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The Ideal 7 Day Myanmar Road Trip Itinerary
Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand, and with the opening of the land border, a couple of years ago, and the ease of obtaining an E Visa, taking a Trip to Myanmar from India has become quite easy and affordable.
I was lucky enough to have visited Myanmar for New Year’s, where we visited the Big 4 destinations, i.e. Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake and Yangon, which also form the famous Golden Kite Itinerary of Myanmar.
Each of these destinations is unique in itself, and while, Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the country’s largest city, is home to bustling markets, numerous parks and lakes, and the towering, gilded Shwedagon Pagoda, which contains Buddhist relics and dates to the 6th century; Bagan on the other hand is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is home to countless temples and Pagodas, including the Shwezigon Pagoda.
The Itinerary that we followed was
Imphal (1 Day) – Moreh Border – Tamu – Mandalay (2 Days) – Bagan (3 Days) – Inle Lake (2 Days) – Yangon (1 Day) – Kolkata
Based on which, I have drafted this Ideal 7 Day Myanmar Road Trip Itinerary which fits perfectly in this 3 Month South East Asia Itinerary and can form the backbone of your Trip to Myanmar.
But before you start scrolling down and planning your 7 Day Myanmar Road Trip, it’s a good idea to sort out your VISA and travel insurance first.
And we recommend SafetyWing – The Travel Medical Insurance for Travellers
Day 0 – Trip Starts
Start towards Mandalay from India via Land Border Crossing at Moreh – Tamu border.
Day 1 – Explore Mandalay on Foot
Reach Mandalay early in the morning and check in to your hotel. Depending on the area where you are staying, take a tuk tuk or Grab to reach the East Side of Mandalay Palace or just walk, until you reach the junction of South and East side of Mandalay Palace, as that’s where majority of the attractions are, including Mandalay Hill, the Sandamuni Pagoda, the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, the Kuthodaw Pagoda, the Shwenandaw Monastrey, Mandalay Palace etc.
Rather than going to each and every Pagoda, I would recommend you to either explore the Kuthodaw or the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda first, then have some local lunch from any of the numerous food stalls in the viscinity.
Now depending on how the weather is, and the intensity of the Sun, you can either, climb up the Mandalay Hill post Lunch, admire the panoramic views and finally head to Sandamuni Pagoda for Sunset; or you can first go to Sandamuni Pagoda post lunch, and then climb up Mandalay Hill, to see the first sunset of your epic 7 Day Myanmar Road Trip.
In our case, it was pretty cloudy the whole day, so we did Mandalay Hill first, and then when we were at Sandamuni Pagoda, the Sun finally decided to come out of hiding for some time, before finally bidding adieu for the day.
After the sunset, you can take a tuk tuk or Grab and head towards Mahamuni Buddha temple, which is one of the most popular tourist attraction in Mandalay. And then to China Town market for some yummy dinner, before heading back, and ending the Day 1 of this 7 Day Road Trip across Myanmar.
Day 2 – Discover the Flavours of Mandalay
Plan your second day in such a way, that you start the day by seeing the sunrise from between the stilts of the famous U Bein Bridge.
The earlier you reach, the better vantage point you’ll get to witness a glorious Sunrise, and get some postcard worthy shots featuring the 1.2-kilometre long bridge which was built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the World.
U Bein Bridge is around 12 KM from Mandalay, and takes 30 minutes by road.The best way it to go by GRAB, or by booking a taxi with your hotel a day before, as you don’t want to find yourself waiting for a taxi at U Bein Bridge to go back and proceed with your day.
After the Sunrise, we recommend you book a Full Day Mandalay Tour with Beyond Boundaries Myanmar, and proceed on the Food Tour. The USP of this food tour is that you’ll be trying out 6-7 different food items in a matter of 4-5 hours, and will be travelling from one place to the other on a Trishaw, giving you a unique perspective of experiencing Mandalay.
After the food tour, head towards the jetty, in your private taxi to hop on a private boat with your guide from Beyond Boundaries Myanmar, and proceed towards Mingun.
Mingun is a town located 11 km up the Ayeyarwady River on the west bank from Mandalay. The main attractions in Mingun are the ruined Mingun Pahtodawgyi, the Mingun Bell, and the Instagram famous Hsinbyume Pagoda. This 19th century white pagoda provides ample opportunities for some really creative perspective photographs.
After the hectic day, its recommended to head to bed, and call it an early night, as on Day 3 of the 7 Day Myanmar Road Trip, you will be taking the morning bus from Mandalay to Bagan.
