Ravishing temple landscapes, balancing fishermen and lush rice fields. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is truly the gem of South-East Asia, as it still remains relatively untouched by mass tourism. The country only opened its borders to foreigners in 2012 and although it has been rapidly developing its tourist infrastructure, it’s not overrun by tourists yet such as neighboring Thailand. This all adds to the charm and rawness of Myanmar, as you can still experience its authentic culture and traditions as if you were stepping back in time. The local people are absolutely heartwarming and no doubt Burma’s natural beauty will mesmerize you from the moment you arrive. We created this 2-week Myanmar itinerary based on our experiences, so you can discover the best of what this intriguing country has to offer.
Are you planning a journey to this magical country and don’t know where to start? This 2-week Myanmar itinerary will take you along the main highlights, including all the must-sees on your first time visiting. From the temple-filled plains of Bagan, the floating villages of Inle Lake to the former royal capital of Mandalay, and the largest stupa in the world. For every destination on the itinerary, we carefully selected the best places to stay throughout Myanmar, where to eat delicious local food and all the information you need to travel in between. In the end, we also give you some more destination options in case you would like to extend your itinerary.
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Overview of the 2-Week Myanmar Itinerary
As Myanmar isn’t as fully developed for tourism yet in comparison to Thailand, you will notice that traveling the country takes more time. The distances between the destinations are long and the infrastructure isn’t very efficient. You will have to count on full travel days to get from one place to another. That’s why we suggest counting on at least 2 weeks for the following Myanmar Itinerary. If you have more time to explore the country it’s possible to add extra destinations to your planning, for which we added suggestions at the end.
2-Week Myanmar Itinerary
- Day 1 | Arrival in Mandalay
- Day 2 – 4 | Explore Mandalay, the former royal capital
- Day 5 | Travel from Mandalay to Bagan by boat
- Day 6-7 | Go temple hopping in Bagan, home to over 2000 temples and pagodas and famous for its sunrise hot air balloon rides
- Day 8 | Day trip to Mount Popa, a monastery perched on top of a volcanic mountain
- Day 9 | Travel to Inle Lake by minivan through Burma’s mountainous area
- Day 10-11 | Explore Inle Lake and its floating villages by long-tail boat
- Day 12 | Travel from Inle Lake to Yangon
- Day 13 | Explore Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, home to the world’s largest stupa
- Day 14 | Visit Yangon and departure
Myanmar has something to offer for everyone, from historical sights to tropical beaches. You can easily add it to any Southeast Asia travel itinerary, as it’s easily reachable from big cities like Bangkok or Singapore. We flew into Mandalay from Bangkok, Thailand, which is only a short flight away. We started our 2-week Myanmar itinerary in the northern city of Mandalay and worked our way to the south. As both Yangon and Mandalay have an international airport, you can easily flip this Myanmar itinerary and do the route in reverse.
Myanmar Itinerary Day 1 – 4 | Mandalay
Sitting on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, Mandalay is considered Myanmar’s spiritual and cultural heart. Besides being the second largest city, it’s also known as the last royal capital of the country. Mandalay is a lively city with many stunning attractions that you definitely don’t want to skip on your itinerary. Often tourists overlook Mandalay, not realizing there are plenty of things to do. There is definitely enough to keep you busy for days, so we suggest spending at least 3 days here.
Most of Mandalay’s beauty is situated outside the city center. Venture out to one of the surrounding villages such as Ava, Amarapura, or Mingun which is known for its stunning white Hsinbyume Pagoda. Cross the U Bein Bridge, the longest teak bridge in the world and over two centuries old. The city is also home to numerous stunning temples and palaces. You definitely don’t want to miss Mandalay Palace with its gorgeous golden architecture. Find yourself at the watchtower and climb the spiral staircase to get a beautiful view of the surroundings. The best way to end the day is by hiking to the top of Mandalay Hill and watching the sunset over the pagoda’s scattered landscape.
Best things to do in Mandalay
Mandalay Palace | The last royal palace built by the Burmese Monarchy. The complex houses dozens of buildings, including throne halls, audience halls, the watchtower, a library with Buddhist scriptures, and a tooth relic building.
Shwenandaw Monastery | This 19th-century monastery definitely stands out from the typical golden stupas that you can find all over Myanmar. It’s made fully out of teak wood and characterized by intricately carved decorations on its exterior and interior. Originally the monastery was part of the palace, but it was relocated when Mandalay was declared the new capital in 1857.
Kuthodaw Pagoda | Located at the foot of Mandalay Hill, you can find the white Kuthodaw pagoda, also known as “the world’s largest book”. It comprises hundreds of shrines containing 729 inscribed marble slabs with Buddhist scriptures. On the grounds, you can also find the beautiful gilded Sandamuni Pagoda.
