A great visit to an interesting country. This is a well-planned, well-balanced itinerary with a good mix of activities and free time. We travelled with the same group as Sue Pepper and Penny Broomhall, and the companionship of the group really helped make it an enjoyable trip.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
I think it’s impossible to choose one moment from so many experiences on this trip. We visited a lot of amazing places, but for me the most memorable parts of the trip are the countryside: so fresh and green and full of spring flowers, and the Burmese people: so friendly and welcoming.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Nyi Nyi was great: a very mature, responsible, friendly and knowledgeable tour leader. He was well organised and ran the trip very efficiently without ever being bossy or intrusive.
We broke down early in the morning on the way to Bagan airport and Nyi Nyi swiftly and effectively arranged for a replacement vehicle so that we caught our flight (with minutes to spare!)
I had to deal with a family emergency while in Myanmar and he was extremely helpful and considerate.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Book early if you want to do the balloon flight at Bagan. Exodus don’t emphasise this option enough when you book the trip. Places are limited so tell them as soon as possible.
Flights: consider alternatives. We travelled from/to the UK with Qatar airlines (excellent) because the group flight has a seven hour stopover at KL. We originally booked the group flight then changed our minds to Qatar and Exodus made the new arrangements for us (many thanks).
Breakfast: the fried eggs can be cold and greasy. Ask the hotel staff for an omelette and you’ll get a lovely, freshly-made omelette to start the day (the best ones were at Kalaw).
Visit the caves at Kalaw (10 mins walk from the hotel). They were lovely, more intimate than those at Pindaya and we had them entirely to ourselves. (Thanks to Susan Wickes’ review for this tip).
Take a torch. Useful for power cuts, caves, temples/pagodas.
Pack a fleece or warm top for the day on Inle Lake. It gets very chilly in the boats when the sun goes down at the end of the day.
Buddhism is integral to the whole of Burmese life. A little time spent learning the basics before you go will help you understand what you’re seeing (Google “basic Buddhism” or similar for intro info).
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
We chose this trip because it starts with Bagan, which is busy, and ends with relaxing days on Inle Lake, and this was definitely the best way to go (some tours operators go the other way round).
We also chose it because it uses internal flights that minimise time spent on Myanmar’s bumpy roads and give you more time at the destinations. (Internal flights were fine, an hour’s delay leaving Mandalay, but otherwise all left on time)
For both these reasons I would recommend this Exodus trip.
Myanmar is not an undiscovered Shangri la, it has a tourist infrastructure and souvenir sellers too, although the latter are not pushy and a polite “no thank you” is all that is needed to dissuade them.
The standard of hotels, and transport was better than I had expected (and better than I’ve found on similar trips elsewhere).
Internet: although Wi-Fi is available in almost all hotels, the speed is dreadful – often unusably slow. We had to wait until we returned to Yangon before we could confirm our return flights.
The day on the river at Mandalay was delightful and provided a welcome rest day halfway through the trip.
The balloon flight was great fun and drifting over the host of pagodas at dawn was magical (all balloons etc. are in top condition and the (Australian) operators are very hot on safety etc. so no worries there).
We travelled in late November/ December and the lakes and rivers were all full, everything was very fresh and green and there were wild flowers everywhere. Days were only really hot around noon and the nights at Kalaw were chilly but not cold. I’d recommend this as a time to visit.