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Burma / Myanmar: Travel Guide, budget & 12-day Itinerary

We chose the following 12-day itinerary from Bangkok to Hanoi: Mandalay (4 nights), Day boat from 12h to Bagan (3 nights), Day bus from 8h to Inle Lake (2 nights), Day bus from 8h to return to Mandalay (2 nights).

If we had to do it all over again, we would have chosen the following itinerary, for 11 nights, 12 days:

  • Mandalay: 3 nights. Arrival preferably on a Thursday or Sunday. Day 1: Visit of the Royal Palace. Day 2 : Visit Mandalay Hill and the pagodas next door + Mahamuni by scooter. Movie session at Diamond Plaza. Day 3: Visit Amarapura, Sagang or Inwa by scooter or cab.
  • Bagan: 3 nights. Boat (slow boat) 12h from Mandalay (every Wednesday and Sunday). Day 1: rest. Day 2: visit the main temples by ebike. Day 3: visit of small temples.
  • Inle Lake: 3 nights. Day bus of 8 hours from Bagan. Day 1: rest and night market. Day 2: Inle Lake all day by boat. Day 3: Visit of Pindaya, its cave of 5000 Buddhas and the umbrella factory
  • Yangon : 2 nights. Day bus of 8 hours from Inle Lake. Day 1: rest. Day 2: visit of the Shwedagon pagoda. Day 3 : departure


To bus or not to bus?

Over the 12 days, there are still 3 full days of transport without a visit. You might think it would be better to take the night buses but it is frankly not a good idea. The buses leave around 8pm and arrive all around 3 to 4am. You will still pay one night to sleep in a hotel, and there is the added stress of finding a hotel that is still open and the fatigue. In addition, the routes in question can be dangerous because of the mountains that stand in the middle of your routes. Will you trust your life to a driver for a long night trip, knowing that he always has the right-hand drive when the whole country has had to drive on the right (and normally have the left-hand drive) since 1970?

Another way would be to take the plane, but it is also the least economical way (count between $50 and $100 per trip vs. $15 by bus).

Other tips and guides on Burma are available on our blog, I invite you to consult them:


Budget on the spot: $754 for 11 nights, 12 days or $63 per day (i.e. bus included but without visa, excluding plane Bangkok – Mandalay)

All inclusive (visa, airfare from Bangkok): $954 for two people for 12 days

This budget can be reduced by eating only on the street. The other expenses (hotels, visits, transportation…) are already at a minimum.

  • eVisa $40 per person
  • Visiting fees :

    • 10000kyats/person in Mandalay
    • 25000kyats/person in Bagan
    • 12500kyats/person in Inle

  • Transport

    • Bangkok – Mandalay : 60$/person
    • Airport cab – Mandalay: 4 000 kyats/person
    • Slow boat Mandalay – Bagan 18 000 kyats per person
    • Bus Mandalay – Inle or Bagan – Inle : 15 000 kyats per person in minivan
    • Scooter rental: 10,000 to 15,000 kyats per day
    • E-bike rental: 8,000 kyats per day for two people
    • Bike rental: 3,000 kyats per day/person
    • Cab rental: 25,000 kyats for half a day, between 45,000 kyats and 60,000 kyats a day (depending on where you are going)

  • Hotel: between $22 and $27 per double room with air conditioning and breakfast
  • Laundry: about 3500 kyats every three days
  • Food: 5,000 kyats/meal/person

Note: We can pay everything in kyats now in 2016. Distributors charge a fee for each withdrawal (up to 6%). Exchanges of euros or dollars are possible everywhere, including in many banks. Prefer large banknotes for a more advantageous exchange rate. Bills no longer have to be perfect to be exchanged.

What we liked

  1. The sweet life in Burma: the benevolence and smiles of the Burmese people, the few houses, the greenery..
  2. Bagan and its temples
  3. Inle Lake by boat
  4. Mandalay and its surroundings
  5. Cinema in Burma
  6. Burmese gastronomy: curry served with many side dishes, tea salad, tomato salad, avocado salad, etc
  7. Burmese hotels: clean, impeccable service, nice breakfast

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