Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page > The boys go to Burma -- and need your help!
Notices

The boys go to Burma -- and need your help!

Reply

Mar 3rd, 2012, 05:01 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,420
The boys go to Burma -- and need your help!

Still terribly jet-lagged from an amazing volunteering trip to Siem Reap with the PLF (and a few days with our good friend Hanuman in Thailand) and already I'm on to planning our next great adventure. Like this should come as some big surprise, right?

We've already chosen Burma (YAY! FINALLY!) after your help narrowing down some short listers on the roster and tickets are now booked. We'll be departing in late December for our longest trip yet--a total of 18 days! Holy guacamole, how did I pull that one off? No one tell David yet, please

We fly into Singapore and fly out of Bangkok. Everything in between is a great big blank canvas. And so I look to you, fellow Fodorites, as always, to help mold what will hopefully become the best trip yet.

I've spent some time researching a bunch of your recent trip reports to Burma and have taken down many notes. But the biggest question for me now is just a question of--simply put--"where to go and how long?" so I can start getting into some of the logistics and finer details.

We'll start this trip out in Singapore (we've never been) really only for the supreme satisfaction of going there just to gorge on food (I don't really think there's much else to do, is there?) I've heard it's "rainy" season and we might want to reconsider, but the tickets are booked and, frankly, unless it'll be hell on earth there in December, I don't really care to even look into changing that. I plan to be there only 2 nights.

For Burma, there's only 3 places on our radar right now (the same 3 probably on everyone's radar for Burma): Yangon, Bagan and Inle. I suppose we might be interested in a beach destination as well so Ngapali is definitely a potential destination as well...although I can't quite figure out if it's really worth it or not or if we should just try and squeeze maybe a Thai beach destination in on the way back to Bangkok instead. (DISCLAIMER: As most of you know, we like to move around a lot--not too much, but staying in one place for 4 or 5 nights would bore the ever-loving stars out of me.)

So here's a rough itinerary...and I look to you all for some guidance about how to specifically fill in those Burma days with destinations:

Day 1 Depart LAX @ 11 AM
Day 3 Arrive Singapore @ 8 AM
Day 4 Singapore
Day 5 Fly to Burma
Day 6 Burma
Day 7 Burma
Day 8 Burma
Day 9 Burma
Day 10 Burma
Day 11 Burma
Day 12 Burma
Day 13 Burma
Day 14 Burma
Day 15 Burma
Day 16 Burma/Thai Beach
Day 17 Burma/Thai Beach
Day 18 Burma/Thai Beach
Day 19 Fly to Bangkok @ 10 AM
Day 20 Fly to LAX @ 10 PM

Would also maybe consider--if we don't do a Burma beach and go for a Thai beach--doing that before we go to Burma and flying there for Singapore and then to Yangon through Bangkok...but I always think a beach is best at the end of a trip, not the beginning.

Definitely will be going with Santa Maria (is there really any other way to go?) for the transportation and hotels in Burma...and will definitely have some follow up questions on tour guides, etc. But hopefully this is enough to get the planning moving in the right direction!

As always, my friends, thanks in advance for all your help!
filmwill is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 3rd, 2012, 06:55 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,816
you really only have 1.5 days in sin... you could use another day or two.. there is plenty to keep you busy..

in thailand, HH is always a good option for a few days and easy to get to... hyatt is fantastic there..
rhkkmk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 3rd, 2012, 07:28 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,160
Looks good the way it is BIlly. 10 nights in Myanmar, not including the beach time, can be split up into something like this:

3 nights Yangon
3 nights Inle
3 or 4 nights Bagan

I've heard from friends that the beaches in Myanmar are nice but very quiet with not much choice for dining. I've "Tagged" some of my friends picture from Ngapali and they were there in December 2011.

Once you have your dates set DO BOOKED the Balloon ride in Bagan, I know you don't like height but it was great.

Some of our pictures from 2006 - 7 (password = Fodors): http://khun-pook.smugmug.com/Travel/...875798&k=hLvnn
Hanuman is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 3rd, 2012, 07:34 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,160
Forgot about this - I am hearing that the recently opened resort in Inle, The Aureum Palace Inle, is beautiful. Just opened but by the time you guys visit they should have ironed out all the wrinkles. The Aureum in Bagan is nice too and soon there will be a Water Library restaurant, think of it as the French Laundry of Asia, in Bagan as well.

http://www.aureumpalacehotel.com/inle-about.htm
Hanuman is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 3rd, 2012, 09:40 PM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,420
Thanks Bob and Pook!

Bob, I figure we'll get to the hotel by 10 AM so that would really give us almost 2 full days. I'd rather tag an extra day at the beach if we can swing it (and I figure it may be a whole day of transit to get to one.)

Hua Hin? Hmm...don't know anything about that place. Thanks to our friend, I've had quite a wonderful time there. Thinking of going somewhere more south on this trip though. Koh Pha Ngan and Langkawi both have registered on the radar but not sure.

