travel itinerary in Burma

2 week travel itinerary in Burma

The visa for Burma is valid for 28 days and if you have enough time or holidays I recommend spending all 28 days available so that you also have enough time to stop by the sea for a while.

However, if you can’t stay that long, as unfortunately happened to me, even two weeks (3 would be ideal) are enough to discover the best of Myanmar.

As written in the post about traveling responsibly in Myanmar, I advise against traveling by planes and trains (even if they are more comfortable and faster) but instead take buses, thus favoring the local economy rather than the Government.
But things have been changing in recent months following the elections and I heard that new private and non-governmental airlines are being created, however it is worth inquiring first as the political situation is unstable and changes happen quickly.

Traveling by bus in Burma means long journeys on unpaved roads and arrivals in the early hours of the morning, seats that are often not very comfortable but it’s not even that terrible to do and no one will be traumatized for life, not like I read various blogs or forums a regarding, at most these moments will become travel stories to tell, those stories that are fun and interesting at the same time.
The only thing that perhaps needs to be taken into consideration is that after traveling for a whole night you generally tend to rest for a day or half a day to recover and sleep a little, so it doesn’t kill but destroys, at least for a day.

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Read also: Visa for Myanmar – How to get it quickly

You have 2 weeks and want to see the best of Myanmar. The trip begins and ends in Yangon. Perfect!

Remember that….

The standards in Myanmar have very little to do with those in Thailand or Cambodia. The costs are significantly higher and the quality lower. My recommendations in this regard try to find a compromise between good price and good quality. A trip to Burma requires a lot of adaptability, but things are improving and I’m sure that in a few years from now everything will be much simpler and the quality will gradually improve. In hotels, streets and means of transport.
Inle Lake Burma

Two week travel itinerary in Burma

Day 1/2 – Yangon

Considering that you will most likely arrive in Yangon (which is still a cheaper destination than Mandalay), you can spend two days here without running away immediately.
This gives you time to go to the black market to exchange money, although I noticed at the airport that now the official exchange rate is at par, in fact at the bank the exchange rate was even better, visit the  Shwedagon Pagoda , go to the park ” of umbrellas” , so called because couples go here who cover themselves with an umbrella to hide while they kiss each other and if you have time take part in an English lesson where you will be the teachers (in the post living in Burma I talk about this opportunity).

Where to sleep in Yangon

Humble Footspints Hostel – Dorm beds from €12 and double rooms from €35

Hundred Moons – Double room with breakfast included starting from €48

Getting around Yangon
Although the city is served by buses, the most comfortable and fastest way, barring any broken engines in the middle of the road, is by taxi. Prices are negotiable. A trip to the city center costs around k1000/15000. An all-day taxi costs between $20 and $30.

For long-distance travel, remember to buy your ticket in advance. All guesthouses and hotels offer this service without you having to go to the station specifically.

Day 3/5 – Bagan

After two days take a night bus to Bagan (cost 7000k).
Yangon bus station is about 45 minutes from the city, taxi costs around 5000k if you can so split the expense with other travellers.
The bus will arrive in Bagan at 3-4 am, from there you will need to take a taxi to take you to the guest house.

At this point the morning is now wasted on taking a tour of the temples and pagodas of Bagan (more than 3000) so we opted for an excursion to Monte Popa . Here there is a monastery perched on the mountain, from the top of the monastery you can enjoy a splendid view and a bit of peace, if left undisturbed by the hundreds of monkeys.

The next morning, wake up at 5 am to witness one of the most beautiful and exciting sunrises of your life.
Climb a stupa, pay a local to accompany you, remember that you are helping him, he knows which is the best stupa to see and how to get there when it is dark.
After having breakfast at the guesthouse (guesthouses usually have breakfast included in the price), rent a bike (1500k) to wander around old Bagan. The ideal would be to leave no later than 9am because the hours will fly by and the historic site is huge.

Where to sleep in Bagan

Mya Thida Motel – Double rooms starting from €26 breakfast included
Ruby True House – Double rooms starting from €50 breakfast included

Transportation Bagan
Bagan is tiny and the best way to get around is by bike. Guesthouses and hotels rent them for the whole day.
The bus station can be reached by taxi. The Bagan-Mandalay
bus ticketcosts around $15.

