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Customer Reviews

Average Rating: Red-stars

Total number of reviews: 1,843

Burma Highlights BUH

Visiting: Burma
Tour Duration 14 Days
  • Gold Spires
  • Sunset Bridge
  • Bagan
  • Inle Lake Fisherman
  • 1
  • Tour Style: Classic
  • Tour Type: Small Groups
  • Tour Pace: Moderate
  • Tour Comfort: Standard
 

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56 reviews for this tour

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Tour notes

Each departure date has it's own dedicated tour note, detailing all you need to know about that tour. Whether you've already booked, or weighing up your options, please choose carefully the relevant itinerary for you.

We have the following different versions of the Burma Highlights tour available at present.

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10 Julie Herron, 04/03/14

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

It is hard to pick out the most memorable moment of this tour which covers the highlights of Burma in a such well planned way as to highlight the variety of sights that Myanmar has to offer, so that you do not get 'templed out.' The most memorable moment, however, did involve temples and consisted of watching the sunset at Bagan from a vantage point high up on one of the temples, after travelling there by horse and cart. You get a real sense of the scale of the complex without the crowds of the sunset viewings at Angkor Wat...yet. The group were great, and as a single traveller, it was nice to be able to share this special moment in such good company.

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9 Eileen Hughes, 26/02/14

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

So many, it is difficult to choose only one so - Shwedagon Pagoda, Inle Lake, Kalaw trek, U Bein bridge, Bagan

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7 Nigel Martin, 21/02/14

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

U Bein Bridge at sunset. Inle Lake. The people are lovely to meet being genuine and welcoming. You felt safe everywhere you went. They frequently want to try their English with visitors. Despite comments below, Burma is still a great place to visit.

Read more
 
8 , 27/01/14

Name

Louie Tham

Tour Name

Burma Highlights and Beach extension

Tour Code

BUHB

What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour

Bagan & Ngapali Beach

Tour Leader Name

May

How Was Your Explore Tour Leader

May was top class & made our tour even more enjoyable. The fact she was Burmese was a major bonus.

What Tips Would You Give To Someone Else Booking This Tour

Do background reading on current situation in Burma so you can appreciate the context of the travels. I was surprised at the lack of knowledge & political awareness of the majority of group members before the trip.

Do You Have Anything Else To Add

More time in Rangoon, less in Kalaw. The town & trek wasn't worth 3 days & it was the worst hotel of the tour. The standard & service levels of Amata Resort was outstanding.

 
9 , 27/01/14

Name

Christian Rueegger

Tour Name

Burma Highlights

Tour Code

BUH

What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour

Trekking day in Shan Highlands

Tour Leader Name

Win Zar Zar Min

How Was Your Explore Tour Leader

Zar Zar was a great and friendly tour guide!

What Tips Would You Give To Someone Else Booking This Tour

wear flip-flops, it's just easier to take them off at each pagoda; go cycling around the pagodas in Bagan

Do You Have Anything Else To Add

bring a big memory card for your camera!

 
9 , 24/01/14

Name

Jennifer McNeil

Tour Name

Burma Highlights

Tour Code

BUH

What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour

The people of Myanmar were the real stars of the holiday. They just love meeting foreigners (some are trying to sell things but not too pushy). The welcome we received from people everywhere we went, and the willingness to be photographed made this a wonderful cultural trip. I enjoyed Lake Inle, especially the local market near the pagodas on the second day on the lake.The train ride to Kalaw, through ever changing countryside. Similarly, I loved the long day coach ride to Mandalay, as we kept stopping for interesting visits (pottery village, girls making wigs....) I was also amazed by the funeral of the chief monk of Mandalay ( not on the itinerary!) - some times the unexpected is the most interesting thing you see.

Tour Leader Name

Zah Zah

How Was Your Explore Tour Leader

Zah Zah was magnificent! She was an efficient and effective leader who made sure that we were always at the right place at the best time for the most satisfying experience. She always had water for us, and food when we were on an all day ferry. She was informative, amusing, and kept us onside culturally (most important!) without making a big deal about it. She was kind and helpful when I was sick.

