Photo: Temple outside Monywa.

Burma forum

traveling with my daughters

Posted by broome on 21/3/2013 at 02:32

i'm 49 and my daughters are 16 and 17. i want to take them on a backpacking trip to show them how it is done, as i would like them to see the world when they get abit older.
only trouble is i'v never done it myself. so i need help aswell
would you more seasoned travelers do Myanmar as your first trip or a little easyer country for our first atempt.
we would be away for 2 weeks and doing it during school holidays. i was thinking 50 australian dollars a day each plus spending money would that be ok or would i need more.
i have no set plans i was hoping to pick you people on this sites brains and come up with a real eye opener for them, as well as keeping them safe i want abit of excitement for them aswell. not a boring trip with the old man.
please feel free to express whatever you think i should do because i'd like to do this 2 or 3 more times with them ( different counties though) over the next few years so this trip is really a learning curve

i want to travel around that part of the world for 6 months at xmas time next year. the trips will be a learning experience for me to take into my big trip in afew years time.
thanks ian.

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Posted by MADMAC on 21/3/2013 at 12:54

Start with Thailand. It's the easiest one.

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Posted by broome on 21/3/2013 at 18:53

ok thanks i guess now to workout where to go, is the money i'll be taking about right per day?

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Posted by MADMAC on 21/3/2013 at 21:58

Yeah, it depends on what you want to do - what kind of tourist you are. There are essentially three types here:

1. The sex tourist. Coming here for cheep nookie, these guys tend to head towardsd Pattaya because it's cheapest there (for reasons I have yet to understand). I am assuming you do not belong in this category based on your post.

2. The beach tourist. For backpackers, they usually head down the peninsula and then off to one of the islands. It has romantic appeal to them. They will avoid high end places like Phuket for the most part, but otherwise the beaches there are fair game. You could start at Cha'am and work your way down if you are inclined towards the beach.

3. The cultural tourist. Most of these head north of Bangkok. They are interested in the old architecture of Khmer and Sukothai origin. They also tend to be interested in the scenery of the north. They tend to cluster in certain places (Kanchanaburi, Ayudhya, Chiang Mai, Pai, Sukhothai, Chiang Rai). Some head off towards Laos going through Nong Khai.. Relatively few go to Issan which is considered boring and uninteresting (this is where I live and I like it - but it's not for everyone). A very off the beaten path that I recommend is to go to Khemmerat and work your way up the Mekong. If that interests you I'll give you details.

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Posted by Geer1 on 21/3/2013 at 22:24

50 each should be good, gives you enough to spend on tours and eat good which you should do on a short trip like that as you have to make the most out of it. You might even be able to get away with less then that as some things like accommodation are cheaper when travelling with others(a triple room will likely cost you $10-20 depending on location, not a whole lot more then a single or double room).

I liked northern Thailand for the cultural side of things as well as lots of options for things to do. You could easily spend a week in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai is good for 2 or 3 days(go to Chiang Rai on a weekend and check out the walking streets, I thought the street food there was the best of almost every night market I went to). I heard good things about Pai but never went.

Southern Thailand has some nice islands and I loved Khao Sok National Park for its scenery(do the lake tour if you go), Australia has good beaches though so if you are near one there I would probably recommend heading north for more of a culture difference. For a good mix you could fly between locations and see both but that will add to the costs, around $100 per person one way.

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Posted by broome on 22/3/2013 at 19:18

thanks madmac and Geer1 no i'm not a sex tourist not with my daughters intow
i hear Chiang Mai is good then i'd like to hit a beach for awhile for the kids
i'd like that off the beaten path one khemmerat if you could give me some details please madmac
i'd like to find a place my 2 girls could do thier owne thing and be safe for afew days so they get abit of freedom to investergate by themselfs without me being there. i'd still be at the same place i'd just like to get them a room to themselfs for afew days

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Posted by MADMAC on 22/3/2013 at 23:19

Khemmerat is a very old town, which is now a district capital (level below province) in Ubon Ratchathani. It sits right on the Mekong river. It has a nice feel to it, but it's more rural than urban in that feel. If you go even further south and start out at Kong Chiam, that's a nice little town with a great resort where the Mun and Mekong rivers meet. A night there (pricey) will be a great way to start.

If you start at Khemmerat (cheaper, logistically a touch easier) then you could spend a night there before heading up to Don Tan. Don Tan has little of interest but it does have the authentic feel of an Issan town. It's also right on the Mekong.