Day 6/7 – Mandalay – Amarapura and Sagaing

The next day departure with the daytime bus to Mandalay (cost 7500k for 8 hours of travel).
The road will be incredibly uncomfortable, the seats too… but if you are tired like I was you will sleep anyway and, if it’s any consolation, apparently the route is better than the infamous Bagan-Inle lake which seems to be everyone’s nightmare DIY travelers in Burma.

Mandalay is the city that the Chinese are literally devouring, it didn’t particularly excite me and it seemed to me for what it is, the commercial capital of the country.
However, it is worth going to see the sunset from Mandalay Hill , a monastery on the mountain at 230 meters where you can obviously reach the top on foot, a long and tiring climb softened by the company of a young and kind, as only the Burmese are, monk Buddhist.
Sweaty and thirsty I made it and I must say that the view repaid me for the titanic effort made.

Instead of staying in Mandalay the next day I headed to the villages of Amarapura and Sagaing .
Considering that I was alone and paying 15,000k was too much for me I decided to go with the pick-up (the crowded and uncomfortable vans that made my trip to this country EPIC!).

Lonely Planet does not recommend them as they are crowded and chaotic but since I had no one to share the expenses with I opted for this local solution and… what an experience!
However, I highly recommend it , you will be alone surrounded by a crowd of locals, all curious to see you, they study you, talk to you, look at you, give you the best seats and take care of you, making sure the trip isn’t a nightmare. .

Travel cost for the two villages: 200k from Mandalay to Amarapure, 400k from Amarapura to Sagaing and 500k back. Total operation cost 1100k.

Amarapura is famous for the U Bein bridge which is the longest wooden bridge in the world but beyond this also for the possibility of attending the suggestive breakfast of the monks at the Ganayon Kyaung monastery every day at 10.30 in the morning .
More than 400 monks live here and every day at 10.30 in line and in silence they prepare for breakfast.

After the monks’ breakfast, crossing the Amarapura market again, you can take another pick-up to go to Sagaing.
Here there are more than 500 stupas and the only way to get around is to pay for a motorbike taxi (3000k) which takes you up to the top of the mountain, this way you don’t pay the government entrance tax because you enter from the back and instead we give the same money to the driver, and in the areas where they make the guitars famous throughout the country.

From these tours you can easily be in Mandaly by 3pm, in time if you want to catch the bus to  Inle Lake .

Where to sleep in Mandalay

The Hotel 78 – Double rooms starting from €38 with breakfast included
Hotel Yadanarbon Mandalay – Double rooms starting from €56 with breakfast included

How to get around Mandalay
The bus from Mandaly to Inle Lake costs  13000k  and also includes the cost of the taxi from the hotel to the station (taxi which would still cost around 3000-4000k). The taxi arrives at the hotel around 4.30pm and the bus leaves at 6pm. The ticket can be bought at the hotel. I recommend buying it in advance otherwise the seats run out.

Day 8/10 – Inle Lake

Beautiful Inle lake, it is a lake where entire communities literally live in the water, the only means of transport is the wooden boat and everything takes place in floating cities, the houses are stilts, the children don’t have scooters they go by boat , the market is a colorful river of boats with women inside selling wares.

The first day I took a bicycle and cycled for about 4 hours up the mountains reaching the mouth of the lake, the second day I did a full day tour (15000k to be divided up to 5 people per boat) and what I recommend heartily.

Only in this way will you be able to see and discover these aquatic communities.
On the third day I relaxed on the river bank in this quiet town waiting for the evening to fall, drinking tea in the company of my American friends and as we approached the time of the day which began to get dark, the temperatures dropped and we began to cover ourselves up and went to sleep early as usual, because here like it or not you go to sleep shortly after dark and you get up in the early hours of the day.

