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best travel itinerary myanmar

Myanmar is a country that offers traveller SO much. It completely blew me away and exceeded every expectation I had about the country. The best itinerary for Myanmar would be using the full amount of time your visa allows (1-month). Although if you have less time in Myanmar, I’m going to take you through an incredible 2-week itinerary that covers the country’s top attractions and some lesser-known destinations.

I had been living in Myeik for 3 months before I had the chance to explore the country properly. Myeik is a seaside town on the southern coast of Myanmar and acts as the gateway to the beautiful Mergui Archipelago. During my time here I was able to speak to locals and gain a great understanding of the country and gather insights on the best places in the country to explore.

This is the exact Myanmar itinerary I followed and while there are a few long bus trips they are the best way to get from point A to point B in Myanmar. The best part is the buses are quite luxurious compared with other parts of Asia and many routes offer a VIP ticket which has huge comfy seats and nice AC (make sure to pack warm clothes as the buses get really cold).

I can safely say you’ll fall in love with Myanmar as I did and this tried and tested 2-week Myanmar itinerary will be your best companion.

Inle Lake fisherman

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information on my disclaimer click here.

About Myanmar

Myanmar is hands down my favourite country in Asia. I’m sure you’ve heard from other travellers how different Myanmar is, and to get in before it becomes overcrowded with tourists. I want to verify that everything you have heard about the uniqueness of this country is true and to get there as soon as you can.

The locals are friendly, welcoming and love to help tourists. It was so refreshing to learn they have no ulterior motives and genuinely want to talk to you and expect nothing in return. Whether you’re interested in Buddhist history, exploring temples, getting out into nature, relaxing on pristine beaches or discovering a new culture, Myanmar has you covered.

The best time to visit Myanmar is during the winter months, between November and March, before the summer temperatures reach their top heights in April and the wet season begins. It’s possible to still travel during the summer and the towns situated in the higher elevations have a pleasant climate.

One of my favourite parts of travelling Myanmar was how relatively undiscovered the country was. There were days when you seemed to be the only foreigner about in the smaller towns.

Fast Facts

Population – 53.7 million
Visa’s – Most nationalities will need to apply for a 30-day tourist visa. Check iVisa for your nationalities’ visa requirements.
Currency – Kyat
Capital city – Naypyitaw
Language – Burmese

Where is Myanmar

When I tell people I lived in Myanmar I get a lot of confused looks. What some people don’t realise is Myanmar is the newer name for the country that used to be called Burma.

Myanmar is located to the west of Thailand from just north of Phuket, to the furthest northwestern corner. Myanmar also borders Laos, China, India and Bangladesh. Because of this, you’ll notice a mix of Thai and Indian cultures which shines through in the delicious food.

Myanmar itinerary 2 weeks overview

Day 1 – Yangon
Day 2 – Yangon 
Day 3 – Yangon – Hpa An
Day 4 – Hpa An
Day 5 – Hpa An – Bagan
Day 6 –Bagan
Day 7 – Bagan
Day 8 – Bagan – Mandalay
Day 9 – Mandalay
Day 10 – Mandalay
Day 11 – Mandalay – Kalaw
Day 12 – Kalaw trek
Day 13 – Inle Lake
Day 14 – Inle Lake to Mandalay

How to get to Myanmar

If you are flying into Myanmar, you’ll have the option of arriving into Mandalay or Yangon. I started this suggested itinerary in Yangon, but you can easily change this up to start in Mandalay. I always search for flights with Skyscanner. You can search for the cheapest flights here.

If you do choose to start in Mandalay, the best way to plan your itinerary for Myanmar is Mandalay – Bagan – Kalaw – Inle Lake – Hpa An – Yangon.

There are a few land crossings but if you are entering overland you most likely have more than 2 weeks.

Myanmar map & destinations

The best itinerary for Myanmar

Day 1 & 2: Yangon

Arrive into Yangon! Once you’ve arrived at the airport, you’ll need to get a taxi to the downtown area. This journey takes around 45 minutes and costs 10,000 Kyat. A lot of the drivers will try and charge you 10 USD, but make sure you only pay 10,000 Kyat. Read more about arriving into Yangon.

Stay in the downtown area as traffic in Yangon is pretty hectic and it takes a long time to get from A-B. You’ll want to walk as much as possible to avoid this.

Refresh and settle into your accommodation. All of a sudden there are more Airbnb’s popping up in Yangon (Get 50 AUD off your first stay) or you can find some nice and affordable hostels and hotels on Booking.com. The Bodhi Nava Boutique Hostel is really cute with a great cafe downstairs and just down the road from Schwedagon Pagoda. Otherwise, Backpacker Bed & Breakfast is more central to downtown.

