We'll be arriving in Yangon, from BKK, on the 7th February departing the 9th March (two days overstay I know, $3 per day + $3 admin)
Here's a rough itinerary:
Yangon for a few days and then head to Bagan by bus. Boat to Mandalay for Sagaing, Amarapura etc. High tail down to Kalaw and trek to Inle (3 day, 2 night option), Inle Lake and surrounds for a couple of days then a morning flight from Heho to Thandwe and catch an afternoon flight to Sittwe obviously stay for one night in Sittwe and head to Mrauk U for a few days. Back to Sittwe and take the overnight boat to Thunggok/Toungup (spelling), down to Ngapali for some relaxation before heading back to Yangon for the flight back to BKK.
Does it sound 'doable'? (I'm aware of the current woes in Rakhine State)
Any pointers for the upstream boat to Mandalay?
Any other advice most welcome.
In terms of 'do-able' from a time point of view what you are planning looks fine - you're not trying to fit too much in which is good as it's easy to under-estimate how much time can be taken up by travelling between A and B. Just a couple of quick thoughts onthe boat part of your trip .......
With respect to the boat from Bagan to Mandalay are you planning on taking the slow boat/public ferry or fast tourist boat? For me, taking the public ferry meant that I would have had to hang around in Bagan longer than I wanted to so I took the "fast" boat. Personally I wouldn't do this again as I was a bit disappointed with the journey - the banks of the Ayeyarwady are are wide apart and there really wasn't that much to see in terms of activity either onthe shores, the river itself or the ship which has less than 10 tourists on it. The boat took 12 hours and cost $30 - the bus is much cheaper and a flight only cost around $50. There are 2 companies operating this route - the Shin Kinnery which is a daily boat costing $30; departing at 5.45am and Malikha which doesn't operate daily and is supposedly a bit faster but costs $40. If I had my time again I'd plan things so I could take the public slowboat which I was told currently departs at 5.30am on Mondays and Thursday and arrives "some time" the following day (should be early hours of the morning though) ...... Or I'd just take the bus. Public boats in Burma do have a habit of changing their schedule though so it's not always easy to plan!
I found the boat trip from Sittwe to Mrauk U much more interesting and although there is no longer a Government run ferry on this route it's still possible to have a more "local" experience. Again, this information is probably particularly susceptible to change but the boat that runs on Tuesday and Friday is the ex-Government one, now franchised, and still makes some stops along the way and seems to carry a lot of local traffic - the local people pay less than $2 for upper deck seats versus the $10 tourist price, the lower was cheaper and was jammed. I took this boat one way and came back on one of the other privatised passenger boats (also $10). There are services running daily between Sittwe and Mrauk U and vice versa except going on a Sunday and returning on a Monday so there's not really much need to privately charter a boat. That was the picture 3 months ago .......
Hopefully things will calm down in Sittwe - I thought is was a pleasant town with an interesting fishing harbour, several markets to explore, pleasant waterfront and friendly people; worth spending a bit of time there to look around.
You mention the overnight boat from Sittwe to Taunggok - I took the speedboat operated by Malikha which took 11 hours, departing at 6am. There are 2 companies operating this route- Mon/Wed/Thu/Sat/Sun; $40. The overnight option would be the slow ferry which I was told departs on a Tuesday and Friday and takes 2 days. If you've got the time and inclination that would be a cool trip. You may find yourself overnighting in Taunggok depending on what time you arrive as it's a rough 4 hour journey from there to Thandwe by truck that departs in the morning, followed by a taxi to Ngapali.
That was a bit rushed, so hopefully it makes sense and is of some help :-)
That's brill, Cheers Kirsty,
Yep, less is definitely more.
I usually travel with a rough route and normally stick to it although I do like having the option to shave off days here and add them there en-route.
I'm not in any rush but I suppose I'll play it by ear in Bagan for the boats, no need to hang around if there's no need to.
Maybe I'll plan it for the slow boat. ;-)