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I am thinking about Myanmar as our next adventure and would appreciate any thoughts or recommendations. We want an escorted tour for about 2 weeks. We have traveled through Asia & Southeast Asia many times but never to Myanmar. Thanks, Amy

If you go and want to use USD make sure the bills are NEW. We went several years ago and tried to use some used USD and they were refused. We used Third Eye Travel to book our trip and had a great time. Accommodations and food was good to very good. You will be barefoot in many spiritual sites so would recommend sandals to ease putting on and off. We were fortunate to be in a remote village when Aung San Suu Kyi (she had recently been released from 10 year house arrest) passed through in a motorcade.

I HIGHLY recommend taking a hot air balloon ride over the stupas. This has been one of my treasured memories.

Thank you both for your valuable information.
I will check out Third Eye.
Much appreciated.

See the following link for some up-to-date information on currency. ATM's were not available when we visited.

I second taking the hot air balloon ride. Sunrise over the nearly 1000 stupas is an amazing experience.

Thank you for the ATM info and hot air balloon suggestion.
It’s sounds amazing but even though I’m usually adventurous I’m really afraid to leave the earth in a balloon.
I was in Kenya & Tanzania in November and didn’t do the balloon in the Serengeti either! Too scared!
Guess I should have!!

Sunrise balloon ride over Bagan stupas is well worth taking (we had to wait a day or two because of bad weather). Mount Popa with it's mountain top temple is an easy hike with a stunning view, both from the base and at the top. Inle lake with its floating villages and hydroculture farms is a really unusual sight. The Pintaya cave (in Shan state) with its many thousands of Buddhas was memorable.
The advice about using only new, uncirculated American currency is accurate.

We did Myanmar with Overseas Adventure Travel and had a wonderful time. We saw all of the above and also spent time in an orphanage and dinner with a family. Our group was 10 strong so we got to know each other really well. Added, we also took an extension for a week and saw Cambodia. Over all, one of the best trips I've ever taken.

It can be very frustrating to get brand new dollar bills unless you order them far in advance from your bank. 100's are easy but probably not very useful. And many Americans like to fold their bills. When we went, a friend who had already gone there suggested that we iron all of the currency we were taking to eliminate wrinkles and creases. We did that and had no trouble using those dollar bills.

Hi amyr2 - As far as I know, OAT is no longer offering the Myanmar trip. Even though we have traveled many times with OAT and like them quite a lot, we did our Myanmar trip with Eldertreks. If you don't know Eldertreks, it is a wonderful, small company based in Toronto. They run very limited numbers of tours to each destination. The Myanmar trip was superb with one of our favorite guides EVER.

We visited Myanmar a few years ago with Vantage Travel. Starting in Mandalay we cruised the Irrawaddy River. That was an amazing time. The river trip offers a beautiful view of life in the country. The architecture/history and the friendly people were the major take aways. Group size was a bit large with 52 travelers split into 2 groups. Highly Recommended.

Been once and it was wonderful experience.
Be aware you will be required to remove shoes/socks and walk around in all religious facilities...almost daily to several times per day.
In Bagan, as a great alternative to the balloon ride, if you stay at Aureum Palace Hotel, there is a Watch Tower that gives you a more spectacular 360 degree view of the 15-20 balloons taking off within minutes of each other at sunrise...very impressive, much more comfortable, and free.

I highly recommend going to Myanmar - it has become our favorite destination. But I also highly recommend not taking an escorted tour. In my experience going with an escorted tour cuts down on one's one-to-one interactions with locals. I know lots of people worry about the language, but many people in Myanmar speak English, and when they don't I've found that I can always make myself understood in some way (hand signals, etc.)

Myanmar is quite different from other SE Asian countries.

If you want to take a cruise in Myanmar, you can't do better than Pandaw. Paul Strachan, who started these cruises has written several books on Myanmar. While a Pandaw cruise is wonderful (we did the one on the Chindwin River, in the north), a cruise alone won't give you a real feel for the country. In addition to Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay, do make sure you visit Inle Lake.

I went to Myanmar BEFORE the lifting of Sanctions.The Guide remarked after 3 days that the Junta was afraid of the LADY!!!.my experience was that it was great plce to vist and you can do it with some help and not in a group.I went with AUDLEY based out of UK and they did all the arrangements after I landed as i came through from Kolkata.I had a daily guide and transportation and visted ONLY what i was interested in and avoided government sponsered tourist shops..I missed Inle lake and was not allowed in Shan areas or Thai Border..Use AUDLEY they have been going there for Years.

Thank you all for your valued responses. I have a lot more to consider now while I make a decision.
Amy R.

We went just as things were thawing out politically and were able to go anywhere. We used a local agent who was recommended in the ITN and arranged to have a guide, car and driver. We were very pleased with the set-up but the guide was not very good so I won't recommend by name. We were blown away by Bagan - much more impressive to us than Angkor Wat!

I loved Burma! and I too heartily recommend the hot air balloon ride over Bagan. I can email you the journal from my trip which has a lot of information and impressions if you're interested.
Cathy Briner in Eugene, OR