Where to sleep in Inle Lake

Golden Dream Hotel – central and a short distance from the main street, double rooms starting from €40 per night
Mingalar Inn – With swimming pool and central double rooms starting from €33 breakfast included

Golden Empress Hotel – Rooms furnished in typical Burmese style starting from €41 including breakfast

How to get around Inle Lake

The inconvenience of traveling in Myanmar is that the buses arrive at very unlikely times, in this case expected arrival at 4 in the morning.
The bus to Inle lake doesn’t actually leave in  Nyaungshwe  (where you will definitely stay overnight) but rather 13 kilometers north of the town. So once you arrive you have to pay for a pick up to reach the village, we paid 6000k to be divided into 4,
It’s not over. Entrance to Inle Lake costs  $10, this must be paid before entering the village. Here I recommend booking accommodation in advance otherwise you will end up like me: wandering around for 2 hours in the middle of the night with a flashlight looking for a place to sleep, here the guesthouses are often full, asking all those few people who meet in the road and cursing myself for not having booked the day before.

Day 11 – Bago

It’s difficult to leave Inke Lake but after three days it’s time to leave and head to  Bago , the kingdom of Buddha where the largest reclining buddha in the world is located, larger than the one in Bangkok, but right in this city here there are enormous reclining Buddhas. you will see 3.

The cost of the bus ticket is 15000k from Inle Lake to Bago, the journey takes about 14 hours, we leave at 1pm and arrive the next morning at 4.30-5, as usual.

One day is enough in Bago to visit the main temples, including the one where there is the enormous sacred anaconda which, when it is not in the pool with a guardian immersed in the water, wanders freely around the site, the best thing to do for a change is paying for a motorcycle taxi. The tour does not last more than a few hours.

Day 12/13 – Golden Rock

The next day it’s time for the toughest pick up ride of your trip to Burma.
Direction Kinpun from which you can climb the mountain to access the Golden Rock or the gold stone poised on the mountain and a sacred destination for the Burmese.
As an attraction in itself it might be disappointing but getting there has its charm.
From Kinpun you board a truck (1500k one way), I mean a truck equipped as a coach with wooden benches where everyone is squeezed in like sardines, which leaves you 45 minutes from the sacred rock. Getting to the top is tough, especially in the hot sun and I’m covered from head to toe.
An incredible effort but worth doing together with the other pilgrims.
In reality there are two other less tiring ways to get to the summit. Take an alternative route which however takes 6-7 hours or get on 2 other trucks which at a cost of 3000k one way take you to the top.

If you really want to try an entirely Burmese experience you can have 4 men carry you on their shoulders . Yes, you lying like a pasha on a stretcher while 4 men take that same route that I found excruciating without having a single gram on my shoulders.
So as characteristic as I personally was, as the 4 bold young men seemed, I would insist I couldn’t make it (it cost 8000k one way if I were interested but I find it inhumane).
Tourists have to pay $6 to enter the pagoda, I tried to mix with the group of pilgrims but it didn’t work and I was called back, but if you try and succeed you know that at least you avoid giving this money to the Government.
Kinpun is quite expensive compared to the average of the other villages (eating costs at least 1500k per course) but it is worth staying for a night.

If you think you can do it in one day at Bago (as I thought I would) consider various unforeseen events that could force you to stay the night anyway, obviously as happened to me.
Having left at 6 in the morning and hoping to arrive at 9/10, I was instead left by the pick-up in the middle of a town whose name I still haven’t quite understood for 3 hours waiting… I never understood what.
Result: I had to pay for a room in Bago and one in Kinpun. I tried but it was humanly impossible to arrive in time to catch the last pick up to return to Bago. There’s no harm in trying and I’ve learned my lesson.


Day 14 – Yangon

We have now reached the end of 2 weeks and it is time to return to Yangon to catch the plane.
From Kinpu take a direct bus to Yangon (3 hours, 2500k) or a pick up for 1000k. My choice fell again on the pick up partly because of the cost and partly because my last day in Myanmar had to be 100% typical and 2 hours in this van where people pile up but always have an eye out for you was What i wanted.
It’s been two weeks already and you don’t want to leave this place anymore, right?
This is the Myanmar effect .

Where to sleep in Myanmar

As with most Asian countries, the reference site that I recommend checking is, leader in the hotel sector, particularly in South East Asia and offers discounted rates sometimes up to 70%.

How to get to Burma

If you are already in Thailand and have had time for more than a year now, it is possible to cross the border by land.
If you fly from Italy the return ticket costs around €700 per person. To compare prices and see the best options, consult Skyscanner and look for the best solutions. Destination airport Rangoon (for Yangon) or Mandaly.

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