Myanmar Report

Mar 18th, 2012, 07:05 PM
  #1  
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Myanmar Report

Hi Folks;

Just back from our winter trip and want to post a brief report on Myanmar to give back a little to this forum and members that helped me out.
First of all let me say how much we enjoyed Myanmar, what a wonderful place to travel in, with such gracious and charming people, captivating culture and history, wonderful scenery and an exciting, hopeful and promising time for them.

Santa Maria Tours, they were great so thank you fodorites who recommended them. From the initial email correspondence through to the wonderful reception at the Yangon airport they were fabulous ! They put together a general interest main highlights tour based on my 11 day window including 3 days at Ngapali Beach at the end. I chose the hotels based on their summaries on their web site and they were all very good. The guides and drivers were all great, probably freelancers, some of the cars were a little dated but fine and I could see that getting new vehicles in Myanmar is a challenge. Our luggage went missing in Beijing thanks to Air China but thanks to Santa Maria ( and nice Thai Air Agent in Bangkok) they were able to get it sent through Yangon and then to our second stop in Mandalay where we were thankfully reunited with it after 4 days !

The hotels used:
Yangon - Park Royal, large, central, a bit dated but fine with pleasant and efficient service. Right beside a supermarket, handy for buying supplies for the road.
Bagan - Tharabar Gate Hotel, very large rooms in bungalows, nice pool and outdoor dining, good spa, close to street markets.
Mandalay - Sedona Hotel, large central hotel with some nice views out to canal, good pool, efficient service, rooms a little dated but good size and fine.
Inle Lake - Pristine Lotus Resort, rooms are all in villas, very nice, new, wonderful park like grounds set off in quiet area away from towns and main roads, right across from lake, good spa.
Ngapali Beach - Amazing Ngapali Hotel, fantastic oceanfront rooms, good beach, wonderful friendly staff, good resto and spa, on road with some shops and restos.

I did not get the names of all the guides but the one for Mandalay is Ms. San Yu Khaing. She is very good, knowledgeable, well educated, good English with some French too.
Tel. 95-9-4301106 and email is [email protected]

We flew most places using Air KBZ and they were excellent, on time, efficient, friendly, always a meal or snack and decent aircraft. The airports except for Yangon are small and without modern electronic signage. You have to look for a fellow walking around with a sign for your flight and then follow him to the aircraft !

We were expecting Myanmar to be a little backward especially considering their many years of isolation from much of the world but were pleasantly surprised at what they have accomplished. They must be a resourceful well educated and resilient people and I think they now have a great future. To be sure there some things are lacking, no credit card facilities, few ATM,s no fast food ( + ?).

We spent 3 days at Inle Lake, and this was one of the best travel experiences we ever had. It just seemed that the stars were perfectly aligned. The weather was perfect, our resort divine, our guide great, and the lake itself is calm, clear picturesque and with a fascinating lifestyle of the local people. The lake is quite large, about 15 km wide and 30 km long but only about 3-4 metres deep but with a lot of secondary channels and waterways. We went out in a typical teak wood boat, long (30 ft.) and narrow like a huge canoe with a long tail motor. Just us, our guide and 2 boatmen for 2 full days visiting local markets, cottage craft industries, watching the fishermen and the unique agriculture on the lake. They have made over many years floating islands where they grow tomatoes and other vegetables (very high quality), it is like a type of hydroponic growing.

The food was good, like Indian curries without spicy heat, lots of rice, not much meat, and very good fresh vegetables and fruit. Oh yes, the beer is fine too, especially Mandalay and they have some surprisingly good wine produced at Inle Lake called Aythara.

Sorry for the limited report but I type slowly and have a lot of others to do here and with Trip Advisor.

Bon Voyage.
christo is offline  
Mar 18th, 2012, 08:41 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
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Great report! We just got back too and your post brought back many wonderful memories! Thanks for posting
Approach_Guides is offline  
Mar 19th, 2012, 07:34 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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It sounds like you had a great time. Thanks for coming back and telling us about it.

Oh, your comment about ATMs - they do have a few ATMS, but none can be used with international cards, only those with Myanmar bank accounts can use the ATMs.
Kathie is offline  
Mar 19th, 2012, 07:40 AM
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Enjoyed your report. Just curious - do you recall if your guide at Inle Lake was a woman who calls herself Joyce?

We also used Santa Maria (probably the first on this forum to do so) and Inle Lake was a very memorable part of our Myanmar experience.
Craig is offline  
Mar 19th, 2012, 05:55 PM
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Thanks for sharing. How did you allocate your time..how many days per location besides the 3 days on the beach?
serasera is offline  
Mar 19th, 2012, 09:06 PM
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Hi Craig, our guide at Inle Lake was a young man called Coco, very good also but I forgot to get his contact info. Thanks for your advice (Kathie too) during my planning period for this trip.

Serasera, as for our time allocation, we had 11 days in total, (wish we had more!), this window was set by a our flights to Asia and a train tour in India starting on Jan 22. So 1 night in Yangon after flying in late from Bangkok, then early flight to Bagan for 2 nights, then flight to Mandalay for full day and 1 night,next day early flight to Heho, drive to Pindaye then to Inle lake for 2 nights. We then flew back to Yangon for a night and then an early flight to Ngapali for 3 nights. The last day we flew back to Yangon, had a city tour with a day room at a hotel before flying to Bangkok in the evening.
I found this itinerary to be a good basic tour of Myanmar but I would like to return to have more time for a river cruise, Inle Lake and about a week at the beach. The Santa Maria web site has several suggested programs.
christo is offline  
Mar 20th, 2012, 06:59 AM
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Hi Christo-I spent some time in Myanmar this winter and the one place I did not include that I wished I had was Ngpali Beach, which looked beautiful from the window of our airplane which landed briefly in Thande to drop off passengers (We were coming back from Sittwe on that flight). Were there any sightseeing opps there or was it purely a beautiful beach?

Will you be posting about your train trip in India? Did you go to northern or southern India? I am considering southern India for my next winter trip.
shelleyk is offline  
Mar 20th, 2012, 09:59 AM
  #8  
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Hi Shelleyk, Ngapali Beach was very beautiful and we did not do much beside R&R. We walked up and down the road in front which was interesting, some other hotels, restos, shops, very quiet few cars mostly bicycles and trishaws etc.

As for India I hope to get a report out today.We went to the north, south and middle. In south went to Kerala and really enjoyed it, greener, nice tea and spice planatations, backwater boat cruise fantastic.

Christo
christo is offline  
Mar 20th, 2012, 11:48 AM
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I'll be watching for your India report. Thanks for posting.
shelleyk is offline  
Mar 20th, 2012, 09:06 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 857
Even if it's a short report, it's always great to read and reminisce! Thanks for your taking the time to write!
pattyroth is offline  
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