Overview: 3 weeks in Myanmar

Now that our trip to Myanmar has come to an end I thought it’d be good to put together an overview of the whole time we spent there. 

Below you'll find the accommodation we stayed in with a brief review and prices, costs and timings for all of our travel and our 3 week Myanmar Itinerary (and changes we would make to it!). 

I haven't included food, souvenirs and our hot air balloon trip but otherwise this is everything we did for 3 weeks in Myanmar!

Trip duration: 3 weeks (21 days)

Visa: Tourist e-visa 28 days, bought online 2 weeks before (£37 each)

Entry: Medan, Indonesia via Kuala Lumpur to Yangon

Plane ticket price in: £55 each

Exit: Yangon to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Plane ticket price out: £54 each

Exchange rate at time of writing: £1 is 1840.22 Kyat | $1  is 1369.86 Kyat | 1 Euro is 1622.04 Kyat

Our travel ended up being pretty inefficient, but this was due to the fact that we wanted to keep flexible so we planned as we went along. Because of this we ended up spending a lot of time travelling between places and also going back on ourselves. We should have done things in a different order as this would have cut down our travel time substantially, although if you’re backpacking through Myanmar there’s always going to be a lot of time spent in transit. 

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2 days Yangon

We arrived around midnight on the first night. Main activities included seeing the Shwedagon and Sule Pagoda, walking around the city and exploring Chinatown and a visit to Happy World. Going to Happy World is like stepping back into a Carnival in the 1980s. There is an old school ghost train, horror house and even a 4D ride (maybe not quite so 80s).

On the second day we took a 3 hour ride on the Circle Train which takes you round the entire city. 

Accommodation

Shwe Htee Guesthouse. 3 nights at £15.50/night. 

Double room with private bathroom. No window Small room but nice staff and great location.

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2 days Mandalay 

On the first day we hired a scooter and visited the Grand Palace, Shwenandaw Monestary and other small temples and then went to the temple on Mandalay Hill for sunset. That evening we watched the skilled work of the puppet masters at the Marionette Theatre which is just fantastic.

On our final day we shared a taxi tour around the rest of Mandalay with 2 other backpackers. Places we visited included temples in Sagaing and the U Bein Bridge for sunset.

Accommodation

Royal Yardanabon 2 nights at £13/night. 

Double room with private bathroom. 5th floor. Staff were so friendly, room was nice and clean with a great location.

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4 days Hsipaw 

We undertook a 3 day, 2 night trek in the Hsipaw countryside with Firefly Travel. This was a wonderful way to get to know the local way of life and actually spend time with some of the locals in their own homes. 

Accommodation

Red Dragon Hotel 2 nights at £15/night.

Double room with private bathroom. 4th floor. Very big clean room, friendly staff and amazing view from the roof terrace!

Homestay in 2 different Palong villages during the trek. The trek cost us £45 each for the 3 days including all food, accommodation and any transportation.

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2 Days Inle Lake 

We hired bicycles from our hotel and biked around the lake. We really enjoyed experiencing the lake in this way because you can stop wherever you like along the way and take your time checking out the temples and narrow pathways and drinking coconuts along the way. Halfway down the lake you can hire a boat to take you and your bicycles aross to the other side from which you can then continue back into town. This usually takes around 3 hours but we spent most of the day doing it and only reached the town just in time for sunset at a sunset bar.

On our second day here we hired a boat to do a lake tour. I find it hard to 100% recommend this because it just felt like such a tourist trap. However it was still a nice day.

Accommodation

Green Valley Inn 2 nights at £13.50/night.

Double room with private bathroom Room was ok, good location. Staff were lovely. Amazing breakfast.

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4 days Bagan

Hiring a bicycle or e-bike is a must in Bagan. This is the best way to explore the town as you can stop at any of the temples as you drive around. This is what we did for the majority of the time that we were there. Finding a good spot for sunrise and sunset can be a bit hit and miss but if you’re there for a few days it increases your chances of really nailing it! 

We blew our budget on our second day ticking off a bucket list item to see the sunrise by hot air balloon. Although it was super expensive it was probably the highlight of our entire trip

Accommodation

Crown Prince Hotel 3 nights at £22.50/night.

Double room with private bathroom Nice room, good location in New Bagan. Staff don't understand English very well, hard to communicate.

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1 day Pyay 

We stayed in Pyay to break up our journey on the way to Ngapali beach. It’s a nice little town with plenty of shops, a nice bridge over the river and a night market. Sadly we didn’t have enough time to visit the heritage site which is one of Pyay’s main draws.

We also found an awesome little temple where you can buy bread and feed the fish and turtles in the pond! 

There weren't many options for accommodation online.

Accommodation

Hotel 3D 1 night at £30.

Double room with private bathroom. 3rd floor. Very expensive for nothing much. Had trouble finding accommodation online in the location we wanted, this was the only one. Nice room and very good staff.

