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Explore the best of Myanmar

Explore the Best Myanmar has to Offer in 3-Weeks

With so much to see and so little time, here’s how to make the most of your 3-weeks taking in the best Myanmar has to offer! Everything from obtaining your visa to the best time to visit based on weather patterns. Find out where to go, what to see and eat and where to stay. Work out your budget and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime!

 

STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE POTHOLES IN THE ROAD AND CELEBRATE THE JOURNEY. – FITZHUGH MULLAN

 

Enjoy the beauty and serenity of Myanmar! The Best Myanmar

Enjoy the beauty and serenity of Myanmar!

 

MYANMAR VISA

As Myanmar has only been open to the public since late-2011, a pre-arranged visa is required for all visitors. Apply online at http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/.

MYANMAR WEATHER: What’s The Best Myanmar Season?

Myanmar has a tropical monsoon climate with 3 distinct seasons, so plan your trip accordingly.

  • Cool: November – February
    • Warm to hot (but bearable) & relatively dry
    • Least humid, most comfortable temperatures
    • Peak season
  • Hot: March – May
    • Extremely hot & dry
    • Often dusty & hazy
  • Rainy: June – October
    • Monsoon season
      • June – August
        • Heavy, constant rainfall
        • Especially in Yangon
      • September – October
        • Intermittent rainfall with a bit more sun
        • Especially in Mandalay & Bagan

 

SEE MYANMAR – OUR BEST STAY, PLAY, EAT TIPS BY CITY

Here’s an overview of the places we visited and would recommend:

MANDALAY

Buddhism is a major part of Myanmar's culture! - The Best Myanmar

Buddhism is a major part of Myanmar’s culture!

STAY

  • Four Rivers B & B – Choose from either a private room or a pod style bunk bed. The pods are great! They offer a curtain, power plugs and your own personal life, so even though you’re living the dorm life, you’ll enjoy a bit of privacy.

PLAY

  • Mandalay Hill – Take a trip to Mandalay Hill to soak up a beautiful sunset.
  • Visit the Ancient Cities
    • Amarapurna
      • Maha Gandhayon Monastery – Witness the beautiful procession of the monks receiving alms. Public is welcome, but please respect their culture.
      • U Bain Bridge – A popular place to watch the sunset, so get there early. Secure your viewing spot on the bridge, or head out with one of the local boats to get a different perspective.
    • Inwa
      • Boat Ride – Set on an island, enjoy a short boat ride as you enjoy a 15-20 minute cruise across the water.
      • Horse & Cart Tours – Once you get to the other side, hop on one of the horse and cart tours. It’s often muddy, so trust us, you don’t want to try and walk it. Plus, it’s the best way to see the island, so the small fee (5,000 kyat – $4) you pay is definitely worth it.
      • Bagaya Monastery – Check out this beautiful wooden monastery. This is also where they collect the historical site fee (10,000 kyat – $7.50).
      • Yadana Hsimi Pagodas – Visit ancient pagodas in ruins and see a 200-year old Banyon tree. It is absolutely stunning!
    • Sagaing
      • Sagaing Hill – Climb to the top to see the numerous pagodas lining the hills. It’s definitely a site to be seen.
      • U Min Thonze Pagoda – Explore this sprawling pagoda and experience the beauty that surrounds this pagoda inside and out.
Don't be a stick in the mud, haha! The Best Myanmar

Don’t be a stick in the mud, haha!

EAT

  • Mr. Bar B Q – Don’t let the name fool you! While they do offer a bar b q buffet, there is an assortment of things on the menu to suit every taste.
  • If you decide to stay at Four Rivers B&B, make sure to check out the restaurant next door to it. It has a great assortment of rice and noodle dishes that are to die for!

TIPS

  • If arriving by air, get a shared bus from the airport direct to your hotel for 4,000 kyat/person ($3). A direct taxi costs 12,000 kyat ($9).
  • To visit certain sites, you will need to pay a Mandalay Historical Site Fee which costs 10,000 kyat ($7.50).

 

MONYWA

Enjoy the magic of the Pho Win Taung Caves! The Best Myanmar

Enjoy the magic of the Pho Win Taung Caves!

