41 independent reviews for Small group holiday to Burma

Reviews for Small group holiday to Burma

SHOW
6
31
3
0
1

review 7 Mar 2017

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

The large number of pagodas in Bagan, the difference between Myanmar pagodas and this in Thailand, Laos. The shear beauty of Inle lake. The variety of food in the different regions. The friendliness of the people.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Certainly a great tour operator with use of good tour managers, good guides, VERY responsible travel, good value for money.

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

Definitely - hence 'responsible travel'!

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

Brilliant, why did we not go before?

review 24 Feb 2017

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

The 2 days of trekking to remote villages in the Kengtung area (Kengtung extension).

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared to see a lot of pagodas and temples (shoes & socks off, conservative dress). You will be with plenty of Baby Boomer western tourists at restaurants and hotels, especially at tourist track 'big sights'. Good to pack light, but there were porters at all the hotels. Pack for cool and hot...layers and fleece. Leave shorts and sleeveless tops at home as most days require 'temple dress'. Bring a good book for the all-day boat trip. Need a torch/flashlight. Only used swim suit once, a waste of space. Had wifi at all hotels, just a bit slow or intermittent.

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

Spending our tourist $ helped some people and the economy of this developing country. Doubtful that we helped with environmental impacts. Fees at certain sites (e.g., Bagan) are supposed to go towards conservation/restoration.

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

Very good. Quite interesting if you like to see countries with some rough edges. Not for those who prefer beaches, a leisurely pace, or have fitness issues.

review 30 Jan 2017

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

Bagan and Lake Inle.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Set aside approximately $180 dollars for tips for guides, drivers, drivers' assistants etc, etc.

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

We were assured that meals etc were taken in restaurants run by local people and have no reason to doubt this. Cities in Myanmar suffer from air pollution so some might argue our bus journeys contributed to this.

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

Quite intense but this is acceptable if you want to see as much of Myanmar as you can in 15 days and avoid crowds.

review 31 Mar 2016

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

This is a holiday of memories to last. Enchanting gentle people, beautiful countryside, amazing temples, vibrant markets,crafts and long past building and agricultural practises. Our wonderful guide Win Win shared all this with us, led us on walks through lovely hillside villages,thoughtfully getting our driver to find me a bamboo stick, visiting houses, drinking green tea, watching back strap weaving and the next family meal being prepared. A balloon trip at Bagan was was quite magical, the mist rolling away to reveal the temples. Finally in Nyaung Shwe, shopping in the market with Myo Myo for the ingredients for our cookery class. Delicious dishes, enjoyed by us for lunch!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Have plenty of small denomination notes for tipping. We all found it a nightmare! Perhaps the tour Company could give prior warnings and advice on this. Some hotels did have boxes for tips. In the dining room for staff there and in the hotel reception for housekeeping staff. Then there are porters and drivers.

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

Hopefully some local people benefited financially from us, and particularly in social exchanges with foreign visitors. Tourism as it increases could raise environmental impacts and show support for the conservation of the skills of weaving, boat building etc

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

It was wonderful!

review 5 Dec 2016

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

The people - we called them the "smiley people" - and the interaction with the Burmese. On our second day in the country we were in a carriage with the locals on the circular train line from Yangon, and almost sharing the tiffin box lunch with a lady who was sitting cross legged on the bench along side us. Despite the trials and tribulation of living in such a poor country the locals always seems very happy with their lot and optimistic about the future

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take some small denomination dollars - guides etc seem to prefer this currency as tips rather than local khats. Eat in local restaurants and tea houses - firstly it supports local businesses, but secondly food and drinks are half the price of the hotel restaurants. If you take pictures in the market etc ask first, but the subjects will be delighted to see your efforts.

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

We tried to use local establishments, but were limited to some extent by the choice of guides. The main environmental impact from our point of view was from plastic water bottles - they were everywhere, and discarded rubbish does not seem high on the priority list for local Burmans . We did come across a collection service for empty bottles in one town, and saw evidence of re-use for palm oil and petrol(!) in one of the villages

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

We had a fantastic trip with the holiday providers, and would thoroughly recommend them as a tour group. Everything was efficiently and well organised. One thing that was important for us was having at least two nights (occasionally three) in one place - you did not feel as if you were entirely living out of a bag for two weeks

review 1 Apr 2016

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

So many wonderful, strong memories that it is hard to pick out a few... but let's try!The warmth and friendliness of the people, appreciation of the historic cusp on which the country hangs, the quality of the two guides (one for the 'standard tour' plus the other for walking in the hills of the Golden Triangle),the colours of the countryside, dress and buildings, the diversity of peoples and how they live, simplicity and tastiness of the food and most surprisingly - how much I enjoyed their green tea!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Because their alphabet, writing and language is so unique and many of the places we visited are not fully geared up for tourists (the appeal for us)a guide is essential. In past holidays, we have often been independent travelers, just selecting the services of a guide for a specific activity; this could be done in Myanmar but you need time to sort this out and we only had 19 days. Advice? - we took tea bags which don't need milk (none available)and 'sesame seed snaps' for the few times when I had a sweetness craving.

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

This is why we chose the holiday provider and this trip and it did not disappoint. Each time we were in the company of 'bigger tour groups' we were aware that to what, and to how, we were introduced to the country, the peoples, their activities and ways of life, was different and our motivations for 'local considerations' was fulfilled. Our guides knew their country and were able to to take us to specific interests as well as planned visits, e.g. weaving, markets, marionette shows, cookery classes, agricultural activities etc., none of which were included in the planned itinerary.

