November trip to Myanmar and Cambodia

Sep 23rd, 2015, 07:02 PM
  #1  
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November trip to Myanmar and Cambodia

Can I have you opinions and suggestions please ?
I am trying to fill in a few blanks for this trip.

Have I got the number of nights per place right ? Our interests are culture, scenery, ruins, food and temples...not necessarily in that order. I'd appreciate some of the marvellous Fodors insight before locking down number of days in each spot after Mandalay.

I'd like to keep the hotel budget at USD $100 per night on average, so can pay more or less say 20%.

We have been to both Myanmar and Cambodia before, this itinerary seeks to cover a few new places. We are going to a wedding in Mandalay on 21 November, so those dates are not changeable.

Nothing else is booked except some free cancellation hotels. Flights as described are available, at the moment.

18 November arrive Yangon stay 2 nights. Hotel booked $105 per night.

20 November fly to Mandalay stay 4 nights, not everyone's favourite destination, but we'll have friends to catch up with and a few new temples to see. B & B booked, $40 per night, this could be interesting.

24 November transfer to Hsipaw stay 3 nights. This is a new place for us. For those who have taken the train over the Gokteik Viaduct, how was it ? I had some trepidation on the circle line in Yangon last year....
In Hsipaw, I was thinking one day of easy trekking, and one for markets, temples and exploring the town. Does that sound about right ?
Any accommodation recommendations ?

27 November transfer to Mandalay for afternoon flight to Siem Reap via Bangkok. Stay in SR 4 nights. Any outstanding cooking schools you can recommend in SR ? Guest houses or hotels ?

1 December transfer to Battambang stay 3 nights. Not sure how to make the transfer ? Bus, boat, private car ? Quickest way would suit me. Another new place, we'd like to see temples, perhaps the bamboo train, other suggestions ? Any hotel or restaurant recommendations ?

4 December transfer to SR for afternoon flight to Sihanoukville stay 1 night. Hotel recommendations, preferably close to restaurant choices ?

5 December car transfer to Kampot stay 3 nights. Pepper farms ? Day trip to Kep ? It's another new place, we'd like to visit Bokor NP whilst in this area.

8 December car transfer to Phnom Penh stay 3 nights. Hotel recommendations ?
We've seen the major attractions, do you have any offbeat ideas ?

11 December depart PP at 15.10.

So that's the itinerary, Days Nov 27 to Dec 11 can be easily changed.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions, and sorry for the length of this post. This is a great forum !
sartoric is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2015, 09:27 PM
  #2  
 
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I think you have got the time for Cambodia about right (although every time I visit, I become less enchanted by SR!). I assume you have booked flights? If not, I would think about avoiding Sihanoukville and flying to PP from SR - it is only a 3 hour drive to Kampot. Alternatives to avoid doubling back to SR, why not go car to Battambang and Mekong Express VIP minibus to PP, overnight there and get a car to Kampot the next day?

SR - on our recent visit we stayed at the Seven Candles Guesthouse ( Linked with the Ponheary Ly Foundation). Cheap, cheerful, very friendly a fair way form the centre but some great restaurants close by. Hollywood Angkor Boutique Hotel - new, much closer to town, very modern. A few hiccups but very nice rooms for the money. Free transfers for stays of 3 nights ( we had to ask!)

SR to Battambang is best done by car. The bus is a PITA and the boat ride, although scenic, takes a long time. Having done the bus ride, I wish we had paid the $60 for the car!!

Battambang - A driver guide and will cost approx $25 per day depending on where you want to go. They have pretty set routes. We did a few temples, the bat caves on one afternoon trip and some other temples and the bamboo train on another morning. The town itself is very pleasant with some great eating places.

Kampot - we really enjoyed our day trip to Kep ( by tuk tuk). Stops included the pepper farm, the salt fields, killing field (lake) , a few villages along the way. The beach at Kep was nice enough but the main attraction was the Crab Market - try the crab amok - sublime! Other nice trips were a sunset cruise up the river, hiring bikes to explore the temples in the countryside and just getting a couple of cold ones and sitting by the river to watch the sun go down - a very laid back sort of place. Sadly we didn't make it to Bokor.

In PP we stayed at Villa Boran. Great location, nice rooms and good value.
crellston is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2015, 11:08 PM
  #3  
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Great stuff Crellston, just the kind of info that helps me.

I haven't booked flights within Cambodia yet, so I will look carefully at your alternative transport options, and the hotels.

Car to Battambang it is.

Thanks for the detailed response.
sartoric is offline  
Sep 24th, 2015, 05:39 PM
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We spent 3 nights in Hsipaw in 2014. Its a very laidback place with lots of backpackers. We stayed at Mr. Charles's Hotel (or something like that!) Mr Charles apparently started small and now has a couple buildings. It's a basic hotel with different levels of rooms. They offer various types of treks. We easily filled our 2 days there. On one we did a boat ride and some short treks that we arranged at Mr. Charles' and the next day we walked around the area. You can read specifics in our TR. Be sure to have a flashlight for walking around at night. No lights and horrible roads and walkways. Breakfast was funny. First morning we went down mid breakfast hours and most of the food was gone. We saw people acting like they had eaten in weeks. The next mornig we tried to get down a bit earlier to be able to sample the variety and while there was food avilabe, people were literally pushing to get at the buffet. It was a perfectly fine place to stay. I dont recall a lot of options there, but perhaps more have opened up.

