Real Myanmar Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Kalaw

Real Myanmar

Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Kalaw

Hiking
13 days

Overview

Not all that long ago, many parts of Myanmar were still off-limits to travellers. Lucky for you, that’s no longer the case, although outside the cities you'll find large parts of the country remain relatively new to tourism. Check out the busy streets of Yangon, the thousands of orange temples that rise over green plains in Bagan, take a cruise up the Ayeyarwady River in Mandalay, head into the steep mountains of Kalaw and be treated to awesome hospitality at every stop along the way.

Map

Itinerary

Day 1Yangon
Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Myanmar. Your adventure officially begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. Spend your free time getting amongst it today – maybe take an Urban Adventure on the circle train or stroll around the Kandawgyi Lake.
Day 2Bagan
Depart the hotel in a private bus headed to Bagan (approximately 9 hours). There will be 2 drivers on board, and multiple rest breaks on the way. It's a good idea to pack some card games, a good book or load up some podcasts to your phone. This is also a great opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers. Arrive in Bagan in the evening and check into your hotel. Stretch your legs after a long travel day by tracking down Bagan's top laphet (tea leaf salad) or mohinga (rice noodle broth) at a nearby restaurant.
Day 3Bagan
Enjoy a full free day to explore the sites of Bagan. Stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat and go exploring. Try and close your wide-open jaw after seeing that super duper stupa-studded skyline (say that three times fast with a mouthful of pickled bitter melon!) The Nyaung U market, one of the best in the country, is a great place walk around. The archaeological museum is also a choice option. But there are 4500 brick and gilded temples calling your name, and the fun has only just Bagan.
Day 4Bagan
What you gonna do? Well it's up to you. If you like to get up early then check out the incredible balloon flight takes place every morning. If you're looking for ideas, floating up and (not quite) away is the perfect way to take in the atmosphere of this place. Or perhaps explore by bike with Urban Adventures. You can drop by big-name sights like Ananda Pahto, Dhammayangyi Pahto and Shwesandaw Paya, as well as some of the smaller ones. There will also be plenty of chances to jump off the bike here and there so you can climb stairs to lookout points where the really awesome views are found. You can also pay a visit to the village of Kyunkalay, where you can enjoy lunch with a local family and see how ActionAid Myanmar is using responsible tourism to improve local infrastructure and living conditions. Another great option is a sunset river cruise and picnic beside the Ayeyarwady River, the country's largest river. Your leader can help you book any of these activities locally.
Day 5Ayeyarwady River - Mandalay
Rise and shine! Bound out of bed before dawn so you can catch the ferry for your cruise up the Ayeyarwady River to Mandalay. Watch the wonderful world of local life stream by while you're chilling out on the boat. It's a good idea to bring some snacks today, although there will be a cafe and bar on the upper deck with simple meals available. You'll arrive in Mandalay late afternoon, then be transferred to your hotel.
Day 6Mandalay
Join your group leader for a walking tour around Mandalay this morning, then the day is yours. Maybe head further up the Ayeyarwady River to visit Mingun, a world-class archaeological site. The main temple here was never finished, supposedly because an astrologer thought the king would die if it was finished. Harsh. But it sure is impressive. You'll also find the world's largest uncracked bell, which is possibly even cooler than the temple. And a glistening white stupa to go with it. There are plenty of things to do with your free time here. You can visit the teak Monastery Shwe In Bin Kyaung or the bigger Shwenandaw Kyaung, or check out the city by local transport (van or truck ride). Maybe make a stop at some cottage industries that make gold leaf (the sacred Buddha image of Mahamuni Paya is covered in six inches of it – and it is known to be over 2000 years old). On the other hand, you can rest your legs and enjoy a puppetry or dance performance at the Mandalay Marionettes or Mintha Theatre.
Day 7Kalaw
Take a private bus to Kalaw (approximately 8 hours). On the way we stop in at the impressive U Bein Bridge. At 1.2km long it is the world’s longest teak bridge. Drive into the mountains of Shan state. Keep that camera handy, because the scenery is awesome and there will be stops for photos. Your social followers will be loving you for this, or maybe not loving you, just wishing they were here. Arrive in Kalaw late afternoon, with time to stretch your legs and get a feel for this beautiful spot, a former British hill station.
Day 8Kalaw
Head for the hills! Explore villages, farms and forests in the area outside of Kalaw. Feel that breeze? Welcome to the highlands, baby. This is a land of many communities, including the Palaung, Danu and Pa-O, as well as Indians and Nepalese who moved here during the British rule. This may explain why the chai is so good. Along your travels today you'll stop for lunch (which is included) at a local village.
Day 9Inle Lake
Consider yourself warned: the roads to Nyaungshwe are terrible. But it'll be worth it when you choose to take a boat trip on Inle Lake, where you’ll meet the famous leg-rowing Intha fishermen. Stock up on snacks before your bus trip to Inle Lake in the afternoon (approximately 3 hours). Haggle over some lacquerware at the Ywama floating market. Or you can check out one of the beautiful Buddhist pagodas around. Surrounded by the cool stilt houses, Inle Lake makes for fairytale kinda scene. Shimmering waters, floating gardens and intense sunsets.
Day 10Inle Lake
Freedom! Well, a free couple of days at least. Spend a free day exploring the lake and the surrounding villages. Your leader can help organise the transport: motorised longtail boat. The sights: cool waters, floating tomato plantations, floating everything! (Even floating markets, if it's the right day.) The people: local silversmiths, weavers, cigar makers... and those fisherman, rowing their boats with their legs, how do they do it? As them! You can grab a bike and peddle to some local villages towards the end of the day, where people will greet you with smiles and cute traditional handicrafts.
Day 11Inle Lake
Enjoy some time to chill today. You might like to visit the Mingala morning market, or maybe Nyuang Shwe's oldest Buddhist monastery, Yadana Man Aung Paya. There's also a traditional puppet show held every night in town, and a nearby winery that has ah-mazing views over the lake (your chance to sample a wee drop of the local varieties perhaps, and to be all distinguished and cultured and civilised).
Day 12Yangon
Tar tar, spectacular state of Shan. It's been real. Make your way to the airport in Heho for your flight back to the hustle and bustle of Yangon (approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes). When you touch down in town, head off to visit the serious treasure of the Shwedagon Pagoda – this 98-metre-high stupa is covered with tons and tons of pure gold, along with jade, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. This is, literally and symbolically, the jewel in the Myanmar crown. Maybe gather together your new best buds and tuck into a farewell dinner at Linkage Restaurant, a vocational training restaurant that’s part of Friends International.
Day 13Yangon
This trip ends today and you are free to leave at any time after you check out. See ya!