 

STAY

  • Hotel Chidwin – Expensive for what it is, but Chidwin still offers the most affordable option in town. It’s clean and in a central location, so don’t hesitate to check it out and call it home for the night.

PLAY

  • Pho Win Taung Caves – If you haven’t heard of these caves, you should! With thousands of Buddha figures spread throughout the caves, it is definitely worth the trip and the 2,500 kyat/person ($2). P.S. you will need a motorbike to get there.
They may look sweet, but beware of the monkey's! The Best Myanmar

They may look sweet, but beware of the monkey’s!

 

EAT

  • Zwe Mann Myanmar Food – Just a short stroll from the Chidwin Hotel, enjoy a traditional Myanmar buffet lunch for only 3,000 kyat ($2.50). You will not leave hungry and will get the opportunity to try a wide range of local cuisine.

TIPS

  • Sites are relatively spread out, so you can’t do it all in one day; even though distances make things seem close, the road conditions makes it take longer.
  • If visiting Pho Win Taung Caves, make sure to get a guide once on site. It costs 3-4,000 kyat ($2.50-3) and is well worth the price.

 

BAGAN

Beautiful Bagan sunrise! The Bet Myanmar

Beautiful Bagan sunrise!

STAY

  • Shwe Na Di Guesthouse – Located in Nyaung U, this central location puts you in walking distance to everything you need including great restaurants & local temples. With great on site amenities, including dorm & private room options, free breakfast, and bicycles and e-bikes available for hire, you don’t need to look anywhere else!

PLAY

  • Explore Pagodas & Temples – Let’s face it, you wouldn’t be in Bagan if this wasn’t on your agenda! Certain temples are popular for sunrise and sunset – just ask once you arrive and take your pick. To be honest, some of our best glimpses of sunrises and sunsets were away from the crowds; impromptu stops wherever we were. Grab a map and just go with the flow. Stop at any temples that strike your fancy, stay as long as you want, and just take in the beauty of it all along the way!
  • eBike/Bicycle Rental – There are multiple companies (and most hotels) renting bikes. We paid 6,000 kyat ($5) for an e-bike & 1,500 kyat ($1) for a regular bicycle. Be sure to check the headlight as you may be heading out early in the morning!
  • Sunset Boat Tours – Contact either Bagan Boat Trips (our top pick!) 4,000 kyat/person ($3) for a 1-hour sunset cruise or Cruise de Bagan to secure your spot on a boat. Otherwise, just show up to the jetty and arrange with the boatmen on site.
  • Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Tours – There are currently 3 companies offering tours – Oriental Ballooning,  Balloons Over BaganGolden Eagle. Whilst we didn’t make the investment in the trip, we’ve heard multiple accounts of how brilliant it is. If you’d go, we’d love to hear your story!
So many temples & pagodas to explore! The Best Myanmar

So many temples & pagodas to explore!

 

EAT

  • Moe Pyae Son – Some of the best and cheapest vegetarian food in town…nom, nom, nom! Not to be missed!
  • San Kabar – Specializing in Italian food, the restaurant also offers Chinese and Myanmar food menus – be sure to check it out for yourself!
  • A Little Bit of Bagan – Choose from a selection of Indian, Thai, Chinese and traditional Burmese food – you can’t go wrong!
  • The Moon – With a Tagline of “Be Kind to Animals,” don’t expect to find any meat at this vegetarian restaurant. Fall in love with the setting and the food in one of its two convenient locations!

TIPS

  •  Make the effort to get up for sunrise. Yes, it’s an early morning, but it’s worth it. Plus, how often do you get a chance to see sunrise in Bagan?
  • Get yourself settled for sunrise/set early, to avoid the rush and set yourself up to get that perfect picture.
  • Be respectful of Burmese traditions; do not climb pagodas with signs advising you not to. (We experienced this with some obnoxious tourists)

 

INLE LAKE

Explore Inle! The best Myanmar

Explore Inle!

STAY

  • Friday Inn – Situated in Nyaung Shwe, Friday Inn was undergoing renovations when we visited late 2016. But it was nice when we stayed and can only get better, so go pay the guys a visit!

