Our time in Mandalay was greatly enhanced by a terrific local guide. We spent a jam packed day and a half with Soe Paing who asked us to call him Soe Soe and could not have been happier with the service. Not only is he extremely knowledgeable about his city and the surrounding areas, he is a genuinely nice guy that we enjoyed spending time with.
Along with hitting many of the must see spots listed in the guide books, he arranged for a very intimate visit to the Moe Hti Aung Si Monastery and Meditation Center where we were in awe of the monks and nuns in all forms of meditation & study. We then had a unique opportunity to experience the most memorable meal we had in all of Myanmar.
Soe Soe seemed to have a close relationship with the monk in charge there and had received permission to bring small groups (No tour busses!) to not only visit the Center but also to be served the same lunch that the monks and nuns were served. We were taken to a room behind where the monks & nuns were lunching and were served by the local village ladies who volunteer to serve the monks.
Before he worked as a tour guide, Soe Soe spent 10-years working in multiple capacities in the Mandalay Jade Market so we took advantage of his experience there on a tour of the market. This turned out to be one of my personal highlights of the entire trip. To see a clip from that day, click on the above video link.
Soe Soe offers tours via other transportation but his full day rate for an air conditioned van was 40,000 Kyats. He also arranged transfer from our hotel to the train station and the assistance of the driver in making sure we got on the right train for 5000.
Both the car and the van provided by Soe Soe were clean, in good repair and he was always on time. In addition to the transportation charges, Soe Soe’s guide rate for touring was roughly $25 for a full day and $15 for a half day.
We couldn’t have been happier with the service.