1. Start stocking up on crisp, brand new $100 bills now. There weren’t any ATMs when I was there a year ago (though rumors of new ones being installed were being floated), and the money changers really did refuse to change any of my bills that were folded or not brand new.

  2. Jealous! I was booked on one of those RGN first class fares last year but had to cancel it because of some family stuff. I had really been looking forward to it! Enjoy – and make sure you bring crisp US bills!

  3. Don’t waste more than 1 day for Rangoon. There is little to see and the city is not that pleasant. Try to do the Kalaw – inle like 3 day trek. It’s definitely worth doing. Bagan is good for no more than two days, unless you are into photography and want to shot during sunset /sunrise from different places. Skip Mandalay unless you want to see the ubain bridge. If you want to enjoy real Burma you have to go off the beaten track. The Inle-bagan-mandalay triangle is too touristy. There are few real fisherman left in Inle Lake. Most of them…..pose for photos now and collect tips. I was there 3 months.

  4. burma sounds pretty sexy right about now… thailand without the tourist traffic.

    can anyone thats been share their basic itinerary? ..which cities/days, sights, major activities please?
    anyone actually fly in a hot air balloon there? tourist trap?

  5. You can find ATMs in the airport, different areas of the city center, and even inside the temples. Of course when you exchange cash, the higher the US bill, the higher the rate you get. For $100, different banks would have the same exchange rate. However, if you need to exchange $10 or $20 bills, look at different branches, if possible, to get the best rate.

  6. There are plenty of ATMs in Yangon now.

    Ignore the people who tell you not to visit Yangon or Mandalay. Yes, they are crowded and polluted, but that’s urban life in Myanmar. For better or worse, those cities are an important part of the Burmese cultural experience.

  7. can someone thats been please describe a basic itinerary?
    -which cities/days?
    -which major activities?
    -anyone actually try hot air ballooning there? tourist trap?

  8. Mr Cool, I may have some answers to those questions after April but others may have help in the meantime?

  9. We only spent time in the city of RGN, but quite liked it. Shwedagon temple is really quite impressive. We went at night and we are glad we did, it was lit up beautifully. Though there is no gate or specific entry point, you may be asked to pay $5USD for the visit – we thought it was a scam (we have lived in SE Asia for quite some time and it sounds like a scam). IT ISN’T a scam, and we felt badly after we researched the matter. It’s worth $5, and the people were lovely, highly recommended. Bats do fly low around here, and I am not crazy about them, but I would have braved it all over again because it’s stunning there.

    We went to the house of the Lady (San Suu Kyi) but this is uneventful and I would give it a pass. The lake nearby her home is really quite nice.

  10. If I asked you to plan me a trip to Europe and gave you absolutely no other information, would my request make any sense to you? No, because you don’t know how much time I have, what my budget is, how big my group is, or why I desire to travel there.

    I spent a month in Myanmar traveling by bicycle, boat, train, and on foot. I ate street food and lived in hostels. I spent time in the cities and I also ventured off into the countryside. For me, it was the best possible experience to have. But for many others, it would have been a nightmare.

    If you want good advice, provide good details.

  11. Hi Jonathan
    Thanks for your comments.
    I assume you are referring to Mr Cool’s request? I think he, like myself, is just looking for hot tips.

  12. @Jonathan

    hold your eager, street-food-eating horses please!
    id love some advice.
    im, personally, less interested in the mechanics of the trip (how to travel & where to sleep between activities) and more interested in the activities themselves. again, id love a sample itinerary, general outline (simply which major activities/sites, how much time for each). if i feel the itinerary is too long for me, ill have to truncate it myself.

    ex: day1- yangon. visit temple. see worlds biggest ball of yarn.
    day2- yangon. see worlds 2nd biggest ball of yarn. visit night market.

    im looking to get a rough feel for things to do/see (while avoiding tourist traps).

    again, thanks for any advice.

  13. We just returned from 10 days in Burma/Myanmar.

    We spent 3 nights in Yangon but only needed 2 nights–largely to see the Shwedagon Pagoda (think Grand Palace in Bangkok but religious), which we visited over 2 days since we had the time–once in the morning on our first full day and the second day in the late afternoon to get better light for photos. We enjoyed the extra time to explore on foot, but it wasn’t necessary. You could do the Swhedagon in 3-4 hours if you wanted, though.

    We spent 4 nights in Bagan to see the Plain of the 1000 Temples–the highlight f our trip, even with Siem Reap following our time in Burma, we could have spent just 2 or 3 nights there, but we enjoyed the extra time to space out our visits to the many different temples and allow us time to relax, eat long lunches at local Burmese places, etc. you could do Bagan in.a day or two if you wanted, though.

    We spent 2 nights in Inke Lake. More than enough for us, not enough for others we met. Beautiful, tranquil, and a good place to see some more local Burmese culture.

    We had one final night in Mandalay–which was plenty for us. Way too touristy for us, but the Old Palace was OK.

    We had some great hotels, a hotel disaster, some fantastic and inexpensive food, some decent and expensive food, and amazing temples. You do need to bring unfolded crisp $100 bills (you get better exchange rate for them compared to $20 bills) for most incidentals, restaurants, etc. Some hotel and even restaurants now accept credit cards, MC is best, but the reliability is poor…so always good to have the bills converted into local currency just in case. We did find a few ATMs that gave local cash, too, but don’t count on it unless staying in luxury level accommodation.

    You’ll love it.

  14. was there 3 weeks ago.did bagan-inle lake-mandalay.loved it!personally i’d recommend to skip big cities,countryside is waaaay nicer.i’ve heard about the $100 bill thing so went well prepared what was totally they have ATMs at the airport plus banks as well.take a couple as a back up maybe(btw they took smaller notes too).

  15. @Bill ..very interesting. thanks!
    is inle lake really THAT diff from whats available in thailand? or is it just less-discovered?.. trying to determine what can be seen ONLY in burma, you know.

    bagan- thats where all of the hot air balloon photos are taken? is that a tourist trap? just curious.

    cant say im surpised to hear you had a hotel disaster!

    any coastal towns/spots worth visitng?

  16. It is HOT AS HELL. Do not eat while there. I have never been so sick in my life as after visiting Myanmar. Think of it as a chance to lose 20 pounds.

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