Karaweik Palace Yangon Myanmar

2 days in Yangon

Yangon is the largest city in Myanmar and has a lot to do once you start exploring. On your first evening, catch the magnificent sunset at the Grand Shwedagon Pagoda then eat your way down 17th street for dinner.

On day 2, it’s likely your hotel will offer you a free breakfast as is common in Myanmar. If you love a good coffee, start your day at Easy Cafe. Its central location makes it a good meeting point and is only a block away from Bogyoke Aung San Market. Spend the morning wandering through the market in search of local handicrafts and traditional goods. 

For lunch, it’s time to try tea leaf salad. This fermented tea leaf dish has variations throughout the country and is super delicious. 

If you love a local experience then the afternoon will be best suited to taking the circle train around the city. Be warned though, as this journey takes 3 hours to complete its full loop (200 Kyat, $0.13 US). You’ll be sure to make lots of new friends and enjoy an honest look into the Burmese culture.

If you don’t want to commit to the entire journey you can always get off and catch a train heading in the reverse direction.

For your final evening in Yangon, head out on the water for a sunset cruise. Prices vary considerably depending on the operator ($12 – $55) so shop around before buying tickets. You can find the above info in this more detailed Yangon itinerary.

things to do in Yangon - circle train

Day trips from Yangon

If you’ve got a bit more time or would rather get out of the city these are some great day trips:

Day 3: Yangon to Hpa An

Getting to Hpa An

Today will be a travel day, so my advice is to get on one of the earlier buses to Hpa An (pronounced with a silent H). Hpa An was my favourite place in Myanmar so if you think the journey is a bit far to go there and back, it’s totally worth it.

The Yangon bus station is another 15 minutes further on from the airport and is HUGE! So make sure you leave plenty of time when leaving your hotel as to not miss your bus. For a cheaper alternative to a taxi, a tuk-tuk is 5,000 Kyat ($4)..

I booked all my bus tickets through Oway and highly recommend them. I found they had the cheapest prices and there were VIP buses for longer journeys.

The trip from Yangon to Hpa An is 7 hours. I suggest taking the 8 or 9:30 am bus so you don’t arrive too late in the day. Although buses run frequently and up until 9 pm if you’re not a morning person. The trip costs around 10 USD.

The absolute BEST place to stay in Hpa An is the Lil’ Hpa An Hostel. It’s centrally located, has a great breakfast and the staff are super friendly. They also run daily tours and have the option of private or dormitory-style rooms. Make sure to book ahead as beds sell out quickly.

Day 3 in Hpa An

If you arrive early enough Hpan Pu Mountain is just across the river and makes the perfect spot to enjoy your first sunset. You can take a local boat (.40c) over the river and do the short but steep 30-minute journey the peak. This will give you a great view of the karst landscape on otherwise flat land. 

Just make sure you are back before the last boat – we thought we were going to need to bribe a villager to drive us the 45 minutes back, although luckily one picked us up in the dark.

For dinner check out the Hpa An night markets! They are the best food markets in Myanmar – I ate here 3 out of 4 nights!

Have an early night as tomorrow you’ll be waking up early for a sunrise hike.

Hpan Pu Mountain Hpa An

Day 4: Hpa An

Taung Wine Mountain sunrise

Today will be a big day. Arrange with the reception at the Lil Hpa An Hostel to go on the Taung Wine Mountain sunrise hike. We left the hostel around 4:30 am for a cold 30-minute drive to the base of the peak. You’ll want to make sure you pack layers as the exposed drive is freezing but once you start walking you’ll be sweating in no time.

Like yesterdays hike, it’s short but steep. At a decent pace, you’ll reach the summit in 45 minutes but leave longer if you’re worried about your fitness level. You’ll be climbing stairs the entire way up.

At the top, there are 360-degree views but the best spot for sunrise photos are out looking over the stairs you came up.

Day tour of Hpa An

You’ll be back down and at the hostel before some people have even woken up. Grab a quick breakfast and then jump on to the tour that will take you to the highlights of the area. 

I should clarify here, the tour offered by the hostel is not really a ‘tour’ but instead ‘transport’. Although at less than $4 you can’t complain.

On this full-day trip, your driver will take you to Kaw Ka Taung Cave, Sadan Cave, Yae Tagon Lake, White Pagodas, Lumbini Gardens, Kyauk Ka Lat Pagoda and ends with the sunset spectacle at Ya The Bat Cave.