PS – You need to book this from your hotel in Mandalay, a day in advance.
Day 3 – Mandalay to Bagan and Mt Popa Sunset Tour
This day, you need to start the day early, get done with your breakfast, and be prepared for the hotel pickup as you head to Bagan from Mandalay.
PS – There’s no point in booking intercity transport beforehand. Once you reach your hotel/hostel, sort out your transport to the next city. This way, you can be assured that you will be picked up from the hotel itself at no extra cost. And the tickets are cheaper as well.
The ideal time to start from Mandalay is around 8-9 AM, so you can reach Bagan in 4 hours’ time by around 12 – 1 PM.
The best place to stay in Bagan is along the Nyaung U – Bagan road. There are some good pocket friendly hostels like BaobaBed Hostel, Lux Pillow Hostel and Bagan Vibes Hostel where you can stay.
Also, be advised that you have to pay 25, 000 Kyat, when you enter Bagan, as the Bagan Architectural Fee, which is valid for a duration of 7-8 days. Don’t forget to take a photo of the receipt you get, as a backup.
We stayed at Bagan Vibes Hostel, and even though the location was a bit cut off, there was an E Bike Rental Store just in front, making life 10 times easier for us.
Once you reach your hostel, freshen us, and book your Mt Popa Sunset Tour, which will cost you around 9-10,000 Kyat / head.
The tour usually starts at 2-3 PM when you will be picked up from your hotel/hostel. After an hour’s journey in the shared minivan, you reach the base of Mt Popa, which is where you start climbing.
PS – Avoid wearing shoes, as you’ll have to climb bare footed all the way up.
It takes around 40 – 45 minutes to climb up the 700 odd stairs, and then you take a breather and enjoy the panoramic views from the top, and witness yet another glorious sunset during this 7 Day Golden Kite Road Trip around Myanmar.
Once the sun has set, and you have seen the sky become a canvas post sunset, you start your climb down, which won’t take you more than 30 minutes now.
By 7 – 7:30 PM you’ll be back in Bagan, and will be tired after the long strenuous day. Have an early meal, and call it an early night, but before that, make sure to book your E-Bike for the next day, and double check the timing for sunrise.
Check out a detailed 3 Day Bagan Travel Guide and Itinerary here.
Day 4 –Bagan Full Day Tour and Overnight Bus to Inle Lake
Depending on the what time of the year, you are taking this 7 Day Myanmar Road Trip, you will have to put your alarm for 4:30 – 5 AM for Summers and 5:30 – 6 AM for Winters. Please crosscheck the time when the balloons start going up. When we were there for New Years, the balloons were up at 7 AM, giving us a window of 30 odd minutes to click plenty of photos.
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First day of 2020 First Sunrise of 2020 Couldn't find a better picture to share than this, as the first one of 2020 and to kickoff #ETLRTravelDiaries2020 😍 . After all it's not an everyday affair to start the day with views like these 😎 . Bagan turned out to be the best place we could be in to usher 2020 in a way that will remain etched in our memories forever. No late parties. No getting drunk. No loud music. . Making it an easy task to wake up at 5 in the morning and rush to catch the sunrise. . Here's wishing my entire social media FAM a very Happy and Adventurous 2020, and may you travel more and travel often to places you always desired to 😊 . . . . . . . . . . . #EatTravelLiveRepeat #ETLRWithArnav #baganmyanmar #Experience_Myanmar #myanmartravel #TravelDiaries2020 #oldbagan #templesofbagan #indiantravelblogger #igmyanmar #myanmarburma #happynewyear2020 #snapseededit #googlelocalguide #SonyHX400V #sonyphotography #ig_myshot #ig_landscape #ig_sunrise #ig_sunriseshots #photographers_of_india #outlooktraveller #lonelyplanetindia #BeyondBoundariesMyanmar #instasunrise #destinationunknown #destinationunlocked #discoverit #wanderon
The spot which we loved was a small hillock on the right side of Sulamani Temple, which gave us a good view of the balloons and the temples of Bagan. However, there are plenty more vantage points around Bagan, to enjoy a glorious Bagan Sunrise.
PS – When you are out to catch the Sunrise on your E Bike and some local approach and tell you that they’ll take you to a good spot – Go for it. 😎
Post sunrise, head back to your hotel/hostel for a hearty breakfast and a refreshing shower, before heading out again on your E Bike and visiting these Gems of Bagan.
