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A very short trip to Myanmar (Burma) help with what to see!

A very short trip to Myanmar (Burma) help with what to see!

Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 08:15 AM
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A very short trip to Myanmar (Burma) help with what to see!

Ok i have finally bitten the bullet and decided on where K and I are going for our long weekend when i go to see her in Singapore in August. So i contacted Santa Maria (i was lazy and didnt bother trying any others but i am short on time at the moment and because many people have used them on here i just went with them)
I realsie i could have done a lot of this independantly as we are only going for 5 days/4nights i want to pack a fair bit in, i have settled on the following:

Day 1-Arrive Yangon - Stay at The Savoy -
Days 2-3 early a.m flight to Bagan - 2 nights here
Day 4 -late afternoon flight back to Yangon overnight at the Strand
Day 5-Late afternoon flight to Singapore.

All the hotels, flights and transfers are booked with SM and i have engaged tour guides on day 1 in Yangon and days 2 & 3 in Bagan (including a horse cart ride one afternoon)
The final morning (day 4) in Bagan i have elected to keep free (i had originally booked a trip to Mt Popa but wasn't sure to do this after reading Craig's report so have kept that as an option and the final night and morning i have kept free in Yangon to just wonder and do as we please, my point (and there is one) is what/when are the suggested must see's I should do with my guides in Yangon/Bagan. (i am gutted to note that we cannot do the Balloons over Bagan as it's the rainy season when we are going)
Thanks in advance for your advice
N
(Ps Neither K or I have been to Myanmar before - i realise it's a very short "taster" of Myanmar but if i love it, I am sure i will be back with Muffin at a later stage)
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 08:30 AM
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Smeagol, no need to fuss over this one; basically, your guide will take to it all in rapid succession. There's a pretty established circuit of must sees. You'll be rushing to get through them in the time available. The essence of Bagan is in the horse-cart, the essence of Yangon is in Shwedagon. Do more of both.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 08:33 AM
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You have done the right things. You really can't book much of anything on your own in Burma. Yes, you could book your hotels, but you pay more than you do though an agency. The one thing I would do differently would be to cancel your guides in Bagan and use my horsecart driver/guide there instead. But other than that one quibble, you've done fine.

I just finalized my booking with Santa Maria for November.

Remember you must have US$ for Burma. All bills must be crisp and clean. You'll need dollars to pay for your hotels, flights and all admission fees plus the exit fee. You'll want to exchange $100 for kyat to pay for taxis, small purchases, etc.

Where are you staying in Bagan?
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 08:35 AM
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Dogster is right. You don't want one afternoon in Bagan in a horsecart, you want all of your time touring there in a hosecart.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 08:43 AM
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Thanks Guys i guess i could change that as i have yet to send them my deposit. Kathie do you have the details of your horse cart man? the only reason i didn't book more time was i thought if it's super rainy we may welcome the car?
Did i do right in cancelling Mt Popa?

I also don't want to intinerise this to death but want to be sure i am covering off the good stuff (or at least a fraction of it, so Dogster i will do as you suggested!) i have the LP guide to Burma should i find i have time on my hands....
Super excited about going to Burma and because i have a few days in Singapore at the beginning with K and a few days solo in BKK at the end.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 08:54 AM
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My horsecart driver/guide is Min Thu and he drives horsecart #54, "The Right Choice" email him at [email protected] I've already reserved him for November. It will be relatively dry in Bagan.

I'd suggest that you re-read my trip report, particularly the first part on background and practical matters and the section on our visit to Shwedagon and the Bagan time.
www.fodors.com/community/asia/burma-at-last.cfm

