Any tips for a choice here?
I know Sri Lanka is not technically SE Asia but I trust it's close enough for you to give me some sensible suggestions!!
My interests are pretty run of the mill - culture, food, history, meeting friendly locals, travelling independently. A nice beach at the end then to chill (Mirissa vs. Ngapali?).
Costs are not a huge priority, esp given that both should be reasonably cheap to travel in.
Thanks in advance.
#1 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
Each country has its merits, but for a well-rounded 3.5 week trip I'd go with Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka wins on wildlife, beaches, and food.
Burma wins on temples (just barely) and friendliness of locals.
Anyone else have any advice for me here?
#3 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
I agree with idreamofdurian. Both are beautiful countries, but if I had to choose I'd go with Sri Lanka for that timeframe. Especially if you like independent travel, Myanmar you get a bit stuck on the tourist route due to travel restrictions, although we were there over 2 years ago, things may have relaxed a bit.
#4 mattd82 has been a member since 5/9/2009. Posts: 12
Thanks Matt, it's looking like Sri Lanka so.
#5 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
I've been to both countries. Personally I like Myanmar better but distances are greater and it's not as easy to travel about.
culture, food, history, meeting friendly locals, travelling independently. A nice beach at the end then to chill (Mirissa vs. Ngapali?).
Culture: I find Myanmar more varied and interesting, lots of temples but also exotic markets, handicrafts, different ethnic groups.
Food: Maybe I didn't look hard enough but there seem to be about 5 curries that get served everywhere you go in Sri Lanka. They're good but it gets monotonous after a while. Western cuisine was generally awful there. Myanmar food isn't to everone's taste, tends to be rather greasy, but in tourist areas there are other options available which aren't bad...Indian, Thai, Italian etc. There's good and inexpensive seafood available on the beaches.
Friendly locals: I found the people in Myanmar gentler, more friendly and service minded. Encountered fewer blatant scam attempts there too.
Travelling independently: Sri Lanka wins because it's easier. Smaller area, shorter distances and you can tour the country without having to go back to Colombo whereas you may well find you have to transit via Yangon when traveling about Myanmar. Travel can be very tiring in Myanmar, especially if you try to see too many places in a limited time.
Nice beach: Well actually I liked the beaches in Myanmar better! It wasn't very easy to swim anywhere in Sri Lanka because of the constant big waves and the beaches were more crowded too. I haven't been to Ngapali but I have been to Chaung Tha and Ngwe Saung beaches. Ngwe Saung is the nicer of the two. Hotels on Ngwe Saung are mostly expensive luxury resorts but there is one place called Shwe Hintha which has excellent value $15 bungalows and very good service.
One thing you haven't mentioned is what time of year you're planning to go...weather might help you decide. Myanmar wouldn't be my choice in rainy season.
PS I've got some old photos of both Sri Lanka and Myanmar on flickr if you're interested, click on the relevent sets.
I just spent a month in Sri Lanka and cried my eyes out when i left. I haven't been to Burma, but can tell you Sri Lanka was a major surprise for me. I was only supposed to stay 2 weeks. There is so much to see and do. Didn't see if you're male or female, but just take the normal precautions either way. As a woman, I was happy to have other women to travel with, especially the further north you go. I spent a lot of time on Unawatuna beach which can be crowded and a bit of a party scene, but you can leave it behind and have a quiet place to stay there too.
I hired a car and driver (Penthouse Travels with a driver named Jayartha) which was very easy and he was incredible and also used public buses which are much much cheaper if you can handle the heat and crowds. I wish I had taken the train through tea country though.
I can go on and on, so if you have more questions, just ask me.
Enjoy, whatever you do.
#8 noakland has been a member since 3/2/2012. Posts: 1
Thanks a mil guys for all the advice, esp. SBE for the awesome photos.
This potential trip is not for a while yet so have some time to make my decision.
Looks like Sri Lnka at this stage but who knows.
SBE - I would probably be heading in late October / early November...
#9 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
I'm rather pleased to see this thread as I'm sat in my living room exploring this exact question. I'm looking at doing a month somewhere in March.
I'm into surfing so I thought Sri Lanka would offer more for me but I'm also wanting culture, meeting locals, trying new things and eating new foods.
My only worry is money! How much will it cost me for accom, travel, food, activities etc, etc. What kind of budget am I looking at for a month?
#10 mark_ahoy has been a member since 12/10/2011. Posts: 2
Late October/early November is just at the end of rainy season in Myanmar usually. That means things will be lush and green if you're lucky, but there is a risk that the rainy season will end late too.
There are sometimes big waves in Myanmar when a tropical storm passes nearby but they aren't really suitable for surfing and I've never noticed any surfing equipment for hire on the beaches.
Sounds like Sri Lanka would be a better bet for you. They do rent out surfboards there but I think you'd need to be quite an expert surfer, not a beginner. lf I remember right, the best surfing spots on Mirissa beach had quite a lot of rocks as well as big waves.
Myanmar has a beautiful culture and received the recommended very happy and friendly people on the world . But you have to use local agent for some transportation and hotels to get the room available and cheaper than by yourself . I haven't been Sri Lanka .