Last Modified: 17 Mar 2013
Best of Burma
Trip code: TTSM
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2012
Discover a country of mythical landscapes, ancient treasures and some of the friendliest folk you’ll ever meet. From golden-gilded Buddha’s in Yangon and the magical temples of Bagan to the tranquillity of Inle Lake, Burma will excite, impress and intrigue you. Experience the South-East Asia of twenty years ago - full of rarely seen sights and generations of stories just waiting to be told. Come and discover a little bit of Burma magic with us.
Warning - this is a new trip for us!
While we have thoroughly researched this area to put together this trip, it still must be remembered that this is a relatively new trip for us. To be frank, we expect some things to go wrong. When we head to new destinations, we usually find there are more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones, but the warning is sincere. If it concerns you then we recommend that you wait for a year until we get any bugs ironed out.
TRAVELLING TO BURMA:
Resuming trips in Burma (Myanmar) is not a decision Intrepid has made lightly.
In 2003, we responded to the call for a boycott on travel to Burma by the then democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) party was denied the right to govern the country by the military dictatorship.
After recent positive events within the country including the elections in November 2010, the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and the subsequent call to end the travel boycott by the NLD, Intrepid has been prompted to consider returning to Burma.
By reintroducing our grassroots style of travel, we can contribute to improving the circumstances of the Burmese people by way of initiating a two-way exchange. Firstly, resuming trips will give them a chance to interact with visitors from other countries, thus giving a rare glimpse into life and governance in other parts of the world.
Secondly, taking passengers to Burma will help to build awareness of the complex issues this country continues to face, as well as positively contributing to the economy. It is important to note that any Intrepid trip to Burma will have been carefully constructed to feature locally owned transport and accommodation wherever possible.
If you would like more information before deciding whether Burma (Myanmar) is right for you, we recommend you read Travelling to Myanmar - Should you go? available on the Lonely Planet website.
Table of Contents
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Days 1-2 Yangon
Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Burma.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Formerly named Rangoon, Yangon is the country's biggest city and was the capital from 1885, when the British conquered the north and the kingdom of Mandalay, until just a few years ago when the government moved the capital to Naypyidaw.
To get your bearings and a taste of this wonderful city, take a walk to Sule Paya, then perhaps down to the Victorian Strand Hotel to admire both the colonial architecture and the bargaining madness of Bogyoke Market. Or sample some of the great Indian food on offer.
We visit the holiest of all shrines at Shwedagon Paya. The most religious site within Myanmar, said to contain 8 hairs of the Buddha, it glitters with gold, 5500 diamonds and hundreds of other precious gems on the hill overlooking the city. Come sunset the lights go on and the impressive stupa, lit with 4 beams of light, sits grandly like a shining beacon.
- Yangon - City Walking Tour
- Yangon - Kandawgi Lake
- Yangon - Shwedagon Paya
- Yangon - Bogyoke Market (Scotts Market), Yangon - Free
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 3-5 Bagan
We head out early to catch our flight to the ancient wonder of Bagan.
Spreading out across the horizon are the peaks of 4,500 brick and gilded ancient temples. Dotting the skyline in many shapes and forms some say they compare in splendour to the majestic Angkor kingdom. Theravada Buddhism was introduced by the former kings of Pagan (Bagan) in the mid 11th century, which spurred on the swift building of a swathe of temples to worship their gods, be they Buddhist, Hindu or Nat, over the ensuing 200 or so years.
Exploring the temple site by bike is a great way to take in all the atmosphere of this stunning sight. We will be steered through the large and impressive temples, such as Ananda Pahto , Dhammayangyi Pahto and Shwesandaw Paya, as well as the smaller hidden gems offering wonderful opportunities to climb stairwells and get those magic photo moments. And don't worry if you're averse to riding bikes - your leader can arrange a pony cart as an alternative.
Hawkers often surround the most popular temples, selling lacquer ware or handicrafts, if a spot of shopping takes your fancy. There are also stalls offering cool drinks and a touch of shade.
After touring the temples, we head back to the hotel for a short rest, before heading out later for sunset viewing.
Enjoy sunset at the nearby Shwezigon Paya and feast on local delicacies opposite these 1,000 year old temples.
Consider catching a colourful marionette performance while sampling some traditional Bamar cuisine.