What Tips Would You Give To Someone Else Booking This Tour

If you go to Myanmar over Christmas, take more warm clothes than you think you need, including hat and gloves. I had read the advice, and thought I had it sorted, but was still startled to come down to breakfast to a room with only 3 and a half walls where I could see my breath! It gets hot during the day, so you need layers that you can strip off gradually... Fleece hat and sunhat in the same day!

Do You Have Anything Else To Add

In my opinion the all day boat to Bagan was a waste of a day. The river is wide, the banks are distant, there were few interesting things to see. It was only good for dozing/reading. I would have preferred to travel by road, or to have flown and Bagan, having an extra half day either in Mandalay or Bagan.

 
8 , 24/01/14

Name

Jane Thakker

Tour Name

Burma Highlights

Tour Code

BUH

What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour

Inle Lake

Tour Leader Name

Myo

How Was Your Explore Tour Leader

Very good. Friendly, knowledgeable and exceptionally helpful.

 
7 , 06/12/13

Name

Margaret

Tour Name

Burma Highlights

Tour Code

BUH

What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour

This is a very difficult question to answer! There were so many highlights. Among the 'big' ones, Inle Lake, Bagan, ballooning over Bagan, were obvious. But there were many small ones, the delightful Burmese people and their 'warmly welcome' everywhere, the charming Aung Puppet Theatre in Nuang Shwe (which I promised him I'd mention), the surprise welcome as we walked through a village near Bagan, the stunning views on walks and as we drove through the country, and what about the temples and monasteries, some of which were so special. Everything was superlative so there is no one thing for me.

Tour Leader Name

SAI

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.

 
9 , 06/12/13

Name

Margaret

Tour Name

Burma Highlights

Tour Code

BUH

What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour

This 2 week tour of Myanmar (Burma) was wonderful. It included stays at Lake Inle, Kelaw, Mandalay, Bagan and Yangon. Instead of enduring a cold British February we enjoyed a hot and sunny clime. The tour pace was leisurely and included so many wonderful highlights with Inle Lake and the Bagan plains taking the ultimate prize. We travelled by plane, train, boats large and small, horse drawn carriages and on foot. Food was delicious and cheap and hotels used were generally very good. The temple studded plains of Bagan must be seen to be believed, but it is advisable to wear easily removed shoes as only barefoot travellers can enter them!

Tour Leader Name

Haymar

How Was Your Explore Tour Leader

Our Tour Leader Haymar was the best I have had in many years of holidaying with Explore. Nothing was too much trouble for her, and the group gelled well because of her. She gave us a great deal of information on her country, and repeated it as often as she was asked without becoming impatient. Haymar knew the itinerary well and ensured we were told about good local places to eat which kept the local costs down. She remained cheerful the whole time and really made this an exceptional Explore trip.

What Tips Would You Give To Someone Else Booking This Tour

This is a great tour and progresses at a moderate pace with more than one night in all locations except Yangon. Myanmar has much to offer and at present is largely unspoiled by mass tourism. This may soon change, so go soon and enjoy a country emerging from decades of isolation where the locals are friendly and pleased to receive visitors. Respect their culture and dress modestly.

Do You Have Anything Else To Add

A truely great holiday in a wnderful country with an exceptional Tour Leader - who could ask for more!

 
9 , 04/12/13

Name

Jenny Scholes

Tour Name

Burma Highlights

Tour Code

BUH October 2013

What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour

The Inle Lake area - despite the rain (hint-take a cape!) The train journey to Aung Ban. Mandalay area (town large and busy) The afternoon river cruise to Mingun. Bagan is amazing. Our group of 11 was ideal. We did so many little extras such as visiting the monasteries.

Tour Leader Name

Myo Set

How Was Your Explore Tour Leader

Excellent! He spoke very good English and imparted a great depth of knowledge. He was very organised, efficient and initiated changes where these were needed. Great sense of humour and always keen to improve his understanding of English.

What Tips Would You Give To Someone Else Booking This Tour

GO NOW! Myanmar is a lovely country, the people are utterly charming. It's still very cheap. Just relax and enjoy the 9-hour river cruise from Mandalay to Bagan.

