Photo: Temple outside Monywa.

Burma forum

2 week trip to Burma in May

Posted by hugo on 5/1/2012 at 19:06

Hi Guys

I'm looking seriously into a 2 week trip to burma from 13th to the 27th May this year. These dates are set in stone so my first question would be: Is it wise to be visiting at this time of year, so close to the start of the rainy season? I don't mind the occasional downpour but if it's raining 24/7 thats probably going to put a bit of downer on it.

My initial thinking for a rough itinerary is:

YANGON > INLE LAKE > MANDELAY > BAGON > NGAPALI > YANGON

I'm aware 2 weeks isn't a lot of time to do all this, so i'm thinking of making use of as many internal flights as i can afford, but if you think i'm being wildly optimistic please slap some sense into me!

Also if you can recommend any hidden gems / must sees along this route please let me know. Would love to do a 2 day trek at some point along the way and see some villages. In the same vein anything i should skip would be appreciated.

Getting quite excited! Hopefully it's doable!

#1 hugo has been a member since 5/1/2012. Posts: 2

Posted by chinarocks on 6/1/2012 at 07:44

Sorry I can't comment on your route as I haven't been but one thing I heard from a friend who has is that any internal flights taken in Burma should be done so after careful research regarding the operator etc!! In a nutshell, it is not the safest country to fly in.

#2 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740


Posted by Tilapia on 6/1/2012 at 14:23

Hi Hugo,

Going at that time of the year is a bit of a crap-shoot. Not only is it the beginning of the monsoon season, it is also the hottest time of the year. Of course, not everyone is bothered by extreme heat, but it can make exploring some of the areas you're considering fairly uncomfortable. It's also possible that the weather could be great. It's so unpredictable these days.

Frankly, the itinerary looks like an awful lot to me. Two weeks is not a lot of time for Burma, and much of it can be spent traveling between places (even if one is flying). I'm going to sound like a broken record here ... transport there is notoriously slow and unreliable, and distances are fairly substantial (in the areas you've listed). Roads are not great, and some are just packed dirt which would make transport even more difficult if not impossible at times should the rain start coming down. Unless the road has been paved, this would be especially true between Heho and Inle.

In my opinion, all of these places are worthy of several days, though I can't comment on Ngapali having never been. Things worth seeing in each ...

Yangon ... obviously, the Schwedagon Pagoda. Unless things have changed, you pay an entrance fee that is good for the entire day, so you can go early in the morning and then return in the later part of the afternoon. I can't recommend this enough. In the early morning (dawn) the place is buzzing with pilgrims from all over the country, and the light is beautiful. The temperature will also be more comfortable. I walked there through empty streets from the Sule Pagoda area in about 30 minutes. Later in the afternoon the light will be even better (if it isn't clouded over), and there will be slightly fewer people. When the sun drops the place gets lit up. A spotlight is focused on the top of the stupa where there is a 72 carot diamond that acts like a prism and shoots bars of light all over the place. These beams of light move as you circle the pagoda. It's amazing!

Mandalay ... Mahamuni Pagoda and the Mahamuni neighbourhood, in general. The pagoda and its Buddha image are stunning (you won't believe how much gold and precious stones are on that Buddha!), and much of the surrounding neighbourhood is devoted to the carving of Buddha images of all shapes and sizes. Also, U Bein's Bridge (at sunset), Mingun, and Sagaing are all wonderful, interesting places. I don't recommend the fort though the moat and towers are impressive. And I can't comment on Mandalay Hill as I didn't go up. Finally, just wandering along the riverbank is a real eye-opener. There will be loads of boats, but there's no pier or dock of any kind. It's all quite primitive. I also hired a trishaw guy to take me on a tour of some of the neighbourhoods and that was definitely a highlight.

I'd take the boat from Mandalay to Bagan. It takes about 10 hours (as does the bus), but this depends on the river's water level. One poster on this site said that it took far longer than that when she tried it because the boat kept hitting bottom. Still, it's a great trip with some very interesting scenery and an option to hop off at Pakokku (which I also didn't do, but wish I had and will next time I'm in that area).

Bagan ... Schwezagon Pagoda at night, Dhammayangyi Pagoda (a huge place made without any mortar! Incredible!!!), and Ananda and its Buddha images are all spectacular, but do try to get to some of the outlying temples. Also, the main Buddha image in the Ahlodawpyae Pagoda (I think it is also called Alopyae or something like that) is not to be missed. The temple is not particularly remarkable, but the Buddha image is. Finally, I visited an amazing monastery called Leya, though I have also seen it called the Myoe Daung Monastery. Go!

