Top Myanmar Hotels
All visitors to Myanmar must hold a valid passport and need to apply for a visa prior to arrival in the country through a Myanmar Embassy or Consulate abroad. Tourist visas are issued for a stay of 28 days. Entry into Myanmar must be made within 2 months of the date of issue and certain areas are off limits to tourists.
There are no limits on the amount of foreign currency that can be imported, although more than US$2,000 must be declared on entry. A declaration certificate will be issued and this must be kept for inspection on departure. Importing or exporting local currency is prohibited.
On arrival in the country, visitors must change a cash amount equivalent to US$200 into Foreign Exchange Certificates (FECs). A few years ago FECs were the only form of payment accepted from visitors. Nowadays, they are used mainly for the purchase of plane/train tickets and for settling hotel bills. Many of the local moneychangers will change FECs into local currency. Officially, it is not possible to change FECs into foreign currency, although in reality many hotels in major cities will do this.
Jewellery, electrical devices and cameras must be declared on arrival.
Visitors can take the following into Myanmar duty free:
- Alcohol - 1 litre of wine or spirits
- Tobacco - 200 cigarettes
The export of Burmese antiques is prohibited.
Penalties for carrying or trafficking illegal drugs are extremely severe, ranging from long prison sentences to the death penalty.
Myanmar time: GMT + 6.5
There are 3 currencies in circulation.
- Kyat (Kt) - Check current exchange rates
- 100 pyas = 1 Kyat
- Kt100,000 is known as a lakh
- Kt10 million is known as a crore.
- Notes issued: Kt500, Kt200, Kt100, Kt90, Kt45, Kt20, Kt15, Kt10, Kt5, Kt1, 50 pyas
- Coins issued: Kt1, Kt50, Kt25, Kt10, Kt5, 1 pyas
Myanmar experiences a mainly tropical climate, which can basically be divided into three seasons.
- Cool Season - temperatures remain relatively pleasant, cool breezes blow across the country and rainfall is low.
- Hot Season - temperatures can soar above the average and although this is still a reasonable time to visit Myanmar, the heat can be stifling.
- Rainy Season - monsoon rains begin to fall towards the end of May. Rain can be torrential but usually falls in short bursts during the afternoon. Although there is a slight drop in temperature, the rise in humidity makes for very uncomfortable conditions.
Road travel is affected during the rainy season since many roads are unpaved and become impassable after heavy downpours. Mountain roads also become quite hazardous.
It is advisable to carry a lightweight jumper as it can be chillingly cold inside air-conditioned buildings.
|Season||Average temperature||Average rainfall|
|Cool Season (November - February)||13 - 19°C||19mm|
|Hot Season (March - May)||23 - 25°C||18mm|
|Rainy Season (June - October)||26 - 27°C||274mm|
- Hot Season - experiences warm temperatures that often exceed the average, although the heat does not become as unbearable as further south.
- Rainy Season - heavy rain tends to be isolated to afternoon downpours. Humidity levels rise and the heat can become extremely oppressive making it an unpleasant time of year to travel the region. The heat and high humidity make it almost unbearable to wear waterproofs at this time so take an umbrella.
Best time to visit: During the Cool Season when days are warm, evenings are cool and rainfall is low - take a few extra layers for the evenings, as temperatures can drop away.
|Season||Average temperature||Average rainfall|
|Cool Season (November - February)||23 - 24°C||13mm|
|Hot Season (March - May)||30 - 32°C||5mm|
|Rainy Season (June - October)||29 - 30°C||143mm|
The plains of central Myanmar are termed the "dry zone":
- Cool Season - rainfall is very low throughout this time and humidity is moderate.
- Hot Season - rainfall is low, however humidity can be quite high and the heat is often unbearable as temperatures soar well above the average - even higher than those in the south.
- Rainy Season - a smaller amount of rainfall is recorded in relation to other areas of the country, however temperatures are still very high.
If going to higher ground such as the hill station at Pyin U Lwin, a few extra layers of clothes will be necessary as it can get chilly, especially during the cooler months when evening temperatures can drop to as low as freezing. Rainfall is marginally higher and waterproofs would be useful.
During the wet season, travel in the mountains can be slow and arduous, so always allow for extra time when making travel plans.
Best time to visit: During the Cool Season when temperatures are lower and rainfall is minimal.
|Season||Average temperature||Average rainfall|
|Cool Season (November - February)||25 - 27°C||6mm|
|Hot Season (March - May)||29 - 31°C||11mm|
|Rainy Season (June - October)||26 - 28°C||466mm|
The south remains relatively warm throughout the year.
- Hot Season - sees a dramatic change in temperature. During this time it is common for temperatures to soar above the average and reach well into the 40's (oC). The heat becomes extremely oppressive and there is very little respite.
- Rainy Season - experiences high amounts of rain. Downpours tend to be short and fall during the afternoons but they can be heavy. The heat and high humidity make it almost unbearable to wear waterproofs at this time so take an umbrella.
Best time to visit: The Cool Season is much more pleasant in terms of heat and low rainfall. Days are clear and views are enhanced by endless blue skies.
Featured Myanmar Hotels
Myanmar Travellers Tales
Yangon, Myanmar. The city is off the beaten path (for example, no cell/mobile phones that I saw) and therefore highly interesting. The Shwedagon pagoda just up the road from Summit Parkview Hotel is best visited for the first time at night, about 8pm. It positively exudes an aura of holiness. Took taxi from taxi stand at airport (6000 kyat = about 6US$) and made arrangements for them to take me around the next day. Can supply name of good taxi driver and guide upon request. Airport is simple, but mercifully free of duty free shops. Don''t forget the $10 US departure tax.
Myanmar - Take plenty of USD or Thai Bahts. As your credit card is not welcomed anywhere. There are no ATM machines. Cash is King! Taxi from Traders to Yangon airport - about K3,000 - K4,000 (USD3 - USD4). Taxi from Old Bagan - Bagan airport K3,500. Taxi from Mandalay Airport - Mandaly centre K9,000. All prices are approximate and will change depending upon your taxi driver. Airlines: Yangon Airways, Bagan Air, Air Mandalay. If you are planning a trip to Myanmar, I would definitely recommend "Bagan" as it is magnificent! Stay around 4-5 days for a pleasureable experience.
Prices escalate at an unbelievable rate! Things are cheap, but not quite as cheap as guidebooks make them out to be, being somewhat out of date. Take taxis anywhere and everywhere, they''re affordable.
We were there in May when it was incredibly hot. Questioned our own sanity once or twice when we were cycling around, but that freedom (as opposed to car or horsecart) is quite priceless.
I was in Yangon during the May bombings. Still, I felt terribly safe as a single female over 50 traveller. By all means take your camera and walk through People''s Park to the Pagoda, go to the Bogyoke Aung San Museum and have Ma Thin Thin give you a tour. If you need something luxurious, go for tea at the Strand. The Sabai Sabai is excellent for lunch although the quality decreases on a busy weekend evening. If you are interested in traditional pottery, take the ferry to Twande. Go the Gar San Glass Factory where lovely pieces can be purchased for as little as 50 cents US. They do a really good job packing. Be careful and shop around before buying anything in the Aung San Market and if you need glasses check out Academy Optical at 140/141 Bogyoke Aung San Market. Progressive lens in flexible frames including eye exam were $63 US!
Myanmar is a challenging yet unspoiled country to travel through. Train and air schedules frequently change. Rebooking air flights is a necessity, not a courtesy. Long distance buses are cheap, about US$7, for the 10 hour ride from Yangon to Mandalay. But air flights are worth the money for the time savings. In Yangon the Zawgyi House restaurant just east of Scott''s Market serves good western and Burmese food. They offer outside and air-conditioned(!) dining. Mandalay''s Green Elephant serves upscale interprerations of Burmese cuisine. In the evening there''s often a haze of burning mosquito puncks in the outdoor dining area to fend off these pesky insects. Try ''mohinga'', the rich-tasting Burmese noodle soup only served at breakfast. I''d recommend a 1-2 day trip to Pyin Uu Win outside of Mandalay to esscape the heat. The local 5-hour train makes every station stop as it snakes up the 3,000 ascent overlooking the plains. Bench seats, no interior lighting, people sitting on baggage in the aisle. In other words a great way to glimpse Burmese life.
I would recommend the Mi San restaurant at Bu Paya Junction, Old Bagan. The restaurant has good Burmese, vegetarian, and Chinese food, and the staff fan you the entire time as you eat! The owner is extremely friendly. I would recommend that visitors make an attempt to visit some of the more distant ruins. The area of the Kandawgyi and other shrines in the far north of Nyaung U, for example, has some of the finest mural paintings in all Bagan. The view from Thetkyamuni and other temples in the area over the Ayeyarwadi is the best of all sites, since the ruins are situated on rather high hills very close to the riverbank.
Recommended places: Sabai Phui guesthouse - Mandalay. Aircon and bathroom for $5 a night, (you don''t need luxury every night!), $16 boat trip to Mandalay (9hrs - more fun tan flying), Bagan Hotel (exclusive), Balloons over Bagan, expensive $225, but worth it, Royal Beach Resort - Ngapali Beach (family run and cheap). NOT RECOMMENDED - JIMMY''S TOURS AT INLE LAKE. A taxi driver dropped me off there from Heyo Airport, pretending it was the ''Boat Station'', before I knew it he''d worked out an itinerary for 1 1/2 days at $120. About 5 times what I needed to pay, if I''d avoided him. He was then unconcerned that his boat ran out of fuel and we drifted for an hour and there was no floating market where he sent me at great expense at 6.30am, due to a full moon holiday. Avoid the slippery little git at all costs. BE AFRAID, IF YOU WIND UP IN HIS OFFICE.
Inle Lake and its surrounding area felt like stepping back to a bygone era. The beauty of the lake is a compelling enough reason to visit, but the sight of traditional crafts such as cigar rolling, boat making & steel hammering are fascinating for both adults and children alike. If you are a photographer bring lots and lots of film/digital cards! As with most places though in South East Asia today, however, you feel that its only a matter of time, before traditional methods succumb to drive of the tourist dollar.
Wholeheartedly recommend the Balloons over Bagan experience. Although its not cheap it is a fantastic experience. Avoid the Green Elephant restaurant in New Bagan, particularly if paying in dollars. We went to both and the food is far superior and cheaper at the Si Thu restaurant next door, and the exchange rate quoted by the Green Elephant was an appalling 750 to the $ compared to the market rate at the time of 880.
