Traveling Myanmar: Days Needed

how many days to travel in myanmar

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is a large country with a surface area of 680,000 square kilometres, making it the largest of the mainland Southeast Asian countries. It is a long, thin country, with over 2,000 kilometres separating its most northern and southerly points. The road infrastructure is not great, and the train system is slow, so overland travel can be arduous. Domestic flights are time-consuming and costly, and accommodation prices are high compared to elsewhere in Southeast Asia. All of this means that when planning a trip to Myanmar, it is important to be realistic about how much ground you can cover.

The major destinations in Myanmar include Yangon, the largest city, with its British colonial architecture, high-rises, and golden pagodas; Bagan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 2,000 pagodas and chedis; Mandalay, the former royal capital on the Irrawaddy River; Kalaw, a popular base for trekking; Inle Lake, famous for its floating villages and one-legged rowing fishermen; and Ngwe Saung, a beach resort town.

To see all of these places, most sources recommend spending at least two weeks in Myanmar. This allows for two or three days in Yangon, two days in Mandalay, two or three days in Bagan, and two or three days in Inle Lake, plus travel time in between. With less time, it is still possible to have a great experience, but careful planning is required. Five days is enough to get a taste of the country's history and culture by visiting two of Myanmar's Big Four destinations. With seven days, it is possible to see Yangon, Inle Lake, and Bagan, but it will be a rushed trip.

Characteristics Values
Minimum time to explore Myanmar 5 days
Minimum time to explore Yangon 2 days
Minimum time to explore Mandalay 1 day
Minimum time to explore Bagan 2 days
Minimum time to explore Inle Lake 2 days
Minimum time to explore Kalaw 2 days
Minimum time to explore Hpa-an 1 day
Minimum time to explore Mawlamyine 1 day
Minimum time to explore Ngwe Saung 2 days


Two weeks is the perfect amount of time to explore Myanmar

Myanmar is a large country, and its road infrastructure is not great, so getting around takes time. Domestic flights can also be time-consuming and costly.

If you have two weeks, you can enjoy a mix of the famous sites and less-explored gems without rushing. You can linger in the big four destinations of Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, and Inle Lake, and also take an overland journey or a full-day cruise between Mandalay and Bagan.

Day 1-2: Yangon

  • Visit Kandawgyi Lake and stroll through the centre of Yangon to Bogyoke Aung San Market.
  • Spend half a day visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda.
  • Take a walking tour of the east downtown and secretariat route, covering architectural sights of historical value.
  • Ride the circular train to see local life in action.

Day 3: Yangon to Bagan (night bus)

Day 4-6: Bagan

  • Take a temple tour, including Ananda Temple, Nan Paya, and Shwesandaw Paya.
  • Go on a dawn hot air balloon ride.
  • Explore Bagan at your own pace with a self-directed bike tour.
  • Take a scenic sunset river cruise.
  • Spend a full day touring Mount Popa and local villages in Old Bagan.

Day 7: Bagan to Mandalay (night bus)

Day 8-9: Mandalay

  • Visit Sandamuni Pagoda, Golden Palace, and Kuthodaw Pagoda.
  • See the sunrise at the U Bein Bridge.
  • Visit Mandalay Palace and Mahamuni Pagoda.

Day 10: Mandalay to Inle Lake

Rent a bike in Nyaungshwe and explore the area, including Htat Eian Cave and Red Mountain Winery.

Day 11-12: Inle Lake

  • Take a boat tour of Inle Lake, including the floating villages, Phaw Khone, and Nga Hpe Kyuang (Jumping Cat Monastery).
  • Visit Maing Tauk, a village that is 50% on water and 50% on land.

Day 13-14: Inle Lake to Ngwe Saung (beach resort town)

Day 15: Departure from Yangon


Five days is enough to get a taste of Myanmar's history and culture

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is a mysterious travel destination that offers everything from rich cultural heritage to virgin beaches, magnificent temples, beautiful lakes, and unique cuisine.

