Three weeks in Myanmar

Old Jun 26th, 2012, 07:25 AM
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Three weeks in Myanmar

Hi all,

I've spent the last couple of weeks reading through all the excellent advice on this forum after deciding to take a (somewhat) last minute trip to Burma this summer. I'm looking for some advice on my itinerary, and have a few additional questions.

I'm a 30 year old male, travelling solo - my first time travelling around SEA.

Rough itinerary:

Day 1 Mon 23rd July Bangkok to Yangon arrive approx 8am
Overnight Sleeper to Bagan
Day 2 Tues 24th Arrive Bagan
Day 3 Wed 25th Bagan
Day 4 Thur 26th Bagan
Day 5 Fri 27th 6am boat to Mandalay
Day 6 Sat 28th Around Mandalay
Day 7 Sun 29th Around Mandalay

Day 8 Mon 30th Pyin Oo Lwin day trip
Late evening train (or bus) to Thazi
Day 9 Tues 31st 5am Train from Thazi to Kalaw
Afternoon around Kalaw (maybe to Pindaya?)
Day 10 Wed 1st Aug Kalaw to Inle Lake via Kakku
Day 11 Thurs 2nd Inle
Day 12 Fri 3rd Inle
Day 13 Sat 4th Morning Flight to Yangon from Heho
Bus to Bago
Day 14 Sun 5th Bago - then on to Kinpun (Golden Rock)

Day 15 Mon 6th Bus back to Yangon
Day 16 Tues 7th Morning bus to Pathein
Day 17 Wed 8th Bus to Chaung Tha
Day 18 Thur 9th Chaung Tha
Day 19 Fri 10th Chaung Tha
Day 20 Sat 11th Bus to Yangon
Day 21 Sun 12th Yangon
Day 22 Mon 13th 8am (ish) flight to Bangkok

Now - some questions:

1. Am I giving myself enough time at the various "main stops"? I know I have factored in a few wasted days, especially the night spent in Thazi, since I would like to take the train ride from Thazi to Kalaw.

2. Am I better off going Bagan - Mandalay - Inle or Mandalay - Bagan - Inle ? Or does it really matter?

3. I would prefer to spend the last week of the trip going to see Mrauk U, but given the current unrest, am I better off forgetting about it?

4. I have given myself a few days on the beach at Chaung Tha (again, I think I would prefer Ngapali, but if I'm not going to Mrauk U, it seems a bit of a trek just to go to the beach there.) Am I wasting my time going to a seaside setting for some relaxation during the rainy season?

5. How much of the various elements should I have booked before I travel? Internal flights I will have to, and probably the overnight train (either to Yangon - Bagan or Yangon - Mandalay). I will use Santa Maria travel, based on all the good reviews I have heard from here.

But hotels? Internet prices are in a lot of cases double what are quoted in the most recent LP - and this is for low season travel! Am I better off just walking up when I arrive in the town, or ringing ahead the day before? I'm wary of having everything completely set in stone before getting there, as I might decide I want to spend an extra day somewhere...

I think that's enough to be going on for now.

No doubt I'll have more questions as I go on.

Thanks for reading this far!
winestrand is offline  
Old Jun 26th, 2012, 08:21 AM
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The train in Burma is renowned for being uncomfortable and slow. It's actually faster and more comfortable to take buses. You have a fair amount of time, so overland travel is practical, but you might want to consider a flight or two to cut down on travel time. The train rides in the far north are the ones that are recommended for scenic value.

Mostly, the amount of time you have in places looks good, though you only have two full days at Inle. Depending on your intersts, you might want to add a day.

The beach - you do know you will be there at the height of the monsoons... Ngapali is pretty much closed during the monsoons, I don't know about ChaungTha. If it were me, I'd look for somewhere else to go. You can slow down and relax at any of your stops.

Things are somewhat calmer at Sittwe, but the area is not yet open. You could wait and see whether you can get to Mrauk U. You have to fly into Sitwee, then take a boat.

You need a travel agent in Yangon to get the best prices on accommodations. That is also the person who can advise you on Mrauk U. Have your accommodations booked for at least your fist two stops... the more you have booked ahead, the better. Even right now in low season, many places are fully booked. Waiting until you get there to book accommodations risks that you will spend much of your time going from place to place looking for a room... and paying more than you would have by booking ahead through an agent. Once you are there, you can make adjustments with the help of your agent, or you can ask your hotel to call ahead to find you a hotel for your next stop (but doing that will give you few choices and you will pay more).

Have a wonderful trip!
Kathie is offline  
Old Jun 26th, 2012, 12:57 PM
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What Kathie says is good advice. My experience in Myanmar was that it was very flexible. Once you are using an agent, you can change things with them - stay a day longer, or whatever, although that may also change the hotel. Even with flights, it was not as rigid as Western countries. I delayed every day for 5 days, my return to BKK. And it was not a problem with my agent - no extra charges etc. Although they did ask me on the last change, 'are you really going tomorrow'.

I also didn't have a plane ticket out of Bagan since I was supposed to use the Bus and couldn't get a ticket on the bus. The Rangon Travel Agent sent a Bagan travel agent early the next am. This man took me to the airport and walked up to the counter and bought me a ticket. We had been told they had none!

It is a truly amazing country on many different levels. Enjoy your journey!
wintersp is offline  
Old Jun 26th, 2012, 06:00 PM
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The travel agents in Burma are very accommodating and will change flight and hotel reservations based on availability. If you are traveling during low season, you may be able to make changes once you are in-country. But the recent surge in tourism has strained the infrastructure (especially accommodations) to its limit. It never hurts to ask if they can get you another night somewhere, but don't count on it.
Kathie is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2012, 06:55 AM
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Thanks very much for your input.

I'll get in touch with a travel agents this afternoon - it is probably best to have things arranged in advance.

I also like the idea that a travel agent can get better prices on accommodation.

I'll admit Kathie that it was your TRs that have played a significant role in shaping this trip - thanks very much for the all the advice.
winestrand is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2012, 07:27 AM
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I'm delighted that my trip reports have inspired your trip!
Kathie is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2012, 08:47 AM
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Santa Maria will get you very good hotel prices. The only hotel I didn't care for was in Mandalay, all the others were great with good rates. They are also as Kathy said very flexible when possible.

I went a couple of years ago, before the influx. Things may have changed.

Enjoy your trip
Nywoman is offline  
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