Transport for Mandalay-Bagan in August

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Jan 6th, 2013, 03:16 AM
  #1
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Transport for Mandalay-Bagan in August

Hello,

I'm planning a 9 or 10 day trip to Mandalay and Bagan via Yangon. I intend to go to these places as these would be the driest during August. I have some questions.

1. From Mandalay to Bagan, I hope to take a river boat. I'm partial to the slow ferry, but wouldn't like it's uncertainty and likelihood of breaking down. What are the options available in July, and which would you recommend?

2. Depending on what is my exit strategy, I will either travel from Bagan to:

a) Yangon by bus? Is this advisable during the rainy season, safety, prices, night buses?

b) Mandalay by bus?

c) Mandalay by flight? I'm trying to reduce the number of internal flights as they are quite costly.

Thanks in advance for your comments and help!
reublim is offline  
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Jan 7th, 2013, 10:21 AM
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Regarding boat transport between Mandalay and Bagan, I can only give you my recent experience, in November.

I took the Malikha "express" ferry in the Bagan to Mandalay direction. It was certainly OK, glad I went by river to be sure and think that was the best option for me. All on board were westerners, most sat outside most of the time altho I did go inside during the course of the day for some upholstery and a nap. Toilet facilitkes were adequate. They do serve 1 meal plus coffee/tea in the morning but bring your own drinks if you're at all particular plus snacks. It leaves early and in Nov. gets in after dark. There were pickup truck taxis waiting, shared and primitive but got us where we were going.

If you decide to take that boat it may be important to get an agent or accommodation to buy your tickets for you in advance. My accommodation in Yangon made the resdrvation for us along with internal flights.
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Jan 7th, 2013, 10:33 AM
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Regarding flights and distances, for such a short trip you may want to reconsider going overland. I think you need to optimize your time in the places you decide to go and the cost of the flights, I think, would be money well spent. And I'd try to make time for the Inle Lake area. It was the best part of the trip for me.
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Jan 7th, 2013, 10:44 AM
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I agree that for a short trip, you want to maximize your time in the special places you want to experience in Burma. I think Bagan and Inle are the highlights of the "Big 4", and I would maximize my time in those two places. I skipped Mandalay my first trip and after visiting it my second trip, I think it was worth skipping the first time for some real time in Inle and Bagan.

I also agree that some flights make sense. A bus trip will eat up a whole day each time you change locations.

What boats/ferries run in July depends on water levels and the number of visitors. You probably won't know until you are there - or you can use an agent in Bagan to book hotels and flights and they can keep you informed about the boats.

Safety is not really an issue in Burma. It is probably the safest place I've traveled.

Do you know about the money situation - the need for perfect US dollars? There have been many changes in Burma in the last year or so and there will be more. Perhaps by the time you get there credit cards will be accepted. While there have been a couple of confirmed reports about a few ATMs accepting foreign cards, you will probably need to plan to carry in all of the money you might need in perfect dollars. But do keep up on the changes, maybe things will be differnt by the time you go.
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Jan 8th, 2013, 12:04 PM
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Hi everyone,
I'm going to Burma in February. I want to mainly visit Bagan and Inle Lake. My question is whether Yangon or Mandalay would be the best place to fly into.
Thanks for your suggestions
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Jan 8th, 2013, 12:24 PM
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sqs88, It really doesn't matter transport-wise which one you fly into. You will likely want to fly to take full advantage of your time in Burma. Here are some thinfs to think about:

1. flying into Mandalay is a bit of a hassle as the airort is a full hour from town

2. IMO, the things most worth seing in Mandalay are not in Mandalay but outside the city. So it wouldn't be easy, say to fly into Mandalay, spend a day sightseeing then fly out the next morning to either Bagan or Inle.

3. Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is well worth a stop. You could fly into Yangon in the morning, fly right away to either Inle or Bagan, then on your way out, fly to Yangon in the morning, spend the day in the city, and make an evening visit to Shwedagon. The airport is maybe 20 minutes from downtown Yangon.

If it were me - and it isn't - I'd fly into/out of Yangon and spend part of a day there on my way back to Bangkok.
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Jan 8th, 2013, 01:14 PM
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Thanks for your replies!

As to flights, I understand they are time savers, but I guess I am also worried about the safety record and they don't have their schedules out yet! I will be monitoring flight prices and see how it goes.

For Inle Lake, as the period I'm planning to go is the rainy season, I am skipping it this time round. Also, I think the number if days I have is too short to include too many places to do them justice. I intend to return to Burma next time to visit Yangon and Inle Lake when it is dry.

For safety, it really referred to safety on the road, to be assured we get to the destination in one piece.

And I am aware of the money situation. Thanks for the heads up.

My current plan is to fly in to Mandalay from Bangkok, then continue to Bagan and leave from Yangon.

Thanks again everyone!
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Jan 12th, 2013, 06:16 AM
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reublim, be cautious about internal flights. One crashed (Bagan Air Fokker F100) at Inle Lake on Christmas Day while we were there.

They don't supervise loading weights. The merchants stuff everything into the cargo hold. The roads are atrocious, it takes hours to cover 50km, so they try to carry everything by air, and planes routinely fall out of the sky due to overloading, and only flying at 8,500ft while the mountains are 12,000ft.

We came back from Mandalay to Rangoon via Bagan earlier this week, and I almost kissed the ground when I reached the bottom of the steps. The armrests in the plane still had ashtrays,that's how old they are. (That was Air Bagan).

For anyone wanting up-to-date information, yes, you still need pristine US $100 and $50 and $20, but there are now 10 ATMs dispensing kyat in Rangoon (no other cities or towns yet). The official money exchange at the airport provides the best exchange from $ to kyat. They will also exchange $Singapore.

Internet is still abysmal, but some high-end hotels have good wi-fi (we stayed at Chatrium, wi-fi was slow but bearable).
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Jan 12th, 2013, 02:08 PM
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Thanks mareeS55 for your reply!

Yes, I read about that wen it happen that's why I'm wary about the domestic airlines and wasn't particularly receptive to it.

Are you aware of how much the exchange rate for Singapore dollars was?
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Jan 12th, 2013, 03:48 PM
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Sorry, reublim, didn't take note of the $Sing exchange rate, but $US was 848 kyat.
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