How long do the major tours (Scenic, APT, etc) spend at the Shwedagon and Sule pagodas. I am wondering if it might be better to do on our own so we can spend more time at these pagodas.
Take grab or taxi from your hotel to Shwedagon Pagoda (inner circle and outer circle) about two hours..
outer circle has more fascinating legends & stories about gods and buddha. You can research those in google for your interests and you can find them easily when you are there.
Sule Pagoda is very small and will take about 30-45 minutes. There is a nut (saint) named Bo Bo Aung. Believe it or not, many Thai ppl come here to offer him for a good karma.
Agreed, you don't need to follow a group following a guide with a sign.
Definitely do it your self.
Do it by yourself. Taxi from Sule to Shwedagon is very cheap, maybe 2500 kyat. We spent 3 hrs at Shwedagon, a really beautiful place, and you will probably see several ceremonies when young children are initiated into Buddhism. Wonderful costumes.
Sule will not require as much time
I agree don't do a tour, they will probably rush you around in about 1 hour, all stick together and follow a guide, better to g at your own pace, it's very easy to get there and away. Sule you won't need so much time. Late afternoon/early evening is a good time to visit Shwedagon, plan to spend about 2 hours there.
Early morning is a good time too, maybe better because there are few tourists.Edited: 1:39 pm, September 17, 2018
Our travel agent has warned us that during the months of October 2018 - March 2019, Shwedagon Pagoda is undergoing a rejuvenation process. The main stupa will be covered in scaffolds, giving visitors an obstructed view of its 100 + meter high stupa and spire from all angles.Edited: 3:46 am, September 18, 2018
He is correct but it is still a magic place to visit, even if the main stupa is covered in matting, all the surrounding buildings and walkways are open
During my visit in 2005 the main stupa also was covered for renovation. But it's always worth to visit the Shwedagon because of the atmosphere, the religios life and the many other impressive buildings.
Mate, just do the visit yourself, you can hire the services of a guide at the temple entrances for around 10,000 Kyt (approx $7.00 Australian) they will tell you all about the pagoda & all the sights you can see whilst inside. They are really informative & once you've completed the tour around with your own guide you can then tour around on your own looking in more detail.
We found the guide we picked up at the East Gate was very good & he spoke perfect English. They are just starting to do routine renovations on the pagoda so it will be covered in bamboo scaffolding for ne next few months. Thankfully we were there before these works started.Edited: 6:15 am, September 23, 2018