You are wise to eliminate Mt. Popa, IMO. If you had lots more time there, then maybe, but what you want to do is to be out in the horsecart soaking up Bagan.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 09:15 AM
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And for Shwedagon, all you have to do is go with your guide late afternoon, [everybody does it that way] then send him/her home. STAY for sunset and after. Wander. Sit. Watch. The more you look the more you'll find. Visually, sunset and after is very, very fine. There are taxis outside to get you home. Easy.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 09:18 AM
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Thanks Dogster, i had already requested to SM that i go late afternoon as i had heard that sunset there is very atmospheric, so am glad to see you think its "very very fine" i will be sure to do just as you say!!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 10:07 AM
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I totally agree with the previous recommendations. Although getting around by car is necessary when coming and going from the airports or getting to Shwedagon, you don't want to be driven around for touring purposes. We got to Shwedagon around 3:00 last summer, and didn't want to tear ourselves away until long after it got dark maybe around 8:30?. Guides will approach you there if you are interested. We were happy with the young man that showed us around - I'm sure they all follow a similar routine. It cost about $5, if I recall. After a pretty thorough tour we stayed on and on.
And - Bagan with Min Thu is a very special treat. Santa Maria assigned us a taxi/guide, who was pretty annoying, although probably just trying to do his job. We only used him for the airport and to go to a laquerware place.
We stayed at The Savoy last July, too. It's nice, but they were painting since it was off season. The pool looked kind of green. We stayed at the Governor's Mansion on our way bak through Yangon. It's lovely, but it was also being painted and the pool was closed. Just prepare - I like travelling off season, because it's cheaper, less crowded, and much more practical for my personal schedule, but there are some inconveniences, too.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 10:13 AM
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Not too much that I can add, other than you'll be back with Muffin. We had the time to do Mt. Popa but I still felt it was a waste of a day. Personally, I would do a car some of the time (but not as much as we did) as some of the temples are rather far flung. Also, if you plan to stay at the Aureum Palace it is not in the center of things. Santa Maria can advise on the weather in Bagan which should help you decide how much time to spend on the horse cart.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 12:01 PM
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You don't need a guide to take you to Shwedagon. Indeed, I wouldn't use a guide at all in Yangon - no need. You can get a taxi to wherever you want to go. Take a taxi to Shwedagon and stay as long as you want.

I hope you aren't staing at Aureum... it's far from everything. You really want to be in Old Bagan. WHile there are temples that are far away, we spent three full days viewing temples via horsecart and didn't come close to seeing all of those within horsecart range.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 12:27 PM
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Kathie when you say it's far from everything is it very far from the temples? My understanding was it was very close? I have booked a guide to show us some of the sites in Yangon and finish at Shwedagon but not for when we return a few days later as I thought that night and the following day we could wander at leisure
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 12:37 PM
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The main group of temples in near Old Bagan. There are some temples in New Bagan, but not the concentration of the temples in Old Bagan. I understand why people who stay at the Aureum use a car and driver, it would be hard to see as much in a horsecart. But if you stay in Old Bagan (Tharbar Gate is very convenient), you are right there. The horsecarts line up at your door and you are in the midst of the temples in minutes. Dogster was the one who pointed that out to me when I was planning and he was so right.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 12:50 PM
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Thanks for the heads up Kathie, although I will probably stick with the Aureum as K and I deliberated over the hotels for ages ( the other one we looked at was the one you stayed at) Pook and Craig gave the Aureum great reviews ( and Craig and I seem to be on the same wave length when it comes to hotels) as it's only for 2 days, I'll suck it up if it's really not that great and stick with the driver/guide option, although i am going to contact SM To see if the can sort your cart driver for me for a day. Anyway I already think I am going to love Burma so can scope out hotels for my return.....
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 01:39 PM
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Don't contact Santa Maria for my horsecart driver/guide. If you want Min Thu, do contact him directly.

Pook and Craig did both give the Aureum good reviews. I was planning to stay there until I got the feedback from dogster and I discovered the Aureum was owned by Tay Za. That may not be an issue for you.

Have a wonderful time! If there is any other info I can help with, please let me know.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 01:41 PM
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Ok will do Kathie, I am sure I will be back asking more questions from all of you.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 01:46 PM
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Kathie see I am back with a question already, in your help with Bagan thread you and Dogster talk about Paulson book? What book is that?
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 02:18 PM
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Do you mean the Paul Strachan book? Called Pagan, it's out of print, but available in Burma.

Here is the link to my book list:
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...-bookshelf.cfm
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 02:29 PM
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perfect...
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Old Jun 3rd, 2011, 07:44 PM
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The Aureum is/was the best resort in Bagan when I was there a few years ago and I did not see anything else on the same level around town. Being own by a ruling member of the government did not deter us since the best hotel group and airline(Air Bagan) all belong to them(the members).

I only wish that you were going during the cooler months and take the balloon ride over Bagan. It was an amazing experience for us and we saw Bagan in a different perspective.

Food - I did not find any good dining in Myanmar and in fact the Burmese restaurant in Thailand seem to be better. Don't get your expectation up for a culinary adventure there!
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