Myanmar, also commonly referred to as Burma, is on every travelers bucket list. Myanmar is known for its breathtaking views, fascinating history and charming culture. This year, thanks to some really cheap plane tickets, I managed to finally tick it off my list.
My bestfriend and I planned an intense 8 days backpacking itinerary around Myanmar’s major cities. We packed light and coordinated every single move to perfection and managed to see everything we wanted in 8 days and 7 nights.
Here is our crazy itinerary (HIGHLY RECCOMENDED if you only have a week in Myanmar!):
DAY 1: YANGON
We arrived in Yangon International Airport at 9.15am. I suggest buying your sim card at the airport, we found the 2GB one from Telenor to be good enough for google maps, social media and whatsapp (7500 kyat), even if a little slow at times. Since we were on a budget and heard that the traffic was a nightmare, we took a motorcycle taxi outside the airport to Wai Bar Gi Station (for only 2000 kyat – 15 mins away) and from here we took the train to Yangon Central Railway station (for a ridiculous 100 kyat per person).
The ride took around an hour and 20 minutes and was in a super old train but the views of the rural areas and outskirts were totally worth it! By 12pm we were in Central Yangon station, where we bought our night train ticket to Mandalay for that same night and then took off to see Yangon for the rest of the day. For must see in Yangon click here.
DAY 2: MANDALAY
We left Yangon with the 5pm train and arrived around 8am in Mandalay. The sleeper was worth it, both comfortable and convenient for only less than 14000 kyat, and the views of the rural areas were amazing especially during sunset.
Once we arrived in Mandalay we stopped by the closest travel agency and booked all our night bus tickets for the rest of our trip, I suggest using this website if you want to book them online, our travel agent used it! We then got a motorcycle taxi to take us around the main sights in town and to U-Bein Bridge for sunset. We got dropped off at the bus terminal around 8pm to take our 10pm night bus from Mandalay to Inle Lake. Click here for Mandalay top things to see.
DAY 3: INLE LAKE
We took the JJ Express bus company for about 16000 kyat and they were great! The service was excellent, they stop multiple times, and all bus companies give you enough time to grab food at the restaurants around. They provided wet wipes, water and small pastries for breakfast too. We arrived at Inle Lake at 5.30am, walked to the boat jetty (only 5 min walk from where the bus drops you off) and got a full day boat tour around Inle Lake right away to see the sunrise (we spent 20000 kyat but could have easily been between 15000 to 18000 kyat). We saw the fisherman, floating gardens, cat monastery, water villages and the stunning Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda.
DAY 4: INLE LAKE
On our second day at Inle Lake we rented out bycicles (1500 kyat per bike) and cycled around the lake for the whole day. We passed by the many cultivated fields, small pagodas and hidden temples. We also stopped by Red Mountain Winery to taste their wines and rest up. We saw the forest monastery from far but did not go all the way up the hill (it was too hot and our sore butts did not allow it!). Once we got back to town we stopped by Jasmine Spa and enjoyed a 1 hour massage before getting picked up from our hotel to take the night bus to Bagan. More info on Inle Lake must see here.
DAY 5: OLD BAGAN AND NEW BAGAN
We took Bagan Min Thar bus comany, which although cheaper (11ooo kyat) was definately not up to JJ Express standards, the bus drivers were noisy, the bus toilet broke mid-way and the bus was freezing cold, but overall the seats were comfortable. We reached Bagan at 3am and got a taxi to our hotel in Old Bagan. Get ready to get ripped off by taxi drivers at the station when you arrive, after lots of bargaining we managed to share a taxi with 2 other girls for 3500 kyat per person (their starting price was over 10000 kyat per person). If you are staying in Nyang U, you can consider walking as it is not too far, only a 20-30 minute walk. From our hotel in Old Bagan we walked to Shwesandaw Pagoda and watched the magical sunrise Bagan is known for (yes the pagoda was crowded with tourists, but the view was breathtaking). We strolled around Old and New Bagan by foot for half the day. In New Bagan we also booked the Mount Popa tour for the next morning for 7500 kyat per person on a share-taxi. We watched the sunset from our hotel, with an amazing view of Ayeyarwady River.
DAY 6: MOUNT POPA AND NYANG U
At 9am we set out for a half day trip to Mount Popa on a share-taxi. It is a very bumby 3 hour ride (round-trip) on a narrow dirt road. The driver gave us 2 hours to go up Mount Popa before returning to Bagan. Mount Popa is absolutely stunning from a distance, but the walk up and the actual pagoda were a bit of a let down. On a good note, you do get to see a ton of monkeys, so make sure you are not carrying any food or water bottles, they can be very fiesty! Once we got back in Bagan, we rented an e-bike (4000 per bike for half day) for the afternoon and went to see some temples. We stopped at Pyathadar Hpaya to see the sunset and then drove to Nyang U where we shopped around and had dinner.
DAY 7: OLD BAGAN
On our last day in Bagan we rented the ebike for the whole day (6000 kyat) and went around all the major pagodas and looked at the thousands of small temples up close (which is actually very time consuming!). We settled on watching the sunset from North Guni, which although crowded with tourists (like every other temple at sunset) offered a nice view of the vastness of the area and the smaller pagodas. We drove to Nyang U after sunset for dinner and went to catch our last night bus back to Yangon. For top things to do in Bagan click here.
DAY 8: YANGON AIRPORT
For our last night bus back to Yangon we got Khine Mandalay for 11000 kyat and I would reccommend NOT to take it. This is just a normal bus, no extra leg space, loud bus drivers and freezing cold temperature, which made it a very uncomfortable ride back. I reccomend spending couple thousands kyat extra for the better bus companies and a much more comfortable ride. We arrived at the Aung Mingalar Bus Station at 4.30am and got a taxi to the airport right away (for only 6000 kyat total). Right outside the bus terminal there are a lot of restaurants, so you can also take your time and have breakfast before heading to the airport, which is only a 20 minutes ride away.