Luxury travel: packaged or custom tour – what to choose
- There are lots of tour packages in Myanmar to choose from.
- A typical tour takes you to the major destinations in Burma.
- You don’t have to worry about arranging a visa, domestic flights, or getting from one place to the next.
- Travelling is very convenient and you’re certain to see all the major attractions.
- Small group tours to Myanmar lack the flexibility to explore some of the lesser-known attractions.
- There are time restrictions at each destination.
- You may not stay in the most luxurious hotels in Myanmar.
- Tours may be subject to a minimum number of tourists.
Overall, a packaged tour is suitable to visit all the major attractions. But you don’t have flexibility and may be faced with strict time limits.
Now, what if the situation like with custom tours in Myanmar?
- The biggest advantage is the increased flexibility. You can choose where you want to go and what you want to see.
- More opportunities to get off the beaten track and have an intimate cultural experience.
- More communication between you and your guide during the planning, which means you’re more likely to visit places that interest you.
- You have more flexibility of where to stay and the daily itinerary.
A custom tour will always be more expensive.
You probably won’t be with other people on the same tour as you. Some people like to make new friends when they travel.
Planning and arranging the trip may take more time and prior communication on your behalf.
You can’t just pay and turn up, like when you take a packaged tour.
In short, a custom tour is a great way to have the flexibility to see more of the country. But it comes at a price both financially and in terms of your time to help arrange the itinerary.
Top itineraries for luxury travel in Burma
This section looks at some of the best destinations in Myanmar to enjoy luxury. Expect to find five-star facilities in your hotel or resort with some being more aimed towards spa treatment and relaxation.
Yangon is always on the list of destinations for luxury travel to Myanmar. Large chain hotels are around the city and you can find everything from having a budget up to five-star treatment. Your hotel can also arrange private tours around the city and day trips to nearby attractions.
This is one of the favourite places to enjoy a luxury holiday in Burma. You can spend your time relaxing at one of the top resorts whilst overlooking the never-ending stretch of ancient temples. This is a perfect place to come for a few days of recuperation in one of the most mystical places in the country. One of the best things to do here is to take a hot air balloon in the morning to see the temples from above. You can also take traditional river boat cruises and experience the local way of life in various workshops in New Bagan.
Mandalay is a great place to splurge in Myanmar. There are lots of high-end hotels around the city that provides top class treatment. You can also arrange a day tour with a private driver in an air-conditioned car to take you around the four ancient capitals.
This destination is a perfect place for relaxation. You can spend a few days in the hotel or resort to recuperate from travelling around Myanmar. There are a number of places to choose from ranging from lake-side villas to rooms in chain hotels.
Kyaikhtiyo, in Mon State, is the site of one of the most iconic attractions in Myanmar: The Golden Rock Pagoda. This seemingly balanced pagoda on top of a hill is a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists. You can find a few luxury hotels in this part of the country and private guides are easy to find.
If you’re looking for a vacation on some of the best tropical islands in the world, the Mergui archipelago off the southern coast may be perfect for you. There are hundreds of islands that each have their own beautiful beaches and coral reefs. You can really splurge here to get some of the best accommodation that Myanmar has to offer. This is one of the more secluded places for luxury that you usually won’t find on the top itineraries in Myanmar.
- Ngapali Beach in Rakhine State
This stretch of beach is one of the most beautiful and pristine destinations in all of Myanmar. You can find a few resorts with top-class facilities such as a spa and outdoor pools overlooking the Indian Ocean. A quick point about Rakhine State: Most of the region is off-limits to foreigners due to ongoing conflicts. But, the airport and road connecting it to Ngapali Beach are always open. If you come here, you’ll be staying at the resort for most of your time and won’t have the chance to venture out.
