Best of Myanmar Trip Notes

Best of Myanmar

Last Modified: 01 Feb 2016
Best of Myanmar
Trip code: TTSM
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Discover a country of mythical landscapes, ancient treasures and some of the friendliest folk you’ll ever meet. From golden-gilded Buddhas 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.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxFinish point instructions
ThemesImportant notesEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?Group sizeEmergency funds
Why we love itYour fellow travellersVisas
MapSingle travellersIssues on your trip
ItineraryAccommodationWhat to take
Also available to purchaseMeals introductionHealth
We also recommendMealsSafety
Itinerary disclaimerTransportTravel insurance
Culture shock rating Group leaderResponsible Travel
Physical ratingJoining point A couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point instructionsCarbon offset
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsFeedback
Spending moneyFinish point
TippingFinish point description
Style
Original
  • Our Original style trips have a great balance of included activities with your group and free time to explore independently. Where we stay ensures we keep our travellers firmly entrenched in a region’s people and culture, and provides them with unique local experiences that benefits the community too. In most locations we stay in simple tourist-class hotels (i.e. 2-3 stars), plus on many trips you'll also get to experience a night with a local family on a homestay or something a little different like a Bedouin camp in the Sahara. Original style trips come with all manner of transport modes and use a mixture of local and private transport. You might find yourself sailing in a dhow in Zanzibar, jumping on a rickshaw in Sri Lanka or sailing on a yacht through the Galapagos. No matter the mode, it's all about minimising our environmental impact and making getting around part of the adventure.
Themes
Explorer
Is this trip right for you?
- This trip involves a lot of walking – often barefoot. You’ll be visiting many religious sites where you must remove all footwear before entering. In places like Bagan, you may need to climb steep steps (sometimes without railing) barefoot, but the views are well worth it.
- You’ll stay at a Community Lodge in Pakokku. This simple accommodation is a new community-based initiative, so there may be some kinks, but the experience promises to be fantastic.
- Touring by bicycle is probably the best way to see Bagan. Although it’s an easy ride well within the abilities of most people, it does take you off paved roads and onto sandy terrain.
- Myanmar is a hot and humid country, even in winter. If you don’t tolerate the heat well, avoid doing the trip in summer.
- This trip takes you on a full-day walking tour of the villages around Kalaw. While the walk itself is quite easy, you’ll need a decent level of fitness to get through the long day.
- Myanmar is a big country and there are many long days of travelling. Expect to spend a lot of time in a vehicle when travelling between destinations. This is a great opportunity to sit back, enjoy the passing scenery and get to know your fellow travellers.
Why we love it
- Get acquainted with Myanmar on a tour of downtown Yangon. Truly an incredible city, Yangon is packed with pagodas, giant Buddhas and countless historical sites
- See the most beautiful religious sites in Myanmar, including the Shwedagon in Yangon, Shwesandaw in Bagan, the Shwe Yan Pyae (Teak Monastery) in Nyaungshwe and many more
- Touring the ancient city of Bagan by bicycle is a magical way to see the place. You'll have convenient and leisurely access to thousands of temples, stupas and pagodas
- Get off the tourist track and enjoy a uniquely local experience at the community lodge outside of Myaing. This innovative ActionAid project is the first community-based accommodation in the area, with meals and activities provided by local villagers
- A full day of walking through the hills and villages of Kalaw may require a bit of energy, but it's one of the highlights of the trip. Get up-close and personal with the culture of rural Myanmar.
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Yangon
Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Myanmar. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look on the reception noticeboard for where and when the meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform 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.
If you have free time to explore before the meeting, we recommend stepping out onto the streets of Yangon.
Why not take the Yangon Circle Line train for a three-hour local journey, or head over to Bogyoke Market and haggle with the locals?
There’s also Sule Paya Pagoda, a 2000-year-old golden temple, and the Gems Museum, which houses some of the world’s largest sapphire, ruby and jade pieces. You may need a taxi to travel between some of these attractions; a one-way trip should cost about MMK 4,000.
Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel in time for the meeting, 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).
