What a fantastic country this is. We travelled with Bamboo Travel who used Asian Trails and we were extremely well looked after.
I would like to pass on a few things that stand out in my mind.
Airports and flying around Burma. What a pleasure! This from someone who hates airports. Security and staff are extremely pleasant and helpful. Except at Yangon none of the other airports weighed our luggage. The simple procedure of wearing a coloured sticker depending on the airline you travel with and then waiting for the man to hold up his board with the departing flight number on works really well. We had 3 flight delays in total. Each delay was 2 hours and due to fog in Yangon. We expected it to happen so was very patient but was really surprised when in Mandalay the staff bought out trays of coffee for waiting passengers. Now where else would you get such service!! It seems expected that when someone helps you with your luggage on arrival and departures they will want paying. Its only 500 - 1000 Kyats depending on what change you have. You may be perfectly capable to wheel your own luggage in a small airport but remember its very little and your giving someone a living.
Kyats and Dollars. We understood before we went that when eating in hotels the bill would be in Dollars and in local restaurants in Kyats. This was not so In our experience. Every hotel - we stayed in hotels such as The Red Canal and The Amazing Ngapali Beach Resort - food was in Kyats and services such as laundry and Spa treatments were in dollars. Therefore I would say get more Kyats than you think and then if need be you can always change them back on your return to Yangon. Just a word of warning here. I would not rely on doing it at the airport I would play safe and change in Yangon because if the airport exchange is closed you are in trouble.
Clothing and what to wear. Nearly everyone we saw dressed conservatively but I was horrified at the fishing village in Ngapali to see a few Europeans walking among the working fishing people in the most skimpiest swimwear. I can tell you that the locals did mind judging by the shaking of heads and raised eyebrows. It really did not look nice so please be respectful.
Malaria tablets. Do you /don't you. After much worrying I did and was glad I had. With the best effort in the world covering up and using 50% Deet I still managed to get bitten and continued to until I changed to 100% Deet. They obviously like me.
Some of the best bits:
Yangon: Shwedagon at sunset and people watching. The colourful street life of The Indian and Chinese Quarter.
Bagan: Hiring a bike. Coming across a Novice Monk Ceremony and being the only tourists there then invited to stay for dinner.
Mandalay: A whole day of cram packed sight seeing in and around the city.
Inle: Arriving before 8 at Indien Market. Again before any other tourists had arrived. ( Really recommend you do this as by the time the tourist do start arriving some of the tribes are packing up and going) Lunch in a villagers home.
Ngapali: Meeting the locals. Cycling to the fishing village. Watching the most beautiful sunsets from our villa with a Ngapali sunset cocktail in hand.
Loved the food so much better than expected and so much of it! The local Rum with a splash of lime juice!
.....and the not so best bits:
Sunset at a Bagan Temple. Even though we went to a quiet one the only atmosphere was of the tourists moaning at each other as they tried to get the best picture!
Pyin oo Lwin. I'm afraid this was the only place that we visited that I could have easily have missed.
Finally some of the most memorable moments were those we least expected those not on our itinerary but things we just came across or just happened. But by far the best memories for me will be of the wonderful people the delightful individuals we met. Those memories will stay with me forever.