Do You Have Anything Else To Add

This was a "real" Explore tour, we did so many little extra things which enriched my experience of the country - this is how all Explore tours used to be! Please keep group numbers small.

 
8 , 27/11/13

Name

Roedy Nijholt

Tour Name

Burma Highlights

Tour Code

BUH

What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour

The highlight of the tour for me was Kalaw. The trek which was more than 5 hours was wonderfull and relaxing and the countryside was lovely and a nice escape from busy Yangon. Inle lake was my second highlight.

How Was Your Explore Tour Leader

I can't remember or write her name but she was excellent and very skilled. This was her first Explore group on her own.

What Tips Would You Give To Someone Else Booking This Tour

Don't forget to pack a raincoat.

 
10 , 12/11/13

Name

Sue Orme

Tour Name

Burma Highlights

Tour Code

BUH

What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour

It really is impossible to draw out one memorable moment as there were so many! But, if pushed, I guess everything about Inle Lake would be in the running along with Bagan (obviously!) and the people who are simply gorgeous and so welcoming.

Tour Leader Name

George

How Was Your Explore Tour Leader

Where do I start with George? His English is amazing as is his knowledge of and passion for his country. He is fun loving whilst remaining professional and dealt with a tricksy couple on our tour with the utmost patience! I think this was my 13th Explore trip and I can honestly say George has been the best of the lot (although they've all been good).

What Tips Would You Give To Someone Else Booking This Tour

The hotels are typical of those used by Explore - functional and clean but basic; if you want 5* luxury then perhaps this isn't for you. Equally, restaurants are still acclimatising to tourism and hence food isn't always served quickly or all at once. Most of our group weren't concerned by this and used it as an opportunity to chat with new friends and sup a nice cold Myanmar beer but a couple seemed to expect instant service! My advice - sit back, relax and enjoy the Country and culture!

Do You Have Anything Else To Add

Food etc. is far cheaper than that indicated in the tour notes. I took $1500 with me ( you do need cash as credit card facilities and ATMs are few and far between!) and bought half of it home. And, I was one of the keener shoppers on the trip and didn't scrimp at all!!!!!! Wifi was available in all the hotels we stayed in.

 
10 , 15/08/13

Name

john

Tour Name

burma highlights

Tour Code

BUH

What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour

Meeting the villagers, being with the local people and the good weather despite it being the rainy season. Inle Lake was especially good

Tour Leader Name

Cannot Remember

How Was Your Explore Tour Leader

Well he wasn't much of a tour leader, think he had something else that was engaging him as was always handing us over to tour guides in specific places

What Tips Would You Give To Someone Else Booking This Tour

Pack some warm layers for Kalaw, Yangon is quite wet but the tour spends little time there, make sure you have lots of memory on your camera as well as ask local people if it is alright before taking photos

Do You Have Anything Else To Add

This is a spectacular trip, I'd already visited Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia but Burma i think is the real star in southeast asia due to the lack of development as a tourist destination

 
8 Margaret, 04/04/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Several including Shwedagon Pagoda, Lake Inle market,trek to hilltribe village, temples of Bagan

Read more
 
10 Deborah, 04/04/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

"I think that Inle Lake and Bagan are the best bits of the trip. Inle Lake is so relaxing and very beautiful while the temples at Bagan are one of the great sights of the world."

Read more
 
10 Phil, 04/04/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Lake Inle

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10 Ina, 22/03/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

For a photo enthusiast like me Bagan was a highlight. I went there for the sunset and the sunrise and it was amazing. There were so many highlights on this trip and I loved Inle lake, the local train ride, the ferry down the river and the hike to a local village for lunch. It was varied with many different experiences.

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6 David, 13/03/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Inlet.