Trip title

Real Myanmar

Trip code

TRYR

Validity

Validity: 01 Oct 2018 to 31 Dec 2019

Introduction

Not all that long ago, many parts of Myanmar were still off-limits to travellers. Lucky for you, that’s no longer the case, although outside the cities you'll find large parts of the country remain relatively new to tourism. Check out the busy streets of Yangon, the thousands of orange temples that rise over green plains in Bagan, take a cruise up the Ayeyarwady River in Mandalay, head into the steep mountains of Kalaw and be treated to awesome hospitality at every stop along the way.

Style

Basix

Themes

18 to 29s

Transport

Boat,Private vehicle,Ferry,Plane,Public bus

Physical Rating

3

Joining point

Hotel K

Finish point

Hotel K

Important information

1. Please provide passport details at time of booking with exact name as per passport, as these are essential for booking services on this trip. 2. A Single Supplement is bookable on this trip, including all nights, subject to availability. 3. The ferry from Bagan to Mandalay may be cancelled due to changing water levels on the Ayeyarwady River (usually February to May) and when there are fewer tourists travelling in low season (April to September). Cancellations may take place at the last minute and without warning. If this happens, the group will travel by road from Bagan to Mandalay (approx. 5 hours). 4. Intrepid can book an optional sunrise balloon ride over Bagan (operating end of October to March). Please refer to Day 4 of the Trip Notes for more information. Places are limited and we recommend advance booking with your agent.