The best luxury hotels in Myanmar
The Strand Hotel Yangon
Kandawgyi Palace Hotel
The Kandawgyi Palace Hotel used to be number 1 in the luxury hotels list of Burma for years, but on October 19, 2017, it completely burned down. It is indeed a great loss as not only it was a super luxury 5-star property but also occupied a historic building. Built in 1979, the hotel features 195 rooms and 10 bungalows, added later, all decorated with golden teak wood.
The Rose Garden Hotel
The Rose Garden Hotel has a large garden, which guests can see from their balcony and an outdoor swimming pool. You can take advantage of their airport shuttle service and private drivers to see the local attractions.
- The Strand Hotel
The Strand Hotel is one of the best preserved colonial buildings in Central Yangon that’s housed in a Victorian building. Rooms and suites are very spacious with world-class amenities. This includes a 24-hour butler service, traditional Burmese massages, and world-class dining. Expect to pay more than $300 per night for one of the suites at the Strand Hotel.
Bagan Hotel River View
The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate
This hotel is located in the historical part of Old Bagan and boasts a number of rooms and facilities. You can relax around the pool or enjoy their spa and wellness centre. All the rooms have both a bath and shower. A night at The Hotel starts at USD110.
The Bagan Lodge is a series of cabins set in a traditional Burmese garden. Guest have their own cabin and the lodge has a large outdoor swimming pool and spa. This is a great place to relax for a few days whilst exploring the ancient temples. Prices start at around USD120 per night.
- Bagan Hotel River View
This hotel has lots of spacious rooms designed in a traditional style of Burmese architecture that overlooks the river. Large gardens surround the building, which gives it a special air of character. You can get a room at the Bagan Hotel River View for USD100 per night.
The Rural Mandalar Resort
The Hotel by the Red Canal
This hotel is housed in a traditional building and has a beautiful outdoor area. You can enjoy a range of international cuisines and get the ultimate luxurious treatment here. The hotel is a short distance from both Mandalay Palace and Mandalay Hill making it convenient for sightseeing. Nightly prices start at USD130.
The Rupar Mandalar Resort
The resort is a little out of Mandalay but is one of the best accommodation the city has to offer. Rooms are fully-equipped with everything a leisure traveller needs whilst having a beautiful outdoor area around the pool. You can also take advantage of the spa and massage services. A night at the Rupar Mandalar is USD130.
- Mandalay Hill Resort
The Mandalay Hill Resort is arguably the best top end hotel in the city. Amenities include a spa, gym, tennis courts and a large outdoor swimming pool. All the rooms have a private balcony that overlooks the gardens along with a bathtub and shower. You can also see traditional dances during the peak season between October and March that are held inside the hotel. Expect to pay at least USD150 per night.
Aureum Palace Inle Lake
The Aureum Palace is a five-star resort on the eastern part of Inle Lake. Each room is spacious and has a private balcony overlooking the lake itself. There’s a pool along with a spa and gym as well as the chance to sing karaoke and go to an onsite nightclub. Rooms start at USD140 per night.
Pristine Lotus Spa Resort
The resort attracts tourists from all over the world who come here to relax. You can find a large spa and a wellness centre along with your own private balcony and access to a gym. This is a perfect place to unwind amongst the natural beauty of Inle Lake. Nightly prices start at USD110.
- Sanctum Inle Resort
This beautiful resort is in a prime location and offers spacious rooms. Visitors consistently give this five-star reviews and it also provides free bicycle hire and can arrange a tour guide. One night at Sanctum will cost at least USD150.
Myanmar luxury travel cost per day – How much to budget
Luxury travel in Burma remains relatively affordable for what you get for your money. A guided or custom tour that includes all accommodation, transport and meals will cost at least USD200 per day. Some may be much higher depending on where you stay. The daily budget for Myanmar (excluding accommodation) should be less than USD100 per day to include excursions, souvenirs and food and drink.
The bottom line
Myanmar is an affordable place to have a luxurious vacation. Guided tours tend to be good value for money where you can expect to get a very high standard for your money. This is a perfect place to combine the traditional, the exotic and getting the deluxe experience you deserve.