Optional Activities
  • Yangon - Bogyoke Market (Scotts Market) - Free
  • Yangon - Sule Pagoda - MMK3000
  • Yangon - Let Yangon Take You For a Ride Urban Adventure - USD41
  • Yangon - Myanmar Gems Museum & Gem Market - MMK5000
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Yangon
Start the day with a city walking tour of Yangon. Your leader will show you the city centre and some major attractions around town. In the afternoon, you’ll visit the holiest shrine in the country, the Shwedagon Paya. This gold-gilded pagoda is studded with diamonds and gems, and said to contain eight hairs of the Buddha. It’s a particularly impressive sight at sunset when the lights come on and the stupa shines beautifully. We also head down to Kandawgyi Lake, where you’ll see Karaweik Hall, a reconstruction of a golden royal barge floating on the eastern side.
Included Activities
  • Yangon - City Walking Tour
  • Yangon - Kandawgyi Lake
  • Yangon - Shwedagon Paya
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Bagan
Rise for a very early start today, for your morning flight to Nyuang-U (about one and a half hours). From there, transfer to the ancient city of Bagan (about 20 minutes). Bagan is an archaeological site where Theravada Buddhism was first introduced to the Kingdom. It was once the site of 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries and still has over 2,000 brick and gilded ruins.
You’ll start your visit with an orientation tour of the town and visit the archaeological site tomorrow. After the orientation tour, head to the nearby Shwezigon Paya, one of the town's main Buddhist sites, also incorporating a compound dedicated to the pre-Buddhism deities, the 37 Nats.
Included Activities
  • Bagan - Walking tour
  • Bagan - Shwezigon Paya
Optional Activities
  • Bagan - Dandaree Culture Show - USD50
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Bagan
Spend the entire day sightseeing in Bagan. You’ll be given a bicycle and toured through the site by a local guide. You’ll get to see many of the large and impressive temples such as Ananda Pahto, Htilominlo Temple, That Bin Nyu Paya (the highest pagoda in Bagan), Dhammayangyi Pahto and Shwesandaw Paya, as well as some of the smaller hidden gems. Exploring the temple site by bike is a great way to take in the atmosphere of this amazing place. There are also many opportunities to climb stairs to vantage points and capture some magical views. To fully enjoy the day out, please make sure you wear comfortable clothes and adequate protection from the sun (long sleeves, sunglasses and hat).
After touring the temples, head back to the hotel for a short rest before heading out again to see the enormous Shwe Sandaw Temple at sunset.
Notes: The bike ride through Bagan is on flat terrain and at a leisurely pace. At times we ride off the main roads on gravel and sand paths and roadways. You don’t have to be a serious cyclist to do the tour, however if for some reason you’re unable to participate in the ride, your leader can arrange a pony cart to take you around the sights (cost not included).
Many travellers like to take an optional hot air balloon ride over the site. Please note that this needs to be pre-booked well in advance. See our ‘Important Notes’ section for additional information.
Included Activities
  • Bagan - Temple bike tour
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 5 Bagan
Enjoy a free day in the area of Bagan. You may like to spend more time exploring the stalls at the archaeological site, the cafes in town, or the nearby Nyaung U Market – one of the more interesting markets in the country. Other places of interest include the Archaeological Museum and the Royal Palace. Taxis to these local sites cost around MMK5,000.
Another option is to take a day trip to Mt Popa, a mountain topped with monasteries and stupas. Climb the 777 steps to enjoy incredible views from the top and make a visit to the strange shrine devoted to the 37 Nat spirits. Your leader can help you arrange transport to Mt Popa for the best price, starting from MMK60 000, and the cost can be split between participating group members.
Optional Activities
  • Bagan - Archaeological Museum - MMK5000
  • Bagan - Mt Popa Day Trip - MMK42000
  • Bagan - Royal Palace - MMK5000
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 6 Community Lodge
Venture off the tourist path today, further into central Myanmar. Travel by private minibus for around two hours, stopping along the way at a local market. Arrive at your unique community lodge outside the town of Myaing, north of Bagan. You'll be one of the first to experience this new community-based tourism initiative – the first of its kind in Myanmar. Arrive at the community lodge, then head out on a bicycle for the afternoon and ride around the nearby villages. Stop at the first village for lunch and enjoy a presentation about the project from a local member of the community (your leader will translate). The activities and meals are shared amongst the four villages nearby, so that they all benefit from the project. This is also a great opportunity to practice your Burmese. Visit a thanka farm and try out the genuine product that you will see on the faces of many Burmese. Ride to a second village and learn about the local farming and seasonal crops. Back at the lodge, you’ll help out with a tree-planting project. Dinner this evening will be cooked by some of the nearby villagers, and entertainment will follow. Perhaps take this opportunity to interact and share your own culture with the locals.