On arrival into Bagan airport have USD$10 readily available, in order to pay for the Temple sight''s entry fee. Flight time from Mandalay to Bagan 20mins. Bagan to Yangon 1hr 10mins. There are several ways to explore the temples of Bagan either by taxi, horse cart (4 pax) motorbike or bicycle, all readily available for hire. The scale of the city with 2,000 temples is just amazing, I would quite happiy have stayed for 3-4 nights in order to pace my temple experience with a round a golf, bike ride, shopping for laqueur ware, swim etc. Next time!
Having just completed a tour of Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar, the latter was our favourite and Yangon our favourite city in it. Wandering around Chinatown, the old market (not Aung San, which is a tourist trap at its worst), around Sule Paya and Shwedagon were just awesome and we found the people more genuine than other places visited.
Augustines near Green Elephant Restaurant is still the best for antiques. Ask for Mark!
This maybe relatively new info: we entered Myanmar during the Chinese New Year (Rooster) without being required to exchange their worthless Foreign Exchange Certificates (FECs) with USD! We are avid Lonely Planet readers and I also have some acquaintances who go there quite often and as far as we have expected and were told before going there, all tourists are expected to buy FECs. So it was something good. However, we also found out that since about late fall 2004, Myanmar has forbidden any transactions using any credit cards. If you are going to Myanmar in near future, bring enough cash since you won''t be able to get cash anywhere. We are very grateful that our hotel was booked thru asiahotels.com at a prepaid basis...otherwise, we would have less disposable money to spend while vacationing there.
The Inle Lake area turned out to be one of the highlights of my visit to Myanmar. Because the ecosystem is so unusual, boating on the lake is a unique experience, and highly recommended. I also enjoyed the half-day hike I took into the hill country, and can recommend Soe Naing Oo as a trekking guide. When he''s not trekking, Soe pedals trishaw #44 in Nyaungshwe village.
Restaurant to recommend: "Million Coins" is near the airport. Serves Chinese-style food. My Asian friend ate a meat and vegetable noodle dish called "Jaeo" (pronounced jay-o), which was about 900 khats (US$1) and promptly declared, "This is the most delicious noodle dish I have ever eaten!"
The view is worth the trek and this hotel is situated about half way up. If you stay here overnight you can watch the sunset and walk back up to watch the sunrise in the morn. The main base town is a nightmare and no one speaks English! You have to climb on board the back of a truck to get to the next section of the climb (the truck has several thin planks of timber to sit on and there is very little space between for your legs) - as you are a foreigner they think you want to sit in front with the driver so they charge 1000 kyat whereas the back is 500. We paid to sit in the front but was shoved behind the seats on a bench three deep with more in the front seats. Beware, we sat like this for two and a half hours until the truck finally left so we missed sunset! Trucks generally won''t leave until they have a min of 45 people on them. If you do jump in the back with everyone else, it''s worth being a part of thier day to day life and they appreciate you doing it. Going up sit as far to the front as possible so you don''t get sqashed and the reverse for the trip down. It''s very squashy in these! The hotel is only about 10 mins walk up the 45 deg road from stage two. To get to the top it''s another 45min and the road doesn''t change. Take water, good shoes and it does get cold at night early morn. Would only be around 10 tourists there. Bus from Yangon bus station takes around 5hrs and pre-book to get onboard - you can book the return once you get there.
Started our independent tour of Burma (Myanmar) in Rangoon (Yangon), using the historic Burmese train system - a real adventure! Train info at www.seat61.com/Burma.htm. Rangoon is a fascinating city - the Shwedagon pagoda, lots of colonial architecture. Taxis about 1,000 - 1,500 kyatt (about 67p - £1) a ride.
For travelers with the spirit of adventure, Myanmar is a very interesting destination. If you love places like India, you will love Myanmar. The people are friendly and welcoming; the Temples and Pagodas are amazing, and the food...well the food isn''t so good. But food aside, Myanmar has a high WOW factor. If you go, you can''t miss the Temples of Bagon. Bagon is about as spectacular as Angkor Wat...it is quite stunning and relaxing. I traveled to Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagon. Yangon was great for sightseeing and shopping. Mandalay is overrated and deserves only two days. I didn''t run into anyone who liked it. Bagon, like I said earlier, is not to be missed.<br> <br> Bring only US cash as they don''t accept credit cards anywhere in the country, even in five star hotels. There are no ATM''s in Myanmar either...which means that you need to plan ahead with your cash management. One hundred dollar bills will get you the best exchange rates while smaller bills will net you up to 7% less in exchange. Almost everywhere people will come up to you and say "change money"? If you try to cash traveler''s checks, banks only accept a select few and even then, they will take a 20% commission on cashing them. Bottom line...bring Dollars. Euro''s are almost impossible to exchange.<br> <br> Internet service in Myanmar is a joke. Remember back to your 14.4 modem? Myanmar is slower than that! It took me 38 minutes to send one email. Also, the govenrment blocks MSN Hotmail and Yahoo mail so you will need to pay for a service that latches onto the government''s server (draw your own conclusions on the reasons for this). I fortunately use a lesser known web-based mail and it wasn''t blocked at all but because it was so slow, I hardly ever used it. Traveling throughout Myanmar can be trying at times but you will be well rewarded for your efforts.
We went to Myanmar for 10 days on our first trip to the country: Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake. We would consider returning to Yangon and Bagan; we would return to Mandalay only as a base for exploring farther north. Inle Lake does not inspire us to revisit; it seems to us long on hype, but we admit the boat trip to the village of Nyuang Shwe and the walk along the road near our hotel provided insights into local life we did not get at other places. Overall, based on our experiences and comments from others who traveled there earlier, Myanmar seems to be taking steps to make travel to the country a more agreeable and less bureaucratic experience. We appreciated the ability to acquire a visa over the internet. Perhaps the country will improve internet service within its borders, which is the worst we have witnessed. We did not observe, thankfully, a bevy of beggars we expected based on writings of earlier travelers and our experiences in India.
Mandalay and the nearby mountains (about 2 hours drive) have many interesting sights to visit. We would recommend using a private (tour) taxi as you can get to places that are not accessible by tour coach. The drivers also are very knowledgible and can provide a lot of information and help, e.g places to eat. You can usually hire by the day and cost ranges between about US$30 to US$50. We found the modern Mandalay airport a refreshing change from the outdated and poor condition Yangon airport. When arriving make sure to purchase a ticket that allows foreign tourist entry for most of the attractions/sights in the Mandalay area. The cost is US$10 per person but can save a lot of money over paying at each individual sight. Be prepared for additional charges for the use of still cameras and video cameras. These vary from place to place and are usually paid in local currency.
Yangon is a great city and should be high on anyone''s list for a weekend break in Asia! The people are open and friendly and very keen to chat with foreigners and make you welcome. A number of great restaurants serving Burmese cuisine offer sensational value, especially Aung Thukka, near the Savoy hotel at which a meal for two costs 5USD and is fantastic. The Shwe Dagan Pagoda is breath-taking; investing in a guided tour is well worth it. For about 5USD a charming and knowledgeable guide will spend as long as you want wandering the temples and answering, in my case, a myriad of daft questions! Lastly, Bogyoke Aung San market is unmissable. Along with Chatuchuk and Saigon, the best market in Asia! One salutary lesson was learned though; not to change money in the airport fx booth. The rate is around half what you will get on the black market and there is no longer a requirement to enter the country with local currency.
Mandalay city itself isn''t a real beauty. But you should absolutely walk all the 1.400 or so steps up to the hill and start about 4 p.m., so you''ll be there before sunset. While walking you will meet a lot of Myanmar people, who like to talk to foreigners and who love to practise english. Mahamuni pagoda is also a must. There is a view point for sunset somewhere at the Irawady (I don''t know exactly where, you should ask for good places apart Mandalay Hill to watch the sunset). This place isn''t yet touristic at all - people are living on their houseboats...great ambiance!!! The surroundings of Mandalay are very nice, very green. Amarapura, Sagaing, Inwa are nice. and there are more places. I''ve been twice to Myanmar and in both cases I took a taxi with driver from the Inle Lake (Nyaungshwe) to Mandalay (it has to take the old road) and the route is SO nice. You first go a long way through the mountains and then it''s green and there are canals. Even if the trip by car lasts about 7 hours - it''s worth while!!!
I strongly recommend Le Planteur restaurant run by Boris Granges, No 16 Saw Mahar Street, Bahan Township, Yangon. His menu will provide outstanding french food and wines perfectly balanced for the climate served in a wonderful garden. However, do ensure you have enough dollars as the prices are at european levels and in common with all places in Myanmar (except the Sedona Hotels) credit cards cannot be taken.
This is our first visit to Rangon and we have heard many bad things about Myanmar under the military ruling but the atmosphere was really relaxing unlike what we were told by the news on TV and people are very friendly and enthusiastic to help out. Golden Duck restaurant (Chinese) is highly recommended for good chinese food/service at a very reasonable price - almost comparable to Yaolad district (China town in Bangkok) and taxi cost us only 1 USD and 200 Kyats (Mixed currency because of no change in USD). How good? We went there three times during the three days stay! Walking around the city at night is quite safe. We walked leisurely from the Thamada hotel to Sule round-about and china town to feel the local atmosphere and there were many people eating and shopping on the sides of streets. For your information, there is no fast food restaurants ie. KFC/Pizza
I would recommend 50th Street Bar & Grill for lunch and also for dinner. I would also recommend the Green Elephant for Burmese food (Westernized).
Golden Rock is worth to travel, but take care about the Local travel agents. We booked a day trip with a local travel agent, which supposed to be includes a Car+driver+guide and all their expenses. Back to the hotel in the night our guide ask us to pay for his expenses again. Next day we went to the Travel Agent to complain as in our Agreement was clearly mentioned that we do not need to pay for any other extra charges. Finally we got some part of the money back.
Lake itself is great. We liked most Indein on market day. Worth spending two or three days. Wonderful and one of the best things to do in Myanmar is the trek from Indein to Kalaw (or the other way) which takes 2-3 days.
