Yagon + one other location....

4) Can I arrange the internal flight from Yangon to wherever, or could an agent like like Santa Maria do it with such short notice?

I'd take this as a teaser for a longer return trip. Other options are Laos, or somwhere like Ratanakiri or Kampot in Cambodia.

Your thoughts?

Thanks!
lcuy is offline  
Old Jan 31st, 2012, 06:37 PM
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Hi Lucy, why don't you contact Santa Maria and see what they can do? I am sure they will give you a realistic assessment. I am not sure you can do both Inle Lake and Bagan so you'll have to choose one. As you probably know, you will need to spend time in Yangon whether you want to or not.
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 06:52 PM
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Sure, you can do a trip with short planning, as long as you can be flexible.

No visa on arrival, get it before you go or you can get in in Bangkok. If you get to the Embassy first thing when they open with all of your forms, photos, etc, you can get one day service (for a fee, of course).

With 5 or 6 days, I'd go to Yangon plus either Bagan or Inle. I'd opt to fly from Yangon to my destination on my arrival day, then get back to Yangon a day or two before departure and see a bit of Yangon. Maybe browse our photos from last trip, as went went to both Inle and Bagan that trip www.marlandc.com/Burma/index.html

Santa Maria can arrange your internal flights. Let them arrange your hotel as well and you'll save some money.

If you have a chance to go now, I'd do it. I expect major changes in Burma in the next few years.
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 06:56 PM
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Would you reccomend Inle lake or Bagan for a first timer, Craig?

And there seem to be two Santa Maria web sites. One is

http://myanmartravels.net/

and the other is

www.myanmars.net/maria

which is the real one? Or are they both?
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 07:09 PM
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1. yes
2. VOA - with the airline that flies from PP (goes through SR but does not take on passengers there. AND after I said that I would say things are changing so fast in Burma that you never know. I was planning a late Jan trip and Lori said that the airline there can get a VOA. Then I found on their website that they don't take on passengers in SR but do in PP.
OR - My TA in Yangon (I used Rubyland lst trip and was going to use them again) said I could get VOA through them if I filled in the papers they sent me online (and they took COPIES of my passport). AND yes, you can get a visa in 1 day in BKK IF it is not a holiday for the Myanmar embassy AND if you get there early (like 7:30 AM - this info comes from Lonely Planet) and they open at 9:00) which will put you in the front of the line. They have a cutoff time 10:00 am I believe, and if the application is in before that AND you pay extra (not much) then you can come back when they tell you to that evening 3 or 4 pm, and pick it up. Sounds complicated, but it isn't. Something else I picked up this week on lonely planet, when they arrived there were 2 lines so you must be sure to get in the correct one. When I did this in 2005 they only had one line. I also believe, but don't know for sure, that you can go to the travel person at your hotel, pay some more extra, and they will have someone take your passport (and many others) and go to the embassy and get your Visa. (These were they guys that walked to the front with a handfulof passports while I'm watching the clock - and I didn't make the counter that day and had to come back the next. The key - go early.

3. Get an agent to arrange internal flights because of the diffuculty paying for them. And they do a great job of changing them if that need arises.

4. With the shortest of all time, I would go straight to Bagan and then to Inle Lake and return to Yangon or the opposite. Bagan may not be as big of a deal to you after so much time in SR.

You're adventuresome, so you can do it. And it is well worth doing IMO.

I also read on LP that they BKK issued3 months visas - but I didn't understand that. I would believe that to mean you have up to 3 months to arrive in country, but once there, you have 28 days.
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 07:46 PM
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Lcuy, you've found a recent version of Santa Maria's webpage and a very old version, but they are both pages for the same company.

The VOA is only on Myanmar Airlines International flights from Siem Reap or Kunming.

You can (sometimes) get a pre-arranged visa from a travel agent. The conditions for this are in constant flux.

All of the visas for Burma have a 3 month validity window for entering Burma, but you get 28 days once you enter.

Travel agents in Bangkok won't get the Burma visa for you, but travel agents from some other places in Thailand have permission to get visas for people (someone reported on Thorntree that agents in Chiang Mai can do this).

