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Trip Report by Solo Traveller July/August 2014

sydney
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Trip Report by Solo Traveller July/August 2014

Primary websites for research:

For accommodation & reviews: TA, Agoda

Internal flights: there are two online booking sites, I prebooked through oway.com.mm

Trains: see seat61.com

Buses: book through your GH/hotel, travel agent or at the bus station

General information (places to visit etc): travel guides and forums on TA, Virtual Tourist and Travelfish. Also travelblogs.org and google (various accom., places to visit, day trips, bus info etc)

Note: I make next to no effort reporting on food & drink prices. If you can’t afford the cheap prices then you should not be travelling to Myanmar.

Obtained my Tourist Visa from the Myanmar Embassy in Australia 2 months prior to travel.

Details of airline flights for entry & exit required in writing.

Having read pristine US dollars are required I ordered these through my credit union. I checked each note, having to swap one $100 note because it had pen marks on it.

Currency Exchange: I received a rate of 964-966 Kyats (chats) to the US dollar.

Note: generally your Zone Fee Ticket covers entry to temples/pagodas but some places do charge a small entry fee to foreigners and/or a camera fee.

I flew from Bangkok to Mandalay via Air Asia. Air Asia runs a free shuttle bus from Mandalay in to town, about a 45min ride, just show your boarding pass. Dropped off in town & paid 5000 kyats for a taxi to my guest house. Taxi driver was friendly & spoke good English. Provides tour guide services. Contact via email moemandalay1@gmail.com if your interested.

I prebooked (3 months) my single room reservation at the Rich Queen Guest House via email. Cost $25US per night. You can read my review on TA.

Prebooked 2 x 1 day moto guide trips through Pho Se - phosemdy@gmail.com

1 day local sights – 15000 Kyats plus 3000 to top of Mandalay Hill (it’s a long walk up) plus tip.

1 day Sagaing (Sa-guy) and Inwa and Ubein Bridge at Amarapura – 25000 Kyats plus tip

Each night I dined at the newly opened beer station only 30m from my guest house. 1500 Kyat

for large bottle of Myanmar Beer. Food menu (good food), music, satellite TV, clean establishment,

friendly and helpful staff.

Visited a local barber for a shave with the blade for the first time in my life. Cost ½ hour later was 200 Kyats but I just couldn’t pay that so I handed over 500.

Trip to Mingun: ferry departs 9am daily and returns at 1pm. My GH organised a moto taxi. Cost to ferry area was 3000 Kyats each way. He was waiting for me when I returned. Zone Fee payable at office at Mingun was 3000 Kyats.

From Mandalay to Monywa (Mon-U-Wa): I took a 7am bus from the bus station on 89th Street which cost $2.

Trip was around 3 hours. Negotiated a taxi moto for 1500 Kyat from bus station to my hotel.

Prebooked a standard room at the Hotel Chindwin through email address on their facebook page.

I had no replies from email addresses on their website. Cost was $35 per night. See my review on TA.

Hired a moto taxi off the street to take me the 20kms out to Bodhi Tataung, Alantaya Paya & Forest of 500 Banyan trees with buddhas on way in,500 trees on way out. Thanboddhay Paya on the way back. I think it was 15000 Kyats plus tip for driving safely.

Hired a moto taxi off the street to take me out to Hpo Win Daung caves (70min ride to the west). We stopped at Shwe Daung Oo Pagoda on the way where there was also a small zoo (no cost). Engaged the services of a female guide by name of Kiama. Speaks good English & recommend for historical insight. Cost is only 1000 Kyats but as we were followed around by a local guy I slipped her 2000 when we were out of sight.

From Monywa – Bagan (Pa-gan): Moto taxi back to bus station again paid 1500 kyats. Took a 9am bus, cost 2500 kyats, to Bagan. One 15 min. stop and a ½ hour lunch stop 13 miles from Bagan. Bus arrived at the new bus station 7km out of town. I booked my night bus to Kalaw before I left. Negotiate cost with a pickup truck if available. I took a taxi which cost 9000 kyats (asked for 10000) in to town. Stopped off on the way to pay $15 for my Zone Fee ticket.

I had reception at Hotel Chindwin phone & make a reservation at Shwe Nadi Guest House. Paid $20 per night for aircon room. They only have a phone no. 061-60409.

I had dinner nearby at The Full Moon Restaurant. Located just down the road, other side (signposted), 40m down a side alley. Very quiet, clean, excellent service. To be fair, probably paying a little more but the food was excellent. Quite a few other restaurants around.