During the day, you’ll need to pay another 4,500 Kyat ($3) for entry, boats and lunch, plus any water or souvenirs.

If you can spare another day, Hpa An is a great spot to do it before the long journey to Bagan.

If you do stay longer, Mount Zwegabin is another great sunrise hike and Veranda Cafe has great smoothies, coffee and supports a great cause.

Taung wine mountain sunrise hike

Day 5: Hpa An – Yangon – Bagan

Woahh, yeah you read that right. You will need to go back through Yangon before going to Bagan. Although I was dreading this long journey it actually wasn’t bad at all. The 8 am bus out of Hpa An ($5) only takes 5 hours to reach Yangon, but it means you’ll have more time to kill before your night bus to Bagan.

For a couple of dollars more choose to take the overnight VIP bus to Bagan. I took the Mandalar Min VIP First ClassExpress bus for $15 and was blown away by the luxuriousness. Just make sure you pack some extra warm clothing as the AC is pumping on these trips. The temperature gauge read 16 degrees and created a wind tunnel!

To kill some time in Yangon without heading all the way back to the city go to the Burbrit Brewery. Check-in with your night bus and ask to leave your main bag at the station, just keep your valuables on you.

It cost me $5 each way in a Grab, plus the cost of food and beer, but I found the cost to be much better than sitting at the bus station for 6 hours.

Day 6 & 7: Bagan

Your night bus will arrive in Bagan between 5 and 7 am. The hostel I was staying at said not to pay more than 7,000 Kyat for a taxi but all of the drivers flat out refused and I ended up paying 10,000 ($7.50). You’ll also need to pay 25,000 Kyat for a 3 day pass into the Ancient City of Bagan.

There are 3 regions to Bagan – Old Bagan, New Bagan and Nyuang U, each with its pros and cons. Old Bagan is central to most of the Ancient Temples but is much more expensive to stay in. Nyuang U is where a lot of the locals live and New Bagan has plenty of restaurants and shopping areas.

I stayed halfway between Old and New Bagan at the BaobaBed Hostel. They had great breakfast, fast wifi, a pool and dorms with privacy screening. One amazing thing about the hostel is they have an early check-in room. If you’re tired from taking a night bus, there is a room you can go into with beds and a bathroom.

Don’t forget you can get $50 off your first Airbnb stay with this link.

best temples for sunrise Bagan

How to get around Bagan

I managed to have a good sleep on the bus and didn’t want to waste any time exploring the ancient city. There’s nowhere in the world quite like Bagan with over 5,000 temples covering 40 square km’s the best way to explore is by e-bike.

I was nervous to drive the e-bikes as I’m not confident on a scooter but these are really fun and relatively safe. They are much slower than a scooter and traffic around Bagan is very minimal.

You can hire ebikes across from the hostel for 6,000 Kyat/day.

2 days in Bagan

Once you have your transport sorted, grab a quick bite to eat at your accommodation. If you’re staying at BaobaBed they do great espresso. Seriously!! The best coffee I had in Myanmar.

You’ll then want to head out straight away. Your two days in Bagan will be spent exploring the temples. There are so many temples to visit and I could tell you which ones I went to but half the run is riding your ebike around and getting lost on the backroads. 

Make sure to wear long pants and sleeves that cover your shoulders today as you’ll be heading in and out of temples all day.

A great place for lunch and dinner is The Moon restaurant. I loved it here so much I came back 3 times. It’s vegetarian and vegan friendly and has affordable prices. A great place to escape the midday heat.

One of the highlights of your trip will be the Bagan sunrise and sunsets. The BaobaBed hostel also offers free tours to their favourite spots. If you have the cash, this is one of the best destinations in the world for a sunrise hot air balloon ride

Day 8: Bagan to Mandalay

Time to say goodbye to stunning Bagan and off to Mandalay. Because bus travel is the main way to get around Myanmar you’ll want to mix it up and now is the perfect chance. Take a cruise along the scenic Irrawaddy River between these two destinations.

There are plenty of boats to choose from and some overnight. I believe one day is plenty unless you really enjoy river cruising. I went with RV Nmai Hka which leaves the dock at 5 am for the 13-hour journey.

There isn’t anything to do but take in the unique surrounds, spot the locals fishing and see the shoreside pagodas as you travel upstream. You will pass by Yandabo which is the site where the British and Burmese signed the peace treaty after the Burma-Anglo war.

The day passes by quickly but you’ll want to pack a good book to pass the time between lunch and snack times.