Bewteen Don Tan and Mukdahan (where I live) is the Phu Pra Thoep national forest. It's OK, but way overpriced. The rock formations are Mukdahans signature image.

Mukdahan is a real city. Not the sleepy provincial town that it is described in in most guide books. It's not that big, but big enough. It had some decent nightlife, lots of restaraunts, a good night market. The IndoChina market on the river is popular with Thais, but not designed for the western tourist so most of the good there are practical things like underwear, socks, hardware and the like. But there are also some items that are interesting or unusual, so it's worth a look. I live just off of this market. If you come through here, this is a good place to let your daughters explore alone. There is a new riverside Boutique hotel. Very nice. Rooms are only 650 a night. Right on the river. Mukdahan is a safe city for westerners. If you need to make a visa run into Laos, this would be one place you could do it. Just go to the bus station and cross Friendship Bridge 2 into Savanakhet. And old colonial city, Savanakhet is an atrophying mess, but it does still evince old colonial backwater in a certain way. If you've paid for the visa to enter Laos here, might as well spend a couple of nights checking it out.

From here you would head north to That Phanom. This temple has the oldest Chedi in Thailand and it's a remarkable place. Don't miss the museum in the back. The entire history of it is interesting. Not popular with western tourists it is extremely popular with Thais. I've been five times. A night on the river here is very pleasant and there are cheap places to stay and eat.

From there I recommend Nakhon Phanom. This is a great little city. Good nightlife and restaraunts around the Vietnamese clock tower. Easy to find - just ask around. The city is small. It has an airport that was used by Air America in the Vietnam war. The views into Laos are really nice here.

Some 50 km further north you come to a town with a great place to go swimming. It's located in Ampur Ban Phaeng. I attached a video:

I would spend a night there just for this place.

From there I'd head to the new provincial capital of Bung Kan. I've never been there, so you'll have to suss that one out yourself.

After that, on to Nong Khai. Another good spot for a visa run and maybe spend some time exploring Laos. This is a better place to do that than Mukdahan, so if you have the time and don't need to make a visa run when you are further south, then do it here and plan to spend a lengthier stay in Laos where you can visit a lot of highlights of Northern Laos. Lots of info on travelfish here about that. You could make you way back down the Mekong on the Laos side as it would give you good contrast between the two countries. Konglor cave in Thakek are suppose to be very interesting.

Hope this helps.

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Posted by MADMAC on 23/3/2013 at 04:54

I forgot to mention the Ho Chi Minh house where he lived for a while in NKP is now a museum. It's small, and I'm no fan of his, but the fact is he was an historical figure. It's worth checking out if you're already in NKP.

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Posted by broome on 24/3/2013 at 19:34

thanks a great help now to get planning.
the video was great but i did lose 2 or 3 hours looking a alot more of them

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Posted by MADMAC on 24/3/2013 at 21:40

One other piece f friendly advice - don't attach timelines to these movements (or any). You get to place X when you get there and leave when you feel like it. The biggest part of the charm of the area is the relaxing pace of life. You begin to kill that when you have a fixed itinerary with timelines. Don't over-organize.

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Posted by mareeS on 29/3/2013 at 05:23

broome, take no notice of the previous people who have replied to you. They're the types of creeps and nasties who have done over Asia, and the types you would not wish your daughters to meet.

If you are intent on going to Burma, you can't do it by backpacking, especially with children. As things are at present, you must book and plan ahead. Accommodation is very expensive and increasing by the week, especially in Rangoon. This is because Asian businessmen/carpetbaggers are flooding the place and the generals are struggling to keep up with the dollars flooding into their Swiss bank accounts, while attempting to get hotels up and running.

I kissed the ground two months ago after flying from Mandalay to Rangoon on a 40yo Fokker aircraft that was so overloaded it couldn't climb above 8000 feet. A week before, one of the same planes crashed at Inle Lake, killing many passengers.

In the north of Burma I travelled on a bus that took 3hrs to cover 14 miles. We had to divert because of military directions. This is a serious consideration in Burma, as there are major ethnic and sectarian tensions between buddhists and muslims in the west and central regions.

Burma is really lovely if you're a well-travelled adult, but I wouldn't be taking my children there at present. Nor to Cambodia or Laos. Somebody suggested Thailand for you and your girls, I would also suggest Malaysia and Borneo as preferable to Burma at present.