PLAY

  • Inle Lake Boat Tour – Visit the highlights around the lake including Nga Hpe Chaung (formerly the Jumping Cat Monastery), Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Ywama Floating Market, In Paw Khone Floating Villages, and an array of local handicrafts, including woodcarving, hand weaving, silversmith and cigar making. Negotiate your price, but expect to pay around 15,000 kyat ($11) depending how hard you negotiate.
  • Red Hill Winery – Don’t miss one of only two wineries in Myanmar. Try a selection of locally grown wines while taking in a beautiful sunset. Wine tasting 5,000 kyat ($4).
Cheers! The Best Myanmar

Cheers!

 

EAT

  • Pub Asiatico – Great place to drop in for a drink or two. We didn’t get a chance to try the food, but the menu had a wide variety. Note, it opens at 4pm, so don’t plan on  enjoying lunch here.
  • Sunflower Restaurant – A simple, yet delicious venue. Our top pick in the area! Go try for yourself and let us know what you think!
  • Red Hill Winery – Whilst enjoying a glass of wine, go ahead and check out the food menu too. Some tasty dishes on offer!

TIPS

  •  Arrange your boat trip ahead of time (a day ahead) for the best likelihood of being able to share a boat.
  • The winery is a bit out of town, and taxi options there and back are a bit pricey. Hire a bike and take a ride to and from instead…you’ll probably want to burn off the calories from the wine anyways.
  • Inle Lake is facing some environmental threats. Check out our tips on how to have a sustainable trip to the area.

 

YANGON

Enjoy interacting with the locals! The Best Myanmar

Enjoy interacting with the locals!

STAY

  •  Nice Day Hotel – This is a comfortable hotel located close to the Hlaing Thar Yar Bus Terminal, perfect for early morning bus trips to Chaung Tha
  •  Agga Guest House – This small hostel is located in downtown Yangon and is within walking distance to bars, restaurants and other attractions in the area. The street surrounding the property has a great local feel

PLAY

  • Shwedagon Pagoda – Unfortunately we ran out of time and were only able to see this Pagoda from a distance. If you have time it should definitely be one of the stops on your itinerary.

EAT:

  • Le Planteur – If you are looking for a fantastic place to eat when in Yangon, then look no further. The food and atmosphere are wonderful and it offers an experience to remember. The prices are expensive so if you are used to eating street food, be prepared to blow the budget.

TIPS

  •  If you’re planning to visit either Chaung Tha or Ngwe Saung beach, you’re best off to go early in the morning. Think about staying on the outskirts of Yangon (Nice Day Hotel) the night before to make the trip a bite easier.

 

CHAUNG THA BEACH

Make sure to wear your sunscreen - The Best Myanmar

Make sure to wear your sunscreen

STAY

  • Hill Garden Hotel – If you want to escape completely, this is the place for you. Set back a short 5-minute walk to the beach, this is your perfect retreat to kick back and completely relax! The team will pick you up from the bus station and take you back when your holiday has come to an end. They have motorbikes for hire on site, offer beautiful buffet and a la carte selections, along with a full service bar.
  • Shwe Hin Tha – If you want to be a bit closer to the action, look no further than Shwe Hin Tha. Situated directly on the beach and at the bus drop off and pick up point, it couldn’t be more convenient.

PLAY

  • Relax on the White Sand Beach – A short ride from Chaung Tha beach, this stunning stretch of beach is perfect to set up in a chair, grab a coconut and relax.
  • Enjoy Sunset – I always love a good sunset and Chaung Tha does not disappoint. Grab a seat, a drink, and settle in to watch the sun do its thing.
  • Check out the Twin Pagodas – While these are highlighted as a top attraction in the area, you won’t be missing much if you don’t get a chance to check them out. Old and rundown, they leave a lot to desire, but as they have a long history and are prominently featured in various paintings in the area, it won’t hurt to take a stroll down the beach to check them out.
  • Rent a Scooter – Since you will be quite remote, if you do want to get out and explore, you will need to hire a scooter. Luckily, most of the hotels have them available on site to rent at affordable rates.
  • Visit Ngwe Saung Beach – Getting from Chaung Tha to Ngwe Saung can be a bit tricky, so ensure you follow our guidelines for a smooth trip.
Always take the time to make friends with puppies! The Best Myanmar

Always take the time to make friends with puppies!

