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Home Travel Guide Myanmar Travel Guide How to Plan a Trip to Myanmar?

How to Plan a Trip to Myanmar?

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A Southeast Asian country that opened up much later than the neighboring countries, Myanmar is a sought-after tourist destination with the most authentic culture, traditions, lifestyle, history, and natural landscapes. As the largest country in Southeast Asia that with underdeveloped infrastructure connectivity, Myanmar may be still challenging for travelers who want to explore all its best highlights.

The following guide will briefly walk you through how best to plan a trip to Myanmar.

Things to Know Before Planning a Myanmar Trip

1. Lower Your Expectations When Visiting Myanmar

More and more travelers flock to Myanmar to seek a once-in-a-lifetime experience since the country is always described as a diverse and untouched land with unique culture, traditions, history, and ruins. That’s true, but, you should also keep in mind that Myanmar is still an underdeveloped country that only opened up a few decades ago. Most of its infrastructures, hotels, etc. are not as high-end. You are suggested to visit Myanmar with an open mind, enjoy the process and try to accept it for what it is.

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2. Decide When to Go

Myanmar is characterized by a tropical monsoon climate, with three distinct seasons: the summer season (March to mid-May), the rainy season (mid-May to October), and the winter season (November to February).

October to May is the best time to visit Myanmar when the country enjoys comfortable weather and vibrant landscape. It is also the time when Bagan sees more great sunrise views.

Mid-May to September in the rainy season is the low season of Myanmar when the coastline areas undergo frequent typhoons, and most parts of the country suffer severe rainfall and heat. Ngapali Beach during this period is likely to be closed down due to the heavy rainstorms.

Read Best Time to Visit Myanmar for more detailed information.

3. How Much to Budget for a Myanmar Trip

The main expenses of a Myanmar trip are accommodation, meals, transportation, and guides.

Usually, the cost for an overnight stay in a basic mid-range hotel is about 35-50 USD, for more luxury accommodation, the cost will be over 60 USD. During the peak season, an overnight stay in a 4-star hotel will cost as much as 90-120 USD per night.

Regarding the cost of transportation, usually, domestic flights will cost 50-150 USD, depending on the distance. The train ticket is about 10-25 USD for sleeper class or upper-class seats. The tickets for long bus rides range from 7 USD to 30 USD, depending on the distance.

Given the profound history and culture in Myanmar, hiring a local guide helps a lot to get an in-depth understanding of the local culture and life. The cost for an expert guide is about 90-100 USD and may rise to 200 USD during the peak season.

For the price of meals and short-distance transportation, the following price list will get you well-informed.

Items/Services

Price

Street food

1-3 USD per meal

Restaurant meal

2-7 USD per meal

Western food in a restaurant

5-15 USD per meal

Beer

2-5 USD

Tuk-tuk ride

Starting from 15 cents – 40 cents

Scooter hire

5-8 USD per day, pay a deposit of 50-100 USD

Taxi

About 5 USD for short journeys

Decide Where to Go

For first-timers to Myanmar, we suggest slowing down your pace to ensure an in-depth experience. Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake, and Ngapali Beach are the four top recommended destinations for you to cover the best essence of Myanmar.

Yangon

Most travelers arrange it as the first and last stop of a Myanmar trip since the Yangon International Airport is the primary international airport in the country. It is the largest city in Myanmar with a cosmopolitan feel. The city boasts the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda, lively markets, and many other glittering monasteries.

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Bagan

Bagan is known for its over 2,000 ancient temples and pagodas which can date back to the 11th – 13th centuries. Here you can get a chance to ride the hot-air balloon to fly over the pagoda complex and enjoy the awesome panoramic views of Bagan Plain. It also offers some of the best sunset views in the world. Riding a bike to explore some highlighted temples in this area will be very enjoyable.

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Mandalay

Mandalay is the last royal capital of ancient Burma and is blessed with impressive ancient structures, colonial buildings, and modern architecture. It is where you can touch the history of the ancient kingdom. From the Mandalay downtown, you can take a 45-minute drive to the 1.2 km long U-Bein Bridge which is said to be the longest and oldest wooden bridge in the world.

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Inle Lake

Nestled among mountains, Inle Lake is decorated by many floating villages and is known for its floating gardens, unique lifestyles, and local fishermen’s leg-rowing technique. Hopping on a long-tail wooden boat is the best way to explore the essence of the lake and encounter the local daily life close up.

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Ngapali Beach

Ngapali Beach is praised as the best beach in Myanmar and was ranked as one of the top 10 beaches in the world by TripAdvisor in 2018. It will offer you a leisure break with pristine white sandy beaches, palm trees, traditional fishing villages, and exciting swimming and snorkeling. The beach is likely to be closed down from mid-May to September due to the heavy rainstorms in this period.

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How Many Days to Spend in Myanmar?

Knowing how many days to stay in Myanmar is essential for planning your Myanmar trip. Covering a surface area of about 680,000 square kilometers, Myanmar is the largest Southeast Asian country with plenty to see when you arrive.

You will need weeks or months to get to know the diverse Myanmar cities and cultural sites better as a foreign traveler. At least 7 – 10 days are required if you want to explore its best highlights at Yango, Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle Lake at a reasonably relaxed pace. On top of the 7-10 days trip, you can plan 2-5 more days to cover the scenic cruise from Mandalay to Banga, and the pristine Ngapali Beach.

If you have a focused plan and are just traveling to Myanmar to see a few specific sights, then we can also help you to arrange a shorter trip according to your interests and requirement. Just feel free to contact our travel experts to customize your own trip.