Mandalay Hill | For this sight, you will have to make a small effort, but oh so worth it. After a small hike, you will reach the top of Mandalay Hill which gives you a beautiful view over Mandalay. The best time to come here is for sunset when you can watch the cotton candy sky color the stupa scattered landscape of Mandalay.
U Bein Bridge | This is the oldest and longest teak bridge in the world. This place is absolutely lovely for either sunrise or sunset. You can enjoy a stroll across the 1200 meters long bridge crossing the Taung Tha Man Lake. You can also get a rowing boat and enjoy the views from the lake.
Best things to do around Mandalay
You can find this green hill on the west bank of the Irrawaddy River. Sagaing Hill has a high concentration of Buddhist monasteries and pagodas scattered all over the hill. It is an important place for meditation and Buddhist study. Among them, you can find the beautiful U Min Thonze Pagoda, known for its 45 large Buddha images lined up in a crescent row in the main hall. The 17th-century Kaunghmudaw Pagoda, one of the largest stupas in Burma built in Sri Lankan style. And the Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda gives you a beautiful view of the surrounding landscapes.
We advise combining Sagaing Hills with a visit to the small island of Innwa. You can reach the island by ferry, and once you get to shore you can hop on one of the horse-drawn carriages to explore the place. This ancient capital has many religious landmarks dating back to the 14th century. The main highlights are Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery and Bagaya Monastery which is also fully built out of teak wood. But above all, it’s the perfect place to enjoy some untouched nature as well as some authentic local atmosphere.
Make your way across the river with a ferry to the northern town of Mingun for a half-day trip. Here you can find the photogenic white Hsinbyume Pagoda with its distinctive stone waves that became an Instagram hotspot. You might have seen pictures of people posing on the arches, but please avoid doing this out of respect. Burmese people would never crawl on the walls of a temple. Further down you will also find the Mingun Pahtodawgyi, not as photogenic but it has an interesting historic background. It was meant to become the largest stupa, however, left unfinished and shows several cracks caused by an earthquake in 1839.
Myanmar Itinerary | Where to stay in Mandalay
Budget Accommodation in Mandalay
Ostello Bello Mandalay | This hostel checks all the boxes if you are on a budget. Not only does it have the perfect location near the main attractions within the city, but it’s also close to many restaurants. The hostel has spacious dorm rooms and private rooms available, equipped with all the necessary facilities. Further, it features a large common area with a restaurant and bar as well as a roof terrace, making it a great place to meet other travelers. Laundry service is available and excursions are arrangeable. Free breakfast is included and a friendly staff, making this one of the most popular hostels around.
Mid-Range Accommodation in Mandalay
The Home Hotel | Only a short walk away from Mahar Thatkyarthiha Pagoda, this accommodation provides clean and cozy rooms, including a continental breakfast. Further, you can find a bar, and they have an ATM available as well as a currency exchange is possible.
Luxury Accommodation in Mandalay
Rupar Mandalar Resort | This beautiful hotel offers an outdoor pool as well as a spa and wellness center. There are three onsite restaurants available serving a mix of Burmese, Thai, and European food. Upon arrival, guests receive a happy-hour voucher and can enjoy a 15-minute Thai massage. All the rooms of the property have a garden view, some of which come with a balcony and seating area.
Where to eat in Mandalay
Mingalabar Myanmar Restaurant | This is probably one of the most popular restaurants in Mandalay. Not only does it have a lovely setting, but the food is also absolutely delicious. Usually, in Myanmar, you order a curry (whatever you prefer from lamb to fish or chicken) and you will receive a range of complimentary side dishes with it, all kinds of little bowls with different kinds of vegetables. Lovely staff and delicious food for a very affordable price.
Aye Myit Tar Myanmar Restaurant | This brightly lit restaurant is the perfect place to get authentic Burmese cuisine. You will definitely not leave here with hunger because of the abundance of side dishes you receive when ordering a curry. A wide range of curries to choose from, and they all come with sides of vegetables, sauces, soup, and rice. The staff is extremely friendly here and will make sure you will leave nothing but satisfied.
Super 81 | If you want to mix things up, this place offers a variety of Asian cuisine, mostly Chinese-inspired. You can choose from two types of menu, the BBQ menu or the Asian à la carte menu. Expect big portions for a very reasonable price. The restaurant has 3 floors, of which the ground floor seems to cater mostly local community. On the first floor, you can enjoy an air-conditioned dining room and at the top, you have an open-air rooftop terrace.
