Pacing: You’ll cruise for 10 nights aboard the RV Pandaw II, plus 3 nights in Yangon before the cruise and 1 night in Yangon after the cruise. To improve pacing, we have added an overnight stay in Bangkok at both the beginning and end of the tour. The cruise program is well balanced, with daily shore excursions. All meals on board ship are included. There are two long motorcoach transfers on tour: one from Prome to Yangon that will take 6 hours, including time for rest stops; and the other is a day excursion to Bago which is 2 hours each way. Your domestic flight from Yangon to Mandalay, may request you to check your regular sized rolling carry on luggage. Domestic air check-in can be frustrating because it is not computerized. Your program manager is experienced with airport procedures and will be on-hand to assist you.
Physical Activity: Sightseeing is done via air-conditioned coaches with local guides. Porterage services are not available inside the airport area and passengers will need to carry their carry-on bags and sometimes even checked bags from the bus to group check-in counter (however, luggage carts are available free of charge). With a lack of unpaved roads, uneven footpaths are commonly used especially in small towns and villages. This tour is not appropriate for handicapped individuals or those with walking difficulties. Pandaw cruises are not handicap accessible. Embarking and disembarking the ship will require climbing based on the water level. To fully enjoy this tour, passengers must be in good physical condition.
Cultural Focus: The different customs, friendly people and rich history of Burma make this tour unique. Burma is a relatively poor Asian country, and until recently has been closed to the outside world. Burmese people practice Buddhism and uphold traditions of hospitality and optimism, so you will encounter good service wherever you travel. Few people speak English on the street, so you will need a good map and your hotel card when leaving the hotel on your own. It is advised not to ask political questions to locals.
Special Factors: The best time to travel is November through February when there is seldom rain and temperatures are pleasant. During monsoon season, which lasts from June through early October, expect short periods of heavy rain in the afternoon and hot/humid weather. We recommend you bring a rain coat. Due to high temperatures, we also recommend bringing comfortable sandals for the monument visit. All hotels feature modern facilities, and are air conditioned to meet the best International standards. You’ll find many of the local dishes are very spicy because chili is a popular ingredient. During your cruise, Pandaw will provide daily international buffet breakfast/lunch. Dinner will be a set menu of either local or continental cuisine. You will encounter poor road conditions, including bumpy and unpaved surfaces.
Mobile: There is no international roaming in Myanmar, so mobile phones from other countries currently do not operate there. Older CDMA-based (800mhz or 450mhz) cell phones are your best bet in order to make and receive calls in Myanmar. To access the cellular network using a CDMA-based phone, you will have to buy or rent a local SIM card at the hotel’s shop or on your Pandaw ship. Newer GSM-based cellphones will most likely not work, as the network is quite slow.
Internet: In Yangon, you will be able to check your email at hotel business centers and airports for a fee. However, the Internet connection will be very slow and some Web pages — like Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL — are blocked.
Telephone: Calling home via hotel phone will be very expensive.
Gifts & Donations: While traveling in Myanmar, in some areas you may encounter poverty and beggars. Please ask your Program Manager before giving out any gifts or donations. When visiting a local school or village pagoda, your Program Manager will buy a gift on behalf of the group to donate.
What to Wear: Shorts, short skirts or revealing clothing are not appropriate, especially when visiting temples or any religious site. Myanmar is a conservative culture. We recommend you bring sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent, hat, rain coat, and sensible walking shoes which can be easily removed when required.