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We've given each of our tours a comfort rating and a tour pace, walking or cycling grade to give you a general idea about the level of activity on each tour and the standard of accommodation you will be staying in at the end of your day's adventure.
Often you'll stay in different styles of accommodation during your tour; so we make an average rating across the entire tour. For more information on where you'll stay each night, please refer to the day by day tour itinerary.
The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these trip notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations.
Cameras and video-cameras are permitted in Burma. Restrictions on photography include military facilities and any structure considered strategic (including bridges and train stations though this last may be loosely enforced).
Bagan - Hot Air Balloon US$300-350 depending on Premium or Regular service and time of the year. Due to high demand, if you are planning on taking the optional hot air balloon excursion you may wish to consider booking this in advance to secure your place on the flight. Please refer to your tour notes to check which days you will be waking up in Bagan and therefore able to do the excursion. We do not recommend booking on the day you are due to leave Bagan in case an early departure is planned. The balloon excursion does not form part of your included Explore holiday package. You can book and pay with the balloon operator directly: http://www.easternsafaris.com/balloonsoverbagan_home.html Traditional massage US$10; Optional sunrise US$8; Mount Popa Excursion US$42 (based on group size of 3-4 person; please note that balloon rides are not available from April - September due to poor weather conditions)
Rangoon - Scott Market and sunset visit to Shwedagon Pagoda US$4 transfer plus US$5 entrance fees
Inle Lake - Traditional massage US$8
Mandalay - Moustache Brothers Alternative Comedy show US$12; Traditional dance performance US$12
Hsipaw - Trekking US$21 (based on group size of 3-4 persons)
Pyin Oo Lwin - Horse and carriage hire approx. US$11-14 per carriage (half day)
Local Crew: Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognized part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided. In order to make things easier for you, the Tour Leaders may organise a group’s tips kitty and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the tour.
Local Currency: Kyat. We recommend you consult your tour leader for advice regarding the best place to exchange. Larger bills (US$100) usually get a slightly better exchange rate and it is always useful to have some smaller bills additionally. Taxis accept dollars if agreed beforehand.
Recommended Currency For Exchange: Carry all your funds in US$ Cash or Euros only. ONLY BRING NEW U.S. DOLLAR BILLS (BIG HEADS INSTEAD OF SMALL) IN PRISTINE CONDITION. ANY OLD, TORN OR MARKED NOTES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. US$ bills with the series CB will not be accepted for exchange.
ATM Availability: ATMs are not widely available, however there is one located at Mandalay Airport and a couple in Yangon city. The CB Bank (Co-operative Bank ltd) will accept international debit cards only, with a charge of 5000 Kyat (approx. 5-6USD) per transaction. We do not recommend relying on ATMs for access to funds.
*Cheap local fare in a small cafe or restaurant. **Typical food in a simple, reasonably comfortable mid-range restaurant.
It is a condition of joining any of our tours that you must have valid travel insurance. It must indicate that you have cover for (at least) medical expenses and emergency repatriation in the event of illness or injury. We also strongly recommend your policy includes cancellation protection as all deposit paid are non-refundable.
If you require travel insurance for your tour, Explore Worldwide is an appointed representative of Campbell Irvine Limited, who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services authority. Our travel insurance policy is specially tailored to the needs of the adventure traveller and will cover you for any included activity on any Explore trip. You can either purchase this at the time of booking or call us 0844 499 0901 after you have booked.
A regular TOURIST VISA can be obtained by applying directly to an overseas Burma (Myanmar) Embassy. It may take a few days or longer depending on the particular embassy and time of year. UK and Irish nationals can either apply directly or through Visaswift - our partner in visa processing - www.visaswift.com/explore.aspx or 0207 4051616. A regular TOURIST VISA's validity expires 90 days after issue and only allows a 28-day, single-entry visit. Those nationalities who do not have a Burmese Embassy in the country in which they reside please contact us directly to discuss visa on arrival.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A and B. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Although not compulsory, travellers may wish to immunise themselves against Japanese encephalitis. If travelling from a country in the yellow-fever zone within 6 days prior to entering Burma you will be required to produce a yellow fever vaccine certificate.
The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider.
Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.
We strongly recommend that you check your government’s travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs, including advice re: the legality of and local attitudes towards same-sex relationships. For UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Advice follow the link athttp://www.explore.co.uk/Traveladvice/
Burma is a tropical country and has three seasons. Temperature and rainfall varies across the country; Rangoon, Bagan and coastal areas tend to have higher temperatures and rainfall. Cool season = October to February with average temperatures from 18-24C; at higher altitudes (Inle Lake, Kalaw) the temperature is slightly cooler and temperatures can drop down to about zero at night. Hot season = March to mid-May 25-38C; particularly hot in Bagan and Rangoon. Rainy (Southwest Monsoon) = mid-May to September 23-33C; practically all of the country’s rain falls in this period. Monsoon period means that the beach extension is only possible from October to April.
Unfortunately it does occasionally happen that luggage does not always reach its destination on the same flight as its owner, or possibly it may be damaged in transit. If you are unlucky enough for this to occur, it is important that you file a PIR (Property Irregularity Report) with the airline before leaving the airport. This is essential when you come to make a claim either against the airline or from your travel insurance company
Warm weather clothing is suitable for Rangoon, Mandalay and Bagan. The Shan highlands, Inle Lake and Kalaw are cooler and in the winter season temperatures may reach near zero at night. Please dress respectfully when visiting temples and religious sites, covering your torso, shoulders and legs to below the knee and easily removable footwear for convenience as you can only enter sacred sites barefoot. In general, as Burma is a traditional, conservative and largely Buddhist culture we recommend you do not wear revealing clothing.
Mobile phones: Your mobile will not work in Burma. It is possible to buy a local SIM card for $20 in order to make/receive international calls, as long as your phone is un-locked. SMS messaging is not possible. WiFi is available in most hotels.
Then we suggest you contact Nomad Travel, our equipment partner, who specialise in kitting people out for adventurous travel. You receive a special 10% discount in-store or online. Visit one of their stores, phone 0845 260 0044, or visit their website www.nomadtravel.co.uk/explore for further information.