EAT

  • Hill Garden Hotel – With an extensive breakfast buffet and a la carte lunch and dinner options, you’re sure to be satisfied with the selection and value.
  • Shwe Hin Tha – Dine in the restaurant or in the bar area overlooking the beach. If you need wifi, the restaurant is your best bet. If you can get away from your devices, head to the beachfront and soak up the atmosphere, which yes, does include some hawkers.
  • Head to Town – Take a walk (30 minutes one way from Hill Garden Hotel) or ride a scooter (7 minutes each way) to town to explore the variety of restaurants and shops lining the beach.
  • Fisherman’s Bar – Located at Bay of Bengal Resort in Ngwe Saung, this is a great place to drop by and watch the world go by. Sit in the shaded verandas and stay cool with the ceiling fans while enjoying a beautiful meal with some refreshing beverages.

TIPS

  • Bring along some playing cards. It’s a great way to spend some quality time together.
  • Mosquito repellent is crucial!
  • This is the perfect place to get stuck into your favorite book.

 

EATING & DRINKING IN MYANMAR

  • Traditional Dishes: Enjoy a Traditional Burmese Lunch, BBQ, and a number of the Chinese, Indian and Malaysian inspired dishes.
  • Beers: Ranging from Mandalay, Myanmar and Dagon , let us know which is your favorite!
Check out the cheroot cigarettes, errr…cigars…puff, puff, give! The Best Myanmar

Check out the cheroot cigarettes, errr…cigars…puff, puff, give!

 

MYANMAR BUDGET

We budgeted for $71.63 USD/day (for 2 people). Actual was $57.66/day x 18 days = $1,038 total.

Breakdown below:

  • Accommodation – $394
  • Beverages – $38
  • Food – $195
  • Transport – $151 *
  • Entertainment – $224
  • Miscellaneous – $36 **

 

*excludes flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Mandalay, Myanmar & flights from Yangon, Myanmar to Bangkok, Thailand

**includes bank fees, bug spray, laundry & ATM fees

Experience sunset from U Bain Bridge! The Best Myanmar

Experience sunset from U Bain Bridge!

 

OUR MYANMAR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Visiting the ancient cities around Mandalay
  • Witnessing over 1,000 monks receiving alms
  • Meeting a group making the trip from London to Sydney overland
  • Touring the Pho Win Taung Caves in Monywa
  • Exploring Bagan’s numerous pagodas
  • Watching the hot air balloons rise over Bagan
  • Visiting the floating villages on Inle Lake
  • Smoking a cheroot hand rolled cigarette
  • Wine tasting at Red Hill Winery
  • Making the journey from Chaung Tha to Ngwe Saung beach
  • Enjoying the sunsets across Myanmar

 

MYANMAR TIPS

Enjoy everything Myanmar has to offer! The Best Myanmar

Enjoy everything Myanmar has to offer!

 

  • If arriving by air to Mandalay, get a shared bus from the airport direct to your hotel for 4,000 kyat/person ($3). A direct taxi costs 12,000 kyat ($9).
  • To visit specific sites in certain cities (ie. Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake), you will need to pay a Historical Site Fee which costs 10,000 kyat ($7.50).
  • Sites throughout Myanmar are relatively spread out, so you can’t do it all in one day; even though distances make things seem close, the road conditions makes it take longer.
  • If visiting Pho Win Taung Caves, make sure to get a guide once on site. It costs 3-4,000 kyat ($2.50-3) and is well worth the price.
  • Make the effort to get up for sunrise in Bagan. Yes, it’s an early morning, but it’s worth it.
  • In Bagan, be sure to get yourself settled for sunrise/set early, to avoid the rush and set yourself up to get that perfect picture.
  • Be respectful of Burmese traditions; do not climb pagodas with signs advising you not to.
  • Don’t miss Inle Lake – it was our personal favorite!
  • While at Inle Lake, make sure you arrange your boat trip ahead of time (a day ahead) for the best likelihood of being able to share a boat.
  • The Red Hill Winery in the Inle Lake region is a bit out of town, and taxi options there and back are a bit pricey. Hire a bike and take a ride to and from instead…you’ll probably want to burn off the calories from the wine anyway.
  • Inle Lake is facing some environmental threats. Check out our tips on how to have a sustainable trip to the area.
  • When visiting the the Myanmar beaches, make sure to bring along some playing cards, mosquito repellent, and your favorite book!
Ngwe Saung Beach

The adventure of getting from Chaungtha to Ngwe Saung beach

Yes, Myanmar has beaches! Sure, they may not receive all the hype that Thailand does, but if you have the time you should definitely visit Ngwe Saung beach.

