Home » Destinations » Asia » Myanmar » Our Myanmar Itinerary
One legged fisherman Inle Lake

Our Myanmar Itinerary

by Emiel Van Den Boomen

We are back from 3 weeks traveling in the fascinating country of Myanmar. Formerly known as Burma, the country has opened up its borders again for tourists after years of military regime. For those wanting to travel to Myanmar, here are our first impressions and Myanmar itinerary. At the end of the post you will find links to all our Myanmar stories!

Bagan temples MyanmarOver 2,000 pictures covering in total 6 places, 7 hotels, 4 local bus trips and 1 domestic flight…we have a lot of stories to tell! The coming weeks you will be reading more about Myanmar, where this post is just an introduction. It shows you our itinerary and if you intend to travel to Myanmar and want to know more details, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me an email.

Monywa MyanmarMany friends and colleagues are curious. “How was Myanmar? Can you compare it to Thailand or Cambodia?” Questions that I intend to answer in the upcoming posts. But I can already tell you that our trip was an intense one.

No, you don’t have 7-11 shops like in Thailand, you don’t have Starbucks or McDonalds. What you do have are old and crappy hotel rooms against (ridiculously) high prices. An unappealing choice of food. Pro-activity in hotel service still has to be invented in many places. Burmese men’s teeth are stained red because of the continous betel nut chewing. The soaring heat of the dusty Bagan plains are tough. Downtown Yangon’s dirty vegetable and meat markets are not to be advised after a heavy rain shower when streets turn into a muddy sewer.

A crazy place to travel to? Or characteristics of an unpolished gem?

Monks in Myanmar

In my posts I am not going to hide the difficult things that we encountered. But of course the focus will be on the magical places that we have visited. Because Myanmar has many of them: the U-Bein bridge in Mandaly, the Thanboddhay pagoda in Monywa with over 500,000 buddha images, the fishermen of Inle Lake, the cigar-smoking ladies at the local markets, the Buddhist monks (we have never seen so many of them!) that invited us in to attend meditation and chant sessions, and of course the really magical plains of Bagan with its thousands of pagodas and temples…

Bagan temples Myanmar

Our Myanmar itinerary: start in Mandalay

Via Dubai and Bangkok we arrived in Mandalay, our first stop in Myanmar. Mandalay is all about the beautiful Mandalay Hill (great sunset views!) and the U-Bein bridge, a 1.2 km or 0.7-mile bridge where locals cross the lake and which is famous for (again) its sunset views.

Mandalay MyanmarBut don’t forget the ancient and nearby cities of Amarapura, Sagaing and Inwa. The area is a good introduction to the diversity of Myanmar where you can stay at least 2 or 3 days.


Mandalay MyanmarIn Mandalay we realised how excited local people were to see our kids (white skin, white hair). I am not exaggerating when I tell you that during our 3-week trip at least 100 people wanted to take a picture with them!

Mandalay Myanmar

Mandalay Myanmar


After Mandalay we traveled to the lesser visited town of Monywa, with its flamboyant Thanboddhay Pagoda, the 116-metre (424ft) high standing Buddha and hundreds of stone Buddha statues in a forest. The Monywa post is going to be a surreal one…

Monywa Myanmar

Monywa MyanmarWe spent two days in Monywa. More than anywhere else I liked the street life. It’s a small city with friendly people and we saw only 2 more tourists… The picture below is one of my favorites as it shows all that is happening on the streets in one shot.

Monywa Myanmar


From Monywa we traveled south to the highlight of our trip: Bagan! They call it the Bagan Archeological Zone; an area of 50 sq km (26 sq miles) where 2,200 temples and pagodas are waiting for you to discover. We rented the popular e-bikes (it’s too hot to cycle!!) and enjoyed ourselves to the fullest for 4 days.

Bagan Myanmar

Bagan temples Myanmar


After the heat of Bagan we so much welcomed the cool climate of the mountain village of Kalaw. From here many travelers go for 2-3 days trekking, but we decided to stay and hang around in this charming little village. During 2 days we enjoyed local markets, hill tribes and lots of monks in the local monastery.

Kalaw Myanmar

Myanmar with kidsI should not forget to show you the cigar smoking women!

Kalaw Myanmar

Inle Lake

Two hours from Kalaw you will find the Inle Lake. The government will ask 10 USD entry fee to enter the city but it’s definitely worth it. The post about Inle Lake will show you the beautiful floating gardens and fishermen mastering the one legged rowing technique. We had a fabulous 4 days here.

Inle Lake MyanmarOur hotel at Inle lake was pretty challenging. Situated next to the main river that feeds the lake, at 4.30am the first boats passed by with a tremendous noise (all boats run on these old diesel engines): locals on their way to the market and tourists wanting to see the sunrise. Good morning Myanmar!


