15 Feb 2 weeks in Myanmar: the ultimate itinerary
If you are planning to spend 2 weeks in Myanmar, the ultimate itinerary is here for you! I have gathered all the information you need to prepare for your trip, the ideal itinerary and the things to do per places. My goal is to help you anticipate and enjoy your travels in Myanmar as much as possible!
I spent 2 weeks in Myanmar, aka Burma, in January 2020. This country was on my radar since a few years as I discovered its amazing beauty on Instagram. Seeing it by myself was such an amazing experience! I went to Yangon, Inle Lake, Bagan and Mandalay. Although I travelled during high season, I didn’t find that the places were overcrowded. Myanmar is indeed not too touristy yet, a good thing if you like to travel without being in the middle of a crowd!
My recommendation for a 2 weeks itinerary
The country of Myanmar is full of beauty and really deserves a visit! I was amazed by all the places I have visited there! If you have planned to stay for 2 weeks, here are the destinations that I recommend:
- Yangon: 4 days (city of arrival and departure)
- Inle Lake: 3 days
- Bagan: 4 days
- Mandalay: 3 days
Here is the ultimate itinerary for those 2 weeks in Myanmar:
- 1st Day: Arrive in Yangon
- 2nd Day: visit Yangon
- 3rd Day: travel from Yangon to Inle Lake
- 4th and 5th Day: visit Inle Lake and the area
- 6th Day: travel from Inle Lake to Bagan
- 7th to 9th Day: visit Bagan and the area
- 10th Day: travel from Bagan to Mandalay
- 11th and 12th Day: visit Mandalay and the area
- 13th Day: travel from Mandalay to Yangon
- 14th Day: visit Yangon and departure (or departure on the 15th day)
Of course you can mix the cities if needed!
There are two international airports in Myanmar: one in Yangon and one in Mandalay. Mandalay International Airport is Myanmar’s biggest. It puts travellers closer to the country’s most beloved tourist stops. On the contrary Yangon International Airport is located far to the south and is older. Nevertheless it has better international connections than the one in Mandalay, that’s the reason why I chose it!
If you fly via Mandalay in Myanmar, you can adapt this ultimate 2 weeks itinerary by counting one more day in this city and one day less in Yangon.
How to travel between places?
The two main ways of transportation between the cities of Myanmar are the flights or the bus. In this ultimate itinerary guide for 2 weeks in Myanmar, I have listed the pros and cons of each way. Therefore you can decide what is best for you after reading the details below.
Foremost here is a good website to organize your trip: 12go.asia. I used it to know what are all the possible ways of transportation between two places, the timings, and the prices. It’s very useful and insightful (not sponsored).
Flying in Myanmar
Flying in Myanmar: the pros and cons
The easiest and fastest way to go from one place to another in Myanmar is to flight. Because I didn’t want to lose time during my trip, I chose that option for most of my travels there. It takes around 1h to get from one city to another.
Nevertheless the only disadvantage of the flight as a way of transportation in Myanmar is the price. This is the most expensive way to travel from one place to another (count between 65 and 90 USD minimum for a flight ticket). Therefore if you are travelling on a budget, you have to take this into account.
Flying in Myanmar: my experience
I used Golden Myanmar Airlines, as it was the cheapest. The prices of domestic flights were between 65 and 90 USD at the time I travelled in the country. The price depends on how far the destination is and on the airlines you choose (some are more expensive). I booked my flights one month in advance and paid online. A friend of mine booked a flight last minute the day prior departure and the price was the same and seats were still available. There are 2 departures a day, usually one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
For domestic flights you just need to be there one hour in advance. It was written on the email I received after booking my ticket online that I had to call the company one day in advance to confirm that I would be on the flight. I did it the first time, but I stopped to do it afterwards and it was still ok.
The check-in and security process were quite fast. The planes are small, as not a lot of local people can afford to flight (see photo above). I saw a lot of tourists but also a few locals, and the flights were not fully booked. It was ok in term of comfort. To my biggest surprise the placement inside the plane was free. Although the trips were short (only 1h), the staff served something to eat and to drink to the passengers during the flight. Once I arrived at my destination, it was super fast to collect the luggage.
