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Independent Travel versus using Local Agents?

Okemos, Michigan
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14 posts
29 reviews
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Independent Travel versus using Local Agents?

We are going to Myanmar from July 3 to 16, 2013 and don't understand why everyone seems to think you need to use local agents to organize everything. We can see that we can reserve hotels online using Agoda. The Lonely Planet guide book suggests that your hotel can help you book a flight from Bagan to Heho once you get there. When we were in Cambodia and Laos last year in July, it was easy to book guides and transportation on the spot. Is Myanmar different?

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Bagan
Bagan
Mandalay Region, Myanmar
Laos
Laos
Asia
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Blue Bird Hotel
Blue Bird Hotel
#1 of 52 hotels in Bagan
Kurashiki, Japan
Destination Expert
for Kurashiki, Cambodia, Myanmar
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16,118 posts
92 reviews
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1. Re: Independent Travel versus using Local Agents?

Yes, it is very different. It is very simple to just head to Laos &/or Cambodia without advance bookings, Myanmar is a little more complicated due to the lack of tourist infrastructure and recent popularity of the place. You will also find hotels, even dumpy guesthouses, double the cost of Cambodia/Laos due to the threefold increase in tourism over the past 2 years.

Re: guides

If you peruse these forums, you will see there are a lot of folks who have been quite dissatisfied with guides, while others have gone on to recommend others highly. If you book with Agoda or any online booking agency, you have to pay in advance. And more often than not, a local agency has contracts with many of the hotels and thus can get bettter rates than such online booking sites. Flights are a different story, those are generally pretty easy to book once you arrive EXCEPT for during high/peak travel seasons. Buses are very easy to book, even during peak season.

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Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: Independent Travel versus using Local Agents?

Maneki, you said it's easy to book flights except in high season. Just wondering if it would be difficult in late October to book flights for our trip when we arrive. Will be staying 3 weeks and need a few flights during our stay. I have decided to book what hotels I can on Agoda as the hype about how hard it is to get accommodation was making me anxious. I did check with a few agents but found their quotes very expensive. Now I just need to organise internal flights. Anyone got any suggestions?

Kurashiki, Japan
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for Kurashiki, Cambodia, Myanmar
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3. Re: Independent Travel versus using Local Agents?

No, I said it would be difficult to get flights during high /peak season once you arrive. If you have an agent book a few months in advance for high/peak season (Nov.~Feb.) then you will have no problem at all.

October wil be the low end of high season, you shouldn't have any problems even getting hotels on arrival. I was in Myanmar for 23 days in December~January and at half the destinations I visited I had no prior hotel reservations. Definitely reserve rooms at least for Bagan, that place is totally swamped with tourists these days...

Agents' quotes expensive? Really? They're usually cheaper than the online booking site rates. Ask around a bit, they all offer different prices, some of course better than others...

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Bagan
Bagan
Mandalay Region, Myanmar
Sydney, Australia
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13 posts
4 reviews
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4. Re: Independent Travel versus using Local Agents?

Thanks for your comments. The voice of reason over hype.

Warks.England
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for Myanmar, Yangon (Rangoon), Ngapali, Tossa de Mar
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16,711 posts
386 reviews
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5. Re: Independent Travel versus using Local Agents?

And if you have not picked this up from Top Questions,toolbar right,you may find it useful

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g294190-i9408-k5…

Leicester
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455 posts
11 reviews
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6. Re: Independent Travel versus using Local Agents?

Unless Lonely Planet becomes a monthly issue most information will be quickly out of date. I used them in the 90's but there's far more up to date info to be had on sites like this one.

Glendale, California
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125 posts
84 reviews
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7. Re: Independent Travel versus using Local Agents?

We only used a local travel agent for internal flights and I'm very happy with how our trip worked out. We used Agoda and Asiatravel for our hotels and I hired all guides directly based on reviews and recommendations here. Based on quotes received from local agents, we usually did better through Agoda especially on the higher end hotels. As an example, we paid $289/night at the Governor's Residence in Yangon through Agoda but were quoted $570 a night by a local agent who is well respected here on TA.

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Yangon (Rangoon)
Yangon (Rangoon)
Yangon Region, Myanmar
Okemos, Michigan
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14 posts
29 reviews
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8. Re: Independent Travel versus using Local Agents?

Dear Elynchking,

Thanks for your reply. I have a couple of questions: Did you arrange the internal flights with the local agents from the US or once you got there? Did you book the guides before traveling to Myanmar? Thanks again.

Margaret

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Glendale, California
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125 posts
84 reviews
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9. Re: Independent Travel versus using Local Agents?

Yes I did it all prior to arriving.

Macksville...
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10. Re: Independent Travel versus using Local Agents?

Hi would like to travel to Myanmar in mid September to October 2013 with my travel buddy we are married ladies in our early 50's

Both of us have travelled Asia extensively & prefer to use local agents could anyone send me a few recommendations please so I can start the pricing game we will be going to Laos as well & only have 2.5 weeks to travel

Thanks

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