Myanmar or Burma, in the memory of Westerners, is a peaceful and beautiful country. If I had just heard the stories of the predecessors, for sure I would have figured out a few things, because anyone who return home without bringing an album “Burma in my heart” or something like that. For me, Myanmar has remained with me in an area of nostalgic memories of Vietnam, of Hanoi, of the gentle people, the simple and kind labor people that are strange, unreasonable. Going to Myanmar make me want to going forever, staying for as long as possible, not just a 1 or 2 week itinerary. Like the feeling of sitting in an empty temple in Bagan, silently watching the sunset go down slowly, time and everything seem stand still… Don’t think about what to do tomorrow, or always have to take advantage of time to go to the most beautiful place quickly to photograph, let it be, just enjoy it. So, what to do in Myanmar (burma) and how to spend 7 days in Myanmar (Myanmar itinerary 7 days, Myanmar 1 week itinerary) perfectly? Let’s check out our Myanmar travel blog (Myanmar blog, Burma travel blog,Burma blog) with the fullest Myanmar travel guide (Myanmar guide, Burma travel guide, Burma guide) from how to get there, best places to visit, top things to do…to find out the answer!
- What to do in Yangon? — 10 best, must do in Yangon & top things to do in Yangon
- Inle Lake travel blog — The fullest Inle Lake travel guide & Suggested Inle Lake itinerary for 2 days
- Mandalay travel blog — The fullest Mandalay travel guide & How to spend 1 day in Mandalay pefectly
- 6 day itinerary Myanmar — Suggest Myanmar solo travel itinerary for 6 days
- Explore Shwezigon Paya — The first gold-plated & most sacred pagoda in Bagan, Myanmar
The country of Myanmar is still quite much ruins of a period of more than 50 years under the military regime, but fortunately now the political situation is getting better when a government is trusted by the people to lead. It is easy to see that the places need conservation, the historical sites they still preserve and promote extremely well, and for the cities that need economic development such as Yangon or Mandalay, they have a long term of vision and planning. In Yangon, there are no motorbikes, motorbikes only run in the small roads and alleys.
I came to Myanmar during the time when it had a strong earthquake in Bagan, many temples were badly damaged. But it seems that this doesn’t matter too much, still being a peaceful Buddhist country, people are really kind, hospitable and willing to help strangers. Today I heard somewhere on the television saying that Myanmar, they are ranked #1 in the world for charity, helping others, even though they are still a very poor country. They are still one of the safest countries to travel.
Burma travel blog: Some things you need to know before going to Myanmar
For citizens of some countries in Southeast Asia, you do not need to apply for a visa before traveling to Myanmar, but unlike other countries in the region such as Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore issue visas to visitors within 30 days, Myanmar only issue tourist visa within 15 days. If you want to stay longer you will need to apply for a visa to extend the stay. Visa application fee is $50 and could be applied online here.
This is probably the problem I was most interested in on the last trip, because I went right on the time whe the Kyat currency of Myanmar low. Normally like last year the exchange rate is USD 1 ~ 970-1000 Kyat, but in during my trip, 1 USD was exchanged for 1270-1300 Kyat, which is down to nearly 30%, so it is cheap to buy anything.
There are very few and rare ATMs in this country, which means you will have to exchange cash directly. The optimal plan is to exchange USD at home and bring USD to Myanmar in exchange for Kyat. I see that the exchange rates are not much different at everywhere, exchanging at the airport is convenient and almost the best. Airport exchange counters bought – sold Kyat from USD respectively 1.270-1.280, too good because if you look at Bali – Indonesia, airport exchange counters they earn too much difference. Buying USD to exchange for Rupiah in Bali is 12.600 and selling is 13.600, too terrible. In Myanmar, you do not have to worry or think about exchanging money, you can spend it freely because of the good exchange rate, everything is cheap, when returning home and if you still have dollars, you can exchange it at the airport for USD. Remember you should bring new USD to exchanging, if old or crumpled, they will not exchange for. The exchange amount for 7 days in Myanmar is about $250-300 is too enough.
When arrival at the airport, go straight to the arrival hall and you will find the money exchange counter located in the middle, next to the door. I found the best exchange rate at this counter, when I returned they still accepted all the Kyat denominations at the same rate of 1.280 Kyat for USD1.
Culture and clothing
The first, when you meet anyone, always give a friendly smile and say Minglabar (Ming-gla-ba) – Hello. The Burmese are extremely friendly and gentle faces people, maybe you have not laughed and greeted, they have done it before, all from adults to children.
