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Traveling to Myanmar? Look no further, this two week Myanmar travel itinerary is the only one that you’ll need!
For the past few years, Myanmar has held a constant spot on the top of my very long must-see travel list, however, it always seemed just a little out of the way. When I started planning my most recent 5 month escape to Asia I decided to make visiting Myanmar a priority, and I couldn’t be happier with that decision! I understand some people may choose not to visit for political reasons. Myanmar is quite frankly the perfect budget travel destination! With daily direct flights from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Kuala Lumpur, Myanmar is more accessible than ever.
When I started my research I continuously read posts about how Myanmar was difficult to get around, expensive, not suitable for solo travelers, etc. Safe to say there weren’t a ton of trustworthy Myanmar travel itinerary options to read through at the time. As of August 2017 I can say that that is definitely not the case. As cheesy as it sounds, Myanmar was by far one of the most magical places that I’ve ever been. The diverse landscapes are breathtaking, the food is delicious, and the locals are some of the most genuine and loving people that I have ever met. Follow along with my itinerary below on how to spend a perfect two weeks traveling through Myanmar with this two week Myanmar travel itinerary!
Myanmar Travel Itinerary: 2 Weeks in Myanmar
What currency is used in Myanmar?
Myanmar currently uses the Kyat (pronounced ch-ah-t). As of March 2020, $1 USD equals approximately 1,395 Kyat. Both ATMs and money exchange stands are widely accessible throughout the country.
What is the climate in Myanmar like?
While Myanmar is typically warm all year round, there are distinct dry and rainy seasons. The rainy season typically lasts from May/June to October. You will find that in some of the more mountainous regions, such as on the hike from Kalaw to Inle, the temperatures will drop a bit at night. I recommend packing some long pants and a light sweater, no matter what time of year you are visiting.
How much does it cost to visit Myanmar?
Traveling through Myanmar can be extremely cheap. Below are estimated costs on daily purchases:
- Shan Noodles/Fried Rice: 1,000-2,000 kyat
- Tomato Salad: 1,000 kyat
- Water Bottle: 400-500 kyat
- Beer (650 ml): 1,800-2,500 kyat
- Hostel: 8,000-20,000 kyat
- Overnight Bus: 11,000-20,000 kyat
Do I need a Visa to visit Myanmar?
A visa is required for most individuals to enter Myanmar. This visa can be purchased online in the form of an e-visa for $50. Make sure to allow 2-3 days for the visa to be processed.
Yangon, Myanmar Travel Itinerary (2-3 days)
A lot of people that I have met throughout my travel journeys had mixed feelings on Yangon. However, in my opinion Yangon is a city that cannot be skipped! A few days in Yangon is a must on my Myanmar travel itinerary! The city seems to buzz as locals go about their daily life. The street food is also not to be missed.
Where to Stay in Yangon:
Little Yangon ($9/night dorm bed)
Little Yangon hostel is reasonably priced and perfectly located next to the water and the famous Sule Pagoda. The breakfast is on the larger side as well, with free coffee and tea available throughout the day. My only complaint is that my friends staying in another room found some bed bugs, however this is unfortunately quite a common problem in Southeast Asia. I would check on the status of that before booking.
What to Do in Yangon:
Take the Ferry from Yangon to Dala
Right by the Sule Pagoda you’ll find a port with ferries heading off in various directions. From here you can catch a 10 minute ferry to a local village known as Dala. Unfortunately, you will be forced to purchase the “tourist ferry ticket,” however it is only 4,000 kyat for a round trip ticket. The ferry ride itself was, in my opinion, the most exciting part of the journey. For the short journey, the boat turns into a mini marketplace, with locals selling sweets, eggs, and fruit, as well electronic and household goods. There are a series of temples and monasteries to visit in the village, however, due to a sudden storm I took cover in a local restaurant instead. The staff was warm and welcoming, filling me with the most delicious, and cheapest, buffet of Burmese food.
The circular train ride is an amazing opportunity to see the local life in Yangon. The entire route takes 3 hours but you can hop off earlier if you’d like. It is also not necessary to start at the central station, as tickets are available at most stations. The entire route, or whichever portion you choose to complete, costs 300 kyat.
A lot of travelers advised me to skip Shwedagon Pagoda and visit the smaller, cheaper Sule Pagoda. Although entrance to Sule is only 3,000 kyat, compared to Shaedagon’s 8,000 kyat entrance fee, I found the pagoda itself to be quite disappointing. In my opinion it is definitely worth the money to visit the larger, and much more impressive, of the two pagodas.
Bogyoke Aung San Market
Although touristic, this is a good spot to grab some souvenirs or local goods. I found, however, that the locals here were less willing to bargain. You can catch the local circular train right behind this market!
