Looks like I am going to Burma! Finally

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Jul 6th, 2011, 04:29 PM
  #1
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Looks like I am going to Burma! Finally

I tried to go to Burma and Laos last year, but couldnt find anyone to travel with, (my husband broke his foot) and none of my girlfriends were available.
A friend asked me to travel with her this Dec/Jan and I managed to convince her to travel to Burma (yeah!) and now another friend wants to come too. Not wanting to travel with three there are two more in the wings who want to come as well. (where were these people last year?). We will limit it to four though.

Here is our plan.
Fly from Vancouver to Bangkok on December 28th, arrive midnight Dec 29th. Overnight in Bangkok one or two nights.
I think I would like to spend New Years Eve in Yangon. We would arrive on Dec 31 and stay three nights there in the beggining.

We have a total of up to 18 nights in Burma. Too much? We are on a strict budget as I have a big European trip set for April as well, so the least amount of flying would cut down on the costs.
We will then spend a week on Koh Samui at the end before flying home. They may spend a couple of days in Bangkok but I hope to just leave them there and come home as I have been to Bangkok a few times and need to get back to work.

I have received an email from Santa Maria Travel and she gave me some airfares to Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake (HeHo) return The Discovery pass on Mandalay Air is cheaper though. Any thoughts?

This is what they sent me. I told them I was on a budget. The trip advisor reviews seem okay for these hotels. I know that most folks on this site have more stars to thier accommodations, but any help would be great.

The flight from Yangon to Mandalay USD82 per person
The flight from Mandalay to Bagan USD41 per person
The flight from Bagan to Inle lake USD63 per person
The flight from Inle lake to Yangon USD77 per person

Yangon : Thamada Hotel / Superior Double Room USD30 per night/room
Mandalay: Hotel Queen / Strandard Double Room USD30 per night/room
Bagan : Bagan Princess Hotel / Superior Double Room USD35 per night/room
Nyaungshwe: Princess Garden Hotel / Standard Bungalow Double Room USD35 per night/room

Also wondering where you would spend the most time? I think I read where you can overland between Bagan and Inle Lake. We may do that to see more

I read Kathies report where you had better book soon as Burma is getting busier and this will be high season.

I am sooooo happy to finally be going!! Thanks for any help.
live42day is offline  
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Jul 6th, 2011, 05:10 PM
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Lucky you!! Can't help you with trip planning, but I wish I was going.
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Jul 6th, 2011, 05:24 PM
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Best time of the year to go IMO. We were there over the new year as well and the temperature were just right and you can spend the whole day outdoor without getting hot or sticky.

Did experience a few delays on the internal flight because of fog which, as far as I was told, occur quite often around that time of the year.

Don't forget about the balloon ride in Bagan!

Enjoy!
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Jul 6th, 2011, 06:40 PM
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I'd spend the most time at Bagan and Inle. Mandalay is interesting mostly for the old capitals outside of modern Mandalay. You'll want to schedule a day in Yangon on your way out just in case of flight delays - you don't want to miss your flight to Bangkok.

If you are on a budget, note that the most expensive place you will visit is Koh Samui. You might be better off going to a beach in Burma.

Overland travel in Burma is slow and mostly, uncomfortable. I believe the bus between Inle and Bagan is about 8 hours. As you've noted, flights are pretty cheap. Only you can decide if the savings in $ is worth the expenditure in time.

I can't be helpful with those accommodations, but it sounds like you have done your due diligence.

Burma is an amazing country. 18 days is certainly not too much. In addition to your stated destinations, you can also do day trips to nearby towns or sights. For instance, I'll be going to Pyin U Lwin from Mandalay for a day, and a day trip from Yangon to Bago is an option.

I'm sure you will have a wonderful trip! Let me know if there is any other info I can offer.
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Jul 6th, 2011, 09:38 PM
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I am looking forward to your trip report Kathie as you are back before we leave I think.
The only reason we are going to Koh Samui and Koh Tao is for the snorkelling. I dont believe there is any worth while snorkelling at the beaches in Burma.
We have found some places that are not too bad for around $50 a night believe it or not, friends were just there a few months ago.