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

Really excellent. We are not giving it 5 stars because we have had one other holiday (Antarctica ten years ago on a small expedition ship) which we consider equally in such a different way, 'Simply the best'. This trip to Myanmar did not bring about being 'reborn' but it most certainly took our comprehension of the country, its history, its 'Now' and the hopes for its Future to a far greater depth than we could have anticipated...and all this was due to the knowledge and skills of the two guides. We wholeheartedly recommend how this trip enabled us to have the privilege of of 'being in at the roots'.

review 26 Mar 2016

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

Hard to say. Drinking green tea with the lotus weavers on Lake Inle? Lovely women. Or watching the women from the tribe south of the lake buying orange woollen scarves for their distinctive headdresses on the market - and then buying a red one for mysellf, to their amusement and with their approval of my choice of colour. Just the friendliness of the Burmese people everywhere, I suppose.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take US dollars as your reserve funds! And don't be afraid to buy from street traders - you know where the money is going that way. Be prepared to see a lot of pagodas, golden and otherwise.

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

I hope it benefited local people through the money we spent. How much the environmental impact was reduced, between internal flights and minibus travel i don't know.

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

Immersive and really interesting.

review 9 Mar 2016

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

The visit to Bagan was probably the most memorable as it would be for many people but the trip on Lake Inle was the most (unintentionally) exciting when the heavens opened and we had to take emergency action to avoid the high waves on the lake by sticking the nose of the open boat into reeds; never been so wet so quickly even with ponchos and umbrellas!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go soon before Myanmar loses its unique quality of rural life and succumbs to big machinery and Western style development. Be prepared to go out into the country and appreciate the agriculture and the way of life - enjoy the company of the cheerful people even if you can't communicate with speech; they like laughing!

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

I hope so - the holiday provider uses local guides and avoids staying in places where there are known ties with the government. Buying items from the craft exhibition in Yangon (supported by the British Council and a Swiss organisation) was a good way to support quality rural crafts and bring back meaningful souvenirs.

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

Excellent; well organised and flexible about arrangements. Good answers to our questions about the country, the economics and the politics. When we got off the beaten track to restaurants which were chosen by the tour leader or our guides the food was good; otherwise it tended to be rather similar and, as advertised, less interesting than some other far Eastern coutries. But overall we enjoyed it hugely and are delighted to have been introduced to the Burmese people.

review 17 Jan 2016

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

The two days on Inle Lake, travelling by canoe, seeing the fishermen working, observing how it is for the people who live and work on the lake. We were lucky enough to be there on a public holiday when local people were out and about enjoying themselves, visiting the markets,organising games for the children etc. So much to see - the ruined temples, the weaving workshop, the floating gardens etc. The other high spot was having a buffet meal on Christmas Day on a local boat sailing around the harbour in Yangon, with Christmas decorations, Christmas music and everyone having a lovely time. Very bizarre in a Buddhist country!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take warm layers because the nights in the mountains are very cold altho' the days are hot. Our lovely hotel gave us hot water bottles!

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

I'm not sure how we might have had any impact on the last two points but we stayed in local hotels and ate in local restaurants, used local guides and drivers.

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

Wonderful! We loved the country and the people, so friendly and kind. We can make no criticism.

review 14 Feb 2015

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

All of it was brilliant, from the sights to the food and the company. Tour leader, Mark Ord, was very knowledgeable and clearly loved sharing his insights. We also had very good local English speaking guides for each section of the trip. I liked the fact that we saw and did loads but the tour never felt rushed and there was always time to stop off if we saw something, or change plans if an opportunity arose. We stayed at least 2 nights at each hotel which was also important because it meant there was time to relax and get to know the location.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't hesitate - just go! The operator are an independent company who care that you get the best holiday possible. And they are small enough to make sure you see some of the top sights, but also get you in to see off the beaten track places. Only one thing could be made clearer upfront - tipping is encouraged (and rightly so) for guides & bus drivers, but this can mount up quicker than you anticipate, so bring extra cash for that. I'd suggest this is mentioned by the tour company, and a sum could be agreed and collected upfront so we dont need to worry about it.

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

I think so - hard to gauge when you dont know who owns the hotels or buses in a country like Myanmar. But we ate in local restaurants, were taken to local markets and shops and did stop off at family run places, so I like to think we benefited local people.

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

5 stars. Will definitely go back to Burma and use the operator / Responsible Travel again. Fab holiday.

Read the operator's response here:

So glad you loved your tour of Burma, Helen. As you say, its not easy to discover the ownership of hotels etc while you are on holiday - but rest assured we have done all that for you, and use privately owned smaller suppliers for properties, transport etc. We've noted the points on tipping and will discuss it again with the team.

review 24 Nov 2015

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

It is difficult to select any one part of the holiday, as it was all good. Visiting stunning pagodas and markets, or threshing rice in the field (which was fun), or simply driving through the landscape were all wonderful.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared for overlarge pillows which are not comfortable, and for invariably poor reading lights in the hotels. On the plus side, you will never feel at all threatened by the charming people, and will not find many vendors or touts who really annoy you. Being able to greet them with 'Mingalaba!' goes down well.

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

We get the feeling that our money did go to local people - restaurants, guides and probably hotels. And we did visit some genuine family businesses and were pleased to patronise them.

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

We probably would have given it 5 stars if it wasn't for the expansion of the rating to say that it was 'simply the best holiday I have ever been on'! We have been on other wonderful holidays, but this was up there with the best.

review 23 Nov 2015

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

They were quite a lot of memorable parts of the holiday which include U Bein Bridge, Sunset and Sun rise (I can't believe I got up at 4:15 am for the sunrise) over the temples at Bagan which was quite spectacular. The boat trip to and looking around the ruins of Shan City was really good and we were quite fortunate that a local a festival was being held at the same time.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

I would say book the holiday as soon as possible because I'm quite sure Burma will change over the next 5 years.

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

It certainly benefited to local people.

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

Great holiday and excellent tour leader and local guides.

review 18 Aug 2014

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

Burma is such a fabulous country to visit - our itinerary included one or more hightlights every day. The crowning glory of our tour was our guide Po. He looked after our group of six as if we were family - nothing was too much trouble. Even on the days when we 'just' travelled we would have multiple photostops that made them special. He shared his extensive knowledge and understanding of the country unstintingly and I personally gained valuable insights into this country that is teetering on the brink of change.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Bring waterproof clothing in the rainy season. Eat authentic Myanmar curries at local restaurants wherever possible.

