Are you planning your trip to Myanmar? Great, you will have an amazing time. Below, I’ve included the perfect Myanmar itinerary – even including some time on the beach. So, what are you waiting for?
Top Tip: I’ve asked you guys on Instagram what questions you have regarding traveling Myanmar. Then, I’ve included all of your questions in this blog post. If you want to participate in future blog posts as well, make sure to follow me on Instagram here!
Disclaimer: This blog post contains some affiliate links to places I’ve stayed at during my time in Myanmar. If you book your stay through any of my links, I will earn a small commission. This comes with no extra cost for you. Be assured that I’ve only included accommodations I would stay at again!
How to get to Myanmar
No matter where you’re coming from, you will probably fly into Yangon or Mandalay Airport. There is also the possibility to get to Myanmar by bus. However, I did not choose this way so I can’t recommend any bus services or routes to you.
This route is just a suggestion. You can definitely explore Myanmar in 2 weeks as well or change up the order of places you visit. It might also make more sense for you to fly into Yangon but fly out of Mandalay, for example. Just read through my suggestions for each place and create your own Myanmar itinerary.
Yangon – 1-2 nights of your Myanmar Itinerary
Yangon is the largest city in Myanmar and will probably be the first stop of your Myanmar itinerary. I recommend at least one full day to explore the city. However, I am not a huge fan of cities so you might want to have more time here if you would like to visit all that Yangon has to offer. One thing that really surprised me in Yangon, was the big expat community that I got introduced to by one of my friends working there. So, if you’re thinking about going abroad, Yangon might be the place for you!
Where to stay in Yangon
I wanted a hostel located close to where my friend lived which is why I chose 501 Merchant B&B. I was very happy with my choice but it also wasn’t anything special. BaobaBed Hostel also has a location in Yangon. BaobaBed Hostel is a hostel chain in Myanmar that I’ve made some good experiences with as you will see later on in this blog post.
What to do in Yangon
There are many things to do in Yangon, so you won’t have any difficulties planning your Myanmar itinerary here.
Visit the Pagodas (Shwedagon Pagoda and Sule Pagoda)
Some Yangon attractions you simply cannot miss are the Shwegadon and the Sule Pagoda. The Shwedagon Pagoda is also known as the Golden Pagoda (can you guess why?) and the entrance is around 6,50€. The Sule Pagoda is located in the heart of downtown Yangon and according to legends, over 2600 years old.
Stroll around at Bogyoke Market
One of the places to visit in Yangon is Bogyoke Market which is pronounced very differently from what you would think looking at that name – more like ‘Bochok’ Market. It is a huge bazaar in central Yangon with lots of great vendors. Since this was the last stop of my travels, I bought some amazing souvenirs for my friends and family here. You could probably spend hours just strolling around the different stalls.
Visit the Bogyoke Aung San Museum
Myanmar has a long and interesting history. To learn more about General Aung San, “the founder of modern Myanmar” in his last residence before his assassination.
Watch the sunset from The Penthouse
Head to The Penthouse for some dinner, drinks or shisha and enjoy the view of the Shwedagon Pagoda and more.
Do a Yoga Retreat
Head to Yangon Yoga House, THE place where Yangon’s expats go for some yoga and join one of their mini-retreats. You can start your retreat at any time (after talking to them) for 1-3 days. In addition to yoga classes, meals at their delicious Nourish Cafe are included, as well as treatments at their Bliss Bar next door. The perfect way to wind down in the middle of the busy city of Yangon.
Vegan Eats in Yangon
Even if you don’t decide to do a mini-retreat at the Yangon Yoga House, their Nourish Cafe is your place to go! They have a full menu of healthy deliciousness and I could’ve spent hours deciding what to get. Luckily, I was doing their 3-day retreat, so I got more than one opportunity to try their tasty food!
Yangon to Bagan
Book a bus with your accommodation or online. In contrast to other places of this Myanmar itinerary, I had to get to the bus station by Grab and wasn’t picked up. I went with a night bus and it took us around 9-10 hours to get to Bagan – including a short break. Make sure to bring some snacks, water, and a power bank for your phone. The ride wasn’t too bad even though I usually find it difficult to fall asleep outside of a bed. You could also go by plane since both cities have airports.
Bagan – 2-3 nights of your Myanmar Itinerary
Bagan is a must for any Myanmar itinerary. I would recommend having at least (!!!) one full day of exploring the temples and maybe one more to do a day trip. Upon entering Bagan, you have to pay an archaeological fee of around 15€. However, some people I met got around doing that, so you might be lucky.
