I am thinking of going to Burma for a couple of weeks around xmas new year time...
I have extensive travel experience in SEA, but have never been to Burma before. with my proposed time, I am a bit unsure of where I should go and what I should do...
I am not really too into temples, I have been to Ankor Wat and seen a million of them throughout the region, but don't mind seeing something really impressive (Bagan) as long as these places aren't too much out of the way and that's all the area has to offer.
Are there beach/island destinations that I could get to with my timeframe? How long do these places take to get too? I have heard about Ngapali Beach and the Merculiago (sp?) Archipelago...I am not a diver but I am a keen snorkeller.
I will be travelling alone...Is it easy to interact with the locals and easy to find other travellers to socialise with?
I have heard Burma is a bit more expensive than say neighbouring Thailand...What sort of costs would I be looking at?
I'm under the impression that it's still possible to get a same day visa in Bangkok...Is there anything I can do to speed the process up in Australia?
I've heard nothing but positive things from those who have been to Burma...What about negative experiences from the people here?
Another alternative would be for me to go to Java instead...Any thoughts?
Thanks for your help...
#1 furnerburner2 has been a member since 24/7/2010. Posts: 7
This is a good time to be in Burma. The weather is (or should be) great.
Bagan is impressive, as are several of the areas around Mandalay. These are the usual places where people go (for good reason, including the ease of getting to them). But with two weeks you could check out the west coast and hit Ngpali, the town of Sitwe, and get your dose of temples at Mrauk U. However, Mrauk U is kind of out of the way, so you might not want to make the effort.
You could also, easily, spend 2 weeks doing a loop south and east of Yangon ...
Yangon - Mawlamyaing - Hpa-an - Thaton - Kinpun / Kyaiktiyo - Bago - Yangon
I did this loop a while back and it was fantastic. Train from Yangon to Mottama, long-tail boat to Mawlamyaing, ferry upriver to Hpa-an, pick-up to Thaton, pick-up to Kinpun, bus back to Yangon via Bago (if you want to see a few temples).
If you are in this area during NYE, you might get to check out the Kayin New Year festivities, which are a blast. They are usually just outside of Hpa-an and you can get a motorcycle taxi to take you out to the grounds. It's very, very interesting.
If you decide to go to Bagan, try to get there around the time of the full moon. There is a massive festival at the Ananda Pahto that is a must-see. Incredible!
There is a beach area south of Mawlamyaing. I didn't go, but from what I understood from people coming back it was so-so. They told me to save my beach time for Thailand.
Easy to meet other travelers and chat with the locals. Best people I've ever met in SEA.
I'm sure prices have gone up, but I didn't find Burma to be any more expensive than, say, Laos or Cambodia, though I did find it to be slightly more expensive than Thailand. Bamar food is dirt cheap, hotels aren't too expensive (except in Yangon, from what I found), and buses are very inexpensive. You might end up feeling like you're being $1 and $2 and $5 to death at the sites, but they're worth it. Suppose those things can add up quickly, though.
I took about U$750 for a month ... that was 2003 ... and came out with a little leftover. Lived very well, too.
I had absolutely no negative experiences there aside from the glimpses of the slave-labour that was being used for road repairs, and hearing about the lives of some of these wonderful people. Otherwise, it is probably the safest and most pleasant country in SEA for travel. The buses aren't the greatest, though.