Burma Travel GuideMyanmar travel guide
Guidebook for beginners in Burma
In 2011, ONLY 22,000 Americans were visiting Burma (also known as Myanmar), and much of the land was still taboo. Surprisingly, it was so simple to travel separately in February 2012 for the months I was there. Myanmar has backpacking similar to what you see in Southeast Asia.
That means that you must give your guide enough free rein to get the permissions before you get to Yangon. It increases the difficulties in relation to the need for planing and insecurity - and vice versa in relation to how many strange faces you will see. Burma is a cash-based country, which means there are no ATM machines.
Except for some of Yangon's top class resorts, no shops, accommodation or restaurant accepts payment by bank card. Currently, Burma is issuing a 90-day tourism visa that allows a 28-day residence limit. There are minibuses, the occasionally run-down collective cab, train services between some towns and some of the 30-year-old Toyota's own vehicles with death-suspensions.
Boating is the best way to get to towns in the west of Burma and the areas just off Mandalay and Myitkyina. When you begin to make your travel plan, ask your guide or travel agent for the latest information. Leader: The adventurous travel is so new in Burma that it can be hard to find a guide who is willing and able to organize an individual itinerary.
The guide I' ve heard about at Lonely Planet Myanmar is known as the best: While you can buy $20 incremental locally available mobile phone numbers for use in the UK, mobile phone penetration is scarce outside the city. E-mail works best to reach someone in Burma when you are outside the county, although it is not 100% dependable.
Saw is often in places without access to the web. from Yangon to Mandalay to Inle Lake to Bagan to Ngapali Beach and back to Yangon: Mandalay: A bustling, 1 million+ smooggy town, with the Burma's last king's residence, convents in shaded alleys and the country's biggest day-to-day jet grocery store, crowded with Myanmar salespeople and China hucklebon.
lnle lake: Tip: Booking your own personal boat for 7am to stay one step ahead of the crowd. Bagan: For good reasons Bagan is Burma's best-known and most frequented tourist destination. Covering 40 km2 of Burma's warm, arid plains, its thousand sanctuaries - some made of bricks, others of sparkling golden in the uninterrupted heat of the year.
When I left Yangon, I stayed a whole weekend on this track and could have jumped over Mandalay. Do Bagan -> Mandalay by ferry if you have the necessary amount of free day trips up the Ayeyarwady during the high seasons of November-March (once a weekly thereafter). Inle' s Shores, on the beach of Ngapali, along the Ayeyarwady in Old Bagan - the most beautiful places are filling up fast.
Motorised Inle Lake longboats: $20-$35/day, according to itineraries. Bicycles Bagan: $5/day. $20 per bagan cart per night. In Bagan -> Mandalay by boat: $35. Coming from Kalaw via Inle & Bagan to Mindat to Kanpetlet and back to Bagan: You can hike one of the Pa-O tribes from Kalaw or hike four nights to Inle Lake and sleep in the houses and cloisters.
It is a rolling landscape and a native guide is indispensable to follow the paths. The vines around Kalaw and Inle are producing great wines. Visiting the Chin State Tattoo Tribal and climbing Mt. Victoria at 10,000 feet from Bagan. Time: 2-4 working day for each round. No one in Kalaw. The Chin State tour requires a license and a guide.
You must submit your application to an Yangon based travel agent or guide before arrival. It is an hours drive by road from Heho airport (which operates flights to and from Inle ), or an hours drive on foot to the motorway for a half-drive.
You can also use your own vehicle in Chin State, so you can go to see your own house and join a party on the way (which takes place from January to March). There are many possibilities in all prices. Wonderful Dream Villa Hotel (Zatila Street) for its wooden panelling, bathroom, tasty breakfasts and friendly staff: $38/night.
Each Kalaw Inn can link you to a hiking guide: Chin State Travel costs $600+/- for two persons, inclusive vehicle, guide, driver, permits and accommodation, all pre-pay. Chindwin River runs from Kachin State in the north of Burma through the Tagaing area until it reaches Mount Mandalay's southern Ayeyarwady.
In contrast to the giant Ayeyarwady, the Chindwin is so small that you can observe live on both shores with ease from the sands. If you go upstream, you can jump on board expedited ships like onboard busses. You can go shopping in the market, buy home-grown miners' jades, enjoy a smoked cheroyt in the tea shops on the riverbank and have crunchy donuts for breakfasts.
Period: 10-14 working nights. Take two wards to get a visa after you apply in Yangon or through your guide before you get there. Whilst a guide is not needed until Homalin, I suggest one, as the local cops are not used to aliens and can deny residence despite your permissions. In order to maximise the headwaters of the Chindwin, you can go to Kalewa with your guide or by bus: 12h.
Or if you have four additional nights, take your cruise directly from Monywa. Freaky quick collective taxi drivers also run Monywa-Kalewa, but use is subject to authorisation. Accommodation in Lahe and a few nights on walking in the neighbouring Naga-Dörfer. Mandalay or Homalin take off several times a day a week, from where you can take another one.
The first publication of this guide was on 16 April 2012.