Help with Burma Itinerary

Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 09:18 AM
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Help with Burma Itinerary

I am currently in the planning stages of my Nov 15 trip to SE Asia and we have settled on Burma (i think) I have been to Yangon and Bagan before but D hasn't, so keen to do some of those sights again. ( I simply MUST visit Shwedagon again)
I already have my int flight LHR and BKK all sorted and yesterday i got a real bargain on AA for BKK- RGN so that date is all set.
I am currently working with a couple fo TA's (one in Burma - Santa Maria - who i used when i went 4 years ago) and 1 in the UK - who are great but currently running at £2k more!!!!
So i will probably use SM and i must say they have been super responsive this time and I even sent them some itinery ideas from the UK company which they have said they can do, Itinerary looks like this
2 nights in BKK -Fly BKK- Yangon
2 nights Strand
3 nights Bagan (Balloons over Bagan/ Market temple tours etc etc)
DRIVE to Kalaw - Santa Maria are telling me it's 6 hours (which we are fine with but the UK company are saying its more like 9! (reason we may drive is D hates flying so I am trying to reduce internal flights and as all the cruises I want bewteen Bagan and Mandalay i want are full I thought it may be an alternative and a way to see more of Burma) Thoughts?
1 night Kalaw
3 Nights Inle Princess resort.
FLY - Mandalay
1 night Mandalay , U Bien Bridge other sights (which i cant remeber right now
Fly back to BKK 3 nights BKK.

So what do you think? nights in BKK are set and arrival into Yangon is pretty much set as I have booked that flight (but it wasn't crazy expensive so IF i had to change I could)
Also someone has mentioned a circular train tour of Yangon... i looked on Trip Advisor and it says 2-3 hours (yawn) the UK company are saying 45 minutes.... anyone done this?
I would like to get this all sorted quite quickly so i can book MDL- BKK flights and get my hotels locked in as i know availability is getting scare (the Savoy in Yangon is already full!)
appreciate all your advice and (helpful comments.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 09:20 AM
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sorry for appalling typos/grammer doing this in a rush
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 10:36 AM
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I don't believe there are any flights to Kalaw, which is s jumping off point for trekking, but nothing much to recommend the town itself. But it looks like you are driving from Bagan to Inle (with a stop in Kalaw). That's a very long drive. Even the people on Thorntree don't recommend this drive.

You are jumping around a lot. Personally, I'd cut Mandalay. You have only given yourselves one night there, and anything you want to see there is outside of town. If you are interested in the ancient cities, you would need more time. We loved Sagaing. You can always use another day in Bagan or Inle.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 10:45 AM
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Kathie, in what way do you think we are jumping around? I thought it seemed relatively logical
Yangon- Bagan - Kalaw- ( yes you are right we would have flown to Heho) Inle - Mandalay.
I am using Mandalay as our exit point and we had planned to get an early flight and do the sightseeing after we land...( and yes out of town sights) as I have been to Bagan before and knowing D's tolerance for temples I did think this would be enough... Should I skip Kalaw and go straight to Inle? (I think the hotel Amara sp? was what was recommended in Kalaw) I would have 4 nights at Inle then ( and some down time! )
How do you get to Saigang ( remember I have to keep flights to a minimum)
I may try to persuade D to take the flight to Heho if it's that bad......
Thanks for your advice
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 11:50 AM
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Also can anyone recommend a hotel in Mandalay? I have the Travel Agents suggestions but wondered if anyone knows if any gems?
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 12:03 PM
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It's the drive to Kalaw I thought was eating up too much time. You'll fly to HeHo to get to Inle, so if you really want to go to Kalaw, do so after you arrive at HeHo. But I would skip it and have another day at Inle. It is so beautiful!

In Mandalay, we stayed at the Rupar Mandalar and liked it. They also have an excellent restaurant. You will need a car and driver to get to Sagaing, and there is a pretty good restaurant there.