Once you arrive into Mandalay you can take a Grab to your accommodation to check-in. There are plenty of hotels and hostels to suit all budgets. I stayed at the Ned Kelly Hotel and Irish Pub. This was a great budget hotel and I had my own room for a cheaper price than the hostel in Bagan.

Once you’ve freshened up, head out for some dinner before turning in. Indian Tadka does amazing Indian and the food on the rooftop at Irish pub is worth checking out.

bagan to Mandalay boat cruise

Day 9 & 10: 2 days in Mandalay

Hsinbyume Pagoda

A must-do during your time in Mandalay is a visit to the ancient capital of Mingun. The ferry’s leave twice daily, at 9:00 am and 12:30 pm. I recommend going on the earlier journey to beat the tourists arriving by land.

The ferry is 5,000 Kyat for a return ticket and leaves you around 2.5 hours to look around before the boat departs Mingun at 12:30. Once you arrive you’ll have to purchase an archaeological entrance ticket at 5,000 Kyat.

There will be plenty of tuk tuks and ox drawn carts waiting at the dock to take you around the site, but it’s fairly small and walking is fine.

My top advice is to head straight for the Hsinbyume Pagoda which is the famous white temple. If you get there early you can get a photo without the crowds. It’s likely you’ll spend the majority of your time here also marvelling at its beauty.

Having come from Bagan you’ll be amazed at how different the temples are here. Which as someone who gets templed out easily, Myanmar makes it hard to do so.

For info on the other pagodas and things to do in Mingun check out the Visit Myanmar website here.

Things to do in Mandalay

Once back from Mingun you have the afternoon to explore the city. Some things to see are the Mandalay Royal Palace, Mandalay Hill for sunset and U Bein Bridge. U Bein Bridge is best visited at sunrise or sunset to catch some snaps of the monks crossing in the golden light.

As there had been a few long days and early mornings I decided to take the afternoon off and catch up on some writing (life of a travel blogger).

Dee Dote Waterfall

Another highlight of my trip to Myanmar was heading out to Dee Dote Waterfall. Dee Dote Waterfall is located in a canyon an hour’s drive southeast of the city.

This will be a full day adventure and the easiest and most affordable way to visit is by joining a tour run by the Ostello Bello Hostel. Although I wasn’t staying there they had no problems allowing me to join.

The tour costs 15,000 Kyat ($11) and includes a local guide, transport and lunch. Our guide was a disrobed monk which was part of the highlight. He loved answering all the questions we had about monkhood and Myanmar.

Once you arrive at the waterfalls there are a couple of pools. The swimming pools are a creamy blue that comes from the limestone cliffs surrounding the river.

You’ll spend the day swimming in the water and if you’re game climbing up the rocks along the river’s edge until you reach the cave at the end. Your guide will even let you know the best spots to jump off the rocks into the water.

What I loved most about this spot was it was relatively undiscovered. There was another group of 5 western tourists and a few locals. Otherwise, we had the place to ourselves.

Once back in Mandalay have a cocktail on the rooftop bar at the Ned Kelly pub.

Other day tours from Mandalay

Day 11: Mandalay – Kalaw

Today after a quick breakfast take a Grab or tuk-tuk the bus depot and head to Kalaw. The bus station is 20 minutes to the south of the city centre, so make sure you leave enough time. I took the 9 am bus which arrived in Kalaw a couple of hours ahead of schedule.

Kalaw really surprised me. The town was super cute and had some nice walks surrounding it. If you do have an extra day to spare this would be a great place to chill in a cafe with a book and do some leisurely walks.

Where to stay in Kalaw

There are quite a few horror stories about accommodation in Kalaw, especially when it comes to hostels and budget hotels. As Kalaw is at elevation it gets cold overnight and a lot of the cheaper places don’t have adequate or any heating.

Because of this, I wanted to make sure I stayed somewhere decent. I stayed at the Kalaw Vista Bed and Breakfast.

If you take one thing out of this article, it’s that you MUST stay at the Kalaw Vista B&B

The B&B is in an old colonial building that is completely renovated with Myanmar owners that spent a decade in the US. So they have the perfect mix of local hospitality and Western service/amenities. Plus a great breakfast before you head out hiking.

I met up with a fellow traveller who I originally met in Hpa An here and although we didn’t know each other well we felt like we had signed up to a couples retreat. We couldn’t stop raving about the place.

Kalaw Vista Bed and Breakfast. Best place to sty in Kalaw

Day 12 & 13: Kalaw – Inle Lake trek

One of Myanmar’s bucket list items is the trek between Kalaw and Inle Lake. This trek takes you across the countryside giving you an insight into the country’s local population.