If your stomach can take it, don''t settle for hotel restaurant. Go out and try outside eateries ranging from Burmese Danbaut (Bryani - aromatic curried rice in chicken or mutton source) for less than a dollar to more sanitized restaurants for four or five dollars for a complete dinner. I also recommend Karaweik (Royal Barge) - a floating restaurant in Kadawgyi lake. You can have a wonderful buffet dinner and cultural show for five dollars. Although the music may be a bit overwhelming, the food is fantastic.
The best mode of transport is to take the ferry to Pathein (an overnight trip). The beach was great. Compared to Ngapali Beach, there were far fewer tourists, a major plus. In terms of tours, there was not much to do. You could go on an elephant walk or scuba diving but otherwise entertainment was restricted to sipping cocktails by the pool. The scuba diving is at best average with little marine life and the elephant park is 45 mins away and more of an exotic zoo. Within the village, there are a few nice restaurants which offer a welcome alternative to the hotel food. What is more is they are reasonably priced and more atmospheric.
I would thoroughly recommend Bagan and the sunrise balloon trip - it was magical floating above the many stupas and payas, with mist rising, as everyone on the ground below was just waking up. Take plenty of US dollars too as we found out just before we arrived that credit cards were no longer accepted.
Fascinating if decrepit city; mostly genuinely friendly and spiritual people, though as in all Asia the Army & officials are sods. You won''t believe the offhand and surly airport staff are from the same stock as the others you''ll have met. The Schwe Dagon is as amazing as it''s reputed to be, though less awesome than Angkor, ditto Bagan, and downtown Yangon brings back memories of Kipling & Maugham. Thai & Shan restarants very good; seemed hard to find other Burmese food on menus in English. Very hard to find a good large scale map of Yangon; download one from the net (pds)before you arrive. Internet at the FSI centre next to Scott Market only 50c an hour but all email sites and Ebay blocked by firewalls. Watch your step on pavements; many smallish deep holes you could easily break a leg on.
Green Elephant restaurant good. The dinner show in the restaurant "barge" show at the lake that starts with a K is OK worth the visit for the experience but not great. Yangon neat town.
Didn''t know what to expect on the trip to Myanmar. I loved the temples I''d read about and wanted to see them for myself. It was easier to deal with once I got there. Found some good restaurants in Yangon, went to the Schwedagon Pagoda and the Sule Pagoda. The local market has amazing shopping. The best part of the trip was the people. Many of them speak English and are interested in Americans. It''s very exotic seeing the cute girls with the yellow stuff they put on their face and in traditional dress. Also make sure you go to Bagan, which is awe-inspiring.
Inle Lake is worth a visit, the craft houses are very interesting. Be sure to take enough film, up could use a roll of film alone in just one market. And bring sun block too, the sun is strong at this elevation. The only place in Myanmar where you can access Hotmail and Yahoo email accounts is at the InleBlooms Coffee Shop in town. You can read your mail, but must send thru another website that the coffee shop owner has set up.
Nanda restaurant with it''s puppet show is a good place for dinner. I had Burmese food, and my husband had the boneless fish steaks, nicly prepared and very tasty. The show is included in the price of dinner, which was very reasonable.
For antiques after much hard work STRONGLY recommend Mark at Augustines near the fabulous Green Elephant restaurant - prices less than 30% of Bangkok - taxi drivers however reluctant to take you there because of low commissions.
The Shwedagon Paya, with it''s gold, diamond and precious gem top is awesome. Go in the early AM, and then back again at dusk, the pagoda changes mood with the light. The $5 entrance ticket is good all day. You can walk to the pagoda from the Savoy Hotel.
After much research and shopping around the best antiques are to be bought from Soe Moe which although out of town well worth the effort. The Moustache Brothers nightly show is a must do as is the Mingin river half day trip.
We started in Yangon and then flew up to Bagan for a few days and then on to Inle Lake for a few days and then ended up back in Yangon. We used an outstanding tour guide company that was well worth the money ($530 US / person) that was all inclusive except for lunch and dinner. They exchanged money for us, arranged for all the travel (flights & cars) and then escorted us around daily. Inle Lake is a must see as well as Bagan as both have very different and unique cultures associtated with their areas in the country. The company we used was HAMSA Travel & Tours CO. Ltd. Tel: 95-1-298170 / 200642 . (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bagan is the key destination in Myanmar, and one should allocate at least two days to see the key sights. Having a driver and a good guide will make the experience more relaxing and meaningful. I also went to Mount Popa and was somewhat disappointed--the site is its main attraction as the temples are not that interesting and one is faced with the annoying presence of aggressive monkeys.
We visited Mandalay, Amapura, Inwa, Saigan and Mingun. We took a small taxi for two days: it was very funny and cheaper (only 18 USD).
We visited Yangon, Mandalay, Kalaw, Lake Inle and Bagan. It was easy to book flights through the hotels we stayed at on Air Mandalay as we went along. All the hotel staff were very helpful and we encountered no problems. Yangon was a truly beautiful and decadently decaying colonial seat. Everyone was so friendly. Walking down the street one day some Monks started talking to us. The next minute we found ourselves on stage at an English school in front of about 100 people with a microphone in our hand addressing the class while regaling tales of our travels within their wonderful country. Anyway with any reservations about coming to Myanmar should lay them aside. It is the last frontier in South East Asia and one that you should not miss.
I rented a bike from through the front desk one day it was a very reasonable $3 it was a standard issue Chinese bike, now I''m pretty fit, excercise almost daily, but this bike was torture - even peddling on a flat surface felt like you where climbing Everest. Walking, horse and buggy or car might be a better way to see the Temples! Also take a half day break from seeing temples and go to the market in Nyuang Ou - part food and local produce and part souvenir stuff - it''s was one of the highlights of my visit.
We went on a cycle tour with Spice Roads from Yangon to Mandalay, to Bagan, to Mt. Popa, to Inlee Lake and back to Yangon. We had a great trip. I would recommend bicycling in Myanmar.
Bagan is certainly one of Asia''s best-kept tourism secrets: the sheer number and scale of the medieval Buddhist temples which are scattered over the area is quite breathtaking. Bicycles are certainly a good option for exploring nearby temples, but those further afield are perhaps better explored by taxi (preferably air-conditioned!). The midday heat during the hot season is quite overbearing. Certainly not a destination for those requiring great luxury or fine dining, but otherwise an unmissable destination for anyone who decides to visit Burma.
In Myanmar, hotels cannot change money (USD-Manmar Kyat) for guests. So you have to have many 1 dollar bills.
Yangon is an intriguing destination. The military junta and western isolation both serve to preserve some of the old Burma. There is no McDonalds, KFC or Pizza Hut. There is a unique, almost colonial feel to the city. There are many old buildings, in various states of repair, thriving markets, gemstones and the traditional dress worn by almost all. The men still dress in the longyi noted as archaic by George Orwell in his book ‘Burmese Days’. The vast majority of the civilian population maintain Burmese friendliness and apart from the occasional attempt to rip you off seem happy to reach a win - win bargaining situation. They also take time out to assist visitors, unlike more tourist weary countries. The city has good hotels, including some notably renovated colonial ones. The Shwe Dagon Pagoda remains an outstanding monument and the heart of the Buddhist spirituality that pervades this country. Don’t expect too much nightlife – it’s out of the reach of most citizens. This is not so bad as public lighting is appalling and complemented by frequent power dropouts. It is a surreal experience to be sitting in a pitch-black restaurant with the only noise the clinking of cutlery as diners oblivious to a brown out continue eating. This is a fascinating, beautiful country, relatively unspoiled by the West. I intend to return and explore more of it soon.
We arrived in Yangon the middle of the annual water festival in April, and expected it to be a bit like Songkran in Thailand. But this seemed to be on a larger scale!! Organised drenching all over the city, which had to be seen to be believed. Be prepared for a real soaking. But the dousing ends by dusk every evening, and it is safe again to venture from your hotel without fear of getting wet...It was nice to see everyone having a great time and enjoying the fun.
The shopping Plaza next door is super convenient. There is a great Chinese restaurant on the top floor with an amazing view of Shwedagon outside the window. The food and service are great. The only thing you have to watch out for is the size of the portions: they are Myanmar sized, not Chinese sized. Myanmar plates tend to be very small, but at least in a Myanmar eatery they will refill them as often as you request it. I took 6 guests for a Chinese meal here. We ordered about 8 dishes and all left hungry. We ended up having dessert next door in the hotel lounge.<br> <br> Also, there is a beauty salon in the shopping center. I went for a shave, very relaxing facial and a shampoo. The whole process lasted about an hour and cost something like 2000 kyats, in my opinion a great deal. The place is always packed with locals spiffing themselves up, testament to its good service. I gace 700 kyats as a tip to the woman who did my shave/facial/shampoo, and she could not have been more grateful and gracious.<br> <br> Dining in Myanmar is always a casual affair. Myanmar and Chinese food are everywhere. I enjoy Myanmar food, but for those who are timid eaters I would be careful about which establishments one patronizes. Some of the more down and dirty ones have very good food, but you might spend your meal wonderfing whether or not there will be vacation interrupting consequences to your stomach while you eat. Myanmar is my favorite travel destination in Asia, mostly because of the people. I cannot recommend it enough...
We were there for 2 days only, so did the "classics". No tour taken. High tea in the Strand makes a nice break. Otherwise stroll around and get the atmosphere. Shwedagon in the sunset is marvellous!
The Green Elephant restaurant in Yangon deserves its wonderful reputation. Outstanding food and service. The Schwedagon Pagoda is an absolute "must see" for any traveller in Yangon. Beware the camera tax on tri-pods.
Bagan is amazing and we tried to get as close to the ruins as possible. To see the sunrise was 10 minutes from the hotel and was very convenient. We used horse and cart to move around and as such allowed us a more leisurely pace than a bus tour would have. The price was very reasonable for the day and of course is always negotiated before hand. A guide is also a good idea and you can explain exactly what you want from him.
The Shwe Dagon Pagoda is a must. The Scott Market and Indian Market were interesting and afternoon tea at the Strand Hotel was lovely. As 2 females travelling alone, we felt very comfortable walking around the streets of Yangon and found people to be very friendly and helpful.
We had a "whistle stop" tour of Mandalay and so did not really get a feel for the city. However a restaurant we used was "KO''s Kitchen". This was exceptional value and close to our hotel. The service would not be out of place in any 5 star restaurant and the food was equally good. It does appear in lonely planet.