Notes: Accommodation at the community lodge is basic. You’ll be staying in simple twin share rooms, with mattresses on the floor in the traditional style. Linen and mosquito nets are provided. Bathroom facilities are shared. There is no air conditioning and only cold running water and showers. Electricity is intermittent, so we recommend that you bring a torch and charge all your electrical items before arriving. You can refill your water bottle from the large water containers provided.
You can expect your stay here to be wonderful and rewarding, but keep in mind that the project is only new and there may be a few hiccups along the way. This area has had less contact with tourists than other places in Myanmar, which means you’ll have an authentic experience of the country while you’re here.
If you’d prefer not to cycle, alternative transport (tuk-tuk) can be arranged at an additional cost of around MMK 8,000 per vehicle.
Accommodation
Lodge (1 nt)
Day 7 Mandalay
Wake up early this morning and cycle to the small, 170-year-old wooden monastery nearby. A couple more minutes on the bike and you’ll stop at a village for a simple local breakfast prepared by the residents. This is another great chance to strike up a conversation and practice your language skills. After breakfast you’ll cycle to another village and visit a women’s cooperative to learn about their weaving, sewing and craft (this is where Intrepid bags are made). Pedal back to the lodge mid-morning and bid farewell to the community. Travel on a private bus towards Mandalay with a lunch stop en route. Along the way, you’ll visit the beautiful Sagaing Temples, a collection of gilded stupas on the nearby hills. Total driving time from the community lodge to Mandalay is about six hours.
Included Activities
  • Mandalay - Sagaing Hills
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 8 Mandalay
This morning your leader will take you on a walking tour of Mandalay. After seeing the town close up, you’ll take a boat down the famous Ayeyarwady River to Mingun. Here you’ll see the Mingun Pahtodawgyi, an enormous stupa which would have been the largest in the world if it had been completed. You’ll also see the world’s largest ringing bell and the beautiful white Hsinphymae Pagoda which sits nearby.
After the excursion to Mingun, return to Mandalay where you’ll have some free time to do some optional activities. Perhaps find some quiet moments at the ancient Sweinbin Teak Monastery, or try your hand at gold leaf making in the Gold Pounders District. There’s also the Mahamuni Buddha Temple, an important pilgrimage site complete with giant golden Buddha.
Tonight visit Mandalay Hill, which is where Lord Buddha is said to have left a footprint. Stay here for sunset and to enjoy views over the glittering stupas and vibrant mosaics of the city at this magical time of day.
For some extra entertainment in the evening, why not catch a traditional show by the Mandalay Marionettes, or a non-conformist comedy show by the Moustache Brothers?
Included Activities
  • Mandalay - Mandalay Hill
  • Mandalay - Walking tour
  • Mandalay - Boat trip to Mingun
Optional Activities
  • Mandalay - Mandalay Marionettes - MMK10000
  • Mandalay - Shweinbin Teak Monastery - Free
  • Mandalay - Moustache Brothers - MMK8000
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 9 Kalaw
Today will be a long day of driving towards Kalaw. Along the way, you’ll visit the U Bein Bridge, the longest teakwood bridge in the world. You then head onto the Great Road of China, a new superhighway built by the Chinese. Finally, make your way into the mountains of Shan state and experience the stunning scenery of the area.
Included Activities
  • Mandalay - U Bein Bridge
Optional Activities
  • Kalaw - Village market - Free
  • Kalaw - Thein Thaung Paya - Free
  • Kalaw - Hnee Pagoda - Free
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 10 Kalaw
Today is a full day of hiking around the hills around Kalaw (approximately 6 hours). A local guide will take you to a tea plantation and some small villages. Stop and chat with locals along the way and have lunch at one of the small settlements. This experience will take you off the beaten track and away from the tourist throng. If there’s time in the evening, you might like to visit some of the lovely pagodas around town as well as a local market.
