Mandalay Portion of My Itinerary

Sep 10th, 2011, 12:42 PM
  #1  
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Mandalay Portion of My Itinerary

First of all, many thanks to so many posters for helping me develop my itinerary for my visit to Myanmar 05 Jan-01 Feb 2012. Some background: my hotels are confirmed , flights and some airport transfers have been arranged through Santa Maria and deposit paid.

I am still a bit stuck on the logistics of visiting the Mandalay area: i.e. arranging cars/taxis, drivers, and possibly guides. Obviously it would be simplest to arrange this with Santa Maria of course but they seem expensive....especially for a solo traveller. A car to visit Amarapura-Inwa-Sagaing in one day is $85. A vist to Mingun: $35 for a car plus $35 for a private boat at Mingun. Santa Maria guide is an extra $25 per day.
In reading Jules' reports, she seemed happy with having a guide and using Santa Maria's cars. Offwego on the other hand, said that she was much happier chucking the arranged car and guide and hiring blue taxis. For the record, if I book a car and driver, I usually find hiring a guide overkill.

What kind of costs would I be looking at for the following trips using blue taxis?:
1. day trip to Amarapura and Inwa
2. day trip to Sagaing
3. taxi to Mingun....and is it possible to arrange a private boat hire on my own and at what cost?
I will be staying at the Mandalay City Hotel. For those who have done it, how easy is it to find a blue taxi driver nearby who speaks enough English to sort out an itinerary.

I will have one part afternoon and 3 full days (4 nts) in Mandalay and any advice on organizing my time would be appreciated as well.

Any and all input, feedback and suggestions received with thanks.

Stephen
smacdvanbc is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 03:15 PM
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Hi Stephen,
I haven't been to Myanmar yet. I'm going a few weeks after you in Jan. . What I have decide to do in Mandalay is have SM provide the following: 1- a car, driver and guide for one long day of sightseeing the ancient cities, 2-only a private boat to get to Mingun (I'll provide my own transport to the jetty and walk around Mingun on my own).3- airport transfers

From reading Lonely Planet, I believe that there is a public boat to Mingun that goes from 9am -1pm, although I have decided I want to go on a private boat. I am sightseeing on my own in Mandalay. I have read Lonely Planet and it seems very easy to take taxis from one sight to another, rather than have a car and driver for the day. The major sights are not that far apart and they are very well explained in the guidebook.

I am sure that others who have been will give you more information about costs, but I thought I'd let you know my plans in case any of it appeals to you.

Have a great trip.

Shelley
shelleyk is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 04:11 PM
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We really liked having our own car with guide. Whatever you do, just be sure to be at U Bein Bridge at sunset. So amazing! Actually be there before sunset so you can float around on the water a bit first and get your location for views and photos and just for experiencing the beauty!
pattyroth is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 04:31 PM
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Hi Shelley.....I've been following your other posts with interest and learning a lot....so thanks.

Great suggestion about hiring only the boat for Mingun through SM. It would never have occurred to me. Aren't these forums valuable!

Stay tuned for info on costs for blue taxis....maybe we'll both be tempted to switch from SM....
smacdvanbc is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 04:32 PM
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....and thanks patty
smacdvanbc is offline  
Sep 11th, 2011, 02:07 PM
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Go to see Moustache brothers comedy show in Mandalay -- you can check with hotel who will call them and check time. Highlight of burma. Also be in a boat before sunset at the u bein bridge -- unforgettable! And miguin has GREAT art to buy -- bring dollars for that.
You will love Burma!!
Bonnie
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Sep 13th, 2011, 02:22 PM
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Hi, we stayed at the Mandalay city too and there are plenty of taxis nearby. There are a couple of unlicensed white cars near the Entrance who seem to want to make enough to retire after one day. The blue taxis are mainly located down towards the markets, near the clock tower. (if you are walking at night in Burma don’t forget a flashlight as the footpaths have holes that can swallow you ). The blue taxis all seem to speak a bit of English, some better than others obviously. We only used the blue taxis at night but it did take a bit of bargaining to get to what seemed a reasonable price. Now I am used to bargaining with taxis since we did live in bangkok for a while way back when no taxis had meters and bargaining was a way of life however it did take a few drivers before we found one to agree on what we considered a reasonable price. We realise that we will be paying more than the locals for a taxi ride but on the other hand we don’t want to buy the taxi. The fees suggested for a car seem high and you have probably read my comments on this in other threads.

There are obviously some pros and cons with organising your own transport. Remember if you go with the blue taxis they should be cheaper but they are not air con and not as comfortable as a SM car. Also it does take some time out of your trip bargaining with the drivers but it can also be fun (well sometimes). Lastly as my wife always reminds me that we have spent a lot of money coming here and don’t get too hung up on the smaller prices to the detriment of the tour. You remember the highlights long after the prices are forgotten.

I agree that a guide isn’t needed if you have a good guide book. If you want more info there are freelance “guides” lurking around some of the places, or you can be lucky enough to be standing near a tour in your language.

We loved Inwa and it was the highlight in Mandalay to us. The suggestion about the art in Mingun is spot on, we didn’t buy any and looking back we are sorry we didn’t. As for eating I have mentioned the good “little bit of mandaly” restaurant and others have suggested the Thai pos kitchen.
gmoz is offline  
Sep 13th, 2011, 07:21 PM
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Thnx gmoz. Yes your wife is right of course. I'm just trying to find the balance. I don't want to throw money away. If I can get to the sights and make my way around independently at my liesure at a more than 50% cost savings then I think it is worth considering. And over 28 days those savings can be significant. I guess it's about value. Sometimes convenience is worth the cost, sometimes not. Case in point, SM wants $25 for each transfer in Yangon. I can get a no hassle transfer at the taxi kiosk at the airport for $10.....considering I will be transferring 8 times, that's a substantial savings. This is a solo trip so no costs are shared....and I'm okay with a little discomfort...like no AC and bad springs.
Thnx again for your feedback gmoz....it's really appreciated (and by the way, thnx for your other posts....I've read them all and they have been very helpful).
smacdvanbc is offline  
Oct 9th, 2011, 09:50 AM
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Smacdvanbc:
I'm another Canuck (from the island) going to Myanmar in Nov - also travelling solo. So yes those costs certainly do add up. I want to go to Sagaing on Nov 10 (full moon) - for the Dazaungdaing Festival when the monks are presented with new robes so am thinking that it might be of benefit to have a guide for that day. Otherwise, like you would like to do what I on my own if possible. Will be in Mandaly for 4 nights. I think I will contact my hotel (Peacock Lodge) to see what they can arrange.
joan47 is offline  
Oct 9th, 2011, 05:24 PM
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Well, I can tell you what we decided for Mandalay. We decided to have Santa Maria furnish a car and driver for our out of town trips (no guide). In addition to the ancient cities, we'll spend a day at Pyin U Lwin.

Having seen the condition of the taxis in Yangon on our first trip, I really wanted working cars for any longer trips. Maybe the taxis in Mandalay are in better condition than those in Yangon, but I didn't want to chance it.
Kathie is online now  
Oct 9th, 2011, 06:48 PM
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Kathie I think you have made a good decision, the Mandalay taxis are no better than those in Rangoon. The drive to Pyin U Lwin is nice and the town is very British, and the gardens are a treat. If you have time take a ride in one of the horse taxis
We loved the Ancient Cities and hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
gmoz is offline  
Oct 9th, 2011, 08:21 PM
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Thanks gmoz, we're just a bit over a month away from our trip - we can't wait!
Kathie is online now  

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