Just had a blast in Myanmar, which I wouldn’t have visited if not for my brave brother interning in Yangon at the moment. Was plenty fun and akin to travelling back in time – apparently Singapore 50 years ago was similar.
Expect mounds of rubbish careless accumulated by the roads and dirty haphazard buildings; but also unspoiled beauties of nature, delicious food (cheap, cheap, cheap!!) and friendly happy faces all about.
This trip we spent 9 days in Myanmar – 1.5 days in Mandalay, 1 full day at Bagan and 2 days at Inle Lake, and the rest in Yangon. The trip was all planned by my humble self, and there is really no need to go along with the exorbitant tours organized by Singapore tour groups (to the tune of 1800sgd/person!). Hopefully the following posts could help you in planning your next trip to the Golden Land of Myanmar!
Some helpful information:
- Cash: Exchange your cash in Myanmar! Exchanging your hard currency (USD, SGD, EUR, etc) into kyat at the airport is so much cheaper (well who in Singapore would want kyats?)
All bigger touristy-related expenditures (including hotels, local tours) accept USD(and card payments) as well, but paying in Kyat is definitely cheaper.
- The seasons: Their year is split into 3 main periods – the HOT season (Feb-May), the monsoon (May-Aug) and the cold (Sep-Jan) season.
Avoid hot season as temperatures can come close to 50 deg Celsius in places like Bagan. Cold season is the season of tourism, with cooler weather – however expect crowded areas and higher prices.
I visited Myanmar in the middle of June – and I was delighted to find that prices were lower, no stress in booking tours, and rain was mostly kept at bay except in Yangon (pouring! All the time!). Downside would be that hot-air balloons are not available, photos might turn out a tad cloudy (making sunsets difficult to catch) and boat trips between locations (e.g. Mandalay to Bagan) are not available.
- Internal flights: We had taken internal flights to get around: Yangon > Mandalay > Nyuang-U (Bagan) > Heho (Inle Lake) > Yangon. Unfortunately boat trips were unavailable and I was afraid my parents might not be comfortable with long bus rides!
We were rather afraid of safety at first, what with my parents never taking domestic flights before, and especially after we saw these propellers..
Although I’d definitely want to try out the boat one day, I’d say the flights went beyond expectations! We took Golden Myanmar Airlines and MAI. Cheap prices, very stable flights, and great service – even when the flight duration was 30mins, we were served beverages (water/juice/beer) and snacks (usually a set – pastries/sandwiches).
Best of all was the time saved as you really only need to be at the airport 30-45mins before the flight itself – was as easy as taking a bus. None of the usual airport fuss.
- Attire: You will be visiting lots of temples/pagodas, and as a sign of respect you cannot wear spaghetti straps or shorts into here.
Quick fix for ladies – just wear plenty of midi skirts and dresses. Alternatively, you can purchase long flowy pants or longyis (their national attire) easily locally. Another idea is bringing a cardigan to cover shoulders and a cloth/sarong to wrap around your shorts.
For guys – for the most part knee-length pants worked fine. No beach shorts. You can also purchase the longyi!
Bring a hat/cap as the sun can get blistering hot.
- ‘Entrance’ Fees: Kind of the bulk of expenditures locally what with food being so cheap.
Mandalay: 10,000 kyat/person to visit some attractions
Bagan: 25,000 kyat/person at the airport
Inle Lake: 20,000/person when you reach Nyaung Shwe area
Coming up are trip details of each place, with additional tips!
Check out my Instagram page at @Jabjabjabber, do leave a comment here and feel free to ask any Q’s! See yal