Group leader

All Intrepid 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

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service 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 areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable 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, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. 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. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

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. Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time. MYANMAR: Most nationalities require a tourist visa in advance to visit Myanmar. eVisas are available for most nationalities via the Government website: http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/ Important to note when applying for an eVisa: - Passport validity must have at least (6) months validity from date of return. - You will need to present one colour photo (4cm X 6cm) taken within the last 3 months and a copy of your return ticket. - Length of stay is 28 days from the date of arrival in Myanmar. - The eVisa fee is US$50 per person, payable by credit card (note: visa fee is non-refundable should the eVisa be denied) - The processing time is approximately 3 working days for granting an eVisa however we recommend allowing longer in the event of delays. - The validity of eVisa approval letter is 90 days from the date of issue. If it has expired, entry will be denied. - eVisas are applicable for single entry into Myanmar only and you will not be permitted to re-enter on an eVisa that you have previously entered on (multiple entries not possible). - eVisas are only obtainable if you are arriving into Yangon International Airport, Nay Pyi Taw International Aiport and Mandalay International Airport, as well as land border crossings at Tachileik, Myawaddy and Kawthaung. If arriving into another Myanmar entry point you will need to apply for your visa in advance through a Myanmar Embassy. Nationalities who are unable to obtain an eVisa should contact the Myanmar embassy in their country of residency.

Why we love it

Start and finish your explorations of Myanmar in incredible Yangon, rapidly developing but still packed with beautiful pagodas, astounding giant Buddhas and more history than you can poke a stick at. Your leader will show you around downtown, then it's yours to explore.

Is this trip right for you

Myanmar is a large country with developing infrastructure. We are attempting to cover large distances in a short amount of time, so expect some long travel days as we travel between destinations. The river trip too will take the whole day, but it's a great chance to watch life along the banks of the river. Pack some card games, books or download plenty of podcasts to last you the trip. While not strenuous, the full day of walking in Kalaw does you’ll need a solid level of fitness (and good shoes) to get through the day. Myanmar is a hot and humid country, even in winter. If you don’t take the heat too well, you might want to avoid doing this trip in the height of summer!

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 cope with 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, Intrepid Travel reserves 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 at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared. 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. There's no obligation to do this though. 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 a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document). MEALS NOT INCLUDED We recommend USD300 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 30 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. Please 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.

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.

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. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund. 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. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. 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 Myanmar Office: +95 9 420254468

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller HOW TRAVELLERS CAN HELP THE SITUATION IN MYANMAR Since late August 2017, hundreds of thousands of people have crossed the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh to seek refuge after violence broke out in Rakhine State; it’s estimated the humanitarian situation in the region is likely to get worse. Temporary settlements and camps in Bangladesh are overflowing, with people seeking shelter wherever they can; in makeshift tents, on hillsides, and on side of the road. WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP Donate to Australian Red Cross Myanmar Crisis Appeal through The Intrepid Foundation. We’ll match every dollar you give (up to donations of $20,000), which will go towards assisting Red Cross to provide humanitarian support to all those effected by violence in Rakhine State, including those who have sought safety in neighbouring countries. Red Cross and Red Crescent are currently on the ground providing aid to people caught up in the violence on both sides of the border. In Bangladesh, this includes providing first aid and medical care, emergency shelter, food and safe drinking water, as well as establishing safe spaces for women and children who may be at risk of abuse and exploitation. Red Cross teams in Myanmar are providing first aid and medical supplies to those who have been injured, as well as distributing clean drinking water and food. They are also helping those who are currently stranded at the border waiting to cross. Red Cross is working with communities to strengthen local resilience, and is sending specialist aid workers to assist in relief, recovery, and crisis management operations. They are also working tirelessly to reconnect families who have become separated as they fled the violence. 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. Visit www.theintrepidfoundation.org/myanmar-emergency-appeal to donate to The Intrepid Foundation’s Myanmar Crisis appeal. 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 the World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for protection of Animals) 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 that 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/au/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. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because 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/ ACTION AID WOMENS SELF HELP GROUPS The Intrepid Foundation has partnered with Action Aid in support of women’s Self Help Groups (SHG) in Myanmar. Action Aid has been working with four villages in a drought affected area north of Bagan, in the Magway Region of central Myanmar, to create a new microfinance program. Each SHG will be made up of 20-30 women, who will manage small business loans given to members of their community. By borrowing from a SHG at a low interest rate of 2%, women are able to invest in their existing or new businesses – mainly agro-based activities or traditional handicrafts production. To ensure the sustainability of the project, Action Aid Myanmar will continue to provide skills-training, business expansion support and help communities access resources and services offered by their local governments. For more information, or to make a donation please visit: www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/actionaid-myanmar/

Accommodation notes

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. Throughout the trip we request that our lodgings 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.