I would choose either Bagan or Inle, not both. I find Bagan to be SO different from Angkor. Both are amazing in their own ways. Lori didn't like Bagan much, which surprised me.
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 08:59 PM
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I would do it like this:
BKK to Yangon and connect to Inle the same day. International flights are often on time it's the domestic flights in Myanmar that are prone to delays. 2 nights at Inle.
Fly Inle to Bagan and 2 nights there.
Fly Bagan to Yangon 1 night in Yangon.

Visa can be obtain in Thailand and you can use a TA for this. I would ask Santa Maria who they are affiliated with in Bangkok and arrange for them to do it.
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 09:16 PM
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Lucy, the VOA is also available with Travel Agents in Yangon. They are not only on Myamar Air. My application - and it clearly states for Visa on Arrival - came from Rubyland - but I would not be surprised if other or maybe most Burma TAs can arrange one in the new 'enlightened' era. It did not matter what airlines I arrived on. This information came to me on December 8, 2011. That is the most recent information from TA in Yangon. I did forget to check for the price of this - I'm sure it was more.

When I was at the embassy getting my visa, there were a lot of men in black jackets and they went to the window with a handful of passports at a time. Our group was particularly large that day because the embassy had been closed for a few days. One couple, tired of waiting, went up to one of the 'black coats' and handed him his passport. Later, when the embassy dismissed us for the day, that person showed up, got his info from the black coat, paid him, and left. I was told that the men in the black coats were the couriers for the local travel agents.

It won't take you long to dash off an email to Yangon and ask so you can fly the Bangkok Air special.

I actually got my Visa, walked down the street and went into the lst travel agent's office I saw, got a ticket for the next day and a reservation at a hotel for 2 nights and left. AFTER I was in Yangon, I looked up the travel agent - about 3:00 pm on a Friday - and they sent someone out to buy me domestic tickets while they put together some hotels. The beauty of the agent became apparent when a flight cancelled and hotel as well as flt had to be re-arranged. Then I got sick and had to change the flight daily until I could return to BKK.

And in spite of the details not being worked out weeks or months ahead, it was an awesome trip!!
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 03:25 AM
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Lucy, its a tough call choosing between Inle Lake and Bagan. But you only need two full days to do Bagan whereas you can easily linger for a day or two more at Inle Lake. Given that you have 5 or 6 days, I would lean toward Inle Lake. If you can find a way to fly there on your arrival day as Pook suggested, you might be able to squeeze it in with a day or two in Bagan.
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 07:45 AM
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Polly, we're having a semantics probalem in our communication. I know the travel agent web pages talk about a VOA, but what they mean is a pre-arranged visa.

VOA - visa on arrival - means something very specific. It means you can fly into a country, walk up to a counter and fill out forms, maybe supply passport photos, pay your money and get a visa stamped into your passport. Burma actually had VOA for a brief time in 2010, but it suspended the program several months before the elections and has never reinstated it.

Burma has long had a pre-arranged visa, but the rules have been ever-changing. For a time it was available only to people who were citizens of countries in which Burma did not have an embassy/comsulate/foreign office. Then it was made more widely available, then the rules were changed and a person had to engage a guide for their whole trip from the travel agency through which they got the pre-arranged visa. (This was because a tourist on a pre-arranged visa went into a permit only area without a guide or a permit. The agency which got the visa for the person was held responsible for the person's behavior.) Right now, a number of agencies are offering the pre-arranged visa. One Fodorite is using this now, and I am looking forward to hearing his experience with it.

The Myanmar Air International Flights from Siem Reap and Kunming do still offer a true visa on arrival. There is currently no other visa on arrival for Burma.

Polly, I'm sure when you wre there in 2005, there were travel agents getting Burma visas for people at the Bangkok embassy. That used to be very common. Beginning around the time of the elections, the embassy in Bangkok began to turn down visas from people using travel agents to get their visas. They wanted people to show up in perosn to get their visas. Thus, travel agents in Bangkok will no longer get Burma visas for people.