How to get around Mandalay
As Mandalay is quite a hectic city we wouldn’t recommend hiring a motorbike to get around. Also, the distances to the sights outside the city are pretty far. It’s more cost-efficient to get a tuk-tuk or order a Grab (similar to Uber). For trips to Sagaing Hill and Amarapura, we advise to hire a driver for the whole trip that can take you back. We made the mistake of only having a driver drop us off and it was pretty hard getting back to the city (we joined a truck transporting goods). It’s possible to hire a private driver for the day for around 55,000 kyats (~€25).
How to get from Mandalay to Bagan
Next stop on the itinerary after Mandalay is Bagan. You can either fly, take the bus or train, hire a private taxi or cruise the Irrawaddy River by boat. We chose to take the boat option, which is a unique and scenic experience. The relaxing boat ride takes around 10 hours, but along the way, you can enjoy delicious food & refreshing drinks while soaking up the beautiful views of the countryside. During the trip, they even make a stop at a local village where they show you all kinds of craftsmanship. You can also enjoy some entertainment on board, where they explain more about Myanmar culture and traditions such as Thanaka paste and how to wear a longyi. It’s best to book this boat ride in advance, for which prices go around 50,000 kyats (~€22).
If you opt to take the JJ Express bus, the ride will take around 5 hours given the current conditions of the road. The journey will cost around 12,000 kyats (~€5). Another travel option is taking the train, which takes around 8 hours and for which tickets vary in price, 5,000-14,000 kyat (~€2-7). The fastest way to travel between the cities is by hiring a private driver. They can bring you in 4 hours, this, however, will drive up the cost, to around 250,000 kyats (~€110).
Myanmar Itinerary Day 5 – 8 | Bagan
Exploring the magical temple plains of Bagan is the highlight of most travelers on their Myanmar itinerary. Bagan is one of those places that makes every travel heart beat faster. Once it was the capital of the ancient Pagan kingdom with over 10’000 Buddhist temples, pagodas & monasteries. Now it’s one of the most popular travel destinations in Myanmar. Most temples were constructed around the 12th century, however, only 2200 survived and many got destroyed due to natural disasters.
The UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest archaeological zone in the world with 50 square kilometers and is home to more than 2000 temples. Waking up early is a must-do when in Bagan, to be able to witness the sunrise over the temples that reach as far as the eye can see. Spend your day on an e-bike exploring the region, wandering around the magnificent stupas and pagodas. If you are feeling adventurous you can go up on one of the many balloon rides that Bagan is known for. This bucket list experience will without a doubt be unforgettable! 3 days should be sufficient to experience the magic of Bagan and even include a day trip to Mount Popa.
IMPORTANT | Be aware that on arrival at Bagan, you will have to pay an entrance fee for the archeological site. The cost is 25,000 kyats (~€12) and entitles you to 3 days of touring the temple site.
Best things to do in Bagan
Temple Tour of Bagan
The best way to explore the plains of Bagan is by renting an electric motorbike. Simply cruise around on the sandy roads, lose yourself in between the temple sites, and make a stop by whatever pagoda catches your eye. Bagan can be divided into four areas, Nyuang U, Old Bagan, New Bagan, and the Central Plains. If you don’t want to miss any of the major temple highlights we suggest dividing these areas over your two days.
IMPORTANT | Always carry your Bagan Archaeological Zone Pass with you.
Most hotels have free maps for their guests available and e-bikes for rent. We mostly explored in the morning for around 4 hours, then went for lunch and head back to the hotel for some relaxing at the pool in the afternoon. Before sunset, we would head out again on our e-bike to do some more exploring. It’s better to avoid the temples around noon as it gets scorching hot out there with little to no shadow.
Must-see pagodas and temples in Bagan
- Ananda Temple
- Gawdawpalin Temple
- Dhammayangyi Temple
- Sein Nyet Sister Temples
- Sulamani Temple
- Htilominlo Temple
- Thatbyinnyu Temple
- Thambula Temple
- Su La Ma Ni Pahto Temple
- Shwe San Daw Paya
- Law Ka Ou Shaung Pagoda
- Shwezigon Pagoda, the only golden pagoda in the Bagan area
Bagan Sunrise & Sunset
If you think about Bagan, no doubt you have seen these unbelievable pictures of its temples at sunrise with a cotton candy sky in the background. The best moment of the day to admire the stunning temple sites during sunrise and sunset. Not only to avoid the burning sun but you can also witness the epic views of the hot air balloons going up behind the temples. So set your alarms at least an hour before sunrise, hop on your e-bike, and head out for a magical sunrise. It’s best to map out the temple area or viewpoints you want to go up front because it’s very easy to get lost in the dark. Some hotels also arrange mini-buses for sunrise that drive you to a viewpoint.