Myanmar beaches, here we come! - ngwe saung beach

Myanmar beaches, here we come!

THE GREATEST REWARD AND LUXURY OF TRAVEL IS TO BE ABLE TO EXPERIENCE EVERYDAY THINGS AS IF FOR THE FIRST TIME, TO BE IN A POSITION IN WHICH ALMOST NOTHING IS SO FAMILIAR IT IS TAKEN FOR GRANTED. — BILL BRYSON

There are several beaches to choose from depending what you are looking for. Here’s a quick overview:

  1. Ngapali beach – Catch a short flight to reach the pristine, white beaches of Myanmar, and take in the beautiful views of the Bengal Bay.
  2. Chaung Tha beach – The most laid back of Myanmar’s beaches, Chaung Tha can be earned in 5-hours from Yangon
  3. Ngwe Saung beach – Also known as Silver Beach, Ngwe Saung is a 6-hour bus ride from Yangon
Myanmar's spectacular beaches! - ngwe saung beach

Myanmar’s spectacular beaches!

If visiting either Chaung Tha or Ngwe Saung beach, definitely consider taking the adventurous journey to travel across land and water to visit the alternate beach as well.

Enjoy the ride! - ngwe saung beach

Enjoy the ride!

It is important to take your sense of adventure with you on this journey! You will likely be waiting in the hot sun, have little guidance about where to go next, and get a bit wet on your trip. Be prepared to wade in water up to knee deep, sit on a crowded boat full of people, chickens and motorbikes, and laugh at the situation.

Live like the locals! - ngwe saung beach

Live like the locals!

If you take your own motorbike, expect to push it up a wooden ramp to load it onto the boat. Burmese people are super helpful, so you’ll likely have a helping hand if you get stuck. Chances are you’ll be one of few foreigners on the trip, so it’s a good opportunity to be exposed to the life of the locals. In fact, try to identify some of the locals going the whole distance and then follow them from point A to point B to make your trip go a lot smoother.

Safety first - yep, the ramp is secure! - ngwe saung beach

Safety first – yep, the ramp is secure!

Don’t take yourself too seriously, and just sit back and enjoy the ride. Getting from Chaung Tha to Ngwe Saung can be a bit tricky, so ensure you follow these guidelines for a smooth trip:

  1. Motorbike ride from Chaung Tha Beach to boat “ramp” –  15 min
  2. Boat ride – 10 min & 800 kyat/$0.60
  3. Motorbike ride – 10 min
  4. Boat ride – 5 min & 700 kyat/$0.50
  5. Motorbike ride – 10 min
  6. Boat ride – 5 min & 700 kyat/$0.50
  7. Motorbike ride from boat “ramp” to Ngwe Saung Beach –  15 min
Don't worry, the balloons will keep you afloat! - ngwe saung beach

Don’t worry, the balloons will keep you afloat!

  • Travel time: 2-3 hours (depending on timing & demand, you may wait between up to 15 minutes for a boat)
  • Motorbike: 10,000 kyat/$7.50 per day
  • Petrol: 1,000 kyat/$0.75
  • Boat trips: 4,400 kyat/$3.50 round trip
  • Total cost: 15,400 kyat/$11.75
  • Adventure: Priceless!

Where else in the world could you cruise down a beautiful barren beach?

Island Life - Palm Trees ngwe saung beach

Island Life – Palm Trees

chaungtha beach myanmar

Why you should definitely visit Chaungtha Beach Myanmar

We think everyone should visit Chaungtha Beach Myanmar. Sure, we’ve all dreamed about escaping to a remote island where we could take a break from the crazy world around us. When an island is out of reach, why not head to the next best thing – Myanmar!