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Our Response

Thank you for your comments; you’ve given good advice!
You did not provide us with your full name or email address, but we think we have worked out which of our customers you are – so we will email as you suggest.  If you don’t hear from us, it will be because we have contacted the wrong person …

 
10 John Le Sage, 07/03/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Inle Lake, Bagan, Kalaw walk, Local markets.

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10 Peter Hodgson, 07/03/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Kalow Walks and Lunch,  Inle Lake, Bagan

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10 Margaret, 07/03/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Several including Shwedagon Pagoda, Lake Inle market,trek to hilltribe village, temples of Bagan

Read more
 
10 Ros, 25/02/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

It is very difficult choosing the most memorable moment of Burma Highlights as there were so many moments which were great but for totally different reasons. A short 'wow' moment was being in close proximity to a pair of Owls. One day I really enjoyed was walking in the mountains and seeing the native flora. And I thoroughly enjoyed the days spent on and around Lake Inle, I personally like to go out for a walk early in the morning and watch the locals as they start their day and I found Nyaung Shwe an absorbing town. Then of course the amazing Bagan plain with temples and stupas in every direction as far as the eye could see, so far to many high points to the trip to choose just one.

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10 Martin Walker, 05/02/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Inle lake was super, the boats a great way to visit the sights.Sunset from the winery

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10 Barbara Wilson , 01/02/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

The two long boat rides on Inle Lake were fabulous, as was the Shwedagon Pagoda, as was Bagan, as was .....!!

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10 Margaret, 01/02/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Several including Shwedagon Pagoda, Lake Inle market,trek to hilltribe village, temples of Bagan

Read more
 
10 Steve, 01/02/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Walking into Hill Village in Kalaw and receiving an extra special smile and welcome from all people we met.   

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10 Clare, 01/02/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Every day was a highlight. every day had something interesting to do. Waking up with expectation was probably the special time as this type of holidy doesn't happen every year.

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10 Catherine Smith, 02/01/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Visiting the Jade Market and the stone carving street in Mandalay. Mandalay is a complete contrast to the tranquility of Lake Inle and the tea and fruit growing at Kalaw.  Its dust and dirt and noise. The Jade Market ( tourist entry $1) is startling, mega busy, lots of Chinese trading, local Burmese brokers, people walking round with huge chunks of rock worth thousands of dollars, some finished product too.  Not many women, NOT put on for the tourists.  A real insight.  Also in Mandalay , a whole street where all the Buddha statues are carved, the whole street is white with dust, the skilled workers are white too!  Barefoot men bend around massive statues, wielding electronic grinders and drills. Amazing life in Mandalay.

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10 Brenda Jeffery , 31/12/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Too many to choose only one - Inle Lake, Kalaw and Bagan were my favourite places, but it was the welcome from the people that made it special.

 

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4 David Gruber, 26/11/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Crossing the Yangon river by ferry in the rush hour. Which a group of us did on our own after getting the appropriate permits.

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8 Mervyn Raybould, 26/11/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

The tour contained several highlights from meeting the locals through to the sights of Inle Lake and Bagan.  

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8 Trevor, 26/11/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Shwedaygon Paya is magnificent and the temples of Bagan just awesome. The great feeling that you actually helped the local children at the village school with gifts of books and pens - the headmistress was very thankful and apparently does not allow all groups to visit. I particularly enjoyed teaching a young lad the All Blacks 'Haka' dance and his enjoyment and laughter at this will stay with me for ever.

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10 Rachael, 26/11/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Exploring Lake Inle by boat, Shwedagon Pagoda, simply meeting the local people

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10 Mary, 26/11/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Everything!  Myanmar is a fascinating country and the people are soooooo friendly!  The Explore trip itinerary has been very well thought out and we really did see the highlights, from Yangon to Inlay, to Kalaw, to Mandalay, to Bagan and back to Yangon.  We travelled by plane, by train, by coach, by Ayeyerwady (Irrawady) ferry and by plane again - it was an interesting mix and we met so many lovely people en route.  Of course the Buddhist temples must be a major highlight - there are hundreds of them, especially in Bagan, and to enter each one it is necessary to go barefoot.  I don't think the soles of our feet have recovered yet, they were so unaccustomed to this treatment, but it was more than worth it to see the many different Buddha images.

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10 Katharyn Johnston, 26/11/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

We loved the whole experience of Burma -it's people and the countryside peppered with pagodas of all kinds. This time was a great time to go as it was very early in the season and tourists were few and far between. Some of the sites would be overwhelmed if there were too many tourists. The flowers are lovely too at the end of the rainy season and the cloud formations were spectacular.

