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Itinerary for 12 days in Burma- help decide

Itinerary for 12 days in Burma- help decide

Old Sep 4th, 2015, 05:38 AM
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Itinerary for 12 days in Burma- help decide

Dear all,

We are excited that we are heading to Burma in December. We have exactly 12 days in the country.
Kathie has already been very helpful, diverting me from the idea of going also to Mrauk U in such a short time. So I have been following her advice and this is what I have so far:

Dec 20- Arrival in Yangon at 11:20 PM
Dec 21- Yangon
Dec 22- Fly to Heho - Kalaw
Dec 23- Inle Lake
Dec 24- Inle Lake
Dec 25- Inle Lake
Dec 26- Inle Lake
Dec 27- Fly to Bagan
Dec 28- Bagan
Dec 29- Bagan
Dec 30- Fly to Yangon
Dec 31- ?
Jan 1- ? (international flight at 11:45 PM)

Any further recommendations? After spending the rest of Dec 30 in Yangon, what do you think of driving the morning of Dec 31 to Kyaiktiyo Paya, and stay there for the night, returning Jan1? And visiting also Bago either on the way there or on the way back? Has someone visited already? Is it special?Unfortunately we would probably have to go back to Yangon to retrieve our luggage, unless there is a way to leave it at the airport or somewhere else, since we won't be carrying it up the hill.

Also- has anyone done the 2-day trekking from Kalaw to Inle? We might be interested in that, although it would cut down our time in Inle itself (or we would fly one day later to Bagan and cut down our time there, if at all better). What do you all think?

Final question- I asked Santa Maria to book domestic flights and hotels. Moe responded and was very nice, but he came back with a full (rather expensive) package. In your experience, is it possible to simply book flights and hotels, without getting a package, which includes transfers, guides, christmas dinner etc?

Thank you in advance for all your knowledgable advice. We are quite excited!
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Old Sep 4th, 2015, 08:04 AM
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In my experience, all local agents will start by giving you an all-inclusive quote. You just need to tell them what you want/don't want. For instance, I wouldn't use an agent to book your boat at Inle or horsecart at Bagan. You may well want them to book a transfer from HeHo, for instance, but I don't generally use guides, and I don't see anywhere else I'd want a car and driver. So ask for exactly what you want. They will be glad to book as much or as little as you want.

Whether to do the trek depends on your interests. Only you know if that is how you want to spend your time in Myanmar.

I have not done the trip to Kyaiktiyo nor to Bago, so can't help with that. If you want to visit another place, you might consider going to Mandalay to visit some of the ancient cities. You could fit that in easily if you didn't do the trek, and you may be able to squeeze it in even with the trek. You would need 3 nights in Mandalay to get two days of sightseeing. We loved Sagaing.
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Old Sep 6th, 2015, 02:18 PM
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Thank you very much Kathie!

At the moment we have only one day in Yangon but 3 1/2 days in Bagan. How is Yangon? Should I consider adding one day there at the expense of Bagan (make that 2 1/2 days?)?
Have you seen the museum in Yangon?

Where do you recommend changing money?

Thanks so much!
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Old Sep 6th, 2015, 03:02 PM
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Change money at banks - there are bank money changers at all of the airports - and there are banks that change money at a number of places in Yangon. Do not change money on the black market, as you will very likely be cheated. Some stores will also change money at official rates. Note the official rates as you go through the airport, so if you need to change more money later you will know the approximate exchange rate.

Where to spend your time depend son your specific interest, We love temples, so as much time as possible in Bagan was for us. As per your itinerary above, you have 2 full days in Bagan, not 3 1/2. Have you changed your plan? It wouldn't hurt to have another day in Yangon. Have you decided what to do with your last few days? Are you going to add another destination? If not, plan to spend that time in/around Yangon.
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Old Sep 7th, 2015, 09:01 AM
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Thank you Kathie for tips on exchanging money.

Yes, we changed the itinerary slightly, so that now the plan would be to stay in Bagan 4 nights, through Dec 31. The morning of the 31st we would take an early flight to Yangon, and drive to Kyaiktiyo Paya where we would spend the night. January 1st we would drive back stopping in Bago etc and finish at airport (international flight at midnight).