Day 1: Yangon

Arrive in Yangon and explore the former capital of Myanmar. Visit the Shwedagon Pagoda, also known as the Golden Pagoda, and the Taukkyan War Cemetery. Indulge in traditional Burmese cuisine, such as Mohinga, and explore the Thiri Mingalar Market to get a glimpse of local life.

Day 2: Yangon to Bagan

Start your day with a traditional Burmese breakfast, including dishes like Mohinga, Htoke (Burmese salads), and Ohn-no khao swe. After breakfast, take a flight to Bagan, where you can explore the Nyaung U Market, Sulamani Guphaya Temple, Ananda Ok Kyaung, and Minnanthu Village.

Day 3: Bagan to Mandalay

Get up early to watch the sunrise over Bagan, with over 2,000 temples revealing themselves in the morning light. If your budget allows, take a hot air balloon ride for a panoramic view of the temple-scattered plains. After breakfast, fly to Mandalay, the last royal capital of the Myanmar Kingdom.

Day 4: Mandalay

Spend the day exploring Mandalay, including attractions such as the Mahagandayon Monastery, U Bein Bridge, Hillside Temples, and Inwa Ava. In the afternoon, go on a gastronomic adventure, sampling local cuisine at restaurants like Aye Myst Tar, Ko's Kitchen, Yunnan III, and Lashio Lay.

Day 5: Mandalay to Yangon

Take a late afternoon flight back to Yangon. Spend the day wandering through Yangon's nearby attractions, such as the Bogyoke Aung San Market, where you can stock up on souvenirs.

Myanmar offers a wealth of cultural and historical experiences, and with careful planning, you can have a memorable trip even within a limited time frame.


Yangon is the largest city in Myanmar with British colonial architecture, high-rises and golden pagodas

Yangon, formerly Rangoon, is the largest city in Myanmar and its most important commercial centre. It is home to over five million people and is the country's cultural hub.

Yangon has the highest number of colonial-era buildings in Southeast Asia. The city's unique colonial-era urban core is remarkably intact, with hundreds of late 19th-century structures in various styles, including Victorian, Queen Anne, Art Deco, British Burmese and Neoclassical. The old business district near the river remains much as it was a century ago.

Since Myanmar opened up to tourism and foreign investment, many colonial-era buildings have been destroyed and replaced by modern high-rises, shopping malls and hotels. However, the Burmese government has instated the Yangon City Heritage List to protect the city's remaining historical buildings. This list includes nearly 200 edifices, such as religious structures, ancient pagodas and British colonial buildings. Notable colonial-era buildings include the former Secretariat, the Strand Hotel, the High Court, the Yangon Central Railway Station and the Yangon City Hall.

Yangon is also known for its gilded Buddhist pagodas, including the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, which is Myanmar's most sacred and impressive Buddhist site. The city's skyline is defined by a mix of British colonial architecture, modern high-rises and these gilded pagodas.

A minimum of two days is recommended to take in Yangon's main sites, including its pagodas, markets and museums. However, simply wandering the city and taking in the street life and stunning architecture can also be rewarding.


Bagan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a highlight of anyone's trip to Myanmar

Myanmar is a large country, spanning around 680,000 square kilometres, so many must-see spots are quite far apart. Travelling by land can be slow, so it's important to plan your trip carefully. Two weeks is the perfect amount of time to explore the country, but if you have less time, you can still have a great experience with careful planning.

Bagan is located on a bend of the Ayeyarwady River in the central plain of Myanmar. The boat journey between Mandalay and Bagan takes almost a full day but is a pleasant way to travel. There are over 2,000 ruined and restored pagodas and chedis scattered across the dusty plain. While some visitors dash around in a day, two days is a more relaxed pace to appreciate this wonderful destination.

A hot air balloon ride at dawn is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a highlight for many visitors. The balloons are seasonal and can only be booked between October and April. A self-directed bike tour is another great way to explore Bagan, with most hotels renting out electric bicycles. A scenic sunset river cruise is also a perfect way to end your trip to Bagan.