Sorry, didn't realize D was not that interested in temples - and much of what you will be visiting all over the country are temples and monasteries, etc. What kinds of things would you need to add in to keep him happy?
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 01:14 PM
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Kathie, oh no he is fine with temples but just not days and days. the hotel you stayed in Mandalay is the one SM have suggested, really glad you liked it so may stick with that, was the location good? The other one mentioned is The Red Canal?.
I do like the idea of another day at Inle though.....
So I may reinstate the flight to HeHo but not tell him
Thanks again for your advice Kathie, always appreciated.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 01:33 PM
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SM is who recommended it to us. Location - a bit out of town, but that's ok, Mandalay isn't really a walking city. The Red Canal was the other one I looked at, but we were glad we chose the Rupar Mandalar. We had a free afternoon there - beautiful swimming pools!

Have a great time!

BTW, we will be back in Bangkok in November. I feel like I know you from Fodors, but ti would be fun to get together.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 01:38 PM
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Kathie - what are your dates in BKK be great to meet up?
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 03:10 PM
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Right now all we have are our flights: arrive Nov 4 about 2 am, leave Nov 25. In between, we will be going one or two other places, not yet firm. I think we have one day overlap with Bob and Karen right now.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 09:11 PM
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Definitely don't do a drive from Bagan to Kalaw. It's a long haul on lousy roads.

Much as I hate missing what's on the ground, I think flying to He Ho, and back-tracking on what is a relatively decent road is easily the best option.

Kalaw is a lovely little place. Have a meal at Sam's Restaurant.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 10:40 PM
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Has anyone done the circular train of Yangon?
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Old Mar 23rd, 2015, 11:28 PM
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Yes, I have taken the train. It took 3 hr 20 mins, lurched alarmingly at times, but was fun.
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 03:24 AM
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Sartoric, worth doing if time in Yangon is limited?
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 03:25 AM
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We stayed at the Red Canal, we walked to the main drag and around the neighborhood from there and rested by their lovely pool. Very friendly staff, we arranged a guide through them at the last minute and got a terrific person. We were there for 2 nights. Charming rooms, nice little balcony.
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 05:53 AM
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Lovely - Thank you FromDC
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 06:26 PM
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S-Just saw you post as I've not checked the Asia Forum in quite a while. I did the circular train ride and thought it was time well spent. I really enjoyed seeing the rural towns the train passed through and observing the locals who got on and off the train at the various stops..
The bench seats are hard, and the train is not air conditioned, but the windows open. We did it on a warm day and it was not uncomfortable. It is basically a train for the locals who get on and off at the various stops with their baskets full of agricultural produce, industrial things, etc. I thought it was interesting seeing the non tourist side of Yangon, but just know that it is a very basic train ride (What can you expect for $1). If you want more details of where to buy the tickets,etc., pull up my TR of Myanmar. As an aside, I'd skip Kalaw and spend the extra day at Inle Lake which was one of the highlights of our trip.
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 07:00 PM
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Shelleyk. V.good info about the train, and I've just kicked myself because we never caught it.

I think Kalaw is worth the effort, because it's in the hills, a little different, and best of all it's off the over-beaten tourist trail.
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 09:46 PM
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Just catching your thread now. Good call on the Strand and great call on Inle Princess. Most of all, SO very glad to hear you'll be doing Balloons Over Bagan. Not often am I enticed to pay that kind of money for what seems like a fairly rote experience...but it really is one of the Top 3 travel experiences I've ever had. Every moment from take-off to landing is just magic. Insist on sitting on one of the edges (there's many of them) of the basket so you can get the best pictures.

So jealous you get to go back to one of our favorite places. I'll PM you some more details later.
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 10:46 PM
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Kathie - looks like we may miss each other - when you have firm dates let me know
Shelley - really am in 2 minds re Kalaw I want to go but seems like yet another stop.
I've decided to wait until we are in Yangon to decide to do it.
FW - I have even managed to persuade D to do the BOB flight.... Didn't you have some trouble with DM not booking it?
I remembered how much you said you loved Inle P hence our booking... Now here's a question Inle is supposed to be the chill out time of our trip but in November will it be warm enough? If I do drop Kalaw should I add to warmer Bagan or Inle?
Also a Shangri La has opened by Sule in Yangon ( former traders hotel) have considered that too- thoughts anyone? I did like the Strand when I stayed there last time so happy to revisit ( and I think D will like it ) but just wondered about the S- La.
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