Flying into Yangon is expensive! Depending on where you’re travelling from it may be much cheaper (and I think more exciting!) to cross the border from Thailand to Myanmar. The Land border from Mae Sot to Myawaddy has opened recently, and is now easy to traverse. It is easy to find transport from Myawaddy to the rest of Myanmar.
To find out more about crossing the Mae Sot – Myawaddy border, check out Nomadasaurus’ advice!
Below is a travel itinerary for Myanmar, crossing from Mae Sot in Thailand to Myawaddy, taking one month, perfect for a 28 day visa.
Day 1: Arrive in Mae Sot from Thailand, and cross the Friendship Bridge to Myawaddy. From Myawaddy ask at the border, and take a shared car to Hpa-An. The trip should cost around $10 and take around 5 hours. Arrive in Hpa-An and ask your driver to drop you at a guesthouse. I recommend the Soe Brothers Guesthouse for backpackers, which costs around $12 for a double room. Spend the evening exploring Hpa-An's restaurants, and enjoy a Myanmar beer!
Day 2: Spend the day exploring Hpa-An! I recommend the Tuk Tuk tour offered by the Soe Brothers. The tour costs 5000 Kyat if there are 6 or more of you in your group. If you have another day to spend in Hpa-An you could cross the river and climb Mount Zwegabin, or hire a motorbike and explore for yourself!
Day 3: Spend the morning in Hpa-An, maybe enjoy a traditional breakfast in a Cafe. In the afternoon take the bus to Kinpun. This can be easily organised by your guesthouse, and should costs around 5000 Kyat, taking around 4 hours. Kinpun is small, when you arrive you will easily be able to find a guesthouse. Else, if you are not on a budget, head straight up Mount Kyaiktiyo to the Golden Rock and stay on the mountain.
Day 4: Ascend Mount Kyaiktiyo, either by foot or by truck. The truck costs around 3000 Kyat (including life insurance!). The entrance fee to visit the rock is around $6. You can either return down the mountain and leave Kinpun for Bago this evening, or wait until the following morning.
Day 5: Leave in the morning for Bago. The bus should only take 2 or 3 hours, and will cost around 5000 Kyat. When you arrive in Bago you will most likely have to take a mototaxi from the bus station to your guesthouse in the centre of Bago. In Bago I recommend the San Francisco Guesthouse as a good budget option. Here you can rent a bicycle or motorbike for the day to explore Bago and the surrounding area.
Day 6: From the San Francisco Guesthouse you can rent a bike, or the lovely owner will organise a mototaxi tour of the Bago zone. The Bago zone fee is $10, but you will need to pay a little extra to use your camera! Take a look at Mudskipper for a guide of what temples and sights you can explore in Bago. Make sure you visit Kyaly Khat Wai Monestry at lunch to help feed rice to the Monks!
Day 7: Take the train from Bago to Yangon. This is a short and easy trip. The bus is cheaper than the train, but the train ride is very scenic and will take you in to the amazing Yangon Central Railway Station. From Yangon station it is a quick walk to the Sule Pagoda, where a number of nice budget guesthouses are located. I recommend the Garden Guesthouse as a good budget option with a great view of the Pagoda. Spend the evening enjoying some of Yangon's famous street food or trying the amazing 999 Shan Noodle,for the best noodles south of the Shan State!
Day 8: Explore Yangon! Spend the day walking Yangon's colonial streets, and visiting temples. You could take a trip on the famous Yangon Circle Line. In the evening head down to Chinatown's 19th Street for a host of backpackers, BBQs and drinks.
Day 9: Spend the day exploring the rest of Yangon. You could take a trip to Bogyoke Market to buy a Longyi, or visit Inya or Kandawgyi Lake. In the afternoon take a trip to the National Museum of Myanmar to take in some history. In the evening take the night bus from Yangon to Bagan. This can be easily booked from one of the many bus operators opposite the station.
Day 10: Arrive early morning in Bagan. From the bus station take a taxi to Nyaung-U or New Bagan (note that Nyaung-U is the best town for budget travellers). If you are not on a budget you may want to stay in the scenic Old Bagan. If you are staying in Nyaung-U I recommend the Pyinsa Rupa Guesthouse, for the lovely owner and great breakfast. Spend the rest of the day resting, to recover from your over night journey! If you fancy venturing out you could visit the local market, enjoy a leisurely dinner, or visit a local hotels swimming pool.