Where to stay in Bagan
I decided to stay at BaobaBed Hostel because they also have a pool and was very happy with my decision. They even have a room in the reception area where you can sleep in when you’ve arrived with the night bus and your room isn’t ready yet. Of course, I took advantage of that, seeing that I arrived at 5am in the morning. Furthermore, they have lots of free activities and offer a variety of tours. The hostel is also very clean and modern. Another option would be Ostello Bello, probably the most popular hostel chain in Myanmar. I only stayed with them in Mandalay and thoroughly enjoyed my stay with them.
What to do in Bagan
Bagan is known for its many temples, so among the things to do in Bagan definitely is exploring the different temples. Tourists are not allowed to drive scooters but you can hire an e-scooter for the day for less than 3€. We hired ours at the shop located right next to our hostel. If you don’t feel comfortable driving an e-scooter, BaobaBed Hostel also offers free bikes to explore the area with.
“Temple hunting” in Bagan
For exploring the many temples in Bagan, I would give you a few recommendations: Ask for a map with all the important temples at your hostel and decide on which temples you would like to see. Use Maps.me (https://maps.me/) to find spots for sunrise and sunset. Furthermore, it can help you to find temples you can still climb on. (Most of the temples are closed for climbing onto to help preserve them). Generally, just driving through the area is such a special experience, though. I sometimes felt like I was on a different planet.
Go on a hot air balloon ride
You’ve probably seen the pictures of Bagan’s temples with hot air balloons floating over Bagan. Unfortunately, I missed them by just 2 weeks. So if that’s on your bucket list, make sure to check whether it’s the season for hot air balloons. They usually offer trips from the beginning of October to the middle of April.
More things to do in Bagan
Do a day trip to Mount Popa. Climbing the monastery on top of Taung Kalat and avoiding some of the cheeky monkeys sure is great fun. However, it doesn’t take as long as we were told it would (maybe like 20 minutes to go up). So, just head to Popa Mountain Resort for some food and a great view of the mountain. It honestly looks much more impressive from here than it did from our way to the mountain.
Go on a boat trip offered by many hostels.
Vegan Eats in Bagan
Bagan to Mandalay
The best option for you here is to just book your bus with your accommodation. I got picked up in the morning and it took us around 4-5 hours to get to Mandalay – including a short break. Make sure to bring some snacks, water, and a power bank for your phone. The ride was bumpy at times but overall alright. You could also go by plane since both cities have airports.
Mandalay – 2-3 nights of your Myanmar Itinerary
Mandalay is the second-largest city in Myanmar and the former royal capital. Therefore, definitely not a place to miss on your Myanmar itinerary. Depending on what time you get here, I would recommend staying 2 or 3 nights so that you have 2 full days to explore the city.
Where to stay in Mandalay
Ostello Bello is probably the most popular hostel chain in Myanmar. However, for different reasons in each place, I only stayed with them in Mandalay. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay with them, though! The hostel is very modern, clean with a rooftop terrace where I spent my mornings doing yoga and my nights taking part in pub quizzes. Furthermore, they organize a lot of different trips.
What to do in Mandalay
There are a lot of cool things to do in Mandalay. Unfortunately, I was a little sick during my time in Mandalay, so I didn’t get to do most of them.
Do a day trip to Mingun
The ferry to Mingun leaves at 9am and returns at 12:30pm – so make sure to be on time as this is your only option of getting back! It costs around 3€ and takes just under an hour each way. Bring your passport when buying your ticket in the morning!
You will have to pay around 4€ for the Mingun archaeological zone. That area includes the Hsinbyume Pagoda, the Pahtodawgyi Pagoda, and the Mingun Bell. For more information on the white pagoda, check out the caption of this Instagram post of mine:
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Watch the sunrise or the sunset at U-Bein Bridge
This bridge is 1.2 km long and is said to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. It would certainly not pass German safety standards since there is no railing for most of the bridge. However, you will still be fine walking across Taungthaman Lake. Furthermore, this is a beautiful place to catch the sunrise or sunset.
More things to do in Mandalay
I didn’t get to do these things but they’re great fun from what I’ve heard. Visit Mandalay Palace, find the world’s largest book at Kuthodaw Pagoda and do a day trip to Dee Doke waterfall for some incredibly blue waters.
