The Perfect 3 Days in Yangon Itinerary
Updated on January 30th, 2020
Are you visiting Myanmar and looking for the perfect 3 days in Yangon itinerary? During my first trip to Yangon, I spent 3 days exploring the city and can recommend this schedule to you. As always, my style of travel is quite relaxed as I don’t like rushing around. Although you will still get a chance to see all the top sites Yangon has to offer plus try the delicious local dishes on offer.
Yangon is the former capital city of Myanmar and for many travellers will be the first stop to exploring all that Myanmar has to offer. This large city is home to over 7 million inhabitants and has a growing international community. Being a relatively cheap destination to visit and having a rich culture, Yangon should be on the bucket lists of all visiting Asia.
As Ben spent the duration of our stay in work meetings, I was left to explore the city on my own. Something I noticed compared with other Asian destinations was that I didn’t seem to get hassled at all outside of the airport. It was really refreshing to walk around and not have to continuously turn down lifts and offers of items for sale.
One of the things I couldn’t get used to (and still haven’t after over 2 months) was the continual spitting from locals. If you have been to Myanmar you will be all too familiar with the locals chewing Betel Nut. Betel nut is the seed from areca palm and acts as a stimulant when ingested. You will notice the friendly smiles you get from locals come with stained red teeth – a result of chewing on the prepared nut.
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Arrival to Yangon
I flew straight from Australia to Yangon via a stopover in Bangkok. This all-day flight schedule got us into Myanmar in the early evening. After a breezy walk through immigration and customs, we were out into the arrivals hall with a month-long tourist visa and were back to the hassling of taxi drivers offering us over-priced lifts to downtown Yangon.
Firstly, we headed left as you exit the gate area and found a few ATM’s. Strangely our cards didn’t work in all of them even though based on the symbols they should have. Although we eventually found one that worked and were happy to have access to some local currency. On the other side of the ATM’s, you will see a few offices selling SIM cards. I didn’t get one here, but if I could do things again, would have.
The journey into downtown Yangon will take you around 45 minutes in traffic, possibly more at peak times. What was surprising to me was how bad the traffic was in Yangon. Although it was then pointed out to me that there were no motorbikes in the city. In 2003, the government banned the use of motorbikes in the city as reportedly a bike gang aggressively drew up alongside a military general. Make sure to not pay more than 10,000 Kyat for a taxi to the downtown area.
Are 3 days in Yangon enough?
How many days in Yangon do you actually need? Yangon is the largest city in Myanmar, so there is plenty to do here. Are you happy to just visit all the main tourist sites? If so, then 3 days will be plenty for your trip If you prefer to include a few of the lesser-visited areas, an extra day or 2 would be good.
Day 1 in Yangon
Day one we were up bright and early (maybe a little jet-lagged) and grabbed our free but unexciting breakfast at our hotel. This is when we first discovered Myanmar was going to have terrible bread. As Ben headed off to his meetings at the fancy Rose Garden Hotel, I continued on to walk around Kandawagyi Lake.
Crossing some of the major roads seemed to be a bit of a frog hop as the streets were bustling with traffic and no pedestrian crossings. Although only a short walk, I was happy to reach the lake and take refuge from the traffic and constant noise that is Asia.
There are a few entry points to the lake and you will have to pay 300 Kyat to enter. As I wasn’t sure what this was in dollars I got out my converter to see if I wanted to pay it. Once I realised this was only .20c US, I’m sure it must have seemed pretty silly to the attendant. I paid another 500 Kyat to take my camera in and take photos. I headed off in an easterly direction, which is where there are no boardwalks. Doh. I wandered through a very sad little zoo and stopped to buy some water and sit in the shade.
The day was heating up quickly and it was very apparent after spending close to 12 months in Europe my body wasn’t handling the heat very well. The good thing about the area I entered in was there were very few visitors. I seemed to have the place almost to myself and had great views of the Karaweik Palace – the large golden dragon-shaped boat. After backtracking and heading west I met some friendly local girls who taught me how to say thank you.
After another half hour wandering around the lake, I decided to come back and do the northerly part another time when it wasn’t so hot.
I was feeling exhausted from the heat and headed on foot to Nourish Cafe. I found myself having to cross a ridiculously busy road and wasn’t sure how it was even possible. Before arriving in Myanmar I had been worried about all the natural things that could harm me. Yet, I was sure if anything harmed me then, it would have been a car while crossing the road.