The most popular Instagram pictures you might have seen online show people on top of pagodas watching the sunrise over the landscape. As of 2018, visitors are forbidden to climb the temples due to conservation reasons. So please respect these rulings to preserve these gorgeous temples. Bagan has foreseen man-made viewing hills instead located all over the area. A really popular viewing spot in Bagan that offers exceptional elevated views over the pagodas is the Nyaung Lat Phet Viewing Mound. After enjoying an incredible sunrise, you can drive to the marketplace of Nyaung Oo, where you can get a glimpse of the daily Burmese lifestyle.
Hot Air Balloon Ride over the temple landscape
The best way to experience a bird’s eye view of the Bagan temple landscape is by booking a sunrise hot air balloon ride. Do keep in mind that these balloon rides don’t operate all year round, and only run between November and April. So make sure to check the official balloon ride season before planning your Myanmar Itinerary. You can book a Hot Air Balloon Ride over Bagan in advance, to make sure you have a spot. Most balloon rides are fully booked in advance (at least 4 months). We actually passed on this experience and chose to admire the view of the balloons surrounding the temples from the ground. But if you do decide to jump on a balloon, you will have to put an alarm at 5 AM and count on at least €200 for an hour balloon ride.
A day trip to Mount Popa
We counted in 3 days for Bagan on our Myanmar Itinerary as we suggest making a day trip to Mount Popa. Believe me, this is an experience you don’t want to miss out on. Mount Popa is known for its impressive Popa Taungkalat monastery perched on top of a 657-meter-high volcanic mountain. It’s quite a sight to see from in the distance, and even more of an experience to climb to the top. Just be aware of the hundreds of temple monkeys that you will encounter on the way to the top.
It is 777 steps via a staircase that will bring you to the top of Mount Popa, a beloved pilgrimage. As most of the time with temple sites, you have to remove your footwear before entering, meaning you have to do the climb barefoot! The place can be easily visited on a half-day tour from Bagan, however, if you want to make it even more memorable you can also spend a night at Mount Popa Resort. This was on my bucket list for so long, as you can admire Mount Popa from the resort’s grounds.
Myanmar Itinerary | Where to stay in Bagan
Bagan has three main hotel zones, namely: Old Bagan, New Bagan, and Nyaung-U. Old Bagan is the most historically rich part of the city and you will be located right between the temples and pagodas. However, if you have an e-bike it doesn’t matter that much if you are located in some of the other parts. Most of the best restaurants can be found in New Bagan and Nyaung-U areas. New Bagan has more budget accommodations and Nyaung-U is a great location for visiting temples on the outskirts. So it all depends on your budget and preferences.
Budget Accommodation in Bagan
Bagan Wynn Hotel | This budget-friendly hotel is located in the Nyaung U. The accommodation features an outdoor swimming pool, a beautiful garden, and a fitness center. The rooms are modern and clean, with all the necessary amenities and some of which come with their own balcony. Guests can enjoy a continental and Asian breakfast, which is included in the rate. There is also a restaurant available on site, serving both Asian and European cuisine.
Mid-Range Accommodation in Bagan
Bagan Cottage Boutique Hotel | Set in the heart of the Nyaung U region, Bagan Cottage Boutique Hotel offers a wonderful swimming pool surrounded by a lush garden and terrace to relax. Most of their rooms are separate cottages, all equipped with the needed amenities and air conditioning and a balcony with a garden view. Every morning guests can enjoy breakfast and choose between a buffet, a la carte, or continental. The property also features a restaurant that serves American and Chinese cuisine.
Luxury Accommodation in Bagan
The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate | Located in old Bagan, this pristine hotel offers temple views straight from its garden. The perk of staying in this area is that you are in a central location close to most sights. The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate features an outdoor swimming pool with relaxing sun loungers to relax, as well as a spa and wellness center. The elegant rooms have wooden floors and furniture, with windows looking over the garden. An American breakfast is served daily, which can be enjoyed in the French garden or in their onsite Ananada restaurant.
Where to eat in Bagan
Weather Spoon’s | This was our go-to place for lunch, absolutely cozy and delicious! We can advise you to try out their pumpkin curry, papaya salad, and the traditional tea leaf salad is a must in every Myanmar Itinerary.
Khaing Shwe Wha | Delicious vegetarian restaurant, with some amazing curry options, as well as salads and fruit juices. A wonderful atmosphere, thanks to the warm and charming hospitality of the staff. You will want to come here for an authentic Burmese cuisine experience.