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10 Ainslie, 09/11/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Bagan sunset view. Shwedagon Paya in the evening. Seeing handicrafts being made such as gold leaf and silk weaving. The jade market in Mandalay which is unique and amazing though not on the itinerary.

Read more
 
10 Deborah , 09/11/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

"I think that Inle Lake and Bagan are the best bits of the trip. Inle Lake is so relaxing and very beautiful while the temples at Bagan are one of the great sights of the world."

Read more
 
6 Kathleen Mitchell, 09/11/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

"Schwedagon Pagoda,particularly returning on the last day at dusk.
Enjoyed the walk when at Kalaw."

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Our Response

Thank you for your feedback.  We think the temples and stupas are amazing, and maybe the prime attraction for many visitors to Burma.  But we will certainly look at offering more village visits – although we have to be careful not to play any part in overwhelming the villagers with visiting groups to the detriment of their daily lives.

With regard to group size, our maximum group sizes can vary quite considerably depending on the type of tour: wildlife trips will have lower numbers (only 8 for our gorilla-watching holidays) because of the need to minimise disturbance to wildlife, and up to 22 for tours visiting sites in countries with a strong tourist infrastructure which makes this logistically straightforward.  The likely group sizes are indicated in our brochures and on our website.  Of course, many of our departures have numbers well below the maximum, but we do try to find a balance between a good number for group dynamic against the high selling price of a tour which is limited to a lower number.

 
10 Gillian Sheath, 09/11/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

The sun setting over Bagan. If i had many more words I'd mention the people, their crafts, the Inle lake fisherman, Mount Popa, the food and vienyards

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10 Fiona, 28/08/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

There were too many highlights - at least one every day!  However the tranquility of Inle Lake; the shabby post colonial feel of Kalaw and the awesome scale of Bagan feature highly. The pagodas and temples, Buddhas and monks were a daily highlight for me as was the open, friendly  welcome we experienced throughout the trip.   

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10 Alexandra Bell, 23/08/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

There were quite a few: meeting the children at a hill village near Kalaw was very special as they were fun and happy but had so little. The panoramic of Bagan was another and Inle Lake is magical.

Read more
 
10 Julia Glebocki, 17/07/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

The floating gardens were fabulous

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Our Response

We were very sorry that the Irrawaddy cruise was not available on this departure – especially as our customers did not know before travelling.  However, the message regarding the fact that the Irrawaddy River was being closed to boats at the beginning of April, rather than the usual date of the beginning of May, was only received in this office from our local agent on the day of departure. 

 
10 Robert Cornell, 12/07/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

"Shwedagon pagoda at night was breathtaking, the plains of Bagan unbelievable and Lake Inle most enjoyable.
However the highlight for us was the generosity and friendliness of the people. It was a pleasure to meet and talk to so many people and they absolutely charmed us. What a privilege to visit such a wonderful country."

Read more
 
8 Andrew Ogierman, 28/06/12

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

The friendliness and genuine warmth of the Burmese people make this trip special.

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0 H Maguire, 14/05/12
I am writing to say how much I enjoyed my holiday in Burma, it certainly lived up to expectations. It is an amazing place and the fact that I was able to go so soon after the local elections when the people were looking forward to better times was a bonus. George, our tour leader, was very good and extremely knowledgeable about anything Burmese. He made all visits to temples etc. come alive with his stories and was always ready to answer any questions. He always made sure everything went to plan. The drivers of the coaches were excellent always taking care on the bumpy roads. I would also like to thank all the other helpers who were always most helpful in getting us on and off all forms of transport. The accommodation was very good, probably the best of all the tours I have been on and the hotel staff were most helpful. I would like to mention Soe who was training with George, I am sure he will make an excellent tour guide. Perhaps on future tours the day could start earlier before it gets too hot. This is only a suggestion not a complaint. I now look forward to booking my next trip, hopefully to Rajasthan in October.
 
0 Louise Ward, 10/04/12

May I take this opportunity to thank you for a splendid trip to Burma. The tour was well organised and our guide Mi Mi OO professional, knowledgeable and charming.  Her efforts to show us all aspects of the country and it's politics was very much appreciated, and her honesty about recent events gave an exciting and interesting view on current affairs. We were shown the house of the "Honourable Lady" in Rangoon and were able to visit a party Headquarters and buy T-shirts and posters.