Hired a taxi guide for the day as moto taxis are not allowed. U Aung Zaw (Ow Zo) – Ph. 09-250092963 for day trip to local temples – 35000 kyats - good english & good knowledge of the temples. I finished 15/16 sites incl. visit to Min Nan Tue Village by 3pm then dropped off at bus station (saved me 10K taxi from town). Best to negotiate how many hours you want to spend visiting sites & try to negotiate down from the standard daily rate of 35K (if possible).

Bagan – Kalaw: Took the night bus with Ye Thu Aung Express departed 7pm arrived 1.45am – paid 11,500 kyats (incl. 500K insurance). Stopped at roadside restaurant for dinner (1/2 hr).

Tip: after an hour or so we stopped at a fairly large town. Lady gets on selling bags of potato chips. Buy a bag if you like chips, these were excellent & cheap.

Prebooked a room at Eastern Paradise Hotel – Ph. 081 50315. Arranged to be met at bus stop & guided to hotel. Stayed in small basic room first night, cost $6. Transferred to standard fan room in the morning, cost $20 per night. See my accom. review.

Kalaw Trek: prebooked with Sam from A1 Trekking (see TA reviews). 1 day trek (17kms, around 6 hours) visiting Palaung villages & lunch at The Viewpoint. Cost $24, totally worth the cost, excellent English & knowledge of the area. email: samghimire31@gmail.com

Ph. 09-458042220

Kalaw – Inle Lake (Nyaungshwe): daily train to Shwenyaung departs 11.40am but due to derailment I did not do this. I have read a bus departs around 8.30am (I did not go by bus).

Railway Engineer drove me (no charge) 9km to Aung Ban, took pickup truck to Shwenyaung for 2000 kyats then tuk tuk pickup to Nyaungshwe for 1000 kyats. Between Shwenyaung & Nyaungshwe you stop, show passport & pay the $10 Zone Fee.

Prebooked a room at May Guest House - E: mayguesthouse@gmail.com

Ph. (081)209 417, smaller single rooms on the side with the washing lines - $15, $25 for doubles – see my accom. review.

Day Trip on Inle Lake – prebooked online through Mr Ngelay (business owner)

Contact - E-mail: info@inlelaketourism.com Ph. +95 09 4100 3019

Cost – 18000 kyats + tip included pickup from guest house at 8am (my request), boat driver & guide (spoke english). Having researched these trips I advised where I wanted to go & where I did not want to go (eg souvenir places). Tip: if the weather is cool take a jacket. Boat provides raincoat & umbrella. Also, as soon as you enter the lake, watch out for the traditional fisherman. If you take a photo he will be straight over to collect some payment. No doubt makes a lot more kyats from unsuspecting tourists than he does from actually fishing. Up to you.

Day Trip to Sankar – prebooked online through Mr Ngelay. Cost 45000 kyats + tip. Boat driver only, takes 3 hours each way. I took my jacket for this trip (glad I did). Did not have to pay any fees for a Pa-O guide.

Money exchange $US: general store (sign outside) located near the central intersection in town.

Tip: If you do run out of $US & kyats like I did (my credit card would not work) there is one place I found after much walking around & asking people. About two blocks from the central intersection heading towards the boat dock, on the left hand side is a travel agency called Golden Trip. It is owned by the same person that owns Au Mingalar Hotel. They exchanged some $100 Australian notes for me. They may exchange some other currencies as well. This is the ONLY place in Nyaungshwe that will exchange other than $US.

Nyaungshwe to Heho Airport: aircon taxi cost 18000 kyats booked by my guest house, takes about 30-40 minutes.

Heho – Yangon: I had prepaid my Air Mandalay flight online through oway.com.mm months earlier. The flight was subsequently cancelled & I was transferred over to Air Bagan which departed a little later. No big deal, all went well. Cost $115US (internal flights are not cheap) but they are convenient timewise.

Yangon Airport to Motherland Inn 2: fixed taxi cost 8000 kyats booked from counter at airport.

Motherland Inn 2: prebooked room 11 months in advance @ $25 per night. Contact via

website www.myanmarmotherlandinn.com - Ph: 0095-1 291343, 0095-1 290348

See my accom. review. Single room cost had increased to $30 but they honoured my booking at $25.

May Kyin Shan Restaurant, BoTaTaung Pagoda Rd, few doors from Ocean Pearl Inn.

I had read tables on pavement in the evening, great food especially whole fish, good prices.

Short walk from Motherland so off I went. I had the Special Fish with steamed rice + 2 bottles beer – 6,700 kyats. Glad I made the effort to find it.

