I will be travelling to Myanmar with two friends at the end of March.
We are wondering if it's necessary to pre-book domestic flights. We have only a week there, and plan to go to Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan. Your advice would be appreciated. Berb
If you have time to book flights, then I would recommend doing so in Bangkok. Many agents now sell tickets for Myanmar's domestic airlines and a number of airlines fly out of Yangon to major destinations like Bagan and Mandalay. They include Air Bagan, Myanmar Airways, Air Mandalay, Yangon Airways, Air KBZ and Asian Wings Airways.
Air Bagan has an official sale agent in Bangkok called TT Aviation, located at Silom’s ITF Tower. Another is Myanmar Center, which sells tickets for both Myanmar Airways and Air Bagan. The Air Mandalay website mentions a few agents in Bangkok with address and contact numbers, and two of them are located on Pan Road, just down the street from the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok. I am sure you can head to any of them to book tickets. Prices might be slightly higher than buying in Myanmar, but you will get peace of mind and a fixed travel plan before your departure. This is a good idea when you have such limited time to cover three major destinations.
It is also possible to book your tickets when you are in Yangon. Just do it on the first day you arrive at one of the many agents in downtown Yangon. Every hotel in the city also has a tour desk to assist you with flight booking. Just ask them when you check in to find you tickets. You can look at flight schedules on the airlines’ websites first, All the airlines mentioned above fly to both Bagan and Mandalay and there is not much difference if you book a direct flight or not. The majority of those airlines stop along the way at main destinations and some flying from Yangon to Mandalay, Bagan, Heho and Yangon, with just 10 minutes on the plane at each destination.
I would recommend flying to Bagan first, which gives you the option of the 10-hour boat ride or six-hour bus ride from Bagan to Mandalay. On the way back, you can even fly directly from Mandalay back to Bangkok. Have a great time!
I plan to go to Myanmar in April, and have heard that they celebrate the water festival just like in Thailand. Where's the best place in Myanmar to enjoy the festival? Thanks, Jill
Many Theravada Buddhist countries like Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar celebrate the New Year festival in April with water. In Thailand and Laos, it's known as Songkran, Chaul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia and Thingyan in Myanmar. The New Year traditional concept is similar, as water is used metaphorically to wash away bad lucks and sins.
Just like in Thailand, April is the hottest month in Myanmar, and the happiest time is during the four-day water festival. You can enjoy the festival in many big cities all over the country from Yangon to Mandalay, Mawlamying and many more. Temporary pandals (stalls) are built along the streets to entertain people with jets of water to play under. Some are set up for traditional group dances, others for comedy acts and other stage shows. People popularly drive through the city in open-top cars and trucks queuing before the pandals to get soaked and watch performances.
If you'd prefer to see the water festival set against a rural background without any of the trimmings, there are many small towns, which celebrate the tradition in a more meaningful way. Many people retreat to monasteries or meditation centres over the festival.
During the season, the padauk flowers are also blooming all over the country with their golden flowers a sign of Thingyan.
The longest celebration can be found at Shwesettaw Pagoda Festival at Mann Creek in Magwe Region, which is about 640 kilometres north of Yangon on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River. The festival starts now, runs for three months, and finishes on April 17 - New Year's Day.
If you want to see another unique festival along with the Thingyan, go to the Mount Popa Nat Festival near Bagan.It takes place from the night of the 13th waxing day of Tagu to noon of the 14th waxing day in April.
Hope this helps!