The smallest airport was the one close to Inle Lake, named HEHO Airport. Despite its small size we managed to find something to eat/drink and there was enough space to seat properly to wait for the flight.
Taking the bus in Myanmar
Taking the bus in Myanmar: the pros and cons
The cheapest way to go from one place to another in Myanmar is to take the bus. If you do not have much budget, this is definitely the best option for you!
The price for the bus tickets varies from 12 to 23 USD depending on the company, if you book economy or business/VIP, and how far is the destination. Those buses are quite comfortable. The bus companies are usually providing a blanket and drinking water in Economy/Express bus. If you book a VIP bus you can get a blanket, drinking water, a soft drink, and a towel (+ toothpaste and toothbrush for night buses). The bus drivers will take breaks along the way, which will allow you to buy food if needed and use the bathroom.
However the disadvantages of taking the bus to travel in Myanmar are the duration and the time of travel.
Firstly it takes around 10h to 12h to go from one touristy site to another. This is a lot of time to spend in the bus!
Secondly most of the trips are only available at night. The departures are usually at the end of the afternoon, arriving very early in the morning. The good thing about this is that it can help you save time vs sightseeing and save you the cost of a hotel. But as the buses arrive at the crack of dawn you might not be able to check-in in your hotel and use the bathroom for a well-deserved shower after a night in the bus.
Lastly, you have to be aware that the roads in Myanmar are quite damaged. Therefore the journey can be bumpy, which can prevent you from sleeping, no matter how comfortable the bus is.
Taking the bus in Myanmar: my experience
I took the bus to go from Bagan to Mandalay as it was only a 5h trip and there was one departure in the morning and one in the afternoon. I bought my bus ticket in a street shop in Bagan for less than 10 USD 2 days before the departure. It was an afternoon journey from 1 pm to 6 pm. The bus came directly at my hotel in Bagan and dropped me at my hotel in Mandalay. It was comfortable and we had dedicated seats. Nevertheless there was an issue with the luggage: all of the passengers had luggage and there was no dedicated space in the bus for it. Therefore the bus drivers put all the baggage in the alley (see photo above). This was not practical at all to go in and out of the bus as we had to climb over them to move out of our seats. Moreover in case of an accident this could have been very dangerous!
Here are some good things you can take into account for any bus trips by night:
- As there is not so much traffic at this time, it can happen that they arrive a bit ahead of schedule.
- Some hotels allow you an early check-in if they have availabilities for an extra fee.
- Some tour guide companies are waiting at the stations of arrival as they expect the tourists not to have any plans. For example they are offering you a day tour or a half-day tour of the touristy places around in a personal taxi and you can let your luggage in the trunk of the car.
Yangon is the largest city and former capital city of Myanmar. It was my first stop and my last stop of my 2 weeks trip. Indeed I arrived from the international airport, which is the primary international airport of the country.
With its amazing pagodas, its beautiful colonial architecture and its yummy street food, Yangon is a destination that deserves a visit! That’s why I had to put it in the ultimate itinerary for 2 weeks in Myanmar!
What to do in Yangon
Here is the list of the best things to see, visit, and do in Yangon:
- Shwedagon Pagoda: this pagoda is Myanmar’s most sacred Buddhist monument. It’s truly impressive and quite big, so you have a lot to admire (see photos above)! The best moments to visit are sunrise and sunset.
- Maha Wizaya Pagoda: this pagoda is located close to Shwedagon Pagoda. The architecture is stunning: the golden pagoda has many beautiful details on its façade and is very unique (see photos above)!
- Swe Taw Myat Pagoda: also named “Buddha tooth relic pagoda”, it has a really beautiful architecture with photogenic staircases all around (see photos above).
- Sule Pagoda: located in the center of downtown Yangon, this pagoda is part of the city’s economic and public life.
- Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple: this temple hosts a statue of a reclining Buddha. With its 217 foot long, it is one of the largest in Myanmar.
- Bogoyke Aung San market: a market built in 1926. It is great place to buy Burmese souvenirs such as textiles, handicrafts and paintings.
- The colonial architecture: Myanmar used to be a British colony and in Yangon you can admire the beautiful architecture of some the preserved buildings from that time.
- Kandawgyi lake and Kandawgyi Nature Park: a nice park for a stroll and to watch the sunset.