WE LIVE IN A WONDERFUL WORLD THAT IS FULL OF BEAUTY, CHARM AND ADVENTURE. THERE IS NO END TO THE ADVENTURES WE CAN HAVE IF ONLY WE SEEK THEM WITH OUR EYES OPEN. — JAWAHARAL NEHRU

Soak up the serenity! - chaungtha beach myanmar

Soak up the serenity!

Enjoy the Burmese culture, people, food, and then take time to explore the beach! Sure, Chaungtha Beach Myanmar doesn’t get the same level of hype Thailand does, but that means they’re not as crowded which is exactly what you want if you’re looking to relax and escape.

 

GETTING THERE

  • From Yangon – Catch a bus from Hlaing Thar (also known as Dagon Ayar) bus station. It’s important to note this is a different bus station to the one you would use to visit most other destinations from Yangon. Most buses depart in the morning , so head over and hop on (no need to book in advance).
  • DagonAyar – Located at Pathein St., Dagon Ayar Highway Bus Compound, Kala Kyi Su Ward, HLTA, Myanmar.
  • Distance – Trip takes between 5-6 hours, and roads have many twists and turns, so be sure to take your motion sickness tablets if your sensitive to movement .
  • Price – One-way trips range from 7,000-12,000 kyat ($5-9 USD) depending on bus company and time of year.

 

STAY

  • Hill Garden Hotel – If you want to escape completely, this is the place for you. Set back a short 5-minute walk to the beach, this is your perfect retreat to kick back and completely relax! The team will pick you up from the bus station and take you back when your holiday has come to an end. They have motorbikes for hire on site, offer beautiful buffet and a la carte selections, along with a full service bar.
Enjoy your own private bungalow! - chaungtha beach myanmar

Enjoy your own private bungalow!

 

  • Shwe Hin Tha – If you want to be a bit closer to the action, look no further than Shwe Hin Tha. Situated directly on the beach and at the bus drop off and pick up point, it couldn’t be more convenient.

 

PLAY

Put on your sunscreen and enjoy the beach! - chaungtha beach myanmar

Put on your sunscreen and enjoy the beach!

 

  • Relax on the White Sand Beach – A short ride from Chaung Tha beach, this stunning stretch of beach is perfect to set up in a chair, grab a coconut and relax.
  • Enjoy Sunset – I always love a good sunset and Chaung Tha does not disappoint. Grab a seat, a drink, and settle in to watch the sun do its thing.
  • Check out the Twin Pagodas – While these are highlighted as a top attraction in the area, you won’t be missing much if you don’t get a chance to check them out. Old and rundown, they leave a lot to desire, but as they have a long history and are prominently featured in various paintings in the area, it won’t hurt to take a stroll down the beach to check them out.
  • Rent a Scooter – Since you will be quite remote, if you do want to get out and explore, you will need to hire a scooter. Luckily, most the hotels have them available on site to rent at affordable rates.
  • Visit Ngwe Saung Beach – Getting from Chaung Tha to Ngwe Saung can be a bit tricky, so ensure you follow these guidelines for a smooth trip.
Get your scooter filled by the youngest gas attendant ever! - chaungtha beach myanmar

Get your scooter filled by the youngest gas attendant ever!

 

EAT:

  • Hill Garden Hotel – With an extensive breakfast buffet and a la carte lunch and dinner options, you’re sure to be satisfied with the selection and value.
  • Shwe Hin Tha – Dine in the restaurant or in the bar area overlooking the beach. If you need wifi, the restaurant is your best bet. If you can get away from your devices, head to the beachfront and soak up the atmosphere, which yes, does include some hawkers.
  • Head to Town – Take a walk (30 minutes one way) or ride a scooter (7 minutes each way) in to town to explore the variety of restaurants and shops lining the beach.
  • Fisherman’s Bar –  Located at Bay of Bengal Resort in Ngwe Saung, this is a great place to drop by and watch the world go by. Sit in the shaded verandas and stay cool with the ceiling fans while enjoying a beautiful meal with some refreshing beverages.
Cheers! - chaungtha beach myanmar

Cheers!

