Best of Myanmar
from $3230
Duration: 15 Days
Travel to Myanmar and discover a country of mythical landscapes, ancient treasures and some of the friendliest folk you’ll ever meet. From golden-gilded Buddhas in Yangon and the magical temples of Bagan to the tranquillity of Inle Lake, Myanmar will excite, impress and intrigue you. A visit to Myanmar is to experience the South East Asia of twenty years ago, full of rarely seen sights and generations of stories just waiting to be told. Come and discover a little bit of Myanmar magic with us.
  • Get acquainted with Myanmar on a tour of downtown Yangon. Truly an incredible city, Yangon is packed with pagodas, giant Buddhas and countless historical sites
  • See the most beautiful religious sites in Myanmar, including the Shwedagon in Yangon, Shwesandaw in Bagan, the Shwe Yan Pyae (Teak Monastery) in Nyaungshwe and many more
  • Touring the ancient city of Bagan by bicycle is a magical way to see the place. You'll have convenient and leisurely access to thousands of temples, stupas and pagodas.
  • Get off the tourist track and enjoy a uniquely local experience at the community lodge outside of Myaing. This innovative ActionAid project is the first community-based accommodation in the area, with meals and activities provided by local villagers. Read more about it here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/community-based-tourism-cbt-myanmar/
  • A full day of walking through the hills and villages of Kalaw may require a bit of energy, but it's one of the highlights of the trip. Get up-close and personal with the culture of rural Myanmar.
  • See Inle Lake by boat, and marvel at the floating gardens, stilt villages, and local industries. Stop in for a local lunch at a villages on the lake.
  • Yangon - Walking tour
  • Yangon - Kandawgyi Lake
  • Yangon - Shwedagon Pagoda
  • Bagan - Orientation Walk
  • Bagan - Shwezigon Paya
  • Bagan - Temple bike tour
  • Community Lodge - Village Bike Tour
  • Mandalay - Sagaing Hills Temples
  • Community Lodge - Village Bike Tour and Monastery Visit
  • Mandalay - U Bein Bridge
  • Mandalay - Walking tour
  • Mandalay - Boat trip to Mingun
  • Kalaw - Full day trek
  • Inle Lake - Pindaya Caves
  • Inle Lake - Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery
  • Inle Lake - Boat sightseeing tour & local lunch
  • Day 1 Location: Yangon
    Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Myanmar. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting/checking insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you have free time to explore before the meeting, we recommend stepping out onto the streets of Yangon. Why not take the Yangon Circle Line train for a three-hour local journey, or head over to Bogyoke Market and haggle with the locals? There’s also Sule Paya Pagoda, a 2000-year-old golden temple, and the Gems Museum, which houses some of the world’s largest sapphire, ruby and jade pieces. You may need a taxi to travel between some of these attractions; a one-way trip should cost about MMK 4,000. Notes: You may wish to arrive early so you arrive in time to attend the group meeting today, and have free time to explore Yangon. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
    Day 2 Location: Yangon
    Start the day with a city walking tour of Yangon. Your leader will show you the city centre full of hustle and bustle of local life, street food and the shadows of the colonial time . In the afternoon, We also head down to Kandawgyi Lake, where you’ll see Karaweik Hall, a reconstruction of a golden royal barge floating on the eastern side. Then visit the holiest shrine in the country, the Shwedagon Paya. This gold-gilded pagoda is studded with diamonds and gems, and said to contain eight hairs of the Buddha. It’s a particularly impressive sight at sunset when the lights come on and the stupa shines beautifully.
    Day 3 Location: Bagan
    Rise for a very early start today, for your morning flight to Nyuang-U (about one and a half hours). From there, transfer to the ancient city of Bagan (about 20 minutes). Bagan is an archaeological site where Theravada Buddhism was first introduced to the Kingdom. It was once the site of 10000 temples, pagodas and monasteries and still has over 2000 brick and gilded ruins. You’ll start your visit with an orientation tour of the town and visit the archaeological site tomorrow. After the orientation tour, head to the nearby Shwezigon Paya, one of the town's main Buddhist sites, also incorporating a compound dedicated to the pre-Buddhism deities, the 37 Nats.
