Experience the best of Myanmar in 7-10 days! There’s a lot to see & do but if you’re short on time, check out our itinerary & discover the top 4 places to visit!
Most visitors will touchdown at Yangon International Airport & dive head-first into Myanmar’s largest & most chaotic city!
All the action is located in Downtown Yangon where the streets are crammed with markets & bumper-to-bumper traffic. Street hawkers sell everything under the sun while food vendors prepare the tastiest local food in all of the country.
There are few, if any, skyscrapers or fast-food chains, but the noise & sight of construction is everywhere – this is Asia at its most authentic. In Yangon, globalisation seems both inevitable and a long way away.
For some peace & serenity, head straight to the dazzling Shwedagon Pagoda. This is the true heart & soul of Yangon, where you’ll find Buddhist worshippers mingling in harmony with foreign tourists. It’s one of the most unforgettable highlights of Myanmar.
Other things to see & do in Yangon include:
- Sule Paya
- Bogyoke Aung San Museum
- Aung San Suu Kyi’s House
* 1-2 Days are recommended in Yangon
#2. Inle Lake
From Yangon, take a night bus to Nyaung-Shwe or fly into Heho, both of which are gateways into Inle Lake.
Hire a longtail boat for a full-day tour of Inle lake & visit numerous villages & temples.
A typical tour should include visits to:
- Ywama Village – silversmith workshop
- Indian Village – market, ethnic tribes, Shwe Indein Pagoda
- Paper & Umbrella-making workshop
- Lotus weaving centre
- Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda
- Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, aka Jumping Cat Monastery
- Cheroot workshop
There’s a lot to see & do but nothing beats the beauty & tranquility of simply being on the lake.
The Intha people reside along the 4 villages surrounding Inle Lake. Most men in this ethnic Tibetan-Burmese group are self-sufficient farmers and fishermen, tending to floating gardens and catching fish to sustain their livelihoods.
The traditional fishermen practice a local technique, casting out their nets while standing at the stern on one leg and draping the other leg around the oar – it’s something you won’t see anywhere else.
On a finest day on Inle Lake, they’ll be blue skies & white puffy clouds above a backdrop of rolling hills, reflecting onto the calm, shimmery water.
For more information, see our post A Perfect Longtail Boat Tour of Inle Lake
* 1 full day is recommended to tour Inle Lake
Take a bus or flight from Inle Lake to Mandalay.
Be warned that Mandalay is intensely hot and humid for much of the year but it’s is also refreshingly laid-back and relaxed.
Mandalay was old Burma’s last royal capital, with King Mindon founding the city around the vast grounds of the Royal Palace. Many outstanding monuments around the Palace were also commissioned by the King.
A Mandalay Archaeological Zone combo ticket (10,000 kyat) is required for the following sites:
- Atumashi Kyaung
- Cultural Museum Mandalay
- Kuthodaw Paya
- Mahamuni Paya
- Mandalay Palace
- Paleik Paya
- Shwenandaw Kyaung
- Entrance to the ancient cities of nearby Amarapura and Inwa
These places should be included on any Mandalay itinerary – they can be visited on a full-day trip from Mandalay, by tour or private taxi hire.
For more information, see our posts On the Road to Mandalay… It’s Not Yangon! and Things to See & Do in Mandalay Archaeological Zone.
* 2-3 days is recommended in Mandalay & the surrounding region
Save the best for last at Bagan – travel from Mandalay by plane, bus or boat.
If you liked Borobodur or Angkor Wat, you’ll be amazed by the 1000 year-old history of Bagan. It’s the largest ancient temple complex in Asia and arguably the most impressive.
Spread across a vast 42 km sq plain are some 2,000 to 4,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas & monasteries.
Some of the most important monuments are:
- Shwesandaw Paya
- Thatbyinnyu Pahto
- Manuka Paya
- Gawdawpalin Pahto
- Sulamani Pahto
- Ananda Pahto
- Dhammayangyi Pahto
The main temples are grouped close together but walking around Bagan isn’t practical, especially under the scorching sun. Instead, take a tour by car or horse-cart or travel independently by bicycle or e-bike.
There’s a lot to see & do at Bagan but don’t miss climbing to the top of a pagoda for sunrise, sunset or both.
* 1-3 Days are recommended in Bagan
In a Nutshell
Yangon, Inle Lake, Manday & Bagan are the Top 4 Places to Visit in Myanmar.
If you have more time, consider visiting the following destinations:
- The Golden Rock
- Pyin Oo Lwin
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*** The Final Word – Yangon, Inle Lake, Mandalay & Bagan are the 4 most popular destinations in Myanmar ***
What’s your favourite place in Myanmar?