If you have more time, a full-day tour of Mount Popa and the local villages in Old Bagan is a great option. Mount Popa is an extinct volcano with a temple perched on top, reached by climbing 777 steps. The locals believe Mount Popa is inhabited by animist spirits, and the Nat Shrine at the foot of the mountain displays 37 figures of nats.


Mandalay is the former royal capital on the Irrawaddy River with stunning Mandalay Hill views

Mandalay, the former royal capital of Myanmar, is a city steeped in history and culture. Located on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River, it is the second-largest city in the country after Yangon. With stunning views of Mandalay Hill, this bustling metropolis offers visitors a glimpse into the country's rich past and vibrant present. Here, we delve into the wonders of Mandalay and why it deserves a spot on your travel itinerary.

A Royal Legacy

Mandalay was founded in 1857 by King Mindon, who chose this location at the foot of Mandalay Hill to fulfil an ancient prophecy. The city served as the royal capital of the Konbaung dynasty until 1885 when it fell under British rule. Despite the shift in power, Mandalay remained a cultural and commercial hub, known for its vibrant street life and stunning architecture. Today, it stands as a testament to Myanmar's golden age, with many attractions reflecting its royal heritage.

Architectural Marvels

Mandalay boasts a wealth of architectural marvels that showcase the city's historical significance. The Mandalay Palace, once the seat of the Konbaung dynasty, is a grand complex surrounded by a moat and features beautiful Burmese architecture. Nearby, the Kuthodaw Pagoda, built by King Mindon, is known as the "World's Biggest Book." This unique pagoda houses 729 upright stone slabs inscribed with the entire Tipiṭaka, the Buddhist scriptures. Each slab is protected by its own white stupa, creating a stunning visual spectacle.

Spiritual Sanctuary

Mandalay is a spiritual sanctuary, renowned for its numerous monasteries and pagodas. At the foot of Mandalay Hill lies the Kuthodaw Pagoda complex, which includes 730 pagodas authorised by King Mindon. Buddhists consider Mandalay the "indestructible heart of Myanmar," and the city is home to a large number of monks. The Mahamuni Pagoda, with its 12-foot-tall brass Buddha statue, is one of the most famous pagodas in the city. It is believed that the Buddha statue, brought to Mandalay in 1784, is of great antiquity, attracting devotees from all over the country.

Cultural Crossroads

Mandalay is a cultural melting pot, reflecting the diverse influences that have shaped the city over the centuries. The Yunnanese Buddhist Temple and Association is a prominent Chinese temple in the city, showcasing the significant presence of the ethnic Han Chinese community. Mandalay also has a strong Indian influence, with a sizable community of Indian immigrants, mostly Tamils, contributing to the city's cultural fabric. The city's culinary scene is a testament to this cultural blend, offering a variety of cuisines, including Burmese, Chinese, and Indian delicacies.

Gateway to Nature

Mandalay serves as a gateway to some of Myanmar's most breathtaking natural attractions. The city is surrounded by lush hills, providing opportunities for trekking and cycling adventures. Less than two hours away, nature lovers can explore a former British hill station, offering a peaceful escape from the bustling city. Additionally, Mandalay is the starting point for journeys to Inle Lake, a serene body of water renowned for its floating villages and unique fishing traditions.

In conclusion, Mandalay, the former royal capital on the Irrawaddy River, offers a wealth of experiences for travellers seeking to immerse themselves in Myanmar's rich history and culture. From its majestic pagodas and palaces to its vibrant markets and natural wonders, Mandalay is a destination that leaves a lasting impression. Whether you're exploring the city's architectural marvels or enjoying the stunning views from Mandalay Hill, your visit to this fascinating city will be an unforgettable chapter in your Myanmar travel story.

Frequently asked questions

Two weeks is the perfect amount of time to explore Myanmar. If you have less time, careful planning is required. Five days is enough to give you a taste of the country's history and culture by visiting two of Myanmar's "Big Four" destinations.

A minimum of two days is required to cover the main sites in Yangon. However, it is recommended that you spend three to four days in Yangon to properly explore the city.

Two days is the minimum recommended amount of time to spend in Bagan. This allows you to see the most spectacular temples and appreciate the area at a relaxed pace.

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