need help planning myanmar/burma trip

Discussion in 'Asia' started by estnet, Mar 28, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. estnet
    Original Member

    estnet Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,749
    Likes Received:
    2,117
    Status Points:
    1,270
    my usual sources for booking hotels are giving me odd results. does anyone have recent good sources for independent (book my own hotels then arrange flights once im there-if this is possible), reliable sources for day tours?
    the references I've tried havent responded to my emails. TIA
     
  2. TheBeerHunter
    Original Member

    TheBeerHunter Silver Member

    Messages:
    834
    Likes Received:
    1,398
    Status Points:
    845
    What sort of help are you looking for, specifically? I've been twice, though the last time was in 2008. Man do I want to go back again soon -- hopefully next year.

    My recs would be a bit dated, and I know things are changing quickly over there.

    Thorntree was really useful to me on the first go round. We did the typical junket of Yangon - Inle Lake - Bagan - Mandalay that time. Here is a link to the thread of our recs from our first trip -- just realize this is old info...

    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1387708&

    Our second trip was very different, as we'd kept in touch with the driver/guide we met in Mandalay (actually are still in touch with him now -- he's no longer a guide full time but we're good friends :)) so we basically hired him for the whole trip driving around Mandalay, Pyin U Lwin, Hsipaw, etc. then after returning to Yangon we hired a driver to bring us out to Chang Tha beach where we chilled for the last several days. Absolutely amazing country, totally gorgeous open friendly warm amazingly hospitable people. Brilliant sights. Don't count on having a culinary experience, though (however, tea leaf salad is not to be missed).

    We booked internal flights using Radiant Tours in Yangon both times. Emailed them ahead of time, told them what we wanted to do. They did a deposit via credit card (able to skirt sanctions via a third country processor in Singapore or something), I think, and then had a young fellow waiting for us at Yangon airport when we landed with our tickets/etc. Radiant was recommended on Thorntree.

    But...again...some more info would be useful...and my comments probably aren't since my experience is so long ago.

    Our first trip we did what you're asking -- we arranged our flights ahead of time (schedules were sketchy then, you might not need to do that today) -- and then, in each city, arranged a guide or driver. We just happened to luck out with meeting the most awesome guide of all in Mandalay.

    But, I am jealous! You will LOVE Burma!
     
  3. estnet
    Original Member

    estnet Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,749
    Likes Received:
    2,117
    Status Points:
    1,270
    thank you so much. so here's my problem, usually I would just go, maybe book the first few nights and arrange things when I got there. I usually take local transport and maybe book a tour - my guess is that that's not so easy there. A travel agency that came highly recommended and that has a fairly excellent website hasn't responded to my inquiries in over a week.

    In the last few months things seem to have changed dramatically - hotels I could easily book for early May are now unbookable (full) or doubled or tripled in price (to totally unreasonable levels). I don't know if I'd be okay doing what I usually do b/c of the lack of infrastructure and I don't really know if there are places I'm be able to find once I'm there (like basic but clean and with western toilets).
    My attempts to book flights have been pretty unsuccessful and I was advised by some people I met in Bangkok that it was no problem to do it once I was there - but that was before it seems to have become so popular and I'm a little worried that in a week or two of time there all the flights will be booked.

    So... any recent experiences with things like - am I likely to be able to find reasonable places to stay without booking ahead of time, specific places/travel agencies or names of reliable guide(s), any recent experiences about arranging flights for the usual places once I arrive (or a way to do it before).

    Is your friend/guide still available for limited times and if so please pm me. I'm a single female traveling alone so having a reliable reference for such a guide would be great (since spending a day alone in a car with an unknown male in a country where I don't know the language and don't trust the "government" or legal system is just a little scary).
     
    TheBeerHunter likes this.
  4. TheBeerHunter
    Original Member

    TheBeerHunter Silver Member

    Messages:
    834
    Likes Received:
    1,398
    Status Points:
    845
    I'd suggest you read up on Thorntree for recent reports and even post there for suggestions. Folks over there are generally really helpful.