City Circle Train Ride: About a 30 minute walk to the train station so I took a taxi for my return, cost 3000 kyats. The train ride (purchase ticket on the platform) used to cost $2 but recently changed to the local price of 300 kyats. I took the 9.30am departure (left 30mins late). Makes 38 stops and takes about 3 hours. Cheapest train ride ever.

Transport to Yangon Airport: I booked a flight so I could utilise the guest house free shuttle departs 3pm daily, saving me a 8000 kyat taxi fare.

Warks.England
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1. Re: Trip Report by Solo Traveller July/August 2014

Loads of detail,thanks for the time you spent putting this together.

I plan a new Top Questions on budget travel and will link it to this thread

Again thank you (and for the reviews)

SS

Mandalay, Myanmar
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2. Re: Trip Report by Solo Traveller July/August 2014

Your moto driver , Pho Se got the professional Guide License after Guide Training.

Nova Scotia
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3. Re: Trip Report by Solo Traveller July/August 2014

Really interesting information. I like all your details on how to arrange things. How did you like Myanmar? What were a couple of the highlights for you?

Am I correct in thinking that there is no ATM in Nyaungshwe? If so we will have to be sure to have enough cash as this is near the end of our trip.

Edited: 5:22 pm, August 23, 2014
Mandalay, Myanmar
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4. Re: Trip Report by Solo Traveller July/August 2014

There are ATMs in NyaungShwe , AungBan , TaungGyi. There are CB Bank ,Kanbawza bank ( KBZ Bank ).

cbbank.com.mm/aboutus/aboutus_network_atm.as…

http://www.kbzbank.com/en/

Den Haag
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5. Re: Trip Report by Solo Traveller July/August 2014

There are ATMs in NyaungShwe but .... your home bank may block payments to myanmar.

Visa and Mastercard seems to work OK - though the creditcard of the OP did not work either.

Cheers, Rolf

sydney
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6. Re: Trip Report by Solo Traveller July/August 2014

silverswimmer, thanks for your appreciation, might be something useful there for others.

maryann-ns, I've been travelling to SEA each year since 2006. I am a member of various travel websites as they are a great source of past & up to date information. I am rather obsessed (lol) with planning my itineraries virtually to the hour for each day.

I like to know my options before I visit a place for the first time as I don't want to be wasting time trying to find out when I arrive (or how to get there). There is so much information on the internet these days. However, I did find researching Myanmar challenging (compared to Thailand,Cambodia,Laos,Vietnam etc).

I believe my MasterCard was not accepted at the ATM in Kalaw because I had neglected (oversight on my part) to advise my provider that I was travelling overseas before I left Australia.

I visit Thailand each year to visit friends but decided to also visit Myanmar this year as I like to do side trips where practical. Tourism has been increasing over the last two years so I decided to visit now rather than later. Though I don't think things will change too much until the regime is replaced by a democratic government (IMO).

Highlights for me: Probably put Inle Lake first. Food & drink slightly more expensive but par for course given the number of tourists who visit. Day trip by boat around the lake (visiting different things) was so relaxing after all the walking I had done prior. Bagan for all the temples you can visit, but if temples don't interest you then give it a miss. Similarly with Kalaw, if your not in to trekking then give it a miss.

Myanmar certainly has something for everyone but access will be a lot easier when internal conflicts are resolved and the country opens up current restricted areas allowing for travel routes to be expanded.

I should emphasise the Burmese people were friendly wherever I travelled. At no time did I feel threatened anywhere, but of course I use common sense not to be anywhere I may feel vulnerable. No different to living in Australia.

Safe travels. Hope I've been helpful.

I would strongly urge anyone thinking of visiting to have as much information as they can on preferred transport (plan A & plan B), accom. reservations and options regarding sightseeing. Will certainly save a lot of time and money knowing in advance,

Nova Scotia
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7. Re: Trip Report by Solo Traveller July/August 2014

Thanks for answering my question, stoneman.

I have our trip to Myanmar planned, flights, hotels, most taxis are booked. Some tours or guides are booked.

I am glad you say Inle Lake was great as we will be there several days, taking a boat tour one day, a car trip another and one day we have left open.

sydney
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8. Re: Trip Report by Solo Traveller July/August 2014

Congratulations to Pho Se on his qualification.

sydney
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9. Re: Trip Report by Solo Traveller July/August 2014

maryann-ns, many people get a bicycle and off they go. Just another option.

10. Re: Trip Report by Solo Traveller July/August 2014

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