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Recommended Myanmar Tours

Here are some recommended classic tours for first-timers to Myanmar. These are just sample itineraries for your inspiration, you can also plan your own Myanmar trip with 1:1 help from our travel expert.

7 Days Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan Tour

Day 1: Mandalay, visit U Bein Bridge and Amarapura Ancient Town

Day 2: Mandalay exploration: to Shwenandaw Monastery, Mahamuni Pagoda, Kuthodaw Pagoda

Day 3: Mandalay – Bagan (by flight): visit Nyaung Oo Market & Shwezigon Pagoda

Day 4: Bagan City Tour: Bagan Archaeological Zone, enjoy a Horse Cart Ride at sunset

Day 5: Bagan – Yangon (by flight), visit iconic Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon’s Colonial District

Day 6: Yangon City Tour: try Yangon Circular Train, Chaukhtatyi Paya

Day 7: Yangon Departure

10 Days Myanmar Highlight Tour

Day 1: Yangon, visit Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset

Day 2: Yangon City Tour: Kyauktawgyi, Chaukhtatyi Pagoda, and other historical monuments

Day 3: Yangon – Fly to Mandalay: visit Mahagandayon Monastery, U Bein Bridge, panoramic view of the Irrawaddy River from U Min Thonze Pagoda

Day 4: Mandalay – Boat to Mingun: Settawya Pagoda, Mingun Pahtodawgyi

Day 5: Mandalay – cruise to Bagan

Day 6: Bagan Exploration: Myinkaba Village and some best pagoda examples in Bagan

Day 7: Bagan – Heho (Inle Lake)

Day 8: Inle Lake – Visit Indein

Day 9: Inle – Yangon – Yangon City Tour

Day 10: Yangon Departure

Preparation before Visiting Myanmar

Before you visit Myanmar, equip yourself with Visa, basic facts about Myanmar, and some essential belongings.

  1. Apply for a Myanmar Visa
  2. Leave enough time to travel around at a relaxed pace.
  3. Learn basic words that Myanmar people used in daily life.
  4. Get sim cards with data since the wi-fi is extremely unreliable.
  5. Offline maps and travel guidebooks/research are advisable.
  6. Carry new and crisp US dollars (US dollars are widely used in Myanmar, credit cards are only accepted in some high-end hotels or restaurants)
  7. Shirts and pants that can cover shoulders and knees. Most temples and pagodas enforce a strict dress code.
  8. Insect spray: there are abundant bugs and mosquitoes in outdoor places.

To get better informed about Myanmar and its people, you can get to:

Myanmar Travel Guide

Essentials to Know before visiting Myanmar

Expert Tips for First-timers to Myanmar

How to Get to Myanmar and Travel Around?

Get to Myanmar

Most tourists fly into Myanmar through the Yangon International Airport and Mandalay International Airport. The Yangon airport with more frequent international flights is usually the first choice, offering direct flights to/from Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kunming, Kolkata, etc. Mandalay airport is where you can catch direct flights to/from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Singapore, and Kunming.

Currently, overland border crossings from neighboring countries are tightly controlled, visitors can only enter overland from China, Thailand, and India by holding a valid Myanmar visa.

There are also a few international cruises that arrive in Myanmar at Yangon Thilawa Port.

Travel around Myanmar

The most popular and convenient way to travel around Myanmar is by plane. For visitors who want leisurely scenic sightseeing, cruising along the Irrawaddy River should be a great choice. The cruise will introduce you to hidden Buddhist pagodas, local life along the river banks, spectacular sunset views, and Irrawaddy dolphins if you are lucky.  

Due to the underdeveloped infrastructures in the country, buses and trains are, in some ways, time-consuming, and not very comfortable. We suggest to try a short-distance ride if you want to experience it.

Read Myanmar Transportation: How to Get to and Get around to learn more detailed information.

Decide Where to Stay in Myanmar

Accommodation is an important factor that may affect your travel experience a lot. Generally, hotels in Myanmar are a bit more expensive than its neighboring countries due to the shortage of rooms.

Where to Stay in Yangon

When in Yangon, we suggest to stay overnight at hotels near the Shwedagon Pagoda or in the Kandawgyi Lake Area. Both of these two areas offer great restaurants, various nightlife options, and easy access to iconic attractions of the city.

  • Recommended Hotels in Yangon:

           Pan Pacific Yangon, Novotel Yangon Max, Sedona Yangon

Where to Stay in Bagan

We recommend hotels located in Old Bagan. This area is close to the ancient temple complex, having hotels of different classes. Some hotels even have rooms that can view the stunning pagodas and temples. If you want to be close to the airport, hotels in Nyuang U should be your perfect choice.

  • Recommended Hotels in Bagan:

         The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate, Bagan Lodge, Aye Yar River View Resort

Where to Stay in Mandalay

Given the limited nightlife activities in Mandalay, you can focus more on services than on location when choosing a hotel in Mandalay.

  • Recommended Hotels in Mandalay:

            Hotel by the Red Canal, Mandalay Hill Resort, Mandalay City Hotel

Where to Stay in Inle Lake

Inle Lake offers hotels of guesthouse-style and mid-range hotels with fine facilities.

  • Recommended Hotels in Inle Lake:

           Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort Inle, Shwe Inn Tha Floating Resort, Inle Lake View Resort

Notes:

  1. When you book a mid-range or luxury hotel in Myanmar, usually pick-up services from the airport, train station, and bus station are included.
  2. Due to the relatively short supply of hotels, you are always suggested to book as early as possible.
  3. Breakfasts are usually included in the hotel rates.

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Sample Itineraries for Your Inspiration

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