    Day 4 Location: Bagan
    Spend the day sightseeing in Bagan, where you'll be given a bicycle and joined by a local guide. You’ll see many of the large and impressive temples such as Ananda Pahto, Htilominlo Temple, That Bin Nyu Paya (the highest pagoda in Bagan), Dhammayangyi Pahto and Shwesandaw Paya, as well as some of the smaller hidden gems. Exploring the temple site by bike is a great way to take in the atmosphere of this amazing place. There are also many opportunities to climb stairs to vantage points and capture some magical views. After touring the temples, head back to the hotel for a short rest before heading out again to see the stunning sunset over Bagan.
    Day 5 Location: Bagan/Myaing
    Enjoy a free morning in Bagan. You may like to spend more time exploring the stalls at the archaeological site, the cafes in town, or the nearby Nyaung U Market – one of the more interesting markets in the country. Other places of interest include the Archaeological Museum and the Royal Palace and taxis to these local sites cost around MMK5000. In the afternoon, you'll leave Bagan and get transferred to Myaing where we have developed a community-based tourism project to support local livelihoods with sustainable employment opportunities in tourism. Have dinner in our purpose built community lodge. Accommodation at the community lodge is basic but has a lovely traditional setting on the bank of a beautiful lake. You’ll be staying in simple twin share rooms with linen and mosquito nets provided. There's no air conditioning but there's a fan in each room. Bathroom and shower facilities are shared. You can refill your water bottle from the large water containers provided. A torch is recommended in case of power shortage although otherwise the power supply is stable at the community lodge.
    Day 6 Location: Myaing
    Prepare for a full day out visiting the near by villages today. Firstly, take a scenic walk to the first village and learn about their seasonal harvests. Then continue to the second village where you'll have some breakfasts, inc. fresh papaya, chickpea fritters, boiled eggs, potato curry etc. Next, hop on a bike and cycle to the third village. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and help the villagers to cook the lunch for yourselves. You'll be able to see how they prepare the lunch ingredients, what spices and sauces that they use for cooking and of course have a freshly cooked and tasteful lunch together. A community member will also come and talk to you about the development they are making at the project and in the villages with your leader's translation. You'll also have the chance to see how Thanaka is prepared and applied to face as a protection from the sun. There's also a weaving demonstration too. In the last village that you'll visit, you'll be able to plant a tree with the help of the locals there. In the evening, after dinner, villagers from the fourth village will also come and perform traditional dances and music for you.
    Day 7 Location: Mandalay
    After breakfast, bid farewell to the community. Travel on a private bus towards Mandalay with a lunch stop en route. Along the way, you’ll visit the beautiful Sagaing Temples, a collection of gilded stupas on the nearby hills. Total driving time from the community lodge to Mandalay is about six hours. Head to the U bein bridge, the world's longest teakwood bridge for a stunning sunset
    Day 8 Location: Mandalay
    This morning your leader will take you on a walking tour of Mandalay. After seeing the town close up, you’ll take a boat down the famous Ayeyarwady River to Mingun. Here you’ll see the Mingun Pahtodawgyi, an enormous stupa which would have been the largest in the world if it had been completed. You’ll also see the world’s largest ringing bell and the beautiful white Hsinphymae Pagoda which sits nearby. After the excursion to Mingun, return to Mandalay where you’ll have some free time to do some optional activities in the afternoon. Perhaps find some quiet moments at the ancient Sweinbin Teak Monastery, or try your hand at gold leaf making in the Gold Pounders District. There’s also the Mahamuni Buddha Temple, an important pilgrimage site complete with giant golden Buddha. Mandalay Hill, where Lord Buddha is said to have left a footprint is great to visit for its stunning sunset and to enjoy views over the glittering stupas and vibrant mosaics of the city at this magical time of day. For some extra entertainment in the evening, why not catch a traditional show by the Mandalay Marionettes, or a non-conformist comedy show by the Moustache Brothers?