Myanmar is a Buddhist country, the people here are very devoted to Buddhism and respect the monks. Before entering all the temples you will have to remove sandals, wear pants over the knee (although I see quite a lot of temples in Bagan, shorts are okay). If you not wearingn pants they will ask you to buy or rent Longyi – a square cloth to wrap around the waist from the waist down, like the costumes of the men here. It is also because of this that you should prepare a pair of slippers to go because one day to visit many temples that have to take off your shoes all the time is inconvenient.
Remember to always respect the culture and beliefs of indigenous people, places of high cultural and customary nature that you need to keep in mind, be quiet and not behave as freely as at other comfortable places.
Buying a Sim Card in Myanmar is quite easy and cheap, you just go to the convenience stores to buy. There are several major network operators: Ooredoo, Telenor and MPT. I chose to buy Sim Card from MPT and was very satisfied, the price to buy 1 Sim Card is 1.500 Kyat, top-up in different denominations of 1.000, 3.000, 4.000 Kyat. I top-up more 3.000 Kyat to my account to use for 1 week here, before buying a Sim they gave 500 Kyat, the first top-up they also gave an additional 1.000 Kyat. After buying, you should ask the seller to activate the Sim and 3G for you, the 3G access fee here is 6 Kyat/MB, so the amount of money I have loaded, I have 750MB in my account.
Souvenirs are available at any tourist destination. In Bagan, it is usually concentrated in temples or even children bring retail items, or in Inle, souvenir stalls gather at each stop if you buy a full day boat tour. There are many beautiful handmade items such as wooden dolls, wind chimes, or silver items that are sold everywhere. In Inle there is a traditional house that made silver items, so you can see directly they are making silver items when coming here. The average price for each item about 5.000 Kyat, particularly for sand or gold paintings in Bagan, around 10.000 Kyat.
In addition to big cities like Yangon or Mandalay, everything in Myanmar is underdeveloped in other locations, services are quite lacking. There are still have groceries but not many, pharmacies are almost rarely seen. Therefore, you may have to bring personal belongings from home as it is quite difficult to find similar items here.
In terms of payment, many places, hotels, and individuals provide services when they say the price they say both USD and Kyat prices, that is, you pay them USD, it’s also okay. But usually if you pay in USD you will lose more, so it is best if the price listed in Kyat should pay in Kyat. One more thing is that when buying and selling, everything can be bargain, keep in mind that you always bargain in most transactions, from buying tours, renting cars or anything else. Of course you should read the next information to know how the price is reasonable to have a basis for bargaining with them ^^.
Myanmar travel blog: When is the best time to visit Burma?
The weather in Myanmar is generally quite hot, but between different seasons there will be significant differences. You need to know what season is the tourist season and what activities to plan a trip appropriately. Note that Yangon time zone is 30 minutes slower than Hanoi.
Peak tourist season
Begining from the end of October to around February next year, this is also the time that I strongly recommend you to make a trip to Myanmar. In the middle of October it is still quite hot, but the temperature will gradually decrease until February to more than 20 degrees Celsius, it is nice and does not have much rain. But the most remarkable thing is that this season in Bagan they will have hot balloon tours – here called Hot Air – Balloon. You’ve probably seen the pictures of Bagan sunrise with hundreds of Air Balloon flying in the yellow sky, which will not be visible if you go in another season. It is best to go in November because I went to the end of October but the number of Air Balloon really doesn’t much. Going in this season, it is also accepted that the tour price, the room rate increases, sometimes not booked early there will be no beautiful rooms.
Low tourist season
From June to September every year is the rainy season of Myanmar, but because of the rainy season is boring. During my trip, I only just met a rain in Mandalay but felt sad because I could not do anything, the rain was really heavy and persistent. For mountainous areas, or in Bagan, raining make the road becomes muddy, because of the dirt road, it is difficult to move, and it is difficult to see the golden sunshine “specialty” of Burma.
The rest of the year
From March to May the weather in Myanmar is extremely hot, the temperature in Yangoon can be up to 40 degrees Celsius. In some places with many temples that you want to visit, you will encounter the obstacle is hot floor is difficult to walk. But anyway this season less tourists, cheaper prices also have its own advantages.
Burma travel blog: Getting around Myanmar
Although still poor, transport in Myanmar is developing quite good, especially in big cities, transportation services are also adequate. Because Myanmar is very large, being the largest country in Southeast Asia after Indonesia, traveling by bus between regions takes about 6 hours or more. You can choose the plane next to the high quality long-distance bus.