TIPS

  • Bring along some playing cards. It’s a great way to spend some quality time together.
  • Mosquito repellent is crucial.
  • This is the perfect place to get stuck into your favorite book.
Bagan Tours

Do I Need to Book one of the Bagan Tours?

OK, so we’ve all heard of Bagan – known as one of the most beautiful cities to visit and explore its thousands of pagodas. But, you may still be asking yourself the question, “Do I need to book one of the Bagan Tours?”

TRAVEL IS LIKE LOVE, MOSTLY BECAUSE IT’S A HEIGHTENED STATE OF AWARENESS, IN WHICH WE ARE MINDFUL, RECEPTIVE, UNDIMMED BY FAMILIARITY AND READY TO BE TRANSFORMED. THAT IS WHY THE BEST TRIPS, LIKE THE BEST LOVE AFFAIRS, NEVER REALLY END. — PICO IYER

In short, no, you don’t need to organise one of the many Bagan tours. And rest assured, we’ve got you covered with the ins-and-outs of how to explore on your own. From where to stay, see and eat, we’ve got everything you need right here at your fingertips.

Stunning sunset! - Bagan Tours

Stunning sunset!

STAY

  • Shwe Na Di Guesthouse – in Nyaung U, this central location puts you in walking distance to everything you need including great restaurants & local temples. With great onsite amenities, including dorm & private room options, free breakfast, and bicycles and e-bikes available for hire, you don’t need to look anywhere else!

PLAY

Pagodas as far as the eye can see! - Bagan Tours

Pagodas as far as the eye can see!

  • Explore Pagodas & Temples – Let’s face it, you wouldn’t be in Bagan if this wasn’t on your agenda! Certain temples are popular for sunrise and sunset – just ask once you arrive and take your pick. To be honest, some of our best glimpses of sunrises and sunsets were away from the crowds; impromptu stops wherever we were. Grab a map and just go with the flow. Stop at any temples that strike your fancy, stay as long as you want, and just take in the beauty of it all along the way!
  • eBike/Bicycle Rental – There are multiple companies (and most hotels) renting bikes. We paid 6,000 kyat ($5) for an e-bike & 1,500 kyat ($1) for a regular bicycle.
  • Sunset Boat Tours – Contact either Bagan Boat Trips (our top pick!) 4,000 kyat/person ($3) for a 1-hour sunset cruise or Cruise de Bagan to secure your spot on a boat. Otherwise, just show up to the jetty and arrange with the boatmen on site.
  • Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Tours – There are currently 3 companies offering tours – Oriental Ballooning, Balloons Over Bagan & Golden Eagle. Whilst we didn’t make the investment in the trip, we’ve heard multiple accounts of how brilliant it is. If you’d go, we’d love to hear your story!
Perfection! - Bagan Tours

Perfection!

EAT

  • Moe Pyae Son – Some of the best and cheapest vegetarian food in town…nom, nom, nom!
    San Kabar – Specializing in Italian food, the restaurant also offers Chinese and Myanmar food menus – be sure to check it out for yourself!
  • A Little Bit of Bagan – Choose from a selection of Indian, Thai, Chinese and traditional Burmese food – you can go wrong!
  • The Moon – With a Tagline of “Be Kind to Animals,” don’t expect to find any meat at this vegetarian restaurant. Fall in love with the setting and the food in one of its two convenient locations.
The detail is spectacular! - Bagan Tours

The detail is spectacular!

TIPS

  • Make the effort to get up for sunrise; yes, it’s an early morning, but it’s worth it.
  • Get yourself settled for sunrise/set early, to avoid the rush and set yourself up to get that perfect picture.
  • Be respectful of Burmese traditions; do not climb pagodas with signs advising you not to.
Big things to see in Bagan! - Bagan Tours

Big things to see in Bagan!

 

Inle Lake

How to have a sustainable Inle Lake trip

With the steady increase of tourism since Myanmar opened its borders in 2012, Inle Lake is facing some environmental challenges. To do your part, enjoy a sustainable holiday to the lake by adhering to these handy hints.