Is there even more? Yes! Our last destination in Myanmar was the former capital city of Yangon. Highlight in Yangon is the Shwedagon pagoda, one of the most important Buddhist sites in the country. Never seen so much devotion… We actually spent 4 hours exploring the pagoda grounds.

Yangon Shwedagon

YangonAnd what about this monk, the coolest one we ever met!

Yangon ShwedagonWhen I go through all my pictures I quickly forget the tough and uncomfortable moments. Myanmar is a pure and genuine country where its people need to find their own ways after years of mismanagement by a repressive military junta. They have a long way to go but for the less-demanding travelers Myanmar is ripe for exploration!

The pictures in this post are just a small selection, but you can enjoy much more by checking out the following posts on my blog:

1. Mandalay, start of our Myanmar trip

2. Crazy and surreal Monywa

3. Ode to Bagan

4. Inle Lake (“No Jumping Cats at Inle Lake…say what??”)

5. The crown of Burma: Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.

You may also like


Denise March 5, 2017 - 03:33

Love your Myanmar travels. We are starting the process of planning a trip to Myanmar. Did you do all of the traveling on your own or did you hire a guide and car to take you around?

Emiel Van Den Boomen March 5, 2017 - 12:48

Thank you! We did all the traveling on our own. It’s quite easy to arrange that, especially with help from people at the hotel you are staying. There are no trains, but sufficient buses, (shared) taxis and planes. When we wanted to book our inland flight to Yangon, we were not able to do this online. So one of the first days we had our hotel arrange flight tickets which were delivered to our hotel. Good luck with your preparations!

Sonia Sahni August 10, 2016 - 18:49

Did you visit Hsipaw? I had heard so much about the place but did not manage to visit it.
Here is the link to my itinerary, esp considering that things in Myanmar are changing so much, it might be helpful. http://www.tickingthebucketlist.com/2016/01/myanmar-one-week-itinerary.html

Clarissa Marchia May 9, 2016 - 22:36

Hello! What were your means of transportation from Mandalay to Bagan and from Inle Lake to Yangon?

Emiel van den Boomen May 10, 2016 - 11:15

Hi Clarissa!
From Mandalay to Monywa (or Bagan after that) we used local bus. You can buy tickets at the local bus station for a regular bus service or a smaller (and faster) mini bus (also called shared taxi). People from your hotel or guesthouse can help you get to the bus station. It really wasn’t difficult at all to arrange all this locally.
From Inle to Yangon we flew from nearby Heho airport. Best way is to book via your hotel in Mandalay (just after you arrived in Myanmar). Tickets at that time were still handwritten and purchase online was not possible. There are no trains. I believe you can also take a bus but it will take a lot of time I guess. Hope this helps!

Oliver Kyaw February 20, 2016 - 17:54

I am from Myanmar but haven’t explored like you have and it seems quite interesting…..I can’t explore cause I live in India and that’s bad….wish I could go to Inle like you did and Is Inle a nice place??

Emiel van den Boomen February 20, 2016 - 21:41

I hope you will make it back to Myanmar soon Oliver. Inle is a really nice place and so is Bagan area.

cheryl February 17, 2016 - 11:36

How did you get place to place?

Emiel van den Boomen February 17, 2016 - 14:24

Hi! We traveled with local bus and shared taxi. All can be arranged quite easily upon arrival, asking a bit of help from your hotel.

Carmen B February 11, 2016 - 05:10

Awesome post!
We backpacked across Myanmar last year and fell in love with the country, its people, nature and culture. A place I would recommend is Kakku, in the Pa’o region around Inle Lake, it’s breathtaking.
If you’re looking for more inspiration and tips, check out our blog posts:

Emiel van den Boomen February 13, 2016 - 19:04

Thanks Carmen! We didn’t have time to visit Kakku but I guess we should have tried to fit it into our itinerary!

cheryl February 17, 2016 - 15:44

Thanks I guess it can be a day trip from Lake Inles..

Myanmar met kinderen - Better Places - Individuele reizen July 30, 2015 - 11:01

[…] als geen ander hoe het is om met je kinderen door Myanmar te reizen. Je vindt op zijn reisblog Act of Traveling een impressie van zijn 3-weekse reis en vooral ook veel […]

LeightonJones January 18, 2015 - 10:50

Any tips as to how to get between places – did you take any buses etc?

Emiel van den Boomen January 18, 2015 - 17:34

Hello! Yes we did, we took local buses everywhere. It’s quite easy to arrange and you don’t have to book far in advance. Just ask anyone to bring you to the local bus station. There you can buy bus tickets; local employees will certainly help you choosing the right bus (local standard bus or an express one with a bit more comfort).
A bit more expensive but a good option if you don’t have much time are the shared taxis. A mini van will bring you together with 4 or 5 other (local) people.
There are no trains running in between the major sight seeing places. You can also take the boat from Mandalay to Bagan, but we were making a small detour to Monywa so had to go by bus all the way.