How to get around Bagan
The best way to roam around the many pagodas of Bagan is by renting an e-bike. These can only reach a top speed of 50 kph (30 mph) and are very safe to drive. So don’t stress too much if you didn’t have much prior experience with scooters. At the end of the day, you will have to return them so they can be charged up for the next day. Most hotels have e-bikes for rent for their guests, otherwise, you can practically find them on every street corner for around €7/day. Discovering the Bagan plains by e-bike was definitely one of our favorite adventures in our Myanmar Itinerary. If you don’t feel like exploring the archaeological sites on your own, most hotels can also organize for you to join a guided tour.
How to get from Bagan to Inle Lake
Your best option to get from Bagan to Inle Lake is by bus. You will mostly see the VIP mini-vans from JJ Express doing this route and they can pick you up at your hotel. The vans are spacious and comfortable, however, this route is rather bumpy. Tickets go between €12-€18, and the duration of the drive is around 8-10 hours. You can book tickets in Bagan City or online. There is the option to take the overnight bus, and with their VIP ticket, you will be provided blankets, pillows, and refreshments. However, we wouldn’t recommend the overnight drive on this road, as you likely won’t be able to sleep.
Myanmar Itinerary Day 9 – 11 | Inle Lake
Explore the gorgeous untouched nature and peace and quiet that Inle Lake has to offer. It’s the second-largest lake in the country, located in the Nyaung Shwe region of Shan State. As it’s surrounded by hills, temperatures tend to be lower, making it the perfect escape from the heat of Bagan. Explore the picturesque floating villages with bamboo stilts houses, home to the local Intha people. The lake is known for its characteristic, traditional fishermen, the ones who use their feet to paddle the fishing boats. These days it’s all more for the show, nonetheless still a spectacle to see.
Rent a private boat driver for the day who will take you along local markets, impressive pagodas, and monasteries, all with the breathtaking backdrop of the lake. You can witness locals working in their floating gardens, weaving colorful scarves, and creating all kinds of handicrafts. Another option is to cycle around the lake to witness local life. End your day with a delicious glass of wine while watching the sunset at the Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery. We recommend spending at least two full days at Inle Lake to explore all that this area has to offer. If you have more than two weeks on your Myanmar Itinerary, you can add the three-day trek from nearby Kalaw all the way to Inle.
IMPORTANT | Upon arrival at Inle Lake you have to pay the entrance fee of 15,000 kyats (~€6,5).
Best things to do in Inle Lake
Inle Lake Boat Cruise
The main highlight of visiting Inle Lake is of course exploring the waters by boat. Usually, you can book a private boat guide through your stay (around €40 for an entire day), who will pick you up at your hotel in the early morning. You can expect to spot the iconic fishermen on the lake, famous for their one-leg fishing style! These days this practice isn’t so common anymore and it’s done mostly for tourists but still impressive to see. The boat will take you along all the highlights around the lake.
You will pass by the floating villages, such as Maing Thauk Village, where you have the chance to see locals in their daily lives. Learn more about their culture, including the Long Neck tribe, as well as their handicrafts such as weaving. Further, you will also stop by the beautiful Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda and the Jumping Cat Monastery. At the monastery, you will be surrounded by many cats that apparently can do all kinds of jumping tricks (I guess we missed the show). You will also have the opportunity to make a stop for lunch at one of the stilt houses in the floating village.
Visit Indein Village
Combined with the boat cruise above you can request the guide to bring you to the Indien Village in the afternoon. This isn’t always automatically the case, be sure to ask to add it to your boat tour. You don’t want to miss this unique sight on your Myanmar itinerary, so we heartily recommend making a small detour. It’s a village located at the end of a narrow creek off Inle Lake. To reach this impressive sight you will first have to walk a long ‘hallway’ staircase which is flanked by colorful stalls selling all kinds of souvenirs. In the end, you will reach the cluster of thousand of Buddhist stupas in all kinds of terracotta colors.
A half-day trip to Kakku
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make this trip ourselves (due to bad weather), but Kakku is supposed to be an absolute hidden gem. It’s about a 2.5-hour car journey away from Inle Lake in Shan State hillside, for which you can book a driver from your hotel. This ancient monument is supposed to be well worth the drive, as you will see rows upon rows of 2500 stupas spread over a square kilometer. The oldest stupas date back to the 16th century, with more and more added over time. A mix of pale pink and bright beige stupas are lined up alongside buddha statues. The entrance to the sight is around 4500 kyats (~€2).
Myanmar Itinerary | Where to stay in Inle Lake
There aren’t many hostels to choose from in the Inle Lake region, but overall there are plenty of wonderful guesthouses, homestays, and luxury hotels to be found. Most are located in Nyaung Shwe, the township closest to the lake. Here you will find an abundance of restaurants, little shops, and tour offices. Many luxury resorts can be found scattered around the lake itself.