    Day 9 Location: Kalaw
    Today will be a long day of driving towards Kalaw. Head onto the Great Road of China, a new superhighway built by the Chinese. Then, make your way into the mountains of Shan state and experience the stunning scenery of the area.
    Day 10 Location: Kalaw
    Today is a full day of hiking around the hills around Kalaw (approximately 6 hours). A local guide will take you to a tea plantation and some small villages. Stop and chat with locals along the way and have lunch at one of the small settlements. This experience will take you off the beaten track and away from the tourist throng. If there’s time in the evening, you might like to visit some of the lovely pagodas around town as well as a local market.
    Day 11 Location: Inle Lake
    Leave Kalaw for Nyuang Shwe today, where you’ll be spending time around Inle Lake. You’ll set off across the mountains and farms and stop off at the Pindaya Caves, one of the Golden Caves in Shan state. Pilgrims flock here to worship the 8,000 golden Buddha images within the caverns, tunnels and chambers of the huge limestone cave. The drive will take you to the resort town of Nyuang Shwe which will be our base for the next few days as we explore Inle Lake.
    Day 12 Location: Inle Lake
    Start the day by heading out in a motorised boat. You’ll see local life on the lake, including fisherman who use a distinctive leg-rowing technique on their boats, floating tomato plantations and cottage industries such as silversmiths, weavers and cigar makers. If you’re lucky, you might even see the rotating market which circles the lake every five days. Here you can buy traditional wares produced by the locals. Stop for a home-cooked lunch at a village near the lake and sample the regional specialities. Visit Phaung Daw Oo Paya, the most religious site in the region and take a quick look inside at the various images of Buddha. You can also see a golden barge which is used during Phaung Daw Oo festival. Make a few more stops at local villages to meet the locals, then head back to your accommodation in Nyaung Shwe.
    Day 13 Location: Inle Lake
    Enjoy a free day around Inle Lake. Perhaps visit the Mingala morning market or Nyuang Shwe's oldest Buddhist monastery, Yadana Man Aung Paya. For those wishing to venture further afield, you could hire a bike and cycle to the nearby hot springs, villages or temples. Perhaps visit a nearby winery to sample a local drop, or take boat trip to the Indein temple complex and nearby villages. The price of these activities will depend on the number of people joining. Ask your leader about doing these optional activities.
    Day 14 Location: Yangon
    Bid farewell to the splendour of Shan state and make your way to the airport in Heho. From here, take a one-hour flight back to the hustle and bustle of Yangon. The journey ends with an optional final dinner and night out on the town in Yangon.
    Day 15 Location: Yangon
    There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there is plenty to see and do in Yangon we recommend extending your stay a few extra days to make the most of all it has to offer. Perhaps do some of the activities suggested at the beginning of the trip, or ask your leader about our range of Urban Adventures day tours. Visit www.yangonurbanadventures.com for more information.
    Dates
    Prices
    Availability
    Departure Date:
    08OCT2020
    Return Date:
    22OCT2020
    3425NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    15OCT2020
    Return Date:
    29OCT2020
    3425NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    22OCT2020
    Return Date:
    05NOV2020
    3425NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    05NOV2020
    Return Date:
    19NOV2020
    3560NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    12NOV2020
    Return Date:
    26NOV2020
    3560NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    19NOV2020
    Return Date:
    03DEC2020
    3595NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    21NOV2020
    Return Date:
    05DEC2020
    3560NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    28NOV2020
    Return Date:
    12DEC2020
    3560NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    12DEC2020
    Return Date:
    26DEC2020
    3700NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    24DEC2020
    Return Date:
    07JAN2021
    3700NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    09 Jul 2020