Where to Eat in Yangon:
Eat all of the street food in Yangon! But actually, Yangon has some of the most amazing street food in Asia. To be honest, I’m not sure what half the things that I ate were but they were both delicious and cheap! You’ll find a ton of food stalls near the Chinatown area.
Biryani Restaurant (on Seikkantha between Maha Bandula and Merchant Rd)
I’m sure this spot has a name, I just didn’t bother to actually look while I was there. This is your go-to spot for Biryani! 1,500 kyat for vegetarian and 2,500 kyat for meat, the portions are large and super flavorful!
Smile Curry House (19th st between Maha Bandula and Strand Rd)
We stumbled upon this spot on our last night and were pleasantly surprised. The Japanese dishes were filling and flavorful, however, the highlight was definitely the friendly staff!
Getting around Yangon:
Your best modes of transportation in Yangon are going to be by taxi or on foot. Fortunately, despite the awful traffic, taxis in Yangon are extremely affordable. A 20 minute ride cost me on average 2,000 kyat, however, I drove 1.5 hours to the bus stop for only 6,000 kyat.
Bagan, Myanmar Travel Itinerary (3-4 days)
Where to Stay in Bagan
Ostello Bello Bagan ($15/night in dorm bed)
Although it’s definitely on the pricier end for Myanmar hostels, I highly recommend staying at Ostello Bello’s Bagan location. Included in the price of your stay is unlimited coffee, tea, and water, free daily breakfast, free pasta samples 3x daily, free sunrise, sunset, and city tours, and planned sunset boat tours. This hostel is conveniently located in New Bagan, only a short ride away from many of the famous pagodas.
If you are pressed for time (and have adequate $$) then you should consider staying right in New Bagan. Some of the hotels in this area have amazing views of the temples from their private windows!
What to Do in Bagan:
Catch a Sunset and Sunrise
Bagan is all about the sunrises. And the sunsets. In the four days that I spent in Bagan I only slept through one sunrise, but to be fair it was predicted to rain anyways. I read a lot of blog posts focused on finding the best sunrise/sunset spots, however once arriving I quickly found that the best method was just to set off exploring, getting lost in the process! There are over 3,000 pagodas in Bagan, so it is highly unlikely that you’ll manage to see them all. You can check out a more extensive Bagan travel itinerary here.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
One thing to note is that the iconic hot air balloons are not in order during the rainy season. I had no idea until the morning that I arrived in Bagan and was thoroughly disappointed. So although I didn’t get to experience it myself, it has definitely been added to my bucket list! Although this activity is definitely not budget friendly.
Take a Boat Ride
A sunset boat cruise is the perfect opportunity to see the sun set from the water in Bagan. Ostello Bello organizes a tour that includes drink and snacks for 7,000 kyat.
Where to Eat in Bagan:
New Bagan has a ton of great options for food, so definitely make sure to venture outside of the overpriced hostel food!
Royal Restaurant in Bagan has large portions, great taste, and a perfect outdoor garden atmosphere. This spot serves up some of the best Indian food in Myanmar, a must on this Myanmar Travel Itinerary.
This restaurant offers a buffet of Burmese tapas for only 2,000 kyat/person. Each person is served a plate of rice and 8 tapas. The tapas are endless so this is a good place to come with a big appetite!
Local food and a very reasonable price, Delicious lives up to its name! I highly recommend ordering the tomato salad.
This is one of those restaurants that you read about in all of the guidebooks, aka one of the spots that I would typically avoid. However, if you are looking for a hearty vegetarian meal then this is definitely a good spot! They have two locations: one in New Bagan and the other next to Andana Temple.
Getting around Bagan:
The easiest way to get around Bagan is by e-bike. The e-bikes are electric scooters that rent for between 4,000-6,000 kyat a day. If you do not feel comfortable riding one then I highly recommend getting a bicycle, as it will give you more flexibility than a taxi but is not quite as hard as walking.
Mandalay, Myanmar Travel Itinerary (2-3 days)
Where to Stay in Mandalay:
I chose to stay at Ostello Bello as I had heard others rave about their awesome rooftop. Unfortunately, when I arrived I found out that their rooftop would be closed for the duration of my stay. Overall I find that the hostel is conveniently located and quite social, which is always beneficial for solo travelers such as myself. However, the food and tours offered were quite expensive. Unlike the Bagan location, this location did not offer any free tours to my knowledge.
What to See in Mandalay:
To be honest I didn’t have as much time in Mandalay as I would have liked and was slightly limited due to a foot injury.
U Bein Bridge at sunset
I visited U Bein Bridge on the first evening that I arrived in Mandalay. I have heard that the sunrises at the bridge are quite spectacular as well, however, they are often cloudy during the rainy season. Regardless, it is a beautiful location to enjoy a great view.