Budget Accommodation in Inle Lake
Inle Cottage Boutique Hotel | This lovely hotel located in Nyaung Shwe offers spacious bungalows with their own private bathroom and terrace. Its great location is a peaceful retreat from the center of town, which is only 10 minutes away by foot. A delicious breakfast is included in the rate, with an a la carte or continental option and you are welcomed by a super-friendly staff. The property also features a shared lounge and bar, as well as a restaurant serving American cuisine. Free bikes are available for its guests and boat rides can be arranged at very reasonable prices.
Mid-Range Accommodation in Inle Lake
Shwe Inn Tha Floating Resort | Located only 15 minutes from the floating market, this resort built on stilts on the lake is a peaceful retreat. Rustic-style rooms with a classic wooden interior and a private balcony from where you can soak up views of the lake. Guests can enjoy a swimming pool, spa center, and meeting facilities. There is a tour desk available that can organize sightseeing trips. On-site, you can also find Ann’s restaurant which serves a selection of both European and traditional Asian dishes.
Luxury Accommodation in Inle Lake
Villa Inle Boutique Resort | This hotel is located on the eastern side of the lake near Maing Tauk village. A great alternative if you prefer to be more secluded from Nyaung Shwe. Villa Inle features classic wooden Myanmar-style villas that overlook the beautiful lake. The rooms are equipped with air conditioning and all the needed amenities. The resort has a restaurant and bar on site that serves Italian, and traditional Myanmar cuisine, as well as Shan dishes, prepared with fresh ingredients from the resort’s organic farm. Further, it also offers facilities such as a pool, massage treatments, and spa, and activities such as fishing and cycling.
Where to eat in Inle Lake
Bamboo Hut | For outstanding traditional cuisine we recommend this small family-run restaurant. We had a lovely lunch here at a very affordable price. Here we suggest trying out the typical tea leaf salad and one of the curries. The serene location is surrounded by green nature and the staff is incredibly welcome.
Paw Paw | Cute little restaurant with a lovely atmosphere. The food was absolutely tasty here and again at a really affordable price. What we absolutely loved is the fact that the restaurant supports an amazing cause. Namely, the profits go to funding the education of local women. It’s also possible to join a cooking course here.
Golden Moon Restaurant | Great stilted restaurant on the lake, this is where our boat guide dropped us off for lunch. It’s a great place to have a bite while you are exploring the pagodas and the floating villages. While enjoying one of their delicious dishes, you should try a fish dish here, you have a wonderful view.
How to get around Inle Lake
If you are staying in Nyaung Shwe, you will be able to walk to the main attractions in the town. For exploring the lake itself, you will have to arrange a long-tail boat trip. Another option to experience Inle Lake and its quaint villages on the water’s edge is by renting a bicycle or a scooter. You can find several rental places in Nyaung Shwe, however, most hotels and guesthouses provide free bicycles for their guests. Usually, it will cost you around 1500 kyats (a little over €1) for a bicycle for a whole day. If you prefer a more comfortable way of getting around, you can ask your hotel to arrange a private driver.
How to get from Inle Lake to Yangon
The most cost-efficient way to travel between Inle Lake (Nyaung Shwe) and Yangon is by taking the night bus. The journey takes around 12 hours and there is a choice between either VIP class (JJ Express) or a local bus. The VIP sleeper buses are comfortable and in excellent condition. The local bus is more affordable but stops more frequently and takes longer (15 hours on average). Depending on the class, the bus ticket costs between 17,000- 33,000 (~€7,5-€15). You can book tickets online via 12GoAsia.com or locally.
If you are short in time on your Myanmar itinerary, there is also the option to take a flight. The nearest airport is Heho (HEH) which is located 45km from Inle Lake and flights to Yangon (RGN) take around 1,5 hours. We paid around 100 euros per person (with Myanmar National Airlines) and on top of that airport transfer. Be aware, Heho Airport is probably the smallest airport you will ever see. It looked more like one big hall and the plane takes practically off right in front of the window. Once at Yangon, you can get a Grab car with the app, which will cost you around €5.
Myanmar Itinerary Day 12 – 14 | Yangon
Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is the largest city in the country. The chaos that welcomes you upon arrival can be overwhelming at first, but the former colonial city is packed with incredible sights. The most important attraction is without a doubt the Shwedagon Pagoda, the largest pagoda in the world. This spectacular golden pagoda alone is already a reason to visit Yangon. Throughout the city, you can find monuments from every religion, from Hindu temples cathedrals, mosques, and synagogues. A great way to experience the city is by taking a round on the famous circular train.
