The Best of Myanmar

1st Apr 2014
Photo of The Best of Myanmar 1/5 by Juan Gallardo
Photo of The Best of Myanmar 2/5 by Juan Gallardo
Photo of The Best of Myanmar 3/5 by Juan Gallardo
Photo of The Best of Myanmar 4/5 by Juan Gallardo
Photo of The Best of Myanmar 5/5 by Juan Gallardo

Yangon - Mandalay - Inwa - Amarapura - Bagan - Mt Popa - Inle Lake - Ngapali Beach - Yangon

Get ready to visit the fascinating Myanmar. This journey all around the country is a visual treat full of exciting experiences and includes the main cities and sites.

Myanmar is emerging from decades of isolation and as such, it feels more conservative than nearby countries. It is by far my favourite South East Asian country and now is a good moment to visit before all the changes going on take place. Let me tell you about it from my personal experience.

Myanmar is between two of the world’s great civilizations, China and India, and for this reason its culture is a mixture of both, combined with the native Myanmar native identity and characteristics.

Myanmar is traditional and unique. One fascinating thing is that, in many aspects, it has changed little since British colonial times.

The first time you arrive in Myanmar you will be impressed by some daily life aspects, such as women wearing long traditional skirts and thanaka make-up, men wearing longyi (skirt), pavements covered in red spit from betel-chewing, friends playing football with bamboo takraw ball, colourful and varied street stalls, tea houses, buses and taxis driving like crazy, peaceful pagodas, beautiful countryside…

The local people of Myanmar are really something special. Over 135 ethnic groups, each with a heritage of its own; they are always happy, friendly, enchanting, smiley, ready to help, very enthusiastic, and proud of you visiting their country and curious to know about you.

There are many pagodas with Buddhas, which contrast beautifully with the Hindu shrines, Jewish mosques, Muslim synagogue and Christian churches from the colonial era.

In Myanmar you can find everything, from big cities like Yangon and Mandalay, to tranquil beach destinations like Ngapali, Chaung Tha & Ngwe Saung, stunning lakes like Inle Lake, and beautiful mountains like outside Kalaw.

If you like shopping there are very good quality handicrafts, art and antique shops, jade and gems markets, and open-air markets like Bogyoke in Yangon.

Food markets and restaurants offer really tasty and varied cuisines. Chinese, Indian and Burmese are the most popular, but as the country opens up you can find more and more international cuisine. They all have a place in Myanmar streets and you will find stalls and restaurants serving Chinese or Indian food, tea houses for Burmese food, Thai restaurant, all in the same street.

This is an itinerary I have designed so you can see in 11 days the best of Myanmar and rest the last days in the amazing Ngapali beach, because you’ll be tired and you’ll deserve it :)

I have done it in a few weeks, backpacking, and using local buses and trains instead of domestic flights, but I just wanted to share it as if you have just a few days in Myanmar. I am using the price reference from a friend of mine who owns a travel agency, so this price would be for 3 star hotels and including domestic flights, hotels, guide, transfers, entrance fees...

- For more photos and information of Myanmar, check out my blog:

- Also, check out my book "Delicious Myanmar", which is a guide to discover Myanmar through it's People and Food:

Day 1: Upon arrival Yangon, after passing through the immigration and customs formalities, Welcome by local guide at Yangon International Airport who will transfer to Hotel. Visit to Botataung Pagoda: located close to Yangon River and said to contain Buddha relics. The Botahtaung Pagoda was a famous Land-mark on Yangon’s waterfront. The Pagoda is hollow inside and you can walk through it. Continue the city tour to Bogyoke (Scott) Market for shopping, where you have a good chance to buy souvenirs or everything you need. Drive along scenic Royal Lake to Karaweik Hall royal floating barge; the photographer’s dream to take a nice photo over the lake with the world’s famous Shwedagon Pagoda in the background. Visit to Shwedagon Pagoda, the 2500 years old and world famous gold stupa. It is surrounded by smaller pagodas and pavilions enshrining hundreds of Buddha images. Continue visit to city centre where China Town is. There you visit the night market and find a lot of traditional food. Overnight in Yangon. View more photos here: - Karaweik: - Shwedagon Pagoda:
Photo of Yangon, Yangon Region, Myanmar (Burma) by Juan Gallardo
Day 2: Yangon – Mandalay Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Mandalay airport to fly to Mandalay, the second largest city and the historical old capital. Welcome by an English guide at the airport and transfer to Sagaing hills for its panoramic views. Then start the excursion to the former Royal Capital of Inwa (Ava), reached by a short boat trip. Visit by horse-drawn carriage include Nanmyint Watch Tower, the remains of the palace building nicknamed “the leaning tower of Ava”, Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery (built of brick and stucco) and Bargayar Monastery. In the evening visit Mahagandayon, a famous Buddhist monastery where more than a thousand monks live and study, and continue to 200-year-old U Bein teak bridge, built in 1782 at the time when Amarapura was Royal capital. Then transfer to your hotel and check in. Overnight at a hotel in Mandalay. Day 3: Mandalay – Bagan Breakfast at hotel. Start with a half day sightseeing in Mandalay including visits to Mahamuni Pagoda (century-old and legendary Arakan Buddha, made of pure gold), Golden Palace Monastery, Mandalay Royal Palace, Kuthodaw Pagoda, and traditional handicrafts and stone carving workshops. In the late afternoon, transfer to Mandalay airport for domestic flight to Bagan. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. Overnight in Bagan View more photos here: - U Bein Bridge: - Gold Pounders Workshop:
Photo of Mandalay, Mandalay Region, Myanmar (Burma) by Juan Gallardo
Day 4: Bagan Breakfast at hotel. Bagan is the main historical site in Myanmar. We will visit the great Shwezigon Pagoda, which was donated by King Anawrahta; Ananda Pahto, which is 170 feet high, with its shimmering gold, and a symmetrical masterpiece of Mon architectural style and considered to be the most beautiful among all the temples of Bagan; Ananda Ok Kyaung: Ananda brick monastery, one of the few surviving monastery buildings from the early Bagan era. The interior of the building is lined with well-preserved murals with everyday scenes from the Bagan period; Thatbyinnyu Pahto, a famous temple built in the mid-12th century, covered in white stucco, and located at the corner of the old city wall. Then we will enjoy the stunning sunset from one of the temples. Overnight in Bagan Day 5: Bagan – Mt Popa – Bagan Breakfast at hotel. In the morning, visit the Nyaung U market and you can explore the countryside around Bagan. Then, 2 hours drive to Mt. Popa, where you will walk up the huge volcanic rock on a staircase to see shrines for nats (celestial spirits of Burmese mythology) and small temples for Lord Buddha. It will take about 20 minutes to reach the top of Mount Popa and you will pass by many small food stalls and small stalls selling herbal medicine. Return to Bagan. Just in time for another spectacular sunset. Overnight in Bagan. More photos here: - The Temples of Bagan: - Sunset at The Temples of Bagan: - Balloons Over Bagan:
Photo of Bagan, Myanmar (Burma) by Juan Gallardo
Day 6: Bagan – Heho – Inle Lake Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Bagan airport to fly to Heho. Upon arrival, take a boat to the Western Shore of Inle Lake, where you will find the beginning of a stair path leading to the hidden Inn Thein Pagoda complex. Visit one of the most amazing historical sights on the shore of the lake consisting of hundreds of small stupas overgrown by moss and greens. Arrive to your hotel by boat through lush vegetation scenery. Overnight in hotel in Nyaung Shwe or Lake. Day 7: Inle Lake Breakfast at hotel. One of its many unique features is the cultivation on floating gardens where local farmers grow flowers and vegetables. Inle Lake is one of the most popular tourist destination in Shan State and one of the main attractions is the fishermen villages and the curious and unique rowing style fishermen have, which consists of standing on one leg on the extreme of the boat and wrapping their other leg around the the oar. Every year, on the evening of the full moon day in October, the annual PhaungDawOo Pagoda festival is held. Visit the floating market and the great Buddha with holy Buddha image at PhaungDawOo Pagoda. See traditional handicrafts – silk weaving on wooden handlooms and a blacksmith shop. Overnight in hotel in Nyaung Shwe or Lake. More photos here: - The Floating Gardens: - One Leg Paddling:
Photo of Inle Lake, Taunggyi, Shan, Birmania (Myanmar) by Juan Gallardo
Day 8: Inle Lake – Heho – Ngapali Beach Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Heho airport for your domestic flight to Thandwe (Ngapali beach). The rest of the day is free for leisure. Overnight at Ngalali beach. Day 9: Ngapali Beach Breakfast at hotel. The whole day is free for leisure. Overnight at Ngalali beach. Day 10: Ngapali Beach Breakfast at hotel. The whole day is free at leisure. Overnight at Ngalali beach. More photos here: - Ngapali Beach:
Photo of Ngapali Beach, Zi Phyu Kone, Rakhine (Arakán), Birmania (Myanmar) by Juan Gallardo
Day 11: Ngapali Beach – Yangon Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Thandwe airport for domestic flight to Yangon. The whole day is free for leisure. Car and guide at your disposal until your international flight departures.
Photo of Yangon, Yangon Region, Republic of the Union of Myanmar by Juan Gallardo