Waking up at 4 in the morning and then riding the bike for 7 odd km in the freezing wind turned out to be totally worth it 😎
#EatTravelLiveRepeat #MyanmarDiaries #BaganSunrise
Start with the Shwezigon Pagoda – A circular gold leaf-gilded stupa surrounded by smaller temples and shrines. The Shwezigon Pagoda, is believed to enshrine a bone and tooth of Gautama Buddha. The pagoda is in the form of a cone formed by five square terraces with a central solid core. There are footprints below the four standing Buddha statues here.
Next up is Ananda Phaya, one of Bagan’s best known and most beautiful temples. Ananda Phaya is located near the Tharabar gate, the only gate remaining of the original 12 in the old Bagan city walls. The Ananda was damaged during the 1975 earthquake, and has been extensively restored since then, majorly by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
As you go temple hopping, don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated, throughout the day. Also, there are plenty of places where you can sit, relax and enjoy some refreshing fresh Coconut Water or some fresh fruit juices.
After Ananda Phaya, make your way towards Dhammayangyi Temple, which while having a similar architectural plan to The Ananda, has the most massive structure in Bagan. However, the temple has got a cruel history, as its believed that King Narathu built the temple to atone for his sins: he smothered his father and brother to death and executed one of his wives, an Indian princess, for practising Hindu rituals. The temple’s bad karma may be the reason it remains one of the few temples not to have undergone major restoration.
Any visit to Bagan is incomplete without visiting one of the many Lacquer Ware workshops, scattered around Bagan. Lacquer Ware of Myanmar is very famous and makes for some excellent souvenirs and gift items, however, there are a lot of fake products in circulation as well. The ability to spot the fake lacquer ware products, is one of the key takeaways, as you learn more about the different steps involved in the whole process.
After all this Temple Hopping, it’s time for you to enjoy a nice heart meal, at any of the cafes, scattered around New Bagan and the Nyaung U – Bagan road.
Post lunch, just drive around Bagan, do some photography, at any random beautiful temple, where there is no one, before heading to the jetty, and hopping on to a boat, to enjoy the ambiance and see the sun set behind the horizon, as you sip on some hot tea. With this sunset, Day 4 of your 7 day Myanmar Road Trip comes to an eventful end.
Thereafter, head back to your hotel / hostel, freshen up and wait for your pick up, for your overnight luxury bus, as its time to discover the beauty of yet another beautiful destination – Inle Lake in the Shan State of Myanmar.
PS – You need to get your tickets booked the previous day, ideally from the hotel / hostel or from the place you got your E Bike from.
Day 5 – Full Day Inle Lake Tour
You will find yourself in Nyaung Shwe early in the morning around 6-7 AM, after being on the road for 9-10 hours in the luxurious semi sleeper bus.
PS – Make sure you have 15, 000 Kyat on you, as you’ll have to pay the Inle Lake Development Fee on your arrival in Inle Lake.
Depending on your budget, there are plenty of options to stay in this town of Nyaung Shwe which is the gateway to the famous Inle Lake.
While you can always stay in BaobaBed Hostel or Ostello Bello if you are tight on budget, but we’ll highly recommend you spend a few extra bucks and check into Viewpoint Ecolodge, which is adjacent to the main canal.
As you check out the property, you’ll see that there are only Water Villas here, i.e Bungalows built on stilts on the water, in a private lagoon tucked between roads on wither sides. The location, coupled with these water villas is the main USP of Viewpoint Ecolodge, and spending 2 days here is highly recommended.
Check out the detailed Property Review of ViewPoint Eco Lodge here.
Once you have freshened up, and enjoyed a nice hearty breakfast, it’s time to hop onto your private boat and start the Inle Lake full day tour.
Once you are in the boat, all you need to do is sit, and relax and feel the fresh breeze on your faces. In an hour’s time, you will reach the heart of the lake, where you’ll find both, the traditional fisherman of Inle Lake striking a pose for the tourists, and the regular fisherman fishing in their own unique ways, by balancing on the boat with one foot and rowing with the other. It’s truly a delight to the eyes, to see them in action.
Your first stop will be the Lotus Stem Weaving factory, where you’ll learn more about the strength of the fabric derived from the lotus stem, and how the scarfs are made.
Next you will be headed to a cigar making factory and a boat making factory, wherein you will also be able to shop some souvenirs.
By this time, it’ll be time for lunch, which you can either have it from any of the restaurants. OR if you are staying with Viewpoint Ecolodge, and doing this day tour with them, like we did, you will soon find yourself in the middle of Inle Lake for Lunch.
You’ll see that the food is being prepared in one boat, the toilet is on another boat, and your dining arrangement is on a third boat. As you start sipping your wine, your waiter will clap, and you’ll see another small boat, getting hot food for you from the kitchen boat.