Walking through the city of Yangon feels like stepping back in time, with architectural gems from the colonial era. On the other hand, it’s the place that changed the most since the country opened its doors to foreigners. These days it doesn’t fall short on trendy cafés, rooftop bars, boutique hotels, and fascinating museums. The colorful streets of downtown Yangon are packed with delicious street food stalls and markets. As the city can get hectic once in a while, some lovely green parks and lakes are the perfect reprise to balance it out. Two nights are the perfect amount to see the major highlights of the city and to experience its hustle and bustle.
Best things to do in Yangon
The most famous landmark in Yangon on your Myanmar Itinerary is this impressive pagoda. It’s known for its 99-meter-high golden Zedi in the center of the temple complex. However, there are many other shrines and Buddha statues to admire surrounding the main centerpiece. Allow yourself at least a few hours here to admire all the intricate detailing. You will also see many locals and monks here performing their rituals and prayers. The pagoda is the most sacred one in Myanmar and supposedly houses a few Buddha relics. You will get the most magical experience around sunrise or sunset when you can see the golden temple gleaming in its colorful hues. Keep in mind that when entering a temple site you have to cover your knees and shoulders. Leave your shoes at the entrance and remove your hat. The entrance fee to the complex is 11,000 Kyat (~€5).
More beautiful pagodas that are worth a visit are Sule pagoda, a smaller variant of the Shwedagon. This 2300-year-old pagoda has a dome structure topped with a golden spiral and is believed to enshrine a strand of hair of Lord Buddha. Swe Taw Myat Pagoda, which is said to be constructed to enshrine a sacred Buddha tooth relic.
Yangon Circular Train
A great way to get a glimpse into local life is by taking the Circle Line Train. The circular train takes a loop of the city’s outskirts and takes around three hours. Tickets cost only a couple of cents and you can board at whatever station is near your accommodation.
There is no better way of exploring a new city than by roaming its streets. The downtown area is the perfect place to see locals in their daily life and experience street food stalls and markets. The scents of herbs, the honking of cars, and merchants trying to sell their trinkets will trigger all your senses. Around here you will find many places to try out local food such as the famous Shan noodles or Mohingya rice noodles, Myanmar’s national dish. Head over to Pandosan Street for that photogenic heritage architecture. You won’t be able to put your camera down with the myriad of heritage buildings featuring art galleries, tea shops, and cute boutiques.
Bogyoke Aung San Market
If you are looking to score some souvenirs to take home, this huge bazaar with its countless colorful stalls is the place to be. The historic market of Bogyoke Aung San sells all kinds of Burmese handicrafts, Thanaka paste, and colorful longyis. At the same time, you can pick up a snack or fruit if you are feeling hungry.
Also known as Royal Lake, is the perfect place to end the afternoon. It’s within walking distance from Shwedagon Pagoda and features a beautiful lake surrounded by gardens and lovely bars by the waterside. At the heart of the park, you will find the impressive Karaweik Palace, a golden floating restaurant.
Myanmar Itinerary | Where to Stay in Yangon
As we only planned two days in Yangon on this Myanmar Itinerary, we recommend staying in Downton Yangon. This way you are within walking distance to the main highlights of the city and nearby many restaurants and bars. If you prefer to stay in a more remote located resort away from the hustle and bustle of Yangon City, you will find nice hotels around Inya Lake.
Budget Accommodation in Yangon
HOOD Hostel | This hostel is ideally located near many well-known sights, delicious restaurants, and the railway station. The accommodation provides a shared kitchen and luggage storage for its guests. All the rooms come with air conditioning, some even have a balcony, and breakfast is included. The staff is friendly and helpful with booking bus tickets and giving practical advice. This place is great to meet other travelers and is conveniently located for backpackers.
Mid-Range Accommodation in Yangon
Hotel G Yangon | Conveniently located with excellent food options nearby in a great neighborhood. Most attractions are within walking distance, making this accommodation a great base for exploring during your two days in Yangon. The contemporary rooms have a trendy design with all the needed amenities. The vibrant hotel has a lovely sun terrace from which you can enjoy the views of the city. Other facilities provided are a fully equipped fitness center, a cozy communal lounge, and an in-house bar and restaurant. At the restaurant, you can savor a wonderful breakfast, but it also offers the possibility to have lunch or dinner.
Luxury Accommodation in Yangon
Governor’s Residence, A Belmond Hotel | This gorgeous property is set amidst a dreamy garden, making this colonial-style hotel the perfect escape from the bustling city. Governor’s Residence features a wonderful swimming pool and even three dining options, where you have the choice between local, Asian and European cuisine. Guests can enjoy quiet time in the library, a relaxing stroll in the garden, or even join one of the complementary bicycle tours. The comfortable rooms have wooden flooring, furnished with teak decor and with attention to detail.
