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The planning has begun! Burma is becoming a reality.

The planning has begun! Burma is becoming a reality.

Old Jul 15th, 2011, 08:43 PM
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The planning has begun! Burma is becoming a reality.

We have decided to travel with three instead of four women. We are all 57 years old and our husbands have no desire to go to this part of the world, and cant understand why we do. I was able to convince the other two to go to Burma/Myanmar as I have wanted to go for the past few years. Now they are as excited as I am.

We are flying on Cathay from Vancouver to Bangkok on December 28th and returning on Jan 24th. As we arrive at midnight we will spend the first two nights in Bangkok and then arrive in Yangon on New Years Eve.

Here is our itinerary thus far.
Yangon Two nights
Mandelay three nights
Bagan Four nights,
Inle Lake five nights.....I just realized there may be a pattern here.....hmmmm that was not planned.
Back to Yangon for two more nights

We will spend one night in Bangkok and then take the overnight train/ferry to Koh Tao and spend three nights snorkelling at Mango Bay which I love.
Then three more nights on Koh Samui before our flight home.

We are working with Santa Maria Travel for our Burma plans and they are great.

We will fly from Yangon to Mandelay
Boat from Mandelay to Bagan
Fly from Bagan to Inle Lake and then back to Yangon.

I have been corresponding with Min THu (Thanks Kathie) and will have two days touring with him in Bagan.

We will do day trips to Kakku and Sagar from Inle Lake, which is why we are there for five nights.

Should we just wait until we get there to do the day trips from the hotels?

How does this itinerary sound?

I have just sent the request through to Santa Maria but not heard back yet.
I welcome any advice before we finalize things. The fares and prices seem to go up daily. The airfare on Asia Air from Bangkok to Yangon was $100 return a week ago and when I finally booked it last night it was up to $140. I know it is high season so want to get this all booked as much as I need to as soon as I can. Thank You.
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Old Jul 16th, 2011, 05:07 AM
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Sounds good but 5 nights in Inle might be a bit too long IMO. After sunset you don't really go out of your hotel as the lake is dark and dangerous(navigation) IMO.
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Old Jul 16th, 2011, 06:06 AM
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Thanks, where would you add a day?
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Old Jul 16th, 2011, 06:21 AM
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I haven't been myself but Pyin Oo Lwin, aka Maymyo near Mandalay, looks very interesting to me. Perhaps 2 nights in Mandalay and 2 nights there? I believe others here have been there so perhaps they will share their thoughts.
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Old Jul 16th, 2011, 07:14 AM
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I agree: 2 lake trips (tourist circuit & Sagar) + 1 road trip (to Kakku) at Inle = 3 days/4 nights which is plenty of time. If you are staying at the Inle Lake View Resort, there is a very interesting village next door where there is a market day in the 5-day market rotation. Try to coordinate your trip to Sagar on a market day as well. Also, the central market in Taunggyi is worth a stop on the way to Kakku as is the Ayathaya winery on the outskirts of the city. Personally, I feel you have too much time in Yangon as well but we didn't like Yangon that much. Hopefully others will chime in with suggestions on where else you might go.
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Old Jul 16th, 2011, 07:20 AM
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Can I add that I would sort out your Visa as soon as possible. Mine has come thru fine but my friend is having big problems getting hers, so much so we may have to cancel. ( she does work for a news affiliated company bu she isn't remotely a journalist)
I am using Santa Maria also and have so far found them great. Don be freaked out when they ask you to send the deposit to a bank in Bangkok! ( like I was )
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Old Jul 16th, 2011, 07:35 AM
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Thanks, how long in advance can you get the visas. My friend needs to get a new passport and I told her that she needs to get on that NOW and then we will send it off. I think we need to send our passports to Ottawa. Sometimes you cant get them too far in advance..I really havent checked into that too much yet. Must start the research

We are going to Russia in April and I know that can be a problem as well. I will have to do that as soon as I get back from Asia I suppose. Ah Visas.....I like it when you can just get them on arrival...
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Old Jul 16th, 2011, 08:09 AM
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It will be a wonderful trip!.

We are going to Pyin U Lwin for a full day (but not staying over night) when we go to Mandalay. Robbietravels wrote about their two night trip there in her report.

You are only touring temples for two days at Bagan? I'd want more, but that may be enough for you. We had three full days on our first trip and will have another full day and a late afternoon this trip.

At Inle, wait until you are there to set up the boat trips. You might want Santa Maria to get a car and driver for you to Kakku. As you may remember, we stopped at Kakku between the airport and the hotel and it worked out perfectly. If you can do that, four nights at Inle might be fine. We never did the tourist circuit at Inle, but chose our destinations. You might consider that. A number of people who did the tourist circuit boat trip felt Inle was "too touristy" but we visited only one workshop (silk/lotus weaving) and our other stops were stupas, pagodas and monasteries. The additional day gives you time to explore nearby villages (I believe you are planning on staying in town). The Pindaya caves are another option.

