10 days exploring parts of Myanmar was one of the best experiences I had in 2014. Having planned this only a month ahead and then knowing that December is actually the peak period in Myanmar, I was worried that this trip will not be as pleasant as I would have anticipated.
The pre-trip planning got even more interesting after I’ve purchased my Singapore-Yangon return ticket, I needed a Visa to get into Myanmar. Luckily, Myanmar introduced e-visa in September which allows potential traveller to apply for their Visa via the Internet. Thre are a few online visa operator, I decided to apply via Myanmar’s Official Government website.
I submitted my details, uploaded a digital photo of myself and paid USD$50, a day later, an approval letter came into my mailbox!
Visa done within a day!
Googling trip reports and places of interest in Myanmar, I was immediately sold to the history of Bagan and the beauty of Inle Lake. Mandalay’s sunset along the famous bridge looks like a place not to be missed too.
Since this is a vacation and I really do not intend to rush on my itinerary, I decided to stopover at three places in Myanmar – Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake dropping Mandalay this trip so I could spend at least two nights at these spots.
The master travel plan :
Singapore- Yangon – Bagan – Inle Lake – Yangon – Singapore
Day 01 – Singapore – Yangon – Night bus to Bagan
Day 02 – Backpack: Bagan with eBikes and Temples
Day 03 – Bagan – May Thida Hotel/Hostel Review
Day 04 – Check out from Bagan – Night bus to Inle Lake
Day 05 – Inle Lake – Being Lucky at 4am
Day 06 – Inle Lake – Remember Inn Hotel Review
Day 07 – Check out from Inle Lake – Night bus to Yangon
Day 08 – Yangon
Day 09 – Yangon
Day 10 – Yangon – Singapore
Knowing Myanmar has just opened up for foreigners not along ago, I decided to research about it’s culture, what to do and what no to do while I am in Myanmar and what to pack for the trip.
My findings are as follow:
• People are generally friendly
• Local currency is Kyat
• USD is accepted but it has to be in CRISPY & MINT condition
• It is a safe country to explore on your own
• Main religion is Buddhism (80%)
• Nightlife is limited
SIM card is expensive. Proven to be wrong, a new SIM card cost only K1500/ USD1.50
• Do not fall sick in Myanmar
• Accommodation is generally more expensive compared to Vietnam, Thailand and Laos
• Bus tickets or Taxi is decent
• Food prices are decent
The USD Challenge
Fearing that my USD notes will not be accepted, I went to one of the money changers in Singapore to see if they offer crispy and mint notes, unfortunately, they say they do not have it also quoting I should have better luck with banks. I know banks has new notes and was told that the money changer at Changi airport should be able to provide new notes as along as I tell them that I am heading to Myanmar.
With hope, and really, my last resolution actually, I went to the UOB Money Changer at Changi in the morning, told them that I needed new USD notes because I am heading to Myanmar, the lady smiled, informing me not to worry that she has those crispy USD notes for me.
The exchange rate in town was USD1=SGD1.315, while the rate at the airport was USD1=SGD1.34 + guaranteed fresh notes. Though a little bit more, but the assurance that I am getting usable notes while I am in Myanmar is more important. In case you are wondering, the exchange rate is the same at the money changer at the check-in hall and departure hall.
Coming Up Next: Day 01 – Singapore – Yangon – Night bus to Bagan