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

We ate (for the most part) at locally-run restaurants; bought souvenirs at workshops or in local markets, spending our tourist cash across the country and interacted with local people wherever possible.

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

Up to 10 years ago, I travelled independently in South East Asia and South America - so wasn't sure what to expect when I booked this tour. I am very happy that I did. Small tours mean that you visit all the right places - but there's NO admin - so you can spend time just enjoying life - hurrah!

review 19 Jan 2014

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

It was all new and exciting for that reason …… very heart warming to see what is flourishing in Myanmar and also fearful that some not such good things come with the advent of more tourism. Our trip to Pagan and Inle Lake are the highlights for me.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Just book up! and don't take too many clothes! It is a very well balanced holiday between temples, markets, walking, relaxing, visiting local craft places, structured and unstructured time.

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

Yes, certainly benefiting local people ….. have suggested that the company could do more to make explicit what they support in the way of conservation and reducing environmental impact.

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

Excellent.

review 30 Dec 2014

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

Going in the footsteps of Sue's father and seeing his 1945 photos come to life.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go prepared for surprisingly cool mornings at Inle lake. Very fast openboats are draughty!

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

Many opportunities to purchase goods from the various places we visited and also using local transport.

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

Excellent, the guide was very good and prepared to vary the itinery to fit in extras to suit the group. e.g. Mandalay Palace, a village wedding, and a group winnowing their grain in the field as we passed.

review 15 Nov 2014

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

A trek through unspoilt countryside, followed by a delicious meal.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Sit back and enjoy a well organised tour, and read the pre departure advice which was helpful.

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

Buying local goods and supporting local people in markets etc

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

Excellent. At times the pace was demanding, but there was so much to see and take in I wouldn't have wanted to ease up more.

review 20 Mar 2014

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

Hard to choose between the wonder of Shwedeagon Pagoda with all it's glittering gold, river journey down the Ayeyarrwady and first sight of Bagan, then cycling around it, relaxing time on Inle Lake, and visiting the botanic gardens in Pyin U-Lwin and the hills of Kalaw.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Read about Myanmar's recent situation and history. It put what I saw into context, and informed discussions with the many friendly and optimistic for change people met as we travelled around.

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

It is still hard to travel independently in Myanmar, as much of the tourist infrastructure benefits the generals, but I do think this operator are consciously trying to benefit local businesses, and we often ate in local places. Many people who we met did feel that tourism is making the hoped for transition to democracy more likely. However, there are some areas where it is obvious that tourism also has negative consequences, such as displacing local people (such as in Bagan), or the impact the many boats have on undermining the banks of the waterways around Lake Inle.

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

An excellent tour, with a great tour leader and very knowledgeable local guides at each area we visited. All well organised, and at a relaxing pace. Good clean accommodation, with some lovely hotels, and great food. Great value for money too, and I was fortunate to travel with a lovely bunch of people.

review 11 Mar 2014

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

Each day was amazing with many highlights - the country is beautiful and the people are warm and welcoming - our tour guide was superb and the restaurants chosen provided a wide variety of very good food

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go with an open mind and you will encounter many unexpected sights, sounds and experiences

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

The holiday provide local people with much needed cash and was crafted to minimize environmental impact, though any increase in traffic is bound to have some effect on pollution

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

Excellent

review 4 Mar 2014

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

Visiting Burma - finding my wife's old house in Rangoon (sadly now a "squat"..); Bagan, Inle, the Thande Beach extension. The excellent local guides. Smooth organisation, even if a bit rushed. The low point was Kalaw, worst hotel of the trip, not recommended. The local people were very friendly, helpful, honest.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take very tough luggage - handling is very rough, half the tour group had some sort of damage. Take enough pro-biotics etc for the dreaded tummy-bugs! (some food was suspect..) If doing the Thande Beach extension, try and arrange to get there directly from Inle Lake (Heho) instead of wasting a day travelling to Yangon for the night.

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

Benefited the locals, yes indeed. Environmental impact, conservation? - doubt it very much.

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

Very good, but we decided that package deal group tours are not for us.

Read the operator's response here:

We are delighted you enjoyed your tour to Burma and so pleased your wife did find her old house. Certainly the photos you sent us in advance of the tour were of a very elegant home. Sorry that you didn't find the escorted tour was for you, we aim to offer the benefits of our experience in the countries we visit with tours that respect people's independence and are not over organised. We are sorry we won't be seeing you again on a future tour but thank you so much for your feedback.

review 25 Feb 2014

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

The outstanding memories of the holiday? The people, the sights, the colours, the smells and again the people. They are unfailingly patient and polite and what lovely smiles..... There were twelve of us in the group and on the last evening we chatted about the holiday and unanimously agreed that it was impossible to pick out one outstanding moment, but some of the visits that left us with very happy memories were; the buggy ride through the rice fields of Inwa to visit ruined temples and villages, watching the sun rise over the pagodas at Bagan, the morning hike into the hills to watch a weaver at work in a remote village and the magical boat trips on Inle Lakes to visit villages on stilts and watch local people use their skills to make jewellery, silk clothing & snacks, whilst passing the famous fisherman on the way, going about the usual business.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't expect any mobile phone network, it just doesn't exist. When you can, access the internet to keep in touch with home but be prepared for it be very slow! Out of the twelve of us only one escaped an upset tummy, so best to be prepared and take some appropriate medicine with you. (Don't let this put you off - we all learned to live with it and it definitely did not spoil the trip.)

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

The guides assured us that they were very happy that we were visiting their country and through buying from the local markets and street vendors, were making a contribution to the income of local people.

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

A fantastic holiday which gives a real insight into the country and its history.

review 22 Feb 2014

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

Trekking around Kalaw and Lake Inle

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared for some really early morning starts and long days sightseeing. We really needed our 3 nights on the beach at the end.