Day 11: Rent an electric bike and explore the many temples of Old Bagan! The ticket for the Bagan Zone costs $20 but lasts for one week and is definitely worth it. In the evening I recommend a meal at Weather Spoon's, for the 'Best Burger in Myanmar!'
Day 12: Spend the day continuing to explore Bagan. In the evening take the night bus to Kalaw.
Day 13: Arrive in Kalaw. Kalaw is small and it is easy to walk in to town to find a Guesthouse. I recommend the Golden Lily Guesthouse; the owner is lovely, offers a great breakfast, and will also organise your trek to Inle Lake! Spend the day organising your trek to Inle Lake. This can be done from your Guesthouse or by one of the many tour operators around Kalaw. Visit the market to get supplies for your trip, and then rest before your trek. In the evening I suggest a trip to Everest restaurant to load up on amazing Nepalese curry before your trek.
Day 14-16: Take the three day trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake, staying over night in Monasteries or Home Stays.
Day 16: Arrive (exhausted!) in Inle Lake. From the edge of the lake most tour operators will arrange a boat to Nyaungshwe, where there are good budget guesthouse options and lovely restaurants. If you are not on a budget you could stay in a beautiful resort on the edge of the lake! In Nyaungshwe I recommend Song of Travel Hostel as a fun, social place to stay. Spend the afternoon resting and recovering from your trek. I recommend a trip to the hot springs and dinner at Live Dim Sum House.
Day 17: Explore the lake! Take an organised boat tour of Inle Lake, easy to arrange with one of the many drivers in Nyaungshwe.
Day 18: Spend the day exploring Nyaungshwe. In the morning I recommend a cookery class with an early morning trip to the market. In the afternoon hire a bike and visit the Red Mountain Winery for some (interesting) Burmese wine tasting! For dinner I recommend the lovely Thanakha Garden, where you can try some traditional Thanaka! In the evening take the night bus to Hsipaw.
Day 19: Arrive early morning in Hsipaw. Hsipaw is small so it is easy to walk to find a guesthouse. If you need to kill some time before your guesthouse opens the morning market. For a good budget guesthouse I recommend Lily the Home (not least for the amazing breakfast) or Mr. Charles, both of which are great at organising treks. After organising your trek you could spend the rest of the day relaxing. Alternatively hire a motorbike and explore the rice paddies surrounding Hsipaw. For dinner the Club Terrace boasts amazing views of the river and delicious curries.
Day 20-21: Enjoy a two day trek through the elusive Shan State!
Day 22: Spend your recovery day on the train to Mandalay. The train from Hsipaw to Mandalay takes a long while (it is a little quicker to get the train to Pyin Oo Lwin, and then bus the rest of the way). BUT this train journey is one of the most scenic on the planet. You will cross the Gokteik Viaduct, the highest bridge in Myanmar, and not for those with vertigo! From the train station take a taxi to the centre of Mandalay. There are many good budget guesthouses near Mandalay Palace. In the evening enjoy an amazing traditional Burmese buffet at Shan Ma Ma!
Day 23: Take a day tour of Mandalay and the surrounding areas. Ask your guesthouse to book a taxi, mototaxi or trishaw taxi to be your driver and tour guide for the day; if you ask for Hyo Myint To's moto-trishaw, i cannot recommend him enough! You're driver will ferry you to many of Mandalay's best sights. Ask to be at the U-Bein Bridge for sunset! In the evening enjoy a show by the famous Moustache Brothers.
Day 24: In the day hire motorbikes and drive to Mingun to see the amazing unfinished stupa. In the evening take the night bus or train to Naypyidaw.
Day 25: Arrive in Naypyidaw. Take a taxi to your hotel. Note that there are few to no budget hotels in Naypyidaw, so treat yourself for the end of your trip! You do not need long to explore Naypyidaw, as it's pretty baron. My one recommendation for Naypyidaw would be to drive the Naypyidaw highway, as seen on Top Gear! And for dinner why not check out Cafe Flight! That evening (or the morning after) take a bus back to Yangon.
Day 26-28: This itinerary has a couple of extra days to plan onward travel or enjoy Yangon before your visa runs out. This also gives you a couple of spare days in case you want to spend longer in any destination!
If you have any advice for trips to Myanmar, please share it or link your blogs in the comment sections 🙂