7 independent reviews for Burma cultural vacation

Reviews for Burma cultural vacation

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review 6 Mar 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

An amazing country, from the mountains in Northen Shan to the sunrise over the temples in Bagan, or the leg fishermen on Inle Lake to the Karin village in Mon State. The one constant throughout the country are the people. They are warm, friendly and open (even about politics, Rough Guide is already out of date); they also still think of Europeans as a bit of a novelty, so don't be surprised if they ask if they can have their photo taken with you, or in remoter areas just walk (with a smile, a wave and a mingalaba) to look at the strangers. If you go, say a big mingalaba (hello) from me until I can go back again.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Make sure you take NEW UNMARKED dollars, even the banks may not except marked notes. Take large notes $50's or $100 for a better exchange rate (the lower the denomination the lower the exchange rate $ to Kyta) and $1's and $10's for tips. Next time I'll go after the rainy season less dust, more greenery, but also more mosquitos (they weren't realy a problem in February/March) Ps Take a bag of pens with you for the local school

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We really did go beyond the tourist trail and were warmly welcomed into the homes in remote villages, were we enjoyed some great home cooking (some of the best meals I ate) and most of the transport was locally run. Whether bus, train motorboat, canoe, tuk-tuk, motorised rickshaw, Chinese water buffalo (you'll see) or even the back of a lorry; all helping to support the local communities. For me, one of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp in Kalaw. They are helping to look after elephants rescued from logging camps employing their mahoots and families to help look after them? They are also replanting Teak trees and helping to employ and educate the local community. Feeding and swimming with elephant is an experience not to be missed.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

I've fallen in love with this country, didn't want to leave, enjoyed every minute, will definitely go back one day. If you want nightlclubs and English bars go to Magaluf. If you want to experience a back packers vacation (without the stress) with fantastic local guides, showing you the culture and history of their beautiful and mostly unspoilt country; full of amazing sights, gorgeous countryside, and wonderful people then go Myanmar. You may just see me there.

review 1 Feb 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Meeting the Myanmar people. Everywhere we went, they were friendly and engaging. The guide we had with us throughout was superb and helped to make the vacation with supreme knowledge as well as local touches. We had several lunches in people's own homes not available commercially, a unique privilege. Sites were very varied which made for the excitement---each day was definitely not a repeat of the day before! Rather than one single visit or event being memorable, it was the overall variety of images that will remain with us.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be relaxed and flexible. We were not organised to death but arrangements for travel and accommodation were efficient and clear. We were given guidance for free time if we needed it and some visits were adjusted to suit our group. There is some fairly long travel required (4-6 hours on train, buses and minibus, with some early morning starts) but these were in themselves an insight into the country and the changing landscapes and also allowed interaction with local people. The cities and towns were busier and more frantic than we expected, but in a very unthreatening way. The rural areas were a big contrast so we really felt we saw the country from all angles.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

All the guides we had were Myanmar people, trained in the country and speaking good English. They were keen for us to see that the country has a chance for positive development and were happy to discuss social and economic prospects. We visited many local businesses and markets and had meals in the villages. There was no hard sell of any products but we were free to see for ourselves what they can produce. In most respects we were able to buy from the same people that Myanmar people use. Whilst conservation was not high on the agenda, we were able to see the sustainability for the rural economy at first hand. One specific project though, was a visit to an elephant sanctuary, which was superbly run and a memorable visit. One environmental impact that will need to be sorted in the country is the use of plastic, both containers and bags. We were given plenty of supplies of bottled water throughout but this in itself was contributing! Until their public water supplies improve, more opportunity to refill from bulk containers would avoid constant use of one-use small bottles.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Your star rating does you an injustice! We cannot say that we are reborn nor that this was absolutely the BEST vacation we have ever been on, but in all respects, a five star vacation it really was. We wanted to see Myanmar on the cusp of developing into an international destination and we have so many unique memories that we will savour for years to come.

Read the operator's response here:

We are delighted that our clients enjoyed the opportunity to experience many aspects of Myanmar, and to have personal encounters with local people- they are the country's greatest asset. The use of local guides not only provides employment, but also allows for the insights and interactions afforded by their local knowledge, which is good for visitors and locals. The Burmese people are proud of their country and work hard to develop it for the good of all, and we are pleased that the tour introduces our clients to the growing range of local businesses. The elephant sanctuary is a great favourite not least because the animals are so well cared for. Plastics are a menace in the developing world as a whole, and as tourism grows and contributes more to the country's economy, it is to be hoped that this can be addressed.

review 19 Nov 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Washing and feeding the elephants at the elephant refuge was one of the most memorable experiences of my life

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be aware that its title "Beyond the Tourist Trail" is something of a misnomer - you are slap bang ON the tourist trail. That being said its a very interesting trail. Furthermore, the description makes it sound a bit more active than it really is...it is fairly sedentary, and the age average on our tour was about 58 so its not exactly a "young/fun/happening" tour. Even so, the local tour partners used are excellent and well informed, and the logistics were excellent. And there is a good balance between free time and group time. On the money front, if you take dollar bills make sure they are pristine, otherwise exchange desks tend to reject anything less then close to perfect

