Myanmar land travel without flying

Old Jan 23rd, 2016, 11:24 AM
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Myanmar land travel without flying

Myanmar has been on my radar for a long time, but my husband has been anxious about the potential problems due to the political unrest in the country. To make matters worse, he keeps reading about the airline safety record and in particular the air traffic controllers whose standards are considered poor.

in contemplating a trip now, we are again considering Myanmar for next November, but my husband will only do so if we travel completely by land. There are several land crossings from Thailand (we would consider the one west of sukhothai, affording us the opportunity to first visit there.

My question - is it feasible and is it crazy to travel without flying in and out of the country and between destinations? Any thoughts?
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Old Jan 23rd, 2016, 11:52 AM
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Flying in and out shouldn't be an issue - Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways fly out of Bangkok and Jetstar flies from Singapore. As far as the air traffic controllers go, how much air traffic is there really to control in Myanmar? My understanding is that traveling by road isn't pleasant, but I'm sure the experts (Kathie and others) will chime in.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2016, 12:09 PM
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Flying in should not be an issue. When I visited in 2004 I flew in/out on Thai Airways, and traveled entirely on land once I got there. The roads weren't great, but I found traveling by car and driver fascinating, much more interesting than flying. I have some doubts about comfort on the trains, though.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2016, 12:15 PM
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I, too, like to travel on the ground or by water, but unless things have changed since I was there, the options are limited and it also obviously depends on where you want to go. I tried a trip by train and found it a (literally) painful experience. More here:

http://www.travelgumbo.com/blog/the-...n-in-the-world

I think probably boats and cars would be your best bet. We took a boat from Bagan to Mandalay, and while not great, I much preferred it to the train experience. And if cost isn't an issue I believe there are some nice options by river.

Maybe someone will come along with experience using cars & drivers. But I can't help but think, as in most of the rest of the world, especially developing countries, flying will be safer. No affront to Burmese drivers intended as I found the drivers we used for shorter distances to be excellent.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2016, 12:45 PM
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Flying in and out should not be an issue, as others have mentioned. Train travel is slow and very uncomfortable - I don't recommend it. Travel by road is possible to many places, but it is time consuming and the roads are not very good. You could easily get a car and driver for your whole time in country - contact one of the recommended travel agencies.

It is likely safer to fly - you are more likely to be killed in an auto accident on the way to the airport in your own country than to be killed in a plane crash in Myanmar. But if it makes your husband feel safer, go ahead and employ a car and driver.

Your husband should read current reports about the country. The NLD won the elections in November. Most of the country is peaceful. There are pockets of fighting in the far north and there are problems in the Rakhine state. But I doubt you will be going to either of those areas. Places that have political unrest are off-limits to visitors and areas close to those places require a permit from the government to visit.

There are wonderful cruises in Burma on the Pandaw ships, but they are pricey and they don't get you to some of the most compelling places. Personally, I think the cruises are better for return trips, but many first-timers take an Irrawaddy cruise. If it would make your husband feel more secure about the trip, book one of the Pandaw Irrawaddy cruises.

Back in 2011, our second trip to Myanmar, I helped a man set up a meeting regarding airline safety in Myanmar. Because of the economic sanctions, the domestic airlines could not get new airline parts at all, had to buy used parts on the secondary market. Those days are past, and the local airlines are working toward getting international safety inspections. It will take time before that happens, but they are on their way to becoming a part of the larger world.

I have taken many domestic flights in Myanmar and have lived to tell the tales.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2016, 02:39 PM
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Anyone who is seriously worried about travel safety in under-developed or Third World countries should really be sticking to other more safe destinations.

However, on the basis of 'if it's your turn' the chances of a mishap are about the same wherever you are.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2016, 06:46 PM
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Is anywhere safe these days? On our way in a few weeks to India for a second trip. Thank you all for comments. Don't think my husband is convinced yet and given the choice of going or not, I may have to suffer overland. We'll continue to look into it.
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Old Jan 24th, 2016, 09:00 AM
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I have no idea where LL thinks are "other more safe destinations." As you correctly point out, dgunbug, there are no guarantees of safety anywhere. That said, when we first visited Burma, it felt like the safest place I'd ever been.
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Old Jan 24th, 2016, 01:51 PM
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Kathie, don't cherry pick. My 2nd para justifies my first.
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Old Jan 24th, 2016, 05:30 PM
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My biggest worry is getting struck by lightening!
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Old Jan 25th, 2016, 04:40 AM
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Most airlines in Myanmar have now taken delivery of newATR72/600's and there are more to come,including 737-800's
I have flown over 50 sectors over the years-never had a bad flight, and me and HI, and our luggage, arrived safely.
Our last four sectors were with AirKBZ this month,new aircraft,correct safety briefing, a snack and a drink and great views of the countryside from 16000ft.
We only had short (2 hour) road journeys and I felt far safer in the air than on the ground-did you know that most cars are right hand drive but you drive on the right!
If I had to take long road journeys (ie Yangon to Bagan) I would go somewhere else,however much I love Myanmar and the Burmese people.
And don't get me started on politics-most popular destinations in SE Asia are far more corrupt...
SS
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Old Jan 25th, 2016, 02:16 PM
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My partner is a very nervous flyer and was a nervous about the 3 domestic flights we were due to take in Myanmar last November. but he was perfectly happy with the air travel in Myanmar all 3 of the lanes looked brand new. What takes around 35 minutes to fly would take hours of uncomfortable driving....
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 05:14 PM
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I'm probably not adding anything that you haven't already heard, but figure one more voice can't hurt. We spent 2 weeks in Myanmar in late Dec/early Jan with our 3 kids (ages 14, 14, and 11). Despite being a huge lover of travel, I hate flying and once we get to our main destinations, try to do it as little as possible. That being said, because of our timeframe and what we wanted to see, we ended up flying from Yangon to Heho (to trek Inle Lake), hiring a driver between Inle and Bagan, then flying Bagan back to Yangon before flying back home that evening. I was dreading the flights. However, they ended up being some of the easiest and best flights I have ever taken. Besides the fact that they are super short (about an hour or less), they were efficient, safe, and gave great views of all the areas we wanted to see. I wish we had flown more, to be honest - wish that we had headed over for a few days to Ngapali and taken a day or two off of Bagan (5 days was a bit much). Our drive from Inle to Bagan was one of the most uncomfortable, miserable, scary trips we have taken (and we have done plenty of SE Asia Travel - backroads in Cambodia, driving ourselves around Borneo, vans all over Sri Lanka) - I feared for my life for much of it. It was so bumpy that our FitBits all registered us as having walked 10+ miles in a 6 hour car ride - with 100+ flights of stairs climbed!
I totally get the fear/discomfort of flying, and couldn't have been more surprised at the ease of flying there. Good Luck! Myanmar was a fabulous country - we had an amazing trip there, and want to encourage others to go as well - especially as it will be undergoing so many changes (both positive and negative from a tourism standpoint) over the coming years.
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