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 15kg, 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 for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen 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 credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

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. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

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 print and review a final copy 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 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. 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 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)

Map

Itinerary

Day 1Yangon
Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Myanmar. Your adventure officially begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. Spend your free time getting amongst it today – maybe take an Urban Adventure on the circle train or stroll around the Kandawgyi Lake.
Day 2Bagan
Depart the hotel in a private bus headed to Bagan (approximately 9 hours). There will be 2 drivers on board, and multiple rest breaks on the way. It's a good idea to pack some card games, a good book or load up some podcasts to your phone. This is also a great opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers. Arrive in Bagan in the evening and check into your hotel. Stretch your legs after a long travel day by tracking down Bagan's top laphet (tea leaf salad) or mohinga (rice noodle broth) at a nearby restaurant.
Day 3Bagan
Enjoy a full free day to explore the sites of Bagan. Stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat and go exploring. Try and close your wide-open jaw after seeing that super duper stupa-studded skyline (say that three times fast with a mouthful of pickled bitter melon!) The Nyaung U market, one of the best in the country, is a great place walk around. The archaeological museum is also a choice option. But there are 4500 brick and gilded temples calling your name, and the fun has only just Bagan.
Day 4Bagan
What you gonna do? Well it's up to you. If you like to get up early then check out the incredible balloon flight takes place every morning. If you're looking for ideas, floating up and (not quite) away is the perfect way to take in the atmosphere of this place. Or perhaps explore by bike with Urban Adventures. You can drop by big-name sights like Ananda Pahto, Dhammayangyi Pahto and Shwesandaw Paya, as well as some of the smaller ones. There will also be plenty of chances to jump off the bike here and there so you can climb stairs to lookout points where the really awesome views are found. You can also pay a visit to the village of Kyunkalay, where you can enjoy lunch with a local family and see how ActionAid Myanmar is using responsible tourism to improve local infrastructure and living conditions. Another great option is a sunset river cruise and picnic beside the Ayeyarwady River, the country's largest river. Your leader can help you book any of these activities locally.
Day 5Ayeyarwady River - Mandalay
Rise and shine! Bound out of bed before dawn so you can catch the ferry for your cruise up the Ayeyarwady River to Mandalay. Watch the wonderful world of local life stream by while you're chilling out on the boat. It's a good idea to bring some snacks today, although there will be a cafe and bar on the upper deck with simple meals available. You'll arrive in Mandalay late afternoon, then be transferred to your hotel.
Day 6Mandalay
Join your group leader for a walking tour around Mandalay this morning, then the day is yours. Maybe head further up the Ayeyarwady River to visit Mingun, a world-class archaeological site. The main temple here was never finished, supposedly because an astrologer thought the king would die if it was finished. Harsh. But it sure is impressive. You'll also find the world's largest uncracked bell, which is possibly even cooler than the temple. And a glistening white stupa to go with it. There are plenty of things to do with your free time here. You can visit the teak Monastery Shwe In Bin Kyaung or the bigger Shwenandaw Kyaung, or check out the city by local transport (van or truck ride). Maybe make a stop at some cottage industries that make gold leaf (the sacred Buddha image of Mahamuni Paya is covered in six inches of it – and it is known to be over 2000 years old). On the other hand, you can rest your legs and enjoy a puppetry or dance performance at the Mandalay Marionettes or Mintha Theatre.
Day 7Kalaw
Take a private bus to Kalaw (approximately 8 hours). On the way we stop in at the impressive U Bein Bridge. At 1.2km long it is the world’s longest teak bridge. Drive into the mountains of Shan state. Keep that camera handy, because the scenery is awesome and there will be stops for photos. Your social followers will be loving you for this, or maybe not loving you, just wishing they were here. Arrive in Kalaw late afternoon, with time to stretch your legs and get a feel for this beautiful spot, a former British hill station.
Day 8Kalaw
Head for the hills! Explore villages, farms and forests in the area outside of Kalaw. Feel that breeze? Welcome to the highlands, baby. This is a land of many communities, including the Palaung, Danu and Pa-O, as well as Indians and Nepalese who moved here during the British rule. This may explain why the chai is so good. Along your travels today you'll stop for lunch (which is included) at a local village.
Day 9Inle Lake
Consider yourself warned: the roads to Nyaungshwe are terrible. But it'll be worth it when you choose to take a boat trip on Inle Lake, where you’ll meet the famous leg-rowing Intha fishermen. Stock up on snacks before your bus trip to Inle Lake in the afternoon (approximately 3 hours). Haggle over some lacquerware at the Ywama floating market. Or you can check out one of the beautiful Buddhist pagodas around. Surrounded by the cool stilt houses, Inle Lake makes for fairytale kinda scene. Shimmering waters, floating gardens and intense sunsets.
Day 10Inle Lake
Freedom! Well, a free couple of days at least. Spend a free day exploring the lake and the surrounding villages. Your leader can help organise the transport: motorised longtail boat. The sights: cool waters, floating tomato plantations, floating everything! (Even floating markets, if it's the right day.) The people: local silversmiths, weavers, cigar makers... and those fisherman, rowing their boats with their legs, how do they do it? As them! You can grab a bike and peddle to some local villages towards the end of the day, where people will greet you with smiles and cute traditional handicrafts.
Day 11Inle Lake
Enjoy some time to chill today. You might like to visit the Mingala morning market, or maybe Nyuang Shwe's oldest Buddhist monastery, Yadana Man Aung Paya. There's also a traditional puppet show held every night in town, and a nearby winery that has ah-mazing views over the lake (your chance to sample a wee drop of the local varieties perhaps, and to be all distinguished and cultured and civilised).
Day 12Yangon
Tar tar, spectacular state of Shan. It's been real. Make your way to the airport in Heho for your flight back to the hustle and bustle of Yangon (approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes). When you touch down in town, head off to visit the serious treasure of the Shwedagon Pagoda – this 98-metre-high stupa is covered with tons and tons of pure gold, along with jade, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. This is, literally and symbolically, the jewel in the Myanmar crown. Maybe gather together your new best buds and tuck into a farewell dinner at Linkage Restaurant, a vocational training restaurant that’s part of Friends International.
Day 13Yangon
This trip ends today and you are free to leave at any time after you check out. See ya!

