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Seeking tips and advice

Asia
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108 posts
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Seeking tips and advice

Hi everyone,

I'm planning a trip to Myanmar this coming Nov for about 8 days (hopefully my Visa has no problem). Have been reading up a lot of things online to plan my itinerary. Most probably I will be going to Yangon, Bagan, and Mandalay. Well, I'll be traveling solo on budget and I am into photography. Am hoping to get some advice/answers in here to my questions.

1. I am thinking to get a private tour guide to accompany me throughout my travel there. Is this possible? Any recommendations would be great.

2. Which one would you recommend: (A) to get a local travel agent when I'm there or (B) to get a tour before I fly in?

3. Been reading a few travel agents' sites and seems like it's going to be pretty costly cause of the internal flights. Any money saving tips pls?

4. How's the political situation there now? I heard there's going to be an election on Nov 7? Should this be a concern?

Many thanks in advance for your answers.

Cheers!

Doha, Qatar
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1. Re: Seeking tips and advice

It's a photographers dream, there's never a dull moment as far as photography goes, it's certainly one of the most photogenic places you could visit.

If you're on a budget then don't get a guide to accompany you for the whole trip, you'll have to pay his airfares & all the other costs that go with it.

Pick a guide up locally, good local guides are everywhere & your guesthouse/hotel can organise it very easily. Local guides have an excellent knowledge of their own area, tell them that you're there for photography & go from there. No need for a guide in Bagan, horse cart drivers make excellent guides or even just take a bike & get lost & see what you can find.

Internal flights will be about $90 for the Yangon-Bagan stretch & the same back to Yangon. Bagan-Mandalay leg will be roughly about $60, it's high season so you'll be paying high season prices. if you want to save a few dollars on those flights then purchase the tickets through a local agent in Yangon by mailing them beforehand.

If you're into photography are you not considering Inle Lale? The markets there are extremely colourful with the different ethnicities from the surrounding area, as much as I love Mandalay & Bagan I'd seriously consider Inle as a prime destination.

Yangon, Myanmar
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for Myanmar, Yangon (Rangoon)
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2. Re: Seeking tips and advice

Your visit is quite short. If you want to get all major destinations you have to fly. With a through out guide, it will be quite expensive. As for photography, traveling by land is much more interesting rather than flying. So in my opinion you have two option.

1. Hire an experienced freelance guide. Discuss with him and travel with the most convenient way.

2. Hire a taxi with an experience English speaking driver. There are some agency offering chauffeur driven car hire service. Most of those driver has a lot of regional knowledge.

I think it is unnecessary to hire a guide for your purpose. You may not want to know all the historical background. Save the money for hiring a guide and spend that for the taxi. So you have to go all through out by land. Wherever you want you can stop.

There shouldn't be any big problem at the election.

Hope it will help you.

Asia
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3. Re: Seeking tips and advice

Yeah, I was considering Inle Lake as well. With your recommendations, I think I'm going to plan that into my itinerary as well :) Thanks!

A bike and a camera in Bagan sounds like awesome. Bagan is actually my main interest coming to Myanmar. This place looks mystical to me especially with the sunset and sunrise.

Does the following sound reasonable enough? It might change a little depending on what I can find in each places.

Day 1 - Land in Yangon in afternoon, check in, visit Shwe Dagon Pagoda at sunset

Day 2 - Fly to Bagan, overnight stay

Day 3 - Bagan (sunrise, sunset)

Day 4 - Fly to Mandalay

Day 5 - Mandalay (U Bien Bridge)

Day 6 - Fly to Inle Lake

Day 7 - Inle Lake

Day 8 - Fly to Yangon, visit Chinatown, Bogyoke market

Day 9 - Depart for home

My only concern is the accommodation. Prefer to stay in budget single room. With the high season crowd coming in, is it going to be a problem finding one without prior booking? I can only try to book one for my first night but thereafter depends on my flight schedule. Any advice?

Thanks again for your reply!

Asia
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4. Re: Seeking tips and advice

@kkym:

Thanks for your reply!

Frankly I would prefer to travel by land than plane. Two main reasons: cheaper and more to see (well, it depends). My only problem with this is my limited time of stay like you said.

In your opinion, can I cover my itinerary by car? Cause I'm not sure how long it will take to hop from one place to another by land. I would not mind making my way up from Yangon by car and then taking a plane back to Yangon to save time. Any advice?

Doha, Qatar
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5. Re: Seeking tips and advice

I don't think you'll save any money if you're travelling alone, if there's 2 or more of you then you'll certainly save by taking a private car. You've only got 8days, I wouldn't say that the road from Yangon to Bagan is interesting enough for you to sacrifice one of your days touring the temples of Bagan, there's far more photo ops at Bagan than there is on the road that leads there, afterall, that's the main reason for your visit, right?

That itinerary sounds ok, obviously if you take a car from one destination to another you'll have to sacrifice a day of sightseeing at a destination, I wouldn't want to dissuade you from travelling by land but on that timescale I'd say it certainly isn't worth it, 8days isn't long enough to cover the ground you want to cover & do it by car.

You could always cut out a destination & do some travelling by car. Fly to Bagan & then hire a car to take you to Inle Lake, that journey is quite beautiful. Also, as a photographer I'd say another day at Inle Lake wouldn't do you any harm at all, you could chuck a side trip to Pindaya into your itinerary then, the road there is beautiful, farmers in the fields, ox carts everywhere...well worth the trip.

Budget accommodation at both Bagan & Naungshwe(Inle Lake) is easily available & because all the accommodation is very close together you can just wander from one to another if some happen to be full. You can book ahead in Mandalay, the accommodation there is a bit more spread out but it's not totally necessary.

Yangon, Myanmar
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6. Re: Seeking tips and advice

That's right. The visit is too short. Then you are alone. So that it will be more expensive. If you do not intend to extend your visit I do not want to recommend going by car.

Asia
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7. Re: Seeking tips and advice

Thanks both for all your advices/suggestions so far! I must admit they have been really helpful :)

So I have made up my mind: I'm going to fly domestic while I'm there.

Now I am worried about the Visa as I have not applied for it yet. Going to do so next Monday. I just came across the latest update in this forum about the Embassies rejecting individual entries during the election weekend which coincides with my travel period :(

I'm not on any tour and I don't plan to because I like it free and easy. Photography takes time and I would like to be able to do just that. Best I could do is to book my flights via agency.

Do you guys think I should defer my trip till after the election? Would a week after be safe? I'm trying to find the wisest option to go with here. Appreciate your thoughts.

Auckland, New...
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8. Re: Seeking tips and advice

we have made several trips to Myanmar and each time have arranged our itinerary with Ohnmar at Columbus Travels. They arranged our flights, accommodation and guide at each place we chose to visit. Highly recommended.

Ohnmar

Columbus Travels

586 Strand Road

Ianmadaw Township

Yangon

Myanmar

www.travelmyanmar.com

columbus@mptmail.net.mm

Tel: +95 1 229245

Fax: +95 1 22279

Auckland, New...
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9. Re: Seeking tips and advice

The fax number for Columbus Travels was incorrectly typed. It should read

+ 95 1 222790

Asia
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10. Re: Seeking tips and advice

Thanks Mikka for your tip :)

Aside from that, does anyone have any feedback on my previous post? I'm planning to head to the Embassy this coming Monday. So any last thought is much appreciated.