Planning a Trip to BurmaPlan a trip to Burma
Myanmar Travel Planing Group | How to plan your journey
What are your plans for your journey to Burma? One can' t just drive across land into the countryside, you can't just collect a visas on your way to the airfield, you need all your cash in crunchy, non-marked US$ and you have to reserve your accomodation in time.
The itinerary in Burma is in full swing! Myanmar or Burma? It is a complicated subject; Burma was the name that the UK colonizers formally used for the nation in the nineteenth century and Burma was the name that the present oppressive regime adopted in 1989 without even consultation with the Myanmar population.
When we were in the Philippines, we used the name "Myanmar" and before we entered the Philippines we had to get our visas from the "Embassy of the Republic of Myanmar", which is the legal name recognized by the United Nations. You' ll find that various government and organizations use every name, for example, while the United Nations recognizes the name Myanmar, many English-speaking nations still call the state Burma (Barack Obama used both during a recent visit).
There are even differences of opinion between organizations like Amnesty International (which use the name Myanmar) and Human Rights Watch (which use Burma). We have chosen to put Burma on our blogs in order to help the pro-democracy faction and its president Aung San Suu Kyi. They need a permit before they get to Burma, we found this procedure pretty simple and were actually a little fortunate with our time.
Our Burma visa was requested in Bangkok at the Myanmar Mission (132 Sathorn Nua Road), which is actually between Silom Road and Sathorn Nua Road; the closest BTS station is Surasak. A six-month valid travel document from the date of arrival in Burma with a copy of the photograph page (there is a portable photocopier directly in front of the embassy).
They need an Burmese adress to fill in the registration sheet; we used our Yangon hotels. We received alternate money - a same-day visas cost 1,260B (£23.50), a next-day visas cost 1,035B (£19) and a two-day visas cost 830B (£15.50) - these prizes are accurate from February 2014.
It may also be necessary to provide evidence of flight connections to and from Burma. While there are many ATM machines in Burma's major towns, it is still important to take many well-conditioned US dollar with you when you visit Burma, as it is a widely used commodity. There was a tendency to spend the hotel in dollar and convert cash into domestic currencies to use for meals and travelling.
While we could swap our Myanmar Kyatt bucks at bank (though not on weekends) and hotel, we got the best currency exchanges in the bank, especially when we swap $100 or more at once. Research revealed that we were only allowed to go to Burma, not over land, so we reserved AirAsia flight returns from Bangkok to Yangon for £104.
Since then we have been told that long-distance trips to Burma are now possible; check when you are planning your journey as the regulations seem to be changing. If you do not wish to make reservations for internal flight in advanced, you can arrange all your transportation during your stay in Burma. With only three week left to discover the land, we divided our stay into the most important touristic areas: Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Lake Inle, with one night in Kalaw.
From town to town we took busses to take a cab from Calaw to Inle Lake. A luxuriously equipped luxury coach with its own TV screen and films from Yangon to Mandalay was the best trip. Neither was horrible and the fares varied from $11 (£6.60) to $22 (£13.20) per passenger and the rides took between two (Kalaw to Lake Inle) and 12-hour ('Lake Inle to Yangon').
We were all taken via the lodging establishment - we were collected and collected from all our accommodation except Yangon, where we had to take a cab to/from the coach terminal about an hours outside the town ('6). In some places you could also take the rail, but we chose not to do so after we found out how rough and costly it is.
Burma's rates are high; we knew that before we chose to leave and were ready for it. With Burma's newest travel sector, there are not enough hostels to cover the number of visitors in the high seasons, which raises rates due to the absence of competitive pricing; they also have to afford an expensely priced travel license, which drives up the costs of guests' rooms.
Three of our five pre-arrival hotel reservations in Burma were between $25 (£15) and $35 (£21) per room per day, including breakfasts. It was quite calm when we went to Burma in February and March, and with the exceptions of Yangon, I think we could have found shelter like we did in Bagan and Kalaw.
Here is a listing of our accommodations for Burma: Yangon: Mandalay: Fortune Hôtel - $30 (£18), shabby twin room, friendly personnel, A/C, breakfasts, kettles. Bagan: Seinet Hotels - $25 (£15) - Twin room, friendly personnel, medium breakfasts. Inle Lake (Nyaungshwe): The Princess Garden is a $35 (£21) Princess Garden Resort, twin room, friendly personnel, great breakfasts, free shakes in the afternoons, swimming pools (see picture), fantastic one-eyed tan hound, our favorite Burmese resort.
We will soon be writing more detailled information about what we saw in Burma, but here is a brief look at our sight-seeing list: Bagan: Temple, temple and other temple from dawn to dusk! These are a few points to consider when planning your journey to Burma: Most of the local population was very kind and inviting, and that was our favorite pastime in Myanmar.
Except in Bagan and Lake Inle, good meals were scarce, there is a great deal of India and Shan foods and a great deal of (surprise!) travel. If you enter Bagan and the Lake Inle area, you will have to cover an entrance charge of $15 (£9) and $10 (£6) respectively, which will cover the costs of each area.
It seemed worthwhile for the number of monasteries we saw in Bagan, but we didn't really get our money's worth for Lake Inle. You ever been to Burma?