We don't have time, but you might consider a day trip to Bago from Yangon.
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Old Jul 16th, 2011, 08:32 AM
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yes Pynin U looks good too. So many choices! I have been re reading all the trip reports. Maybe we should book him for three days in Bagan.
One of the women and I are off now for a weeks camping trip, no power or internet, but we have the Lonley Planet book on Burma and will pour over that and figure some things out. Thanks Kathie for all your help.
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Old Jul 16th, 2011, 10:21 AM
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The visa is valid for 3 months FROM date of issue so I guess if you are going December you would want to apply in October maybe? I got mine (UK issued) about 2 weeks ago and I go (hopefully) in 4 weeks. I would have applied much sooner but I had a trip to Amsterdam a few weeks ago so needed my passport.
Good luck with he planning.
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Old Jul 16th, 2011, 10:21 AM
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Sorry I should clarify that doesn't mean you have 3 months IN Burma, just 3 months to use it.
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Old Jul 21st, 2011, 08:22 PM
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thanks very much. We will apply in October.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2011, 06:23 AM
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a daily travel report which i receive reported today that air asia is increasing the baggage allowance on the bkk-yangon flt... that might help you out...
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Old Jul 22nd, 2011, 10:19 AM
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We had 5 nights in Inle & had no trouble filling our time. Like Kathie we did Kakku on the way to Inle but we drove from Kalaw. Got to Kakku quite early & spent about 3 hours there> We loved it. Our day trip to Sagar we arranged once we arrived in Inle & what we did each day we would arrange the night before depending on what we felt like. We did not do just a standard tourist circuit. I have trip report here somewhere. Sounds like a great trip. we loved Burma
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Old Jul 31st, 2011, 07:51 AM
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I emailed Min Thu and asked him if we should book two or three full days with him and his horse cart.

This is his response

2 days is enough to visit to ancient
religious monuments.The last day you should visit Mountain Popa
destination.It is nice destination after Bagan.

I assume that he would want us to use his brother and his taxi, dont imagine we would go there on horse cart.

I am trying to change our itinerary with Santa Maria to have four full days in Bagan and four full days at Inle Lake. (it was three in Bagan as we arrive late the first day by boat from Mandalay, and then five in Inle).

It sounds like the journey to get to Mt Popa is half the fun. Is this a good idea, and has anyone used Min Thu's brother? I am wondering what his cab is like. Kathie mentioned some are quite bad for long trips. Otherwise I will book this with Santa Maria if you folks think this is a worthwhile excursion.
Thanks very much
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Old Jul 31st, 2011, 08:12 AM
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We rode in Minthu's brother's taxi and it was very nice - clean and well-kept-up, one of the best I saw in Burma.

I think the question is whether you want another day of temples or a day trip to Mt. Popa. We opted for temples, but then I'm a temple fanatic. If you go, I want to hear all the details as it may be something we'd like to do on another trip. (See, I'm already thinking about trip #3)
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Old Jul 31st, 2011, 08:53 AM
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We thought the drive to Mt. Popa was uninteresting. Other than a stop at a Buddhist monastery along the way, it was just a long and not particularly rewarding drive. I did take a few photos along the way - they start here:

http://craigandjeane.smugmug.com/Tra...14686040_JhXDN
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Old Jul 31st, 2011, 09:09 AM
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thanks to both of you. I did three full days of temples at Angor and was happy with the time, so may just leave it open for now. Great pictures Craig.
Thanks for the info on the taxi Kathie, we will use him for transfers at least and perhaps some trips out of town.

I usually wing it a bit more, but by reports it looks as though the more planning you do in advance in Burma the better. I may feel a bit more pressure too because my friends are leaving all the planning to me (which I love to do and thankful for the opportunity to do it), but want to deliver an amazing itinerary.

I really hate to second guess myself but maybe I just need to keep doing research to make some decisions.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2011, 08:55 PM
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Hi I have a question about Mandalay that hopefully Kathie or some others can answer.
I cant seem to find how far Amanpura and Sagaing are from Mandalay. Is this something we should arrange with Santa Maria as a day trip, or is it relatively close to town and can arrange when we get there? Thanks for any suggestions.

I am firming things up with Santa Maria and will be sending off my deposit next week. I am rather suprised how expensive the car and drivers are, compared to India and Laos they are quite a bit more money but I guess that may have something to do with the fuel and lack of good cars?
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Old Aug 3rd, 2011, 06:45 AM
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Yes, the costs for car and driver are higher in Burma than in some other places. I do think it has to do with the dearth of good cars (I was told the junker taxis in Yangon cost $20,000 in that condition!).

I realize I don't know just how far the ancient cities areas are from Mandalay. I was just figuring that given the number of stops, I wanted to ensure a good car and driver. I expect Jules cam tell us.
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