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Posted by busylizzy on 29/3/2013 at 06:05

Wow, maree, that's a bit harsh. I don't always see eye to eye with MM, and yes his initial references to the sex tourist was not necessary in this post, but he does give some good advice here. I suspect the area that he describes may not be of interest to a first time traveller to the region as they will probably want to stick the the more popular routes, both it s good info all the same.

Likewise, geer also had some good ideas.

To Broome, it depends on what kind of experience you wish to girls to have. Thailand is definitely the easier option and there's plenty options to cover all requirements whether it be temples, beaches, hiking, shopping or off the beaten track exploring. Another option to consider is cambodia which would be real eye opening and educational experience for the girls, as well as fun. And its relatively easy to get around. Bottom line, it depends on what kind of experience you are looking for. What are the key requisites?

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Posted by MADMAC on 29/3/2013 at 08:09

"Creep" and "Nasty". Haven't been called those before. No worriesLiz, I don't care what people who don't know me want to say. Skin is thicker than that. A whole lot thicker actually.

Broome, I have no designs on your daughters so you've got nothing to worry about there. If you do come to Mukdahan, look me up and we'll have a beer and I'll give you the laydown on the place. I've done that with a few travelfishers here.

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Posted by mareeS on 1/4/2013 at 02:54

Madmac, maybe you're one of the benign ones, but you would know how many creeps and nasties do business in Asia, since you live there. We've worked in various parts of Asia for many years during our careers, and there was a lot we saw and didn't like. Not just western men, but asian men too.

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Posted by MADMAC on 1/4/2013 at 06:25

I have lived in eight countries in my life on four continents and I've discovered one incontrovertable truth: With the exception of the Saudi's, people everywhere are pretty much the same. Men in Thailand aren't any more devious, creepy or otherwise objectionable to people in Germany. It's just that the values here are a touch different.

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Posted by broome on 1/4/2013 at 19:50

thanks everyone for the advise

bushlizzy i want to take the girls away from the really high traffic areas for the most part, spent 2 or 3 days laying about on a beach at the end of our trip in a popular spot. mostly i want them to see the country not the tourist traps they can do that by themselfs later on in life.

maree i am really worried about my girls i'v sheltered them abit to much, i'm i guess a over protective father i just want somewhere they can explore in relative saftey. i know no where is completely safe no mater where you go in the world. so thankyou for your advise aswell i appreciate it.

madmac i'd love to look you up if i get to your part of the country i do like a cold beer [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img]

i might have to look into Thialand though i did want a bit of a different country for us to explore, but you more experienced travelers seem to say this is a great start out country to learn the ropes, hopefully i might run into on or more of you where ever i decide to go

johnson thanks i'll look into that aswell

thanks ian

#16 broome has been a member since 19/3/2013. Location: Australia. Posts: 8
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Posted by MADMAC on 2/4/2013 at 00:02

I will probably be just like you with my daughter. She's only six now, and I'm already very protective.

Thailand is really variable. It's a huge tourist destination, so in places like the Islands, Phuket, Pattaya, it's LOADED with tourists. On the other hand, beaches around Trat, for example, are not. The route I suggested to you until you get to Nong Khai you'll ony see a few. There just aren't very many out here. More expats - and not many of those either.

The problem with Burma is it was a police state for a long time and is only now just in transition. It's tourism infrastructure was not designed to encourage tourism as much as to discourage sources of dissent. It's also not cheap like other SEA destinations.

Thailand tried very hard to accomodate tourism and because of that, their systemics and costs tend to be more user friendly.

Have a great trip whatever you decide.

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Posted by JGlove on 7/5/2013 at 11:01

I definitely think Myanmar (Burma) is a good first backpacking trip. The people are just wonderful and it is very safe. Yes the country is not as set up for tourists as Thailand may be but all the more reason to go now while it is still 'untouched' by tourism. Inle Lake is absolutely stunning and a place that should be seen before tourism really takes hold. What's more, you won't feel the need to get off the beaten track because the country itself is off the beaten path! The whole country is a mix of Indian, Chinese and Thai influences, the food is especially interesting!

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Posted by MADMAC on 7/5/2013 at 11:29

JGlove - I would agree with your assessment if it wasn't as pricey as it is. But Burma is expensive compared with the rest of the region. That's a major negative really.

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