My only negative comment would be about the fact that sometimes our guide was not accommodated in the same hotel as the tour. I understand that this is a result of 'penny pinching' from the local tourism handlers and not an Explore policy. I would suggest that Explore ensure that in future the guide is with the tour in future in case of an emergency.  That said the holiday was perfect and despite being quite 'stupafied' with the amount of temples, thrilled to see this magnificent country and it's kind and friendly people.  Your trip notes could also mention that sandals or flip flops are highly recommended given the amount of times one is required to discard footwear on visiting temples. Thanks again and I look forward to travelling with you again.

 
0 Simon Pugsley, 10/04/12
Each destination on this 2 week trip is indeed a highlight. In Yangon, Walking up the steps to the Shwedagon Pagoda to a burst of noise, colour and smoke is a great introduction. The 90 metre golden stupa dazzles in the sun. If you know your day of birth, I recommend you join in with the locals pouring water over your 'day' Buddha.    At Inle lake we left at 7am to walk to the dock, accompanying many monks in their burgandy robes walking for the daily alms. There is so much life on Inle lake to enjoy from your longboat. From the leg rowers to the weed pullers, the floating market and the vast array of industry and crafts. Floating around the villages you get a real feel of a Venice of Asia.    Just outside Kalaw we enjoyed the walk through the Myinmathi caves, where there are many Buddha images and stupas inside the limestone cave.    The 7 hour bus ride to Mandalay didn't fill us with joy, however we got ourselves caught up in a pagoda festival on the way with many cows, carts and bustling markets.The locals are all waves and smiles and as interested in us as we are of them. Luckily the bus got stuck by a food stall, so we all enjoyed freshly cooked sticky banana rice, samosas and chick pea balls. Could almost have been the Myanmar equivalent of a Maccy D's drive through, only much more enjoyable. Trying and eating your meals where the locals go really adds to the enjoyment. The food is cooked fresh, is tasty and cheap, and always goes well with a big bottle of Myanmar Beer.    Our days in Mandalay were full and varied. Palaces, Teak monastries, the largest book a boat ride, the largest ringing bell, horse and cart and at Mingun the Hsinbyume paya. There are many pagodas on this trip but the late afternoon sun on the white wave terraces of this pagoda make it worth the extra walk from the bell. And finally sunset with the many student monks over Taugngthaman lake teak foot bridge, spanning 1.2 km’s, is a memorable sight.    In Bagan flip flops are very much order of the day, as we go barefoot to climb or walk around the different pagodas. There are thousands of pagodas and the morning view over the plain is spectacular. We visited about 8 of the most interesting pagodas, each one is different so we never tired of them.    Make sure you have a good supply of memory cards because there are so many photo opportunities. Especially life scenes and the local people, who if you ask, enjoy having their photograph taken. However don't be surprised if they want to take yours too!    A very enjoyable trip that should be visited sooner rather than later.
 