- Karaweik Palace: this stunning palace is a barge located on the eastern shore of Kandawgyi Lake with two huge mythical birds.
- Inya Lake: the largest lake of Yangon and a very exclusive area. The park there is a popular meeting place for couples.
Where to stay in Yangon
There are a few great areas to stay in Yangon. Downtown Yangon, close the colonial buildings and the street food corners, Northern Yangon, close to Shwedagon Pagoda and to Kandawgyi Lake, and Inya Lake.
If you are looking for an accommodation in Yangon, here are some suggestions:
- Luxury hotel: Belmond Governor’s Residence, a luxurious colonial style mansion located in Yangon’s embassy quarter, a quiet part of the city (see photos above). Location: 35 Taw Win Rd, Yangon 11191. More info here: Belmond Governor’s Residence Hotel review. I stayed here for 3 amazing nights during my trip.
- Mid range hotel: Merchant art hotel, a unique art boutique hotel with a contemporary design concept located close to Shwedagon Pagoda. Location: No.67/71, Yay Tar Shay, လမ်းသစ်လမ်း, Yangon. More info here: Merchant Art Hotel Yangon. I stayed here for 1 night during my trip.
Where to eat in Yangon
Here are some of the best places to eat in Yangon:
- Rangoon Tea House: hipster tea house where you can get local food with the best ingredients, and tea of different varieties (see photos above). It’s inspired by the traditional tea houses. Location: Ground Floor, 77-79, Pansodan Street, Lower Middle Block, ရန်ကုန်, Myanmar. More info: Rangoon Tea House.
- Wai Wai’s noodle place: a great place to experience local Shan food, especially noodles. Location: 301 Bo Aung Kyaw St, Middle Block, Kyauktada Township 11182 Yangon. More info: Wai Wai’s Noodle place.
- Nourish cafe: a plant-based restaurant with healthy and yummy options (see photos above). Location: No. 36A, Alan Pya Pagoda Road, Pha Sa Pa La Ward Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township, Yangon, Myanmar. More info: Nourish Cafe.
- The Marina: a great quality Indian restaurant close to Shwedagon Pagoda. Location: 63 Taw Win Rd, Yangon, Myanmar. More info: The Marina Indian Restaurant
- Street food: Yangon is pretty famous for its street food. You can try for example the Night Market on Strand Road.
Inle Lake was one of my favorite destinations in Myanmar! This lake has been recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, an ASEAN Heritage Site, a National Wildlife Sanctuary and a National Wetland Sanctuary. Therefore it’s a must to visit and it’s part of the ultimate itinerary for 2 weeks in Myanmar!
What to do in Inle Lake
Here is the list of the best things to see, visit, and do in Inle Lake:
- Boat tour on Inle Lake: this is a must and the best way to discover the mystical Inle Lake! Here are some examples of the things you can see during a boat tour:
- Those famous traditional one leg rowing fishermen: seeing them performing is impressive (see photos above)!
- The village of In Dein and Shwe In Dein Pagoda: an extraordinary site with 1054 stupas in many shapes and sizes dating from the 17th and 18th centuries (see photos above).
- The Floating garden: you can actually walk on it!
- A Fisherman village
- The Floating market (depending on the days)
- The Long Neck Women: some of them are working on their craftwork in front of you and selling it.
- Aung Mingalar Pagoda: a very beautiful complex of white and golden stupas (see photos above).
- Silk and lotus weaving
- Many floating villages
- Bike tour of the area: if you want to explore Inle Lake in a different way. It’s a mix of adventurous riding and cultural insight.
- Kakku pagodas: this pagoda complex is a huge collection of 2,478 ancient stupas dating from the 17th and 18th centuries or even older ( a 2.5 hour car journey from Inle Lake).
- The Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda: a notable monastery in Inle Lake housing five small gilded images of Buddha covered in gold leaf.
- Simply enjoying the sunrise and the sunset on the lake is already quite an amazing experience (see photos above)!
Where to stay in Inle Lake
You have 2 main options for places to stay in Inle Lake. On the one hand you can stay at one of the resorts on the lake. It has the benefits of having a direct view on Inle Lake and it’s perfect if you want to relax. But it’s the most expensive option and you will be more or less captive in your hotel as it’s far from anywhere else. On the second hand you can stay in the town of Nyaungshwe. This is more practical and the best option if you are travelling on a budget. But of course you won’t have the magical lake view.
