Mark Griffith, his wife Stacey, and their kids Sofi (12) and Miles (8), as well as Austin Sheppard, his wife Lesley, and their kids Eli (7) and Finn (5).
The two families spent ten days in Myanmar during the Spring Festival holiday. They flew from Kunming to Yangon and traveled to Bagan, Inle Lake, and Ngapali. They paid for tickets to Yangon with a Chinese travel agent, then used a local Burmese agent to arrange hotels and flights at each destination.
Flights via China Air from Kunming to Yangon cost RMB 5,606 per adult and RMB 4,366 per child. Domestic flights to Bagan, Heho (Inle Lake), Ngapali, and back to Yangon worked out to about USD 358 per adult and USD 294 per child.
The travelers stayed at four hotels in Myanmar: Kandawgy Palace, Amazing Bagan, Inle Princess Resort, and Amata Resort. In each hotel, they paid for a room with a double bed and had a cot brought in for the kids. Accommodations for the trip in total were around USD 642 for a family of four.
Food in the hotels can be very expensive (around USD 65 for a family of four), but local restaurants across the street were much more affordable (around USD 18 for a family of four). Shopping in Myanmar is very expensive; products like lacquerware can cost even more.
The Best Part
Visiting Myanmar is akin to traveling through time; one moment it feels like you’re in the 1940s with vintage buses rattling and belching around you, and the next you’re in a British colony marveling at the once stately manors and the occasional Wolesley car gliding through the palm-lined street. Elsewhere, you might pass farms being plowed by oxen in front of 1,000-year-old temples.
Both families enjoyed Bagan. Eli and Finn were thrilled to explore the temples in the area, many of which have secret passageways, secluded nooks, and narrow, steep stairs that empty onto verandas. From there, you can get stunning views of the Bagan plains. In the process, the travelers got an active lesson in history and religions like Buddhism and Hinduism.
The Worst Part
There are no ATM machines in Myanmar. The Griffiths weren’t aware of this, so they didn’t take enough cash for the trip. In addition, the Sheppards got food poisoning and ended up delaying their flight home. Although they took precautions, the entire family spent several days feeling miserable. Lesley and Austin took turns shuttling around a healthy child while the other parent stayed home with a sick child.
There were many unexpected moments, both big and small. On Inle Lake, the families barreled up a tributary on a long boat to the village of Indein. After rounding a corner, they came face to face with three water buffalo plowing the rice fields. They learned that Burmese children will stand on the animals’ backs and jump into the water. Another curiosity was the swimming cats of Inle Lake. The families were paddling through a village when they heard a meow. They saw a cat jump into the water and happily swim to the other side of the canal.
Bagan and Ngapali Beach were the most family-friendly destinations. Both the city and the hotel in Bagan had plenty of room to run. The kids climbed all over the stupas in the area and loved taking boat rides around Inle Lake. The owner of the Inle Princess Resort is French, and served the best hot chocolate and croissants.
On Ngapali Beach, the waves weren’t too high, the water temperature was perfect, and the beach was a great place to run and do cartwheels. The seafood at Ngapali was fresh and cheap; a whole red snapper could be grilled for USD 4.50 and crab for USD 4. English is spoken by hotel staff and tour guides. Burmese food isn’t very kid-friendly – it can be quite oily – but the “Westernized” creamy curry was good.