Myanmar – Before You Go
Decision to go‘We’re going to Burma’ he said. ‘I want to film the temples at Bagan. And we’ll go through Mandalay
to get there.’ ….
‘Ok’ l said … ‘I’m up for that.’
The new drone was burning a hole in his pocket. It was small enough to fit in it. Only yay big … a DJI Mavic Pro. And he wanted to try it out. The Mavic Pro and the Panasonic Lumix G85 camera would be the perfect combination.
All we needed now was a 2 week window in a busy schedule to deal with it. Not long enough but it would have to do for the first time. We can visit Mandaly and Bagan, but Yangon will have to wait until next time.
We chose to travel to Myanmar in the off season…. June.
Willing to forgo a sunset or two for less people, and a bit of heat and rain for open spaces and quiet, we seemed to have hit the best time.
Our go to book for advice and info is the Lonely Planet Myanmar (Burma) travel guide. We bought and down loaded an eBook copy for our iPads, but the other way is to buy a hard copy of the guide. It’s really helpful, detailed and a Lonely Planet Guide is a must for each country we visit.
Looking back after we had come home, there was so much more we could have seen but it takes more than the 2 weeks we had. Our schedule ended up as 4 days in Mandalay and 6 days in Bagan. Not enough, so we’ll be back.
Our trip to Burma is our personal take on this wonderful South East Asian country recently opened up to the western world. Come with us on our journey and see for yourselves this extraordinary place.
Find Out About Flights Here
Safe and SecureFrom our personal experience Myanmar is one of the safest countries we have been to in Asia, and where ever we went there was a feeling of friendliness and security.
When walking at 9pm night to the hospital in Mandalay and in Bagan when we walked to the temple in the evening and ended up locked in, we still felt at ease.
The Burmese people smile easily. They greet you with ‘mingalabar’ ( hi, hullo, how are you ) and will strike up a conversation with you trying out their English if you give them a chance.
As 90% of the Burmese people are practicing Buddhists, this will no doubt have a part to play.
There are security guards at all the Temples and large Pagodas, and we loved the sign in Bagan outside the Tourist Police Station saying words to the effect ‘If you have a problem come in and we will sort it’
It would appear there is little or none of the usual scams, pickpockets and stealing, and it showed in the peoples welcoming warmness and their ready acceptance of us at all times.
When to goIt all depends on what you are looking for.
Bagan travel seasons are defined by the weather. If you want lots of people to hang out with, cooler days, colourful sunsets and ballooning, go in the busy dry season.
The busy season is from November through xmas to February. The dry season is at the same time, October to February, so the weather is calm and maybe not quite as hot. 30c.
The problem is the multitude of people you share your experience with … in the temples, pagodas, inside and out, restaurants … everywhere!!!
Due to the number of people about in the high season, drones are not allowed, as there are too many people, and drones don’t fly well with balloons!
The low season is April through to May and gets really hot, up to 45c. There’s a big drop off in tourists and you have the temples and pagodas mainly to yourself.
June is the best time to see Bagan if you are wanting a quiet time. It’s just before the rainy season – June to September – so maybe not quite as hot and if you have a car to retreat to you are all good.
You just have to take pot luck with the cloud bursts if they appear. When we went in the first 2 weeks of June there was no problem, only 1 day of rain.
You can try your luck with a drone out of the busy season but being able to use it is not a certainty.
The down side of this season is no ballooning. Ballooning in Bagan is only October through to March.
Find Out About Flights Here
Myanmar VisasWe were slightly apprehensive about getting the visa. It seemed too easy to apply online, download and print the document. But it worked.
Within 24 hrs of applying we had our visa emailed to us. We were impressed. And there was no problem with the authenticity of it when producing it for officials or at the airline check in. Apply for your visa early, giving you plenty of time if there is a problem.
A note here… Have your visa printout ready when you are checking in on your flight to to Myanmar… this is when they first confirm you do have a visa.
Another note…Don’t overstay your visa. It is for the time you are there, only the dates on your visa and absolutely no more.
Tourist Visa – 28 Days
Business Visa – 70 Days
Go to Myanmar Government Visa Page
Travel InsuranceWorld Nomads Travel Insurance is the most comprehensive insurance we have seen.
With World Nomads you get travel insurance for independent travellers. You can buy, extend & claim online, even after you have left home.
What we like about it is you are covered for adventure activities (150+) as well as 24/7 emergency assistance) trip cancellation, gear protection, and medical expenses including medivac.
World Nomads sell to travellers from 140 different countries, and because we are from New Zealand we get a New Zealand help number. It means the service you get and your contact numbers are tailored to your country of origin.
From our own experience ….. He broke a rib slipping down some wet stairs in Bali a few years back but everything was taken care of instantly. We were so fortunate to have them looking after us ….
We have never travelled without insurance since. We’ve learned through experience things really do happen beyond your control.
Medical KitI know you say you don’t need one but take one anyway, it doesn’t take up much room and can be quite useful …
Here are the basic things we travel with and then some add ons.
1. Panadol, Asprin,: or your choice. At least 2 packs.
2. Electrolytes: we take 1/2 to 1 daily in the tropics. They keep the body’s system balanced: 10 packs or so. You can get more when you arrive almost all pharmacies have them. Comes as 1 dose per sealed pack.
3. Antibiotic cream: we use Viaderm K.C. Cream: Its has nystatin and neomycin in it. Good and powerful. Small tube.
4. Antibiotic powder: We use MediPulv antiseptic powder. Comes in a small puffer pack.
5. Anti Itch cream: we use Fenistil from Thailand or you can get it online. Anything itchy or bites or sunburn. You can’t beat it. Comes in a red tube.
6. Anti Inflammatory for muscle pain: we use Neotica Balm from Thailand. You can get it online. It has methyl salicylate in it. Can be used as an anti itch as well as a liniment rub. Comes in an orange tube.
7. An anti fungal cream: Canesten Cream. Come in a tube.
8. Some sort of antibiotics: we use Augmentin 600mg as its a good allrounder if you get an infection. 2-3 sheets of them.
9. Charcoal tablets: good for an upset stomach, as it absorbs gas and greblies. Comes as black tablets.
10. Some sort of antacid tablets: we use Mylanta or Gaviscon. Comes in sealed blister packs.
11. Elastoplast: For minor cuts etc because when you need one … you need it now !!!
1. Hypericum Mother Tincture (St Johns Wort): Indispensable as another type of natural antibiotic. Just sprinkle some on. Or soak the wound with 6-8 drops in really hot water for about ten minutes. Then use Medipulv Powder or the equivalent after drying.
2. Stressmed Relief Spray or Bach Flowers Rescue Remedy: Use if stressed or can’t sleep. Calms you down.
3. Insect Repellent spray: we use OFF! Its active ingredient is Picaridin. For mosquitoes, sandflies, flies, and other nasties.
Or you can use the normal AeroGuard with Deet in it.
Important Contact InfoMake a list of important contact information and keep a copy on your phone and a separate hard copy.
1. Flight info. Who you booked through and phone numbers. Their email address.
2. Country you are visiting, the visa contact and phone number. Their email address.
3. Hotel phone numbers, and who you booked through and phone numbers. Their email address.
4. If you are in New Zealand, register on the Safe Travel website with info. Anywhere else in the world, your home country consulate info. Their email address.
5. Who to contact in your home country. Name. Phone number. Their email address.
6. Insurance details. Name of Insurance Company. Policy number and details. Emergency contact number.Their email address.
7. Copy of Passports. Tickets. Myanmar Visa. Credit Cards. Extra passport size photo.