Strongly recommend getting a licensed guide. It totally enhanced our experience. We only had one day to tour Bagan, so we hired a car. It was hot, so the air conditioning helped. We dined at all three of the restaurants on the river in New Bagan. They are tourist-focused restaurants and each has a regular clientel of tour groups. Riverview was the best food. Sunset gardens was the nicest view. And Si Thu was cool b/c they had a marionette show, but the food wasn''t anything special. Our favorite was River View.<br> <br> We also would suggest getting to the market in Nyaung U. It is well worth the visit. It is a bit crowded, but worth while and very different than the markets we went to in Inle Lake and Yangon.
If you go to Yangon, you can eat good french food in a small museum-guesthouse "Aurora Inn - Chez Sylvie". She is very friendly!
In Yangon, do not miss out on the Shwedagon Pagoda. Best time to go is in the afternoon so as to get a chance to see the sun go down as the pagoda gets lit up along with the little temples around it.
In Inle do not miss the absolutely fascinating and colourful Nampan Market (market day is once every five days). The Bamboo hats might come in handy on the sunny boat rides on the lake.
In Mandalay, we highly recommend a boat trip on the Irrawady river to Mingun to see the collosal uncompleted Mingun Paya.
In Bagan do not miss out on sunset from the top of one of the temple. A scene to remember for life.
We have now visited the three great spiritual and archeological sites of Southeast Asia - Luang Prabang, Angkor Wat, and Bagan. We found Bagan to be the most interesting and the most alive. We drove from Bagan to Inle Lake and spent two full days at Inle Lake and found that area to be very interesting. We came back from our trip to Myanmar very opposed to sanctions and believing that sanctions are counterproductive.
Yangoon is a small and interesting city. We loved the Shwedagon Pagoda. Not so easy to find good local food, but some good Chinese food available. took the ferry over the river and did some exploring which had its moments, riding in some very rickety and ancient tuk-tuks, but good fun exploring the local markets.
Possible to eat at small street restaurants along the road, lots of fresh fish and rice basically. Not a lot of variety, but pleasant enough. The beach is great and the fishermans''s villages interesting. Watching the fishermen''s boats come in every morning with the catch was just great.
Yangon is a very interesting city, fascinating markets, good buys. Augustines'' Antiques has good buys. Green Elephant and Ashoka are good restaurants. Be prepared for very poor communications (telephone and FAX) within Myanmar and very expensive international communications. We were ripped off at the "official" exchange rate booth at the airport just after leaving customs. Try to change most of your money at the hotels or in the markets. Otherwise, officials are for the most part friendly and helpful. Bagan is a must place to visit. We have visited Luang Prabang, Angkor Wat, and Bagan, and found Bagan the most fascinating.
We reached Mt Popa by taxi (about 40 minutes), through interesting countryside, stopping only at a palm plantation to smoke some cheroots and drink the local brews. The kids rode on buffaloes. You can trek in the hills, or horseride, feed the monkeys at the temple or go to the deer reservation.
We hired a car to get around at the cost of USD17 per day. The English speaking driver was very helpful and he served as a tourist guide to us as well. He recommended us to see the sunset at Ubengdada (old bridge) which was one of the most wonderful experiences I ever had.
The first must-see is Shwe Dagon Pagoda - huge awesome gilded pagoda built on highland. You need tough soles - you have to walk barefoot (even socks are not allowed!) in the scorching sun on the floor and tiles and when you pause to compose a photo - you will wish you had even thicker skin!<br> <br> I have learnt to get the locals - whether from the pagoda, or from the market, or from the restaurants, to help me hail taxis and to tell them exactly where I wanted to go and to ask the price (to ensure I don''t get fleeced or sent to the wrong destinations).<br> <br> So with an elderly lady''s help at the pagoda, I headed for “must-see” number two - the Bogyoke/ Aung San Market, where I bought a tiny pendant from two very sweet sisters. J''s Irrawady Dream - a craft/ souvenir shop cum bistro in a garden setting. It''s supposed to be pretty famous, having been featured in home décor publications; even their ads look alluring.<br> <br> I decided to have a snack at the enchanting garden and was pleasantly surprised they served “French country food and French bread baked in Yangon”. I ordered pumpkin soup and a tomato pie but the soup came with five huge pieces of bread and the pie came with a large salad. Ah, French food, American portion!<br> <br> If the Burmese have been labelled ‘laid-back’, they should not be equated with tardiness, which is so common among other Asians I have encountered - like Singaporeans, Thais, Indonesians and Malaysians.<br> <br> The Burmese are very punctual too, if not early. From car pick up, to hotel transport to airport on my departure, to my guide to Bago, 80 km from Yangon. In fact, the guide was 35 minutes early for my tour and I had to rush through my shower to meet him! It turned out that he had wanted me to arrive at the Kyetkhawai Monastery in good time to see the daily procession of monks going for their 10.30 am lunch.<br> <br> It was a good two-hour bumpy drive and when we arrived, I had to walk barefoot from the road where I alighted to the monastery - dirt, heat, and all... It did not help that I needed the toilet and was led to one wet and slimy squat style one... still barefoot.... While waiting for the procession to start my guide decided to take me to the backyard to “see a lovely river and take a picture. Don''t worry - we can wash our feet when we return to the monastery,” he said.<br> <br> The gong sounded and scores of monks in orderly lines shuffled past in their maroon robe and bowl slung across their shoulder. They filed past two huge metal receptacles from which a monk on duty at each receptacle dished out rice into each monk''s bowl.<br> <br> Then they entered into the dining hall. Lunch was a Spartan affair of rice, boiled cauliflower and vegetable soup. Their first meal of the day had been 6 am and this was their second, and last. At a separate table the principal of the monastery - the chief monk - had a lavish lunch - meat, an uncountable assortment of dishes to go with the rice and even sweets to go after that. At other tables, where the teacher-monks ate, it was still lavish but perhaps less elaborate with more “countable” dishes.<br> <br> I suppose it is also the same in any country where you have a melange of the poor, the rich and the super rich. The rich locals get to saunter into Feel Myanmar Restaurant to savour local cuisine - even for breakfast.<br> <br> The hotel concierge recommended Feel when I asked about a place for local cuisine for dinner. Ever so considerate and not wanting me to venture out too far, he suggested either Feel or Sandy, rather than the more famous Green Elephant.<br> <br> I could understand his concern. Even though I have been reading about how safe the country is, no one wants to be in the middle of a lonely road when there is a blackout, which, according to my tour guide, happens frequently. In fact he was out with a friend the previous night without a torch and the total blackout caused his friend to fall into a hole or ditch.<br> <br> It was a bit of a surprise when I arrived at the restaurant. It resembled more like a dining hall with a nasi padang stall! I was greeted warmly and led to the stall to select the many pre-cooked dishes. They didn''t look terribly Burmese and very much similar to what you can find at foodcourts back home.<br> <br> Nevertheless, it surely must mean something - for both local and tourists alike to frequent the place! My meal of rice, three vegetable dishes, complimentary condiments, appetisers, desserts and tea totalled less than USD 2.
Bagan has to be one of the best places to visit in all of Asia - totally fabulous. We liked to get around by horse drawn cart as it gave you freedom and the opportunity to enjoy the silence and be away from the more crowded sites.
The hotel was centrally located, so we could walk to most places. Used the internet facility across the street from Traders Hotel. The outdoor market was also within walking distance. Without being able to use credit cards, or officially change money, a daily concern was making sure we had enough small denominations to pay for meals, taxis and entrance fees. People are very handsome and wonderfully unselfconscious -- both men and women walk around the city streets in traditional dress with yellow cream from tree bark on their cheeks to protect against the sun. Shoes are removed before entering shops or homes and tea is served to customers. I agree with other reviewers that sunset at the Schwedegon pagoda is magical.
We used horse cart #1 to take us around the temples. The driver spoke English and could tell us something about the history. He also recommended good local restaurants and the best place for buying lacquerware. We enjoyed his company and recommend using him for your horse cart tour around Bagan.
The easiest way to travel around was by taxi but ask at the hotel before you venture out so you have an idea the cost between places. It was also a great idea to have the locations translated into Burmese with the address. This was invaluable in finding places like the glass factory.
Cafe Aloma is a good cafe. You can have nice espresso coffee, sandwich. If you like chinese food, you can take noodle soup, located near Sakura Tower, across the Traders Hotel.
We made the decision to travel around by horsecart - great decision!! It slowed life down and made the trip more enjoyable.
Mandalay hill about 4 pm is mystical with buddhist chanting. Take along a walkman with recording potential. We didn''t and wished we had. Stay for the sunset. It draws a crowd but the sunset mixed with the chanting will take you some place new within.
MUST-SEE PLACES IN YANGON: Shwedagon Pagoda, The Strand Hotel, Bogyoke Aung Sang Market. MUST-SEE PLACES IN MYANMAR: Inle Lake, Bagan, Mandalay. Recommended restaurant: "Dolphin Seafood Restaurant" (at the Royal Lake - in front of the aquarium - very good food, friendly staff, nice athmosphere and live music every night from 8 pm).<BR> <BR> Getting around: TAXI (average 1000 kyats for a ride). Travel agent: Adventure Myanmar, Botahtaung Condominium - 6th floor, phone: (95-1) 203500.
We rented a boat and the driver showed us the most important sights around the lake-the jumping cat monastery, a silver smith, an umbrella manufactory and a silk manufactory.
We hired a taxi driver for one day and we visited AVA, AMARAPURA and the SAGAIN hills which was really fascinating! For ladies:I had a traditional hairwash done in a beauty salon! This was an extraordinary experience! It is really different in europe but the head massage was really perfect! I really recommend this to all women-it is very relaxing!
The hotel has an excellent gym and a nice swimming pool (around 20 meters long). The restaurants are excellent. The entrance fee to the People''s Park is $3. The entrance fee to the Shwedagon Pagoda is $5.
Yangon is a good location for a three to four day stay - things to visit are the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, the large Reclining Buddha, the are around the Sula Pagoda in the city and the Scott market, as well as the Botataung Pagoda. Half-day trips to Bago (visit the Shwemadaw pagoda) and Syriam are possible and worthwhile.
