- 2011/06/10 - first photos released.. more comming soon, stay tuned..
- 2011/03/09 - back..
- 2011/01/01 - plan of the trip.
- 2010/12/31 - decision was made, tickets were bought.
Burma or Myanmar as the Junta calls the country has been on my wish list long enough to actually realize the journey. Even thought I had 28 days, still it was not enough and its a pity visa overstay was not possible at the time of visit (Feb 2011).
Check out list of articles which I published (mostly in czech language).
- Mandalay - jade market, ancient cities of Sagaing and Mingun
- Amarapura and U Beins's bridge
- Inle Lake
- Delta region - Pathein, Chaung Tha beach
No problem bringing in camera equipment (the lady at arrival did not even have a look at the back side of the form where I declared all the camera equipment), notebook or iphone. Your phone will not work and its very expensive to buy a local SIM card.
Its not possible to use credit card in Burma - this is a fact. Stuck on cash before you come.
Around 700USD spent in 28 days, half of it in local currency kyat, rest in dollars. Bring as new USD notes as possible (series with CB won't be most likely accepted as "there are a lot of fakes with CB"). Do not fold them - they won't be accepted if you try to exchange them, but you might try to pay with them. You get higher exchange rate for 100 USD notes. Its around 850 kyats for 1usd in Yangon (best place I found was Parkview Hotel near Shwedagon Paya), 800 kyats in the rest of the country as of February 2011 - but be warned that the rate fluctuates. You can exchange money without any problems most places, the only area I experienced problems was Pathein and Chaung Tha beach in the Delta region, where exchange rate of 750 kyats was offered. At the end I found that tourist office in the northern part of Chaung Tha beach was willing to change for 800.
As dollar is weak against kyat these days, and its expected to be even weaker, I experienced that even hotels and taxi drivers wanted to get paid in kyat instead of dollars (especially in Mandalay and Hsipaw).
Road from Yangon to Mandalay is OK - and as the final part of highway to Mandalay was finished, expect to arrive earlier than stated in your guide. Mandalay to Hsipaw mostly OK, rest is very bumpy roads and expect delays.. time stated here is what the trip actually took and in parenthesis when did the transportation leave
- taxi Yangon airport -> city center - 6.000K/8USD
- Yangon -> Mandalay - 12.000K, 9h (7pm), taxi to the bus station 6.000K/8USD
- taxi Mandalay bus station -> city center - 5.000K, but note that most bus companies have a truck waiting at the station as "pick-up"
- taxi whole day around Mandalay (Sagaing, Amarapura) - 14.000K
- Mandalay -> Hsipaw - 5.000K, 6h (6am)
- Mandalay -> Bagan - 9.000K, 6h (8am)
- bicycle rent in Bagan - 2.000K for a day, 1.000 if you try hard :)
- Bagan -> Kalaw - 9.000K, 10h (4am). Extremely uncomfortable minibus. Fly instead if you can afford it
- trek Kalaw -> Inle Lake - around 15USD per day, bargain hard, try to share boat from your final destination (most likely Inthein) to Nyaungshwe on Inle Lake (or add 12.000K to the trekking costs)
- boat hire whole day Inle Lake - 11.000K. I don't do it often but when I do I've a reason for that: I highly recommend Smiling Moon tour company in Nyaungshwe, VERY friendly lady owner and you definitely get a lot for your money
- Nyaungshwe (Inle Lake) -> Heho airport - 15.000K
- flight Heho -> Yangon - 90USD, Air Bagan, 1h (9.40am)
- Yangon -> Pathein - 8.000K, 3h (12noon)
- Pathein -> Chaung Tha - 3.000K, 4h, (9am)
- Chaung Tha -> Yangon - 10.000K, 9h, (10am)
SleepingYou pay USD in most hotels but beware that as mentioned earlier - USD against kyat is weak so expect that more and more hotels will want you to pay in kyats. Take it into account and get enough kyats in Yangon, where exchange rate is best.
- Yangon: book ahead, most of guesthouses full several days ahead. Three Seasons Hotel - 25USD, ok, friendly. Okinawa Guest House - 20USD, not friendly at all, last choice
- Mandalay: Royal Guest House - 15USD, ok but often fully booked
- Hsipaw: Charles Guest House - 11.000K/15USD - probably the worse place we stayed in whole Burma, considering the price
- Bagan: Eden Motel - 15USD, nice
- Kalaw: Golden Lily Guest House - 10USD, price ok but very unfriendly stuff (lady), you don't feel right here. was happy to leave next day.
- Inle Lake, Nyaungshwe: Little Inn (Nawng Kham) - 12USD, relaxing
- Chaung Tha beach: Shwe Ya Min (recently called Top Chaung Tha 2 Guesthouse) - 15USD, nice, extremely good food
I used Lonely Planet guide, 10th edition from 2009. Its the first time in 10years of traveling I've experienced that some of the information and particularly maps are totally wrong.
Internet works sometimes and when its working its VERY slow. Forget about running Java applications like your online banking and be happy that after one hour, you manage to send the few emails you need to send. Always ask how is the connection before you start using internet. Some email domains are blocked, sometimes the admin can fix it so you can access it, sometimes not. Gmail seems to be warking all the time.