I had wanted to take the train, but shortly before our trip saw an Anthony Bourdain episode on Myanmar and he did a train trip somewhere there and it looked just awful. He was bouncing all over the place. That coupled with what I read was that the trip could vary from ontime to hours late. I also read some reveiws on the internet many of which werent great. So I changed my mind. We went with a driver and we could see the viaduct in the distance. That said we met a couple who did the trip by train and thoroughly enjoyed it. It left on time and arrived fairly close to on time and they said the bouncing wasnt bad. Then I, of course regretted not doing it!
yestravel is offline  
Sep 25th, 2015, 06:53 AM
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It sounds like a great trip. I'm so sorry we won't overlap in Mandalay! I have arranged for a local driver/guide to take us out to some (rarely visited) Buddhist ruins along the river outside of Mandalay.

You've gotten some good info from Crellston on Cambodia. His advice would allow you to skip Sihanoukville and the one night stay there, and go directly to Battambang.

Enjoy!
Kathie is offline  
Sep 25th, 2015, 01:59 PM
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Thanks for your comments Yestravel, I will revisit your report. I took the circle train in Yangon and didn't feel particularly safe, so viewing the viaduct from a car might be best !

Kathie, yes, a shame we will miss by only a couple of days. I noted where you're going with the guide, might try and rustle up the teachers to take us.
You have a great trip, can't wait to hear your impressions of Pandaw.

Cheers.
sartoric is offline  
Oct 12th, 2015, 12:48 PM
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Sartoric,

Am watching this closely. Will be heading to Laos and Cambodia this January. Can't wait to see what you have to report. The three weeks in Myanmar were incredible. Thanks to Kathie for so many good ideas.

Just FYI- am currently at a writer's retreat in MA developing the book I'd been threatening of my fave stories from this Forum and my personal diary, hyperbole removed. Other sources too. Just pulling the stuff together was a blast and researching is in some ways like taking the trips all over again.

Crellston, it is always so good to see your excellent ideas. Your welcomed input crops up everywhere. I head back to Peru in April.

Wish I could add value but I'm hovering to see what others write, and checking in to wish you a simply fantastic trip. Travel fun. I would love to hear your thoughts about Laos and will be starting a thread shortly.

Warmly

Julia
jhubbel is offline  
Oct 12th, 2015, 05:46 PM
  #8  
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Hi Julia

Have a look at the trip reports from Progol and Yestravel, I used many of their ideas in Luang Prabang. As usual Kathie is spot on, great weaving artisans just outside town. Apart from the down river cruise we only saw LP in Laos.

I'll add to your thread when we return (mid December) after we've visited Battambang and Kampot in Cambodia.

Thanks for your travel wishes, and same back to you.
Can't wait for the book !

Cheers
Caroline
sartoric is offline  
Oct 13th, 2015, 07:19 AM
  #9  
 
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Hey by the way, I met one of those weaving artists who is based in Veintiene while en route through Tokyo. She's an American, moved to Laos in the mid-70s, set up a weaving community, and it's done very, very well. Employs a bunch of women. She speaks worldwide on her work. Really interesting.

Crellston was kind enough to chip in (where does he find the time???).

Right now I've got some time planned in a small village not far from LP but since I don't have my files with me at this writer's retreat I can't for the life of me recall the name of the town. I do remember trying to book a room there through Booking.com and for some reason my Mastercard didn't work for the guy locally, I repeatedly called my card folks and cleared it. After three days I got a foul nasty gram from the owner accusing me of sending him a bad card number. Really out of character for all my experiences in Buddhist countries. Guy was just nasty. Nothing wrong on our end, something wrong on his. Pan's Place was the name of the outfit. So--I can't recommend it.

Don't assume you read my Iceland thread. I spent three weeks riding horses, then kayaked in the Westfjords, then managed to go butt over teakettle down a flight of 16 stairs and fracture my pelvis, break my left arm, left wrist and crack my head open. Honestly one of the funniest things I've ever done. You know me to skydive, paraglide, horseback ride, climb enormous mountains, kayak, cave, name your adventure. And I hurt myself on STAIRS. I'm sorry but that was just FUNNY.

Spent five days in hospital in Isafjordjur, came home in a wheelchair, then have spent the last few weeks using yoga,rest, good food and a great deal of laughter getting me back on a horse again last week. No limp after eight weeks. Sore, yes, but no limp. I SWEAR by World Nomads. They have paid for everything and have been great about it, best travel company I've ever used.

Will watch for your threads. Have a blast!!
Julia
jhubbel is offline  
Oct 13th, 2015, 08:32 AM
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Julia, glad to hear that you are recovering well after your tumble down the stairs.

The weaver you met in Tokyo - is she the woman who started OckPopTok in Luang Prabang?
Kathie is offline  
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