Before we travelled to Myanmar, our perception was unsafety, riot, drugs, etc (for all the negative things that appear in the news). We spent 9 days in Myanmar which at first we thought it might be too long. Our perception was completely wrong. The beauty of the country, the friendliness of the people, the unspoiled nature, the magnificence of all the religious stupas, all these really made us want to come back. We felt like we travelled back to the past, to the place that we always want to have and to live in. We were impressed by the people who work so hard and were so sad that they can only earn what we think is penny to us. We usually started with bargaining, knowing that what we were offered was a tourist price, but we ended up paying more than what they requested. And we felt happy of doing that, of seeing the smiles and appreciations from their faces. And we know that our money went directly to their hands, not to their government. For us who enjoy the convenience of driving cars, there are some out there who have to drive the trishaw with all their energy to earn 1 US$ for a few hours. At the end, what we got from this trip besides seeing all the interesting places, is happiness deep inside us, of forgetting the chaotic city, and enjoy the nature and the friendliness of these Myanmar people.
Inle is amazing. Make sure to visit the weaving factories at the southern end of the lake. Also take lots of film--it is hard to imagine any place more photogenic.
Mount Popa is amazing. Just be aware that if you choose to climb the 777 steps to the top of the monastery, you will be doing so barefoot, as shoes are not allowed. The steps are covered much of the way but there are several sections that are basically ladders. There are wild/semi-tame monkeys all over the monastery, and they occasionally grab visitors'' possessions or jump on visitors. They also leave their droppings everywhere -- and remember, you will be barefoot! The view from the top makes it all worthwhile, though. A magical place.
Don''t convert hard currency to Kyat, the local currency, other than the $200 US one must convert to Foreign Exchange Currency (FEC) on arrival at the airport. Use the FEC to pay part of your hotel bill to get rid of the money which cannnot be converted back to hard currency. The dollar is accepted, even preferred, everywhere in a country that is in hard economic times. Find out what the street conversion rate is, you will be approached by money changers, and try to get people like taxi drivers to convert hard currency at the street rate rather than the official rate, which will be about 40% lower than the street rate. Always negotiate the taxi rate before you begin the trip, there are no meters. The hotel will take you back to the airport in an air conditioned private car for $5 which is less than the taxi from the airport on arrival at $6, use the booking agents you will see as you leave the baggage claim area on arrival. Be prepared for a slow arrival process, baggage is slow to be returned, the immigration is bureacratic, and people don''t understand the FEC conversion requirement and take time to complete all these steps. Be prepared for everyone to demand higher prices as a foreigner for entrance fees, for example, the fee is $5 to enter the She Dagon pagoda-a must see, breath-taking, world class experience, hire a guide, takes about two hours and will be worth it, guide fee is also $5, map is $1. Pace yourself for the heat/humidity combination in Myanmar, probably the most debilitating in SE Asia, worse than Vietnam and Thailand by far, places I also visited on this trip.
This was my first visit to Myanmar. The timing was not great, with the recent clash between Government and opposition factions, and its results. However, this did not detract from the fact that the people are charming, the temples are glorious, and the food is wonderful. Procedures at the airport on arrival and departure are unnecessarily complicated, and currency conversions are confusing, but I''m looking forward to going back - on holiday this time.
Only brief stay in Yangon - used local taxi service to maximise time -
We used horse and cart to get around the temples - it is too large to walk around and in May/ June, it is too hot to ride the cycle. Unfortunately, the balloon rides do not operate from May to October. We can recommend the Sarabha (huge portions!) and Nanda restaurants. The Nanda restaurant has a marionette show that is much better than the Mandalay Marionette and Culture Show.
We chartered a boat to Mingun which allowed us to stop at villages along the way. Mingun was the most touristy place in Myanmar although there was still not very much hassle. We would thoroughly recommend the 40 minute trip to Amarapura (by taxi) coinciding with lunch time at the monastery (about 10.30 am) as the sight of 1,000 monks lined up 2 by 2 is amazing. We got around Mandalay using trishaws.
On arrival from the airport, we made a detour to Pindaya caves before checking into the hotel. This was worth the effort and cost $10 extra for the 4 hour trip. We hired a boat through the resort (this could also have been done locally for half the cost) and spent a full day seeing the best parts of the lake. The boatman took us to all the sights that we wanted and also several tourist traps (cigar makers, cotton-weavers, blacksmiths, silversmiths) although no-one pushed us very hard to buy anything. InDein is the most impressive sight on the lake and should not be missed. Jumping cat monastry is also fun.
Don''t visit the Karaweik restaurant on Kandawgyi lake - a deserted place at least in the afternoon! Choose a good downtown street stall instead, or for something more upscale, the Green Elephant restaurant (also in Mandalay).
We took a day tour to the Golden Rock. This was very expensive and I (and the other travellers that I met there) would not recommend it. The taxi could only go as far as the bottom of the hill. We were not allowed on the public bus/truck so had to walk 2 hours up the hill. If foolhardy enough to try, remember to bring your passport with you as it is needed to buy a ticket.
It is a must visit to stay at least 3 or 4 days in Bagan and enjoy the city by bike.....
Good location off hotel, so you can easy take taxi or you can walk.
Cannot say enough wonderful things about Yangon specifically and Myanmar generally as a tourist destination. There is so much to see and do, and the lack of tourism makes for a wonderful, authentic experience.
Bagan is unique and a must for every Asia traveller. Horse cart and bike are excellent ways of travelling around. A pity the balloon is not available in summer. Sunsets were amazing with background of pagodas and temples.
Water festival made sightseeing very difficult. Spent most time in taxis and hotel.
Bagan receives hardly any fanfare when compared with Angkor Wat. But in many respects it is equally as enchanting.
The lake is very interesting and boat trips to see all the industries and farming activities that happen in the villages on the lake can easily be arranged. We were advised to eat only rice at the local restaurants but actually did not eat anywhere else but our hotel.
Not far to Shwedagon Pagoda.
Great shopping for jewels and gems. Don''t even try going towards the area where Aung San Suu Kyi lives unless you don''t mind rifles pointed in your face.
I didn''t particularly like Mandalay as I found it dusty and noisy. We enjoyed a boat trip up the Ayerwaddy to Mingun where we met Zaw Min, a young artist who has produced some beautiful work. We also took a taxi ride to the U Bein Bridge and watched local life while enjoying a cold beer. <BR><BR> We ate at the Green Elephant which is very close to the hotel. The food was good but the service overbearing - waiters standing behind you watching your every mouthful. We had this problem all over Myanmar as it was the start of the low season and we were often the only tourists - definitely the only ones with young children. <BR><BR> There is a marionette theatre in the road next to the Sedona which is probably worth a visit if you haven''t seen a Burmese puppet show.
Bagan is an absolute must if you are going to Myanmar. It is awe-inspiring. We enjoyed using the horse and cart drivers who wait outside the hotel to take you around the temples. I would particularly recommend Khin Soe, driver of cart no. 37. <BR><BR> My young children loved the marionette show at Nanda''s restaurant. A half-day trip to Mount Popa was not very impressive but we did enjoy watching a man retrieve oil from the toddy palms and a bullock operate a peanut oil extractor at a station we visited on the way to Mount Popa.
Inle Lake is magical. One of the most beautiful places on Earth. The day long boat ride around the lake to different villages was extremely enjoyable and relaxing. Just be sure to wear lots of sunscreen. The Burmese people are lovely.
Bagan is magnificent and shouldn''t be missed. We hired a driver from 8:30am until 6:30pm for $25.00. Took us to loads of pagodas and temples and let us run the show. Very good value. Had dinner at the Bagan hotel. Excellent food at inexpensive prices. Had huge prawn feast with vegetables, appetizers, steamed rice and beer for $6.00 per person.
Yangon is a lovely city with very gentle, friendly people. Shwedegon Paya should not be missed, it''s spectacular. People in Yangon go out of their way to be helpful. The waiter at the Vietnamese restaurant we had dinner at ran out after us and hailed us a taxi back to the hotel. Also, when he saw me struggling to shell my prawns, he took them and shelled them for me! Overall, Yangon was a wonderful experience and I would go back in a flash.
Myanmar is a diamond in the rough. It reminded us of what our lifestyle was like living in Africa in the 1980s. The people were friendly, appreciative and happy. Compare that to the major North American and European countries, and you will see drastic differences. Life their is basic, hard but the peoples hearts are loving and sincere.
Myanmar was a pleasant and relaxing holiday for our family. We only spent a short time in Yangon before flying off to Inle Lake and Bagan.
The Shwedagon was the best thing about Yangon for me. We ate at the Green Elephant restaurant, which was nice. They have excellent tamarind chips as sweets after the meal. We bought two bags to take with us. Also ate at the Planteur Restaurant, which is very upscale and very lovely. Beautiful setting, close to the Nikko Hotel (but a bit further off the road than you might think - better to take a taxi at night than try to walk).
Pub in the hotel is nice place to spend evening.
One day is enough to get a good feel of Yangon. Schwedagon paya (for sunset and night lighting), and markets make interesting visits. A taxi rental by the hour is a good way to explore (around 3 US $ per hour). <BR><BR> The gem museum can easily be skipped. The zoo, very old and lacking maintenance, will be interesting to young children only (tigers, rhinos, hippos, crocs and bears).
After seeing the main tourist sites, if you have 2-3 hours take the "circle train" from the main train station. An interesting trip around the city and the outskirts.
Lots of sightseeing. Bagan plain is packed with thousands of monuments and temples on 50 square kilometers. The best way to visit is with horse carts (parked just outside the hotel): bicycle is OK on roads, but proves difficult on sandy tracks. Interesting morning market in Nyaung U. <BR><BR> Good dining in hotel garden restaurant. Another good option: Sarabha restaurant, just outside Old Bagan city walls.
A day and a half is sufficient to visit the main sites: Mandalay Hill, monasteries and temples. We recommend a half day boat trip to Mingun: nice temples and a glimpse at river life.
Hotel serves very good Italian good. Chinese restaurant in hotel is not particularly good. No large shopping centres available except for the market.
The restaurants in this hotel are good.
Location of this hotel is good. Centrally located between downtown and tourism areas. Be sure to visit "Mr. Guitar" when in Yangon.
We visited the many pagodas of the area and got around with a car and driver ordered by the hotel staff.
You eat in Green Elephant restaurant.
High tea at the Strand is worth doing, US$10 per person for sandwiches, scones and pastries in a very nice environment. La Planteur restaurant does a great bbq for US$18 per person in a nice garden setting.