Vegan Eats in Mandalay
Head to Healthy Me for some – you guessed it – healthy vegan food. I had a bowl which was nice but also nothing special. Mingalaba is the standard greeting in Myanmar and Mingalabar one of the best restaurants in Mandalay. Not completely vegan or even vegetarian but they have some options. Indian Tadka is a little over the typical backpacker’s budget but the food was delicious. You can ask at the reception of Ostello Bello for more options. They have a map with recommended restaurants where vegetarian ones are marked as well.
Mandalay to Kalaw
I hate to tell you the same thing over and over again but the best option for you here is to just book your bus with your accommodation. I got picked up by a van the morning after I booked my bus and it took us around 6-7 hours to get to Kalaw – including a lunch break. As always, make sure to bring some snacks, water, and a power bank for your phone. The ride was bumpy at times but overall alright.
Kalaw to Inle Lake – 2-3 day trek
My recommendation: add a trekking adventure to your Myanmar itinerary! You can do the trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake for one or two nights. You can either book your trek before going to Kalaw or just go to the office of one of the trekking companies close to where the bus drops you off. At least during the time when I was traveling (May 2019), it was no problem to spontaneously book onto the trek that left the next day. I had booked the trek with my hostel in Bagan. Therefore, my big backpack could be taken to the hostel at Inle Lake and safely stored there until my arrival.
Where to stay in Kalaw
You’ll be picked up for your trek the next morning, so it doesn’t really matter where you choose to stay. I stayed at the Roma Inn Kalaw and loved it. It’s a little bit outside of the center of Kalaw but the owner is really nice. Also, they will order food from different restaurants in the center for you if you want to eat something. I got upgraded from a dorm room to a private room because it was the end of the season and really enjoyed the room. Like in many places in Myanmar, the power is only on for specific times but they will tell you all about it so you know when it’s best to shower.
The Inle Lake trekking
The actual trek was a cool experience. There were 3 of us for the first night and another couple joined for the second one. The trekking was fun but hard at times because of the heat and the sun. We learned a lot of interesting things about the Burmese culture, the places we were passing by and facts about the Burmese nature. For the first night, we stayed at a family’s home and the second night at a monastery. Both were great experiences and especially the food was really good (with lots of vegan options).
However, you should lower your expectations for the accommodation. You will sleep on thin mattresses on the floor, you won’t have a lot of (try: any) privacy and your hygiene standards are going to be challenged with a public bucket shower at the family home, not enough water to shower at the monastery and dirty “toilets”. But hey, it’s only two nights and worth the adventure! Furthermore, you can take a nice hot shower once you arrive at Inle Lake.
Inle Lake – 2-3 nights of your Myanmar Itinerary
Out of all of the places on this Myanmar itinerary, Inle Lake was probably my favorite. Definitely aim for at least two full days here! I really enjoyed the time even though we did have a lot of rain as well. Like in Bagan, you have to pay a fee (around 9€) when entering the area. We did so on the last part of our trek.
Where to stay in Inle Lake
Because I booked my 3-day trek with BaobaBed Hostel in Bagan, it made the most sense to stay in their Inle Lake hostel as well, as they safely stored my backpack for the duration of the trek. I was more than happy with my choice; BaobaBed Hostel has a hot tub on the rooftop terrace (except that the water is cold which is perfect for the hot weather), free bicycles and a generator which means that they have electricity at all times. Another option would be Ostello Bello, probably the most popular hostel chain in Myanmar. I only stayed with them in Mandalay and thoroughly enjoyed my stay with them.
What to do in Inle Lake
Go on a boat tour
There are many things to do in Inle Lake. One Inle Lake attraction that you simply CANNOT miss is to go on a sunrise (or sunset) boat tour. Most hostels will offer these and I was even able to book spaces for some of my friends staying at other hostels. There are up to 5 spaces on one boat. Since we were 4 people, it cost us around 3,50€ each.
After watching the sunset (see video below), we had breakfast and then visited different temples, places where they made jewelry, weavings, and cigars and Paduang women, known for their long necks. It was a great experience and so much fun to experience life on the lake, including floating markets and boat traffic jams.
Go on a bicycle tour
To experience more things to do around Inle Lake, take one of the free bicycles offered at your accommodation and explore the area. The bikes are not in the best shape but we still had a lot of fun. We went all the way down to the Tofu Palace (more on that soon), took a boat across Inle Lake (yep, including our bicycles) and cycled all the way back to our accommodations. On the way, there were different viewpoints, pagodas and even natural swimming pools. Ask for a map at your hostel for inspiration on which places to visit along the way.
