That’s right folks, I fell victim to a scam in Yangon Myanmar. Luckily the scam didn’t rob me of my money, well too much of it that is, or any other valuables. I did however lose one of the most valuable things of all, time.
So what happened?
Scam at Dalah & Twante Ferry Dock
Dalah and Twante are great places to break away from the constant chaos of Yangon. Across the river visitors can get a small taste of the sights, smells, and sounds of everyday rural Myanmar life.
Getting to Dalah and Twante are easy. You just go to the Historic Strand Hotel in downtown Yangon, and then hop on the ferry to go across the river.
At the ferry dock is an authentic Chinese restaurant that serves delectable dishes. This is also where you pay the 4,000 kyat foreigner fee for the ferry ride across the river. It was here at the ferry dock where my friend Phil and I found trouble.
A young girl approached us and told us that she was a college student. She said she was studying English, and that to practice she gave tours of Dalah in her spare time.
She seemed really sweet and genuine when we were talking to.
I asked the lady how much her tour would cost, and what it would include.
She informed me that she was very knowledgeable about the area, and that once we were over on the other side, she would show me a list of places we could go and I could pick where I wanted to go.
She told me to name the price.
To be honest, I was starting to feel a little leery at this point, but having a professional background of a tour guide and an English teacher, I was genuinely interested in giving this girl an opportunity to practice her English, especially as a tour guide.
I told her we would pay 10,000 kyat. She seemed put-off by the low number, but she held it together and said that would be fine. It was clear that we weren’t willing to pay anymore without at least knowing what we would get.
As soon as we boarded the ferry to head to the other side though, her demeanor changed.
She went from the sweet college girl wanting to practice her English and provide a good service to foreign cultural enthusiasts to a dagger-eyed wheeler and dealer. She became extremely short and rude with her communications, and had a really negative attitude towards us.
For a moment I contemplated just paying her the 10,000 and telling her to leave us alone, but I was still unsure of the situation; maybe she just felt rushed and hot in the heat. So I held on for a bit longer.
Before Phil and I had crossed over to Dalah, I had asked a friend of mine who had been there already to tell me the prices she had paid for transportation. She quoted me at around 4,000 kyat for 30 minutes with the trishaw drivers.
But as soon as we were across the river, our guide began talking with the local trishaw and bike drivers, quoting us at these crazy prices of 6,000 and 8,000 kyat!
I told both of them that those prices were outrageous, and that I had been told the prices previously by a friend who had been there. Both the drivers and the guide seemed taken aback, but one thing became abundantly clear in that moment; our guide was setting the price with the transportation, and she was trying to take a cut.
I told the guide that we really wanted to see the famous snake temple. She quoted us at a ridiculous price of 20,000 kyat to head the 20 minutes over that way.
She also said that the snake temple closed at 5:00 PM, and that we would barely have enough time to go and enjoy the sights.
After haggling the price for way too long, we finally jumped on a trishaw and cycled off into the country.
The Dalah Tour, or Lack of…
As we cycled through the country, it was becoming more and more clear that our guide had no sightseeing spots picked out for us, and furthermore, that she knew virtually nothing about the area.
We stopped at a local temple, which was beautiful I must add, and our guide filled me in on some really insightful facts like, “this temple is green and gold.”
I half expected her to tell me that the temple was a place where Buddhists could meditate.
We continued cycling through the beautiful landscape, and I have to say, I did enjoy myself.
But like a bad omen, this faulty tour-guide just hung on our bike, playing on her cell phone, and every once in a while chiming in with semi-judgmental comments about Americans. It was exhausting, and I was tired of having the expensive tag-along and her negative chime-ins.
After cycling around and seeing a couple of different villages, we finally wound our way back to the ferry dock.
I still really wanted to see the Snake Temple. At this point, I tried to sneak away from our guide, and I approached a taxi driver on my own to ask what the price would be to go to the Snake Temple.
Just as the taxi driver was about the quote me a price, our guide came running over. The taxi driver saw her, and they immediately got into a sort of intense conversation. From there, our deceptive guide relayed that the taxi driver would not be able to take us.
At the end of the day, there wasn’t that much damage done. Phil and I got the pleasure of seeing a couple of really interesting villages, as well as some food shelters, and some nice country landscapes.
That being said, we basically forked out an extra 10,000 kyat to support this tag-along tour guide who knew very little about the area, made everything more expensive, and peppered our trip with prejudice snide remarks.
I’m confident that if we had gone to Dalah without the tour guide, our transportation costs would have been cheaper. I also feel that we definitely would have been able to make it to the Snake Temple.
So that’s it.
Should you still visit Dalah?
Absolutely! Go! It’s a really fun and easy day-trip from Yangon. Just be sure not to hire a guide at the ferry dock. You’re much better off just going across the river and hiring transportation. They will be able to take you everywhere you want to go, and you’ll still have a great experience.
I write this hoping to help others avoid the scam I fell into.
Oh, and by the way, check out these other amazing things to do in Yangon!
Happy Travels out there folks!