Central hotel, fantastic for market and Sule pagoda. Ate at Pansea (a lttle disappointing) Green Elephant very good and the Strand worth a visit.
The Green Elephant restaurant serves excellent Burmese food. It is just round the corner from the hotel, ask at reception for a map.
We spent four days in Mandalay and loved every minute of it. It is a great base for day trips to nearby ancient cities.
The Shwedagon was amazing, pretty good food in the restaurants down the road, and a nightclub only 200 feet away, The Dagon Bar in the hotel had a nice band and positive staff.
You can change money at the offical back market rate in most hotels. They confirm it in the custom form. Rate changed from 1100 k to 900 k for 1$.
Good to hire bikes from hotel to cycle round.
Bagan is wonderful. The best way to get a feel for it is to rent bicycles and cycle around.
Good to hire bikes to cycle round Maymyo from here. 30 mins walk to town so not easy to walk in the dark.
Myanmar is a difficult country to travel in. Very little information and almost no tourist infrastructure. Many expenses along the way---for this pagoda and that. Renting a taxi would be an ideal way to go--about $35 a day. Lodging is expensive for what you get---compared to other Asian countries.
The highlights in Myanmar are, without reservation, Inle Lake and Bagan. Yangon is only recommended for Shwedegan Pagoda (something you will NEVER forget!)and the central market. As for Mandalay, it also is not worth much time except in order to see the ancient cities that lie outside of town. For this, I would rent a driver for the day to see the cities and the U Bien Bridge. <BR><BR> We followed the suggestions in this website, and went to The Strand for happy hour. No one was there. We also ate at the 50th Street Bar and Grill, as suggested in this site. The food was bad, but the atmoshere was pure Americana. (if that is what you are hankering for). <BR><BR> The Burmese people are wonderful and I had no idea how isolated they are. I think the horse buggy drivers in Bagan and the boat drivers at Inle Lake, all of whom speak English and are quite intelligent, would love to read any of our magazines, to learn more about the rest of the world.
The great thing about Myanmar is that it is one of the rare places in Asia where you are not surrounded by hordes of tourists. Customs are not as nasty as feared (and with a gift of USD 10 you can get away with not buying the mandatory FEC 200). <BR><BR> When you get out of Yangon airport, instead of letting the touts cheat you westerners with overrated taxi fares, just walk down the road to the main street and offer USD 2 for a ride to town (which is already much more than the local fare). Once you have made your intentions clear to those aggressive people who try to harrass you, you will meet a bunch of charming folks who are so isolated from western luxuries such as ballpens, tee shirts or whatever trinket with a name on that you would regret not to have filled your suitcase with many little things that may make wonderful gifts.
Try the Schwedagon at night. It gets less busy and it is awesome.
I was travelling with another tour "Journeys" and was all over Burma and decided to splurge one last night at the Strand - historical reasons BUT I would not stay there again for the price and would chose the Savoy or Pansea.
Impressive collection of Buddhist temples from the XXIIth century. Way better than anythig you can see in places like Sukothai in Thailand and (nearly) at par with Angkor Wat with much less crowd. Bring plenty of ballpens, perfumes, children toys, western clothes and anything you don''t need at home as people over there are extremely poor and isolated from modern amenities.
My first stay in Myanmar. People very kind there. Infrastructure of course not yet developed like Thailand or Vietnam. Not much nightlife.
The country is full of pagodas. After visting the Shewadagon pagodas, all the others were a anti-climax. I got "sick" of pagodas/temples after the 3rd day. <BR><BR> Visiting bago was a disappointment. There''s now a US$10 fee which allows you to visit 4 pagaodas in that area. A visit to Syriam (floating pagoda) is worth the visit. <BR><BR> Also, I took a ferry (opposite from strand hotel - cost US$2 return) to visit a village called Dallah. <BR><BR> I spent the whole 9 days in Yangon and surrounding areas. I did not go to Mandalay as the air fare costs US$300 (return) which I find very expensive - instead used that money to indulge in food eg high tea at the Strand, French restaurant called La Maison in Kandagyi Palace hotel). <BR><BR> Getting around is inexpensive - most taxi rides cost $1. Taxi fare from airport to downtown was $4 but going back from downtown to airport was only $2. <BR><BR> I highly recommend Myanmar to other tourists even though a lot of countries are not supporting and even sanctioning the country. Myanmar needs the hard dollar for her to develop and improve the quality of living for her people.
Mandalay is worth spending two days. Visit Mingun by scenic boat trip. Visit Inwa as well. The other "highlights" are not that interesting.
Bagan is a wonderful place to visit. Visit now before it becomes overrun with tourists. You can hire a bike and visit the sights. A visit to nearby Mt Popa is also worthwhile - although more for the trip into the countryside than Mt Popa itself. I recommend eating the Bagan Hotel.
The temples and pagodas are best seen by bike which is an exellent way of getting around. There are lots of people wanting to sell or change/trade souveniers, and they are really eager to get a hold of ANYTHING western. If you bring pens, t-shirts, lipstick etc. you can get quite a few mural paintings. <BR><BR> Recommend seeing the sunrise from Mingalazedi; incredible.
Mandalay is a must as home base for daily excursions to e.g. Mingun. Saggain is no must if you manage to go to Pagan and you have to choose between the two. Marie Min, vegetarian restaurant, is a great place for food and lassi, to meet other travellers and to talk to Tommy, Marie''s brother. Toe Toe also a great place to eat Myanmar Food.
Only need to spend a day or so in Yangon. See the Shwedagon Pagoda, and visit the house in which Suu Kyi grew up. The Scott market is also worth a visit. Le Planteur restaurant gets a very high recommendation. Quite expensive, but delicious food (French).
Yangon is a big and bustling city, but the traffic isn''t too bad which makes it possible to walk around. There are lots of nice tea-shops with fantastic tea and "opium-cakes" where one can do some people-watching. <BR><BR> Many of the restaurants look pretty shabby, but offer really good food. There are lots of Indian restaurants along Anawratha Road that have exellent biryani and South Indian food. It is really cheap, about 1.5 USD for 2. Also a couple of good Chinese restaurants downtown, can recommend Mandarin in Mahabandoola Garden Street. <BR><BR> Getting tickets and changing money can be a hassel at times, and most travel agencies are located around the Aung San stadium. Many of them will try to cheat you and sell tickets to buses that don''t exist, too high prices etc. Can recommend Rubyland, the owner is extremely helpful. He does everything for you; bustickets, car rentals, hotel reservations etc!!! He has a website and it is possible to arrange things in advance by e-mailing him.
Yangon is a fasinating city, the country is much easier to get into and travel in than we were lead to believe by some guide books.
Took a short tour of the city. Purchase some handicraft and ruby for my wife. The city of Yangoon is clean. Taxi are plentiful, but non-aircon. People are friendly.
Yanogoon is great fun. We enjoyed the temples, the shopping, dining at The Strand, a trip on the river, etc. We were there four days which is about the right amount of time -- if you keep busy rather than rest around the inviting pool.
Try Oriental house for Dimsum. Only lunch, no dinner.
We can advice travellers to eat in "a little bit of Mandalay" nearby the hotel. Big value for local food; clean and helpful service.
Myanmar is a wonderful destination which would deserve more tourists.
Horse carts: reasonable prises and amazing view esp. during the night at full moon. Boat trips can be easilily organized.
Yangon''s really easy to get around - taxi''s are cheap (400 - 1500 kyats) The current rate is US$1 to 1000 kyats. I would recommend staying away from the downtown area which is very dusty with very heavy traffic (the only reason for visiting is to go to the Aung San Bogyoke market for souvenirs - I would recommend buying your lacquer in Bagan where most of the lacquer is produced - there is a workshop''s whose pieces are in the British Museum. You get what you pay for - quality medium size lacquer is from $30 upwards. Having said that I bought lots of cheaper "horsehair" bowls as presents ($1 each) - which look like gloss painted over Coke bottle bottoms - just don''t show friends your museum quality pieces - there is a very noticeable difference if you "display" a good piece next to the Aung San market pieces! <BR><BR> If you don''t stay at the Pansea - go for dinner as a treat - reserve a garden table by the tortoise pond - you won''t regret it, the garden is stunning lit up at night, marvellous service (the food is OK, not great, but it''s the "ambience" that counts here!) - have your coffee on their veranda overlooking the koi and swimming pool ($70 for two persons). <BR><BR> The food at 50th Street Bar is OK too - NZ lamb, steaks, delicious passion fruit sorbet - gloomy atmosphere ($30-40 for 2 persons). Very good value dinner buffets at Summitt ($7), disappointing buffet at Traders. Tea at Strand OK. <BR><BR> Stay at the Summitt for good value, great view of the Schwedagon. Traders is comfortable, clean and what you would expect from the Shangari La Group. Kandawagi Palace is peaceful, very beautiful and established gardens, right by the lake - if you want to sit by the pool (infinity style on several levels) or a relaxing day reading, would recommend this hotel - lots of quiet shady spots (rooms not as modern as Traders). <BR><BR> In Bagan, there are 4 hotels in Old Bagan - where the temples are - stay here and not in new town. Stayed at a new hotel - Theraba Gate, an elegant hotel, comfortable room with private terrace with teak loungers - can recommend this ($59)- right opposite the Ananada temple - also convenient for the only Chinese restaurant in town (next door). <BR><BR> Get a horse cart for going round the temples - and don''t forget to do an hour at night - wrap up warm, it was a magical experience - because there are no cars and not much electricity - the sky is very clear, dark blue, full moon, bright stars, temples silhouetted, crickets - one of my best memories of the holiday. Day trip to Mt Popa from here $20 - try to stay for the sunset. <BR><BR> In Mandalay, stayed at the Sedona - OK. Go up Mandalay Hill in a truck but walk down - chat to the students to find out about life in Burma on your way down. Good dinners at BB Bar - highly recommended ($8 for two - wonderful grilled prawns). Make a day trip to Migun. Don''t miss the old monastery in Mandalay that used to be part of the palace - it''s wooden with marvellous carvings - and not a "disco" Buddha in sight (the ones with Christmas lights). Take 3 wheel taxis - they''re cheap - distances are vast - forget walking! <BR><BR> At Lake Inle stayed at Lakeview - comfortable hotel (boutique style). Unfortunately this is the only hotel where the prices on the menu exclude taxes. Full day boat hire $15, half day $10. Had lunch at Golden Cottages - it''s built on stilts with traditional woven walls (ie you can see gaps), if you stay here, I imagine you can feel a little bit "marooned." Visit the jumping cat monastery - it is a beautiful peaceful building. Eat lots of strawberries while at Lake Inle - they are the little ones that explode with flavour that you can''t get in Europe anymore. <BR><BR> Burma''s a wonderful country, really friendly people, golden light, clear starry nights and wonderful value. Enjoy yourself, have a great holiday - and make some time to linger - and give in to the temptation to chase sunsets - cheesy - but Burma is really a "golden" land - and the combination of golden stupas in golden light - just give in and enjoy. My best sunsets are (not in order): Mt Popa, Mandalay Hill, U Bein Bridge (Mandalay), Old Bagan from the river and from a temple top (your cart driver will know of a stupa that you can climb up).