Although I had already had my fair share of temples, I found that the Kuthodaw Pagoda was worth a visit, as the old white decor made it strikingly different from the others that I had visited. Located very close to the base of Mandalay Hill, there is no entrance fee for this beautiful pagoda, so you can easily see both at once. Unfortunately, I was unable to climb Mandalay Hill due to my foot injury, however based on recommendations from others would definitely suggest trying to get up there for sunset one evening.
Where to Eat in Mandalay:
Overall I was quite disappointed by the food in Mandalay, however I think that that had a lot to do with poor choices on my part. I’ve made sure to include one great dining option on this Mandalay Travel Itinerary.
Indian Restaurant (corner of 27th and 82nd)
This small corner restaurant served some amazing Indian cuisine. I enjoyed an array of curries and chapati for under 2 USD.
Getting Around Mandalay:
I chose to explore Mandalay both by bicycle and by motor taxi. You can hire a motor taxi driver for as low at 15,000 kyat a day to take you to all of the main sights. I found that riding by bicycle gave me a bit more flexibility, however, the sights are spread out so you will not be able to cover as much distance. I was also not the biggest fan of navigating through Mandalay’s traffic.
Kalaw – Inle Trek: Myanmar Travel Itinerary (4 days)
When I first arrived in Myanmar I had planned to do a 3 day trek from Hsipaw, a less touristic hike northeast of Mandalay, however, I was convinced to join a trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake instead. If you have the time then I highly recommend checking out Hsipaw as well, as I have only heard great things.
The three day mountain village trek was definitely one of the main highlights of my time in Myanmar. For only 40,000 kyat (~$30) you get a three day 63 km guided hike with accommodation and all meals included! If anything go for the food, because the home cooked meals were the best that I had on my trip. The trek itself is not too difficult, however if you go during rainy season then be prepared for extremely muddy conditions! For more info on this trek check out my post here.
Where to Stay in Kalaw
Before starting the trek you will most likely spend one night in Kalaw. Check out Pyae Shan Noodles for some rich tasting noodles with portions starting at only 700 kyat (that’s only about 55 cents)! I recommend staying at the Golden Kalaw Inn. The owner is super accommodating and was able to put me in a double room with another solo female traveler for around 8USD, breakfast included. The hotel also has a great rooftop to watch the sunset from!
Inle Lake: Myanmar Travel Itinerary (3 days)
Whether you are visiting Inle Lake after a long couple of days of hiking, or simply arriving by bus, this is your spot for relaxation. The quaint, beautiful town has tons to see and do.
Where to Stay in Inle Lake: Song of Travel ($11/night dorm bed)
While there are definitely cheaper guesthouse options, I highly recommend staying at Song of Travel. I found that the dorms are clean and spacious. There is also a rooftop and rooftop bar. A large breakfast is included each day. Each afternoon they have a free snack cooking session, which although I didn’t partake in the cooking I definitely helped to eat after the fact each evening. Additionally, there are free bicycles for rent which in my opinion was the easiest way to get around town.
What to Do in Inle Lake:
Take in the Views at Red Mountain Winery
Go to Red Mountain Winery for the views, not the wine! I had read this in reviews before going but that still didn’t prepare us for what was definitely some of the worst wine that I had ever tasted. That being said, it is definitely a lovely spot to sit and watch the sunset!
Go on a Boat Tour
There are many companies, including most of the hostels, that arrange full day boat tours, however if you get your own group together then it is much cheaper to simply rent your own boat. One boat costs 18,000 kyat ($13 USD) for a 5 hour tour and can accommodate up to 5 people. This is very different from the pricey tours offered by the hostel.
Throughout my time in Asia, I have had my fair share of massages. Trust me when I say that while in Myanmar, Venus was one of the best massages that I have ever received. At 7,000 kyat/hr ($5 USD) there is not much to complain about! They even provide you with tea, snacks, and a bottle of water.
Where to Eat in Inle Lake:
Sin Yaw is a centrally located restaurant serving up some amazing local dishes for relatively cheap. Rice and noodle dishes go for about 2,000 kyat, while fish or meat dishes go for around 4,500 kyat. We ordered six different dishes and were pleasantly surprised to find that they were all delicious!
Ever Lite 2
Although not the cheapest option with most curries going for around 4,000 kyat, the food at this place is incredible. You can’t go wrong with the vegetable korma and some garlic naan.
What to Wear in Myanmar:
It can be difficult to know what to wear in Myanmar. I found that some of the large cities in Myanmar were definitely more conservative than others. For example, I felt more comfortable covering up while in the larger cities of Yangon and Mandalay. In othe regions, such as Nyaung Shwe, I felt more comfortable wearing shorts and/or having my shoulders exposed. It is still important, however, that you bring along something to cover up your knees and shoulders for entering any of the temples of pagodas.
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