Tours in Burma?

Mar 18th, 2015, 05:36 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 99
Tours in Burma?

We will be in Burma for 10 days in October-Bagan, Yangon, and Inle Lake. The company we have booked through has offered a variety of add on (private) tours. At this point all we have booked is ballooning in Bagan. I usually enjoy being independent, but also appreciate the knowledge and inside information a good guide can give. Which of these would you recommend (or avoid?)
Temples and sightseeing
Mount Popa
Kyauk Gu U
Boat on Irrawaddy

Boat Tour on Lake to the market, floating gardens and monastery
tour to Kakku

city tour

cakegal is offline  
Mar 18th, 2015, 06:11 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,892
At all places you can hire a guide or driver locally.

Several on this board suggest seeing the Bagan temples with a horse cart and driver. We found having a guide helpful. We thought Mount Popa was a waste of a day. Others have enjoyed it. Can't comment on Kyauk Gu U or the Irrawaddy cruise.

Inle Lake is all about being on the water so at a minimum, a boat and driver are needed. You could easily do it without a guide, but we used one. Kakku is worthwhile - you need a driver and a Pao guide to visit.

We had a guide in Yangon who took us to the major sites, but was otherwise pretty useless.
Craig is offline  
Mar 18th, 2015, 06:28 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,991
Who have you booked with? Hopefully a local company In Yangon.

I wouldn't opt for any pre-arrayed tours. They will charge you a lot and you are better off just hiring a guide - if you want one - on location.

At Inle, you will need a boatman. Hiring from your hotel (where are you staying?) will typically cost half of what a local agency will charge and a quarter of the price of a foreign agency. We arranged for a side trip to Kakku as part of our airpot transfer from HeHo. Do go to Sankar (the southern part of the lake) if at all possible - it's pretty much a full day trip. On the Lake be explicit about what you want to see/do or you'll get the "tourist circuit" which consists of shopping stops.

We loved using a horsecart to visit the temples at Bagan. How much time do you have in Bagan? Only if O had lots of time would I even consider the side trip to Mt. Pope - there is so much to see in Bagan. If you want a boat ride on the Irrawaddy, that can be easily arranged, no need to book a Tour.

Personally, I think there is no reason to do a Yangon City Tour. You can see what you want on your own, just using a taxi as needed. Note that no matter when you go, Yangon is hot, hot hot. We wanted to do a walking tour of the old buildings, and did so, but very early in the morning. By the time we walked back to our hotel at 8 am, I wouldn't have wanted to be on the streets.
Kathie is online now  
Mar 19th, 2015, 01:00 AM
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 142
As Kathie says, you can book many tours whilst you are there-all of the Bagan stuff can easily, and at no greater cost, be arranged through your hotel.
Also as Kathie has said,hopefully you booked direct with an Agent in Myanmar.
For a day tour in Yangon, you can DIY, but if you want a full day tour then the first two Agents here are on my short list of frequently recommended Agents and ones I can personally recommend as they have helped me over the years...
Silverswimmer is offline  
Mar 19th, 2015, 06:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,991
SS would you be so kind as to list the agents names here rather than linking to Trip Advisor? Thanks.
Kathie is online now  
Mar 19th, 2015, 10:12 AM
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 142
Delighted to help,I always think linking to others recommendations is preferable to trying to type others thoughts for hours with my one digit.
here you go

There are good recommendations on the tripadvisor and thorntree forums for Myanmar Shalom,Myanmar Delight,Santa Maria,and you could try a couple of them.Santa Maria is also strongly recommended on Fodors.Google will bring up their web sites.
Exotic Voyages also gets good references,but it is Vietnam based.
Others that are always recommended and mentioned on the forums, and of which I have had first hand personal experience, are Onestop Travel and Tour Mandalay and I can recommend them both.
I also was happy with Asian Trails,but that is many years ago

TM is the larger,their fancy web site is this

Onestop Travel is family owned and their GM, kyaw (Joe) ,was a guide for 20 years before setting up his Agency and is highly regarded by all in the Myanmar travel business.
email is [email protected]

I feel confident in recommending him,They helped me earlier this year and I visited their operation then and they have booked my hotels & flights for my next visit,at good savings.
Usually,because it is a family business and with their lower overheads and margins, they will be less expensive and more flexible than TM and many of the others mentioned.
There are some excellent comments about them on Tripadvisor(150+ posts!)

They will be flexible on ground arrangements and certainly will not insist on guides throughout.
Do be patient on responses as communications can take some time in Myanmar although things are much improving and recently replies have been received within 24 hours or so.

One of the weaknesses of Fodors is the search feature but if you input any of their names into the search feature on tripadvisor or thorntree that will link you to comments from genuine travellers.

How's that?

ps the beauty of the mix of travel forums is the variety of input and also the traffic. The TT Myanmar forum gets a couple of posts a day, as does Fodors but tripadvisor got 25 in the last 24 hours. None are better or worse than the other but traffic,especially when it comes to genuine travellers experiences and recommendations,I find important.
Silverswimmer is offline  
Mar 19th, 2015, 10:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,991
Very helpful, thank you, SS. I find your comments very useful. I'd much rather have one quality comment rather than 23 that are of dubious utility.
Kathie is online now  
Mar 19th, 2015, 07:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 316
Bookmarking. Thanks!
linawood is offline  
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