Pook, thanks for the links! BTW, where is that hotel in the gallery titled 'Putao Part 2'? The one with the fireplace, etc? That looks beautiful!

And, yes, my worry about Ngapali is that there really won't be *anything* to do but sit on the beach since it's so remote. And, BTW, I'm fine with heights...it's David that I'll have to hit over the head with a hammer or drug first. But don't worry: we'll get him up there!
filmwill is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 3rd, 2012, 10:20 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,777
I am so glad you have decided to go to Burma (even without Cheryl's persuasion). Ten days in Burma will certianly give you a good sample.

As I'm sure you know, Silk Air flies from Singapore to Yangon. I'm not sure what time the flight arrives, but I'd suggest you immediately fly to either Inle or Bagan. I'd spend 4 nights at each Inle and Bangan and two nights at the end in Yangon.

I'm not a fan of the Aureum Hotels. They are owned by Tay Za. I'd suggest at Inle either the Inle Lake View or the Inle Princess. In Bagan, you can't beat the location of the Tharbar Gate. The Aureum is way out in New Bagan, you'd need to have a car and driver to visit most of the temples (I prefer the horsecart). On our second visit we stayed at the Tryptisaya in one of the fabulous river front suites. The problem at that hotel is the food is pretty mediocre.

Of course, in Yangon, I recomend the Strand.

Let me know if Cheryl and I can be of help in your planning!
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 3rd, 2012, 11:40 PM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,420
Kathie, I think there are two Silk Air flights: one gets in at 9:30 AM and one gets in at 3:45pm. Is the later one too late to catch a flight to Inle or Bagan? I'm guessing it's pushing it.

Also--do you recommended an order (Bagan then Inle or vice versa?) or is it really just about the flight schedules?

Pook, how long do you think it might take to get to Koh Pha Ngan from Yangon? I assume 1.5 hours to Bangkok, then 1 hour to Koh Samui, then however long to car/ferry/etc to the island?

Is it me or are hotel prices generally higher in Burma than other SE Asian destinations? Not that it's a problem, but I was a little surprised just from looking at a few places (not just Aureum) about the prices.
filmwill is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 4th, 2012, 12:42 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 4,467
I think you could have a few days in SP and not get bored. The silk air flight in the a.m is the one I took and I know it's early ish but it's SO easy to get the the airport from the centre of Singapore ( 20 minutes max) I have a few restaurant places for you if you want( planning on going back to SP in September for my 8th visit to see my pal)
I would DEFINITELY contact Santa Maria as they can get REALLY good rates for hotels and flights in Burma
Book the silk air flights yourself much easier.
Check out the Fullerton Bay hotel in SP gorgeous and a fabulous rooftop bar (make sure you go to that bar even if you don't stay there)
We stayed at the Strand and the Savoy in Yangon, the former is very nice but the surrounding area is a dump, the Savoy had a bit more atmosphere in the bar etc but is not as luxe, liked them both though.
Smeagol is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 4th, 2012, 12:44 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 4,467
BTW I went Singapore this Christmas (again rainy season) and we had one day of torrential rain, the rest of the time it was gorgeous. Don't sweat it about the weather and any way there is plenty to keep you occupied if it does rain!
Smeagol is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 4th, 2012, 12:45 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 4,467
(ps check out my FB pics of SP you can see the bar I am talking about on there)
Smeagol is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 4th, 2012, 02:25 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,160
Billy your estimate is correct and from Samui it's about a 30 minutes boat ride to Phanga. The Anantara Rasananda is suppose to be nice and directly on the beach yet a fair distant away from the "crazy" crowds. Check out the link below and they have a page with all the travel data.

http://phangan-rasananda.anantara.com/

Putao is way up North of Myanmar and my friend said that it's good trekking country around there and it's a 4 hours hike on foot to the snow capped mountains on the borderline with China. Just wanted to show you the accommodation but if you like trekking then Air Bagan flies there as well.
Hanuman is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 4th, 2012, 05:19 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,873
Hi Billy - I would like to cast another vote for a longer stay in Singapore as there is lots to do there. The 3 nights we had last July were not enough. We stayed on the Club
floor at the Intercontinental - if you get the "Friends and Family" rate, it is quite reasonable for Singapore. The hotel is well situated and the Club Floor makes it as nice a place as any on the planet.

If you have 10 days in Myanmar, that is enough to do Yangon, Bagan and Inle Lake. We loved the Aureum Palace in Bagan and as long as you have access to transportation the location is no problem. You need a minimum of 2 full days in Bagan and 3 or 4 full days at Inle Lake. Interior flights are relatively short and most leave early am, allowing for a full day of touring. We didn't really care for Yangon but it is worth a day at each end of your trip - flights in and out are tricky to coordinate so you will likely be stuck there anyway. Click on my name for my trip report if you haven't read it.

Glad you have finally decided to take the plunge - Myanmar is rapidly changing.
Craig is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 4th, 2012, 10:20 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,777
You are right, hotel prices in Burma are higher than much of ES Asia, and are going up rapidly with the huge influx of visitors. In comparison to other SE Asian countries, the numbers are still miniscule, but the tourist infrastructure in Burma is severaly limited.