This way we will have only one day in Yangon, Dec 21. This is why I was wondering if we should cut the stay in Bagan back to 3 nights and spend one extra day in Yangon. I am unsure about that.
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Old Sep 7th, 2015, 09:50 AM
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If it was me, no question, I'd want the time in Bagan. But not everyone is as interested in the temples as I am. Maybe some photos would help:

www.marlandc.com

There are sets of photos from 2009 and 2011. We visited Bagan both trips.
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Old Sep 7th, 2015, 11:27 AM
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What beautiful pictures, Kathie! I think I am sold,
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Old Sep 7th, 2015, 11:40 AM
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Have a wonderful trip!
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Old Sep 8th, 2015, 05:55 AM
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Thank you, and so do you!
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Old Sep 13th, 2015, 01:37 PM
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Dear Kathie,
I hope I can ask you one more question. I saw that you recommended a cart driver in Bagan, and I wonder if I should get in touch with him ahead of time. Being high season, it would be great to arrange beforehand, but I wonder whether I need him everyday or not. I am also unsure of the hours and itinerary as of now. Do you need a car to go to the temples more out of the way?
Did you go to Popa? What did you think of the experience? I found mixed reviews so I am unsure. I would like to dedicate one day either to go there or a day trip through the countryside, if we can find interesting little villages, perhaps more quiet and outside the tourist circles. Do you have any recommendations?
Thank you so much, as usual!
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Old Sep 13th, 2015, 02:12 PM
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I did not go to Mt. Popa having heard that most of the people I know were underwhelmed by it. I was content to spend my days in Bagan. I did all of my touring by horsecart and loved it. There certainly are temples farther away, but with some 2000 in the immediate area, I didn't feel the need to go to farther temples. We covered a lot of temples via horsecart. I spent three full days in Bagan my first trip, and another two or three on my second trip. We did not repeat any temples.

When I was last there in 2011, most of the temples we visited we were the only visitors. There are temples that are crowded, but there are plenty that are perfectly quiet. Ask your horsecart driver for what you are interested in.

Certainly, you can contact Min Thu and see if he is available. But you don't need to make arrangements in advance to get a horsecart driver. There will be drivers waiting outside your hotel.

By the way, I recommend staying in Old Bagan, as it puts you closer to the temples.

The only thing we used a car for was airport transfers.
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Old Sep 14th, 2015, 08:30 AM
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This is perfect Kathie, thanks.
We found rooms at Bagan Thiripyitsayar Sanctuary. I saw that it has good reviews but from the website, it looks very grand - and therefore a bit fake - do you know it? What is your impression?
Alternatively, do you know the Bagan Thande?
Thanks again!
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Old Sep 14th, 2015, 08:42 AM
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I stayed at Thrip in the early 2000's and enjoyed my few days over New Year. It has a lovely infinity pool overlooking the Irrawaddy but recent reviews on TA indicate it is overdue for a refurb. Unless you are in one of the River Villas the accommodation is individual buildings with four rooms-the walls are thin.
Thande comes out with better reviews but again the cheaper rooms(like Thrip) come in for negative comment.
I know there are some grumbles with links to TA but it is by far the best way to show you reviews so here:-
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_R...ay_Region.html
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_R...ay_Region.html
SS
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Old Sep 14th, 2015, 09:28 AM
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I stayed at the Thiripyitsaya my last time in Bagan (2011). I couldn't imagine what you meant by "it looks very grand" so I went to the website... no, that isn't what you will experience. They really did some interesting things with lighting to glam up the photo. The location is great! The Riverfront suites referred to by SS are really lovely - as well as expensive. The whole place could use some updating. I understand that the regular rooms are tiny. Also, I should note that the food at the Thiripyitsaya was just awful

Our first stay in Bagan was at the Tharbar Gate, which we liked even though it is huge.
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Old Sep 15th, 2015, 12:48 PM
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The Tharbor Gate is spread out, but the standard rooms are very nice and large. The hotel was very quiet and the grounds are well cared for. The food is good also. Plus it is well located with other eating places near by. We stayed there in March.

If you are interested, our trip report and pictures for Burma are at

www.rtw50thanniversary.blogspot.com

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the index and click on March 21 for the beginning of our time in Burma then just click on newer post for the next day.
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