There is plenty of free time to get into everything that Bagan has on offer.
you can choose to grab a map of the Bagan Archaeological Park and explore more temples/paya at your own pace. Check out the Archaeological Museum, relax at Bamboo Garden with a latte, or sip a martini at the Beach Bar on the banks Ayeyarwaddy River during sunset.
Or why not take a day trip out to Mt Popa - a single mountain which juts out of the countryside, topped with monasteries and stupas. It is home and shrine to the 37 Nat spirits. Coming in all forms there is even a 'guardian of spirits (as in alcohol)' which gamblers simply know as 'Drunk Nat'. Sweeping views await those who venture to the top.
- Bagan - Walking tour
- Bagan - Shwezigon Paya
- Bagan - Temple bike tour
- Bagan - Dinner & puppet show, Bagan - MMK8000.00
- Bagan - Lacquer Ware Workshop Visit, Bagan - Free
- Bagan - Archaeological Museum, Bagan - MMK5000.00
- Bagan - Mt Popa Day Trip (transport only), Bagan - MMK40000.00
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 6 Ayeyarwaddy River
This morning we head to the pier by pony cart for our 2 day cruise up-river to Mandalay.
Our chartered boat has a toilet/bathroom, with mats to relax on downstairs - this area is also used for meal times. Upstairs there are deckchairs, also for relaxing, and at night we will sleep on mats on the deck underneath the stars (and a mosquito net!). Please note that during the cooler months of December & January it can get quite cool overnight on the boat and although blankets are provided warmer sleeping clothes are recommended.
- Ayeyarwaddy River - Overnight Boat
Overnight boat (1 nt)
Days 7-8 Mandalay
Stretch your legs this morning with a brisk stroll around Yangola village and spend some time interacting with the smiling locals. Back on board our boat, wile away another fascinating day witnessing all the simple daily activities of life along the river.
Along the way, we pay a visit to the Sagaing Temples. Loosely described as the 'Monte Carlo of Burma', Sagiang is a set of small hills, dotted with temples and gold covered stupas.
We arrive in Mandalay late afternoon, just in time perhaps to for an ice-cream/latte or frappuchino at the famous Nylon Bar or consider checking out the traditional Shan cuisine at Lashio Lay.
Once known as 'the golden city' Mandalay was the last capital of the former Kingdom of Myanmar, abolished in 1885 by the British as a result of the 3rd and final Anglo-Burmese war. The kingdom was pretty much given away by the last king - Thibaw Min, however its remnants still remain sitting in a grid of streets similar to that of Manhattan.
This evening (or the next, depending on what time the boat arrives) we visit the impressive Mandalay Hill. Lord Buddha is said to have left his mark on this mountain in the form of a footprint, signalling wealth and prosperity for the land standing before it. Discover all the glittering stupas, colourful mosaics and sensational lookout points as we relish in sunset views over the city.
There is plenty to do in your free time. Travel by river to the World Archaeological site of Mingun, with the world's largest uncracked bell and glistening white stupa; or jump on a trishaw and check out the city, visiting the sacred Buddha image of Mahamuni Paya along the way. Covered in a massive 6 inch layer of gold leaf it is said to be more than 2000 years old and bears a perfect likeness to the Lord Buddha. The intricately carved teak monastery, Shwenandaw Kyaung, is not far away; or perhaps for a change of pace see a puppetry or dance performance at the Madalay Marionettes or Mintha Theatre.
- Mandalay - Boat trip to Mingun archaeological site, Mandalay - MMK2000.00
- Mandalay - Puppet show, Mandalay - MMK8000.00
- Mandalay - Teak monastery, Mandalay - Free
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 9-10 Kalaw
On route today we pass the impressive U Bein's Bridge - at 1.2 kilometres long it is the world’s longest teak bridge - where we will perhaps stop off for cup of tea.
Heading along the 'great road of China' (the new super highway built by the Chinese), we make our way into the mountains of Shan state which offer stunning scenery and some fine opportunities for photo stops.
As a former British hill station Kalaw make a welcome retreat from the heat of the lower lying areas. While the surrounding hills are the home to various ethnic minority groups, including the Palaung, Danu and Pa-O.
Tonight we relax with some friends at a local restaurant and prepare for tomorrow's 12 mile trek.