Trip title

Real Myanmar

Trip code

TRYR

Validity

Validity: 01 Oct 2018 to 31 Dec 2019

Introduction

Not all that long ago, many parts of Myanmar were still off-limits to travellers. Lucky for you, that’s no longer the case, although outside the cities you'll find large parts of the country remain relatively new to tourism. Check out the busy streets of Yangon, the thousands of orange temples that rise over green plains in Bagan, take a cruise up the Ayeyarwady River in Mandalay, head into the steep mountains of Kalaw and be treated to awesome hospitality at every stop along the way.

Style

Basix

Themes

18 to 29s

Transport

Boat,Private vehicle,Ferry,Plane,Public bus

Physical Rating

3

Joining point

Hotel K

Finish point

Hotel K

Important information

1. Please provide passport details at time of booking with exact name as per passport, as these are essential for booking services on this trip. 2. A Single Supplement is bookable on this trip, including all nights, subject to availability. 3. The ferry from Bagan to Mandalay may be cancelled due to changing water levels on the Ayeyarwady River (usually February to May) and when there are fewer tourists travelling in low season (April to September). Cancellations may take place at the last minute and without warning. If this happens, the group will travel by road from Bagan to Mandalay (approx. 5 hours). 4. Intrepid can book an optional sunrise balloon ride over Bagan (operating end of October to March). Please refer to Day 4 of the Trip Notes for more information. Places are limited and we recommend advance booking with your agent.

Group leader

All Intrepid 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

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service 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 areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable 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, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. 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. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

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. Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time. MYANMAR: Most nationalities require a tourist visa in advance to visit Myanmar. eVisas are available for most nationalities via the Government website: http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/ Important to note when applying for an eVisa: - Passport validity must have at least (6) months validity from date of return. - You will need to present one colour photo (4cm X 6cm) taken within the last 3 months and a copy of your return ticket. - Length of stay is 28 days from the date of arrival in Myanmar. - The eVisa fee is US$50 per person, payable by credit card (note: visa fee is non-refundable should the eVisa be denied) - The processing time is approximately 3 working days for granting an eVisa however we recommend allowing longer in the event of delays. - The validity of eVisa approval letter is 90 days from the date of issue. If it has expired, entry will be denied. - eVisas are applicable for single entry into Myanmar only and you will not be permitted to re-enter on an eVisa that you have previously entered on (multiple entries not possible). - eVisas are only obtainable if you are arriving into Yangon International Airport, Nay Pyi Taw International Aiport and Mandalay International Airport, as well as land border crossings at Tachileik, Myawaddy and Kawthaung. If arriving into another Myanmar entry point you will need to apply for your visa in advance through a Myanmar Embassy. Nationalities who are unable to obtain an eVisa should contact the Myanmar embassy in their country of residency.

