After my last post on why you should visit Myanmar now, I started to receive questions on what to see and where to stay. Though you could easily spend a month or more in Myanmar (aka Burma), I only had two weeks and I’d say it’s a decent amount of time to see all the main sights. Here’s how I’d recommend spending two weeks in Myanmar:
- Days 1-2: Yangon
- 3-4: Bagan
- 5-6: Mandalay
- 7-9: Hsipaw
- 10-13: Ngaung Shwe (Inle Lake)
- 14: Kalaw
Days 1-2: Yangon
Arrive in Yangon and explore some of the city by foot, stopping at the local fruit markets and street food stands. Don’t miss Shwedagon Pagoda (great at dawn to avoid crowds, as well as sunset), Sule Pagoda, and Bogyoke Market. Also, hop on the Circle Train, which does a 3-hour loop around Yangon for less than $1 so you can see what daily life is like. If you have extra days in Yangon, add on day trips to the Golden Rock and Bago.
Accommodation Recommendation: Four Rivers or Agga
Take an overnight bus to Bagan
Days 3-4: Bagan
Spend two days exploring the thousands of temples of Bagan. The cheapest and easiest way to get around is by e-bike, but you can also rent push bikes, horse carriages, or taxis. Shwesandaw is the most popular pagoda to view both sunrise and sunset from, due to its central location. Or for a private sunset viewing, climb to the top of Myauk Guni Temple. We had a great view of the sunset over the temples of Bagan without the Shwesandaw crowd. If you have extra time to spend in Bagan, do a day tour to Mount Popa for great views.
Accommodation Recommendations: Ostello Bello in New Bagan if your budget isn’t too tight (~$17-19/night) or Pann Cherry in Nuang U for a more budget option ($7/night for a single room)
Days 5-6: Mandalay
Take an early bus (4-5 hours) to Mandalay, and spend the rest of the day visiting the Mandalay Hill and the surrounding pagodas (and the City Palace if you’re up for spending $10 on it). The following day do a day tour to the villages of Sagaing, Inwa, Mingun, and Amarapura, and end watching the sunset over the U Bein Bridge. If you have extra time, add a day trip to Pyin U Lwin. (**Note: While there’s not much to see in Mandalay itself, it’s a great base for exploring the surrounding villages).
Accommodation Recommendation: Ace Star Backpackers Hostel
Days 7-9: Take the 4am train to Hsipaw* (arriving between 3-5pm).
Head to Mr. Shake for a fruit shake, and if you’re up for some trekking, do a one or two-day trek to local villages surrounding Hsipaw. (*Note: I got sick and had to skip Hsipaw, but this is what I would have done based on other backpackers’ recommendations).
Accommodation Recommendation: Mr. Charles
Take the overnight bus to Inle Lake.
Days 10-13: Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake)
Do a boat trip around Inle Lake to see the lakeside monasteries, floating village, and observe the locals in their everyday work environment. Also bike up to the Red Mountain Winery and/or down to the hot springs, and do a one to three-day trek to surrounding local villages. If you decide on a three-day trek, you’ll start at Inle Lake and end in Kalaw, otherwise you can see Kalaw in a day-trip from Inle.
Accommodation Recommendation: May Guesthouse or Little Inn
Food Recommendation: Lin Htett (the family-style curry specials are great, but make sure to try the tomato salad too – it’s amazing!!)
Days 13-14: Kalaw
If you trekked here from Inle Lake, stay one night before heading back to Yangon or Mandalay to catch your flight out.
Accommodation Recommendation: Eastern Paradise
- ATMs now exist everywhere. While not necessary to stock up on cash, dollars are often preferred so it’s useful to take some with you (I was usually charged a “conversion fee” when I paid in chets)
- Wifi is available most places but is veryyyy slow if it works at all. If you’re there for an extended period of time, just get a sim card.
- Power outages are frequent, sometimes for an entire day (happened twice during my two weeks) so a portable charger is helpful if you can’t live without your phone or camera.
- Visas can now be done online ($50) if you enter and exit by air.
Any questions about visiting Myanmar, feel free to ask!
As always, keep on livin’ pura vida ✌