0 DD, 10/04/12
The hardest thing I had to do all fortnight was decide “what were the highlights?” for the feedback questionnaire.  Sunset in Mandalay?  The temples of Bagan?  Boating on Inle Lake?  Each day was really fascinating and action packed, with a great group (half couples and half travelling alone).   My personal highlight though was probably a divine massage in the hotel at Mandalay – came out purring!  This trip is more leisurely than many (8 am start most days) and several days in each hotel except Yangon.  There are pools at Yangon and Bagan and, unless you really feel the cold, you can leave your UK fleece and any other unwanted items at the Yangon hotel for your return.  The temperature is slightly cooler in the hills of Kalaw, but it’s only marginal.  All the hotels are of a good standard and most offer tea making facilities in your room (how Saga is that!) plus free drinking water each day.  Burma is a very conservative country and there’s a lot of temple visiting, so modest clothes are essential.  As it’s also extremely hot, long skirts proved the best option for the women.  Beware your clothing on the ferry up the Irrawaddy – the rattan chairs all have loose nails poking out and several of us ripped our clothes.  Opportunities for speed shopping abound and I certainly wouldn’t leave all my shopping to Scott’s Market at the end, which I found disappointing.  Inle Lake is probably the most overpriced place and I doubt that the  “silver” jewellery was anything other than silver plated – so buyer beware.  You do need to take rather more dollars than you think you might need as there is absolutely NO chance of getting any funds in country.  If you plan on ballooning at Bagan, the price tag is a hefty $300 – payable in cash.  The food was great everywhere and much cheaper than the dossier implied – probably because Mimi, our guide, took us to local eateries.  However, drinks were really pricy – including soft drinks, which are all imported.  We all felt the Shan banquet at Inle was well overpriced and wouldn’t bother again as there are lots of other eateries in town.  The spectacular final meal Mimi arranged in the grounds of a Bagan temple truly does redefine “unforgettable”.    Do take small gifts, particularly any English primers, globes (fascination everywhere with geography), posters detailing the English alphabet etc.  Common cough and cold medicines are also much sought after, as these are too expensive for most Burmese to afford.  Mimi, our guide, was up to the usual Explore standard – knowledgeable, passionate about her country and friendly.  All the logistics worked like clockwork and we only had to turf our luggage out of our rooms on time – no carrying involved at all, which was a relief to some.  Finally, give some thought to the flights – going out on the group flight you are travelling into daylight – which is pretty exhausting.  The return flight features 8 hours in Kuala Lumpur airport – as you arrive at 1630, it’s quite late for going into town, so the choices are either a good book, endless shopping, or forking out a whopping $52 for the airport lounge.  Or you could just settle for a nice g & t and endless chat with your new-found Explore gang.
 
0 Jennifer Jones, 03/04/12
My postcards home from Burma read ‘I’m cruising down the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay-how exotic is that?!’    The content of this tour had been carefully planned to maximise time in this beautiful country. It was tiring at times, the infrastructure is not great so roads are bumpy and therefore journeys take longer than expected, but we certainly did lots of people watching from the bus and train. We used very varied means of transport-planes, buses, train, longboats, ferries, horse & cart of course lots of walking. Hotels generally were a better standard than I had expected, all immaculately clean and very welcoming. All the breakfasts were fresh prepared and filling. Food overall was reasonably cheap and interesting. As far as I know nobody in the group suffered any tummy upsets or health problems.    The people were overwhelmingly friendly, smiling and happy to talk and interact with us. It was a real joy and privilege to visit a country that is comparatively untouched by tourism. Our local guide Mi-Mi was exceptional, enthusiastic, patient, knowledgeable and a great story teller. She was always smiling and cheerful. She genuinely wanted us to love her country.
 
0 David Lewis, 03/04/12
This trip had a particular significance for me, having been born in Maymyo (Pwin U Lwin) in 1948 but having returned to the UK whilst still a toddler and remembering nothing of it.  A tour of only 2 weeks has necessarily to be highly selective but I feel that a very good balance was achieved between colonial history, current politics, the grand national places and, by contrast, the humble villages filled with smiling, happy people. We were also very aware of the devout Buddhism which runs through that society, and came face to face with the beauty and grandeur of an architecture completely unlike our own. Now that Aung San Suu Kyi has welcomed tourists, I fear that the "un-touristy" nature of the country may not last. My advice to travellers is not to delay their visit.  The trip was very well run, with not a moment's anxiety or difficulty.
 
0 Jan Davie, 09/03/12
It is now almost a week since I returned from my Explore trip to Burma and I have just about come back down to earth! It was my 41st Explore trip and I have been to some amazing places but nothing compares with Burma. The fact that it has been unreachable for so long probably added to the mystique but the trip was just magical. Everywhere just shimmered in the sunshine with all that gold and the local people were all so delightful, friendly smiling and helpful. It was just stunning
 
0 Nick Evans, 09/03/12
I travelled with your company to Burma over Christmas and felt I had to write to tell you how impressed I was {I think everyone was}
with our guide Myo  Min Zaw.
Burma is great and although I ve travelled all around that part of Asia {independantly} I was still fascinated by  Burma.
He had local difficulties that go with "normal" third world travel,and a sick "crew" {us !}
The level of honesty in all hotels and transport was refreshing  and made it a very relaxing trip as compared to India where you can rarely let your guard down.
How long this will last is anyones guess but if you have Myo in charge and his attention to the little things that can make a trip it will still be good. We had a flight delayed and he was ready with water and sesame cookies which he d learnt hit the spot with some of the female travellers.
Setbacks are easier to deal with when he s constantly "riding shotgun" keeping the bad stuff away.
Great work .I ve let him know but thought I d put it in writing to you.
I ll be using your company again. Quite soon probably.Never thought I d get on with group travel but with you it works.
 
