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Tips to travellers visiting Myanmar/Burma

Tips to travellers visiting Myanmar/Burma

Mar 29th, 2013, 01:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 17
Tips to travellers visiting Myanmar/Burma

I know some people will disagree with me but after travelling for a couple of weeks in Burma - which I loved by the way - these are some tips I would give to travellers. Apparently, cards are becoming increasingly accepted now though, FYI. I wrote a full guide at http://asiaescapades.blogspot.sg/201...mar-burma.html.

1. Bring enough cash. Credit cards are not accepted.
2. Bring only fresh, unspoiled US$ bills...or you risk ending up with useless cash.
3. Airports generally tend to have the best exchange rates...surprisingly.
4. Travel by air where possible. Rough land transport conditions.
5. Myanmar is very dusty so be prepared to have a load of dirt at the back of your throat
6. Plan and book travel & accommodation in advance. We used http://myanmar-center.com/
7. Mandalay is way overratedf (as opposed to other places in Myanmar, and that's my opinion).
8. If I knew better, Inle Lake would be my last stop and I would spend at least 2 nights there.
9. Invest in a backpack and a Lonely Planet.
10. Bring warm clothes as it gets cold at night, especially Kyaiktiyo and Inle Lake.
Johahn is offline  
Mar 30th, 2013, 02:37 AM
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 305
1. Forget Lonely Planet. It's way out of date.

2.Do bring warm clothes for evenings.

3. Bring crisp $US in $100 and $50 denominations, There are currently 12 ATMS in Burma.

4. Do not travel by air if possible. I actually kissed the ground after a flight from Mandalay/Bagan to Rangoon on a 40yo Fokker turboprop plane, one week after its sister plane crashed at Inle Lake on Christmas Day. I never want to repeat that experience.

5. Forget travelling by road. The roads were built by the british in about 1905, it took us 6 hours to travel 180km north from Rangoon, and 2 hours from Mandalay to go 14 miles. The river is the only way to get anywhere.

6.Respect the Lady. She is revered everywhere.

7. Do not disrespect the military. They're OK if you smile and wave, as if you get them and say they're OK. Repeat, do NOT disrespect them.

8. Burma is run by the military. Accept that it is so, just as most of the local populace does, and enyoy your stay.
mareeS55 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2013, 08:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,778
Replying to maree's points:

1. Lonely Planet is useful for historical and cultural info. Only the most recent posts on the various travel boards will give you up-to-date info on prices, etc.

4. Statisticallly, flying is safer than ground travel, though some people feel more nervous flying as they are not in control, while they have an illusion of control in ground travel.

5. The river (Irrawaddy) in Burma only covers a limited area of the country, so if you opt for only river travel, you won't see a lot of Burma.
Kathie is offline  
Mar 31st, 2013, 09:19 AM
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 305
Kathie, those planes are downright dangerous. The ones we flew on, the Fokkers, actually still had ashtrays in the armrests from the 1960s. They don't fly above 8000ft because they don't weigh the loads, and that's why they happen to crash into mountains in the wet season.

As for not feeling in control, or being a nervous flyer, we spend a lot of time in light aircraft in the course of our work, so that doesn't apply. We do know dangerous aircraft when we have to stap ourselves in, and we know when to kiss the ground.

Vietnam sorted it's airline into one of the most modern in the world in the early 2000s, China followed, and Indonesia and Malaysia have done so as prosperous nations. Burma's generals must do something about their airlines, now that huge tourism money is pouring into the country.

The rip-off on hotels must also be sorted. The gouging we experienced in Dec/Jan, particularly at hotels, left a very bad taste. It is the generals and their families who are ripping off visitors, and the word is getting around. If they keep it up, Burma's tourism industry will go the way of Cambodia's, which is very much to the corrupt downside.

The Burmese culture is nice, the Burmese people are nice, but the military government is still dreadful, and I resented every cent of money we had to pay to visit there.
mareeS55 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2013, 11:03 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,778
maree, I've taken many flights in Burma. I also helped an airline safety consultant arrange his trip, so I know a fair amount about the airline/plane situation in Burma. The planes are old - no question. But there are many parts of the world that are still flying the old Fokkers safely. I would actually be more concerned about the parts and repairs on newer planes in Burma. Nonetheless, no matter what you or I think, the airlines fly many flights each day and have had very few deaths - many fewer than ground transport.

You are the only person I know who has reported a hotel trying not to honor a reservation and trying to charge you more. I don't doubt your report, but it appears (even these days) to be outside the norm. Did you make your own reservation or have an agency do it for you? Having an agency to back you up can be helpful.
Kathie is offline  
Mar 31st, 2013, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,676
Forget flying within Burma, it would be such a wasted opportunity. Once you arrive in Burma you shouldn't need to see another airport or the inside of another plane until it's time to go home.

The journeys within Burma are as much part of the magical experience as the destinations, whether it's Rangoon to Mandalay on the colonial era British-built railway, past traditional red and white British-style semaphore signals and mock-Tudor signal boxes, or a leisurely ride down the Irrawaddy from Mandalay to Bagan by ferry past river bank life.

The railways from Mandalay to Pyin oo Lwin over the Gokteik viaduct to Hsipaw and Lashio, and from Thazi on the Rangoon-Mandalay mainline to Kalaw and Inle Lake are fabulous rides, on an old rickety train calling at village stations, through wonderful scenery.

We travelled exclusively by train, ferry, and on one occasion (Bagan-Mt Popa-Inle Lake) hired car with driver, and it was superb. We simply bought tickets as we went. I've written a guide to the train and ferry travel options, with photos, at www.seat61.com/Burna.htm
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2013, 04:46 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,433
Not all the planes there are 40 years old...that's just inaccurate information. The flights we flew on (on Air KBZ) were mostly on brand new ATR-72s. So if LP is "out of date" at least be current with information you're providing here.

That's not to say that I ever felt what one might call safe flying airlines there, but isn't traveling to a place that hasn't really been touched by infrastructure in 40 some odd years sort of about risk? I mean if one were to fly on airlines that only live up to Western standards in the world then one would never travel within Africa, for instance...so I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder.
filmwill is offline  
Apr 1st, 2013, 11:50 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 305
Sorry if I seem a bit harsh about parts of Asia, but having lived and worked in various parts of SEA since the 1970s, I've lost my earlier fascination for the exotic features that can be found there (apart from the food and the birdlife).

I expect it would be the same if I had lived and worked in Africa, or as in the USA, which we did for a couple of years. Living in other places and cultures can become enervating when you have to accommodate yourself to them 24 hours of the day for months and years on end.

At present it's nice to be at home with the spouse and the cats. However, Sri Lanka is looking good for a short break.
mareeS55 is offline  

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