Closed off to most of the world for decades, Myanmar is rapidly being “discovered” and is in the process of becoming one of Southeast Asia’s most acclaimed tourist destinations. With smaller crowds than neighbouring Thailand and a rich variety of natural and historical sites, Myanmar is a rewarding country to visit.
Myanmar – Inle Lake © marcveraart
While you’ll get the best Myanmar experience by visiting for two weeks or longer, it’s possible to see most of Myanmar’s highlights in one week. Below, we’ve prepared a one week itinerary for travellers interested in visiting Myanmar that covers most of the country’s must-see sights.
Note: Myanmar is one of Southeast Asia’s least developed countries, but travelling can cost slightly more than in Thailand or Vietnam. Our How Much Money Do I Need For Myanmar? guide covers the cost of travelling around Myanmar, from accommodation to food.
Day One: Arriving in Yangon
Shwedagon Pagoda during the Blue Hour © 21160499@N04
- Our Myanmar itinerary starts in Yangon, the country’s former capital and main economic hub city. With five million people, Yangon is Myanmar’s largest city and a cultural melting pot, with elements of Burmese, British, Indian and Chinese culture on display.
- Travellers with passports from outside Southeast Asia will need visas to enter Myanmar. As of 2014, citizens of more than 100 countries can enter Myanmar using an e-visa. Our guide to the process of getting a Myanmar tourist visa explains more about the country’s visa system.
- Although Myanmar is one of Southeast Asia’s least developed countries, Yangon is a bustling city with a great selection of hotels. Our Yangon Quick Guide lists Yangon’s best luxury, mid range and budget hotels, as well as the city’s best places to eat.
Day Two: Exploring Yangon
Floating pagoda © 30659973@N07
- Yangon is full of interesting sights and attractions, from pretty colonial buildings to some of the world’s most important Buddhist pagodas. Day two of our Myanmar itinerary involves visiting several of Myanmar’s most impressive temples, including the incredible Shwedagon Pagoda:
- The Shwedagon Pagoda is a 99 metre Buddhist pagoda that’s by far the most visible item in Yangon’s skyline. Legends state the pagoda was built more than 2,600 years ago, making it by far the oldest pagoda in Myanmar.
- The Sule Pagoda is a large Buddhist pagoda located in the centre of Yangon. One of the city’s most popular meeting points, the pagoda has played an important role in several of the country’s recent political demonstrations.
- Yangon has two large lakes, both of which are pretty and relaxing. Kandawgyi Lake is a large manmade lake near the Shwedagon Pagoda famous for its Karaweik barge. Inya Lake is another manmade lake in the north of Yangon that’s more popular with locals.
- Want to see more of Yangon? Our Things To Do In Yangon guide lists the city’s most important religious and cultural sites, museums, colonial buildings and more.
Day Three to Four: Visiting Bagan
Bagan Temples © 104284854@N07
- Bagan is an incredible ancient city in Central Myanmar that’s home to thousands of Buddhist temples. Many of the temples were built during the 11th and 12th centuries, with large parts of the ancient city in a state of ruin today.
- Flights to Nyaung U Airport, which is the closest airport to Bagan, are available from Golden Myanmar Airlines, Asian Wings and several other local airlines. There are more than 12 direct flights per day from Yangon to Nyaung U, with the trip taking 80 minutes on average.
- After arriving in Bagan, you’ll need to pay a $20 USD (or 27,000 kyat) fee to enter the Bagan Archaeological Zone.
- Bagan is a huge expanse of temples, and it’s best to arrive as early as possible in the morning and spend two days exploring the area. Our guide to Bagan’s essential temples lists the best temples to visit over your two days in Bagan.
Day Five: Travelling to Mandalay and Inle Lake
Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay © slapers
- After two days visiting Bagan, it’s time to travel to Mandalay. Flights are available on a frequent schedule throughout the day, with the journey between Nyaung U and Mandalay Airport over in just half an hour.
- Mandalay is an interesting city with several fascinating religious sites, including the Maha Myat Muni Paya. If you have an extra day, it’s worth spending it in Mandalay exploring the city’s vast variety of temples and pagodas.
- Our Things To Do in Mandalay guide lists Mandalay’s top religious, cultural and historical sites, as well as attractions close to the city such as the incredible U Bein Bridge.
- We recommend spending a few hours exploring Mandalay and seeing the city’s top attractions before heading on to Inle Lake by bus in the early evening or flying to Heho Airport in the late afternoon.
- If you don’t mind missing out on the short visit to Mandalay, it’s also possible to fly directly into Heho Airport (Inle Lake) from Nyaung U Airport near Bagan. Like Bagan, foreigners must pay a $10 USD fee to enter the Inle Lake area.
- Searching for a place to stay near Inle Lake? Our Inle Lake – Where to Stay guide lists the best luxury, mid range and budget hotels near Inle Lake.
Day Six: Exploring Inle Lake
Myanmar – Inle Lake © marcveraart
- Inle Lake is an incredible freshwater lake in the centre of Myanmar. Home to tens of thousands of people, most of whom live in fishing villages on the lake itself, Inle Lake is a biological wonder and one of Myanmar’s most important breeding and migration sites for thousands of birds.
- The easiest way to explore Inle Lake is via a boat tour. Both group and private tours of the lake are available, with prices starting from 20,000 kyat (approximately $15 USD) for a full day tour (eight hours) of the lake’s most important sites and markets.
- It’s also possible to hike around Inle Lake, which offers incredible views of Myanmar’s beautiful countryside. Our Inle Lake – Things To See And Do guide shares the best things to see and do around Inle Lake, as well as a less touristy itinerary for your Inle Lake tour.
Day Seven: Back to Yangon and Home
- On day seven, it’s time to pack up and head back to Yangon. There are numerous flights from Heho Airport to Yangon daily, with the trip taking just over one hour. If you leave from Heho on one of the earlier flights, you’ll have several hours of free time for extra sightseeing in Yangon.