I managed to cross the road and found my way to the cafe unharmed. This is where I spent most of the afternoon drinking fresh cold-pressed juices and recharging with the roasted veggie salad. Nourish Cafe is a western plant-based cafe. On the day I visited it was full of people working on their laptops. Prices for a lunch meal ranges from 7,000 to 10,000 Kyat ($5-7 USD).
Getting around Myanmar by taxi is really affordable, a taxi around the downtown area should only cost you 2,000 Kyat and in my opinion, is well worth it to avoid the heat. Another alternative is to download the Grab app. Grab is the Uber of Southeast Asia and eliminates the need for cash exchange or bartering. This is why I would have grabbed a SIM card at the airport if I was to do my trip again.
Explore Downtown Yangon
If you’re feeling strong and able to battle the heat after lunch, head off to explore the downtown area. Visit the Sule Pagoda, wander past the street markets, taste the street food and admire the old but beautiful colonial buildings.
Have dinner at Rangoon Tea House
After a few hours recovering in the AC and drinking a whole lot of water we headed out to meet Ben’s colleagues at the Rangoon Tea House. This downtown restaurant was pumping even though it was a Wednesday night. We felt lucky to get a table without a reservation.
We ordered a few delicious cocktails and a range of meals to share with the table. This is when I first tried the traditional tea leaf salad – yum! Tea leaf salad is often prepared with fish sauce and dried shrimp. However, the Rangoon Tea House makes theirs vegetarian-friendly, so it’ s a perfect place for the non-meat eaters to try this local dish. We also had the banana blossom, biryani and a couple of other meat dishes. For 2 of us, we paid $28.
Day 2 in Yangon
Waking up a little later today! Yipee. I had a late start and went to yoga at the Yangon Yoga House which is attached to the Nourish Cafe. After starting the day with a good stretch I then headed to grab a good coffee at EASY Specialty Coffee & Gentleman Coffee Roasters.
EASY Specialty Coffee & street market
Easy is highly ranked on Beanhunter, an app I recommend for all the coffee lovers out there. Or even just the people who want to guarantee a good cup of coffee when travelling.
At Easy you can get some light meals including granola, soups and salads. The street, Bo Yar Nyunt Rd that Easy is on is also a great street to wander through the small street market and people watch or take some great street photography pics. Another great street market in Yangon is the China Town street markets between 19th and 26th street. The China Town street market unlike the Easy street one is pedestrian access only and has a whole street dedicated each to paper, fresh produce and meat and fish.
Bogyoke Aung San Market
Continue heading south from Easy and less than 500 metres away you will reach the Bogyoke Aung San Market. The market was formerly and still sometimes referred to as Scott Market. I have heard mixed reviews about Bogyoke Market. It seems some people get hassled a fair bit here. While others like myself are free to wander and take photos without any sort of pestering from the stall owners.
You must add the market to your Yangon itinerary and its location is very central and convenient if you are staying downtown. I was really interested in the local artists and their artworks and had a nice long chat with a lady who was painting in the stall. She was happy to answer any questions I had about not just the art but Myanmar and Yangon too. I learnt that to be called an artist in Myanmar you have to undertake 3 years of professional study. So although I thought this lady’s work was up to the professional standard she assured me she was only an apprentice as she had not completed any studies.
The markets sell all sorts of jewellery, fabrics, traditional clothing, fresh food, ready to eat meals and souvenirs. I bought a new pair of elephant pants at 6,000 Kyat, even after bartering. Although I probably could have gotten a better deal somewhere else I knew I needed them for visiting temples.
After an hour of wandering the 2 levels of the market, I started the walk back to my hotel. Walking around the streets here made me wish I was better at street photography and had actually packed my camera this day. I loved how much character the old crumbly buildings had with their messy electrical wires, hanging washing and plants growing from the concrete.
Yangon Circular Train
Something I tried to fit into my Yangon schedule but didn’t (and I knew I would be back) was to take the circular train loop around the city. The loop is 3 hours long and takes you through some of the smaller outer suburbs as an insight into the local lives of the Myanmar people.
As I didn’t get to do this trip this time around, you will have to tell me how it is. Read about Aura from the Daily Travel Pill experience on the circular train. Something to note if you do decide to do the train loop is it can get very hot onboard. So time your trip to not fall over the hottest part of the day.
Dinner at The Burma Bistro
Another delicious dinner. I can thank Ben for being wonderful at researching here. The Burma Bistro is also located downtown and is upstairs in an old colonial building (ah, surprise). Although everything seems to be in an old colonial building they really are very beautiful, especially the ones like this that have been renovated and have all the finishing touches.