    Trip title

    Best of Myanmar

    Trip code

    TTSM

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2021

    Introduction

    Travel to Myanmar and discover a country of mythical landscapes, ancient treasures and some of the friendliest folk you’ll ever meet. From golden-gilded Buddhas in Yangon and the magical temples of Bagan to the tranquillity of Inle Lake, Myanmar will excite, impress and intrigue you. A visit to Myanmar is to experience the South East Asia of twenty years ago, full of rarely seen sights and generations of stories just waiting to be told. Come and discover a little bit of Myanmar magic with us.

    Style

    Original

    Themes

    Explorer

    Transport

    Boat,Private vehicle,Plane,Bicycle,Local truck

    Physical Rating

    3

    Joining point

    Grand Laurel Hotel

    No. 153/159, Bogyoke Aung San Road (corner of 46th street)

    Botahtaung

    Yangon

    Yangon

    MYANMAR

    Phone: 951 398771

    Joining point description

    Grand Laurel Hotel is well located in downtown Yangon, just 1km from Sule Pagoda, and 3.2 km from the landmark Shwedagon Pagoda. The Yangon International Airport is 14 km away. The Grand Laurel Hotel offers guest a 24-hour front desk, luggage storage, on-site laundry and ironing service and restaurant. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. Each room is complete with air-conditioning, a minibar, a fridge, a flat-screen satellite TV and a private bathroom with a shower and hairdryer.

    Joining point instructions

    A pre-booked airport arrival transfer is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 15 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid. There are 2 exits at Yangon Airport Terminal 1: Exit 6 & 8. Your transfer driver will be waiting for you at Exit 6. Alternatively, taxis are readily available from the airport, and drivers will often approach you before you have left the airport. From the airport to the Grand Laurel Hotel you can expect the drive to take approximately 20 minutes (depending on traffic) and cost around USD$18.

    Finish point

    Grand Laurel Hotel

    No. 153/159, Bogyoke Aung San Road (corner of 46th street)

    Botahtaung

    Yangon

    Yangon

    MYANMAR

    Phone: 951 398771

    Finish point description

    Grand Laurel Hotel is well located in downtown Yangon, just 1km from Sule Pagoda, and 3.2 km from the landmark Shwedagon Pagoda. The Yangon International Airport is 14 km away. The Grand Laurel Hotel offers guest a 24-hour front desk, luggage storage, on-site laundry and ironing service and restaurant. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. Each room is complete with air-conditioning, a minibar, a fridge, a flat-screen satellite TV and a private bathroom with a shower and hairdryer.

    Finish point instructions

    A departure transfer from our hotel to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 15 days prior to your trip start date. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid. A taxi from the hotel to the airport should cost around $18USD, and can take anywhere from 20 minutes - 1 hour depending on traffic. Please ask your tour leader for their advice on departure time to ensure you allow sufficient time to reach your flight. You can ask your leader the hotel reception if you would like help arranging a taxi.

    Important information

    1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is bookable on this trip for all nights, subject to availability 2. Please provide passport details at time of booking with name as per passport, as these are essential for booking services on this trip. 3. Intrepid can book an optional sunrise balloon ride over the Bagan (operating end of October to March). Please refer to the itinerary for more information. Places are limited and we recommend advance booking with your agent.

    Group leader

    All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

    Safety

    Most national governments provide regularly updated foreign travel advice on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all destinations and activities on your trip. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/travel-alerts We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however, during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Intrepid's operational safety policies can be viewed on our website at the link below. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how safety is being managed on our trips.

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety-guidelines

    FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms. SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts. PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing. MOTORBIKE BAG SNATCHING: Be particularly aware of motorbike bag snatching, especially in the bigger cities.

    MYANMAR SAFETY: Security presence will be heightened around public holidays. Travellers are advised to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, not to take photographs or videos of the police, any demonstrations, military installations or military personnel. We do not travel to Rakhine State, Kachin State, affected areas of Chin or Shan States where political and ethnic tensions are high. There have been occasional instances of violent crime against foreigners, including muggings, burglaries and petty thefts. Travellers should take extra care of their belongings and take sensible security precautions at all times. Myanmar's Water Festival (Thingyan) and New Year is celebrated in April each year. There is an increased risk of road accidents, caused by drunk drivers, overcrowded vehicles and large unruly crowds celebrating in public places, at this time. In previous years, the incidence of violent and petty crime has increased during the festival. Pay particular attention to your personal security at this time.