Will will definately end with one or two nights in Yangon before we leave as I have read that there are a lot of flight delays, thank you.

I am not sure if we will do the balloon ride or not. My friend is not too keen and I just did one in Laos in January and may do the Balloons over Cappadocia in Turkey in May. We will decide when we get there I think.

Thanks for the feedback. Should we book transfers and day tours with Santa Maria, or wait until we get there?
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Jul 7th, 2011, 06:42 AM
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It's worth booking airport transfers for Inle and Mandalay, as both are long drives. Are you going to Kakku? If so, schedule it with Santa Maria for the day you arrive at HeHo, so you go from the airport to Kakku to your hotel. For Mandalay, I think it's worth scheduling any long day trips with Santa Maria. We scheduled them to provide transport for a full day trip to the ancient cities and a full day trip to Pyin U Lwin. For long drives you want a vehicle from Santa Maria. Most "taxis" in Burma are wrecks - missing large sections of the interiors and chunks of the exterior as well - and not very comfortable.

Transfers in Yangon and Bagan are not necessary - the drives are short and there is a system for payment and assigning you a taxi at the airport.

Get your own horsecart when to get to Bagan, Santa Maria's prices for a horsecart are quite high. As you know, we have a horsecart driver we love and we'll be making a short stop in Bagan to see him and some more temples.
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Jul 7th, 2011, 08:17 AM
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Thanks Kathie. I will be contacting your Horsecart driver when we have dates all firmed up for sure.
Can you tell me how much we should budget for the day trips? FOr example your full day trip to Pyin U Lwin. Can the vehicles comfortably seat four plus driver?
Thanks
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Jul 7th, 2011, 10:00 AM
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The day trips we have scheduled run between $70 and $100 for a sedan. The sedans will seat three (plus the driver). You have to ask for a vehicle that will seat four and it will be a van (which will cost more).
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Jul 7th, 2011, 11:25 AM
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You may have to factor in a fixer as well, i.e. someone separate from the driver who does an airport meet and greet and travels with you to your hotel PLUS an obligatory government guide if you go to Kakku.
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Jul 7th, 2011, 11:44 AM
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And I hope your obligatory Government guide has better dental hygiene than mine did.

I've suddenly had a flash-back to that long ride in the car up to Kakku with my guide emitting a pungent waft of zombie swamp every time he turned to talk.

Ah-h-h-h. I just had to share. I feel better now.
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Jul 7th, 2011, 11:59 AM
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dogster, we didn't have a fixer at HeHo, just a guy with a sign with my name on it to take us to the vehicle (and give me a note from NYwoman). Of course, we had to have a Pa-O guide to Kakku, a lovely woman who was a delight to talk with. So you are quite right, they will need to factor in an aditional person in the van.
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Jul 7th, 2011, 12:16 PM
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Yep, I knew death-breath was sent specially to test me. He was a lovely man and I'm sure would have been a delight to talk as well... alas.

I was also there the day of the water-throwing festival. They threw a bucket of water over me. Hee hee hee. Wet foreigner. Hee hee hee. A perfect end to a perfect day.
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Jul 7th, 2011, 02:16 PM
  #13
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Well Dogster I hope that I dont have the same guide. Makes me cringe just to think of it. I have a very weak stomach with that type of thing...Ewww. I will work all of that out with Santa Maria, I forgot about guides etc. Thanks again.
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Jul 7th, 2011, 02:23 PM
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No need to work out the Pa-O guides with Santa Maria. You are automatically assigned a guide when you enter Pa-O territory such as going to Kakku or going to the southern part of Inle (Sankar). Santa Maria has nothing to do with this process and no control over who you get.

Some people like to set up guides for other places. We have not.
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Jul 7th, 2011, 04:23 PM
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Thanks Kathie. I usually wait until I get somewhere to set up guides too. In India we would just hire people when we got to a site if we felt we needed it. Good to know.
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