Where to eat in Yangon
As Yangon is the industrial and commercial center of the country, you will find many international cuisine restaurants and fine dining places around. So if you fancy something else after all the local cuisine during the journey, you will have no problem finding something to your liking. For the best street food, head over to 19th Street in downtown Yangon where you can find a myriad of delicious places.
Jana Mon Ethnic Cuisine | If you want to try something unique, you have to come to this place that serves ethnic Mon cuisine. They work mostly with fresh vegetables and all kinds of herbs, so perfect option for vegetarians. We recommend trying the stuffed okra and the Mon soup! Most dishes can be customized and you can choose fish, prawns, pork, or chicken.
999 Shan Noodle House | One of the most famous places in town, especially for their delicious Shan noodles. This place closes at 7 pm, so go there for lunch or an early dinner.
Wai Wai’s Noodle Place | Affordable and authentic place where you can find both vegetarian and meat options, all prepared with fresh ingredients. Try out their signature Shan Noodles or one of their classic Shan Curries. We also absolutely loved the interior and atmosphere of this place!
Rangoon Tea House | If you are fancying a break from all the heat and bustle of the city, take a coffee or tea break at this eclectic tea house. We passed by here almost on a daily basis for an afternoon tea break, savoring one of their Myanmar teas with a slice of cake. We also enjoyed lunch here once, they serve a mix of Burmese dishes with an international twist.
How to get around Yangon
As Yangon can be quite a hectic city, we wouldn’t advise you to get around on a scooter or bike. The easiest travel mode is by getting a ride via the Grab App, which is like Uber. If you are staying in downtown Yangon, most of the popular sights are within walking distance.
Options for extending your Myanmar Itinerary
If you prefer to speed up the tempo or you have more than 2 weeks on your Myanmar Itinerary, you can add the following destinations to your route.
This is a popular trek between Kalaw and Inle Lake which usually takes two days. The hike takes you through incredible vistas of Myanmar’s hillside country where you can watch farmers work their rice fields, stop by local villages and see children playing at traditional schools. You will be able to spend the night at a local traditional home and join a family for dinner.
This small village is located 200km north of Mandalay and is a beloved base for trekking as well. A popular way of getting there is taking the scenic train ride, which along with Sri Lanka’s famous train ride is supposed to be one of the most beautiful in the world. From Hsipaw you can do multiple-day trekkings to the beautiful green lush region of Shan State. By staying at a local homestay you will learn more about local life and its traditions.
A few hours east of Yangon you can find the small town of Bago. You can get there by two-hour train ride which will cost you only 1000 kyats. It’s a wonderful place to experience a mix of Myanmar’s culture, food, and religion. There are many temples and pagodas to explore as the city holds an important historical value. Bago’s main attractions are two giant reclining buddhas, Kyaik Pun Pagoda & Shwemawdaw Pagoda. This place is a nice stopover if you decide to go see the Golden Rock.
Better known as the Golden Rock, one of Burma’s most important Buddhist sanctuaries. This sacred boulder is a massive golden stone on the edge of a cliff with a small pagoda on top. This pagoda supposedly enshrines one Buddha’s hair. It’s a major place of worship surrounded by burning incense and devotees chanting. Kinpun, the base of the Golden Rock, is a 3,5 hour’s bus ride away from Bago, which will cost you 7,000 kyat (~€3,5).
Scenic views of limestone mountains, natural pools, and venturing into caves. Hpa-an is a small area in the southern part of the country. As it’s located further away, not many tourists find their way here (yet). The ones that take the journey will be rewarded with picturesque vistas of green rice fields and a rocky landscape. The most impressive attraction is hiking to the top of Mount Zwekabin which gives you a panoramic view over the fields with its river bends and villages. Explore the area on a scooter, as there is much to discover. The journey from Kinpun (Golden Rock) to Hpa-an takes 3,5 hours by bus and will cost you around 7000 kyats (~€3,5).
White sandy beaches with coconut trees. Ngapali, one of the most famous beaches of Myanmar, is the perfect place to unwind at the end of your Myanmar itinerary. We didn’t have the chance to go there ourselves, but many people claim it’s one of the most paradise-like beaches in Asia. Although the most famous beach, it doesn’t have the same amount of visitors as those beaches in Thailand. Currently, Ngapali isn’t that easy to reach yet. It takes take quite some time & effort by bus. Traveling by plane is probably the easiest and fastest way to get there.
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