    Communications

    MOBILE PHONES AND INTERNET: Communication services in Myanmar are improving. Internet services are available but are unreliable outside cities and large towns. The telephone network is also unreliable and limited to cities and large towns. International GSM roaming is available for a limited number of international mobile phone carriers. Many travellers choose to buy a local SIM card upon arrival and top up with credit as needed.

    Visas

    As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends. PASSPORT You will need a valid passport to travel internationally. As a general rule, most countries require that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets exactly and contact us immediately if there are any errors. We recommend taking copies of the main passport pages and other important documents with you as well as leave copies at home with family or friends. VISAS Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time. It is important that you check your government's foreign travel advisories along with the consular website of the country or countries you are travelling to for the most up to date information specific to your nationality and circumstances. Please be aware that not all visa information found online from other sources may be valid while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. Visas can take several weeks to process, so make sure you research the requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for obtaining any necessary documents as well as the application and processing time. Your booking consultant can advise on a visa processing service or you can apply yourself directly through a consulate. Below you will find general visa advice about the destinations on your trip. Due to constantly evolving COVID-19 requirements and restrictions, please refer to your government's foreign travel advice for most up to date information. MYANMAR: Citizens of selected countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland and others can apply for a tourist visa on arrival at Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyitaw airports. See here for more information: https://tourism.gov.mm/visa-requirements/visa-on-arrival/ eVisas are available for most other nationalities via the official website here: http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/ Please pay careful attention to the conditions of entry when applying for an eVisa.  Nationalities who are unable to obtain an eVisa or visa on arrival should contact the Myanmar consulate in their country of residence.

    Why we love it

    Get acquainted with Myanmar on a tour of downtown Yangon. Truly an incredible city, Yangon is packed with pagodas, giant Buddhas and countless historical sites

    See the most beautiful religious sites in Myanmar, including the Shwedagon in Yangon, Shwesandaw in Bagan, the Shwe Yan Pyae (Teak Monastery) in Nyaungshwe and many more

    Touring the ancient city of Bagan by bicycle is a magical way to see the place. You'll have convenient and leisurely access to thousands of temples, stupas and pagodas.

    Get off the tourist track and enjoy a uniquely local experience at the community lodge outside of Myaing. This innovative ActionAid project is the first community-based accommodation in the area, with meals and activities provided by local villagers. Read more about it here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/community-based-tourism-cbt-myanmar/

    A full day of walking through the hills and villages of Kalaw may require a bit of energy, but it's one of the highlights of the trip. Get up-close and personal with the culture of rural Myanmar.

    See Inle Lake by boat, and marvel at the floating gardens, stilt villages, and local industries. Stop in for a local lunch at a villages on the lake.

    Is this trip right for you

    This trip involves a lot of walking – often barefoot. You’ll be visiting many religious sites where you must remove all footwear before entering. In places like Bagan, you may need to climb steep steps (sometimes without railing) barefoot, but the views are well worth it. You’ll stay at a Community Lodge in central Myanmar, in simple accommodation with limited facilities.But the experience promises to be fantastic. Touring by bicycle is probably the best way to see Bagan and the villages surrounding the Community Lodge. Although it’s an easy ride well within the abilities of most people, it does take you off paved roads and onto sandy terrain. This trip takes you on a full-day walking tour of the villages around Kalaw. While the walk itself is quite easy, you’ll need a decent level of fitness to get through the long day. Myanmar is a hot and humid country in general, although it can be much cooler in winter. If you don’t tolerate the heat well, perhaps consider taking a trip in the cooler winter months (November - February). Myanmar is a big country and there are many long days of travelling. Expect to spend a lot of time in a vehicle when travelling between destinations. This is a great opportunity to sit back, enjoy the passing scenery and get to know your fellow travellers.