Inle Lake ... I loved the area, and especially liked wandering around In Dein and the small village beyond it. I think it's a common stop when doing a boat tour, but if not then I would recommend that you ask to be taken there. Wonderful place.
Best of all, regardless of where you are, you're going to find that the Burmese are incredibly wonderful and hospitable people. Many who I met were more than happy to chat and have their photos taken. This sounds cliche, but for me the best thing about Burma is the people.

#3 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,496
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Posted by hugo on 6/1/2012 at 23:19

Hi, many thanks for the replies! You've given me some fantastic insights.

However after more and more research we're sadly thinking that this might not the right time for us to visit burma. We only have the 2 weeks available in may (as we're visiting family in KL) and we would love to use them experiencing life in burma, but as you've said, it really isnt the right time of year to go, plus lack of time and internal flights being slightly more expensive than we had thought. This adds up to quite a lot of cons which we can't ignore. So unfortunately burma will have to wait for another time, and we'll focus our attention on an alternative part of SE Asia for our 2 week trip.

Would you have any suggestions for an alternative trip for a couple who were so keen to experience Burma? We've already been to Vietnam, and our initial thoughts are Cambodia, but we're open to anywhere with a connection from KL. Any unique and imaginative suggestions would be gratefully received.

Thanks again.

#4 hugo has been a member since 5/1/2012. Posts: 2

Posted by Tilapia on 7/1/2012 at 09:52

No no no! After all that advice, you have to go now!

={:?D)

Good decision, I think. It would be too stinking hot, and if the rain started falling you'd be sorry you didn't go somewhere else. Try to plan to go there for at least a month. You won't be sorry, but you might be sorry if you go for much less than that.

Cambodia would also be oven-like, and transport can be awful there when the rain is coming down. You may be better off going somewhere like Northern Laos where the temperatures will be more tolerable. Luang Prabang is hardly unique or imaginative, but at least you wouldn't melt as badly there. You may get wet, though.

Have you considered heading southwards towards, for example, Java or Sumatra?

#5 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,496
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Posted by busylizzy on 7/1/2012 at 17:11

It's alright Tilapia - the info won't be wasted! I've bookmarked this thread for my reference for next year... so thanks in advance! :-)

#6 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by Royalsithu on 16/2/2012 at 02:17

Hi! Dear Hugo!
Yes, correct . The end of May is the start of Rainy Seasonin Myanmar .But , it is not too much rain .
You already chosen our big four ( Yangon , Mandalay , Inleand Bagan ) that is enough for the traveler who come to Myanmar first time .
Here is suggestion itinerary for you :
Day 1 : Arrival and visit Yangon
Day 2 : Yangon – Bagan by morning flight and visit Bagan
Day 3: Bagan Sightseeing in morning and evening by bike
Day 4 : Visit Bagan in morning and fly to Mandalay withevening flight
Day 5: Mandalay Sightseeing and amarapura , Sagaing and Inwa
Day 6 : Mandalay sightseeing and leisure with sunset fromthe biggest teak Bridge ( U Bein Bridge )
Day 7: Mandalay – Heho by flight and proceed to Kalaw andovernight at Kalaw
Day 8 : Kalaw trekking and overnight at monastery
Day 9 : Kalaw- Inle trekking and visit Inle
Day 10: Inle and Indein sightseeing and fly to Thandwe by evening flight
Day 11: Beach
Day 12 : Beach andFly back to Yangon by evening flight
Day 13: Yangon Sightseeing
Day 14 : Departure
Please note that you should have an extra day at Yangonbefore your departure because May is the start of Rainy Season so that if yourinternal flights cancel or delay because of weather , you can be missed yourInternational flight.
Welcome to Myanmar !
With Regards ,
Royalsithu

#7 Royalsithu has been a member since 15/2/2012. Location: Myanmar / Burma. Posts: 23

Posted by skushner on 19/4/2014 at 19:23

Good Evening,

Well, two years after these posts above, and I'm thinking of heading to Burma mid may for two weeks. Thanks for the recommendations. We've done India in the July monsoon season and it was fine. I imagine Burma in May will be warmer from what I'm read, but keen to go.


- Anyone have any advice on which airlines to use for internal flights?
- Also, wondering whether anyone has visited Sittwe and Mrauk U? Wondering if it worth integrating into our two week journey?
- Also, wondering about best places to change money in Yangon?
- was looking at hotels in ngapali? Things look pretty booked up. Has anyone driven recently from Ngapali to Yangon? I've read most people fly due to road conditions. Is that still the case?

Many thanks,
Sara

#8 skushner has been a member since 19/4/2014. Posts: 1


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