TRAVEL MAKES ONE MODEST, YOU SEE WHAT A TINY PLACE YOU OCCUPY IN THE WORLD. — GUSTAVE FLAUBERT

1. Pay the Inle Lake Environmental Fee. It’s actually quite a common practice in Myanmar for tourists to pay a visitor’s fee, and Inle is no exception. 12,500 kyat ($9) is a small amount to pay to help keep the area clean and safe from environmental threats!

Keep Inle Lake beautiful!

Keep Inle Lake beautiful!

2. Share a Boat. Fewer boats equal less pollution. Plus, you can save some money in the process. Hiring a boat for the day will cost you around 15,000 kyat ($11) depending on how hard you negotiate. Why not share the cost and split the environmental effects as well. Sounds like a win-win to me!

The more the merrier! - Inle Lake

The more the merrier!

3. Go Vegge. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, try it during your visit to Inle Lake. With plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables on offer, why not indulge. While the fresh fish may be tempting, the overfishing of the area is a big challenge facing Inle.

Overfishing is a big problem - why not go vegge instead! - Inle Lake

Overfishing is a big problem – why not go vegge instead!

4. Ask your Boatman to Skip the Long Neck Women. We had a very authentic experience with the Karen Tribe in Thailand, but unfortunately, they are not indigenous to this area. Instead, stop by the weaving factories to watch the women work their magic.

Magic in the making! - Inle Lake

Magic in the making!

5. Tip the Local Fisherman for Photos. If they earn a wage from photo ops, it means less overfishing of the lake. And let’s face it, you want to have your camera ready for your visit! After all, where else will you see fishermen rowing the boat with their legs and balancing with large nets on their heads!?!

Say "cheese!" - Inle Lake

Say “cheese!”

6. Don’t Litter. Be part of the solution; not part of the problem. It seems crazy to think people in today’s world still litter, but clearly, it’s still an issue. If you see a local doing it, gently speak with them and educate them on the benefits of utilizing bins instead of throwing trash on the land or water instead.

Respect the environment! - Inle Lake

Respect the environment!

7. Refill your water bottles, turn off the lights & electrical plugs when not in use, and take short showers. These no-brainers still apply! Wherever you are, lead by example and follow these practices wherever you go. What’s your best tip for sticking to short showers as truth be told, this is one I still struggle with if I have hot water available.

Reduce, reuse & recycle! - Inle Lake

Reduce, reuse & recycle!

8. Walk or Hire a Bicycle. Instead of using a motorized taxi or tuk-tuk, use your legs and get some exercise in the process. The area is great to explore on foot or by taking a leisurely cycle around. So take your time, load up on sunscreen and enjoy!

Save the environment while keeping fit! - Inle Lake

Save the environment while keeping fit!

STAY

  • Friday Inn – Situated in Nyaung Shwe, Friday Inn was undergoing renovations where we visited late 2016. But it was nice when we stayed and can only get better, so go pay the guys a visit!
View from the rooftop! - Inle Lake

View from the rooftop!

PLAY

  •  Inle Lake Boat Tour – Visit the highlights around the lake including Nga Hpe Chaung (formerly the Jumping Cat Monastery), Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Ywama Floating Market, In Paw Khone Floating Villages, and an array of local handicrafts, including wood carving, hand weaving, silversmith and cigar making.
  • Red Hill Winery –  Don’t miss one of only two wineries in Myanmar. Try a selection of locally grown wines while taking in a beautiful sunset. Wine tasting 5,000 kyat ($4).
Cheers! - Inle Lake

Cheers!

EAT

  • Red Hill Winery – Whilst enjoying a glass of wine, go ahead and check out the food menu too. Some tasty dishes on offer!
  • Pub Asiatico – Great place to drop in for a drink or two. Didn’t try the food, but the menu had a wide variety. Note, opens at 4 pm, so don’t plan on lunch here.
  • Sunflower Restaurant – A simple, yet delicious venue. Our top pick in the area! Go try for yourself and let us know what you think!
    The best avocado salad in town! - Inle Lake

    The best avocado salad in town!

TIPS

  • Arrange your boat trip ahead of time (a day ahead) for best likelihood of being able to share a boat.
  • The winery is a bit out of town, and taxi options there and back are a bit pricey. Hire a bike and take a ride to and from instead…you’ll probably want to burn off the calories from the wine anyways.