The whole experience of trying out the unique Shan Cuisine coupled with the fantastic wine, was too good to be true, and we managed to gulp down the entire bottle by the end of our meal. This is an experience that will remain close to my heart forever, and something we recommend you enjoy as well, as it will definitely be a highlight of this 7 Day Epic Golden Kite Myanmar Road Trip Itinerary.
Post lunch, your boatman will take you to meet and interact with the long-necked tribe (Kayan Tribe) women. The very fact that 12-13-year-old girls are sporting rings in their necks, arms and legs, weighing almost half of their body weight, yet carrying it with confidence and out of their own free will, will surely fascinate you.
Without you even realizing, it will already be time to start heading back to the hotel now, before the sun goes down. The journey back will again take around an hour or so, and if you are lucky, you might see the sun go down, from your boat, and that is a sight to behold for sure.
As you’ll be back in your hotel after sunset, we highly recommend you take a stroll around the town after freshening up. As you walk you’ll come across the Fullmoon Travel Bus Stop, from where you need to book your overnight bus ticket to Yangoon for the next day.
Now you can either enjoy a hearty meal, at any of the cafes, or enjoy some yummy food back at your hotel along with some nice wine.
Day 6 – Inle Lake Exploration and Overnight Bus to Yangon
After waking up early on almost all the days, on the second last day of this 7 Day Myanmar Road Trip Itinerary, you have the liberty of waking up at your own pace, enjoying that hot cup of tea/coffee from the balcony, and listening to the sounds of nature, and ordering breakfast in your room.
After starting the day on a relaxing note, it’s time to experience the beauty of Inle Lake yet again, as you head towards In Dein Market. Its full-fledged market, where you need to have you’re A Game out, and further hone your bargaining skills.
PS – Please crosscheck the timing for the In Dein Market from the hotel beforehand, and keep a fair bit of cash on you.
You will get all kinds of souvenirs, clothes, etc. All you need to do is bargain, and always keep your eyes and ears open. Chances are that if you are looking to buy something from Shop A, Shop C will be having more variety and will settle for a lower price too. So, don’t get fixated on any one shop.
Now, it’s time to head back to your hotel, and indulge in some self-pampering. If you are staying at ViewPoint Eco Lodge, make sure to book your Spa appointment a day before, else if your hotel doesn’t have an in-house SPA, there are plenty of SPA’s along the road, that you might have seen when you were taking a stroll the previous evening.
Enjoy a sumptuous meal post your SPA session, before making your way towards Red Mountain Estate and Winery. The best way is to cycle all the way. The ambiance here is just perfect to relax, and soak in the moment and enjoy the panoramic views.
For 5000 kyat/person you can try 4 different kind of wines, along with some peanuts, which is totally worth for the experience you get.
Sadly, it’s time to head back to your hotel, pack your stuff, and board your overnight bus to Yangon, bringing you to nearly the end of this amazing 7 Day Road Trip Journey across Myanmar.
Day 7 – Experience Yangon
By the time you’ll open your eyes, you’ll be in Yangon, alighting at the Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Stop – This is where all the buses stop. From here, you need to get a taxi to your hotel. You might be able to get a GRAB as well, but as it will be hot and sultry, and you will be tired, its better if you bargain, and book a taxi on the spot itself.
You’ll get plenty of good options to stay, when you have a glance on Booking.com, but my recommendation would be to stay at Esperado Lake View Hotel, which has a rooftop dining area and a bar, from where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Shwedagon Pagoda and the Yangon Skyline during your Breakfast.
Once you have had a king size breakfast, and feel refreshed and energized to discover Yangon – The Last Destination in this 7 Day Myanmar Road Trip Itinerary, get a GRAB to Shwedagon Pagoda – The main attraction in Yangon.
The first visit to the Union of Myanmar cannot be deemed a succes without a visit to the 2,500 years old Shwedagon Pagoda, which enshrines strands of Buddha’s hair and other sacred relics. Found west of the Royal Lake aka Lake Kandawgyi, Shwedagon Pagoda is the most consecrated and noteworthy Buddhist site for the citizens of the Union of Myanmar. Shwedagon Pagoda is secured with many gold plates and the highest point of the stupa is encrusted with 4531 diamonds; the biggest of which is a 72-carat diamond.
PS – Be informed that there is a 10,000 Kyat/head entry fees for Shwedagon Pagoda.