If you are looking for an accommodation in Inle Lake, here are some suggestions:
- Luxury hotel on the lake: Villa Inle Boutique Resort, an eco-friendly resort with a direct view on Inle Lake. Location: Eastern Bank of Inle Lake, Maing Thouk Village, Nyaung Shwe Township, Southern Shan State, Myanmar. More info: Villa Inle Hotel review. I stayed there for 2 fantastic nights (see photos above).
- In Nyaungshwe: Thousand Islands hotel, a great value for money option with a central location close to the river. Location: Corner Of Kann Nar Road And Phaung Daw Side Road, Win Quarter, Nyaung Shwe, Inle Lake Southern, Nyaungshwe 11221, Myanmar. More info: Thousand Island Hotel. I stayed there for 1 night.
Where to eat in Inle Lake
Here are my two favorite places to eat in the area of Inle Lake. Those 2 restaurants are located in Nyaungshwe. If you are staying in one of the hotels on the lake you will probably have dinner there (you can have lunch in another place depending on where you will be sightseeing at that time of the day).
- Sin Yaw: this restaurant was one of my favorites of my whole trip in Myanmar. The food is very tasty and the service is amazing! Location: MMR014002701, Nyaungshwe, Myanmar. More info: Sin Yaw Restaurant.
- Paw paw cafe: an authentic restaurant serving very good Burmese food. Location: #26, between Pawn Daw Side Road and Yone Gyi Road, Win Quarter Shan State Nyaung Shwe. More info: Paw Paw Cafe & Restaurant .
Bagan used to be the capital of the Pagan Kingdom between the 9th to the 13th centuries. During that time no less than 4,446 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed here. Today Bagan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can still find in the area the remains of 3822 temples and pagodas! Bagan is so unique that it has to be part of the ultimate itinerary for 2 weeks in Myanmar!
What to do in Bagan
Here is the list of the best things to see, visit, and do in Bagan:
- Go temple hopping in the area is of course number 1! Walking around here and discovering some of those treasures completely randomly was so extraordinary that I can only recommend you to discover it by yourself! You can go with an electric scooter by yourself or rent a tuk tuk.
- Watch the sunrise with the hot air balloons in the sky and the temples in the background is quite a special experience (see photos above)! The balloons are flying during approx. 1h from sunrise so you have to get up early
- The sunsets are also very spectacular in the area! You can go to one of the few sunset viewpoints to admire this natural show (see photos above). The 2 temples alongside the Irrawaddy River are great spots for example.
- Visit Ananda temple: this Buddhist temple built in 1105 has a stunning architecture (see photos above).
- Do a hot air balloon ride: I had the opportunity to fly with the company Balloons Over Bagan and it was unforgettable (see photos above)! Seeing all the temples and pagodas from above was fantastic!
- Visit the archaeological museum: this will help you to understand the history and culture of the Bagan Empire.
- See a local market: Mani Sithu Market in Nyaung-U is a good choice to get a real loca experience.
- Hike Mount Popa: hiking this extinct volcano is an opportunity to enjoy a beautiful dramatic scenery.
Where to stay in Bagan
There are 3 different areas to look for an accommodation in Bagan: Old Bagan, New Bagan and Nyaung U. Firstly Old Bagan is where most of the ancient temples are located. This is the best spot to be close to the temples but also the most expensive. You will find many luxury resorts in this area. Secondly New Bagan is a new city with a lot of new hotels and resorts, and more affordable accommodation. There are a few temples close by (but not as many as Old Bagan). Lastly, Nyaung U is full of accommodation options for all budgets. It is the closest to the airport and the bus station, and you will find here a lot of restaurants.
If you are looking for a place to stay in Bagan, here are some suggestions:
- Mid range hotel in Nyaung U: Bagan Valley, a good value for money option with a central location in Nyaung U. Location: Thiripyitsaya 4th Street, near FIT road, Quarter-4, Nyaung Oo,, Nyaung U, 11111 Bagan. More info: Bagan Valley Hotel. I stayed there for 5 nights.
