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Myanmar travel agent - Myanmar Shalom experiences?

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May 27th, 2014, 07:36 PM
  #1
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Myanmar travel agent - Myanmar Shalom experiences?

I have been in contact with several Myanmar travel agents and Myanmar Shalom is the one we plan to choose. Very responsive, customized our itinerary very well and best payment options for us although not the cheapest offer. We are staying 11 nights in July - 3 in Yangon, 4 in Bagan and 4 at Inle Lake. 3 flights. At Inle Lake, we plan to stay on the lake instead of in town. We'll visit Mt. Popa while in Bagan. $1800 each, so $3600 for my wife and I, for rooms, flights, Mt.Popa, car and guide on 4 or 5 days, boat trip on Inle Lake, village trips, major sites with admissions, several transfers.
I thought this was a good price and I don't think I would do much better for all the services we get and the added convenience. This is our first visit to SE Asia and Myanmar. Any recent very positive experiences with Myanmar Shalom or very negative experiences?
Any hidden items or points of concern with our trip before we place the deposit? Thank you for any help you can provide.
Sean
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May 27th, 2014, 08:28 PM
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What hotels does it include ?
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May 27th, 2014, 09:00 PM
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cwn
 
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We are using them next spring. Our trip is planned and the deposit made. They have been very easy to work with. There was a very positive trip report in 2013 from someone who used them and was happy.

So we shall see. When are you going?
Carolyn
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May 28th, 2014, 05:53 AM
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I have also read several good trip reports and reviews of Myanmar Shalom. We are going in July of this year.
We were given a small selection of hotels and here are the ones I plan to choose:
Yangon - East Hotel (quiet room in back of building)
Bagan - Bawga Theddi (room on the pool or garden side)
Inle Lake - Inle Resort + a night or two in town I think

It has been difficult choosing Myanmar hotels. For every couple decent reviews, there seems to be a bad review. We appreciate that the price is more expensive and the facilities not as nice as when we will be in Cambodia or Hanoi.
For Yangon, our priority was location, service and convenience for a decent price.
For Bagan, service and maybe a pool were what we were looking for. We plan to be out exploring most of the time, but a little comfort would be nice in Bagan and Inle Lake.
For Inle Lake, I thought a nice romantic spot on the lake for most of the time, good food since we'll be stuck there at night and friendly service. I'm thinking we should stay at least a night in town to explore the town a little too.

Thank you for the help.
Sean
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May 28th, 2014, 06:51 AM
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Myanmar Shalom has gotten very good reviews here.

I think your plan for the country looks good. Personally, I'd encourage you to choose one place at Inle. I know it is hard to choose between being in town and on the lake or the edge of the lake (though my personal preference is on the edge of the lake), but if you choose two places, you'll have to take time away from what you want to do to change locations. And changing locations can be quite time consuming at Inle Lake. If you want to explore the town, have your boatman drop you off for a few hours to wander.

I don't know those particular hotels, but it sounds like you have done your research. Hotels and restaurants in Myanmar are not as consistent as those elsewhere. Also, now you are getting people who know nothing about traveling in a newly opening country and their complaints sometimes border on being silly.
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May 28th, 2014, 07:06 AM
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Do read Chris45NY's section on staying in town at Inle...
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May 28th, 2014, 12:31 PM
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I've read good things (mostly here) on Myanmar Shalom. That said, I've chosen to book everything myself with the exception of plane tickets. For that, I'm using Santa Maria Travel.
I've booked all the hotels (including Inle resort!) myself, online or via email. As for tours and transfers my plan was to book those things when we get there through the hotels. But we have less time (only 7 days) there than you do.
Friends stayed at the East Hotel last year and liked it. I ended up booking the Strand because we are only there for 1 night and I wanted to splurge on our list night of vacation.
Have you priced out booking the hotels yourself to see how the overall package you've been offered breaks down?
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May 28th, 2014, 01:33 PM
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I ended up booking with Santa Maria, too. Initially I was going to book the hotels myself, but SM ended up quoting better rates than I got from the hotels. They're booking our internal flights, but I'm working with a private guide in Bagan and my hotel at Inle Lake for a boatman. For us, this seems like it will work out best.
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May 28th, 2014, 01:40 PM
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After I decided on our itinerary I looked at booking the hotels myself of the four, three were more expensive than what Myanmar Shalom quoted. Not by a whole lot but one said they were full. Tin with MS was able to get the room at the "full" for us so I let him
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May 28th, 2014, 01:48 PM
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I priced our four hotels and had Myanmar Shalom price them also. They could get the room at one that wasn't available on line and the other three were cheaper by some so I did the whole thing with Tin. The river boat booking was a few dollars more (less than $50 I think) though him, but the nonrefundable deposit was less), so since everything else was in the package I left that alone also.

