Trip in MyanmarTravel in Myanmar
2 weeks Myanmar trip: Newcomer' Guidebook
When we returned to Myanmar for the second year in a row, we were excited to see how much has happened since 2014. In those days, inter-city transportation information was hard to find on-line, hoteliers were not used to dealing with overseas, and foreigners' IM tickets were an absolute problem when buying - of course, Wi-Fi was scarce and even rarer when it worked.
Those facts made the land a little provocative and yet satisfying (when we finally got to our goals :P). Quickly forward to our last trip, new West coast lodgings have emerged in the big towns, desk clerks are able to provide proper language and are well prepared to respond to FAQs, coach passes were easy to buy (most of the time), and SIM dates are now readily available.
Since Myanmar opened its gates to the tourist industry a few years ago, it has gradually become a much sought-after tourist attraction for its scenic landscape without being encircled by tourist flows. Here is our Myanmar route with all the important sights, the best interurban coaches and some practical itineraries.
As we were approaching and asked the chauffeur, he cited the amount proposed by the hospital. This is a stark difference to our last trip! In Yangon, we were quite astonished that the taxi riders did not push up the price like in other South East Asiatic states.
On the recommendation of the Coffee Circles personnel, we stop for lunch at Coffee Circles - a stylish café with Burma shark foods, great Maccha latte and Wi-Fi, making it a favourite meeting place for nomadic people. They have proven to be very useful throughout our journey (even for the boys) as they can be very severe up to the knee.
Arriving at Shwedagon around 5pm, as we were told, it is best seen at sundown, but the best part is probably the passage from sun to city. Companion your dinner here with a glass of Myanmar ale! At only K1,000 (US$1), this locomotive takes you around Yangon and into the neighboring country, where you can interoperate with the local people or simply observe the otherworld.
Tip: Drive between 10:00 and 16:00 to prevent the masses of people. Known as the Sakura Tower or Hitachi buildings, this roof top lounge provides a really amazing panorama of the Yangon ski line - you can even see the distinctive Shwedagon Pagoda in the faraway. To get around Yangon:
Mostly we took the cab, which costs between K2.000 - 5.000 inside the town. Kinpun: Take the 8:30 a. m. coach to Kinpun Town ((3 hours drive) for K16,000. From Yangon we reached the town of Kinpun after a 3-hour coach-trip. This is the only way to get to the mountain, so be ready for the 30-minute long uneven drive!
The standard ticket costs K2,500 and the front seat K3,000 (which will be 2 places and sell out quickly). Even though a full excursion to the rocks is possible, we suggest spending a nice evening in the mountains if you want to experience the sundown. Your last lorry departs at 6pm, so you probably won't get one or the other without spending the evening.
Mountaineer Top Hotel, Kyaik Hto Hotel and Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse. The Mountain Top Hotel is farthest away from the Gold Cliff, but looks best and is usually fully reserved - please book in advance! Overnight at the Kyaik Hto Hotel, which was located between the two and had a very beautiful viewpoint.
At the A1 we ate in front of the guesthouse, which was not too expensive as it was the only one. US$65-85/night for 2 persons incl. breakfasts. We' dined in the motel, took the lorry and took the 11:30am coach to Bago, which lasted 3 - 4h.
It is a small town that can be discovered in one single workday. They can buy coach fares, hire a bike (K2,000) or motorcycle (K10,000) for the entire days and leave their packs behind. At 8 pm we took a night coach that departed and reached us around 4 am (K15,000). Myanmar's hiking terrain is really nice and a disgrace if you enjoy it!
Following an unforgettable stay with a family in Hsipaw, we have chosen another 2D1N tour from Kalaw - Inle. Alternatively, if you would rather jump over a room reservation, there is a 24-hour café near the Yar Zar treasury office, where you can order and take off your breakfasts and even pick up the monk early bird gathering around 5am - waiting in line for lunch donations.
6 hrs trek through evergreen rolling countryside, we reached the town, saturated with rain during our last 1 h of the trip - impregnating your pocket and your belongings would be indispensable (i.e. keep your cash in a zip lock bag)! K32,000/pax for 2D1N/ K40,000/pax for 3D2N (includes a tour leader, all food, the host family and transportation for your home pockets to Inle, as well as the Inle Lake cruise*).
Exceptions are the entrance card to Inle (K12.500), which is payable on your check-in. Per Tip: Inle passes are available for one weekend, so you can either buy them or give them to a visitor in other towns who will be travelling to Inle next. The price includes a cruise from the south part of Lac Inle to Nyaungshwe, where the pensions, lodges and hotel are located.
However, if you want to make box stop at other places such as the diving litter box, the swimming pool or for the sundown, a small supplement is due - we have 5 K1.000/Pax pay. Maybe the climax of the whole trip was the observation of the fisherman at the lake.
They' have a rather interesting way of steer the kayak with one foot around the paddles while they balance their giant fishnets and do the work deftly. It' also a good season to capture the sundown before it goes back. Supper at Lin Htett - a typical Burma food place - was one of our most popular Myanmar dishes.
It was a really neat place and the meal came very quickly. Arrival in Mandalay - Inle: At 4:30 a.m. we left our suitcases at the Four Rivers B&B Hostal, hired motorcycles for K12.000 and went directly to the U-Bien Brigde in Amarapura - the longest teen akrige of the world (30 min by motorcycle).
We' ve been told by other travelers that the deck can get quite full during sundown, so dawn was a great one. Opposite the Irrawaddy at Amarapura lies the town of Sagaing - another old town where you can see gold coupons on the hills. Drive 45 min northerly of Sagaing and you will reach the fourth old town of Mingun.
Walk barefooted to the summit and take a look at the Irrawaddy rivier. The Mandalay Hill summit is another great place to capture sunrises (or sunsets). A 30-minutes ascent will take you to the Sutaungpyei (pagoda of your choice), where you can also enjoy a panorama of Mandalay.
In this fortified fortress, enclosed by a ditch, is the imposing Mandalay Palace. It' s a rather strange mix of a funny and coincidental traditional dancing performance by his woman, girlfriend and granddaughter, and the actors seem a bit weary, but it's probably definitely a good idea to stop by when you're in Mandalay anyway.
The cards cost 10,000 K. Travelling in Mandalay: Mandalay - Bagan: Usually the type gets on the coach to pick up money and hand out your ticket while you're coming to Bagan. At about 5:30 pm you will see the larger rafters filled with crowds awaiting the sundown. bagan-yangon: After that we took the 20:00 o'clock V.I.P. back to Yangon, which was one of the weirdest busses we were sleeping in during the trip.
Aung Mingelar coach arrives at Yangon Aung Mingelar train terminal at about 5:30am. Even though Myanmar is much more slow, these 2 week seemed to be over! Usefull hints for traveling in Myanmar: Singaporeans can travel to Myanmar for up to 30 nights without a Singaporean passport from December 1, 2016!
Also in large towns like Yangon and Mandalay cash machines are used more and more - they accept Visa and Mastercard and charge a transactional charge of K5,000 (US$5). Two years ago I recall that we had to find the coach terminal to buy the train passes and had many difficulties to communicate where we wanted to go and what kind of coach we had.
As the places we were now used to welcoming overseas visitors, they reserved the places and issued us passes at the hostel/hotel counter. There is indeed a new Myanmar start-up, Starticket, which has established an on-line ticket buying website. While the price of a ticket can sometimes be lower when booking from the Youth hostel, the on-line site is a good place to look it up.