- Luxury option in Old Bagan: Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort, this 5 stars hotel in Old Bagan has an ideal location. Location: Near Bagan Village Tower, Min Nanthu Village, Nyaung Oo, Old Bagan 11111. More info: Aureum Palace Hotel. I didn’t have the opportunity to stay in this hotel, but some of the other tourists I have met did and they were satisfied.
Where to eat in Bagan
Here are some of the best places to eat in Bagan:
- Sharky’s: this restaurant located in Nyaung U is renowned throughout Myanmar for its finest locally farmed, organic foods (see photos above). They are making their own cheese, yogurt, bread and pastries and growing their own vegetables. A great option if you miss fine European style food. Location: Anawratha road, Nyaung Oo. More info: Sharky’s.
- HTI: this restaurant in Nyaung U serves local and European food and makes good cocktails. Location: Thi Ri Pyitsaya 5 Street, Nyaungu, Myanmar. More info: HTI Bar Restaurant.
- The Moon Be Kind to Animals: this is an excellent vegetarian restaurant in Od Bagan (see photos above). Location: North of Ananda Temple. More info: The Moon Be kind to animals
- The Black Bamboo: this restaurant of Nyaung U serves great Burmese dishes and also very nice European desserts and ice creams (see photos above). The owner is a French woman. Location: thiripyitsaya 4 Bagan Nyaung Oo. More info: The Black Bamboo
- Weather spoon’s Bagan: a very popular restaurant in Nuyang U offering good Thai and Burmese curries, but also some Western classic like burgers. Location: Yar kin thar street, Nyaung oo. More info: Weather’s Spoon Restaurant.
- Indian Hut: if you like Indian food, this one is a very good option. Location Thi Ri Pyitsaya4 (FIT) street, between Lanmadaw Road and Anawratha, Road,Nyaung-U, Old Bagan 05231. More info: Indian Hut Bagan.
Mandalay is the second largest city in Myanmar after Yangon. It’s a religious hub with more Buddhist monasteries than anywhere else in the country, and a hotspot for commerce and culture. Therefore it is one of the cities you have to visit if you come to Myanmar and I added it to the ultimate itinerary for 2 weeks in Myanmar.
What to do in Mandalay and around
What to do in Mandalay
Here are some examples of the best things to see, visit, and do in Mandalay:
- U Bein bridge: this is one of the oldest and longest teakwood bridges of the world! It’s very beautiful at sunrise and sunset (see photos above).
- Kuthodaw Pagoda: this surprising Buddhist monument is no less than the largest book of the world (see photos above)!
- Shwenandaw Monastery: an historic Buddhist monastery completely decorated outside and inside with intricate wood carvings (see photos above).
- Mandalay Hill: climbing here at sunset will offer an amazing view of the city and the surrounding with temples, pagodas, and the Irrawaddy River.
- Zay Cho Market: the largest and the most important market in Mandalay and in upper Burma.
- Mandalay Palace:the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy.
What to do in the Sagaing region
If you visit Mandalay, don’t stick to the city itself. Indeed the Sagaing region and the town of Mingun on the opposite bank of the river bordering Mandalay are full of treasures! You can book a private tour by taxi to go there, or take the boat from Myan Gyan Jetty in Mandalay. Here are some of the surprising spots you can discover in this area:
- Mya Thein Tan Pagoda, also known as Hsinbyume Pagoda: this white pagoda is modelled on the physical description of the Buddhist sacred mountain, Mount Meru. It’s a fantastic place to take pictures (see photos above)!
- Mingun Pahtodawgyi: also called the incomplete pagoda, this temple is the ruin of a project meant to be the largest pagoda in Myanmar. An earthquake in 1839 caused huge cracks to appear on the face of the remaining structure (see photos above)!
- Mingun Bell: this bell weighs 90 tons and is the second largest bell in the world!
- U Min Thonze: this temple dating from the 14th century with pastel colors is one of the cutest and most original that I have ever seen (see photos above)! There are 30 entrances to the semicircular gallery housing 45 Buddha images.
- Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda: one of the oldest and richest of the pagodas in Sagaing.