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4 days Ngapali Beach

After all that travelling we decided 4 days on the beach would be the perfect end to our time here. Apart from relaxing and enjoying the sun we went to see the huge Standing Buddha on the top of the hill at the bottom of Ngapali. We also took a full day boat trip around the area and went snorkelling, Kieron did some fishing and we had a nice lunch on a secret beach before travelling back to our hotel as the sun set.

Accommodation

May 18 Guesthouse 3 nights at £22/night.

Double room with private bathroom. 1st floor. Best accommodation we've had on the trip so far. Amazing staff, very clean, perfect location and great breakfast.

1 day Yangon

This wasn’t really a full day in Yangon as we arrived around 3am after the night bus from Ngapali. We mostly just walked around the local area to our hotel which was near the airport so not really close to any major attractions. That evening we took our flight out to Malaysia.

Accommodation 

Pandora Motel 1 night at £15/night.

Double room with private bathroom. 2nd floor Way overpriced. Tiny room, not that clean. Cheapest we found in the area near to the airport.

Costs 

Long distance Travel 

  • Yangon > Mandalay, 2+1 bus ,13 hours, 21,000 Kyat (£11.48) each
  • Mandalay > Hsipaw, shared taxi, 7 hours, 16,000 Kyat (£8.75) each
  • Hsipaw > Inle Lake, minibus, 9 hours, 16,500 Kyat (£9.02) each
  • Inle Lake > Bagan, 2+1 bus , 10 hours, 17,000 Kyat (£9.29) each
  • Bagan > Pyay, minibus 9 hours, 17,000 Kyat (£9.29) each
  • Pyay > Ngapali, 24 seater minibus, 10 hours, 16,500 Kyat (£9.02) each
  • Ngapali > Yangon, bus, 15 hours, 15,000 Kyat (£8.20) each

Taxis

  • Yangon airport > Chinatown, 1 hour, 12,000 Kyat (usually cheaper but it was 12.30am) (£6.55)
  • Chinatown > Aung Mingalar bus station, 1 hour, 9,000 Kyat (£4.91)
  • Mandalay bus station > hotel, 20 minutes, 2,500 Kyat (£1.36) each
  • Bagan bus station > New Bagan, 20 minutes, 3,000 Kyat (£1.64) each
  • Pyay bus stop > hotel, 15 minutes, 1,500 Kyat (£0.82) each
  • Yangon hotel > airport, 10 minutes,  5,000 Kyat (£2.73)

Vehicle Hire

  • Scooter in Mandalay: 1 day, 8,000 Kyat (£4.37)
  • Bicycles in Inle: 1 day, 2,000 Kyat (£1.09) each
  • E-Bikes in Bagan: 2 on one day, 5,000 Kyat each, 1 on one day 7,000 Kyat, 1 for the sunrise on the last day 4,000 Kyat (£11.46)
  • Bicycles in Ngapali: 3 days, 7,500 Kyat each (£4.09) each

Entry Costs

  • Shwedagon Pagoda: 8,000 Kyat (£4.37) each
  • Sule Pagoda: 4,000 Kyat (£2.18) each
  • Mandalay Archeological ticket: 10,000 Kyat (£5.46) each
  • Inle Lake: 10,000 Kyat (£5.46) each
  • Bagan: 25,000 Kyat (£13.65) each

Totals 

Totals are for 2 people over 3 weeks

Long distance travel duration: 73 hours

Long distance travel cost: 238,000 Kyat (£129.89)

Taxis: 40,000 Kyat (£21.83)

Accommodation cost: £307.50 / £18 per night average

Hire: 40,500 Kyat (£26.19)

Entry costs: 114,000 Kyat (£62.21)

Treks: £90

Total: 1,165,349 Kyat (£637.62)

Itinerary Amends 

The problem with what we ended up doing in Myanmar is that we wanted to keep our travel plans flexible. Because of this we ended up going back and forth quite a bit. This is no trivial thing in a country as big as Myanmar. We spent so much time travelling when we could have been seeing places instead.

If we were to do the same trip again we would have done the following instead:

Yangon > Inle Lake > Hsipaw > Mandalay > Bagan > Pyay > Ngapali

Even better would be flying into Mandalay and finishing in Yangon. We missed loads of places as Myanmar is huge, but a couple that we really wanted to visit were Pindaya, Hpa An, Golden Rock and doing the Kalaw to Inle trek.

Useful Phrases

These are written phonetically, I don’t know the correct spelling!

  • Thank you: jesu tembeday
  • Hello: Mengalabar
  • Good morning: Mengalawa
  • Vegetarian: thut thut loww(t)

Favourites

Activity: hot air balloon over Bagan

Local dish: Tea leaf salad or the donut/churros looking things at the market 

Place: Bagan 

Accommodation: May 18 Guesthouse

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