We have a local guide who will lead us through the tea plantations and small villages, as we explore tracks away from other tourists and traffic. Mingling in villages along the way, we head for our lunch stop viewing point. After a break we loop around and make our scenic descent back down to Kalaw.
PLEASE NOTE: For the 12 mile trek you will need to have a reasonable amount of fitness. There are support vehicles available, however these can only access the trails at the halfway mark - it does mean you will need to walk for the first half of the trek. Please wear comfortable shoes but please know - the trek is walked at a comfortable pace!
- Mandalay - U Bein Bridge
- Kalaw - Full day trek
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 11-13 Inle Lake
Setting off across the mountains and plateau crammed with farms we make a stop at the caves of Pindaya. As one of the 'Golden Caves' in Shan state, pilgrims flock to worship the 8000 or so Buddha images which adorn the caverns, tunnels and meditation chambers of this huge limestone cave. We venture into the labyrinth of tunnels with our guide to gain a better insight into its history.
Pushing on towards Taungyi, we take the turnoff to the resort town of Nyuangshwe, set at the northern end of Inle Lake and our base for the next few days.
The calm waters of Inle Lake are the life-blood for many ethnic minority communities found in stilt houses in lake's shallow fringes and surrounding areas.
Heading out in motorised boats we spend the day taking in all the sights from the distinctive leg rowing of local fishermen casting their nets, to the floating tomato plantations and a plethora of cottage industries such as silversmiths, weavers and cigar makers.
We may even come across the floating market which circles the lake each 5 days, where locals sell traditional wares and we can take advantage of shopping opportunities which might come our way.
Stopping for lunch in the shadow of Phaung Daw Oo Paya , the most religious site in Shan State, take a few moments to check out the gold-leaf coated Buddha images and many paintings which tell of the origin of the 4 statues. The gilded barge used during the Phaung Daw Oo festival to sail to all the temples around the lake is also on display.
Continuing on our adventure we visit local villages, where the locals greet you with smiles and handicraft items, as we make our way back into Nyaungshwe.
This evening we can sit back and enjoy a traditional Shan banquet.
There is lots to choose from on your free day! Perhaps visit the markets, take a wander around the nearby waterfront, cycle off into neighbouring villages, see old payas/temples and the lovely teak monastery, or head for the hills on a trek to visit the Padaung (long neck) tribes.
- Inle Lake - Pindaya Caves
- Inle Lake - Boat trip & village tour
- Inle Lake - Shan Banquet
- Inle Lake - Bicycle hire, Nyaungshwe (also known as Yawnghwe) - MMK1500.00
- Inle Lake - Shwe Yan Pyae Temple (Teak Monastery), Nyaungshwe (also known as Yawnghwe) - Free
- Inle Lake - Indien Village Walk, Nyaungshwe (also known as Yawnghwe) - MMK20000.00
- Inle Lake - Wine Tasting, Nyaungshwe (also known as Yawnghwe) - MMK2000.00
Guesthouse (3 nts)
Days 14-15 Yangon
We bid farewell to the splendour of Shan state as we make our way to the airport for our flight back to the hustle and bustle of Yangon. The flight to Yangon takes just over an hour.
The spectacular vistas from the viewing deck of the Sakura Tower is the ideal setting for our final evening together.
If you find yourself with a bit of extra time Yangon has many cultural delights and excellent sights on offer, with the circular train providing great access to different parts of the city.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Please note - if you are wanting to head to Mt Kyaiktiyo to see the Golden Rock, your leader will be able to help organise this for you. It is a two day trip, including transportation to and from Mt Kyaiktiyo (approx 5 hours travelling time each way), overnight accommodation and some sightseeing in Bago. There is no time to complete this on your tour, and you will need to have at least one extra night of free time at the end of your tour. Pricing is around $315 USD for a single traveller, although this is subject to change. If you would like to book this you will need to speak to your leader on the first day of the tour, otherwise we are unable to book this for you.
- Yangon - Circular Train, Yangon - MMK1000.00
- Yangon - Sule Pagoda, Yangon - MMK1000.00
Hotel (1 nt)
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
The official currency of Burma is the Kyat (MMK) - pronounced 'chat'.
