Photo: Temple outside Monywa.

Burma forum

Best Way to Travel Through and In and Out of Burma

Posted by opentrails2 on 26/12/2016 at 01:53

Hello!

Reading past posts has made me very excited to see Burma, but I am having trouble deciding the best route to take as well as the easiest ways to get both in and out of the country.

I am thinking of leaving myself 2.5 weeks to explore Burma in February. Originally, I was thinking of :
a. flying into Bangkok
b. heading up north to Chiang Mai (seeing things along the way)
c. and then flying into Mandalay
d. exploring Bagan
e. then Kalaw
f. then doing the trek to Inle Lake with other small excursions (Monywa and Loikaw sounded particularly lovely), while skipping Yangon .

However, I started to wonder the following:
1. How important to seeing Burma is going to Yangon? Why in a past post was Yangon ranked above Bagan, Inle, or Mandalay in terms of importance?
2. In terms of getting in and out of Burma, is it feasible to fly from Chiang Mai into Mandalay or from Mandalay back out to Chiang Mai? If I plan on heading on to Laos from Burma, what is the best route to take (through Bangkok or through Chiang Mai)?
3. Does it matter which direction I were to travel through Burma (from Yangon -> Inle -> Kalaw -> Bagan -> Mandalay or the other way around)?
4. Does the following route sound reasonable, given time constraints (2.5 weeks), travel logistics, etc.? (This route seems great in that it doesn't involve very much overlap or backtracking but I'm not sure if the actual realities of travel on the ground would make it feasible. The downside here is that I would travel from the South to North of Burma instead of the South to North of Thailand (as in my original possible route), thus missing Sukhothai).
a. Fly from Bangkok to Yangon
b. Explore Yangon and head up to possibly Loikaw by bus
c. From Loikaw on to Inle
d. Inle trek to Kalaw
e. Kalaw bus to Bagan
f. Bagan bus to Mandalay
g. Mandalay flight out to Chiang Mai
h. Explore Chiang Mai and possibly hill trek
i. Slow boat into Luang Prabang
5. Do you think it's more worth it for a first time traveler to travel over land through Thailand from BK to Chiang Mai or from Yangon up to eventually Mandalay?

Thank you greatly for any advice you may have:)

#1 opentrails2 has been a member since 26/12/2016. Posts: 1

Posted by kickintheass on 6/1/2017 at 08:19

Hi
From Bangkok you could fly to Mae Sot with Nok Air(cheap flights) and walk across the border. Explore Hpa An and mawlamyine. Then head north to any of your destinations. Fly out of Yangon

#2 kickintheass has been a member since 14/9/2016. Posts: 10


Posted by antoniamitchell on 6/1/2017 at 20:11

Hi.
The consensus seems to be that yangon is a more interesting city than mandalay (I certainly found it so ) which is probably why it's given more importance in many itineraries.

I dunno of you can fly from mandalay to cm or not - skyscanner or a Google search for flights should be able to answer that for you.


I dont think it matters at all whether you travel north to south in burma or south to north (not at that time of the year). I do, however, think that your second itinerary (bkk to yangon then overland to mandalay then flight to cm) would be a bit tight in 2.5 weeks. It is possible, but you'd have to move on pretty speedily a couple of times (so only a day or two in some smaller destimations before you move on again, which can be frustrating and tiring).


What I will say is that travel in Burma is slowwww. Travel in the whole region is slow, but Burma is especially so (I took the train from pyin oo lwin to Hsipaw, and I swear it would have been faster to have gotten out and walked.) Expect everything to be delayed. If a bus says it arrives at a certain place at lunchtime, expect that you may not arrive until dinner. So that means don't try and plan too much in. If you've only got 2.5 weeks, I wouldn't recommend trying to fit in any more than 5 destinations.

I assume you've ear-marked 2.5 weeks for Burma and have additional time for Thailand and Laos? But I also assume from your post that you don't have time to do central and northern Thailand, as well as central and northern Burma?

As you're gonna have to choose, you can decide based on which makes you more jumpy with excitement, or on which seems more practical (you mentioned this being your first trip, and Thailand has much better infrastructure so it's considerably easier to travel in). There's no "right" answer I'm afraid, as it's something only you can decide.

Have a great trip

#3 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Location: Singapore. Posts: 534
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Posted by globerovers on 11/1/2017 at 01:58

Here's my humble advice:


1. How important to seeing Burma is going to Yangon ? Why in a past post was Yangon ranked above Bagan , Inle, or Mandalay in terms of importance?

MY ANSWER: Yangon is an interesting city with great markets and colonial architecture so I won't skip it. Mandalay for me is more interesting as a base from where to see the many interesting areas around the city.

2. In terms of getting in and out of Burma, is it feasible to fly from Chiang Mai into Mandalay or from Mandalay back out to Chiang Mai? If I plan on heading on to Laos from Burma, what is the best route to take (through Bangkok or through Chiang Mai)?
MY ANSWER: Either way is fine. Check the schedule and airfares from AirAsia and NokAir.

3. Does it matter which direction I were to travel through Burma (from Yangon -> Inle -> Kalaw -> Bagan -> Mandalay or the other way around)?
MY ANSWER: Based on my experience, it would make no difference at all.

4. Does the following route sound reasonable, given time constraints (2.5 weeks), travel logistics, etc.? route), thus missing Sukhothai). SUKHOTHAI IS GREAT!
MY COMMENTS IN CAPS

a. Fly from Bangkok to Yangon
b. Explore Yangon and head up to possibly Loikaw by bus (YOU MAY WANT TO FLY UP TO HEHO)
c. From Loikaw on to Inle
d. Inle trek to Kalaw
e. Kalaw bus to Bagan (AN ALTERNATIVE IS TO MANDALAY THEN BOAT DOWN TO BAGAN
f. Bagan bus to Mandalay
g. Mandalay flight out to Chiang Mai
h. Explore Chiang Mai and possibly hill trek
i. Slow boat into Luang Prabang (HEARD SOME BAD STORIES ABOUT THIS BOAT TRIP SO PLEASE READ UP TO MAKE SURE ITS A GOOD OPTION)

5. Do you think it's more worth it for a first time traveler to travel over land through Thailand from BK to Chiang Mai or from Yangon up to eventually Mandalay?
TAKE A TRAIN FROM BANGKOK TO CHIANG MAI. STOP OVER IN SUKHOTHAI IF POSSIBLE

#4 globerovers has been a member since 22/12/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 4
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Posted by Herbie47 on 11/1/2017 at 12:18

Why go to Inle before Kalaw ? you have to go passed Kalaw to get to Inle and trekking to Kalaw is more uphill as its quite a bit higher.

#5 Herbie47 has been a member since 23/2/2011. Posts: 18

Posted by bman88 on 20/1/2017 at 01:23

I am currently in Chaing Mai, and wan t to travel to Burma next, the Inle Lake and Bagan areas. My question is "Can you reach those areas overland from CM?". Any advice for exploring those areas would be most helpful, as well.

#6 bman88 has been a member since 11/11/2012. Location: United States. Posts: 16
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