Burma is wonderful!

Old May 15th, 2011, 02:58 AM
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kathie, a little info on our time in Mandalay may be of interest to you too.
While in Mandalay we just used a driver, arranged by Shan Yoma tours, who drove us to the sights. While he didn’t speak much English it was not really required as the guidebooks cover most places. Shan Yoma also arranges a small boat to take us to Mingun at our leisure, this took around a half day but you could easily spend more time there. We also went to Ava which to me was one of the highlights of the trip. I loved the teak wood monastery there.
We also took a day trip to Pyin O Lwin, again just with our driver. its not a short drive be quite nice and a different atmosphere up in the mountains. Again the sights are well covered by the books and a guide was not necessary.
Our driver was aware of the crowds and suggested changes to avoid any crush.
We visited Mandalay Palace on our own and although it is largely rebuilt it would have been nice to have a guide here.

If you want any further info or a copy of our itinerary please ask.

Shellyk
We did a one day trek at Kalaw and although we enjoyed the trek and the guide was excellent we felt the trek didn’t compare to others we had done ( e.g. Sapa in Vietnam). The scenery isn’t as nice and the villages are more modern. Having said that our guide was excellent and I would really recommend him. He was formerly a teacher and his English was excellent. I dont have his name but he worked from Uncle Sams Guides in Kawlaw ( he is Sam's son-in-law). He was provided by Shan Yoma but you can contact Sams Guides on 9581 50237
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Old May 15th, 2011, 07:56 AM
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gmoz Ava was also a highlight for us. The teak monastery is beautiful. We hung out there for quite a while.
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Old May 15th, 2011, 09:19 AM
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Thanks, patty and gmoz for your thoughts. Gmoz, would you please post a short trip report, including your itinerary? I'm still debating various parts of our itinerary.

I'll also make a separate post one of these days when I am clearer about our plans, asking for more advice. I really appreciate your input1
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Old May 15th, 2011, 11:04 AM
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gmov-Thanks for your comments on Kalaw. I did not go to Sapa during our Feb. trip to VN because it would have been too cold. Since I won't be comparing it to Sapa, would you still feel that if I skipped the Kalaw hike I would not be missing a "wow" moment. Time is not an issue, but a hike does take some effort, and I might put the effort into doing something else.

I too would like to see your itinerary and would appreciate any other comments you would care to make concerning your trip. Thanks.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2011, 10:15 PM
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Hi Jules, I just posted a question on whether you need a driver to go to Amanpura and Sagaing and then decided to read your report again.

Did you just arrange it from your hotel or through Santa Maria? It does not sound as though it is too far out of Mandalay but I am unsure. Any tips would be appreciated, thank you.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2011, 11:46 AM
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Hi live I answered on the other post. Arranged it through Santa Maria. The distance gets a bit blury but I think it took us about 30-40 mins to get out to Ubien on the first afternoon we were there but that was only about 230pm so before the majority of tourists head out there. Coming back it definately took longer due to traffic. Our driver told us that the traffic has got significantly worse each & every year around Mandalay as more people are able to get access to Chinese built motorcyles. We set off about 730 in the morning & I think it took about 30 mins to get to A then. We loved Burma!
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Old Sep 4th, 2011, 11:26 AM
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jules-How was the location of the Shwe Thazin Hotel for walking around the temples. And how was the air conditioning, and electricity situation. Was it on 24 hours. Santa Maria recommended Narawit B and B for us because he said it was more centrally located than Schwe Thazin.What do you think?
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Old Sep 5th, 2011, 12:58 PM
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Shelly I don't know where Narawit is so cannot compare. If it is the same as the hotel by that name then it is definately closer to the northern temples in fact it is right there. Shwe Thazin was close to walking to the northern temples but too far from the others but an extra 10 mins walk than the Narawit hotel. I did not see inside the Narawit. The electricity got turned off during the day but when we wandered back in the middle of the day they turned it back on for us. If I remember correctly the aircon/electricity was on all night.
Wish we were headed back soon!!
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Old Sep 5th, 2011, 01:23 PM
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It actually is the Narawit Hotel. I guess I'll have SM book it, since we would like to attempt to walk around the temples if it is not too hot. Thanks so much for all the information I got from your TR and postings. It does makes for a better trip if one can make educated decisions as to where to stay and what is worth doing.
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Old Sep 7th, 2011, 07:28 PM
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I have a few more questions: Did you take the boat both ways to Mingun, or did you drive one way?
Can most sites in Mingun be seen by walking?