    Health

    GENERAL HEALTH All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy our style of travel. Please note that if in the opinion of our group leader or local guide any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained while travelling. Below you can find some further information about health issues relevant to the destinations visited on this trip. COVID-19 As we start planning our return to running trips, the safety and wellbeing of our travellers, leaders, crew, staff, and suppliers will remain our priority and our return to operations will be done in a safe and responsible way. You can read more about how we will keep you safe on our trips, including our COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/safe-travels We will not require a negative COVID-19 test before joining a trip unless it is a requirement of entry for the country. If you are unwell prior to travelling, please stay at home and contact us to make alternative arrangements. At the group meeting, you will be asked to complete a self-screening health form and report any COVID-19 symptoms as well as any close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. If you are displaying any symptoms or have any health concerns at this time, we will assist you to seek medical advice and you will not be permitted to join the trip. We ask all travellers to continue to monitor their health throughout their travels and report any relevant symptoms to their tour leader. DENGUE FEVER: Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn. ZIKA VIRUS: There have been reports of transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in this region and we advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip.

    Food and dietary requirements

    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. FOOD IN MYANMAR: The food in Myanmar is described as more mild, and oily than it's neighbouring countries. We will try and give you a taste of traditional cuisine in each region, and the blend of influences including Chinese, Mon and Indian. Breakfasts are often simple (eggs, bread, jam and coffee/tea would be most common), or there may only be local breakfast available. Many dishes in Myanmar contain peanuts, or are made with peanut oil. Please let your leader know if you have any allergies. In addition, as tourism is developing, many restaurants are still learning to cater for foreign tourists. Your leader will assist with suggesting restaurants that follow expected food hygiene practices.

    Money matters

    SPENDING MONEY When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget an appropriate amount for things like optional meals, drinks, shopping, optional activities, and laundry. Make sure you have read the itinerary and inclusions thoroughly so you know what is included in the trip price and what you may need to pay for while travelling. MEALS NOT INCLUDED We recommend USD350 for meals not included. MYANMAR: The currency is the Myanmar Kyat (MMK), pronounced chat and abbreviated K. Foreign currency is not accepted for purchases in Myanmar. ATMs are available in all cities and most major towns. At times these can prove unreliable due to frequent power cuts or running out of funds, so you may need to try several ATMs when withdrawing funds. Check with your bank before you travel to confirm whether your card will work in Myanmar. It's advisable to still bring cash to exchange. USD is the primary currency to exchange, although Euros are also generally accepted. It is illegal to change money other than through authorised money exchange counters at airports,  or banks and some hotels in major cities. Your tour leader will be able to advise you on money changing or withdrawal opportunities during the trip. USD: Because of concerns over counterfeit money, US Dollars with the letters AB and CB at the start of the serial number (top left-hand corner of the note) are not always accepted. Notes must be in pristine condition as notes with pen marks, folds or tears are not accepted. Notes should not be older than 2006. EUR: Euros do not have to be in pristine condition. You can exchange any left over Kyat at Yangon Airport when departing. TIPPING While tipping is not a traditional part of culture in Myanmar it is becoming more common as tourism increases, and is appropriate when you have experienced excellent service. Gratuities aren’t compulsory on your trip, but they can make a big difference to locals employed in the tourism industry. Carrying small notes of local currency will make tipping easier. It is best to avoid tipping with with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes, as this can be regarded as an insult. Optional Tipping Kitty: On Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips for drivers, local guides, and hotel staff (excludes restaurant tips). The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent which can be checked at any time, and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty at your own discretion, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader. Optional tipping kitty for this trip: USD 35 per person (can be paid in local currency). Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. CONTINGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. We reserve the right to change an itinerary after departure due to local circumstances or a Force Majeure Event. In such emergency circumstances, the additional cost of any necessary itinerary alterations will be covered by you. Please note we are not responsible for any incidental expenses that may be incurred as a result of the change of itineraries including but not limited to visas, vaccinations or non-refundable flights. Make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last-minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result, there may be some extra costs involved. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however, local currency may be needed once in the country to cover these costs.

