Myanmar: 16 Days of Backpacking

Tripoto
5th Jun 2014

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

Photo of Myanmar: 16 Days of Backpacking by Gina And Daniel

The royal palace

Photo of Myanmar: 16 Days of Backpacking by Gina And Daniel

Sunset at Ubein Bridge

Photo of Myanmar: 16 Days of Backpacking by Gina And Daniel

Famous Line Train

Photo of Myanmar: 16 Days of Backpacking by Gina And Daniel

In Myanmar

Photo of Myanmar: 16 Days of Backpacking by Gina And Daniel

Trekking at Hsipaw

Photo of Myanmar: 16 Days of Backpacking by Gina And Daniel

A Packed Bus Ride

Photo of Myanmar: 16 Days of Backpacking by Gina And Daniel

At Inle Lake

Photo of Myanmar: 16 Days of Backpacking by Gina And Daniel

Over the Goetik Viaduct In Myanmar

Photo of Myanmar: 16 Days of Backpacking by Gina And Daniel

Hot Air Ballooning at Bagan

Photo of Myanmar: 16 Days of Backpacking by Gina And Daniel
We only stayed a night in Yangon and traveled to Mandalay the very next day. How we got here: Took the budget Jetstar airline from Singapore and arrived at Yangon International Airport. Paid around $220 each for our tickets. Where we stayed: We booked a room at Yangon Regency Hotel, 127 Sin Oh Dan Street, Chinatown, Downtown Yangon via agoda.com. Better rates offered on agoda than walk ins. Nice and clean hotel, great central location. Highly recommended by us if you don’t mind the slightly high cost. What we did: We took the highly recommended circle line train that cost us only $1 each! The entire journey will take 3 hours, but we got bored after awhile and decided to alight at a random station. Do note that the train counter staff will scrutinise all of your $1 bills and reject any note with a slight fold or stain. It was quite ridiculous as some of the stains were really not visible and we didn’t even notice them at first. But I guess they’re really adamant about accepting only new and crisp dollar bills. How much we spent in total: Food – $51 Activities – $2 (circle line train) Transport – $440 (airplane tickets for 2 pax) $10 (taxi from Airport to Yangon Regency Hotel) $7 ( taxi to bus station to head to Mandalay) $0.20 (local bus) Accommodation – $45 (1 night) Others – $20 (local sim card) $7.30 (we bought bought a traditional “longyi” each) Total expenditure for 2 pax - $582.50 Average expenditure/pax - $291.25
Photo of Yangon, Yangon Region, Republic of the Union of Myanmar by Gina And Daniel
Photo of Yangon, Yangon Region, Republic of the Union of Myanmar by Gina And Daniel
How we got here: We took a VIP bus from Yangon to Mandalay via the JJ Express VIP Bus. Each ticket cost around US$16 and the entire journey took around 7 hours. There was even a “bus stewardess” who served us food and drinks during the journey. The seats were really spacious and comfortable. Not to worry about the freezing air-con as a nice and warm fleece blanket will be provided for you on board the bus. Where we stayed: We were lucky to be able to stay at one of the most highly recommended Guesthouses in Mandalay – Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse. The host, Nan is one of the most warm, hospitable and friendly locals that we’ve met in Myanmar. The staff there are all very friendly and helpful and they serve the best breakfast ever. Best part of all, her guesthouse is one of the cheapest amongst the other guesthouses. We paid only US$10/night for a single bed in a dorm room. What we did: We explored Mandalay on a bicycle and visited the Royal Palace and Atumashi Monastery. Quite an adventure itself cycling on the busy roads with crazy traffic from almost every direction. Especially after the sun has set, it was really quite a challenge cycling in the dark with no bicycle lights at all. On our second day in Mandalay, we shared a taxi with 3 other backpackers who also stayed at Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse. Our host was very helpful in coordinating this for us and for arranging a taxi driver guide to bring us around. It was really cost economical as the total cost was only around $36 and we shared it among the 4 of us! Our guide brought us to several pagodas, temples and the ever famous Ubein Bridge.
Photo of Mandalay, Mandalay Region, Republic of the Union of Myanmar by Gina And Daniel
Photo of Kuthodaw Pagoda, 62nd Street, Mandalay, Mandalay Region, Republic of the Union of Myanmar by Gina And Daniel
Photo of Kuthodaw Pagoda, 62nd Street, Mandalay, Mandalay Region, Republic of the Union of Myanmar by Gina And Daniel
Photo of Shwenandaw Kyaung, Mandalay, Mandalay Region, Republic of the Union of Myanmar by Gina And Daniel
Photo of Atumashi Monastery, 63rd Street, Mandalay, Mandalay Region, Republic of the Union of Myanmar by Gina And Daniel
How we got here: Took a day bus from Mandalay to Hsipaw. The bus left at around 9am and reached Hsipaw around 7pm. This time we took a normal bus (non-VIP) and shared the bus with tons of other locals. Every space in the bus was fully maximised to fit as many passengers as possible. Plastic chairs were placed in the middle in between the seats to accommodate more passengers! Where we stayed: Another backpacker recommended us Mr Charles Guesthouse and we decided to heed his advice. Rooms were cheap and the ambience was great! Very friendly staff, comfortable clean rooms. What we did: After much feedback from other travellers, we decided to go for the 3d 2n trek at Hsipaw. We initially wanted to do the much raved about trek from Kalaw to Inle lake, but we were told that the trek in Hsipaw was less touristy and more authentic. Boy were we glad that we did it. Definitely one of the highlights of our Myanmar travel! Our trekking guide was arranged from our guesthouse and we managed to find 6 other backpackers to join us for this trek. You need a minimum of 4 pax for this 3d 2n trek. How much we spent in total: Food – $18 Activities – $80 (3d2n Trek) - $10 (Tips for our awesome guide) Transport – $10 (Bus from Mandalay to Hsipaw) Accommodation – $28 (for 2 nights) Others – $3 (Medicine for food poisoning) Total expenditure for 2 pax - $149 Average expenditure/pax - $74.50