LeightonJones January 18, 2015 - 20:41

It looks like we may have to scrap our plans to visit. We had hoped to enter and leave overland from Thailand but it doesn’t seem thats an option. Unfortunately return flights and the expensive accommodation are too much for out budget.

cheryl February 17, 2016 - 15:47

So was it worth it to aee Monywa? Boats are lovely but sometimes it is all samesame. Don’t think I will spend 2 days floating down the Mekong again. Any other must see places?

Bronwyn Joy August 28, 2014 - 03:58

Would love to hear more! Looking forward to your followup posts. It sounds like a very busy trip, and not necessarily for the faint-hearted!

Emiel van den Boomen January 18, 2015 - 17:31

Hi, in the meantime I have published posts about Mandalay, Monywa and Bagan. It was indeed a very busy schedule, be prepared for that.

cheryl February 17, 2016 - 15:49


Antoinette August 26, 2014 - 22:26

Wat indrukwekkend mooi allemaal. De mensen, de natuur, de gebouwen, het straatbeeld. Maar vooral de manier waarop jullie alles hebben vastgelegd, zo mooi. Als leek ( ik dus) denk je aan armoede bij zo’n land. Maar dan lees ik over e- bikes en de foto waarop jullie kinderen model staan zie ik allemaal hippe smartphones! Erg leuk om te lezen en te zien. Die vrouw met die sigaar ook! Super 🙂

Emiel van den Boomen August 27, 2014 - 08:30

Dank je wel voor je reactie Antoinette, erg leuk! Het is inderdaad een heel fascinerend land. Waarschijnlijk waren we in het begin ook een beetje verrast en verward door alles wat we zagen: dee combinatie van modern/rijk en armoede, de mensen die jarenlang onder een militair regime hebben geleefd en nu hun eigen weg moeten vinden. Maar overeind staat dat het land ontzettend veel mooie plekken biedt…ben benieuwd wat je van de andere verhalen gaat vinden!

Gezin op Reis August 25, 2014 - 20:58

Wat een mooie foto’s ik ben benieuwd naar de rest van jullie verhalen!

Emiel van den Boomen August 26, 2014 - 08:37

Dank je Tikva…de rest komt er aan! 🙂

Jenna Francisco August 20, 2014 - 02:31

I’m looking forward to seeing your next posts! What an interesting place you visited. I saw Anthony Bourdain’s show about Myanmar and was frightened watching him on the train, which seemed to bounce off the track constantly. You could tell even he was scared!

Emiel van den Boomen August 21, 2014 - 08:48

Well Jenna, we didn’t take the train in Myanmar 🙂 – although they seem to have some really nice routes. I cannot wait to share our stories…

Jacomijn Heupink August 18, 2014 - 18:55

I have the best memories too about this country!! The authenticity of the people and the surroundings! Grear!!

Emiel van den Boomen August 21, 2014 - 08:50

I know Jacomijn, I saw lots of your great pictures already before we went to Myanmar!

Freya August 18, 2014 - 10:40

Looks like an amazing trip, a magical place indeed.

Emiel van den Boomen August 21, 2014 - 08:51

Thanks! Trust you will enjoy the upcoming posts as well 🙂

Travel With Bender August 18, 2014 - 08:03

I love your honesty. It’s a place I always wanted to visit and am still on the fence over. You have tipped the scales on this little gem.

Emiel van den Boomen August 18, 2014 - 08:50

Thanks Erin! We had to get used to the country during our first week. But it is truly a little gem..

World Travel Family August 18, 2014 - 07:16

I have wanted to go there for SO long! I hope the prices you mention aren’t a deal breaker. That’s the reason I’ve never been to my other dream destination, Bhutan. Looking forward to your posts!

Emiel van den Boomen August 18, 2014 - 08:49

The thing about prices is that of course we compare with neighboring countries like Thailand. In Myanmar you pay double the price for a standard hotel room. The luxury hotels in Myanmar are way out of our league. It’s a matter of supply and demand: demand increases rapidly while demand is still lagging behind. But as new hotels are being build and old ones are renovated, the situation will improve for sure. I think Bhutan is again a different situation where you have to spend USD 250/day, no matter what. So Myanmar was more expensive compared to Thailand and Cambodia. But I am sure my posts will convince you to go… 🙂

World Travel Family August 18, 2014 - 09:53

So on a par with what? Malaysia ( way more expensive that Thailand/Laos etc) or more expensive again? I’ve got to go, it just may have to be a short trip.

Emiel van den Boomen August 18, 2014 - 20:31

Never been to Malaysia so cannot compare. It’s just that you don’t expect accommodation to be that expensive. But don’t worry, they also have 10USD solutions..just don’t expect much 🙂


Leave a comment below. I know you have something on your mind...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.