Bagan is definitely the highlight of any trip to Myanmar. Not to be forgotten easily!
I wouldn''t recommend much more than a day in Yangon. it''s a typical hot dusty Asian city, and there isn''t much to see. Get out and see the real Burma - Bagan, Inle Lake. When you want a taxi, get the hotel staff outside the entrance to organise it for you - they will tell the driver where you want to go. It should not cost more than a dollar, or 1000 kyats. 50th Street Bar and Grill is very good. Go to the Strand Hotel in Happy Hour to experience the old colonial atmosphere!
Bagan is a magical place. The best thing to do is hire a bicycle from the hotel($3 for the whole day) and just get out and explore. Get off the roads and cycle on the many tracks past the temples - you can''t get lost. We also took a day tour round the temples with Diethelm travel for $30 - two half days is probably better if you have the time.
Some fabulous sights (Shwedagon Pagoda at sunrise is unforgettable) but be prepared for your plans not to work out as you expect. Somehow the Burmese always seem to inject an element of the unexpected.
Easy to get around. Take a "Baby-Car" to catch the atmosphere.
Getting around Myanmar is very cheap, everywhere you go it cost about $1.50 to $2.00 dollars, sometimes it can be cheap as $.50 cents but just have to work the taxi driver a little and they will take just about anything. Taxis are quick and it''s safe to get around. <BR><BR> Far as food go, I will not recommend a restaurant called M3, it''s not clean and the service is not that great, and they can never serve you what they have on the menu, to top it all off it''s one of the more costlier place to eat. <BR><BR> But here is a place I would go back and back, in fact I ate there 5 times on this trip alone. The place is called THEIK DI SHIN its located on #331,333 Anawrahta street corner of 1st st. The food is wonderful and the price is awesome. Me and 3 others order everything on the menu and it cost me $7.00 dollars, that''s with drinks and all, and the food is so good....! And the service is second to none...! <BR><BR> One time while we were eating dinner at THEIK DI SHIN we ran out of Myanmar money, we called the hotel Nikko and ask the taxi driver to bring us money and he did so, I can tell you one thing, there is not a taxi driver in the whole world would do that especialy to a stranger who they just met at the hotel, he goes by the name of Mr. John. Back to the restaurant, the waitress make about $12.00 dollars a month, and on our last dinner the waitress went to the market which takes about 20 minutes by bus to buy us gifts and some food on the street they they don''t serve on their menu out of her pocket, don''t get me wrong, we tipped her very good but to do all this, this can only happen in Myanmar. The people are wonderful and if you are thinking of taking one Asian trip in your life this would be the place...!
We bought more artwork in Mandalay than the rest of the location combined.
Very exotic destination. We really enjoyed our two week visit.
We enjoyed our trip to Myanmar very much.<BR> Places visited: Golden Rock, Bagan, Mandalay and surroundings, Inle Lake, Ngapali Beach, Yangon.<BR> Restaurants: restaurants in Kandawagyi, Green Elephant.
Interesting destination. Very friendly people, Honest. We didn''t encounter any security problems and we covered the whole place day and night. Communication can be difficult outside the inner capital city. Very inexpensive you can eat out in the best places for $6 to $10 USD per couple.
A very unspoiled country where because of the less than attractive political isolation the people and the environment has not been as spoilt as in the rest of Asia. Infrastructure is fragile but the honest willingness to help overcomes most obstacles in the private sector.
Take the time to get off the beaten track. The zoo was an excellent place to see some very unusual animals. The animals are right there too, within feet of the viewer. If you wanted to pet the Himalayan Griffins you could, but I wouldn''t recommend it. <BR><BR> I met a number of people at the zoo too. It was a nice place to see the hard-working Burmese people taking a day''s holiday. They play games and picnic in the zoo. Who knows, you may get invited to lunch!
Overwhelming number of temples to visit. Best by horse cart (1 US$ per hour) or bike (very cheap).
2 days can be filled with visits to breathtaking Shwedagon Paya and the city center with market. Taxis from Kandawgyi Palace Hotel to both 1-2 US$.
We had an excellent tour guide that we met at the ferry. Because we were only in Bagan for 2 days, we used a car with a driver. Our tour guide was a "horse-cart" driver named Kyaw Kyaw (pronounced Chor Chor), and he accompanied us in the car. He can usually be found near the front to the Old Bagan hotel. We would give him a very high recommendation. If you have the time then a horse-cart tour looks like a good way to tour Bagan.
Visitors should see Mandalay Hill, Royal Palace and if possible take a half-day trip to Mingun temple. Regular service departs ferry pier early in the morning and returns about lunch time. It is possible to hire a private boat which gives better flexibility and also ensures your money goes to a local person, rather than a government-owned operator.
Yangon is a welcome respite from the pace of other Asian destinations. With nary a Starbucks or McDonalds in sight it harkens back to a slower-paced time.
I have visited many palaces throughout the world. Some palaces and truly stunning and amazing. Even smaller palaces were generally interesting, charming and exciting in their own way. However, despite its large size, there is nothing to see inside the royal palace of Mandalay. It feels like an empty Hollywood stage set. All the buildings are empty. All you see are identical pillars after pillars inside each and every building. <BR><BR> You can see a nice sunset at the top of Mandalay Hill. Many students studying English go there to meet foreigners, practice their English, and learn about the outside world. The are among the friendliest people that tourists can meet.
Yangon, Mandalay (Novotel - very good), Bagan (Thiripyitsaya - excellent). All done independently. Don''t miss Bagan!
After visiting a number of spectacular United Nations World Heritage sites throughout the world, I think Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is a must see.
Myanmar definitely is a lot less developed than Thailand or Indonesia; at the same time, this is what makes the country feel more genuine. This makes even the usual tours (Yangon markets, Bagan) exciting.
Yangon is a rather depressing place to visit. You can almost smell the decay (and corruption?) of the city. For starters, the whole city could do with a fresh coat of paint! The Sofitel is in a good position to see the great temple and the local markets.
We visited Mandalay, Bagan, Inla Lake, Kalaw, Kyakhito and Yangon. Don''t miss Bagan and Inla Lake (there you spend 1 night in a hotel inside the lake. Restaurants recommended: in Yangun "Sabai Sabai", in Bagan "Sarabba" in Old Bagan.
I repeat: Use Horsecart 54" Any other horsecart driver can find him for you. His normal post is just up the road in front of the Bagan Hotel.
I started off my journey in exotic Myanmar at the Traders in Yangon. It was an excellent location to acclimatise myself to the streets of Yangon. Scott Market was just a mere stone throw''s away. Yangon may not have the most modern spanking department stores you can find in Asian cities like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, but Scott Market has what you need as a visitor hoping to indulge in some ethnic Burmese shopping. Maybe buy a longyi or lacquer piece. <br><br> You will feel different in Myanmar. You will feel like you have just stepped into a bygone era. Yangon might give you the feeling that you have stepped back into the 1940s and 50s. I wasn''t born then, but that''s nevertheless how I imagine it would be. <br><br> Take a break during your walk around the city by dropping in Cafe Aroma, which rivals Starbucks and Spinelli''s any day. I am glad not to see images of MacDonald''s, Colonel Sanders or Starbucks anywhere in Myanmar. I hope it remains that way. That''s what makes Myanmar so unique and different from others in Asia. <br><br> The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is not to be missed. It''s beautiful, legendary and historical. It''s one of 3 most revered shrines in Myanmar, the other two being Phaung Daw U Pagoda on Inle Lake and the Shwezigon in old Pagan. <br><br> Just as a matter of interest, the Sule Pagoda, just 5 minutes'' stroll away from Traders, stands in tranquil contradiction right in the heart of noisy Yangon. Step inside and you leave the noise and din behind you. <br><br> Pagan, half an hour flight away from Yangon, is certainly not to be missed either, and not just because the Shwezigon pagoda happens to be located in Pagan. If you have little time in Myanmar, make sure that time includes visiting Pagan. Old Pagan is spectacular. With a bit of imagination again, you will feel like you have gone back in time - into a long-gone era. Pagan thrived in the 9th-12th centuries. There''s little trace of the modern world as you move around old Pagan, except for the few tourist vans. Ancient red brick pagodas lined up the Irrawaddy faithfully. Take time to enjoy their silhouettes glowing red and golden against the sunset. Climb up one of the taller pagodas and it will be an unforgettable experience. There''s nothing like it on earth - to be surrounded by glowing temples, no matter where you turn. It spiritual, beautiful, scary, magical, serene, tranquil .... everything. The feeling is indescribable.<br><br> I have seen the sun rising and setting against Ayers Rock in Alice Springs, Australia, which was spectacular. But in Pagan, it is an endless landscape of pagodas rising all around you! I don''t think the kings of early Pagan who built the pagodas in unabated enthusiasm from the 9th to 11th centuries quite realised the impact it would have on the modern-day visitor of today. <br><br> My next destination was Inle Lake, about 40 minutes flight from Pagan, and I was told by the guide, 15 to 20 hours if you took the train from Yangon. The Inle Lake is home to the Intha people, a properous farming community - by Myanmar standards. It can probably rival Bokhara in Nepal or Kashmir (before the war) in sights and beauty. It is a maze of waterways, but a more tranquil place on earth against hills and mountains would be hard to find. There are rows and rows of floating gardens - wheat, tomatoes, peanuts and corn are among some types of vegetables grown on the lake. You find pagodas and monasteries at every turn of the lake, like everywhere else in Myanmar. As I mentioned earlier, The Phaung Daw U Pagoda on Inle Lake is held in equivalent regard in Myanmar as the Shwedagon in Yangon or the Shwezigon in Pagan. <br><br> There are some good hotels lining the lake, but cheaper accommodation can be found at Nyaung Shwe, the jumping-off point for a trip to the lake. <br><br> If there is any place on earth where I would love to make a return visit, it would have to be Myanmar. My next visit will be soon enough, maybe this year end, and it will include what I have had to miss this time round, not for lack of interest, but rather of time, and that would be journeying to Mandalay and other parts of the country.
don''t buy Mandalay Air Line air ticket from abroad, it is more expensive.
