tourist surge in Burma?
Replies: 35 - Last Post: Jul 26, 2012 1:50 AM Last Post By: nijkerk
Jul 12, 2012 7:24 AM
tourist surge in Burma?Hi All
Been meaning to go to Burma for the past few years, never got round to it. Might be able to this Xmas for two weeks.
Has all the interest in Burma in the past few months led to a surge in tourism that it is struggling to manage? I know it's not high season yet. I've noticed quite a few big articles on it in travel mags etc.
Not that I'm a snob trying to avoid other travellers (well, not much), I just don't want to find it jam packed and that the local infrastructure - guest houses, flights etc hasn't caught up with demand yet. Xmas will be peak season of course.
Anyone who was there high season 2011/12 grateful to hear your thoughts.
Jul 12, 2012 8:22 AM
1October -November last year 2011 was the busiest I have ever seen Burma, everywhere was booked out and when I went to Inle lake during the balloon festival, it was so crowded that I saw people housed on mattresses in broom cupboards and sheds Ha! Ha! however I still managed to get a $5 B&B room, since then its been going a lot crazier and even more expensive as my $4 room went up to $8 and now they are even more. so have a great time
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Jul 12, 2012 9:21 AM
2Cheers MMan, very interesting. Seems I'm too late to the party!
It's only going to be even worse this year isn't it.
I only asked because I saw on someone's recent trip report that the cheapest room they could find was US$8 and I thought hang on a minute.
What to do? Sounds like booking ahead is a must.
I'm interested in going (last went in 1994 when I slipped over the border from China for a few hours!) but if it's going to be a daily fight for rooms etc as often happens in busy places then I'm not so hot on it.
Might bring my tent...
Jul 12, 2012 9:38 AM
Jul 12, 2012 11:05 AM
4I was in Burma in Nov 2009 and again in Nov/Dec 2011. The difference was amazing. It was a busy high season in 2009, but in 2011 the place was swamped. Every room was booked, and I heard stories of people sleeping on tables in tea shops. At the beginning of 2012, rooms prices began to escalate, doubling and sometimes tripling.
While I am gald I went when I did, remember that the number of visitors to Myanmar is miniscule in comparison to the number of visitors to Thailand, VN. The problem is the infrastructure. The country just doesn't have the infrastructure to handle the number of visitors now arriving.
In 2011 in Bagan, we were visiting lesser-known temples and monasteries, and I think we ran into maybe half a dozen people total at the places we were visitng. The "popular" temples, of course were more crowded, but you can still have whole temples to yourself there.
Book ahead and there won't be a daily fight for rooms. You will be paying more than you are perhaps accustomed to, but I think Burma is well worth it.
Jul 12, 2012 12:02 PM
5Not happy to say it but Myanmar´s best days are over... Its on its way to become another mass-tourist destination. Right now the tourist numbers are still OK but the constant fight to find rooms, plane tickets, even bus/train tickets is not a fun way to travel. Especially as its sometimes difficult to make reservations and more and more places demand some kind of payment in advance.
Also the different kinds of tourists going to Myanmar are getting worse... The people I met in Yangon earlier this year seemed to had only one thing on their mind: buy ASSK t-shirts and merchanidse ASAP and feel terribly cool because of beeing such a rebellious freedom fighter.
Also: Prices are a complete joke nowadays, hotel rooms are much more expensive then in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, India, etc.
Also all these "reforms" that the international community is raving about dont have any positive influence on tourists. Half the country is still off-limits, you still have to stay in licenced GH´s and Hotels and the immigration procedures when travelling around are still the same.
To make it short: as a tourist destination Myanmar has lost a lot of what made it a great place to travel. Considering that this tourist boom has only started last year I dont even know what a terrible mess Myanmar is going to be in 2015 or 2020.
Its a shame reallly...Especially because the people of Myanmar who are quite euphoric now are in for a terrible awakening when they realise that not everything is going to be as good as they think
Jul 12, 2012 4:34 PM
6I went last year and again this year and tourist numbers had increased considerably. As I travel a bit more up-market, most of the hotels were not too crowded in most places, I was the only guest in Kalaw for example.
As far as I am concerned there are also plus sides to the development of the infrastructure: I came to Vietnam when there were not many tourists. Whilst some might argue those were the "best days", it also meant crappy accommodation, lousy food, and difficult travel. I am going back to Myanmar later this year, but as I will do a river cruise, I doubt I will come across many of the kind of tourists Martin mentions.....
Jul 12, 2012 6:09 PM
Jul 12, 2012 6:44 PM
Jul 12, 2012 9:10 PM
Jul 12, 2012 9:24 PM
10I know of people trying to book accom. at Ngapali for Xmas being told that everywhere is already booked ! many tour operators do block bookings early and try to fill them as time approaches.Xmas ,new year is the busiest time...many Burmese also take their holidays then and Burmese expats come home...The no of tourists is still a trickle compared to ,say. Thailand but not enough accom. More " adventurous" small tour groups or independent travellers will ,for exampke , visit a place like Hpa an in the south....you only need a coupla dozen tourists to arrive and the place is booked out... i had no problems last Jan. and spent time in places where you didnt see tourists all day and good accom. whats needed is for more and more people to say its too crowded/ expensive and to go somewhere else !
Jul 13, 2012 3:33 AM
Jul 13, 2012 4:43 AM
12Was considering a trip to Burma . next year, but considering the massive increase in tourist I might leave it in favour of somewhere else. When I was travelling in SE Asia in 2008 I meant only a couple of travellers who had been to Burma, and they raved about the unique culture and lack of tourists. Its a shame those days are over for those of us who like to have real adventures.
Edited by: beyondfrontiers
Jul 13, 2012 4:51 AM
13For years everybody was glamoring for changes in Myanmar, now that they happen, people are not happy either. Oh, I forgot: I take the right to travel, but I don't want to see anyone else (as a guest seriously told me once.mthe same guest that told me things were so much better before in Sa Pa,mwhen the minorities still lived in bamboo shacks).
Jul 13, 2012 4:55 AM
14Yes its busy but thats mainly due to the lack of capacity to accommodate everyone. Compared to other SE Asian countries the number of tourists annually doesn't even compare. Agreed, its maybe not the adventure it once was (that'll change if the whole country ever opens up including land borders in the northern regions) but it will only get increasingly more touristy, so better go now than in a few years time when its changed beyond recognition.
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