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

We ate in local restaurants and bought things from local people

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

The first week was a little exhausting. Otherwise it was a fascinating trip.

review 10 Jan 2014

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

Seeing the people of Burma in so many settings, especially those living by fishing off Lake Inle and the rice farmers of Shan province. The Burmese we met were smiling, friendly, welcoming, despite years of hard living by our standards. The opportunity to see this country at this stage in it's turbulent history was humbling.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take small gifts for distribution amongst children. Smile at everyone at you won't be disappointed.

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

Yes, it probably benefitted local people as, like all areas that welcome tourists, the income is also welcome. It may also promote better understanding of other, different cultures, 'though I suspect most people booking such a tour already have that willingess to understand. The manner of travel cannot reduce environmental impact-no travel does-but it was kept to a minimum in order to see all that was experienced. Awareness of Burma's culture, exceptional physical beauty and wildlife may well help to support conservation. Education is key on both sides.

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

Exceptional. I wouldn't use the term reborn (too emotional) but it was superbly organised, led by a sensitive, helpful guide (Wi), and used a delightful standard of accommodation. We saw a lot but not too much too quickly. This was our first experience of a group tour and we were fortunate to find ourselves amongst fellow travellers all of whom we would choose to travel with, without knowing any of them in advance. An excellent experience.

review 3 Jan 2014

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

Difficult to pick out one from many memorable moments but probably the visit to Shwedagon temple in Yangon. But in many ways it is the people themselves who linger in the memory, outstandingly friendly, helpful and seemingly cheerful, though many have on the face of it little to be cheerful about.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Choose the time of year we went, early December, when the weather is good for those used to British rain and cold. Check on the operator’s website for the latest developments in a fast changing situation. Our only, very slight, criticism of operator is that the categoric statement that there were no cash points proved quite wrong. They were plentiful, and credit cards were quite widely accepted. We ended up with a lot of US dollars that we didn't use. Thanks to Kindle(!) I read during the trip 'Letters from Burma', and 'Under the Dragon' by Rory Maclean, both powerful and moving books that start to give one an understanding of the complex and often tragic history of the country.

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

I think local people benefited a good deal. We were certainly taken to many local restaurants run as family concerns and the visits to local markets and various cottage industries where our party bought various items should have helped. I believe that most of the hotels/guesthouses etc were privately owned. Our boat trip in Yangon was in a privately owned boat. Because of FCO's (over-cautious) restrictions we had to take one additional internal flight, which was a pity but unavoidable. In one part of the tour the 12 of us (11 + guide) travelled in a full-sized coach but for the rest of the time we were in a suitably sized minibus - or boat or horse and cart, bicycle or trekking on foot so the environmental impact was kept to a minimum.

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

Excellent. Almost full marks to the operator. The holiday lived up to our expectations and often exceeded them. Our laid-back guide was good. The accommodation was generally better than we expected. The pace of the tour was manageable for those like my wife and myself, who are getting on a bit. Being left to our own devices in Yangon on the last day without our main or local guide was slightly strange but the transfer to the airport was efficient. The operator was most helpful before the trip in advising on visiting our Action Aid sponsor child. Sadly because of the FCO we were not able to do this but spend a most interesting and rewarding day with the Action Aid HQ staff in Yangon. We'd certainly recommend a visit to Burma/Myanmar and with this operator, which offered an interesting itinerary at a reasonable price.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your comments - fantastic that you had such a positive experience of what is still a relatively new country to tourism and our company. We apologise for our information regarding ATMs being a bit out of date but as you say, things are changing very rapidly in Burma. We also worry that with such a new initiative in Burma and our own banks having such limited dealings with the country that one might get stuck so will probably continue to recommend some USD as well as using ATMs.

review 21 Mar 2014

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

The discovery of Bagan.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

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

Mostly yes I did.

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

Interesting. Much liked Bagan, Inle lake, Yangon. Missed not seeing enough of Mandalay and not stayed long enough in Bagan. Kalaw and mountain resort near Mandalay (botanical garden) a total waste of time...

review 10 Dec 2013

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

How warm and welcoming everyone was; how beautiful Shan state was; how delicious the fresh food was and how cheap the beer was ;-) I loved my day on my bike in Bagan chatting to people and being showed about the temples by people who live within the compounds. They do ask you to look at their wares afterwards but you are under no obligation to buy, but consider the fact you took their time and knowledge and do try to give something back. I was in awe of the Shwe Umin cave temples, boasting over 8,000 Buddha statues. Seeing how hard everybody works was amazing and realising that everything they have comes from the land and their hard work. Inle Lake was fantastic to see and I highly recommend rounding your trip off with a massage at the Lily spa in Nyuangshwe town.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Smile! The locals are starting to get used to tourists but at first glance you may be met with curious looks, but as soon as you smile and greet them, you'll be rewarded with such friendly responses. This is not a human zoo. Life may be very different to what we're used to at home but its the norm to those who grew up there. If you want to take photos of people, interact with them first. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would feel. Not every moment needs to be recorded. You will gain a much better insight and way more memorable moments if you put the camera down and spend some quality time chatting with and playing with the wonderful characters you'll meet. Take some pads, pens, or small toys along with you. These are great for breaking the ice and the kids really appreciate it. DO NOT PAY PEOPLE FOR PHOTOS! This encourages begging and exploitation. See the above points for the best way to gain a great photo. Do some research, read some books and gain an understanding of what life has been like for the people of Burma for the past few decades it will help you understand and appreciate the tour more.

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

Definitely! Our guides and drivers were all local to the areas we visited and took us to local restaurants and farmers markets where we were able to buy food goods and trinkets and give back to the local communities. We mixed with the locals and swapped stories and knowledge so that we came away with a clearer idea on their country and history and way of lives so we can spread that word and help and advise others thinking of travelling there.