    What to take

    MAIN LUGGAGE What you need to bring will vary according to when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances including up and down stairs and in busy train stations. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg. Small, wheeled suitcases that can also easily be picked up and carried are suitable, or if you prefer, a back pack is also a good option. Remember to bring suitable locks for your luggage. INTERNAL FLIGHT LUGGAGE ALLOWANCE Checked luggage allowance is a maximum 15kg, with up to 5kg carry on luggage. Any excess luggage charges can be paid directly to the airline at check-in. If your trip is beginning and ending at the same location, excess luggage can usually be stored at your arrival/departure hotel and can be collected after your trip. ESSENTIALS: - Day pack: for carrying essentials when exploring destinations. - Lightweight clothing: A mixture of covering lightweight clothing and some warm layers (depending on the season) are recommended. It is best to check the weather and seasonal information before travelling. Dress standards are conservative in Myanmar, and for visits to religious sites you will also need to wear clothing that covers shoulders and pants/skirts that go past the knee. Laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes. - Wind and waterproof jacket - Comfortable shoes for walking and hiking: Closed-in shoes that are comfortable to walk for an entire day are recommended for city and countryside walks, and are required for cycling activities - Sandals/flip flops/easy to remove footwear: for visits to religious sites - Sun protection: hat, sunscreen, sunglasses - Toiletries RECOMMENDED: - Personal medical kit. A larger kit will be on hand with your leader, but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes and adhesive bandages. - Insect repellent - Water bottle: We recommend a 1.5litre capacity. While drinking tap water is not recommended in Myanmar, some hotels will have filtered drinking water available. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. - Camera with spare batteries/power bank: You will have access to power to recharge your electrical items most days, however these are a good backup. - Electrical adapter plug - reusable shopping bag for buying supplies - torch/flashlight - travel wipes - small towel - ear plugs & eye mask - A good book, a journal and music player for longer journeys. VALUABLES Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe if available. It’s a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. It’s also recommended to bring a copy of all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary. If you need some further tips for packing, you can always check out our ultimate packing list.

    WATER BOTTLE: Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

    Climate and seasonal

    WATER FESTIVAL (THINGYAN) - 13-16 April 2019 & 2020 This Buddhist Water Festival typically falls in mid-April each year, and usually involves water throwing to wash away the previous year before the New Year commences. During this important national holiday many businesses close or only offer limited services, or will impose additional public holiday service charges. This includes the closure of some attractions, restaurants, banks and currency exchange providers. Additionally, it is common ATMs to run out of cash, so it is recommended to have sufficient cash in advance to last you through the holiday period.  Although we do our best to run trips during this time as outlined in the scheduled itinerary, it is likely that there will be some changes to transport, accommodation or the time spent in each destination due to the limited services operating at this time. We will aim to communicate any known changes prior to your departure. Regardless of the challenges, most travellers have really enjoyed visiting Myanmar during Water Festival and being involved in water throwing celebrations with locals that occur across the country. MYANMAR WEATHER & CLIMATE: Myanmar has a tropical monsoon climate which can vary significantly across the country. The dry season runs from November to February, and during this time it can be cool, particularly in the central areas including Bagan, Kalaw and Inle Lake. If travelling during this season is advised to bring trousers, a warm jacket and layers, especially for the evenings. The hottest and driest months are March and April, which experience high temperatures and high humidity. The Southwest Monsoon typically commences mid-May and continues until October, however September and October generally experience less rainfall and more sunshine.

    A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. You must at all times comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of all countries visited, and you also agree to travel in accordance with our Responsible Travel Guidelines. The decision of the group leader is final on all matters likely to affect the safety or well-being of any traveller or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader, or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund. We may also elect not to carry you on any future trips booked. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

    Feedback

    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

    Emergency contact

    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time. For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/ For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below. Intrepid’s Local Operator: +95 9 420254468

