Qatar Airways offers flights from Washington Dulles to Rangoon, connecting through Doha. Korean Air flies to Rangoon but with a connection in Seoul. Air Mandalay flies from Rangoon to Thandwe, near Ngapali Beach.
Burma’s tourism infrastructure is still developing, so you might need some help securing lodging, arranging tours and booking internal transportation. I used Global Spectrum (800-419-4446, globalspectrumtravel.com) in Fairfax, which planned my week-long trip, including guides and private car to Golden Rock.
For the most part, the country does not accept credit cards. You’ll need to bring cash (anywhere from $500 to $1,000), preferably in crisp new bills. (The currency exchange booths may reject wrinkled bills.)
A visa is required ($20); apply at the Myanmar Embassy (2300 S St. NW, 202-332-3344, www.mewashingtondc.
com). Allow at least two weeks for processing.
Travel health experts suggest a typhoid shot and malaria pills, depending on your itinerary.
WHERE TO STAY
Yuzana Garden Hotel
44 Alan Pya Pagoda St., Rangoon
Nearly 40 spacious rooms (with air-conditioning) in a colonial building near the center of town. Restaurant, fitness center, outdoor pool, computers with WiFi and a very helpful staff. Buffet breakfast included. From $150.
Mountain Top Hotel
Near Golden Rock Pagoda, Kyaikto
Nearest hotel to Golden Rock. Some rooms require a steep climb, but are worth it for the view. On-site restaurant; breakfast included. From $100.
Thande Beach Hotel
Ngapali Beach, Thandwe
WHERE TO EAT
Angel Seafood Restaurant
Mya Bein Village, Ngapali
In a small fishing village near the row of hotels. Serves fresh fish and Burmese specialties, such as mixed seafood curry. Main dishes roughly $3 to $5.
17/A First St., West Shwegondaing, Rangoon
Local joint serves Burmese-style meat, fish and vegetable dishes buffet-style. About 50 cents for veggie dishes to $2.30 for meat selections.
WHAT TO DO
Ar Za Nir Street, Rangoon
Covered in gold leaf and studded with jewels, this is Burma’s top Buddhist pilgrimage site. Two museums on property. Best to visit at sunrise and sunset. Daily 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., $5.
Kyaikto, Mon State
Trucks transport visitors from $1.75 one way. You can ride to the top or hike the last section. Access to Golden Rock is always open. $6.
Ngapali Art Gallery
Lin Thar Village, Ngapali Beach
Peruse the paintings and chat up the artist.