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

Amazing and Awesome (the two words I've used most to describe the trip)

review 27 Jul 2013

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

I went on the 14 day Burma tour with my wife in April 2013 and was prompted to review now. Due to some of the negative comments I read which made me think the others were on a different holiday so to redress the balance...The whole holiday was brilliant and it took time to "sink in " what an outstanding package we had. Tour - well put together, gave a unique view of Burma to the first time visitor. There were many outstanding memories: Shwedagon temple at sunset-we have been all over the world and not seen anything like it, it was so good we did it twice. Bagan-we saw 2000 temples at Sunrise and Sunset and the guide was an expert. Inle lake -two days of different activities and you saw the locals in their day to day activities. Stuck in the mud, our boat was freed by locals who ,WITHOUT payment or request waded in to the mud and pushed us free. U Bein Bridge-rickety but at sunset takes on a special charm and becomes a photographers dream. Shwe Umin cave temples where you see many golden Buddha's, quite a sight. Finally the people-they are poor but rich in spirit and culture. They invited us as strangers into their family wedding and offered us food.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Do not hesitate, the tour guide Wi accompanied us throughout the holiday and acted as a coordinator. She was friendly, efficient and a genuinely nice person. The other guides were local experts and all well experienced apart from one in Yangon who was fairly new but still performed well. Any issues were dealt with quickly by Wi but some people always like to complain: despite the warnings that this was targeted not to use the top class hotels/restaurants but use the local ones to benefit the people, some still expected the Hilton. The hotel accommodation standard depended on the location but ranged from great to basic. All had good clean facilities good food and all but one air con. The hill station guest house was the basic one and only had a fan but it was cooler anyway. So don't set your sights high but once you see the fun side of the en suite flyover in the Panorama hotel you realise it is in a good central location downtown. Value for money-this trip was excellent, compare it to the other operators and you meet more real people! Mosquitoes are in the red area -but take the tablets and use citronella wrist bands. You visit close to water and they are there but my wife and I received a total of three bites. The best in any holiday in the last 20 years! Food -the food appears basic and rice features a lot but its tastes fantastic. The flavour from basic food stuffs is unbelievable and the operator went all out to show the local cuisine in every area. The restaurants are used by the locals and appearances can be deceptive but hygiene seems ok. Bottom line is we never had an upset stomach the entire trip and ate well. Tipping-organise a standard amount for bus drivers, guides and guide at the start, appoint a member of the tour group to collect it and distribute from the kitty and forget about it.

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

Yes absolutely, they are cut off from the rest of the world and have huge steps to make to advance the country. You can buy a sim card and make calls out but no text messages to abroad! The people are very friendly and some poor but very proud and happy. They are keen to engage with foreigners and learn about us and show off their own culture. Some people complained about the tips -this is our small way to give something back directly to the locals. Don't be miserable, your contribution can make a huge difference to the people there , they earn little compared to us.

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

Despite the variability in hotels the food was outstanding. The tour package was well designed and arranged, it went like clockwork. Great value for money and one of the most memorable and colourful holidays we have had. The tour group meals and hike built good relationships and we enjoyed that. As photography enthusiasts we found the trip fascinating. So would we go there again? YES Would we go there with this operator? YES absolutely they offer some great tours in fact we are planning another for November which in fact is how we came to read the reviews.

review 29 Nov 2013

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

It is hard to pick just one element when so much was incredible or beautiful, but sunset over the temples of Bagan would be battling with the Shwedagon pagoda - or morning mist over Inle Lake....

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take a spare battery for your camera. I have never taken so many photographs and was forever recharging mine

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

I certainly felt that, in each location we visited, we made contact with local enterprises, hotels, restaurants and transport. By not travelling en-masse in large, air-conditioned coaches, this not only benefited the environment, but ensured greater contact with the people, which was always rewarded with kindness and friendliness.

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

This is probably the best holiday I have ever had. How much of that was due to the inherent beauty of Myanmar, and how much due to the itinerary and organisation is impossible to say after a single visit, but if more areas of the country are opened to foreigners, I shall certainly be back.

review 22 Nov 2013

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

The most memorable part of my trip to Burma was our time spent on Lake Inle travelling on the small Burmese boats in the sunshine, visiting various local businesses and engaging with the local people and community via restauranteurs etc.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Bring a good camera, something to note down where you are and when, bring plenty of medicines etc and be prepared for some fairly basic hotels in certain places (eg Kalaw).

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

I definitely think that this benefitted local people as almost all meals were taken in small local restaurants, there were many trips to markets etc and the use of local guides meant we were steered towards interacting with local people. In terms of supporting conservation, I am not really sure this applied other than the fact that almost all food was grown in the local village and thus transport costs were lower. Also we did a fair amount of travelling in the bus which I hadn't necessarily expected.

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

A really memorable trip to a very different and varied country. A really great experience and worth the money (even if it was the top end of prices).

review 1 Mar 2013

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

Every day was a new discovery

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take ear plugs if a light sleeper for the departures are often very early and a good night's sleep is of benefit

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

Yes

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

Brilliant

review 1 Mar 2013

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

Very difficult to say - cruising down the Irrawady, hiking through the countryside, visiting stunning pagodas were all memorable but probably I'd give top rating to wandering through the markets with their vibrant colours and smells, the fascinating foodstuffs and materials for sale and above all the friendliness of the people.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared to be surprised

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

At each location we had local guides who were able to keep us informed about local conditions etc, and we were able to buy souvenirs directly from local workshops and businesses

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

Excellent - the tour was well planned, the group worked well together and the Burmese countryside, monuments and people were amazing

review 18 Feb 2013

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

Meeting the lovely people of Burma and seeing a country right on the cusp of change

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go for it! The tour operator took great care of us and ensured that we had the best possible experience in Burma.

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

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

I had a superb time and recommend this trip highly.

review 2 Feb 2013

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

Scenic beauty of the country and lovely people

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

In parts of the trip it is really quite cold - especially at nignt. Not humid and sticky at all!

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

Must have benefited local people. Was as environmentally uninvasive as it could have been.