Notes: While today's walk is not difficult, you’ll cover about 20 kilometres in total and will be on your feet for most of the day. You’ll need a reasonable level of fitness for this part of the trip, and remember to bring appropriate hiking shoes. A support vehicle can be arranged to access the trails upon request from the halfway mark, so this means that you’ll need to be able to walk at least 10 kilometres unsupported.
Included Activities
  • Kalaw - Full day trek
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 11 Inle Lake
Leave Kalaw for Nyuangshwe today, where you’ll be spending time around Inle Lake. You’ll set off across the mountains and farms and stop off at the Pindaya Caves, one of the Golden Caves in Shan state. Pilgrims flock here to worship the 8,000 golden Buddha images within the caverns, tunnels and chambers of the huge limestone cave.
The drive will take you to the resort town of Nyuanshwe which will be our base for the next few days as we explore Inle Lake.
Included Activities
  • Inle Lake - Pindaya Caves
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 12 Inle Lake
Start the day by heading out in a motorised boat. You’ll see local life on the lake, including fisherman who use a distinctive leg-rowing technique on their boats, floating tomato plantations and cottage industries such as silversmiths, weavers and cigar makers. If you’re lucky, you might even see the floating market which circles the lake every five days. Here you can buy traditional wares produced by the locals.
For lunch we visit Phaung Daw Oo Paya, the most religious site in the region. Eat near the beautiful pagoda and then take a quick look inside at the various images of Buddha. You can also see a golden barge which is used during Phaung Daw Oo festival. Make a few more stops at local villages to meet the locals, then head back to your accommodation in Nyaungshwe.
Included Activities
  • Inle Lake - Boat trip & village tour
  • Inle Lake - Shan Banquet
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 13 Inle Lake
Enjoy a free day around Inle Lake. Perhaps visit the Mingala morning market or Nyuangshwe's oldest Buddhist monastery, Yadana Man Aung Paya. For those wishing to venture further afield, you could hire a bike and cycle to the nearby hot springs, villages or temples. Perhaps join a tour to the Red Mountain Estate Winery or a boat trip to the Inthein villages. The price of these activities will depend on the number of people joining. Ask your leader about doing these optional activities.
In the evening, enjoy a traditional Shan banquet.
Notes: Due to the extremely high volume of tourists currently visiting Inle Lake we are not always able to secure our preferred accommodation. At times like these we may need to stay in a property with a lower room standard than in other destinations on this trip.
Optional Activities
  • Inle Lake - Bicycle hire - MMK3000
  • Inle Lake - Yadana Man Aung Paya - Free
  • Inle Lake - Indein Temples Visit - MMK34000
  • Inle Lake - Red Mountain Estate Winery Tasting - MMK3000
  • Inle Lake - Mingala Market - Free
  • Inle Lake - Aung Puppet Show - MMK5000
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 14 Yangon
Bid farewell to the splendour of Shan state and make your way to the airport in Heho. From here, take a one-hour flight back to the hustle and bustle of Yangon. The journey ends with an optional final dinner and night out on the town in Yangon.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 15 Yangon
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there is plenty to see and do in Yangon we recommend extending your stay a few extra days to make the most of all it has to offer.
Perhaps do some of the activities suggested at the beginning of the trip, or ask your leader about our range of Urban Adventures day tours. Visit www.yangonurbanadventures.com for more information.
Optional Activities
  • Yangon - Hands-on Yangon Urban Adventure - USD81
  • Yangon - Yangon's Streets By Night Urban Adventure - USD40
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • TTSM - Single Supplement (TTSM)
  • Bagan Balloon Flight - Classic - Intrepid ()
  • Bagan Balloon Flight - Premium - Intrepid ()
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Myanmar Golden Rock Short Break (TTAC-C)
  • Yangon to Bangkok (TRSB)
  • Ngwesaung Beach Getaway (TTAN-C)
  • Myanmar Experience (TRRB)
  • Best of Myanmar to Bangkok (TRSBC)
Itinerary disclaimer
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. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
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. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.
Culture shock rating

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.
Physical rating

This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
Included activities
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.