Normally it sounds like a luxury, convenient and fastest vehicle, but not in Myanmar. The plane here is still a small ATR like the one that I fly of Vietnam Airlines to Phu Yen or Binh Dinh, annoying and hot. Sitting on this plane, I think I don’t think there’s a second time I’ll step on it.
Another thing for traveling in Myanmar by plane is that many domestic flights will not fly directly, but they also land at a third airport to catch more passengers, sometimes taking a plane is slower than taking a bus. If you still want to fly, you should book through the travel agent will have a better price though now Myanmar has the web to book tickets online. Or you can refer to this airline, the price is quite well: www.gmairlines.com.
You can book bus tickets to travel between cities in Myanmar such as Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle through the online booking website of 12go.asia. High quality bus companies in Myanmar have JJ Express (the best and most famous), Elite and smaller firms, with lower quality. JJ is so great, even I find it is much better than many bus firms in other neighbor countries, with large seats, charging sockets, movie screens and good service.
If you not to book through third parties and contact them directly via facebook here, the price will be much better, the other option is to email them at: [email protected]. Details of bus routes and service quality I will write in another article.
Myanmar blog: Cuisine, eating and drinking in Myanmar
Similar to other countries in Southeast Asia, Myanmar’s traditional meals also have rice, meats and vegetables. In addition, noodle soup also has many types to choose from, the most famous is Shan noodles. The main flavor in Burmese dishes is usually Indian curry (Burmese Curry) but not as strong, perhaps best described cuisine of Burma is the combination of Indian and Thai cuisine.
The price of food in Myanmar must be said is quite cheap, their restaurants are almost not luxury ones, meaning that backpackers like me and you all can confidently order without hesitate. The food is affordable, average price from 500-1.000 Kyat/meal, you have a delicious and full meal. The most impressive thing for me is probably the traditional meal of local people, the price range is 4.000-6.000 Kyat, but quite full including rice, 2-3 types of meat (including: pork, chicken, beef), and dozens of vegetables and side dishes. A very full meal. After eating, they will give 2-3 desserts. Myanmar’s beer is also very delicious and unique.
Myanmar travel blog: Best places to visit, top things to do, where to to stay in Myanmar
Yangon (old name Rangoon) is usually the first destination of the journey, except for some cases you could be visit Mandalay first. My flight arrives at Yangon airport at 11am and stay here until 8pm I take the night bus to Bagan. So I have several hours to visit Yangon. From the airport to the city the most likely option is to take a taxi, price about 9.000 Kyat because it is also quite far. If you go with a group, you should rent a taxi all day depending on the number of points you want to go, as I go to visit 3 points, the price is 35.000 Kyat. You also can rent a private car to getting to the city via Klook here.
Some places you should visiting in Yangon
- Shwedagon Pagoda: (Address: Ar Zar Ni, Road Pha Yar Gyi Ward, Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)). One of the largest temples in Myanmar, the most beautiful and majestic. Admission: 8.000 Kyat. So, you should coming here late afternoon before sunset will be the most beautiful time and avoid hot brick background because you will have to remove shoes outside.
- Sule Pagoda: (Address: Maha Bandoola Rd, Yangon (Rangoon) Myanmar). Admission 2.000 Kyat, is a beautiful temple in Yangon just after Shwedagon.
- Chauk-htat-gyi Buddha Temple (Reclining Buddha Temple): Inside the temple is a huge reclining Buddha image, although a bit small but also a place to see. Free entrance fee.
- Bogyoke Market (Address: Bo Gyoke Rd, Pabedan, Myanmar (Burma)/9AM–5:30PM/Closed: Mondays): The market is not open every Monday, just like Ben Thanh Market or Dong Xuan Market in Vietnam, many stalls, souvenirs, food and drinks.
Besides, those who like to take photos of the street should wander a little in the corners, on the road or the bus station, the railway station. Those are the places that clearly reflect the lives of the people of Yangon.
Bagan has 3 main areas: Old Bagan, New Bagan and Nyaung U, besides you can buy tours to visit Mount Popa. Going from the bus station to the Old Bagan area takes 10.000 Kyat taxi fare, and there will be a checkpoint that requires tourists to buy tickets. The ticket price for 5 days in Bagan is 25.000 Kyat, too expensive, you still don’t have to buy it if you find the way to escape. But you need to talk to your taxi first to go the other way without going through the checkpoint, or find some way to get in, because this station is only about 1km from the bus station and they are not too harsh, there’s no barrier or anything.
Bagan is quite small, so to getting around this area, the most popular way is renting an electric bike. You can rent at the hotel or specialized rental points. I rented right near my hotel is Royal Bagan Hotel cost only 6.000 Kyat/day. Rent 2 electric bike can pay the price of 5.000-5.500 kyat/day. You should spend at least 2 days to visit Bagan.
