| Yangon, Golden Rock, Lake Inle,
This is a report of our trip to Myanmar
(Burma) which we did between December 15th and December 29th, 2002. We
flew from KL (Malaysia) to Yangon and then back to KL. In Myanmar we
a car + driver with which we travelled around, totalling 2600 Km in two
This is the plan we set up with the
driver with the planned and effective driving hours. As you can see we
spent a lot of time in the car:
|Yangon -> Bago -> Golden Rock
||5h + 1h
|Golden Rock -> Toungoo
|Toungoo -> Inle Lake
|Inle -> Mandalay (stop in Pindaya)
|Mandalay -> Bagan (Mt. Popa)
|Bagan -> Pyay
|Pyay - Yangon
This was almost a "luxury" trip (if
compared to the previous trips we did). We flew business class from KL
to Yangon and had our own car + driver in Myanmar. We stayed in double
rooms with bath and A/C in Myanmar (although we only needed the A/C in
Yangon), spending $15-20/night. We spent a total of $111 for entry
around $140 for food and $500 for the (aircon) car and the driver. We
spent a total of $1100 in Myanmar
in two weeks (two of us). That doesn't include the flight to/from
A meal for
two in a good restaurant in Myanmar will set you back by 3000 to 4000
bottled water is 100 Kyat for a 1 liter bottle, a pomelo cost 200-300
a teak wood carving we bought (good quality, about 1m x 30cm) was 25000
Internal flights are around $100
for the "long legs" from Yangon to either Inle lake (Heho), Bagan or
Inle to either Mandalay or Bagan is around half of that. A one day boat
trip on lake Inle
costs 8000 Kyat and you have your own boat for one full day. Renting a
boat on the Ayeyarwaddy river is about 5000 Kyat for a few hours
rate of the Kyat was 1000 Kyat/$ when we arrived and 1010
when we left (we changed money in a hotel). Possibly the exchange rate
is even better than that - it's just that we didn't know where to
It was no problem getting rid of
the FECs at no loss. Hotels + entry fees totalled $345 and the driver
FECs for the payment.
Credit cards: we saw only
a handful of shops which accepted international credit cards, although
many accepted a Yoma card (kind of a local bank card).
It is possible to get a cash
advance at Yangon airport and very likely also in banks in
service / GSM
There is a GSM network in Myanmar
with coverage in Yangon and Mandalay. Unfortunately it is not open to
We didn't find Internet cafes anywhere.
From other people we learned that as of now there is no Internet in
There is email (in the major hotels), but the cost is very high ($1 per
Kbyte for outgoing mail, $0.5 per KByte for incoming mail).
Sunny and dry all the time. Was hot
in Yangon when we arrived (we needed A/C to sleep), became quite fresh
afterwards (was cold at night - we didn't use A/C, but needed heavy
The nights on the Inle lake were cold.
The usual set of tropical vaccinations
(tetanus, polio, Hep A, diphteria) - which we didn't refresh for this
For typhus we relied on a standby medication (antibiotics). Same for
- we didn't use anti-malaria pills, relying instead on mosquito
and standby pills (antibiotics) in case we got sick (didn't happen). I
might add that we are frequent travellers in SE Asia (we never catch
for instance) and are used to the local bacteria.
VISA / Entry
We did our visas at the Myanmar embassy
in KL (three days for 80 RM or same day service for 150 RM). Passport
customs check went incredibly smooth and fast at Yangon airport. Our
were checked in a matter of minutes. We changed only a total of $200
I declared a notebook computer and
a high-end camera. No problem at all getting this equipment into
The customs officer noted this down on a piece of paper which he then
to the passport.
... are in a terrible state, which
slows down travelling across the country. Many roads close during the
season, making travelling even more difficult.
KL -> Yangon
(Myanmar / Burma)
Hotel, $18/night including breakfast, nice room with A/C, TV, fridge,
with hot shower (107A Dhamma Zedi road, Tel. +95-1-283171, Fax
in KL when we leave; sunny and warm in Yangon with some clouds in the
in Yangon (CC 414 NC 01 network)
We take a car from the Summit Hotel
(KL) and drive to the airport (70 RM, 35 min.). We have a business
ticket and receive a pass for the Golden Lounge of Malaysian Airlines.
Our flight with Myanmar airlines leaves on time at 1pm. Together with
passenger we are the only travellers in the business class.
the economy class is half empty - the lady in the travel agency told us
that the economy class was fully booked, which is why we took the
Once we land in Yangon airport we
have the privilege of being the first ones who are transported to the
hall. There are a total of six counters and our passports are processed
quite speedily. Also the economy class passengers don't have to wait so
long. By the way, the immigration officers are all women.
Concerning the FEC we are supposed
to exchange $400 ($200 for each of us). When I ask if we can change
$200, the officers tells us they can help us and we have only to give
(and get 200 FEC). Small present of $10 for the officers who are
After we walk to the customs control.
I declare a high-end camera, a notebook computer, a golden wedding ring
and a golden necklace. Shirley declares her jewellery. Everything is
down on a piece of paper which is then attached to the passport.
runs smoothly - no questions asked - and I am allowed to proceed with
Outside in the hall there are several
counters for taxis and hotels. Since we don't have a hotel booking we
to one of those counters and ask about hotels. The Yoma (recommended in
one travelogue published in the Internet) costs $20/night. We end up
a cheaper place, the Guest Care Hotel for $18/night for a nice room
above). Then the lady arranges a driver for us. $4 to go into town (of
which 500 Kyat for somebody who insists to carry our luggage to the
Surprise, surprise, most men in
Yangon wear a sarong - only a few wear trousers. Even the women wear a
sarong. The overwhelming majority of cars in Yangon including our taxi
has no A/C in spite of the heat (in Malaysia all cars have A/C).
Once in the hotel the taxi driver
offers to drive us around Myanmar for two weeks, up to Mandalay, Bagan,
Lake Inle etc. and back to Yangon for $550. If you compare this with
$400 which we would spend on internal flights alone (to which we have
add the local taxis), the offer sounds attractive, also considering
we get a driver who brings us everywhere we want. However we would be
in the car for a total of 40 hours over two weeks, so it might be a bit
At almost 5pm we take a taxi to
almost too late, because when we arrive the sun has almost set. Entry
are $5/person, valid also on the following day until 2pm. Lots of
in the pagoda complex when the sun sets. The pagoda is impressive, but
would probably be even more if the sun was shining. After we take a
some money in a hotel (the rate we get is $1 = 1000 Kyat), then have
in a Chinese restaurant.
After we walk around the shops and
food stalls and we run into somebody who manages drivers. He says we
get an English-speaking driver with an A/C car for a two weeks trip
Myanmar for $400. Quite a lot less than the $550 the first driver has
By the way, most of the local people
can't speak English. The only ones who speak English are older people.
Luckily there are many people who speak Chinese.
There is a local GSM network in
Yangon; code is CC 414 NC 01, but they have no roaming agreement with
provider (the German D1).
Copyright (c) 2003