Myanmar - 11 Day Itinerary?

Apr 13th, 2006, 09:30 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,892
Myanmar - 11 Day Itinerary?

It looks like we will be returning to SE Asia next February. There is good availability if we redeem miles for Business Class seats on the Thai Airways JFK-BKK flight. I figure we'll spend 3 or 4 days in Bangkok which leaves 11 days/10 nights max to go somewhere else. We have pretty much ruled out Bhutan for a number of reasons - high cost being one of them.

Myanmar is very intriguing to us. I have read the various posts here from those who have visited the country and just received the latest LP guide from Amazon. From what I have read so far, it seems that using a local agency to arrange in-country flights, car and driver, guides and hotels makes a lot of sense. Most itineraries cover Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake. This seems like a lot of moving around to me since we would have to fly from place to place (although the flights are all quite short). Any suggestions on how I might plan this trip? Would we have enough time to see the sites and shop with an itinerary that looks like this?:
2 nights Yangon
2 nights Bagan
2 nights Mandalay
3 nights Inle Lake
1 night Yangon
Since lodging is quite reasonable, we will stay at the better hotels. We want to catch all of the highlights but do not need an in-depth tour of every temple. I are also looking for information on any side trips worth taking if we were to cut out Mandalay, for instance.
Craig is offline  
Apr 13th, 2006, 11:38 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,834
Craig-

I was interested to hear your comment about Bhutan. Recently, I was looking into adding 3 days in Bhutan onto a trip to India. But 3 days at the Uma in Paro would be $2500, plus tours/activites and airfare to Bhutan...

Good luck with your Burma plans.
cruisinred is offline  
Apr 13th, 2006, 03:01 PM
  #3  
ccc
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 315
Craig, It's been a long time ago, but I've been to Burma twice and I've always thought it was the greatest travel destination ever - maybe like Thailand 50-75 years ago. Ironically I'm planning to go again this summer - this time with my 4 children - and am thinking about some of the same things you are (ie do we go to Mandalay or not). Depending on whether or not we go back to LP (tough call), we'll have either 6 or 9 nights. I look forward to hearing opinions about your itinerary.
ccc is offline  
Apr 13th, 2006, 03:09 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 530
Craig,

You are in for a trip of a lifetime. Of all our travels in SE Asia, I found Myanmar to be the most intriguing. You will be surprised at how developed the infrastructure for tourists is. Good hotels, good guides, etc. We expected it to be much more difficult travel than it actually was.
The only change I would recommend to the itinerary is to spend only one day in Yangon on the way in, and add that day to Bagan. There is a lot to see in Bagan, and like Siem Riep, it's hot and you need to pace yourself. And Yangon is nothing special....the main attraction is Schwedegon. (Scotts Market is good for the last day so you don't have to lug your purchases around with you.)
Recommended hotels.....in Yangon, we loved the Savoy. It's 10 min from the center of town and the closest upmarket hotel to Schwedegon. Don't waste your money on the Strand....we went downtown to check it out and found it so unappealing that we did not even stay for the cocktail we had planned to have there. Have also heard good things about the Pansea, but did not see it. At the time we went, it was quite a bit more expensive than the Savoy. We stayed at Traders (across from Scotts Market) on the last night in Yangon, but it was strictly for shopping convenience. It's 3 star chain type accommodation at best. At Inle Lake, you definitely want to be at the Inle Princess and spend the extra few bucks for the lakeview chalet. In Bagan we like the Thripskaya Sakura quite a bit, but I have also heard good things about the Therabar.
Those are a quick couple of thoughts. I'm out of time for now, but do let me kow if you have specific questions, as the planning continues.
Lindsey is offline  
Apr 13th, 2006, 07:17 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,925
ccc...aren't you in CT?? how about joining the GTG on may 21??

bob
rhkkmk is offline  
Apr 13th, 2006, 07:18 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,925
craig...knowing your perchance for shopping, may i suggest that you spend your initial nite in yangon and then the two nites at the end...i think the majority of shopping in myanmar is best in yangon...

