Thanks for all the help we got from T.A. before we went to the Golden Land. Wonderful people, we just love the country.About us: couple in the early 70, used to work in Tourist and airline section - no group traveling,if possible we like to stay in guesthouses,medium range. I m not going into details about the places,there is already a lot of information.I will give some details about bus trips,boat,shopping we liked very much.
We booked most of the guesthouses,hotels, flights (Air Mandalay)and boat Mandalay to Bagan trip through the Classique Inn, Yangon, 10 months before departure.We paid them on arrival in USD cash.
4 nights Classique Inn Yangon, rate USD80.--(cncld trip to Golden Rock because of restoration)
Took the circle train, dep.10.40 for 3 hours,main station(1USD) a great experience to see Burma live.
Hired a car with english speaking driver through the hotel for a trip to Bago, KYATS 60`000.
Discovered the city by walking, if tired took taxis to get from one place to the other-still very cheap-max. we paid was 3000Kyats in the city.
Express bus trip from Yangon to Mandalay dep.9am arr 6pm,price 10 000K (booked by guesthouse), very very comfortable bus, with seat no.AC,stops for lunch at nice place.
3 nights Mandalay: Peacock Lodge USD 29. (I sent email 4 booking) it was ok but not very special,lovely food cooked by the owner.
would stay at Ayarwaddy River view hotel (not much more expensive and great location)
Booked a guide and driver for 2 days who took us to all the places we wanted to go around Mandalay (Inwa,Sagaing,U Bein Bridge etc) we found Mandalay a very very interesting place,lots to see.
I can highly recommend the guide and driver, speaks english well and a very pleasant person. Cost: USD20 for guide and 40 000K for the car per day.
His name is Soe Soe, email: email@example.com phone mobile: 09 402 538 362 he knows a lot about the region and takes you to places and avoids the tourist crowds.
Boat from Mandalay to Bagan by Malika Express (booked by guesthouse) Prize USD 45 departure in Bagan at 7.30am arrival in Bagan at 5.30 pm. A very nice trip, boat very comfortable,they serve food on board, we enjoyed the landscape, it was very relaxing.
4N in Bagan at the THIRIMARLAR HOTEL USD38.- p.N (booked by classique Inn) a very very nice Hotel, breakfast on the top overlooking the temples. )
Hired bicycles to get around, walked in the village and took an english speaking driver for a full day.
I can also recommend him very much, very pleasant and calm,he is from Bagan, knows the places, did the great tour anticlock, so we avoided the big crowds. We had him from 9am until after sunset for 35 000 K, his name is NYI NYI email firstname.lastname@example.org mobile 09 204 25 70
Bus from Bagan to Inle Nyaungshwe: Finally found out that there is a AC bus leaving from Bagan at 7.30 am arrival in Inle Ny. at 4.30pm, stops at Kalaw. We booked it at email@example.com mobile 09 430 35188 or 092002574 prize for the journey 10 000 K, they deliver tickets to your hotel and pick you up. The bus is OK, not great luxury but we liked the journey. Would take some food along as the restaurant where they stop is not so brilliant. Stops on the way for local people to fill up the bus. The road is not terribly good, but it s doable.
6N in Inle-Nyaungshwe, stayed at Princessgardenhotel, USD40 per night, lovely bungalow, swimming pool. We just loved the place. The owner organised some trips for us to Kakku,Taunggyi, (55000K Plus Pao guide USD 11)hired bikes, and took a tour on the lake for the whole day. We went for sunrise in order to avoid the crowd in Indein, paid for the boat 20 000K.
Flight from Heo to Thandwe (Air Mandalay)-
stayed at Thandebeachhotel for USD130 incl.bkfst, a very nice place-bungalow with sea view, beach is fantastic.
Wonderful seafood restaurants on the beach.
Did a lot of walks along the beach up to the fisher villages, boat trips, and by bike to the to the school of Mama Sue,for a deep and lovely experience, - SS mentioned it on diff. reports. the donation really goes to the right place.
1 night stay in Yagon again before we took the flight to Singapore.
Tipping:bags 500K per bag, no tipping for taxis unless they were in traffic jams so we gave them extra.Restaurant if tip was included we just rounded up. For guides per day plus USD 5 and for drivers 2000K we got these guidelines from different agents. We invited them always for lunch. We tipped also the room ladies or men and used the tipping box in the hotel or guesthouses.
Shopping: Mandalay is a good place for handicraft
Yangon: Scott market you find everything and reasonably priced- also on the top of Monsoon there is a non benefit shop, fixed prices and nice things.
Bagan: I just loved the JASMINE FAMILY LACQUER WARE WORK SHOP, close to CUCKOO, MYNKAPAR VILLAGE
they have the nicest lacquerware I saw ,good quality and very reasonably priced.
Avoid shopping at airport, its quite expensive.
the only bad experience was at the Botataung-Pagode: we took a side entrance and paid the USD 3 fee per person, did not realize that we did not get any receipt- went out through the main entrance and were asked for the tickets....they believed us that we paid....so make sure, you always get a ticket...
If you have any questions, PM.
Will do hotel and restaurant reviews later on.