Detailed Overview of our 16 Days Backpacking Myanmar!

Below is a detailed overview of the route that we’ve taken, mode of transport used and our budget (we will be using US$ and the budget is meant for 2 pax) for the entire 16 days backpacking Myanmar.

Myanmar is really one of the most beautiful SEA countries that we’ve ever been to. Every scene is just so picturesque that even with an amateur iPhone camera, you’ll be able to capture really beautiful shots!


Day 1-2: Yangon

We’re both not really big fans of cities, hence we only stayed a night in Yangon and traveled to Mandalay the very next day.  

How we got here:
Took the budget Jetstar airline from Singapore and arrived at Yangon International Airport. Paid around $220 each for our tickets.

Where we stayed:
We booked a room at  Yangon Regency Hotel,  127 Sin  Oh  Dan  Street,  Chinatown,  Downtown  Yangon via Better rates offered on agoda than walk ins.  Nice and clean hotel, great central location. Highly recommended by us if you don’t mind the slightly high cost.

What we did:
We took the highly recommended circle line train  that cost us only $1 each! The entire journey will take 3 hours, but we got bored after awhile and decided to alight at a random station. Do note that the train counter staff will scrutinise all of your $1 bills and reject any note with a slight fold or stain. It was quite ridiculous as some of the stains were really not visible and we didn’t even notice them at first. But i guess they’re really adamant about accepting only new and crisp dollar bills.


How much we spent in total:  
Food – $51

Activities – $2 (circle line train)

Transport – $440 (airplane tickets for 2 pax)
$10 (taxi from Airport to Yangon Regency Hotel)
$7 ( taxi to bus station to head to Mandalay)
$0.20 (local bus)

Accommodation – $45 (1 night)

Others – $20 (local sim card)
$7.30 (we bought bought a traditional “longyi” each)

Total expenditure for 2 pax    $582.50

Average expenditure/pax – $291.25

Day 3-4: Mandalay

How we got here:
We took a VIP bus from Yangon to Mandalay via the JJ Express VIP Bus. The friendly staff at Yangon Regency Hotel helped us with the booking of bus tickets. Each ticket cost around US$16 and the entire journey took around 7 hours. The bus will stop for a short break every 2 hours. We were pleasantly surprised at how good the bus service is! There was even a “bus stewardess” who will serve you food and drinks during the journey. The seats were really spacious and comfortable. Not to worry about the freezing air-con as a nice and warm fleece blanket will be provided for you on board the bus.

Where we stayed:
We were lucky to be able to stay at one of the most highly recommended Guesthouse in Mandalay – Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse. Just see all of the positive reviews on their facebook page. The host, Nan Bwe (or affectionately known as “ma ma”) is one of the most warm, hospitable and friendly locals that we’ve met in Myanmar. The staff there are all very friendly and helpful and they serve the best breakfast ever. Best part of all, her guesthouse is one of the cheapest amongst the other guesthouses in Mandalay. We paid only US$10/night for a single bed in a dorm room.

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What we did:
Do note that there’s an entrance fee of $10 for some of the attractions in Mandalay  such as the Royal Palace, Kuthodaw Pagoda and Shwe Nandaw Kyaung Temple. But of course, if you don’t wish to pay, you may still visit these places, but can only view from the outside of the attraction. For us, we bought the pass.  

For the first day, we explored Mandalay on a bicycle and visited the Royal Palace and  Atumashi Monastery. We also visited our Burmese friend, Sophia whom we befriended from Couch Surfing. Had a great conversation with her and her dad over coffee at their  Dreamland  Art Studio.  Quite an adventure itself cycling on the busy roads with crazy traffic from almost every direction. Especially after the sun has set, it was really quite a challenge cycling in the dark with no bicycle lights at all. Thank god we made it back in one piece.

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Royal Palace

On our second day in Mandalay, we shared a taxi with 3 other backpackers who also stayed at Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse. Our host was very helpful in coordinating this for us and for arranging a taxi driver guide to bring us around. It was really cost economical as the total cost was only around $36 and we shared it among the 4 of us! Our guide brought us to several pagodas, temples and the ever famous Ubein Bridge.


Sunset at Ubein Bridge

How much we spent in total:  
Food – $25

Activities – $20 (Mandalay Zone Admission Fees)
– $18 (shared taxi with other tourists to visit the attractions in Mandalay)
– $6 (bicycle rental)

Transport – $8 (taxi to Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse from Bus Station)

Accommodation – $40 (dorm room fees for 2 nights)

Others – $2 (laundry done at Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse)

Total expenditure for 2 pax    $119

Average expenditure/pax – $59.50

Day 5-9: Hsipaw

How we got here:
Took a day bus from Mandalay to Hsipaw. The bus left at around 9am and reached Hsipaw around 7pm. This time we took a normal bus (non-VIP) and shared the bus with tons of other locals. Every space in the bus was fully maximised to fit as many passengers as possible. Plastic chairs were placed in the middle in between the seats to accommodate more passengers!


Where we stayed:
Another backpacker recommended us Mr Charles Guesthouse and we decided to heed his advice. Rooms were cheap and the ambience was great! Very friendly staff, comfortable clean rooms. Rooms were at $14 per night.

What we did (read about our Hsipaw trek experience here!):
After much feedback from other travellers, we decided to go for the 3d2n trek at Hsipaw. We initially wanted to do the much raved about trek from Kalaw to Inle lake, but we were told that the trek in Hsipaw was less touristy and more authentic. Boy were we glad that we did it. Definitely one of the highlights of our Myanmar travel! Our trekking guide was arranged from our guesthouse and we managed to find 6 other backpackers to join us for this trek. You need a minimum of 4 pax for this 3d2n trek.