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

Excellent

review 20 Jan 2013

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

Too many to pin point one! Sunrise over Bagan, drifting along Inle Lake, exploring the markets ... all amazing experiences, but overall just being in Burma/Myanmar at this exciting time of change and feeling so welcome and safe. It was an emotional journey for me since my mother is Burmese and left in 1961.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The Burmese are eager to please and happy to help. It'll be a sad day when the demands of untrusting tourists exploit that and educate them to behave any differently. The tourist infrastructure is just being created so don't expect everything to be perfect ... just enjoy being able to be there before it becomes over commercial. Enjoy being able to walk through the markets and people being happy to have their photos taken, or not being over charged because you're a tourist and enjoy the security of being able to relax and not worry about being pick pocketed. Just enjoy being able to be part of this beautiful country.

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

Yes it certainly seemed to help local people more than when I visited 17 years ago. The concern is the impact of the increased number of tourists and how the hotels etc will cope with the increase in rubbish. The Burmese have had more to worry about than Green issues over the past few years and have little understanding of the impact of say throwing a plastic bag into the river. Tourists are suddenly increasing the amount of plastics and polystyrene being used and it would be nice to encourage alternative products or green ways of disposing of these rubbish (if any!). The teak industry is also at risk so any way of encouraging the replanting of these slow growing trees or discouraging purchase of teak products would also be good.

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

Brilliant. I didn't want to go on an organised trip, but the tour companies had booked up any remaining flights and rooms so I had no choice. It was a good decision though and I was glad of the information from local guides and support from the guide plus the company of our group.

review 16 Jan 2013

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

The Burmese people were a delight.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Double check arrival arrangements especially if not having a private transfer when arriving early as my hotel was changed and the local agents had not told UK office.

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

To a large extent. The boats used at Inle lake seemed to benefit a very rich man rather than local people, but other than that seemed very responsible, we ate in local restaurants.

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

Very good in terms of arrangements, variety of transport, quality of hotels. My only disappointment was the food which was monotonous. Chicken for lunch and dinner! The alternative to the chicken was fish! I mentioned it to UK Office and they will speak to local agents as wonderful potato and vegetable currys were available so hopefully future vegetarians will be served those instead of a plate of steamed vegetables!

Read the operator's response here:

Great that you enjoyed Burma so much, its certainly a fascinating destination. We were so pleased to hear your feedback when you got back and we have addressed the issues you had on arrival and they hopefully can't happen again and our ground staff will enjoy the challenge of researching food options while still concentrating on local dishes which are so much a part of the whole experience.

review 10 Jan 2013

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

Many highlights: First and foremost the charm, personality and courtesy of the Myanmar people, remarkably uncowed by the arbitrary and authoritarian hand of the Generals. Going to the Shwe Dagon temple complex at sunset, to watch its magical transformation from sunlit yellow gold to electrically lit white gold. And to peoplewatch while there. Sunset at U Bein's bridge, the teak bridge, was a truly magical few minutes. We were decanted into gondolas and set off purposefully under the bridge piers to best position ourselves for the sunset, a kind of visual symphony. Local people strolled across the bridge, several hundred tourists positioned several hundred cameras for the climactic moment and a large flock of ducks was herded home for the evening. The water glowed red and gold as the sun dipped and the sky was a palette of pinks, salmon to vermilion. Then the moon rose and the lake gleamed silver. Sunset at Dhammayangyi, the most massive of Bagan's temples with its commanding view over the Bagan plain and the complex of 2,000 plus temples and stupas. The view was transcendant. A pink glow suffused the many visible temples, mist rose from the mighty Ayeyerwady and a full moon rose on the opposite side of Dhammayangyi. The drive from Kalaw to Ngaungshwe, Inle Lake, a very pretty landscape, red earth patchwork fields, mature trees in meadows. There were tractors and lorries. It could be Europe, you think, until you spotted young girls riding buffalo sidesaddle or saw a man with a simple plough drawn by a pair of oxen. Teams of families in plaid turbans brought in the harvest – ginger and cabbages being the crops in question. This farmscape produces several crops a year. We had multiple stops for photo opportunities. It was practically an embarrassment of riches – cheerful, industrious picturesque tribespeople, cooperative at having their picture taken for the umpteenth time. Women at lakesides, washing clothes, children and themselves. Children tending animals many multiples of their own weight with authority and élan. Two special days on and around Lake Inle. Long narrow high prowed boats seating 4-5 in single file are used on the lake and its shallow waterways. It was wonderful in the morning out on the water watching fishermen rowing with one leg working the oar and casting their conical nets to catch fish, all the while maintaining, impossibly, their balance on the very tip of the boat's bow. Ngapali Beach - peaceful and sybaritic. A few women hawkers sold fruit on the beach, but no one pestered you and swimming in the sea was a pleasure. We dined right on the beach, four of us in Last Supper formation at our table looking out at the sunset. I tucked in to my calamari, salad and chips as the glowing red orb descended into the Bay of Bengal and the sky was flushed in delicate shades of pink and red, for half an hour afterwards, as the lights on the fishing boats started to glimmer.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Myanmar is not a highlight for food, so be prepared and adjust your expectations accordingly. Or maybe bring a few treats with you. Definitely, a high quality meal is a rarity, food in Myanmar generally being dull and repetitive, the opposite of its people. I don't think this is just down to the lowest common denominator menus which may be selected for a group. Definitely the worst meal was in the Too Too in Mandalay, which is, inexplicably,rated highly in Lonely Planet. That meal was served in a cheerless institutional canteen-alike. It was cold temperature-wise and oily. Thank God for the BYOB Myanmar beer to wash it down. Acceptable pizzas in Bagan and Ngaungshwe broke the tyranny of rice twice (or optionally thrice)daily. The big, positive, exception to the monotonous food was Ngapali Beach, where the seafood was excellent. In contrast with the food, the drinks were fine. For alcohol, Myanmar beer and domestic whiskey, rum and gin were good, as usually were the various fruit juices. In rural areas and the smaller towns there are a lot of semi-feral or neglected dogs wandering around in groups fighting with each other, barking and presumably doing little for overall public health. While unsettling, their agression seemed confined to their own species. I never saw them menace a human. I thought Pyin Oo Lwin was a disappointment. It's a fairly long day trip to and from Mandalay. There are some remnants of the glory days, e.g. interwar buildings with nice but rusted filigree work, but overall it's a bit down at heel. For a clip around the town we were jammed into micro Cinderella carriages. I think conceptually this is imagined as the Raj heritage circuit but there isn't actually much of note to see. I think a day in Mandalay proper would be more atmospheric.