Never put everything in one basket before so we shall see how this goes!!
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May 28th, 2014, 01:48 PM
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Often, agents in Myanmar can get you hotels at lower rates than you can get yourself. And since they often have some rooms reserved for them to book, they may be bale to get you into a place that otherwise shows full.

Did you compare prices, Kristina?
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May 28th, 2014, 03:42 PM
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Agree if you really want to check that you're getting a good deal, you can price hotels and flights via Agoda and oway.com. Car, guide and driver say $50 per day or thereabouts. Entrance fees are $10 for Bagan, Inle Lake and Shwedagon, other entrance fees are less.

A quick look on Agoda showed East Hotel at $120 for a random night in July, then you can do a rough back of the envelope calculation to ascertain value for money.
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May 28th, 2014, 06:48 PM
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Kathie- I wasn't really thrilled with the hotels SM offered, nor the slow response time. The Inle Princess was the only place I'd contacted for which they offered comparison and the price was the same as the hotel had offered. The place they recommended for our night near the airport looked like a dump.

So in the end, I booked everything myself, one at a time.
I used booking.com for the Strand and it was a better deal (at the time) than the hotel's web site. I communicated directly with the other hotels. The Inle Resort has been paid in advance with a credit card, the others we will pay at the hotels.

For the plane tickets SM's prices were in line with everything I saw and it seemed easier to do it with them. I will be able to pay for those in advance with a credit card too, and new as of the first week of June apparently, they will be able to issue e-tickets for Yangon Airlines.

I am trying to avoid having to carry a ton of cash with us, especially since we have the week in Cambodia before we get there.
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May 29th, 2014, 06:09 AM
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All of the hotels by the Yangon airport are dumps, I hear. Just wanted to make sure you were aware of the options.
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May 29th, 2014, 12:21 PM
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Oh Kathie, you know I always look at ALL my options! ;-)

I chose what looked to me to be the best of many bad options close to the airport, the Myanmar Life Hotel, in case anyone finds themselves in a similar situation. SM Travel had recommended Seasons of Yangon, which was farther away from the airport and looked really unappealing to me.
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May 29th, 2014, 12:26 PM
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I figured you would have check out everything, Kristina.

ShelleyK stayed at the Seasons, I remember, and said it was ok. But none of the hotels near the airport are great, as you know. Let us know about the one you chose. When we were in Yangon in 2009 and 2011, there was no need to stay near the airport as the drive to/from the airport was 20-30 minutes tops. I can't believe how much things have changed...
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May 30th, 2014, 11:54 AM
  #17
 
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I have also put down the deposit with MS for my 11 night/12 day trip from Nov. 1 to 12. First 2 nights in Yangon with a midnight arrival I chose Alamanda Hotel. 4 nights in Bagan I chose Amazing Bagan Hotel. For 2 nights in mandalay I chose Yadarnabon Hotel. 2 nights at Inle I chose Amazing Nyaung Shwe. Then last night back in Yangon with a late check out the last day we are at East Hotel.

My whole trip priced out at $1730 each for everything. MS has been very responsive to my requests. I asked that touring at Bagan not be dome by horsecart as I am highly allergic to horses and they said no problem, you can go by car or e bike. I liked the option of putting the deposit on a credit card for the extra protection that gives. I'm hoping I can also charge the final payment so I don't have to carry a wad of cash to Myanmar.
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