Myanmar, a country that had closed borders till 2012, but has now become a dream destination for many travelers. Golden pagoda’s, tropical beaches, green hills and mountains, there is something to do in this beautiful country for everyone. Explore the bustling cities of Yangon and Mandalay, or take a break from temple exploring in Ngapali… it is hard to pick where to go on your Myanmar itinerary! So to help you out a bit we have created the ultimate 3 week Myanmar travel itinerary including Myanmar’s highlights and more off the beaten path destinations. Keep on reading to find out which destinations should be on your Myanmar bucket list.
Myanmar Itinerary – 3 Weeks of Temples, Cities and Hiking
Traveling Myanmar is an amazing experience, but it is also pretty slow. The distances between locations are quite large and the roads are not always in the best condition. Taking the train is almost never advised, as it is bumpy and slow, but luxury buses with plenty of leg room are becoming more widely available nowadays. Be sure to take your time in Myanmar, and try not to rush it all in a 1 or 2 week itinerary, trust me, you wished you would have had longer. This itinerary takes travel days into consideration too, allowing you to spend enough time at the most beautiful locations.
Day 1 – 3: Explore Yangon
Yangon, Myanmar’s former capital, is Myanmar’s largest city. While many travelers leave Yangon out of their itinerary due to its location it is a city that you might want to consider visiting. Yangon is home to Myanmar’s largest Pagoda, the Shwedagon Pagoda, which on its own is enough reason to visit Yangon. But don’t worry there are many things to do in Yangon, take the circle train to explore Yangon’s neighborhoods, enjoy street food on 19th street in down town Yangon and of course awe at the Shwedagon Pagoda. 2 Nights in Yangon should be enough to see the highlights and experience the hustle and bustle of Yangon.
Where to stay in Yangon
Hostels: Budget traveler or perhaps a solo traveler? Stay in a hostel in downtown Yangon, close to the major sights and 19th street, the place to be after the sun has set in Yangon. Some of the most popular options in Yangon are Hostel9 and BaobaBed Hostel. Or check out all the other hostels in Yangon here on Hostelworld.
Hotels: With the rise of tourism more hotels have been popping up all over town, but the most popular place to stay will be around China Town area. Find a hotel that matches your preferences on Booking.com. From budget hotels and guesthouses to luxury accommodation, Booking.com has it all.
Day 4 – 6: Go Temple Hopping in Bagan
With the bus ride from Yangon to Bagan being roughly 9 hours, many people decide to take the night bus to save some time in their itinerary. Arrive on day 4, fresh up in your hotel or hostel and head out to explore the beautiful plains of Bagan, filled with stunning stupas and pagodas. Exploring Bagan’s temple plains is the highlight of many travelers their Myanmar itinerary. Wake up early to see the sun rise over the temples, spend the day on a bicycle or e-bike exploring the fields and end the day with a beautiful sun set. Perhaps feeling adventurous? Add a balloon ride to your Bagan bucket list, to have the most amazing views and most memorable experience of this beautiful place.
Where to stay in Bagan
Hostels: If you are going to stay in a hostel in Bagan, this is the place to be, Ostello Bello Bagan. Ostello Bello was one of the first hostels to open up in Bagan back in 2015, and has been the most popular place ever since. We stayed here right after they opened in 2015, and had the most amazing experience staying with them. Spacious dorms, friendly staff and a common area to meet other travelers, what else do you need? Check out the latest ratings and reviews here on Hostelworld.
Hotels: While Ostello Bello might be the hostel to be, if you are not looking for a dorm room then you might want to stay in a hotel instead. There is a large variety of hotels in Bagan, small guesthouses to luxury resorts, it all depends on your budget. Check out Booking.com to find a hotel that suits exactly your preferences. We stayed at Myanmar Han back in 2017 and had a very pleasant stay. A refreshing pool, stunning views and friendly staff, we could have not asked for more.
