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Myanmar - our experience with money & flights, March 2014

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Myanmar - our experience with money & flights, March 2014

I spend many hours researching destinations before we travel and always find much useful information on this website, so I thought I'd return the favour (especially since The Lonely Planet on Myanmar is so out of date :) )

We were in Myanmar in March 2014, and this is our experience of the practicalities of travelling there:

Money:

At least half a dozen banks and working ATMs in Yangon airport, which exchange just under 1000 kyat for 1 US$. Many more banks in town.

Two banks of which 1 with working ATM in Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake).

Didn't look for banks or ATMs in Ngaun U (Bagan) but there are bound to be some and there are also some at the airport. Doubt there are any in Bagan itself but Ngaung U is close enough.

For Ngapali, I would advise to bring US$, I don't recall seeing a bank around there but then again I didn't really needed to look for one either. Hotels will change money for you, though.

The exchange rate seemed very similar everywhere (though we didn't go up north), just under 1000kyat for a US$.

Taxis, travel agents, airline companies and hotels accept both kyat and dollars, though for food stalls you need kyat.

400 kyat for a cup of tea in Yangon, 1000 to 1500 kyat everywhere for a simple salad or stir fried cauliflower-with-egg (not nice, btw, but hey), rising to several thousand kyat for a more elaborate curry or fish dish in Ngapali. 1000 kyat or so for fresh fruit juice. You can eat plenty with two people for 20 US$.

Can't remember how much a beer was but nothing extravagant.

Taxis:

Bright white air conditioned Toyota's everywhere, especially in Yangon. Not many old bangers around apart from the public busses, and roads are new or in the process of being constructed.

Yangon taxi to downtown cost 8US$, going back was 10US$. Good roads, took about 30-40 mins to get downtown.

Ngaung Shwe taxi from airport to town costs about 25US$, 30US$ for a little van. That journey takes about an hour.

The Ngaung U airport for Bagan is close to Ngaung U town which is in turn close to Old and New Bagan. Outside the airport there seems to be some sort of allocation system going on: someone with a clipboard writes down your destination and allocates a driver. 5US$ to our hotel in Old Bagan, though 7US$ going back but that was via the travel agent where we booked our flights.

Taxi drivers are not (yet) as rude as in other large cities, sometimes they try and overcharge but it's not as bad as in Bangkok, for example. In Bagan they're friendly as they want to take tourists for whole day trips around the plains.

Flights:

The only thing in Myanmar that's cheap. Modern planes, only 1 plane out of half a dozen with old cracked seats. Staff are very friendly.

You need to be at the airport at least an hour before the flight for some reason.

Very informal approach everywhere: check-in staff give you a sticker for on your shirt which tells those staff manning the gates which plane you need to be on. Couldn't book flights online for the second week but had no problem booking via agents and hotels once in Myanmar.

Also, went back to Yangon airport to fly onto Bangkok but didn't have the right tickets yet. Went through security, knocked on an ordinary office door and booked tickets there and then for a flight that left half an hour later, paying just 226US$ for the two of us. Easyjet would have charged a fortune... :)

Ask your hotel to confirm your flights. One of ours changed to an hour earlier. Well, not quite: we had booked with Yangon or Mandalay Air but were put on a KBZ one that left earlier. Can you imagine Ryanair taking on Easyjet customers? :)

Usually flights are a little cheaper through hotels or travel agents, say 10 dollars per person or so though it varies.

Hotels:

Scandalously overpriced. Loads being built everywhere so the situation should improve. Ngapali beach should remain uncrowded, though, as there's not much space left to build (immediately behind the beach the ground rises steeply).

Traders Hotel in Yangon is fab and worth its money.

We'll definitely not return to Viewpoint in Ngaun Shwe, it's very noisy there. Breakfast is no good, either, and it's not all that clean.

Bagan River View in Old Bagan has hygiene issues in its rooms and is generally old fashioned and run down (poolside loungers look disgusting), but it has a great garden with view over the river and with temples in it (!) Breakfast is alright.

Bayview in Ngapali has the best part of the beach, with plenty of loungers. Breakfast is alright but wouldn't recommend it for other meals. Very personalised service, manager talks to his guests every morning. Mostly 40+ aged guests which we like (quiet and decent table manners ;) ).

Staff everywhere in Burma are very friendly and helpful.

Hope this information helps other travellers :)

Warks.England
Destination Expert
for Myanmar, Yangon (Rangoon), Ngapali, Tossa de Mar
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1. Re: Myanmar - our experience with money & flights, March 2014

Excellent utd information,just what is needed,many thanks.

If you do get the time perhaps you could add your hotel comments to the review section in the top toolbar

SS

UK
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2. Re: Myanmar - our experience with money & flights, March 2014

Will do, Silverswimmer, thanks :)

Nova Scotia
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for Nova Scotia
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3. Re: Myanmar - our experience with money & flights, March 2014

What super information - just the kind of thing I need to know. Thank you so much.

Whidbey Island, WA
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4. Re: Myanmar - our experience with money & flights, March 2014

Thanks for your UTD info. We're planning a trip for late 2015 and your information will be helpful. ATMs, flights, and hotels are always a concern in places we've never traveled to previously. Hopefully we'll arrive before the prices are raised so much that we can no longer afford to go!

5. Re: Myanmar - our experience with money & flights, March 2014

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