Frequently Asked Questions
We've put our heads together and come up with answers to some of the questions we frequently get asked about our tours and about travel in Burma. We have divided this section into three areas according to the different kinds of holiday we offer: General FAQs, Small Group Tour FAQs, and Fully Tailored Journeys FAQs.
If your question is not answered below please give us a call or drop us an email.
Personal safety is not a major issue for foreign tourists to Burma, but a more troubling subject for many prospective travellers is whether their visit is ethical.
Although the situation is improving apace, Burma does have many ongoing problems, and many foreign visitors fear that their tourist dollar will end up supporting a corrupt and exploitative regime.
In the past, Burma's celebrated opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi urged tourists to boycott travel to Burma - but since 2011 her party has officially encouraged responsible tourism to the country, recognising it as a valuable tool for conservation, growth, and raising global awareness of Burmese issues.
Very few crimes are reported against tourists in Burma (Myanmar). Some of the states are off-limits and inaccessible to tourists due to factional unrest. No foreign nationals have ever been harmed in these conflicts.
When travelling abroad to any country, always exercise the same vigilance that you would at home. Plan your travel routes in advance and avoid taking unmarked paths. Don't leave your belongings unattended in crowded places. Taking a money belt and a camera strap are sensible precautions.
There is always the chance of changing conditions when travelling, but this is very rare in Burma (Myanmar).
If you need any further advice, our experienced travel consultants are on-hand and happy to help. With teams in the UK, US, Australia and Japan, there's always someone there to take your call. For official government travel guidelines, head to our Travel Advice page with the up to date information about security, local laws, passport and visa information.
InsideBurma is part of InsideAsia Tours, an independent team of travel specialists, founded in 2000. The company was set up to offer trips to Asia organised by those who know and love the region, at a price that needn't break the bank.
We have offices in Bristol (UK), Boulder (USA), Brisbane (Australia) and Nagoya (Japan). All of our UK staff have lived, worked and travelled in the region, and all of our local office staff across Asia are English speakers.
For more information about InsideBurma Tours and what we do, see our About Us section.
InsideBurma Tours is part of InsideAsia Tours Ltd, which is bonded with ABTOT for your financial protection and peace of mind. Under the terms of the bond, all monies paid to the company are secured in favour of ABTOT Trust Ltd. You can, therefore, rest assured that your money is safe.
InsideAsia Tours is also member of AITO, The Association of Independent Tour Operators. Established in 1976, the AITO symbol has become the hallmark of good holidays from specialist tour operators. All AITO companies are fully bonded and governed by AITO's independent dispute settlement service which means you are in safe hands when you book with an AITO member.
One of the conditions under which we accept bookings is that our clients take out travel insurance against medical and personal accident risks and have adequate baggage cover. You may like to consider the companies below for your cover.
Travelling from the UK:
Gold Cover Affiliates Travel Insurance. You can apply on line at: http://www.insidejapantours.goldcover.net/ or by telephone by calling 01892 559 530.
Travelling from the Rest of the World:
Insure My Trip. You can apply on line at: http://www.insuremytrip.com?linkID=6646.html
Of course, do feel free to use alternative insurers if you wish.
If you are travelling from the UK we would be delighted to arrange international flights for you. We can arrange flights from many locations in the UK to Burma, with most clients flying in to either Yangon or Mandalay via Bangkok. Direct flights from the UK do not currently exist, so we recommend using any one of a number of carriers including Thai Airways, EVA Air, BA and other airlines. A stopover in Bangkok is usually possible to arrange in either direction, should this be of interest.
If you would like international flights included please ask us for more details on the numerous options available. Flights can be arranged in economy class or a premium cabin if this is your preference. An economy class flight from the UK to Burma via Bangkok costs from around £700 per person.
International flights are not included as a standard part of our packages as we have clients coming to Burma from around the world and we like to give our clients the flexibility to make their own arrangements should this be your preference. Even if you wish to book your flights separately we are happy to provide advice about the best routes and prices.
For visitors holding UK, US or Australian passports you will need to ensure that you have arranged a visa in advance of travel to Burma.
For full details of requirements please refer to the Travel Tips section of the website.
Given the size and scale of Burma there is always somewhere you can visit comfortably at any time year. In general the rainy season lasts from May to September; and the dry season for the remainder of the year. Temperatures reach their peak just before the rains kick in. Have a look at the Travel Tips section for a little more detail.
Many of our trips include the support of either an expatriate tour leader, if you are joining a group tour, or an English-speaking local guide if travelling on a Fully Tailored Journey. These people are on hand to ensure the trip runs smoothly and you are able to communicate freely as you travel.
When visiting the more popular travel destinations in the region you will find many local people working in the tourist industry speak a decent level of English. Menus in some restaurants will have English translations, though we are firm believers in the universal language of pointing at something that looks tasty and smiling, if this is not the case!
In summary we will make sure that you are well supported and don't need to have studied the language to get by, but you can be sure that any efforts to learn and use a few words will be much appreciated by your hosts! Our pre-departure information packs will contain a handy language guide, and your guide and driver will enjoy teaching you a few key phrases if you are interested.
On our Small Group Tours you will be part of a group up to only 14 people and will travel around Burma with the full-time services of a tour leader. These trips have fixed start dates and depart throughout the year.
On a Fully Tailored Journey you will travel independently, not as part of a group and without a full time tour leader. We do usually include the security of time with a private guide and driver both for transfers to and from airport, and to help you make the most of your time in the destinations you visit. You can take a fully tailored journey at any time of year, around dates that suit you.
The Fully Tailored Journey itineraries you'll find on our website and in our brochures are intended to give you an idea of some popular routes, and to show how the logistics work. They are just suggestions though, and we are very happy to tailor-make an itinerary just for you, based on your thoughts and ideas and to suit the budget you've put aside for this trip.
If you have more questions relating to the kinds of trip we offer, have a look at our Fully Tailored Journey FAQs and Small Group Tour FAQs sections - or get in touch with us to find out a little more about what we can offer.
Until very recently the answer was a categorical (and in some ways refreshing) no, but things are developing fast in Burma and some foreign mobile companies now have network agreements in place that will allow their customers to make calls in Burma, if not to use the full range of data services. See the section in Travel Tips for the most up to date information.
Everybody spends a different amount when they travel, but Burma can be pleasantly inexpensive, and as eating out is very reasonable this helps keep costs down. As a rough guide we recommend USD 25-50 per person per day as a good amount to cover basic costs on a two week trip. This should cover your meals, a couple of drinks, local transport and any entrance fees. What this won't cover are significant souvenir purchases, or meals at the more upmarket hotels or restaurants.
Although there is little general culture of tipping in the region, it has increasingly become an expected part of life in tourist-related industries. In general no tip is expected at restaurants or in taxis, but it is generally accepted that those working in the tourist industry supplement their income through the tips they receive from their clients.