is there enough to do on the lake for 3 days??
rhkkmk is offline  
Apr 13th, 2006, 08:35 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 47
Craig--- Acknowledging you read my recent post on our 36 day custom tour to Se Asia, I won't reiterarate too much.
However, I suggest you go to to www.asiaexplore and take a look at their 12 day, 11 night tour of Myanmar. As I told you, that was the agency I used on our just completed tour including Myanmar.
Chi could not have been more helpful, and as I noted, two of the best guides we had the whole trip were Kway ("Joe") & Kway ("Joe") in Mandalay & Yangon.
Also, we opted for "Superior" hotels,(Midprice range), and thought the Swan in Mandalay & Thande in Bagon were particularily good. Our choices in Yangon was The Summit Park, and Golden Isle Cottages in Inle Lake, where we were met by a 3 piece band on arrival. We were well satisfied with all our acommodations.
As you'll recall, we had nothing but good things to say about our stay in Mandalay, which, by the way was only 2 nights in each location and only one in Inle.
Should you wish to reread my posting, you'll find at "artmarth" or "36 day custom tour".
Art
artmarth is offline  
Apr 13th, 2006, 10:15 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,025
I loved the Savoy Hotel in Yangon, a small boutique hotel, hardwood floors, meals out on the courtyard, personal service. If you could spend another day at Inle Lake, you wouldn't be sorry (I agree, get the lake front chalets at Inle Princess). The scenic beauty around the lake is amazing. We spent a wonderful day at Kat-Ku, an area newly opened to tourists, a small Bagan. Enjoy
Robbietravels is offline  
Apr 14th, 2006, 06:48 AM
  #9  
ccc
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 315
Bob, Thanks for the invitation, but I'm in PA.
ccc is offline  
Apr 14th, 2006, 10:02 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,925
ccc---how did i mess that up...??
rhkkmk is offline  
Apr 15th, 2006, 06:53 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,044
Craig, you will love Burma. Out of all the countries I've been to, I think I like Burma best. I made all the arrangements myself without an agent and everything went off without a hitch.

Unless you really want to see dozens of temples and pagodas, 2 nights in Bagan is enough. That's what we did and we were pretty templed out by then (this gave us one and a half days of temple touring and in that time, it felt like we saw all 2200 of them!)

We didn't go to Mandalay, people on this forum told me to skip it as there isn't much to see. I have no idea if this is true but I might go there for a few days next time. Yangon is a really nice city and I think you will find lots to do there so I wouldn't cut any time off of that.

As for hotels, we stayed in a suite at the Sofitel in Yangon. I believe it is no longer a Sofitel but I'm sure it's still a nice hotel. The Thiripyitsaya in Bagan was pretty nice and at the time, was the best hotel there. At Inle Lake, the Lake View Inn was absolutely lovely and I would stay there again. It's on the shore of Inle Lake. We looked at hotels that are right over the water on stilts and weren't impressed with the rooms or public spaces, whereas the Lake View is gorgeous.
laurieco is offline  
Apr 15th, 2006, 08:23 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,892
Laurie - did you arrange a driver in advance and did you ever use a guide? It looks pretty easy to arrange flights and hotels on my own.
Craig is offline  
Apr 15th, 2006, 12:02 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,044
We arranged guides and drivers as we went along. We didn't do it in advance because we generally don't like to be held to something. If we felt the need, it was easy enough to arrange.
laurieco is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 05:34 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 530
There is more to Bagan than just temples.....we visited a family owned and operated lacquerware workshop that made and sold products of a completely different (and MUCH higher quality) type than anything we saw elsewhere. We also saw a wonderful puppet show one night and took a sunset cruise on the Ayerwaddy another night. We took a half day trip to drive up to Popa Mtn Resort for views of Mt. Popa. Then we actually climbed Mt. Popa. There are certain temples where it is best to view the sunrise and others where it is best to view the sunset....your guide can tell you which ones. Each day we went out on tour early and then came back to the hotel after lunch for a cooling swim and nap. Three days was just the right amount of time to do all that.
Lindsey is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 07:10 AM
  #15  
CFW
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 1,482
The descriptions from those of you who have been to Myanmar make it sound fantastic. We were torn between Vietnam & Myanmar for our next trip to Asia, but my husband felt very strongly that even if we did not book through government agencies we would still be "supporting" the repressive regime by going there. We had heard/read that many of the new hotels that have been builts were built with what is essentially "slave labor". I have argued that we would be supporting the people by bringing in tourist dollars & that tourists help to open up a country & encourage the government to liberalize & reduce its repression on the citizens. Any thoughts by those of you who have been to Myanmar or read more thoroughly than we have?
CFW is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 09:43 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,631
CFW, I've wanted to visit Burma since I was a child. I've planned trips to Burma four different times... and cancelled them all just because of the concerns you mention. The first time I planned such a trip was in the very early 1990s. Ang San Sui Kyi asked that people not visit just a few months before we were to go, and we felt we had to respect her request. We cancelled and went elsewhere in Asia. I keep careful tabs on the political situation in Burma, and when it looks like things are better, I start to plan a trip. I started planning one trip after the government released ASSK. Of course, it wasn't long before the government forces attacked her entourage and killed a number of people (between 7 and 70, depending on which news sources you believe), took ASSK and re-imprisioned her. As you can guess, we cancelled that trip, too. We were thinking about going to Burma in November 2006, but continued reports of government torture of prisioners, use of slave labor, conscripting children, and a policy of genocide of several of the ethnic groups in the north, etc, etc., we again decided we just couldn't do it.