Next up on the agenda is the famed Circular Train Ride of Yangon, which has been deemed as one of the best ways of experiencing the culture and vibes of Yangon. The Yangon Circular Train dates back to 1954, and as of today, runs on a 45 KM loop taking a total of 3 and a half hours, stopping at 38-40 odd stations, making it, the best way for locals to commute, and for tourists to observe the locals in their element.
PS – Don’t forget to try out the different food items, that vendors will be selling throughout the train journey, as this is what will be your lunch for the day 😜
The best place to start and end your Yangon Circular Train Ride experience is the Yangon Central Railway Station, as the employees here are used to tourists, and are able to understand English.
Post this experience, you can again take a GRAB, and head towards Sule Pagoda, and stroll your way around the old colonial neighbourhood of Yangon. You’ll find plenty of chic cafes frequented by the expats in this area.
Depending on what time it is, you can either choose to take a ferry, and explore the town of Dala on a Trishaw, come back after an hour or so, and head to the night markets; or just relax at a café and directly head to explore Yangon’s Night Markets.
Yangon’s Night Markets are an amazing place for you to indulge in souvenir shopping and trying out different yummy dishes. Not to be missed is taking going on a DIY food walk on the 19th Street in Yangon.
Last but not the least, you have to check out one of the rooftop bar / restaurants in Yangon before calling it a night. Having a cocktail, overlooking the Yangon skyline, will bring a fitting end to this eventful 7 Day Myanmar Road Trip Itinerary.
Day 8 – Fly out of Yangon
Recommendations to make the most out of your Trip to Myanmar
- The best time to visit Myanmar is from November – Feburary, as the weather will be pleasant during the days, but might be a bit chillier at night.
- If you are visiting between November – February, keep 1-2 warm layers, and pack only those items, which cover your knee as well.
- Ideally, if you follow this itinerary, you will be spending 2 nights on the bus, 2 nights in Mandalay, and 1 each in Bagan, Inle Lake and in Yangon.
- However, if you were to add a day for Bagan, and another day for Inle Lake, you can explore the less touristy temples in Bagan and do the Kalaw – Inle Lake Trek.
- Another interesting option, is to add 2 more days in Yangon and explore Hpa-An – if you are an outdoor enthusiast.
Myanmar Souvenirs you need to Shop to remind you of your Trip to Myanmar
- Thanaka – specially for the women
- Lacquer Ware
- Sand Art Paintings from the artist themselves (You’ll get these in Bagan, so keep an eye out)
- Handmade parasols (the bright coloured umbrellas)
- The Burmese longyi
- Wind chimes
- Cigars (Made from 100% natural ingredients)
7 Day Myanmar Golden Kite Road Trip Itinerary – Summarised
Day 0 – Trip Starts | Start towards Mandalay from India via Land Border Crossing at Moreh – Tamu border
Day 1 – Explore Mandalay on Foot – Mandalay Hill | Kyauktawgyi Pagoda | Sandamuni Pagoda | Mahamuni Buddha Temple
Day 2 – Discover the flavours of Mandalay – Go on a food tour | Mingun | U Bein Bridge
Day 3 – Mandalay to Bagan | Mt Popa Sunset Tour
Day 4 – Catch Sunrise Near Suleimani Temple | Bagan Day Tour – Ananda Phaya | Shwezigon Pagoda | Dhamayagi | Lacquer Workshop | Sunset boat ride on Ayeyarwaddy River – Overnight Bus to Inle Lake
Day 5 – Full Day Inle Lake Tour – Click the famous fishermen of Inle Lake | Visit Lotus Stem Weaving Factory | Cigar Making Factory | Boat Making Factory | Interact with the long-necked women tribe (Kayan tribe)
Day 6 – Visit the In Dein Market | Get a Spa Treatment | Visit the Red Mountain Winery – Overnight Bus to Yangon
Day 7 – Shwedagon Pagoda | Yangon Circular Train | Sule Pagoda | Walk around the colonial area of Yangon | Cycle/Trishaw experience in Dala | Explore the Night Markets of Yangon
Day 8 – Trip Ends | Fly out of Yangon
Hope you guys enjoyed reading about my escapades in Myanmar, and if you have any queries, or need any help in planning a trip to Myanmar, please feel free to drop in a mail to arnav@theETLRblog.com
And if you want to read more about Myanmar, check out these Myanmar Travel resources also written by me:
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Disclaimer: No compensation was received for this article, however ViewPoint Eco Lodge in Inle Lake, and Esperado Lake View Hotel in Yangon offered our stay complimentary, whereas Beyond Boundaries Myanmar, offered us complimentary tours. As always, the opinions on theETLRblog.com are (and always will be) my own!