How far was the boat dock from the Mandalay City Hotel?

I assume there was no problm getting taxis in Mandalay or Yangon for short rides in the city, correct?
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Old Sep 7th, 2011, 07:40 PM
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shelleyk,

We took a taxi from Mandalay to Mingun, a quick ride and when we arrived at Mingun there was no crowd. Later when the ferry arrived there were so many people there and all the touts came out as well.

For us in Mingun we visited the "cave" temple and then the marble temple with the big bell. All within a short walk of each other.
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Old Sep 7th, 2011, 08:21 PM
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Hi Hanuman-I did want to go by boat as I heard the scenery was nice along that stretch of the river. I am thinking of going by private boat. What time does the public ferry arrive at Mingun. I will try to get there before then.
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Old Sep 7th, 2011, 08:39 PM
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I don't have that information shelleyk but from my memory it was roughly mid morning.
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Old Sep 8th, 2011, 11:46 AM
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Shelly we took a private boat either way. We left Mandaly i think about 8. We definately beat the ferry there. When we were able to walk everywhere no problem. We were also had no problem at all with touts or crowds.
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Old Sep 8th, 2011, 01:16 PM
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jules-I'm planning on taking the private boat. I'll request we leave at around 8 as you did. We are staying at the Mandalay City Hotel, as you did. From looking at a map the boat dock looks like a five or ten minute taxi ride from the hotel. Is that about right? How were the breakfasts at the hotel?
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Old Sep 8th, 2011, 02:21 PM
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Shelly we also stayed at Mandalay City hotel, seems we had a very similar trip route. The breakfasts at Mandalay city are fine, its a buffet style and mainly European food.
You will be surprised when you arrive at the Mandalay City Hotel as it is down a sort of covered in lane but inside it opens out to quite a little oasis in the centre of town. The hotel is fine, maybe 3-3 stars, but its in a handy position to the markets, night markets and restaurants.
A restaurant worth trying is " A little bit of Mandalay" . Our driver took us there for lunch one day and it was very nice. We found Myanmar food on the whole to be a bit bland but this was one of the better places.
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Old Sep 8th, 2011, 06:38 PM
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Shelly gmoz describes the Mandalay City Hotel very well. The breakfast was fine. We ate at a Thai place for lunch one day which was good. I am pretty sure the name is in my report.
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Old Sep 8th, 2011, 07:35 PM
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Koh's Kitchen! Thai food & tasty. Wish I knew the name of the local place the driver took us for lunch one day
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Old Oct 21st, 2011, 01:21 PM
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jules-I am trying to decide between flying or driving from Mandalay to Bagan. Normally I would opt to fly, but the only flights from Mandalay to Bagan depart in late afternoon, making for a relaxing, but wasted day in Mandalay, as we will have done all our sightseeing the previous 3 days. If we drove, we would arrive in Bagan before the plane. Do you remember what the roads and scenery were like on the way to Bagan. Was the scenery interesting or monotonous, and how did you tolerate sitting in the car for 6.5 hours. Knowing what you know about the drive, would you fly or drive to Bagan from Mandalay.
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Old Oct 21st, 2011, 02:42 PM
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The drive was fine Shelly. I think we left about 8am. We stopped along the way to take a few photos & at one point we stopped & walked for about 30mins & our driver would just drive ahead of us alittle way until we were ready to get in again. We encountered some school kids on the walk & had a good laugh with them taking some photos of them & showing them to them. Also an older village lady wandered along with us for awhile. We enjoyed the drive but we do like to drive places. To me it gives me the oportunity to see what is going on in real life a little more than flying between places. If we were to do it again we would drive if the choice was that or more time in Mandaly, But a relaxing day in Mandalay is not something we would choose to do. Hope that helps
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