Myanmar itinerary help

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Jul 26th, 2011, 04:56 PM
  #1
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Myanmar itinerary help

Hello fellow travelers,
Just found this travel community and am I glad! My travel is mostly solo/independent and I put together trips myself, using local travel agencies as needed.

I've got an Asia trip later this year, with 8days allocated to Myanmar nested between Bangkok and KL.
I primarily want to see Bagan and Inle Lake, with perhaps a night in Yangon.
In Bagan, I am using Kathie's recommendation - Minthu/horsecart and his brother's taxi service (thanks Kathie!).

My prelim Myanmar itinerary looks like this:

Day1: Yangon flight arrival at 8:00am. Visa on Arrival. Sightseeing Yangon as time allows. Fly to Bagan afternoon flight.
Overnight Tharabar Gate Hotel.

Day2: Balloons over Bagan. Tour temples, etc with Minthu.
Overnight Tharabar Gate.

Day3: Bagan to Mt Popa (along the way, see markets/villages).
Overnight Mt. Popa Resort - the hotel overlooks taungkalat and this is very appealing to me; hotel got good reviews on tripadvisor too; any feedback on this hotel from recent stays would be appreciated.

Day4: return Bagan. Tour more temples or boat ride on the river.
Overnight or Aureum Palace.

Day5: Fly Helo
I'm considering a sidetrip to Kakku; I'm a bit torn because Kathie mentioned this takes 5.5 hours... are there bathroom facilities along the way (or is it pretty much "nature" for the bio-breaks Are the roads very dusty?)
Overnight: Inle Lake
(hotel TBD; my options are: Inle Princess, Pristine Lotus Resort&Spa - any feedback on these?)

Day6: Inle Lake; Tour temples/ see markets
Overnight: Inle Lake (hotel TBD)

Day7: Inle Lake; Tour temples/ see markets
Overnight: Inle Lake (hotel TBD)

Day8: Fly Heho to Yangon.
Overnight: The Strand.

Day9: My flight out of Yangon doesn't leave til 18:20pm, so I'll have some time to visit Shwedagon very early in the morning...
Fly from Yangon.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!
myflyinghabit is offline  
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Jul 26th, 2011, 05:44 PM
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I just don't see any point in going to Mt Popa - there are no interesting villages along the way and the sight itself is just not worth the time. Kakku on the hand, is an all-day trip, but worth it. Don't worry about the bathroom situation, we had no problem. There seemed to be enough places to stop along the way. We didn't find the roads to be dusty in February.

I would stay just one place in Bagan - why switch?
Craig is offline  
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Jul 26th, 2011, 07:08 PM
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Ok, a few comments:

First of all, there is no visa on arrival. The government experimented with it last year, then suspended it before the elections. There has been talk about trying it again, but for now, get your visa before you leave your own country or plan to get it in Bangkok or KL. There are some websites advertising visa on arrival, but it is a pre-arranged visa, and people who live in a country that has a Myanmar consulate are not eligible for it.

You won't have time for sightseeing really between your arrival time in Yangon and your flight to Bagan, so plan to take the soonest flight to Bagan you can get.

Like Craig, I wouldn't go to Mt. Popa. I think one needs three full days for the temples (we're even going back for more this year for more temples). There are interesting markets and villages near Bagan, so you don't have to spend all of your time at temples.

Kakku: The roads were not especially dusty most of the way though there were dusty areas. We made a bathroom stop each way at the place where we picked up/dropped off our Pa-O guide. There are also restrooms at the restaurant across the road from Kakku. If we had asked for other stops, I'm sure the driver could have found us places.

While you are at Inle, so go to the southern part of the lake, Sankar. It's a full-day trip and a highlight. Choose the places you want to go on the lake, so you don't spend all of your time at "workshops" that make cheroots, etc. InDien is unmissable!

Where to stay? We love Inle LakeView Resort. The resort itself was beautiful and well-run, and I love what the owner is doing for the local people. The Inle Princess is also very nice. The Pristine Lotus isn't on the lake, which I see as a disadvantage. I'm not sure, but rumor has it that it is closely tied to the junta.

When are you going? I ask because tourism is really up this year. You'll need to get your hotel reservations as soon as possible if you are going Nov/Dec.

Have a wonderful trip!
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Jul 27th, 2011, 11:25 AM
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My first question was going to be "have they started visa on arrival again" but Kathie has answered that so make sure you have your visa under control before you go.

I agree with Kathie try not to do the standard tourist routes at Inle unless of course you are interested in seeing the differnet workshops in which case there are lots of those you can choose from. We went to InDien twice during our 5 days there so we obviously liked it a lot.

Try to get to Shwedagon in the late afternoon & stay until dark if your flight times allow. It is magical when it is lit up.
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Jul 27th, 2011, 08:00 PM
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Thank you all for your comments and feedback - I appreciate it very much.
I am working with 2 agencies in Yangon for this itinerary - and both of them stated visa on arrival is back...
I had initially planned extra days in Bangkok to get my tourist visa there (I'm from the USA), but changed plans with both agencies confirming VOA at Yangon (and Mandalay) airports.
However, I just sent an email to reconfirm this with both agencies!

Thanks so much for the tips on Kakku, Shwedagon, Sankar, Indein... I'm skipping the lake "workshops" as well.

re: Mt Popa.
Minthu's brother (taxi) is taking me and per Minthu, he will take me to "interesting villages, markets and schools along the way", that it will not be boring for me"...
But given what Kathie and Craig have said, this makes me go: hmmm
I think staying at Mt Popa Resort (1 night) would provide a different setting than Bagan (3 nights there): be higher up, with cool breezes in the mountains, with a view of taungkalat... it sounds very relaxing.

My trip is late Oct-Nov and hotel reservations are underway.

For local purchases (silk scarves, lacquerware etc), did you all pay in kyat?
I'll change currency at Scott's Market like you folks did...

Lastly, both agencies are requesting 30% deposit wired to their bank accounts... I've read this is SOP for Burma? No worries on this?

Thanks again
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Jul 27th, 2011, 08:18 PM
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If you find what you've read about Mt. Popa interesting, go ahead and go and tell us all about it. In part this depends on your level of interest in the Buddhist temples as well. For me, I can't get enough of the Buddhist temples, so the nats are less interesting to me.

From what I know there is VOA available on a couple of Air Bagan flights, one from Siem Reap, the other from Kunming. The travel agencies may be doing a pre-arranged visa for you, as that might have been liberalized. Do report back to us on it. If it were me, I have to say I'd go ahead and get my visa in advance in the US. We had our passports back in a week.

Yes, it is usual to wire money to Bangkok or Singapore or Hong Kong for a 30% deposit to your travel agent.

Purchases will be in kyat. Technically, it's illegal for private citizens to possess foreign currency. Even those people who are allowed by their jobs to have foreign currency often get hassled when they try to exchange it. That said, I expect any merchant would take US dollars rather than to lose a sale. Still, be kind and use kyat.

By the way, we did go to one workshop on the lake, the silk and lotus-weaving workshop. I'm very interested in textiles and the lotus fiber extraction and weaving was fascinating.
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Jul 29th, 2011, 03:32 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2011
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I would agree with Kathie about getting your visa before going. Why take a chance when by applying early you can be assured.
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