How was your Explore Tour Leader?
Our Tour Leader worked very hard on our behalf, especially when we arrived at 6.30 in the morning and he took care of us all morning until we could check in, off his own bat. He paid attention to what we had written on our 'wish list' (in my case we went to an orphanage) and was extremely knowledgeable about every aspect of the tour, from history to Buddhism, politics to English literature. I thought he stretched himself on our behalf.
What tips would you give to someone else booking this tour?
Try not to go at the hottest time of the year!! If you can go before Christmas you might see more green, more growth, and perhaps clearer skies as our sunrises and sunsets were often hidden by a heat haze. Take more photo space than you think you'll need! People have written that before, I endorse it! Try to support locally where you can, like visiting an orphanage or the little Puppet Theatre in Nyaung Shwe; and buy souvenirs from the craft families you visit, not all in a market in Yangon. Anti-bacterial wipes may also help protect you from getting a gyppy tummy.
Do you have anything else to add?
I am concerned about the political situation in Burma. None of this is evident to the tourist passing through, but when Aung San Suu Kyi advised us to start visiting the country, it was not that their problems be masked by spectacular tours. I think we should bear this in mind, and acquaint ourselves with as much information as we can before we visit.