    Responsible travel

    Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable, and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers, and staff are trained on these principles and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel. Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel SHOULD WE STILL TRAVEL TO MYANMAR? Intrepid has never travelled into, or near, Rakhine State. We don’t take sides nor support discrimination of any kind. We are concerned about violence wherever it takes place, and the effect that this has on all people, including those in Rakhine State. We are committed to supporting impartial, independent, and inclusive responses to situations of crisis that complies with International Humanitarian Law. However, we genuinely believe that travel can be a force for good, it builds understanding, and it makes us less prejudiced and more empathetic. This is something that the world desperately needs right now. We strive to include as much genuine real-life local interaction as we can on our trips, as this exposes both our travellers and local communities to different cultures and views, and the reality that we are all human. There are opportunities on our trips to visit various local community projects which we believe is one of the best ways to genuinely learn about local culture and help local people. You can also visit https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/actionaid-myanmar to donate to ActionAid Myanmar which equips leaders in local communities with the knowledge, skills and confidence necessary to be change-makers in their community. ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING: While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Intrepid does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including World Animal Protection, advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately, many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive-bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the below link: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/elephants-welfare LOCAL DRESS: Wearing tank-top style garments and shorts in Myanmar is not common and may cause offence as it is a conservative society. Avoid wearing short-sleeved garments and shorts (for both men and women), especially when visiting Buddhist pagodas. Always remove shoes and socks before entering religious buildings and compounds. RELIGION: Myanmar is a majority Buddhist nation and laws apply to entering or exiting Myanmar with religious materials, 'insulting religion' and mistreatment of images of Buddha. If you have a Buddhist related tattoo, or tattoo of Buddha, you should keep it covered at all times. Respect religious customs when visiting Buddhist religious sites and follow the advice of your leader regarding religious customs. RESPONSIBLE TOURISM: These and other customs are explained on this website: www.dosanddontsfortourists.com

    The Intrepid Foundation

    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

    Accommodation notes

    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline only and may change. On some occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our preferred accommodation. In these cases, we will use a similar standard of accommodation. Throughout the trip, we request that our properties prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However, this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination or on some trips, have use of shared day rooms until all rooms are available.

    Transport notes

    FLIGHTS: Please provide your name as per passport 45 days prior to the departure date for flight tickets to be issued. For internal flights we fly the following safety audited airlines: Golden Myanmar Airlines, Yangon Airways, Air Kan Baw Za (KBZ) and Mann Yadanarpon Airlines. It is common for airlines to make last-minute changes to our confirmed group bookings on internal flights, and to re-book the group on earlier or later flight times than originally scheduled. In rare instances the group may be split over different flights throughout the day, and you may be unaccompanied on the internal flight. In this case you will be assisted by additional tour escorts on departure and arrival. Some flight routes are indirect, and may involve a stopover enroute to pick up additional passengers. Depending on demand, some flight routes are operated with smaller aircraft. Checked luggage allowance on domestic flights is a maximum 20kg, with up to 5kg carry on luggage. Any excess luggage charges can be paid directly to the airline at check-in. TAXIS: Registered taxis have red licence plates and are readily available Make sure that the fare is agreed with the driver before you depart. Take particular care if using taxis late at night. Registered ride-sharing services operate in Yangon. LIGHT TRUCK: A common form of transport in Myanmar, these small trucks generally have two bench seats fixed along either side of the back of the truck facing inwards with a covered roof. TUK TUK: These are small three wheeled vehicles and a very common form of transport across South East Asia.

    Travel insurance

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all our trips for those travelling internationally. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. Travellers who reside within the European Union or Switzerland receive basic international health insurance, so travel insurance is not mandatory under European Union Law. However, as this does not cover situations such as emergency rescues, private health care, or repatriation to their home country, comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended. European Union or Swiss travellers who decline travel insurance when travelling outside of their home region must sign a Travel Insurance Waiver Form at the Group Meeting. For assistance with travel insurance or other services, please visit the link below: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/booking-resources/our-services

    Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons, we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SOLO TRAVELLERS This is the beauty of our style of travel: many of our travellers join because they are travelling solo and want to meet and share experiences with like-minded people. As a solo traveller, you will be paired up with another traveller of the same gender as per your passport information. Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour. Pre-trip and post-trip accommodation booked through us will on a single room basis. If you’re not comfortable sharing a room with someone of the same gender, you also have the choice to pay for a single supplement (available on the majority of our trips). If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on an open gender, multi-share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information.

    Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any such changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested in the Group Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

    Accommodation

    Hotel (12 nights),Community Lodge (2 nights)

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