Whether or not to visit Burma is very contraversial, and I really believe each person has to make their own decision. On the 'go' side are arguments about supporting the local people with your tourist dollars, freedom of exchange of information, etc. On the con side are the practices of the government and the fact that no matter how conscientious you are, the government gets its tax on every penny you spend, and on admission fees to many places, and many of the establishments are owned in part by the government. While one can try to minimize the amount of money one sends directly to the government, there is no way to eliminate it.

Up until just a few years ago, you had to buy FEC's on arrival. which ensured that the government kept even more of the money you brought into the country. So things are better in that regard, and one does have more choices than one had in the past about how to spend your money in Burma.

While, I personally have come down on the "don't go" side for myself yet again, I do believe that thoughtful people can disagree on this. You can only do your own reading and discussing, and make the decision that feels right to you.

The Lonely Planet guides has a nice write up of the pros and cons of going to Burma, which can be a good starting point for discussions. You might also want to read some from the website www.freeburma.org
Kathie is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 12:27 PM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,892
Well said, Kathie. I agree that all of what you expressed is part of the decision-making process but in the end, the people you interact with are not the government and they will benefit by our influence. I have read the thoughtful insights presented in the Lonely Planet guide. It is fortunate that to a certain extent foreigners are welcomed to Myanmar. We intend to do our best not to support government enterprises.
Craig is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 12:41 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,631
Craig, given your thoughtful replies elsewhere, I was sure you'd thought about this trip seriously. I'm sure you'll have a wonderful trip.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 02:49 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 530
We wrestled with these same issues before and during the booking of our trip. However once we arrived and experienced the genuine warmth and hospitality of the people there and saw how much our small expenditures meant to them, we were glad we made the trip. Tourism keeps people employed there....lots of them....and the hotel staff, guides, drivers, lacquerware makers, etc that we met were all very proud of their jobs and eager to share their culture, as well as interact with foreigners.
As Kathie said, each person has to make their own decision on this issue. I think interaction with outsiders is what will one day spur the Burmese people to find a way to make a change in their govt.
BTW, here are a couple of surprising things about Myanmar....in spite of the poverty, there is an 80% literacy rate. Several of our guides spoke better English than those we have had in other SE Asian countries. In a country where we expected to be totally disconnected from the outside world, at the Traders Hotel in Yangon on the last night, we were shocked to find CNN on the television and an uncensored, one day old Intl Herald Tribune for sale.
Lindsey is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 03:21 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,044
I agree with Lindsey. I don't think isolating the people is helpful so we chose to go to Burma. Everyone we met seemed genuinely happy we had come to their country. We did our best to keep money out of government hands but were realistic and knew that they would get some. Also, when we went, we did have to exchange dollars for FECs but there was no way around that. I didn't like it but feel strongly that isolation from the "outside world" would be far worse for the people. Everyone needs to find their own comfort zone however when visiting a country with an oppressive government. But if I stayed away from every country where I disagreed with the government, there would be few places left to go.
laurieco is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:47 PM.