I'd take the early flight to Yangon and choose Inle first or Bagan first depending on the flight schedules.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 4th, 2012, 10:58 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,777
I'd make the Bagan hotel decision in light of how you want to see the temples. As you know, our trip to Bagan was the fulfillment of a childhood dream. Seeing the temples in the traditional way, via horsecart, was a necessary condition for seeing the temples. Obviously, not everyone feels that way. We started out via horsecart, but I knew we could switch to car and driver later if we wanted to - we never wanted to. There are thousands of temples, so you'll never run out of new temples to visit. We visited quite a few places that didn't seem to be accessible by car. But we did not visit some of the more distant temples that would have required a car. Even on our second visit we opted for the horsecart.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 4th, 2012, 11:55 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 4,467
Personally I think a mixture of both, I tired of the horse and cart ( maybe because it made me feel slightly sick) both could be a great option. We stayed at the Aureum, and didn't find it's location troublesome ( again check out my FB pics) wonderful location. The food was average but then I didn't find the food that great anywhere in Burma.
Smeagol is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 4th, 2012, 01:03 PM
  #16
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,420
Did you all read those stories on TA about 2 families being electrocuted in the Aureum's showers (happened again recently and one of the people died, supposedly.) I try not to buy into TA hoopla, but I did think it was interesting--perhaps more damning--that the hotel didn't respond to either instance on TA, lending more credence to the stories.
filmwill is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 4th, 2012, 01:06 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 4,467
OMG really, I didn't hear about that! I hope it's not true, what an awful thing to happen.
Smeagol is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 4th, 2012, 04:15 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,160
Just found the review you are referring to Billy and it does read like an authentic, real, experience. However, a few of us here have stayed there without any problem so I hope it's just a freak accident that will not occur again. We didn't see any other hotel or resort in the same league while in Bagan but that was a few years ago.
Hanuman is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 4th, 2012, 04:51 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 611
>>>We fly into Singapore and fly out of Bangkok<<<


Greetings Billy and early congratulations on forthcoming initial visit to our fine home of Singapore. (And am confident you are going to appreciate certain aspects of Changi, my favourite airport.)

Would love to see you spend more time (and money...) in SIN. To date, the city-state has far exceeded my expectations for a place to maintain a personal residence and conduct business.

Not certain of your ultimate budget, but can assure from more than a few business travel stays, the Four Seasons Singapore is a rather fine property. Before purchasing a home in SIN, the 4S was my main work abode. Have remained friends with some great management and staff. Not too many evenings back, the 4S lobby and bar venues were as elegant and festive as ever.

Can't help you with Burma; not on my current Asia business travel circuit (hope springs eternal) and have yet to find time for holiday in that part of the world.

As for beach time - and another potential budget buster - will give a promotion to the Amanpuri and a couple of great Thai Aman staff we've gotten to know over the years. Mind you, almost all of our visits have been low season for long weekends. Last visit was last October via SilkAir business class. As you probably know, various airline lounge access rules are rather fluid; for our Oct. SilkAir flights, the SQ PPS status (some years, more lowly than others) was more than sufficient for SIA's SilverKris lounges at Changi. Love those lounges, particularly the SKL in Terminal 3.

As for Bangkok, suspect you know the scene. As of last month's Valentine's Day (and a memorable King celebration last December), the Peninsula remains quite the sanctuary.

Last - and most certainly not least - any chance Singapore Airlines figures with your current (and future) long-haul plans? That SQ 37/38 all-business class, non-stop service, LAX-SIN-LAX is quite the efficient ride. Have flown her for work on only a few occasions, but such efficient, well-tended flights. And don't forget SQ 11/12 with those A380s; suspect you would like those suites.

(And if you detect a touch of SQ bias, well, I am writing this post from my main N. America business travel port of San Francisco. Arrived earlier today from Incheon (and SIN) via SQ16; great crews and some special friends. Week of meetings, then back to Asia this weekend.)

I am very happy for you; sounds like the making of a special time. Savour your planning; as a cherished mountaineering buddy would say, 'honour the process'.

Enjoy,

macintosh (robert)


... Singapore Airlines, You're a Great Way to Fly ...
AskOksena is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 4th, 2012, 05:45 PM
  #20
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,777
While I am naturally suspicious of TA reviews, I do remember that as we were planning our first trip and thought we'd stay at the Aureum, the reports of both Craig and Hanuman about the electrical wiring gave me pause. So I would give the reviews more credence than I would otherwise.

The Tharbar Gate isn't as glitzy as the Aureum, but the suite we had was huge, and the little walled garden was the best feature (we had lunch in the garden every day). The riverfront suite at the Triptisaya was fabulous, and the terrace overlooking the river was just great. We had afternoon tea there one day, and our neighbors had lunch on theirs. We didn't see any new upscale places being built, but do ask Zaw at Santa Maria about any new places.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:45 PM.