0 Gavin, 09/03/12

I have just returned from a wonderful trip to Burma (BUHX18FEB12) and wanted to thank you for such a memorable trip. The itinerary was excellent and we were very fortunate to have Nyi Nyi Kyaw as our guide. His knowledge, humour and passion for his country really enhanced the trip.

As a professional tour guide myself (in London), I know how much work goes on behind the scenes to make a tour run smoothly. Nyi Nyi managed to make it all look effortless. We particularly appreciated the good care he took of us and the way he kept us out of the midday sun and to sites when the best light for photos were on them.

Although he is a very experienced guide, I believe this was only the 3rd tour he has done for Explore. Please look after him - he is a great asset for you!

 
0 Hannah Green, 20/02/12
As my first trip to Asia I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. It was the ideal opportunity to see Burma’s highlights and much more including temples, monasteries, beautiful countryside and of course the friendly local people. The temples of Bagan were just incredible and a day spent on Inle Lake is an unforgettable experience. A great trip!
 
0 John Davies, 19/12/11
Have travelled on in excess of 20 Explore trips and this was most certainly one of the best. Undoubtedly much of this was due to the quality of the local guide, Haymar. She ensured that the tour ran  smoothly and to schedule but also made sure that any specific requests were met, such as photography.  The Burmese people are so open and friendly that at first you wonder where is the hidden agenda.  Not one of my requests for local people photos. was refused and on one occasion the locals photographed us!  Trip highlight was almost certainly the two day visit to Bagan where as 'Lonely Planet' says  all European cathedrals are rolled into one area. The gold embellished pagodas are breathtaking - take slip on shoes as you'll have to take socks and shoes off when visiting the many temples. If you wanted to  understand more about Buddhism our guide was only to willing to explain. The day spent visiting settlements on Lake Inle was interesting seeing the local craft industries and the day cruise down the  Irrawaddy was a welcome relaxation. Hotels were excellent and far exceeded expectations. A rapid rise in the number of tourists visiting is planned. Go now for a wonderful experience.  Oh and by the way, forget about the fabled road to Mandalay it's not like that at all. (BUH - 20th November 2011)
 
0 Helen, 19/12/11
A fantastic fortnight in a country full of stunning stupas, marvellous monasteries, wonderful waterways and some of the friendliest and most welcoming people I have met on my travels! While the travel boycott was not observed by all, the tourist trail still feels unspoilt and now is definitely the time to go.  Particular highlights for me (although there were many others) being Inle Lake, so serene and beautiful, and sunsets over Bagan. The comfort rating is accurate and all the hotels are well appointed and very pleasant. The variety of transportation enhanced the holiday and the train was a fun way to see the countryside!    The tour takes in a lot of stupas, temples and monasteries but you won’t get ‘Stupafied’ as they are all different and have unique charms. Food – as a veggie, I took a stash of munchies ‘in case’ and ended up distributing most of them amongst the group on the longer journeys.  I had no difficulties in finding plenty of tasty meals. And now to shopping, you will find plenty of opportunities to buy souvenirs and gifts throughout the trip and I would advise that if you see something you particularly like get it - don’t forget to bargain!  During most of the trip you will see similar goods however we only saw the sand paintings in Bagan.  Do not wait to do your shopping in Scott Market in Rangoon.  We were a little disappointed.  That said if you are after jewellery, this seems to be the place.  It is interesting to see as it is clearly where local people go but you would be better buying traditional clothing and other items earlier in the trip.    I highly recommend this trip! (BUH - 2nd November 2011)
 
 
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