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The tour does do all of these things, albeit to a limited extent. The biggest contribution to supporting conservation is undoubtedly the elephant project and the area it is existing in, as it is supporting local people's employment, as well as trying to reforest. Typically plastic bottles are freely distributed in a country where there is limited recycling, and it would be far better if travelers were encouraged to bring their own bottles and refill them from the large drinking fountains of clean water available

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

I loved it, despite the reservations mentioned above. The hotel in Yangon could (and should) definitely be improved, in the one city where there is a lot of choice - and the day of the train journey (on the way to Mandalay) would benefit from being more time on the train, and less time on the subsequent bus journey. The Myanmar people are very friendly and helpful. I will definitely go back

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you very much for your review and feedback. We are pleased that you enjoyed the tour and your experience of Burma. Visitor levels have increased enormously in Burma in the last few years. When we started this tour, the first week in particular was designed to get more off the beaten track exploring the hill tribes in Shan State. The idea being to combine the hill tribe villages with the more well-known areas of Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake. We appreciate that due to the popularity of Burma in the last couple of years that the route on the first week of the tour now also sees quite a lot of visitors. We now have plans to offer a more pioneering trip into recently opened up areas in Burma. However we feel that this tour still represents an excellent introduction to the country for those wishing to combine the highlights with some beautiful walking in the hills of Shan State and observing how local people live and work. We thank you for your useful comments and hope that we can be of service to you again in the future.

review 15 Nov 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The trek in the mountains to the village home and overnight stay. Although boat trip on Inle Lake to stilt village was very close second

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be open to the experience and be prepared for the culture shock (

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Home stay and homemade lunches support few families and elephant reserve supports limited conservation

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Loved it ! Organisation excellent...guide just about perfect.......itinerary good. Perhaps would do less long car journeys as roads so poor and we were on occasion hot and squashed. More train and boat ??

review 10 Mar 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Our pre-booked balloon flight over the temples at Bagan was truly amazing. Having been advised to book before we went was a good tip as there we no places left when we arrived had we waited would have been extremely disappointed as this was so incredible. The variety of transport we used throughout the trip was a highlight. Particularly the bicycle tour through Mandalay, whilst very hot and dusty was authentic and off the beaten track. Meeting locals and seeing village life in Qsaw, staying overnight in the hills in a local house was another memorable trip to experience a small part of how life is in such communities. The hospitality and friendliness of the people is such a welcome change from other countries. Having seen so much of the country on this tour and getting out of the City (Yangon) was really worth while providing much more insight in to the Country.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Even though the tour stated that mosquito nets would be provided we took our own mosquito nets and were really glad we did as some of the hotel stays didn't provide any and we really needed them! Take lots of repellant and any plug in devices too. Keep a smallish Day Rucksack/Backpack for packing overnight requirements for the trek. Only take the essentials as there is really nowhere to shower/wash other than face, hands and teeth. The more you take, the heavier/harder the trek, after 6 hrs in the heat of the day you will wish you had packed lightly.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We bought locally at each village and town for gift items for the schools, the nunneries and monasteries. We tried to spend in different shops buying small amounts from various sources and felt this was a good way to share the support we were giving. Donations were given to the elephant conservation camp as they do great work with the limited resources they have.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

A great range of activities, lots of variation every day, wonderful people who are so hospitable and always smiling!! A real vacation and adventure.....

review 24 Nov 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The balloon trip over the plains of Bagan and visiting the Green Hill Valley elephant project near Kalaw

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

To expect things to change from the original itinerary. To ignore the advice about the ATM's there seems to be one in most towns.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, I particularly liked the fact that we were not flying everywhere as we saw a lot more of the country.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

I really enjoyed it, the only thing I did not like was the fact that we reached the hotels too late sometimes so that we arrived in the dark and had no time to acclimatise where we were. The itinerary changed in Mandalay from a bike ride to a tour of the highlights of the city chosen by the group and we really enjoyed this as it is a big city and we saw a good part. Our guide was particularly good, he had a vast knowledge of the country,Buddhism etc.

review 20 Nov 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Meeting the friendly peoples of Burma. Visiting the Elephant Sanctuary, feeding the elephants and giving them a scrub in the river and enjoying a tasty lunch at the centre. Trekking for 2 days and staying in the village. The markets we visited were amazing places, I took so many pictures and didnt buy much,because I was too busy looking at the diverse people.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Doing the trek I was glad I took walking poles (I'm over 60) and good boots. We took insect repelent wipes and put them on morning and evening, got very few bites. Took tilley hat to keep of the suns rays and good sunscreen,especially on the water,the suns rays bounced back.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

A lot of local people worked in the hotels, we ate at local cafe.s and didnt go into big organised café, restraunts. So yes i hope we didnt make too much of an impact apart from the flights.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

The vacation was great, a good introduction to the country, some of the tourist spots were already spoilt by people trying to sell goods, the big temples in Bagan and the sunset spots in Bagan, one particular temple on Inle lake was upsetting beacuse young girls wouldn't take no for an answer which is a pity. But these were only a couple of instances. Going on public transport was very interesting and the people are so lovely and friendly and helpful. I want to go back maybe Chin and Rahine state, could be looking for a tour next year

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