Why we love it

Start and finish your explorations of Myanmar in incredible Yangon, rapidly developing but still packed with beautiful pagodas, astounding giant Buddhas and more history than you can poke a stick at. Your leader will show you around downtown, then it's yours to explore.

Is this trip right for you

Myanmar is a large country with developing infrastructure. We are attempting to cover large distances in a short amount of time, so expect some long travel days as we travel between destinations. The river trip too will take the whole day, but it's a great chance to watch life along the banks of the river. Pack some card games, books or download plenty of podcasts to last you the trip. While not strenuous, the full day of walking in Kalaw does you’ll need a solid level of fitness (and good shoes) to get through the day. Myanmar is a hot and humid country, even in winter. If you don’t take the heat too well, you might want to avoid doing this trip in the height of summer!

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 cope with 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, Intrepid Travel reserves 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 at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared. 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. There's no obligation to do this though. 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 a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document). MEALS NOT INCLUDED We recommend USD300 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 30 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. Please 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.

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.

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. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund. 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. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. 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 Myanmar Office: +95 9 420254468

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller HOW TRAVELLERS CAN HELP THE SITUATION IN MYANMAR Since late August 2017, hundreds of thousands of people have crossed the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh to seek refuge after violence broke out in Rakhine State; it’s estimated the humanitarian situation in the region is likely to get worse. Temporary settlements and camps in Bangladesh are overflowing, with people seeking shelter wherever they can; in makeshift tents, on hillsides, and on side of the road. WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP Donate to Australian Red Cross Myanmar Crisis Appeal through The Intrepid Foundation. We’ll match every dollar you give (up to donations of $20,000), which will go towards assisting Red Cross to provide humanitarian support to all those effected by violence in Rakhine State, including those who have sought safety in neighbouring countries. Red Cross and Red Crescent are currently on the ground providing aid to people caught up in the violence on both sides of the border. In Bangladesh, this includes providing first aid and medical care, emergency shelter, food and safe drinking water, as well as establishing safe spaces for women and children who may be at risk of abuse and exploitation. Red Cross teams in Myanmar are providing first aid and medical supplies to those who have been injured, as well as distributing clean drinking water and food. They are also helping those who are currently stranded at the border waiting to cross. Red Cross is working with communities to strengthen local resilience, and is sending specialist aid workers to assist in relief, recovery, and crisis management operations. They are also working tirelessly to reconnect families who have become separated as they fled the violence. 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. Visit www.theintrepidfoundation.org/myanmar-emergency-appeal to donate to The Intrepid Foundation’s Myanmar Crisis appeal. 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 the World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for protection of Animals) 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 that 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/au/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. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because 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/ ACTION AID WOMENS SELF HELP GROUPS The Intrepid Foundation has partnered with Action Aid in support of women’s Self Help Groups (SHG) in Myanmar. Action Aid has been working with four villages in a drought affected area north of Bagan, in the Magway Region of central Myanmar, to create a new microfinance program. Each SHG will be made up of 20-30 women, who will manage small business loans given to members of their community. By borrowing from a SHG at a low interest rate of 2%, women are able to invest in their existing or new businesses – mainly agro-based activities or traditional handicrafts production. To ensure the sustainability of the project, Action Aid Myanmar will continue to provide skills-training, business expansion support and help communities access resources and services offered by their local governments. For more information, or to make a donation please visit: www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/actionaid-myanmar/

Accommodation notes

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. Throughout the trip we request that our lodgings 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.

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 15kg, 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 for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen 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 credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

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. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

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 print and review a final copy 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 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. 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 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)

All prices are indicative only and subject to availability and changes without obligation.

Price

€999

Duration

13 days
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