Where to Fly into BurmaFlying to Burma
Myanmar's people love welcoming foreign visitors to the country and bringing them closer to the country's unique history and culture.
Plan a journey to Burma/Myanmar
Myanmar is one of the least frequented South-East Asian nations and has been governed by a political regime for fifty years. Numerous election groups pressed for a touristic blackout of the state until 2010, when democratic leaders Aung San Suu Kyi were eventually freed from home detention and changes were underway.
The road to democratisation is still long, but the recent by-election win of Aung San Suu Kyi has given many peoples hopes for transformation. This is some up-to-date information from our journey to help you in planning your own trips in Burma.
Myanmar or Burma? Almost everyone in the land calls it Myanmar and so did we when we were there. As we write about it on this website, we have decided to use Burma because it is more widely known and out of consideration for the desires of the pro-democracy group.
You' ll need to apply for a 28-day entry permit before arriving in Burma, but that's not hard to get these days. However, you will need to apply for a 28-day one. The cost is 810 BHt and it lasts 48h ( or you can buy a 1250 BHt daily visa). While we have not yet been told that someone has been denied a residence permit, it is best not to include any journalistic work in the work story on the request to work.
From Chiang Mai we went directly to Yangon to avoid a journey to Bangkok, we got an operative in Chiang Mai to get the visas for us. Anyone who wants to discover Burma has to go into the state. As you can traverse the Thai-Burma frontier at Mae Sai, this is only used as a visas, as you can only enter Tachilek, the city on the Burma side of the frontier, and cannot overland.
Usually the connection is from Bangkok to Yangon and the lowest fare is Air Asia. Since we were in Chiang Mai, we took Air Bagan directly from there to Yangon (flights on Thursdays and Sunday at 5.20 pm). There is no need to make an outbound reservation before you get there, but be tolerant if you are planning to make an Air Asia reservation while in Burma - it is possible, but the web is very clam.
As soon as you have your visas and flights to Burma, your next big job is to get your pocketing. They may need to go to multi-bank and change machines to find enough original new invoices. Burmese moneychangers are really tough. Fortunately, we found less picky hotel and tour operators and could use our smeared bill there.
Payment is made in US dollar for the hotel, ferry, flights, train and some entry tickets and everything else in the native language Karat (pronounced chat). You get the best Yangon foreign rates, so you probably want to convert about half of your money into Yangon. However, it is possible to convert the dollar to Kyoto in other parts of the state.
In the past, the formal currency rates were far below the pessimistic rates, so everyone used the pessimistic markets to convert their bucks into Kyats. We received a rates of 805k yat per buck, which is less than the 850 we might have got on the subprime, but we listened to so many tales of poeple getting torn off by the road moneychangers that we went with the sure choice.
Myanmar is more pricey than other Southeast Asian nations, especially for shelter. There is a lack of hotel facilities and the price of tourist services has risen significantly in the last year. Travelers are charged twice the rates for busses and the night from Yangon to Bagan costs 15,000 Kie.
The price of a meal at a roadside stall starts at 500k yat ($0.60) and even in a restaurant we can dine for 1000yat each. However, the night coach from Yangon to Bagan was much better than anticipated, as there is now a new highway for most of the way.
From Bagan to Mandalay by ferry and it was much more pleasant than the rough ride by coach with lots of room to expand. From Mandalay we went to Heho to Inle Lake ($44 each) and from Heho to Yangon ($87 each). Note one thing is that coach terminals and airfields are usually about an hours outside of town ('Yangon, Mandalay and Inle Lake') and cab fares can take about $10 to get into the city ('25 from Heho to Inle Lake'), so let's say you are sharing with other travelers if you can.
There' s a lack of hotel accommodation in Burma, so it's a good idea to make an upfront booking. The majority of them are not on-line, so a phone call is the best way to make a booking. These are some of our recommended hotels: Shelter in Yangon - This was the best guest house we spent the night in, with tidy rooms, nice personnel, free transfer to the airfield and computer with quite quick access to the web.
Its only disadvantage is its position about 30 minutes on foot from the center of Yangon. Though the rooms were sleazier and more dark than in the motherland, this was still a good choice with a really nice host and a good buffet with pancake, fruits, eggs, as well as toasts, coffee/tea.
There was a tranquil and rustic feeling on a channel overlooking the mountain and the neighbors were more likely to be natives in straw-covered cabins than in other hostels. Remark: Power cuts are common all over Burma, especially in Mandalay, so a headlamp is useful. We found the best connections at Motherland 2 in Yangon and Mandalay.
We had WiFi in our Bagan and Mandalay hotel and we saw it in a number of Bagan restuarant. It is important to learn about Burma's recent past before your trip. It is a great glimpse into the lives of tribal peoples, Burma's recent past and the struggles of the government, but from a private point of view.
Emma Larkin's George Orwell in Burma - As the writer travelled through Burma and learned of the Burmese politics, she discovered worrying resemblances to Orwell in 1984. Thant Myint-U - The River of Footstepsby Thant Myint-U - A story of contemporary Burma dealing with the past in order to understand the current state of the state.
Aung San Suu Kyi's Burma Epistles - Short essay on various facets of Burma's civilization, tradition and policy. Justin Wintle's true-to-life portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi, although it goes back to Burma's past, especially to her fathers Aung San's days and the struggle for British sovereignty.
This is a novel inspired by the author's research and the actual experience of Burma's prisoner politicians. Amitav Ghosh's Glass Palace - Another superb novel and an intergenerational storyline that takes place in Burma, India and Malaysia from the time of the invading Britain in Burma to the present day.
Myife as a Shan Princessby Inge Sargent - An interesting real tale of an Australian who got to marry a Shan state Mystery of Burma and became Hsipaw's queen until the 1962 Army Putsch when he was captured and probably murdered.
It' a good idea to travel to Burma and learn more about the land than you would normally do. See our article 35 Random Observations About Burma for pictures, bizarre detail and culture insight. On our Travel Resources page you will find our favorite travel equipment and travel management resources to help you make the most of your time.