The official rate for the local currency, Kyat (pronounced 'chat'), varies considerably depending where you change it. Therefore your tour leader will advise you where and when to change money on arrival. You will need Kyat for smaller items, including bottles of water and souvenirs.
Getting money in Burma can be a real pain. There are no ATMs and officially credit cards cannot be used. It's not possible to use travellers cheques either.
So you need to bring cash in US dollars. The notes should be crisp and perfect with no folds or marks. Bring high denominations because when you exchange into local currency you get a higher exchange rate. The best exchange rates are in Yangon so it's best to try and get all your money changed there.
Carrying cash is relatively safe as long as you take the usual precautions. It's best to try and budget a daily rate and do all your money exchange on the day you arrive in Yangon. Burma is quite an inexpensive place to travel so a budget of US$40 per day for food and drinks is plenty.
Hotels will generally exchange money during office hours only. You can change money at the airport upon arrival.
You can spend US$ along the way in Burma - some places will accept it but don't rely on this. It's best to get local currency. If you have any kyat left over at the end of your trip you can change it back into US$ at a hotel, or at the airport when departing.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
While tipping is not a traditional part of Burmese culture it is becoming more common as tourism increases, particularly when you have experienced excellent service. If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - may be appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, and inspires excellent service. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader. The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Hotels / Restaurants: US$ 0.50-1 for porters and restaurant staff
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of US$1 per person, per day is generally appropriate.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1 per day for local guides.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$ 2-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
All departure tax should be included in your flight ticket.
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Hotel (10 nts), Guesthouse (3 nts), Overnight boat (1 nt)
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
14 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Please note that breakfasts are often simple (eggs, bread, jam and coffee/tea would be most common).
Bus, Horse Cart, Songthaew, Bicycle, Longtail boat, Plane, Private vehicle
LONG TRAVEL DAYS
There are some long travel days and some of the transport can be quite cramped and without air-conditioning.
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Asia Plaza Hotel
277 Bogyoke Aung San Road Corner of 38th Street
Phone: 95 1391070
Joining point description
Located near the Central Railway station and Bogyote Aung San Market, the Asia Plaza hotel has rooms with private en-suites and air conditioning.
Joining point instructions
A pre-booked airport arrival transfer is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 16 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.
Alternatively, taxis are readily available from the airport, and drivers will often approach you before you have left the airport. From the airport to the Asia Plaza hotel (and anywhere in the city centre) should cost around $8USD and take approximately 40 minutes depending on traffic.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Asia Plaza Hotel
277 Bogyoke Aung San Road Corner of 38th Street
Phone: 95 1391070
Finish point description
Located near the Central Railway station and Bogyote Aung San Market, the Asia Plaza hotel has rooms with private en-suites and air conditioning.
Finish point instructions
A departure transfer from our hotel to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 16 days prior to your trip start date. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.
A taxi from the hotel to the airport should cost around $6USD, and will take approximately 40 minutes depending on traffic. You can ask your leader or at the hotel reception if you would like help arranging a taxi.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
If your country of residence has a Burma embassy the process should be straight forward. But for some nationalities you may be requested to provide a letter of invitation from a local Burmese ground operator. In such cases please contact Intrepid to attain this letter and we will forward to you.
Visas on arrival to Burma are available, but official laws regarding visas on arrival often change suddenly - we DO NOT recommend visas on arrival. Wherever possible you should obtain your visa prior to departure. In special circumstances, Intrepid can help to provide a visa on arrival, and only if there is no Burmese Embassy in your home country. We also cannot help with a visa on arrival if you are within a month of departure. If you would like us to help with visa on arrival, please contact us.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
FOOTWEAR FOR TREKKING
A full day trek is included on this tour. Please ensure you pack comfortable shoes (preferably not brand new, as this can lead to blisters) that are fully enclosed and are comfortable for you to walk in for an entire day. Please note sneakers or runners should be fine, as long as they are comfortable.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
Please note that helmets are not always provided for sightseeing on bicycles. If you wish you can bring along your own.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING:
During your visit to Burma there may be opportunities to ride elephants and see them perform. While we believe it's important to give our travellers a choice and respect each individual's decision, we recommend that Intrepid travellers bypass this activity. Professional wildlife conservation organisations, including the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA), advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their wellbeing. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the following pdf:
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon Offset C02-e 843.00 kgs per pax.
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