If you tour Myanmar or any other foreign country, you will unavoidably feel unfamiliar mostly due to the language or cultural barriers, even when the country is famous for friendliness and hospitability. Hiring an experienced tour guide will be the best way to break the barriers and maximize your experience and enjoyment in your trip. Here are useful tips for you to choose a great tour guide Myanmar.
Define a time-frame for your trip
Are you seeking a single-day tour in Bago, a 2-week “cross country” program or something in between? Define clearly the duration of your trip when reaching out to prospective guides. Make sure that you provide the specific dates for touring right at the outset so that candidates can check their availability.
Ask friends and colleagues for referrals
Personal recommendations are always and quickest way to select a tour guide Myanmar. Ask your relatives, friends, and colleagues who have experienced their Burma trip with a guide. However, do not rely totally on their personal evaluations as they may be too subjective. It’s better to check other references and information sources.
Do online research
A wealth of travel-related information is available on the Internet. You can ask questions on online travel forums, such as TripAdvisor. A great number of experts and experienced travelers are willing to give you free advice. In addition, Viator (tourguides.viator.com) is also a good source of information for your Myanmar travel. You can find all key points about tour guides such as their biography, experience, license and tour guide services. Besides, consider the reviews and rankings made by their former clients.
Work only with a licensed tour guide Myanmar
Although it’s prescribed by Myanmar law that an unlicensed tour guide in Myanmar could end up behind bars for three years, there are a lot of unlicensed tour guides due to the rapidly increasing number of travelers to Myanmar. Never hire illegal tour guides as their lack of training may result in severe consequences such as a landmine blast at Kyaukme, Shan State (2016), in which two foreign trekkers and a local guide were injured. Instead, you should work only with a tour guide licensed by Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. You can have confidence in licensed tour guides because they have to reapply their licenses every two years, which means their professional knowledge and skills are quite updated.
Be specific about the experience of the guide you’re looking for
Although licensed guides receive adequate education and training, it’s not synonymous with the fact that they comprehend every specific itinerary. As a result, make sure that the tour guide you are looking for is really experienced and knowledgeable about everything of your intended tours. For example, if you plan to visit the ancient city of Bagan, your prospective tour guide Myanmar must know exactly the most must-visit pagodas among thousands of ones here.
Determine the English proficiency of your guide
In general, Burmese people speak English quite well and obviously so do tour guides. However, sometimes a local accent can become an obstacle. If you feel there’s even a slight chance of this, make sure that you have a Skype conversation or phone with your potential tour guide in Myanmar before finalizing the deal.
Allow your guide the first stab at your itinerary
After you’ve shared your interests, time, budgetary constraints and even religious background (incase you are a Christian while Myanmar is a Buddhist country for example) with your guide, allow him/her to present a first draft of a touring itinerary. Use the draft as a basis for your continuing interaction with your prospective tour guide Myanmar for fine-tuning the itinerary until it meets your all demands.
Ask questions about the mode of transportation you’ll be using
If your tour involves a vehicle, ask about the type of transportation. Is the vehicle appropriately licensed and insured? How many seats? Will an SUV, a van or a minibus be used? Who will be doing the driving? Will you be paying for a vehicle on days you’ll be entirely on foot in Old Bagan? In addition, ask information and notes about some characteristic means of transportation in Myanmar such as tuk-tuk or carriage.
Clarify terms of payment and method of payment
A non-refundable deposit is typically required in order to book a guide’s time and allow him/her to draft a custom itinerary for you. How much is that deposit and how is it to be paid: cash, credit card, bank transfers or PayPal? Find out which are preferred by your tour guide in Myanmar. Make sure the guide clearly defines a payment schedule prior to your arrival in Myanmar and how much must be paid (typically in cash) at the conclusion of your Burma tours. Make sure you are aware of your guide’s cancellation policy in case it becomes necessary for you to cancel your trip.
In general, Myanmar tour guides are very helpful, friendly and enthusiastic. Remember the tips to choose the best for your tour Burma.