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

I hope in some small way our visit was of benefit to the local people. Obviously there is an increased employment dividend from the growth in tourism. But the people of Myanmar are also hungry for ideas and conversation from the outside world, unmediated by Big Brother. I hope that many small interactions are beneficial in informing the people of Myanmar, not only of concepts and trends from the wider world but that people stand in solidarity with them.

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

It was a privilege and a delight to go to Myanmar and meet some of its people at this time of hope and change.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for the many useful comments and observations and we are glad that our itinerary was able to provide an insight into Burma and its people and so many highlights. We do spend a lot of time considering itineraries and take time and trouble to ensure that we are at the best places at the best times of day and that journeys become an integral part of the tour and not just a means of getting from a to b. Sorry that the food was a bit of a disappointment but we tend to stick to local food and that does mean many dishes based on rice. Glad the drink made up for it. Burma is indeed a fascinating destination.

review 17 Dec 2013

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

Pyin U Lwin Hill Station visit. Friendliness of the people.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take fewer clothes as no opportunity to change for dinner! Take Immodium

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

Yes in that we used locally owned restaurants and hotels

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

Superb tour leader Brett Jones helped make it more enjoyable.

review 19 Jun 2013

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

The traffic seems to be the story we relate most often. Although traffic operates on the right, our bus had the steering wheel on the right also, so an assistant stood near the door on the left, helping the driver to see to the left. In order to turn into our "farewell dinner" restaurant, we managed a full U-turn across four lanes during the evening rush hour traffic--quite exciting, and afterwards, had to cross the same lanes again in order to get to our hotel.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

There were no mosquitoes except indoors at the Yangon airport. Be careful of your stomach. You will see temple after temple after temple. Tips were not centralized by our guide; each traveler/couple tipped individually; it became annoyingly a constant of this trip.

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

Because of the heat, travelers must drink, and the plastic water bottles are a problem already, as litter on the side of the road. This will have to be addressed. Local people like the pony ride operators benefited with the tips, some market vendors had a couple of other sales. Restauranteurs and waiters certainly benefited because we never missed a meal.

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

I'll email you a few more of the particulars; for this space, suffice it to say that our local guides (there were four of them)appeared new to the profession, talked too fast/too much/repeated information. Because the trip was scheduled to end with a late afternoon departure, we decided to spend an extra night and depart the following midnight. We tried to arrange a tour of bamboo wall manufacturing shops with the driver who had first picked us up from the airport. Our local guide, although she said the company charged an extra $55 for it, was unable to understand/describe what we wanted, and when the driver appeared, his first suggestion for our tour was the Reclining Buddha to which we replied "no more Buddhas." It was obvious he was confused about what we had paid for, so he called the local guide and let me try again to explain what we wanted to do. She informed me then, not before, that these bamboo wall manufacturing shops were not in the city. However, our driver was actually able to locate one who gave us a demonstration of how the round bamboo stalks are turned into walls. At that point, we gave up on the tour for that afternoon and asked to be taken to the airport which was only 5 minutes away. Unfortunately, we waited from about 2:30 PM until 9:00 PM for our airline to open its counter and finally, at about 9:30 PM, we were able to order a little food from the cafe.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your feedback - we are sorry to hear that you were disappointed in your experience of Burma earlier this year. If you have any specific points you would like us to address, please contact us direct. It is always regrettable if any concerns are not raised with the tour leader during the tour as they can usually be resolved before the tour ends. We only use experienced guides and I am sure a quick word with them from the tour leader could have addressed the issues of them speaking too fast or too much. A couple of quick points concerning transport as the safety of those who travel with us is paramount. Obviously tourism in Burma is relatively new with the NDL only lifting their boycott in 2010 and the 30 year old international embargo on trading with Burma is still in place for many goods and services. Transport is one of the things which was affected by the embargo and therefore is in short supply. The country does not currently have facilities to make or assemble minibuses and so any newer ones tend to come across the border from Thailand (where they drive on the left). Currently over 50% of minibuses in Burma are right hand drive. We have not had this commented on before, but perhaps in SE Asia and Europe we are more accustomed to steering wheels being on the “wrong” side from time to time than in the US. All minibuses we use do have an assistant – they are not there to direct the driver who would be experienced in driving in Yangon traffic – but to assist passengers, hand out water, ensure there is a step to alight from the vehicle in safety etc. Regrettably concerning the bulk of point 4, we are unable to make any useful comments on the problems which occurred after the tour had ended. We offer a number of interesting extensions and during the tour, our tour leaders are always ready to assist people extending their stay either in the country of the tour, or in the wider South East Asia region.

review 26 Nov 2012

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

The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is overwhelming -- truly awe-some. Two days of jaunting about on Inle Lake was a wonderful experience ... such beauty, so much that is interesting. So much to learn about Southeast Asia -- Buddhism, ancient and modern history.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't be intimidated by what you might read about Myanmar not being ready for tourists. We experienced none of the challenges, for instance, about currency. Indeed, it is reported that there will be ATMs within three months. Hotels and restaurants were fine. Transportation worked well. The local tour company gave excellent service. One note about the itinerary: the boat-trip down the Ayeyarawady River from Mandalay to Bagan was a bit of a wasted day -- glad we had books to read. We have a couple of significant criticisms of the tour agency. We commend them on the overall plan and structure of the tour. However, we found service from the London office to be somewhat unresponsive -- delays, and recurrent need for clarification. Secondly, the guide who accompanied the tour appeared simply to be along for the ride: he knew next-to-nothing about Myanmar, was sloppy, and provided absolutely no service that we could see. By contrast, the local guides (four different segments of the trip) were superb.