The hike isn’t strenuous and is mostly flat. The ground is a bit uneven in places but the biggest killer is being out in the exposed sunlight all day. Make sure you have plenty of sunscreen on. Water is available for purchase from local villages along the way.

The two day, 1-night option for the trek begins with a 45-minute drive to the starting point. Day 1 is around 6 hours walking with plenty of stops and day 2 is only around 4 hours.

I trekked with Jungle King which are a great company for solo travellers or small groups. Many of the local guides will charge you per guide and you need to come up with the group numbers while Jungle King charges per person and has a maximum of 8 hikers per group. You even get to stay in a monastery overnight! Very cool.

Check out this complete guide to hiking Kalaw to Inle Lake.

2 days trekking between Kalaw and Inle Lake

Arriving in Inle Lake

You’ll finish your hike after lunch of day 13 and get a free boat ride across the lake stopping at the floating gardens, the long-neck tribes ladies and a few metal and silversmiths. You’ll come to an entrance gate that requires you to pay 15,000 Kyat to enter the Inle Lake region. 

Check into your accommodation (I stayed at the BaobaBed hostel which has free bicycle hire), freshen up and head out to the Red Mountain Estate Winery.

This is the perfect place to chill out and relax with a glass of wine after 2 days of trekking. We’d formed a great bond with our trekking group that we all headed out here together.

Sunflower Restaurant is a great place for dinner and has lots of local fish on the menu.

Maing Thauk floating village ferry

Day 14: Inle Lake

Unless you stay in one of the more expensive hotels or resorts surrounding the lake it’s likely you’re accommodation will be in the town of Nyaungshwe.

If you’re an early riser, head out on the boats to see the local fisherman who paddle the boats with their feet. This is quite a touristy activity and many of the photos you get will be from a show but this is the traditional way of fishing.

The best way to explore the lake is to ride your bike. There is a great circular route as shown in the image below. Maing Thauk is one of the great floating villages on the lake. Lock up your bike and walk out along the Maing Thauk wooden bridge. 

You can flag down the small boats to take you across to the restaurants on the other side of the canal. Shwe Yee Win is a great one right at the end which has really affordable prices. You’ll know it as it has a big sign on the boardwalk and big open balconies.

To reach Maing Thauk it’s an 11km ride from Nyaungshwe and takes about an hour. Other places to stop along the way are hot springs and a forest monastery. If you choose to head to the other side of the lake it will cost 6,000 Kyat to go over with your bike. You can also do an hour-long return lake cruise from the boardwalk.

Day 15: Inle Lake – Mandalay

It’s your final day in Myanmar (unless you choose to stay longer because you love it so much!)

Did you know you can pay $3 USD/day to overstay your Myanmar visa? If you need this option you just pay for your extra days at the overstay counter at the airport. I did this twice and can safely say there are no repercussions. Don’t forget to check out all of my  Myanmar travel tips.

You’ll want to head back to Mandalay to fly out of the international airport. The trip back to Mandalay is 9 hours. So unless you can score a late flight you’ll be better off spending one last night near the airport. I stayed at the Aung Myint Mo Hotel which was a short walk from the bus stop and half the time to the airport than from the city.

If you do stay overnight, this hotel is much closer to the U Bein Bridge. Head there for the last sunrise of your trip.

The best 2 week travel itinerary for Myanmar

You’ll love this welcoming country and this itinerary around Myanmar. Have you been to Myanmar before? If you have any questions about the route or things to do, let me know in the comments below 🙂

Use Grab (Myanmar’s equivalent of Uber) in Mandalay and Yangon to ensure you get the best prices for transport. 

If you have more time to spend in Myanmar other destinations are:

  • Myeik – The coastal gateway to the Mergui Archipelago
  • Ngapali Beach – A beautiful beach on the western coast – but hard to get to
  • Hsipaw and Lashio – Starting points for nature and hiking
  • Pyin Oo Lwin – Take the scenic train from Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw 

Save your itinerary for Myanmar!

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The Ultimate 2-Week Itinerary for Myanmar: The Complete GuideThe Ultimate 2-Week Itinerary for Myanmar: The Complete Guide

Hello! My name is Erin, the lady behind Curiously Erin. After more than 10 years of travelling and working abroad, I wanted to create a platform where I could share my stories and travels. My goal is to help you live the life you desire and inspire you to travel more.

Comments:

  • 10:59 pm

    That’s definitely a complete itinerary!! Thank you so much, saved on my bookmarks!

    reply...

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