All kinds of things in Burma are in flux. And things are never transparent. So there have been instances of people being turned down for the pre-arranged visa (the travel agency has to send the application to the government for approval) and they have no idea why and no recourse. There have been a couple of reports of people arriving in Yangon on one of the MAI flights and being turned away. I have no idea why.

While there has been a huge surge in tourist numbers in Burma this year, and accommodation was difficult to find without advance reservations in Nov/Dec/Jan and probably into Feb, by March I expect travel will be easier.

I envy your abaility to take a spur of the moment trip, lcuy!
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 10:11 AM
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I agree with either Inle or Bagan. I cant decide which one I liked the best. The only thing in Yangon IMO to see is the Shwedagon Paya which is amazing. I would spend the least amount of time there and the most in Bagan and Inle.

I felt better having my visa before I left and it only took a month (In Canada). As Kathie says you can not get it on arrival and they change their minds about things all the time so get it before you go if you can.

I would have Santa Maria book your flights and hotels as it will be less expensive and hard to do yourself. The times and fares on the internet are not current and hard to book yourself.

If you decide to do Inle Lake also get Santa Maria to arrange an airport transfer as it is an hour from town. The rest you can do on your own when you get there.

I loved Burma and wish I could go back.
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 05:35 PM
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The semantics problem extends to the Union of Myanmar since they title the paper, application for Visa on Arrival and the TA's refer to it aas such.

Even though you tell her the BKK travel agents will no longer get her visa for her, Hanuman tells her something else.

I'm sure that going to Burma with a Visa in hand is the safest option, but Lucy doesn't mention getting one before she leaves. And BKK is a viable option

But this is not about you and I Kathie, nor my knowledge or lack thereof of Burma's procedures or their history of issuing visa's that you have attempted to fill in, it is about 'Can Lucy do this in a short time frame'.

And the short answer, is yes - she can.

Lucy, I like the way Pook has outlined the trip for you.
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 05:44 PM
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I would try to do Inle and Bagan and minimize any time in Rangoon if it is possible. Zaw at Santa Maria might be able to recommend flights so that you maximize your time in each spot. My husband and I agreed on our next trip back we would attempt to fly on from Rangoon rather than overnight there. I did like the Shwegadon pagoda very much- but thought the other sites didn't compare to what can be seen elsewhere in Burma.

Siem Reap is quite different from Bagan- but if you can only pick Inle or Bagan this trip- I would pick Inle because it is a more different experience (from SR) being on the water etc. I liked both and would return to both- so no harm if you don't get to see and do everything his trip.
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 05:48 PM
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I think the problem is that Lucy is doing this at he last moment and she will not have time to get a Myanmar visa in Hawaii before she commence her travel. Best to just check with her travel agent and if she uses Santa Maria then they should know if she can get visa in Thailand or not. Another point is how long will Lucy be in Thailand as the process could take a few days?
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 06:01 PM
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Something I found by Googling: http://www.myanmarvisa.com/bangkok.htm
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 07:37 PM
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Polly, I think we are all in agreement that lcuy can, indeed, do this trip with a short time frame.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 06:41 AM
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There is no question, you can get your Burma visa in one day in Bangkok. you might want to look at some of the threads over on Thorntree that give explicit instructions on how to get a one day visa.
look here for the most recent thread: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntre...readID=2157415

The people on Thorntree say that travel agents in Bangkok no longer will get a Burma visa for foreigners, but that is apparently contrary to Hanuman's experience. Or maybe Hanuman is talking about agents getting visas for Thais? There are separate windows at the embassy for Thai passports and foreign passports.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 08:39 AM
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Kathie Hanuman is not a foreigner in Thailand so you might be right!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 09:03 AM
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when we went we stayed around yangon for about 5 days and it was quite perfect... we went out from the city a couple of times.. while we did not see that temples up north, we felt that we had a pleasant trip..

i have a great driver there whom you would love..
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 09:44 AM
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Yes, Hanuman, for some reason I thought you weren't a foreigner in Thailand - lol.

I found Yangon the least interesting of the places I've visited in Burma, Bob. But if you can only get to Yangon, it's better than nothing.
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