Hi guys - you all helped me out immensely a few years ago with a Laos trip, so I was hoping someone might be able to give me some thoughts on a Myanmar trip I have roughly planned out. I've done ALOT of internet searching but it is all fairly inconclusive.
I fly into Yangon at the beginning of December and have a flight out of Bangkok 16 days later. This'll be my second trip to Myanmar - I did the "big four" on my last (10 day) trip - LOVED Yangon and Bagan... the other two, less so, although that's not to say I didn't like either of them.
This time I was hoping to see a bit of southern Myanmar & make use of the newly opened border at Mae Sot - so here's a rough idea of my plan so far - any thoughts?
1-Dec- Arrive Yangon (midday)
2-Dec- Yangon - Pathein
3-Dec- Pathein - Ngwe Saung
4-Dec- Ngwe Saung
5-Dec- Ngwe Saung - Yangon - overnight train to Mawlamyine
9-Dec- Mawlamyine to Hpa-An
12-Dec- Hpa-An - Mae Sot - Sukhothai
14-Dec- Sukhothai then overnight train to Ayutthaya via Phitsanulok
16-Dec- Ayuthaya - to BKK Airport (hopefully avoiding the need to go into Bangkok) - depart Midday
I'm spending a fair few nights in Mawlamyine & Hpa-An but am assuming I will do day trips from there, rather than just hanging about town for the entire time but I'd interested to hear if people have suggestions of other places to stay.
Yes, Bago & Golden Rock are not on the list. Should they be? I've heard mixed reports from friends & family who have been.
I've also put in a trip to Ngwe Saung - I'm not one for sitting around on the beach but I'd love to go swimming/do some snorkelling - it is worth taking 3 days of my trip out to go to Ngwe Saung for this? Are there beaches nearer Mawlamyine where I could do this instead?
Finally, I'm normally one for going a bit more with the flow & not planning my trip so far in advance, but as my previous trip to Myanmar showed, accommodation books up early, and you need to be organised esp. in December, plus given that Myanmar is not cheap & with the ATM situation, it would be good to have a rough hotel budget in place before I leave.
I'd add another day to Pathein. Check out the umbrella workshop and there's a lovely park near the university. Then head over the the evening food/market stalls.
I recently went to both Ngwe Saung and Chaung Tha beaches. I preferred the latter. Cheaper, better food and easier to meet people. I didn't try to snorkel at either beach but I heard the water isn't clear enough. But the body surfing was great.
In Chaung Tha, Shwe Hin Tha Hotel is the best overall option and it's located directly on the beach. Hill Garden Hotel is another fine option...it's a group of bungalows on a quiet hill a few minutes from the beach. The cheapest hotel in town William Restaurant and Guesthouse...they had rooms for $8.
In Ngwe Saung prices were higher for rooms and most were closed for renovation in July. Shwe Hin Tha Hotel (same owners as the one in Chaung Tha) was the best overall option and it's located directly on the beach. If that's full the Silver Coast Beach Hotel (located next door) is a good backup option.
In Pathein The Pammawaddy is the best overall option. It's clean and located in a quiet side street. Rooms were $25-$35. If that's out of your budget, head over to Sein Pyae Hlyan Inn right across the street. They had rooms for $8 (but they're like prison cells).