I'm turning 40 next year and really fancy a special holiday to mark it. I've been thinking of Burma/Myanmar (which is correct?!). I'll be travelling with a 5 year old and DH (who has never travelled anywhere other than Europe or the US).
Any advice or recommendations? I'm still at the "thinking about it" stage, so open to any and all comments.
Well I would think twice about giving my money to that regime. I'd go next door.
Sounds fantastic. Go for it. I imagine that the trip would mean having a Government appointed guide with you at all times so you wouldn't get a true picture of the country, Still sounds great though.
Exactly as dontcallme said. The way they are treating the Rohingya people is barbaric.
We went a couple of years ago, just when it looked like Burma was 'opening up' and we are very glad we did. I would be less keen on going now.
If you do decide to go and no judgment from me because many people depend on tourism and it's a fascinating and beautiful country...
The tourists sites (Yangon, Bagan and Lake Inle) are tourist sites for a reason. Mandalay is a bit meh. Travel can add days to your itinerary. Infrastructure is pretty non existent and Burma is a large country; people fly from city to city (DO NOT google internal flights safety record until you have landed back in the UK). During our 'winter' it's beautiful during the day but bloody freezing at night. Recommend Grasshopper bike tours as a way of seeing Bagan. Inle was stunning. Try mohinga and the BBQ street food. Do not feel the need to try the local wine (vineyard). Hotel '*' ratings are optimistic. We didn't do a balloon tour over Bagan at sunrise because I thought it would be too 'touristy' what a fool. I should have got over myself. I regret that.
It definitely felt one of the most 'before the tourists hit' places I have been to, but there's an established tourist trail and it's not hard to organise.
PS..... but it may be a bit of a shock for your husband!
Myanmar with your less well travelled DH and a 5 year old ? NO.
I spent the maximum time a UK citizen could there - 28 days. I was backpacking at the time. Your 5 year old would be bored stiff and your DH would be in for a culture shock.
Lots of temples and amazing sights but the people hate the government (and tell you even though they're not supposed to talk about it)
The sights can be very spread out so you would be on the questionable roads a lot.
I love travel and my children are pretty chilled out but I wouldn't take mine until they are teens.
You would be better with India, Malaysia or Thailand.
I'd go to Vietnam, Thailand would be my second choice.
We’ve just got back. Travelled with 2 kids, youngest is 7.
I only wanted to visit Bagan as I thought it would be too much fir the kids doing much else.
Flew to Mandalay, stayed overnight then took a 9 hour boat trip to Bagan. The landscape doesn’t really change on the way down. You see farmers still using an Ox and cart to plough the fields. Huge barges, the Chinese are stripping the country of its Copoer reserves.
Sailed past the ancient city outside of Mandalay, I wished we’d paid it a visit.
Speaking to other travelers it’s easy to do the whole country in 10 days.
We stayed in a medium range hotel in Bagan, very central and we could walk to restaurants. Sharky’s restaurant had amazing food and wine cellar.
We did the half day bike tour to a market and the Temples, the market was our highlight. It was in seasonally cold and rainy the day we went, Grasshopper provided us with waterproofs.
I took loads of snacks as I was worried about the food. No problems at all.
The hotel only took cash. The internet is intermittent so the cash machines were often down. If you take $ they have to be pristine and be issued after 2000. They will not accept anything before that. We had $300 dollar bills that they wouldn’t take. HAd been issued at Heathrow too.
Our experience traveling from Mandalay airport to town was interesting,the road was so rough. There’s also hardly any seat belts in cars. Our original plan wAs to take a taxi from Bagan back to Mandalay. We seriously couldn’t have managed 5 hours in those roads.
We bit the bullet and took the 25 min flight instead. It wasn’t a Burmese airline though.
We had a great time and the people are lovely.
Here’s the ancient city. Looked great from the river
I would have loved to to the Balloons over Bagan. All trips were cancelled the days we were there. Poor visibility. You never know if you can go until the morning you’ve booked. Plus it’s £300 each!
I loved it when we went. A child would struggle with the heat. I would also now struggle with the Rohjnga issue but balance thus against the fact loads of countries have issues that aren't that great. F you want SE asia consider also Malaysia and a train to Singapore (fly to KL), Cambodia or a mix of Cambodia Vietnam and Laos. I also hear Taiwan is fab.
Wider alternatives for a special trip you could look at Sri Lanka ( often with a coupe of nights in the Maldives). Or in Central America look at Belize or Guatemala, liads to do fairly safe, variety, to it food etc ,..
Went a couple of years ago with ours kids. Went south rather than north to Bagan/Inle etc.
Really enjoyed it and our 6/8 year olds were fine.
I can send you details of recommendations for hotels/tour organisers . Outside of Yangon it’s hard to book ahead on the internet and roads are only for those that can read the signs!
Downside is that Rabies vaccination is recommended (My understanding is that in Myanmar children are vaccinated against it as standard)
I really wouldn’t. I went a few years back with human rights workers and it was pretty grim. So much of the tourist infrastructure is government controlled that you risk actively funding genocide rather than supporting individuals. There were major human rights violations associated with the development of Bagan for tourists, so we boycotted it.
I’d go to Costa Rica for a special holiday, I think - a good mix of exciting and comfortable!
I went 2 years ago for 3 weeks and loved it.
It's optional to have a tour guide, but definitely would recommend it as they can tell you a lot about the history and culture. Alternatively, some good drivers can double up as a tour guide.
It's definitely a place to go now before it really opens up to tourism (currently, they have less than 1 million tourists annually).
It's not a cheap country by any means.
We did Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake, Ngapali (a beautiful beach resort), pyin o lwin (North of Mandalay), Hsipaw, golden rock, and Yangon.
Yangon was my least favourite. All the others were unique in their own right and would highly recommend, including the hot air balloon over bagan temples.
What I loved the most was the people. When you read about it online they do advise tourists not to ask local political questions but over the last few years it has actually opened up a bit more, so people are happy to talk about it and give their views.
We were afraid we would be templed out, from all the temples, but it was actually fine.
They still use a lot of the infrastructure the British developed 100 years ago, which is also quite interesting.
Happy to answer any other questions you have.
I love the idea you can see the whole of a country in 10 days as suggested up thread! The mind boggles.
I too would suggest Costa Rica as it’s varied. Something for everyone. Beaches and wildlife. Not arduous travelling. Belize too. They are not as far as Asia.
India can be great but I cannot see what a 5 year old would get out of it. Mine were 11 and 13 when we went. Saw several tigers and had a great time. A 5 year old probably won’t enjoy the palaces or the early starts in the tiger reserves. Or the travelling!
5 year olds don’t remember much! (So my now 23/25 year old DDs tell me). They do need entertaining at that age. You could look at a family adventure holiday to see where is suitable with a 5 year old. They have child-centred activities built in. We have experience of these holidays and they can be great. Although some parents seemed to expect my teens to baby sit whilst they read books! They also dragged children along who really would have preferred a beach and a football camp for 2 weeks.
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