Yangon is not a place I would go out of my way to visit again. The military presence there is somewhat stifling, the city has limited things to see. The people in Yangon are decidedly less open than in Mandalay. The Green Elephant is a great restaurant for Myanmar food and handicrafts.
If you were to stay at Sofitel Plaza Hotel, it is going to be very convenience. You can walk to the famous Bogyoke market from the back of the hotel, it takes only 10 minutes. There is a very new and clean shopping centre and supermarket next to the hotel for any urgent replenishment of necessities. It will take only 10 minutes drive to go to Chinatown, Indiantown and Sule pagoda. Taxi rides cost usually around 500 kyats. In front of the hotel there is a famous church too. Lastly, it takes about 45 minutes to drive to ariport and if you use a taxi from outside it cost only 1600 kyats.
Myanmar people are very friendly and I had a great time in that country, specially in Bagan. But since it is not yet totally developped if you think about going to that country, the best would be to pass by an agency who will organise a local guide for you. I have the chance to have some local friend and it was really cool but language is really an issue. if you are using credit card, only VISA is accepted and you have to verify more than twice to be sure the hotel accept the card otherwise they will charge you an extra 10%. Take lots of extra cash with you because there again if you want to cash out some money from your credit card only very few limited places will do it for a 20% charge....
As with all cities, taxis will try it on, so negotiate and if the price doesn''t move try another one. However the city isn''t so big that you can''t walk around and you always see more on foot. The area around the Pansea Hotel is full of old colonial houses that are now embassies, this is a very nice area for a stroll. Although there is no view of the Shwedagon Pagoda from the hotel, it is only a 10-15 minute walk away.
Mandalay seems to be a little world all of its own. Exchange rates are lower there and things are a bit more expensive. However the people are lovely. A very friendly trishaw driver found us on our first day and we left ourselves in his charge from then on. Without him we would never have sat in the office of the headmaster of a monks'' training school discussing the syllabus nor have been served ultra sweet tea and cake at a wedding before having our photos taken with the bride and groom. If you have the chance do go and see the Moustache Brothers, forget the dinner and shows that the hotels put on , this is the real thing.
We visited Mt Popa after two days hard temple visiting at Bagan. The Mt Popa resort provided a very welcome break for our feet and the cool temperature and pool aided our relaxation prior to more temple visiting in Mandalay. The temple at Mt Popa is a little glitzy especially compared to those at Bagan and watch out for monkeys on the walk up. If you''re heading to Mandalay by road from Bagan (highly recommended, you see so much more this way even if you do break down), Mt Popa is a lovely place to stop.
The Shwedagon Pagaoda is the place to be in Yangon. Go there for sunrise or sunset and at all costs avoid mid-day (tiles are too hot to walk on in bare feet). Whether you take 30 rolls of film of the incredible temple, join the general milling around, meditate or chat to inquisitive locals you cannot fail to have a magical ''other-worldy'' time at Shwedagon.
The hotel was very helping in arranging flight tickets to Bagan.
Bagan was definitely the place to visit. Mandalay was not so impressive as limited histoical place were there and the town, so far as this time, was dry and dusty.
Trip was semi-business, as the purposes were to 1) explore Yangon, 2) make contacts for niche antiques business, and 3) purchase antique textiles. Lots of interesting sites to visit from an historical and cultural perspective. English readily spoken. Good restaurants, and food; both Western, and SE Asian.<br><br> Used a recommended driver -- very happy with results. Only used driver in Yangon and environs. But, know he will drive to other cities in-country. Had good ideas, and knows the city well. Suggest you somehow link him into drivers you recommend in Myanmar.<br><br> Contact Details:<br><br> SHWE Private Travel Service <br> Contact: Mr.Shwe Toe <br> English Licensed Tour Guide & Driver<br> Tel: 95-1-570219<br> Fax: 95-1-540077 or 544662<br> Email: email@example.com
As this was a lazy, relaxing honeymoontrip we didn´t go far -- only inside Yangon. We went to the Shwedagon Pagoda, Sule pagoda, to the Scott market and surved around the city. We dined once at the Strand hotel as people had recommended that on the internet but it didn´t meet our expectations as it is not very lifely and a little bit like dining in a church ! Usually when we went out we rapidly fled back to Pansea because we knew where to find the best quality of food and spending time.
Shewdagon Pagoda, (5US$)lovely but a good deal of scaffolding and renovation at the moment.<br> Bogyoke market, great fun, lots of interesting things to buy and cheap.<br> Maha Wizaya (Free) a relatively new temple complex near to the Shewdagon lovely and worth seeing.<br> Sule Paya hard to miss located in centre of town.<br> Chaukhtatgyi Paya (donation)a very quiet spot housing an enormous reclining buddha.<br> Bogyoke Aung San Museum (2or3 US$) Nice architecture, few photos of the family and furniture ie; beds, tables etc Aung San''s old car and an interesting book collection. Very basic good be improved upon as a museum.<br> Yangon Zoo (5US$) poor but what one might expect.<br> Inya Lake beautiful. <br> Cocktails at the Strand a beautiful building. Afternoon tea 10US$.<br> Taxis are plentiful and very reasonable and will wait if requested. A two night stay is sufficient in order to see the highlights however an extra night may allow time to visit Bago.
Superb BF buffet. Expensive food but some good set menu deals offered if you are fed up with the local kitchen.
If you look for tranquility and excellent service and the best rooms in town choose the T. Sakura hotel. If a romantic and busy place is your preference the Bagan Hotel (this is not the Bagan Golf Resort)is your hotel.
Great place for a relaxing few days in the mountains walking and reading books.
Taxis are convenient and cheap but one must agree a fare with the driver first - most locations within town are under USD1.00 ! If you are an independent visitor, Shwedagon is a must. The restaurants in Sofitel are world class, but if you are adventurous, there are plenty of good Chinese restaurants in Yangon.
Myanmar is quite fascinating. Visit Bagan, for a true once in a lifetime experience.
I much prefer other places in Burma over Yangon -- like Inle Lake, one of the most spectaculat places on Earth.
Yangon is surprising efficient. One neat little bar is the Cafe Blues, about two blocks from Traders. Live music and totally local.
Yangon is not a city made for pleasing a tourist. I suggest to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda and leave as soon as possible for Bagan or any other classic touristic destination in Myanmar. I also made a weak attempt to visit places around Yangon (e.g. Twante), but after waiting for a couple of hours the ferry on a dilapidated jetty I gave up.
Yangoon is an interesting city with the old Asian charm. people still dress up in the traditional sarong and the lungi. This is the Asia of the 1960s I grew up in, but no more found in many parts of the continent.
Yangon is hardly the highlight of a trip to Myanmar but it is likely the last place where you will find a salad or a drink after 11pm before embarking to more interesting destinations such as Mandalay and Bagan. We used taxis to get around which proved more of a challenge than expected as The Sofitel had just changed names from The Equitorial and none of the taxi drivers recognized the destination.
The best way to get around is to walk off the grounds of the hotel and get a cab. The people at the front desk suggested we do this, since the hotel cabs are more expensive. Good restaurants are found in the hotel. We went to the Strand, which had delicious food, but was outragously expensive. Go to the big temple in Yangoon (I don''t remember the name right now) at sunrise and walk around for a few hours. After the sun comes up, it gets very smoggy and polluted in town. A good restaurant, if you want to leave the hotel area is called the Green Elephant.
Near the city center and just south of Shwedagon, perfectly located.
Yangon is a delightfully green leafy city with excellent restaurants and cafes- we ate at the lakeside restaurants including the Dolphin seafood restaurant, the Strand and the Pansea French restaurant. We visted art galleries in the Bahan district and the National Museum. Yangon is an excellent city for buying new and antique laquerware, silverware, silk, jewelry including pearls, rubies, sapphires, etc.
Recommeded: Thai Restaurant ''Sabai Sabai'' (located opposite of Savoy Hotel).<br><br> Getting around from Sofitel very good: most places of interest not far (either walking or short trip by taxi).
First trip to Myanmar, will not visit again until government changes it''s policies.
Just a few minutes walk from the hotel to the famous Bogyoke Market. 10-15 minutes walk to the Sule Pagoda. With hotel limousine we went to Bago for 6 hours and payed 98 USD. (Taxi in Yangon is very cheap but the cars are miserable and very old, so for a tour you need a good car.)
The plains of Bagan hold a treasure trove of historical importance akin to the much better known Angkor Wat complex of Cambodia. The variety of 10th and 11th century temples is awe inspiring and can comfortably be toured via bicycle. A visit to the Archeological Museum should not be missed.
Yangon, and Myanmar as a whole, is a diamond in the rough and should be experienced.
All destinations in town are easily accessible from the hotel. Thai-Malay-Restaurant in Inya Lan offers good food. Sabai-Sabai also.
I took the standard yangon-mandalay-bagan route, and agents recommend that this circuit be done in two day increments for each city. i would say that yangon and mandalay can be done in about a day, and i would recommend that the majority of your time should be spent in bagan and the surrounding towns, as such attractions as inle lake. yangon and mandalay was quite polluted and not worth more than a day each.
Rangoon/Yangon is best seen in 2 days. The ShweDagon is nice as was Bago (a day trip). The constant car horns were maddening. Make sure you have a Taxi that has not only a seatbelt but one that works (the hotels cars I rode in did, except for 1). If you want to read while in Burma, you need 2 bring it with you, there are no bookstore 2 speak of.
You can do Yangon in about two days--temples & sights one day, shopping at the markets the next. Use it as a stop before & after seeing the real sights at Mandalay & Bagan. Contact Y & A tours for an excellent guide to not only Yangon, but all of Myanmar.
I found spending an hour around sunset at Shwedagon Pagaoda a unique experience ...and went twice. Don't want to say too much but it is a must! Don't miss happy hour cocktails at the Strand -- great value for money.