Myanmar (Burma) tours for seniors.
Having ended over fifty years of military dictatorship, Myanmar has opened up to the outside world, revealing a nation defined by friendly locals, cultural diversity, and a landscape dotted by stunning Buddhist architecture.
The Shwedagon Paya, in elegant colonial Yangon, is one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites, an immense golden stupa adorned with 27 metric tons of gold leaf. Another highlight is Yangon Mandalay, Myanmar’s last royal city. Travel by boat on the Ayeyarwady River (Irrawaddy River) to visit Mingun, the famous Shwenandaw Monastery, and the Mahamuni and Kuthodaw Pagodas.
Today, the Ayeyarwady River remains a key transport and communication highway for the people of Myanmar. Take a boat trip down from Mandalay to Bagan along the mighty river to Myanmar’s ancient capital, Bagan. The old capital is a forty-two-kilometre zone home to exquisite Buddhist temples and stupas. Spend some time to wander and explore the temples of Bagan, composed of some 3,500 ancient pagodas and Buddhist monuments that contribute to this UNESCO world heritage site. Regarded by many as one of Asia’s premier archaeological sites, a visit to Bagan will truly be a memorable experience.
Though parts of Myanmar remain closed to visitors due to ongoing conflict, the main sites are safe to visit – and responsible tourism is proving vital to getting this long-troubled nation back on its feet.
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. In Myanmar, public buses can usually be relied upon in large cities, but in the smaller villages, transport tends to be via motorbike taxis or tuk tuks (rickshaws). Trains, where available, are relatively frequent but they are old and the conditions can be poor. It is not always possible to plan transport in advance.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Health & Safety
As of writing, smarttraveller.gov recommends a high degree of caution while travelling to Myanmar. It’s always best to check the latest details before setting out on a trip. Certain parts of Myanmar should be avoided for the time being, particularly near the border with Bangladesh. There are risks associated with specific areas, and it is important to take these into consideration when planning your trip. But countries like Myanmar rely heavily on tourism, and refusing travel can be detrimental to a struggling economy. Stay apprised of government recommendations for Myanmar in order to be best prepared for your trip.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. Myanmar uses plugs in types C, D, F and G, and electricity runs at 230V/50Hz.
MMT, Myanmar’s time zone, is UTC + 6.3 hours. Myanmar has a single time zone, Central European Time. The nation does not observe Daylight Savings Time.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping. So when you’re with the group you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you make sure you tip an appropriate amount for services, as is the case throughout much of Asia. While tips are not usually expected in Myanmar, many of the locals are on very low wages, so your generosity can go a long way. It’s especially appreciated if you tip porters, drivers, and cleaning staff.
It’s complicated. In 1989, the ruling military junta changed the name from Burma to Myanmar. The move was portrayed as anti-colonial, as the country had been commonly known as Burma during the period of British rule, and as anti-Burman ethnic supremacy (because of the obvious similarity between Burman and Burma). Following the change, what name you used took on a political weight – with opponents of the regime and sympathetic nations such as the US and UK continuing to use the term Burma.
Since the end of the regime, however, the term Myanmar has entered everyday use. After all, ‘Burma’ and ‘Myanmar’ shared a common root and meaning. Though they look very different in English, in Burmese they are pronounced almost the same way. Native speakers use both words: Myanmar is the formal, literary form, and Burma an everyday term.
If you visit Myanmar, don’t worry about it too much – whatever term you use, it isn’t going to offend anyone!
Yes. However, heed the Australian government advice to “exercise a high degree of caution”. Do not travel to areas bordering with Bangladesh and other townships listed due to armed conflict, and reconsider your need to travel to some border areas listed. Odyssey Traveller follows government travel advice and our tours in Myanmar do not venture into these areas.
Many of the most interesting and culturally rich areas of Myanmar have been marked as safe to travel to, including Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Nay Pyi Taw and Inle Lake.
Responsible travel tips for Myanmar
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although many locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums and galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of Burmese kyat in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.
About Odyssey Traveller
We specialise in educational small group tours for seniors, typically groups between six to 12 people from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Britain. Our maximum number of people on a tour is 18 mature aged travellers.We have some 150 tours and offer 300 scheduled departures on offer each year. Odyssey has been offering this style of adventure and educational programs since 1983.
Odyssey Traveller is committed to charitable activities that support the environment and cultural development of Australian and New Zealand communities.
Odyssey Traveller scholarship for Australia & New Zealand University students.
We are also pleased to announce that since 2012, Odyssey has been awarding $10,000 Equity & Merit Cash Scholarships each year. We award scholarships on the basis of academic performance and demonstrated financial need. We award at least one scholarship per year. We’re supported through our educational travel programs, and your participation helps Odyssey achieve its goals. Students can apply for the scholarship by clicking on this link to find out more details.
Join our loyalty program when you join an international small group tour.
Every International small group tour taken typically contributes to your membership level in our Loyalty Program for regular travellers. Membership of the alumni starts when you choose to take your first international small group tour with Odyssey Traveller, discounts in tour pricing for direct bookings accrue from your third tour with Odyssey Traveller. To see the discounts and benefits of being a Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Diamond alumni member with us, please see this page.
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