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

Virtually all our spending clearly went directly into local hands -- whether for the touring (transport, guiding, etc.) or for purchases of goods and services. Not so clear about contributing to eco-aspects.

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

With the qualifier about the services of operator, it was great! We saw so many 'exotic' sights; we learned so much; we met such wonderful people.

Read the operator's response here:

We are delighted that Mr and Mrs Thomson had such a good experience in Burma and so pleased that they enjoyed our itinerary of this fascinating and beautiful country and that they would recommend this tour. I am sorry that they did not feel that they received the personal attention that we pride ourselves on in our UK office, sometimes the time differences between Canada, the UK and SE Asia can lead to delays in replies to emails and we apologies if this was the case for these customers. We take a lot of effort and time in selecting local agents with whom to work. It is important that those we work with share our ethos and wishes with regards to the tours benefitting local communities as much as is possible. We appreciate the comments that the local guides in Burma are first rate. The aim of the tour leader is to ensure the smooth running of the tour whilst the local guides supply local and specific knowledge in each of the destinations we visit.

review 30 Aug 2012

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

My most memorable part of this holiday was touring on the Famous Inle Lake. The weather was beautiful, and as we travelled across the water the surrounding hills came into being as the sun warmed the waters and the mist rose. Watching the activity on the lake was both moving and curious, the extraordinary rowing techniques of the fishermen was a performance to behold; the beautiful wooden housing for the weaving factories with the clack clack sounds as the shuttles were shot across their looms; the ingenious and beautiful floating gardens; and the bustling and hustling five day market.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared for long bus journeys at the beginning of the tour, as the places are far apart, but well worth the journey, and is better than flying as you get to see many parts of the countryside. The second half of the tour, the pace slows and the distances shorten - from Bagan to the Shan Province is the most spectacular journey. Take the opportunity to talk to as many people as you can.

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

I do feel that this tour benefitted local people, those in the group all engaged with the local people and spent money with them and on the wares they had to sell, though at times, many of us found the selling techniques a little forward. That most of the journeys were by road possibly reduces the carbon footprint, it certainly enhanced our knowledge and awareness of the landscape of the country, in a way flying would not have done. All our tour guides were from the local areas that we visited so spread the income across many people and the hotels and restaurants where we stayed and ate, as far as I know, were all non government ones. The food was locally produced - one of the main positives of the trip was experiencing the local foods of each province we were in.

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

This is the first group holiday that I have ever been on and I thought this holiday was absolutely fabulous, it was good value for money, informative, all the guides that were employed really understood their job, and kept us very informed about so many aspects of the history and culture of the Country. We were very well looked after by the Company Guide also, who made great and determined efforts to ensure our well being, and all our needs and reasonable requests were met, which made for a very happy group dynamic.

review 15 Aug 2012

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

Watching the sun rise over the plain of pagodas in Bagan. Visiting the teak monasteries at Ava (by pony-trap) and Mandalay. Discovering a whole eco-system living on and around Inle Lake. The friendliness and kindness of the people of Myanmar. The openness with which many people expressed their support for the National League for Democracy and their desire for change. After the tour was over, most memorable was visiting the NLD offices in Yangon - a hive of activity and hope.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Make sure that you are well informed about the political situation before you go - we could have been given more of a briefing from the tour leader about the history and sensibilities of the country. On the whole, the meals were excellent and it was great that so many were included in the price - but be prepared for some meals in very 'authentic' Burmese restaurants.

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

This is very difficult to assess as, even though some effort was made to use non-government owned hotels, we could not help suspecting that people who were wealthy enough to own these hotels must have had some government links. We hope that we managed to spread some money around to local people through tips to waiters, local guides, coach drivers, etc. There must clearly be a concern about what the impact of the inevitable increase in tourism will be - Inle Lake is already suffering from the high volume of motorised boat traffic and growth of consumerism is already evident. People we spoke to (self- selecting as they were English-speakers) seemed keen to have more contact with West and less with China. This tour uses fewer flights than most Myanmar tours, but inevitably use of long-haul and internal flights will have negative environmental impact and we would only envisage going on a trip of this type very occasionally.

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

It was a wonderful holiday. It was well organised by the tour operator to give a slightly alternative introduction to the country. Tour Leader was very helpful and good natured - it would have been useful if she had had a bit more knowledge of the country (though I appreciate that this is a relatively new tour) - local guides were there to give local knowledge. It was a pity that the boat trip down the Ayerwaddy didn't happen (boat was cancelled owing to lack of demand in August), but there was a genuine attempt to compensate for this by organising a boat trip to Mingun and a tour of Bagan. It would have been good to have had an extra day in Bagan. The trip up to Pyin U Lwin (Maymyo) was the least successful day of the tour and we could certainly have lived without it. Hotels in Bagan and Mandalay were good. I'd have preferred hotels on edge of town with a bit more space around them in Kalaw and Nyaungshwe. I'd happily recommend this trip to others.

review 12 Feb 2012

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

The most memorable part was to meet the friendly Burmese people in the street and talk with them. Shwedagon pagoda and Inle lake were highlights as well.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Mix with the locals and talk to them. Try the food - Shan, Burmese, Chinese or Indian - it is wonderful. Be in Shwedagon pagoda at sunset-it is magical.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, i did. We were in small hotels and ate local food.

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

Excellent, one of the best we have done.

Read the operator's response here:

We would like to thank Ehud for his comments. The decision to run tours in Burma was not an easy one and we are delighted that on this, our first tour Ehud felt that the holiday benefited local people.

Holiday Reviews

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays. In addition, we don't run these holidays ourselves - our only interest is giving you the best independent advice.

Read our review policy

Convert currencies