Photo of Hsipaw, Shan, Republic of the Union of Myanmar by Gina And Daniel
How we got here: Took the train from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin and crossed the famous Goteik Viaduct (highest railway in Myanmar). It was quite a nerve wrecking ride. After alighting, we took a shared pick up to Mandalay Train Station where we took an overnight train to Bagan. The overnight train from Mandalay to Bagan (9pm to 4am) was a really interesting experience. Throughout the entire ride, you’ll be thrown about in all directions and you’re literally airborne most of the time. Thankfully, we managed to catch some sleep despite the turbulent ride. Where we stayed: We stayed at Winner Guesthouse and it was cheap and clean, centrally located. Bagan is quite small and you can easily explore one end to the other end in a day on a bike. What we did: Bagan is an ancient city with more than 2,000 shrines, pagodas and stupas, one of the world’s most beautiful temple cities. Also, Daniel’s favourite. 1. Explored Bagan on an electric bike and scoured the city. 2. Hot Air Balloon – Booked our hot air balloon flight with a highly reputable and recommended operator. Albeit being costly, safety always comes first and with them, we felt assured of our safety. This was definitely another highlight of our trip! Very awesome experience! How much we spent in total: Food – $69.60 Activities – $640 (Hot air balloon) - $29 (Electric bike rental for 2.5 days) - $30 (Admission pass) Transport – $8 (Taxi) - $20 (Overnight train from Mandalay to Bagan) - $4 (Bus to Mandalay train station from Pyin Oo Lwin) - $12 (Train from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin) Accommodation – $72.50 (3 nights) Others – $5 (donation) - $3 (Medicine and toothbrush) - $2.6 (Laundry) Total expenditure for 2 pax - $895.70 Average expenditure/pax - $447.85
Photo of Bagan, Mandalay Region, Republic of the Union of Myanmar by Gina And Daniel
Frankly speaking, Inle Lake is one of our least favourite amongst all of the other places that we’ve been to in Myanmar. It’s a little too commercialised for our liking. But still, it’s really scenic and still worth going if you have the luxury of time. Otherwise, we would say that it’s okay to give it a miss too. How we got here: Took the overnight bus from Bagan (7pm-6am). Cost us around $11 each. Where we stayed: As we didn’t book our accommodation in advance, most of the guesthouses were already full Our pickup driver recommended to us “Blissful Hotel” which cost us $25 per night. Not too bad actually, very new and clean. Only thing is that it’s quite far from the main market and river. Also, the ambience is not as cozy as compared to guesthouses. What we did: There’s nothing much to do in Inle lake besides taking the commercialised boat trip out to Inle Lake. We paid around $15 for a half day boat trip. During this boat trip, you’ll get to see the famous fisherman and their one leg paddling, Jumping Cat Monastery, Cheroot Factory, Lotus Weaving Factories, etc. On our second day, we visited the market and took a nice stroll around the village. How much we spent in total: Food – $73.70 Activities – $15 (Boat Trip in Inle Lake) - $20 (Entrance Fee to Inle Lake) Transport – $2 (Taxi to Blissful Hotel) - $10 (taxi from Airport to Yangon Regency Hotel) Accommodation – $60 (2 night) Others – $1 (Pack of Cheroots) - $10 (1 hour Massage each) Total expenditure for 2 pax -$191.70 Average expenditure/pax - $95.85
Photo of Inle Lake, Taunggyi, Shan, Republic of the Union of Myanmar by Gina And Daniel
How we got here: Took the overnight VIP bus from Inle Lake (7pm-6am). Cost us around $22 each. Once again, very awesome experience, comfortable, lots of leg room space, snacks and water provided. There’s even a toilet in the bus. Where we stayed: We randomly searched online for a recommended guesthouse and came across “Chan Myae Guesthouse”. Despite the long flight of stairs you’ll have to climb before reaching their reception, we would highly recommend this guesthouse! Very homely, serves one of the best breakfast, and best part of all, their wifi connection is the strongest we’ve had in Myanmar! All the rooms were taken up and we were only left with the dormitory which we didn’t mind. Just that it’s still under construction and there were workers living on the same level too. What we did: 1. Watched a local movie in their local theatre. Very very awesome, highly recommended! The movie we chose happened to have english subtitles. Tickets were very cheap too! Cost us $1.50 per ticket. The theatre was surprisingly really modern and well equipped with dolby surround sound! (allll aroundddd youuuuu) 2. Visited the Shwedagon Pagoda which is one of the largest and most beautiful pagoda in Myanmar. How much we spent in total: Food – $31.10 Activities – $2 (Yangon Circle Line Train) - $3 (Movie tickets) Transport – $1.50 (Taxi to Shwedagon Pagoda) - $0.80 (trishaw ride) - $8 (Taxi from Shwedagon Pagoda back to Guesthouse) - $6 (Taxi to airport) Accommodation – $20 (1 night) Total expenditure for 2 pax -$72.40 Average expenditure/pax - $36.20 Total expenditure/pax for the entire 16 days travel – $1,005.15
Photo of Yangon, Yangon Region, Republic of the Union of Myanmar by Gina And Daniel
Photo of Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Yangon Region, Republic of the Union of Myanmar by Gina And Daniel
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