Optional activities
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 approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Money Exchange
Myanmar’s national currency, the kyat (pronounced chat, and abbreviated K) is divided into: K1, K5, K10, K20, K50, K100, K200, K500 and K1000. ATMs are available in cities and most major towns, although these may still prove unreliable due to frequent power cuts or running out of funds. It's advisable to still bring cash to exchange. Foreign currency is no longer accepted for purchases in Myanmar.
USD is the primary currency to exchange. There is an official exchange rate available through authorised money exchange counters to exchange US Dollars into Kyats. Higher denominations will generally attract a higher rate of exchange. Because of concerns over counterfeit money, US Dollars with the letters AB and CB at the start of the serial number (top left-hand corner of the note) are not always accepted. Notes must be in pristine condition as notes with pen marks, folds or tears are not accepted. Notes should not be older than 2006. Euros are generally accepted as an exchange currency and do not have to be in pristine condition.
US dollars can be changed reliably at Yangon Airport and some hotels. Black market money changers in tourist areas will generally give a lower rate. Your tour leader will be able to advise you on money changing opportunities during the trip. Carrying cash is relatively safe as long as you take the usual precautions. You can exchange any left over Kyat into USD at Yangon Airport when departing.
Spending money
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.
Tipping
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.
The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$3 per day for local guides.
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 we suggest US$1-US$2 per day for drivers.
Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 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.
In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
At your group meeting on Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.
Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult
Departure tax
All departure tax should be included in your flight ticket.
Important notes
PASSPORT DETAILS:
Please provide passport details at time of booking with exact name as per passport (including middle name), as these are essential for booking services on this trip.
OPTIONAL BALLOON RIDE:
Intrepid can book in advance an optional sunrise balloon ride over the Bagan, for the morning of day 4 or 5 (depending on availability). With it's breathtaking views above the stupa-studded landscape, followed by a light breakfast and champagne, this is a highlight for many travellers. The whole experience runs for approximately 2.5 - 3 hours, with flights times an average 45 minutes (can range from 1 hour to 20 minutes subject to local conditions). Weather dependent, flights operate between October through to March.
Advance bookings are highly recommended as places are limited. Please ask your booking agent for further details of the Premium and Classic service options.
MYANMAR FLIGHTS:
On internal flights in Myanmar we fly the following safety audited airlines: Air KBZ, Air Bagan, Myanmar Airways, Yangon Airways and Mann Yadanarpon Airlines Airlines.
It is common for airlines to make last-minute changes to our confirmed group bookings on internal flights, and to re-book the group on earlier or later flight times than originally scheduled. In rare instances the group may be split over different flights throughout the day, and you may be unaccompanied on the internal flight. In this case you will be assisted by additional tour escorts on departure and arrival.
Some flight routes are indirect, and may involve a stopover enroute to pick up additional passengers.
Depending on demand, some flight routes are operated with smaller aircraft.
Group size
Maximum of 16 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.
Single travellers
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 accommodation (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.
Accommodation
Hotel (13 nts), Lodge (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.
ACCOMMODATION IN MYANMAR:
As tourism infrastructure is starting to develop, you may find the accommodation standards to be lower than in other Asian countries. Since Myanmar has recently become a popular tourist destination, pricing has also inflated due to high demand, although standards can still be quite basic. At times our hotels can change at the last minute, as advance bookings are cancelled by hotels charging a higher price to other travellers. We ask for your patience with any last minute hotel changes.
Meals introduction
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.
Meals
14 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
USD 350.00
FOOD IN MYANMAR:
The food in Myanmar is described as more mild, and oily than it's neighbouring countries. We will try and give you a taste of traditional cuisine in each region, and the blend of influences including Chinese, Mon and Indian.
Please note that breakfasts are often simple (eggs, bread, jam and coffee/tea would be most common), or there may only be local breakfast available.
In addition, as tourism is developing, many restaurants are still learning to cater for foreign tourists. Your leader will assist with suggesting restaurants that follow expected food hygiene practices.
Transport
Plane, Songthaew, Bus, Bicycle, Longtail boat, Private vehicle
LONG TRAVEL DAYS
There are some long travel days and some of the transport can be quite cramped and without air-conditioning.
Group leader
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.