    Hotels that cater to tourists are going to have western toilets etc. unless you're talking about the $2 night places way off the beaten track. Don't be concerned about that. :)

    When I was there, booking travel once you were there was really no problem. There are tons of travel agents and guides everywhere; I can only imagine there are even more now. You can rely on guest house/hotel recommendations if you're wary of just picking one off the street. Sometimes they might charge a bit of a mark-up but friendly haggling is an art there, and you can usually talk them down.

    It's true, that you don't need to pre-book air. But again, if you feel better doing it ahead of time (this is what we did our first trip) contact a travel agent in country to do it for you. Ditto for hotels for all or part of your trip -- we did this too. Our first trip we basically had our full schedule pre-planned and booked before we got there, all arranged via Radiant Tours (http://www.radianttours.com/, and they seemed to be well regarded - recommended at LP, at least at the time). Our second trip, we used Radiant to book our first night hotel in Yangon and air to Mandalay the next day, and later in our trip when we decided to go to Chang Tha.

    This particular thread on LP seems to indicate that hotels are charging higher rates even though they're not full, so to shop around: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2178201

    My friend no longer does tours, but I'll PM you his info because he may very well have a recommendation for you.
     
    estnet likes this.
  5. georgerobinson

    georgerobinson New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status Points:
    10
    Well, your discussion really brings the idea of establishing this kind of forums and how it can be useful.
     
  6. Flying Bat

    Flying Bat Silver Member

    Messages:
    389
    Likes Received:
    713
    Status Points:
    575
    I hit Rangon earlier this year, please be aware of the cumbersome process for Visa and in my experience accommodation was a nightmare, I hadn't pre booked and everyone and his dog in the business world was ( and probably still is ) beating a path there.

    I would be careful about advice suggesting not having pre bookings. The dilemma is that they are really hard to make because it isn't like the way of the Western world.
     
  7. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,384
    Likes Received:
    2,797
    Status Points:
    1,445
    Have you been yet?

    I guarantee you that finding tours and travel agencies in Myanmar will not be difficult. We spent two weeks there in August and had several business cards before we left the arrivals terminal. We met 5 to 10 people a day (on the street, in internet cafes) who were touting tours, and the tourist areas of Yangon have plenty of storefront agencies. There is a regular "route" through Myanmar (Yangon-Mandalay-Bagan-Inle-Yangon) and all hotel staff will know the times of buses and trains.

    In each city or area of touristic interest, there are plenty of people who will take you around for the day by cab, horse-drawn card, pedi cab, or boat. You will not need to look for them, they will find you. There are more-or-less standard circuits in each of these places but the drivers always established with us at the outset which places we wanted to visit, and in which order.

    We did not use a tour company to get around the country (just bought bus and train tickets), but did use a cab to sight-see around the Mandalay area, a boat at Inle Lake, and horse-drawn wagons at Bagan and Ava.
     
  8. estnet
    Original Member

    estnet Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,749
    Likes Received:
    2,117
    Status Points:
    1,270
    No I went to Laos in March and it was just too hot and many people from Myanmar told me it is better to go when it is cooler - so maybe in the winter.
    I am not concerned about finding tours but rather about the extreme rise of cost of lodgings of questionable quality and high cost without the ability to easily change locations as FB describes.

     
  9. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,384
    Likes Received:
    2,797
    Status Points:
    1,445
    We were in Yangon, Mandalay, Inle, and Bagan. We found primarily that prices were up in Yangon where there has not been much increase in supply. Also for the first four or five places listed for each city in the Lonely Planet. In Mandalay, Bagan, and Inle new places are opening and we never had trouble finding good quality rooms for $20-$30 a double even when our first choice was full. Each hotel will help you call ahead to the next city to book, although we just wound up driving around with a cab until we found a place.
     
    Wandering Aramean likes this.

Share This Page