How much we spent in total:  
Food – $18

Activities – $80 (3d2n Trek)
– $10 (Tips for our awesome guide)

 Transport – $10 (Bus from Mandalay to Hsipaw)

Accommodation – $28 (for 2 nights)

Others – $3 (Medicine for food poisoning)

Total expenditure for 2 pax    $149

Average expenditure/pax  – $74.50

Day 10-12: Bagan

How we got here:
Took the train from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin (940am to 4pm) and crossed the famous Goteik Viaduct (highest railway in Myanmar). It was indeed quite a nerve wrecking ride. After alighting, we took a shared pick up to Mandalay Train Station where we took an overnight train to Bagan. I must say, the overnight train from Mandalay to Bagan (9pm to 4am) was a really interesting experience. Throughout the entire ride, you’ll be thrown about in all directions and you’re literally airborne most of the time. Thankfully, we still managed to catch some sleep despite the turbulent ride.


On board the Goteik Viaduct – highest railway train in Myanmar

Where we stayed:
We stayed at Winner Guesthouse and it was not too bad. Cheap and clean, central location. Though Bagan is quite small and you can easily explore one end to the other end in a day on a bike.

What we did:
Bagan is an ancient city with more than 2,000 shrines, pagodas and stupas, one of the world’s most beautiful temple cities. Also, Daniel’s favourite.

1. Explored Bagan on an electric bike and scoured the city in search of the perfect place for viewing sunrise.

2. Hot Air Balloon (check out our experience here!) – booked our hot air balloon flight with Eastern Safaris, a highly reputable and recommended operator. Albeit being costly, safety always comes first and with them, we felt assured of our safety. This was definitely another highlight of our trip! Very awesome experience!


How much we spent in total:
Food – $69.60

Activities – $640 (Hot air balloon)
– $29 (Electric bike rental for 2.5 days)
– $30 (Admission pass)

Transport –  $8 (Taxi to Winner Guesthouse)
– $20 (Overnight train from Mandalay to Bagan)
– $4 (Bus to Mandalay train station from  Pyin Oo Lwin)
– $12 (Train from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin)

Accommodation – $72.50 (3 nights)

Others – $5 (donation)
– $3 (Medicine and toothbrush)
– $2.6 (Laundry)

Total expenditure for 2 pax    $895.70

Average expenditure/pax  – $447.85

 Day 13-14: Inle Lake
Hmm frankly speaking, Inle Lake is one of our least favourite amongst all of the other places that we’ve been to in Myanmar. It’s a little too commercialised for our liking. But still, it’s really scenic and still worth going if you have the luxury of time. Otherwise, we would say that it’s okay to give it a miss too.

How we got here:
Took the overnight bus from Bagan (7pm-6am). Cost us around $11 each.

Where we stayed:
As we didn’t book our accommodation in advance, most of the guesthouses were already full 🙁 Our pickup driver recommended to us “Blissful Hotel” which cost us $25 per night. Not too bad actually, very new and clean. Only thing is that it’s quite far from the main market and river. Also, the ambience is not as cozy as compared to guesthouses.

What we did:
There’s nothing much to do in Inle lake besides taking the commercialised boat trip out to Inle Lake. We paid around $15 for a half day boat trip. During this boat trip, you’ll get to see the famous fisherman and their one leg paddling, Jumping Cat Monastery, Cheroot Factory, Lotus Weaving Factories, etc. On our second day, we visited the market and took a nice stroll around the village.


How much we spent in total:
Food – $73.70

Activities – $15 (Boat Trip in Inle Lake)
– $20 (Entrance Fee to Inle Lake)

Transport – $2 (Taxi to Blissful Hotel)
– $10 (taxi from Airport to Yangon Regency Hotel)

Accommodation – $60 (2 night)

Others – $1 (Pack of Cheroots)
– $10 (1 hour Massage each)

Total expenditure for 2 pax  $191.70

Average expenditure/pax –  $95.85

 Day 13-14: Yangon

How we got here:
Took the overnight VIP bus from Inle Lake (7pm-6am). Cost us around $22 each. Once again, very awesome experience, comfortable, lots of leg room space, snacks and water provided. There’s even a toilet in the bus.

Where we stayed:
We randomly searched online for a recommended guesthouse and came across “Chan Myae Guesthouse”. Despite the long flight of stairs you’ll have to climb before reaching their reception, we would highly recommend this guesthouse! Very homely, serves one of the best breakfast, and best part of all, their wifi connection is the strongest we’ve had in Myanmar! All the rooms were taken up and we were only left with the dormitory which we didn’t mind. Just that it’s still under construction and there were workers living on the same level too.

What we did:
1. Watched a local movie in their local theatre. Very very awesome, highly recommended! The movie we chose happened to have english subtitles. Tickets were very cheap too! Cost us $1.50 per ticket. The theatre was surprisingly really modern and well equipped with dolby surround sound! (allll aroundddd youuuuu)

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2. Visited the Shwedagon Pagoda which is one of the largest and most beautiful pagoda in Myanmar.


How much we spent in total:
Food – $31.10

Activities – $2 (Yangon Circle Line Train)
– $3 (Movie tickets)

Transport – $1.50 (Taxi to Shwedagon Pagoda)
– $0.80 (trishaw ride)
– $8 (Taxi from Shwedagon Pagoda back to Guesthouse)
– $6 (Taxi to airport)

Accommodation – $20 (1 night)

Total expenditure for 2 pax  $72.40

Average expenditure/pax –  $36.20

Total expenditure/pax for the entire 16 days travel$1,005.15