Day 7 – 9: Experience Mandalay’s Beauty
Luckily the bus ride from Bagan to Mandalay is a bit shorter and with the ride being roughly 5 hours the journey can easily be done during the day. Take the rest of the day of to relax, catch up on some sleep from the early sun rises and start the day fresh in the beautiful city of Mandalay. While there are a some things to do in the city itself, it is the surroundings of Mandalay that you don’t want to explore during your 3 weeks in Myanmar. See the beautiful Hsinbyume Pagoda, the U Bein Bridge or relax in the blue waters of the Dee Doke Waterfall, this city could keep your busy for days, so be sure not to leave it out of your itinerary! Read about the 9 most unforgettable things to do in Mandalay here!
Where to stay in Mandalay
Hostels: With Mandalay becoming more and more popular for travelers, there is no shortage of hostels to pick from. Just like in Bagan, Ostello Bello is the to go to choice for budget travelers and solo backpackers visiting Mandalay. With friendly staff, spacious dorm rooms and multiple common areas it is understandable that this is one of the most popular places to be.
Hotels: Prefer to have your private room instead of sharing it with 7 other backpackers, we don’t blame you, and lucky for you there are plenty of hotels to stay in Mandalay. Check out the large variety of guesthouses, luxury resorts and mid range hotels now on Booking.com.
Day 10: Spend the day in Pyin Oo Lwin
Looking to get more off the beaten path in Myanmar and leave the larger amount of tourist crowds behind? Head to Pyin Oo Lwin, located roughly 2 hours Northeast of Mandalay. Pyin Oo Lwin, formerly known as Maymyo, is a town full of colonial buildings as this used to be the summer capital of British Burma and was home to the famous author George Orwell for a short period. And while the old colonial buildings might be worth some of your time, the highlight of visiting Pyin Oo Lwin will be visiting the beautiful Anisakan Falls. Stunning lush waterfalls tucked away between hills of green, a place where you could easily spend a full day. Read all about it in our Mandalay article!
Day 11: Myanmar’s Most Scenic Train Ride
Spend the night in Pyin Oo Lwin and wake up early to hop on board of the most scenic and beautiful train ride of Myanmar. 6 Hours of green scenery and hills while the train slowly moves further into the Shan state. Halfway the ride there is the thrilling Goteik Viaduct, which is considered the highlight of the train journey. A 100m high viaduct, 700m crossing the gorge, take a seat at the window and be sure to have your camera ready to record this beautiful moment. Intrigued? Be sure to read our complete guide to crossing the Goteik Viaduct.
Day 12 – 14: Go off the beaten path in Hsipaw
The train crossing the Goteik Viaduct will end his journey in Lashio, deep deep into the Shan state, but most travelers will decide to abort the train in Hsipaw, one of the most beautiful hiking destinations of Myanmar. Go on a multiple day hikes or choose to do an overnight trekking and stay in local villages, in Hsipaw you can do it all. Imagine hiking through green hills and farmers fields, to waterfalls and rivers, far away from the majority of tourists who exploring the major sights of Bagan and Mandalay. Hsipaw is the perfect destination for travelers who love adventure and love to get off the beaten path.
Where to stay in Hsipaw
As Hsipaw isn’t the most popular place for travelers to visit, there is a limited amount of accommodation available, with most people choosing to stay at Mr.Charles Guest House, and rightfully so. Choose from private rooms or dorm rooms and simply book you preferred trekking with their office in the courtyard. At Mr.Charles there is a large variety of trekkings available, and if you are a solo traveler you can easily join other groups of travelers for day trekkings or overnight adventures.