Go on a Tofu Palace tour
This was such a fun experience! The Tofu Palace tour is set up in a small village located close to the lake. The owner (or another guide) will take you on a tour through the village including several stops where you can watch the villagers manufacture different kinds of food. As the name suggests, tofu is one of the foods but the tour includes so much more. Sweets, savory snacks and even fermented wine were among the products we got to try. And for less than 2,50€ as well!
Vegan Eats at Inle Lake
My favorite at Inle Lake was the Taj Mahal which has some delicious vegan options. The service was slow, though, so keep that in mind when going there!
Inle Lake to Yangon
You know the drill: the best option for you is to just book your bus with your accommodation. I took the VIP night bus which took around 10-11 hours to get to Yangon – including dinner and some more breaks. As always, make sure to bring some snacks, water, and a power bank for your phone. The ride long but because of the nice bus very bearable. (And I say that as someone who has a lot of difficulties falling asleep anywhere that’s not a bed!)
Ngwe Saung or Nagapali Beach – however many days of beach time you’d like on your Myanmar Itinerary
Because Myanmar was the last destination of my nine months of backpacking, I definitely wanted to spend some time on the beach. I had heard that Ngapali Beach is the most beautiful beach in Myanmar, followed by Ngwe Saung. However, I was told that it is too dangerous to take the bus to Ngapali Beach and the flights were really expensive which is why I decided to go to Ngwe Saung instead. Spoiler alert: I later met a few backpackers who went to Ngapali beach by bus and said there were no issues at all, so go for it if you’d like!
Yangon to Ngwe Saung
If you’re in Yangon, just book your bus online or at your accommodation. You could also just take a Grab to the bus station about half an hour before the bus leaves and should hopefully be fine to book onto the bus.
Since I was coming all the way from Inle Lake, I wanted to book my bus tickets from Inle Lake to Yangon and from Yangon to Ngwe Saung online. However, I was told by the customer service that because the buses departed from different bus stations, I wouldn’t be in Yangon in time to catch the night bus to Ngwe Saung. Therefore, I decided to take the night bus to Yangon and spend the day there before continuing my journey. However, my night bus to Yangon arrived early and I made it to the other bus station in time to catch the day bus to Ngwe Saung and arrive a day early.
Where to stay in Ngwe Saung
I stayed at Lover View (referring to the view on Lover Island) which was a nice accommodation with a pool. However, I was there a few days before they closed for the season and, unfortunately, you could tell by the staff behavior. Some of my friends who came over for the weekend stayed at @The Sea a really nice hotel and if you really want to ball out, why not stay at the Ngwe Saung Yacht Club & Resort a luxurious place where we sometimes went for dinner?
What to do in Ngwe Saung
Apart from spending time on the beach, you can join a treasure hunt, walk (!) to Lover Island during low tide, hire a motorbike to do some exploring or join a boat trip that many accommodations offer. In general, Ngwe Saung isn’t much of a backpacker destination, so you should come here with friends or be fine with spending some time on your own as well.
Vegan Eats in Ngwe Saung
Lover View had some great vegan dishes. Just talk to them and explain what being vegan means and they’ll be able to give you some recommendations. You can also go to the Ngwe Saung Yacht Club & Resort for some fancy views during lunch or dinner.
Useful Myanmar Travel Information
A lot of people are worried about traveling Myanmar – especially as a solo traveler. I get it. In fact, I almost didn’t go because some fellow travelers told me it wasn’t a great country for traveling solo. However, luckily I met some other travelers who had traveled Myanmar on their own and said that it was no issue at all.
Yes, there are still conflicts going on in parts of Myanmar. These are the parts where you wouldn’t go as a tourist anyway, though. Furthermore, apart from Ngwe Saung, I’ve always met other backpackers who I went on day trips with.
There is no real public transportation between the cities. However, the bus system is great and I didn’t stay at a single place where I couldn’t book my bus to the next destination. And even if that would have been the case, there is always the possibility to just book online.
In conclusion, I would definitely recommend traveling to Myanmar! The country isn’t as touristic yet and just in general quite unique compared to the other countries in South East Asia I’ve been to!
I hope this Myanmar itinerary was helpful for you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions!
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