I was excited to have a glass of wine, as I had been warned there wasn’t a lot (if any) decent wine where we were heading in Myeik. So I had a glass of red and Ben had a beer. We shared the Saigon rolls, which were fresh Vietnamese rolls and the Anyar fritters. These fritters are a must-have and the plate is huge! They are tempura vegetables, and everything about them is perfect. The veggies inside were moist and delicious and not overpowered by the batter. We shared a curry for the main course and were glad we didn’t each get a meal. In total, our bill was again close to $30.
Day 3 in Yangon
My final day of exploring Yangon this time around was spent wandering the downtown area in the morning and heading the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in the afternoon. I am always a walker and couldn’t accept that I needed to take a taxi somewhere. Although I sure wish I had.
Almost to the Shwedagon Pagoda, I had to take a rest stop at the Bodhi Nava Hostel Cafe. This cafe is super cute and modern. There was bike sitting out the front but would be easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it. There were really unique items on the menu like frozen filter coffee cubes with coconut milk. Unfortunately for me, the guy who ordered right ahead of me got the last one of those. Instead, I ordered an iced coconut coffee. As a snack, I ordered carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus. I know I should have been eating Asian food but was so excited to eat something healthy and light.
Before leaving I used the bathrooms which were located upstairs and could see the dorm rooms. They looked really comfy and if I was ever back in Yangon on my own would most likely choose to stay here. You can see my top picks on where to stay below.
From the Bodhi Nava Boutique Hostel and Cafe, it was just another 5 minutes to the Shwedagon Pagoda. I followed a procession of monks and took a few sneaky but terrible photos. As I said, I need to work on my street photography skills. The base of the Singuttara Hill where the temple sits are 4 entrance, one at each of the compass points. Before ascending the staircase I had a brief wander around the stalls at the base. Most are selling prayer beads and other religious goods.
As you continue forward, there will be people offering to sell you plastic bags. I was really confused by this at first. It wasn’t until one of them followed me to the stairs where there were signs asking to remove footwear. Ahhhh, lightbulb moment. The bags are for your shoes. I politely declined and used my own bag to carry my shoes. After ascending the covered stairs and walking straight past the ticket booth. I was flagged down to come back and pay. Whoops. Entry to the pagoda is 10,000 Kyat / $6.60 USD.
I was immediately taken by the beauty of the 99-meter tall golden stupa. It’s funny how even though I’m not religious myself I still can be awe-struck by the beauty and peace that comes from visiting places of worship. I decided to leave after close to an hour wandering around the temple grounds but the heat got to me (again). Most people recommend visiting at sunset and I would have to agree that would have been a better time. Plus, it would be amazing to see all of the lights come on and a beautiful sunset from the pagoda.
For our final dinner in Yangon, we ate at a small Japanese restaurant. The food was fine but I am sure you can find something better for your final night in the city. A place we didn’t get to but have heard others recommend is the 19th Street BBQ. The entire street is lined with vendors selling skewered meats and veggies and all sold at a budget-travellers price.
Where to stay in Yangon
The hotel I stayed at was ok, but I wouldn’t recommend it based on its location. Yangon is a large city and the best place to stay is in between the downtown and Shwedagon Pagoda areas.
- Bodhi Nava Boutique Hostel – $15 USD a night for a dorm bed and breakfast
- Backpacker (Bed & Breakfast) – $10 USD a night, small dorms and includes free breakfast.
Budget / Mid-range Hotels
- Clover City Center Hotel – Under $35 USD for a double room
- Wai Wai Place – $24 USD a night for double occupancy
Day trips from Yangon
- Golden Rock group tour – Visit the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda on the Golden Rock of Mon State on this 12 hour day trip.
- Bago private tour – Visit Hanthawaddy Kingdom’s former capital, Bago and see the important historical and religious sights.
Best time to visit Myanmar
The best time to visit Myanmar is during the winter months (November to February). Myanmar is a country that has a hot wet season and a dry winter season.
The dry weather makes it perfect for ticking off all the items on your schedule. You can see everything it has to offer without the hassle of monsoonal rain and floods. Also, the cooler months (for Myanmar) make it much easier to wander around taking in all of the sights. There were a few days not too long ago, that got down to the early-mid 20’s overnight. It was pure bliss!
Although you could visit Yangon at any time of the year as in the city everything is always running. However, try to avoid May to September in southern Myanmar destinations as many of the tour companies close down over these months.
Because of the vast differences throughout the country, the changes in elevation and the different weather patterns, it can be difficult to know what to pack. Make sure you read this complete packing list for Myanmar to know exactly what you need.