I realise that this is a topic that seems to get discussed across a number of threads and forums, and I have done quite a bit of reading into it. But I still have a few more questions that I was hoping people with experience around the topic could help me answer.
I'm planning on heading into Burma during late June/July which will be the end of roughly 5 months of travelling around south east asia. I'm still a bit unsure about the booking situation. I do intend to book my first few nights in Yangon, which is were I will arrive from Bangkok, but what would people class as booking ahead? Is this something that I could potentially do a week or so before I flew in? My original plan was to head down to Bangkok and organise my visa and flights and my first few nights of accommodation, a week or so before I left, would that be feasible? From Yangon is it then possible for me to just find places upon arrival at most other sites throughout Burma? I'm intending on spending roughly 2-3 weeks (something which I'll decide upon soon) travelling to Yangon, Kyaitkyo, Bagan, Inle Lake, Kalaw, Mandalay and if possible at the time Mrauk U. Any kind of feedback would be great!
#1 Donman1990 has been a member since 7/4/2012. Posts: 34
My advice would be to book ahead at least by a couple of weeks, since the number of tourists has gone way up in the last year. If I can give one piece of advice, it would be go north away from Yangon as soon as you can because the rainy season is not a lot of fun in Yangon (think flooded streets, wading through a foot of water, and terrible driving/roads/cars!), whereas the climate further north is not so wet at that time. In fact, Bagan enjoys a strange micro-climate and stays relatively dry even during the height of the rainy season in August / September!
Apart from that, I doubt you will ever be stuck for a place to stay if you don't book ahead, but it'll probably mean you'll pay more, have to trek around with your bag looking for places which is never fun, and probably get stuck with worse places... although obviously even staying in guidebook recommended places is never a guarantee, since there is a tendency to become complacent when you're listed in the Lonely Planet and have guaranteed business!
One more thing, I highly recommend taking the boat from Mandalay to Bagan if that's the route you were planning. It's a long, slow ride (about 12-13 hours from what I remember) where you'll meet plenty of other travellers and witness some amazing sights along the way as the boat stops off in out-of-the-way locations to drop off supplies and people! The boat goes twice a week (either Sat or Sun and one day during the week) and leaves at 4am if I'm not mistaken.
Have a great trip!
Burma is definitely busy right now, but you certainly don't need to book places months ahead (unless you're set on a specific guesthouse.) The only time we ran into trouble was landing in Yangon around midnight. Otherwise, calling a few days (or hours) before we arrived or just walking around worked every time.
We traveled for ~3 weeks in February, the busy time, so that can give you an indication of how busy it really is. For more tips, check out our posts on Burma: http://erohisms.com.
#3 erohisms has been a member since 17/3/2013. Posts: 10
Awesome, thanks for the great feedback. Unthinking if bringing forward my trip to may as I think the weather is a bit nicer then. I'll probably book my flights a first few nights on y way through Laos and then head into Bangkok to get my visa and fly in.
#4 Donman1990 has been a member since 7/4/2012. Posts: 34
My advise is start your trip planning for Myanmar will be great if you do it when in Bangkok. I just heard there is online Reservation company in myanmar now and they accept credit cards for reservation and e-ticket. I did my booking there and found satisfaction. They sent me round trip ticket for Mandalay - Nyaung U and back to Mandalay. So all i need now is print out my E- Ticket and travel to my desire place. no worries to carry bunch of tickets. Great idea and process. That business is called VisitMM. you can search your itinerary here www.visitmm.com
#5 nicholasnorman has been a member since 25/4/2013. Posts: 4
That time of year not too much of an issue. I'd book ahead in Yangon, Mandalay and Inle area. Others, you should be fine just rocking up.
In Yangon, you may need to book a few weeks in advance and then re-confirm prior to travel. Though some hotels use email, it's always better to call. The level of English is generally very good at the hotels. In country, just get your hotel to call the next city when you know when/ where you want to go. Done this twice recently (Nov2012 and Feb2013) and it worked fine for us.
Find me on facebook (the leaping lemur) and there's a link to some hotel information.
#6 TheLeapingLemur has been a member since 20/11/2012. Posts: 13