Joining point
Asia Plaza Hotel
277 Bogyoke Aung San Road Corner of 38th Street
Kyauktada Township
Yangon
Yangon
MYANMAR
Phone: +95 139 1070
Joining point description
Located near the Central Railway station and Bogyote Aung San Market, the Asia Plaza hotel has rooms with private en-suites, air conditioning and WiFi.
www.asiaplazahotel.com
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.
Arrival complications
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
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.
Finish point
Asia Plaza Hotel
277 Bogyoke Aung San Road Corner of 38th Street
Kyauktada Township
Yangon
Yangon
MYANMAR
Phone: +95 139 1070
Finish point description
Located near the Central Railway station and Bogyote Aung San Market, the Asia Plaza hotel has rooms with private en-suites, air conditioning and WiFi.
www.asiaplazahotel.com
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.
Emergency contact
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please call the Intrepid Myanmar emergency contact number: +95 9 420254468.
For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas
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.
MYANMAR:
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
Most nationalities can obtain a tourist visa using a eVisa system. For information on obtaining an eVisa visit website: http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/
Important to note when applying for an eVisa:
- Passport validity must have at least (6) months validity from date of return.
- You will need to present one colour photo (4cm X 6cm) taken within the last 3 months and a copy of your return ticket.
- Length of stay is 28 days from the date of arrival in Myanmar.
- The eVisa fee is US$50 per person, payable by credit card (note: visa fee is non-refundable should the eVisa be denied)
- The processing time is approximately 3 working days for granting an eVisa however we recommend allowing longer in the event of delays.
- The validity of eVisa approval letter is 90 days from the date of issue. If it has expired, entry will be denied.
- eVisas are applicable for single entry into Myanmar only and you will not be permitted to re-enter on an eVisa that you have previously entered on (multiple entries not possible).
- eVisas are only obtainable if you are arriving into Yangon International Airport, Nay Pyi Taw International Aiport and Mandalay International Airport. If arriving into another Myanmar entry point you will need to apply for your visa in advance through a Myanmar Embassy.
Nationalities who are unable to obtain an eVisa should contact the Myanmar embassy in their country of residency. Note - you may be requested to provide a letter of invitation from a local Myanmar ground operator. In such cases please contact Intrepid to attain this letter and we will forward to you.
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, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).
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 HIKING/TREKKING
A full day walking 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.
CLIMATE & CLOTHING:
Myanmar has a tropical monsoon climate. The dry season runs from November to February, and during this time it can be cool, particularly in the central areas including Bagan, Myaing and Kalaw. If travelling during this season is advised to bring trousers, a warm jacket and layers, especially for the evenings.
During wet season (approximately May to late October) there can be heavy rain and thunderstorms. We recommend to bring a lightweight waterproof jacket, or an umbrella.
The hottest and driest months are March and April, which experience high temperatures and high humidity. Covering, lightweight clothing is practical for travelling at any time of year in Myanmar.
LOCAL DRESS:
When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Myanmar, 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. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers or longyi and women a long skirt or sarong.
Whilst staying at our Community Lodge we ask that you show respect to the locals by wearing conservative clothing. For included cycling and hiking activities comfortable, covering clothing is recommended.
It is also necessary to remove your footwear when entering religious sites, so shoes or sandals that can easily be removed are practical.
WATER BOTTLE:
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.
Health
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.
DENGUE FEVER:
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.
Safety
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 and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. 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 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 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:
FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
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.
BALCONIES:
Some hotel balconies don't meet western 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!
SEAT BELTS:
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide 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 or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
LIFE JACKETS:
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.
BIKE HELMETS:
Helmets are provided for all included sightseeing by bicycle, however if you choose you can bring your own to ensure the right fit and quality.
Travel insurance
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 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:
Responsible Travel
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:
ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING:
While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Intrepid does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including the World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for protection of Animals) 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 well-being. 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 below link:
We also recommend you visit the wonderful colourful 'Do's and Don'ts for Tourists - How you can visit Myanmar responsibly': www.dosanddontsfortourists.com
This fabulous booklet', illustrated by a wide range of Myanmar cartoonists, will help you respect the traditions and customs of Myanmar, helping make Myanmar a better place for people to live and a better place to visit.
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.
Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
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$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 627.00 kgs per pax.
Feedback
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.