Where to stay in Mandalay
On the contrary to Yangon, Mandalay is not really a walkable city. It’s better to stay in the city centre because you will be closer to the main landmarks, to the restaurants, and the facilities. Take the Mandalay Palace as a reference point (you cannot miss it with its citadel’s four 2 km long walls forming a perfect square), and you look for a place around it, or close the 78th street – which is one of the main streets of Mandalay going from North to South.
If you are looking for an accommodation in Mandalay, here are some suggestions:
- Hotel by the Red Canal: a charming 3 stars boutique hotel with a central location close to the Mandalay Palace and Kuthodaw Pagoda. It has a pool, a spa and a beautiful traditional architecture (see photo above). It has received many travel and hospitality awards. Location: No.417, corner of 63 rd & 22nd Road Mandalay Aung Myae Tha Zan Township. More info: Hotel by the Red Canal. I stayed there for lovely 3 nights
- Budget option: Hotel Aurora is a good value for money option located close to the Mandalay Palace and Irrawaddy river. Location: No.190, 87th Street Between 26th Street and 27th Street Chan Aye Thar Zan Township. Near Zay Cho Market Mandalay, 05023. More info: Hotel Aurora. I didn’t had the opportunity to stay here but it was recommended to me.
Where to eat in Mandalay
Here are some of the best places to eat in Mandalay:
- Unique Mandalay tea room: this modern and upscale tea room is a great place to go for breakfast and lunch. They have a great variety of tasty local specialties but also Western dishes and cakes (see photos above). Location: 70th St, between 27th and 28th St, Mandalay. More info: Unique Mandalay Tea Room.
- Pan cherry noodle house & café: this small and humble restaurant serves very good noodles and other local dishes for very cheap prices (see photos above). Location: Corner of 25th Street &, 82nd St, Mandalay 05071. More info: Pan Cherry Noodle House.
- Marie-Min restaurant: this vegetarian and vegan restaurant is cooking dishes with fresh fruits and vegetables. Location: 74th×75th Streets, 26th×27th Streets, Chan Aye Tharzan Tsp, Mandalay. More info: Marie Min.
- Mingalabar restaurant: this authentic local restaurant has a lot of Burmese dishes on the menu (see photos above). Although the place was very busy the service was fast. Location: 71st St, Mandalay. More info: Mingalabar Restaurant.
Where to go if you have more than 2 weeks?
This ultimate itinerary is based on a 2 weeks trip in Myanmar and this is already enough to discover all the beauty of this country! But you might wonder where you should go if you have more time to visit. There are two places I really regret not having the time to see: Ngapali Beach and Hpa-An. Therefore these are the ones I will recommend to you!
Did you know that Myanmar had some dream beaches? If you are looking for a beautiful natural beach far from the crowd then you should check Ngapali Beach! Located on the west of Myanmar facing the Bay of Bengal, what is referred to as Ngapali beach is actually not a single beach, but it is the name of an entire stretch of beaches.
Picture this: around 7 km of white soft sand, turquoise blue waters, coconut palms and almost no tourist! If this sounds like a dream to you, you know where to go 😉
The 3 main reasons why you should visit Hpa-An are the caves, the views and Kyauk Ka Lat Pagoda.
Firstly the cave system in this area is very interesting. If you like spelunking this place is for you! Some caves are filled with buddha images, pagodas and clay wall carvings.
Secondly, if you want to get some breathtaking views you should climb Mount Zwe Kabin. This hike is difficult and starts very early in the morning, but the panorama you get at the top is apparently very rewarding!
Lastly Kyauk Ka Lat Pagoda is a buddhist temple complex perched a the top a limestone pinnacle surrounded by an artificial lake at the foot of Mount Zwe Kabin. This extraordinary pagoda seems to defy the laws of gravity and is a very picturesque place at sunset!
With this ultimate 2 weeks itinerary in Myanmar I have shared many tips for your trip. If you want to be fully ready, you might like to check my other article with All the things you need to know before traveling to Myanmar. Of course if you have more specific questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me via email or ask them in the comments!
I really enjoyed my trip to Myanmar and I am sure you will love it too! The architecture of the pagodas and temples, the friendliness of the Burmese people, the good quality of the local cuisine and the variety of things to do are some of the reasons why you should visit this country asap!