Some places to visit in Bagan
Old Bagan Area
This is the central area of Bagan where most of the ancient temples, restaurants and hotels are concentrated. Usually, visitors often book hotels here. Old Bagan attractions:
- Bulethi Temple: The temple with good spot for watching the sunrise in Bagan, but I realize that watching here is not very satisfied my eyes because the temple is low, there are quite a lot of electric cables in front.
- Shwesandaw Pagoda: The temple can enjoy both sunset and sunrise with Hot Air Balloons because the 4 sides of the temple are beautiful, tall and majestic. You should coming to the temple around 4:30 – 5am to find a good spot, the afternoon also should come a little early. This is also the only temple where they check your ticket to entry Bagan (the 25.000 Kyat ticket above), but you can tell your friend is holding the ticket and leave, the ticket clerk does not ask nothing more.
- Ananda Temple: The most prominent temple in Bagan is painted brightly. Inside there are also many things to see as treasures, sophisticated Buddha statues, and even the artworks.
- Dhammayangyi Temple: This is the largest temple in Bagan that if you watch the sunrise in Shwesandaw Pagoda you will see the direction of the sunrise near this temple. The temple is quite large but the stairs up are quite small.
- Shwezigon Pagoda: This temple is also quite beautiful with the dominant golden color, located separately from the temple compound in Bagan. I didn’t go to the temple but there was a river wharf and especially the long corridor with the beautiful oblique sunlight for taking pictures.
- The remaining temples you can consider visiting such as the highest temple of Bagan Thatbyinnyu, Htilominlo temple, Sulamani Temple.
New Bagan and Nyaung-U
To getting to New Bagan you have to go through Old Bagan, which is mainly home to hostels and hotels. There are not many tourists in New Bagan, the roads are also deserted, not crowded as in Old Bagan, it seems a bit dull. I haven’t been to Nyaung-U, but it doesn’t seem very special.
Mount Popa (Mt. Popa)
Similar to Golden Rock, this Popa mountain is not really very special but just a temple located on the top of a mountain with many monkeys. To reach the top of the mountain you must climb 777 steps around the ridge. If you wander in the center of Old Bagan, you will find many tours or taxis to Mt. Popa, take about 2 hours and the ticket price is about 10.000 Kyat/person.
Mandalay is a large city of Myanmar with quite large area, the sights are far apart, scattered around the center of the city. However, compared to Bagan or Inle, Mandalay I do not feel very special except the highlight is the famous U Bein wooden bridge. If you do not have much time, you can just spend a day in Mandalay is enough, just go to the main points such as U Bein Bridge, Inwa Village, Mingun Village and Mandalay Hill and skip other side points because they are nothing special.
From Mandalay bus station to the city, you can take a taxi or motorbike taxi, motorbike taxi price range 2.500-3.000 Kyat, taxi range 5.000-6.000 Kyat. I took a motorbike taxi to go to the city and rented a motorbike for a day of 10.000 Kyat, loading gas by myself. If you go from 1-2 friends, you can rent a motorbike all day for 16.000 Kyat/motorbike, choose the places you want to go and be less tired. If traveling in large groups, you should hire a full-day taxi cost 60.000-70.000 Kyat, rent right at the bus station.
Attractions in Mandalay
- U Bein Bridge: The longest wooden bridge in the world and a main place to catch the sunrise or watch the sunset.
- Inwa Village: About 5km to the south of U Bein Bridge, to go to this village, you need to take a boat across the river about 5 minutes with 1.200 Kyat for round trip tickets. Getting around the village, the only means is a horse-drawn carriage, the price of 10.000 Kyat for an around the village within 2 hours and visiting 4 points. There are 2 points that you have to pay fee admission to get inside but I only go around without buying tickets. Riding horsecart around the village is also a very interesting thing.
- Mingun Village: There are two ways to go to this village: by boat or by road by taxi/motorbike taxi. But by the road you have to go around so it will be very far, then again to turn around but more convenient because of you will take advantage of time. If taking boat you pay attention 1 day has only 1 trip from Myan Gyan Jetty wharf to Mingun village at 9am, ticket price of 5.000 Kyat, return trip at 1pm. Travel time is 45 minutes. The highlight of Mingun is the stunning white Hsinbyume Paya pagoda, followed by the Pahtodawgyi temple which was still under construction due to the earthquake, the world’s second largest bell Mingun Bell, and the lion butt statue.