Day 15 – 18: Peace and quietness at Inle Lake
After a couple of days of hiking it is time to enjoy the refreshing peace and quietness of Inle Lake. As Inle Lake is situated completely in the hills temperatures here are a lot lower then in places like Bagan or Mandalay, making it a perfect escape from the warm summer heat. Rent a bicycle to cycle around the lake, take a boat ride across the lake to see the traditional fisherman or perhaps see more of Inle Lake’s local life my explore the floating villages and gardens. Inle Lake is the perfect location to relax and unwind from all the exploring. The best way to end a perfect day? Head to the Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery to see the sun set over the Inle Lake with a delicious glass of wine in your hand. Be sure to plan a couple of days here to explore the surroundings and Inle Lake itself, as it could easily keep you busy for days.
Where to stay in Inle Lake
Hostels: All hostels are located in Nyaung Shwe, the township located closest to the Inle Lake. Here you will find restaurants, small super markets, plenty of options for accommodation and tour offices. While there aren’t many hostels to choose from, there are some amazing hostels located at Inle lake. Opt to stay at Ostello Bello Nyaung Shwe, a hostel chain that is also located in Bagan and Mandalay or stay at Song of Travel Hostel, another extremely popular hostel to stay at for backpackers.
Hotels: With Inle Lake being a popular destination for both backpackers and tourists there is no shortage of hotels and guesthouses here. From small local guesthouses and homestays to luxury resorts. For couples on a budget stay at places like Zawgi Inn. Looking to splurge and relax a bit, there are plenty of resorts in Inle Lake as well, check them out here on Booking.com.
Day 19 – 21: See Hpa An’s Limestone Mountains
After you have relaxed at Inle Lake take a bus to the more off the beaten path destination of Hpa An, located Southeast of Yangon. The town of Hpa An is famous for the caves and the limestone mountains, and is currently still fairly untouched by tourists and travelers. 1 Or 2 days is enough to explore the beautiful surroundings of Hpa An, and with its close proximity to the border of Thailand, it is the perfect location for travelers wanting to explore the rest of Southeast Asia. Rent a motorbike and simply explore the caves or perhaps even climb Mount Zwegabin for a last memorable sunrise during your 3 weeks in Myanmar!
Where to stay in Hpa An
With the tourism still rising in Hpa An, prices of accommodation here is higher and often fully booked during high season. For backpackers there are two places that are popular to stay at Galaxy Motel and Soe Brothers Guesthouse both offer budget rooms. While not large in number, there are also a couple of more luxury accommodations available in Hpa An such as Keinnara Hpa An.
Make it 4 Weeks in Myanmar!
Havent seen enough after 3 weeks in Myanmar? We can’t blame you, it is a beautiful country with so many things to offer! Consider adding the following places to your itinerary, or swap some of the locations above for one of these options below to customize your itinerary to make it your dream vacation.
Ngapali – Ngapali is the destination for beach lovers. Think off tropical beaches, perfect sunsets and blue water. Take a break from temple exploring and just sit back and relax. Ngapali is located in the Western side of Myanmar and can be perfectly combined with visiting Yangon, Bagan or Mandalay. As Ngapali is located quite far from Myanmar’s other destinations you might want to stay here for a day or 3, just so that it is worth the effort of actually going there!
Kalaw Trekking – Trekking in Hsipaw wasn’t enough for you? Want to see more of Myanmar’s nature, go trekking in Kalaw. From Kalaw you can easily book overnight trekking that will take you through green hills and endless fields of farmer’s land to the lush Inle Lake. Stay in a small and local village overnight before another day of hiking. Trekkings from Kalaw to Inle Lake can either be done in a one or two night trip, with one night beforehand in Kalaw. This activity will easily add 3 to 4 days to your itinery.
Kyaiktiyo – Add an extra night to your itinerary and visit the famous golden rock, or Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, located slightly Northeast of Yangon. Be sure to spent the night here so you wake up early and see the sun rise at the golden rock, a memorable and unique experience.
And there you have it, enough places activities and sights to keep you busy in Myanmar for weeks. Do you have another destination that should be on this Myanmar itinerary? Tell us in the comment section down below! And oh, don’t forget to pin it…
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