Myanmar is an absolute gem! From rural villages, to bustling cities, to amazing scenery and breathtaking pagodas, Myanmar truly has something for everyone. We were fortune to spend 21 days in Myanmar and we’re here to give you our epic 3 week backpacking itinerary to Myanmar.
It’s the same amazing 3 week route we took. We just hope you enjoy the country of Myanmar as much as we did 🙂
3 Week Myanmar Backpacking Itinerary
Let’s just be brutally honest to start. If you can stay longer than the 21 days, stay for the full length of your tourist visa, which is 28 days. However, if you can’t, 21 days is still amazing and we have one pretty epic 3 week backpacking itinerary waiting for you below.
We wished we could have stayed longer 🙂
Day 1: Fly into Yangon
Welcome to Myanmar! Before leaving the airport, grab some Kyat (Myanmar currency) from the airport ATM and catch a cab to your accommodation. Get settled in and take it easy.
If you’re up for it, head down to Yangon’s Chinatown for dinner (get the BBQ’d fish) and catch the sunset from Botahtaung Jetty. It’s pretty spectacular and a great way to kick off your first night in Myanmar.
Day 2 – 3: Tour Yangon By Foot
After a good night’s sleep (hopefully helped by some Myanmar beers), you are ready to explore the city. One of our absolute musts is to explore Yangon by foot. The city has so much life, so much buzz and a serious contagious vibe about it.
Take in the beautiful of the dilapidated British architecture and give your taste buds a jolt by sampling a few street food snacks.
If you are looking for a complete list of things to see and do in Yangon, give our post a read.
Day 4: Catch a Bus to Beautiful Hpa An
Looking for a little escape for the chaos of the city on Yangon? Catch a bus to Hpa-An then.
The bus can be booked through you accomodation. Our tip is to catch the morning bus so can can arrive to Hpa An as soon as possible – by the afternoon.
Enjoy the quiet life of rural Myanmar. Take a stroll around the town, grab dinner by the river and watch an amazing sunset.
Day 5: Explore Hpa An
You are up and at it again! Wake up early because you are hiking Mount Zwegabin today! You will also be catching the night bus back to Yangon too. Busy day but worth it 🙂
For our complete guide on things to do in Hpa An, be sure to check out our blog post.
Day 6: Explore More Of Yangon
You are probably waking up and feeling a little groggy after that night bus ride, but the rest of the day is yours. Feel free to take it easy or cross off anything you didn’t get to on your first day of Yangon city exploring.
Day 7: Catch The Night Train to Bagan
Probably the most unforgettable ride of your life will be the loooooong journey from Yangon to Bagan via the rickety rails of Myanmar. It’s an adventure to say the least, but hey, if the late great Anthony Bourdain did it, you can too!
Get all of the details on the train ride like where to buy tickets, what to pack and just overall what to expect to help you prepare for one crazy journey.
Day 8 – 10: Meander the Pagoda Scattered Plains of Bagan
These next two days will be amazing. You’ll be temple touring, watching unreal sunrises and sunsets. The simple life at its finest.
Bagan is unlike any place you’ll probably visit. It has so much history and so many endless places for you to explore. There are loads of pagodas and temples so we understand that it can be overwhelming to choose which ones to visit.
Come prepared and give our “10 Must See Temples and Pagodas in Bagan, Myanmar” a read.
Day 11: All Aboard To Mandalay
If you are wanting to take the cheapest transport, then getting to Bagan from Mandalay by bus is what you’ll want to book.
However, if you are over busses and sitting in them for long hours, consider paying a little more to take a boat ride on the Irrawaddy River!
The boat ride from Bagan to Mandalay is relaxing and overall a pretty great ride. You can move about the whole day, have lunch on the top deck and take a nap in the sun. It’s a great way to get from Bagan to Mandalay if you are able to spend a few extra bucks.
We did it and wrote a whole separate post on how to travel from Bagan to Mandalay by boat. Give it a read so you know exactly what to expect before booking that ticket!
Day 12 – 13: Explore Bustling Mandalay
The largest city in Northern Myanmar is Mandalay. It’s big, it’s bustling and you’ll have plenty of experiences to keep you busy. From hill top views to ancient bridges and temples, you’ll have two packed but fun days exploring Mandalay.
Check out our post on “6 things to experience and do in Mandalay, Myanmar” to get our guide.
Day 14: Catch a Ride to Kalaw
From Mandalay, make your way south to the hill town of Kalaw. It’s a 5+ hour bus ride and the last few hours are twists and turns to reach the town but hey, it’s not the town itself you are here for, it’s the trek!
Spend an evening in Kalaw, get rested and ready because tomorrow, you are hiking!
Day 15 – Day 17: Trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake
These next two days, you’ll be hiking past unbelievable countryside and staying in villages with families. One of our absolute favorite experiences in Myanmar was the trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake!
It’s not strenuous in terms of hills, but it is long days of hiking, 6+ hours a day. After two days, you’ll reach Inle Lake where a little R&R is waiting for you 🙂
Read our post to understand more about the trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake. We cover how much it costs and what each day looks like. This will give you a good idea if this hike is for you.
Day 18 – 19: Soak In The Beauty of Inle Lake
After your hike is complete, you’ll catch a boat ride to your accommodation. The boat ride is insanely beautiful and a perfect start for to your next few days at Inle Lake.
Get checked into your accommodation (you should stay in the town Nyaungshwe) and enjoy the next few days. From amazing sunrise, to wineries, local crafts and boat rides, Inle Lake is unforgettable.
Be sure to check out our 5 things to not miss at Inle Lake, before arriving into town!
Day 20: Enjoy Your Last Day in Myanmar (Yangon)
From Inle Lake, you should catch the night bus back to Yangon. It’s important (at least in our opinion) that you spend the day before your flight in the city you plan on flying out of. We would hate for you to miss that flight!
This is your last day so do what you wish! Walk the streets, check out Shwedagon pagoda (again) and eat your fill of Shan Noodles.
Day 21: Fly Out of Yangon
The day has finally come. So sad, we know, but it is time for you to leave Myanmar. This place is so magical and we hope you enjoy every single second like we did.
From Yangon to Bagan to Inle Lake and all the other amazing cities, towns and villages there are to experience in Myanmar, check out the latest places and prices below to secure an unforgettable Burmese accommodation.
Travel Insurance for Myanmar
When heading to a new country, you really never know what’s waiting for you. The unplanned can be unforgettable experiences or a bit of a disaster. To be prepared for whatever comes your way, we suggest doing what we did, and that is buying Travel Insurance through World Nomads.
Be it your trip, your travel gear or the most important possession, you, all of that is covered through World Nomads. Travel safer and smarter 🙂
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)