This backpacker’s guide will help you find the best of Myanmar including places to stay, where to get cheap food, and the top things to see, all on a budget for 2 weeks in Myanmar.
From the floating villages in Inle Lake to the temples of Bagan, Myanmar is home to a wide range of scenery, traditions and more. Here you’ll find some of the kindest people in the world who are eager to speak to you. You’ll be placed outside your element but only gain something better from this.
Since Myanmar is still relatively untouched by the western world, tourism has yet to boom making it a popular destination to explore and one that’s easy to explore on a Southeast Asia budget. My best advice is to travel to Myanmar as soon as you can so you can see the country and its people before the negative side of tourism hits.
Once you’re there you may be slightly jolted, but you’ll quickly fall in love. This two weeks in Myanmar itinerary is golden for any Myanmar backpacking trip and I wish I had a Myanmar travel itinerary like this when I was planning my trip! You could try and do 1 week in Myanmar but it will be rushed and you’d have to drop one location or the Myanmar trek.
But first, check out this video for some Myanmar inspiration and be sure to read my Myanmar travel tips (since things are a little different here compared to the rest of Southeast Asia!).
Myanmar Fast Facts
Many people ask me if I’ve been to Burma which I have but technically isn’t correct. Myanmar is the current name of the country but it was formerly known as Burma.
Currency: Burmese kyat (USD are also accepted for some things such as accommodation or transport)
Population: 52 million
Day 1-3: Yangon
DAY ONE: After your flight in take some time to relax, walk through the streets and feel the energy of this busy city. If it’s too much for you at first then head to Kandawgyi Lake and admire the beautiful area.
DAY TWO: The next day you can head to Bogyoke Market where you can easily get lost in the aisles of jewelry, paintings, handmade crafts, and fabrics. A local may even show you the best spots in the market and answer all of your questions (they will ask you to buy something but you don’t have to). In the afternoon check out Yule Pagoda which is not far away. Before sunset head to Shwedagon pagoda to admire the stunning gold pagoda in daylight. Wait until sunset and the lights will turn on making the gold shine. It makes for awesome pictures.
DAY THREE: Make your way to the famous circle train where for less than a dollar you can sit for three hours and watch the locals go about their daily chores. It really is an interesting site to see. For the afternoon find a cafe to enjoy some Myanmar tea or take a tour of the city’s British-influenced buildings.
Best souvenir to buy: Longyi, both men and woman wear these traditional skirts and you will definitely use them while visiting more temples on this trip
Recommend place to stay: Little Yangon Hostel
Day 4-6: Bagan
DAY FOUR: After your first night bus in Myanmar you’ll probably be a little tired but you’ll be in one of the best Myanmar destinations, if not the best. Take it easy by heading to a pool at a nearby hotel and relax. Rent a scooter or bike in the afternoon and make your way to some temples, keeping an eye out for one to watch sunset on.
DAY FIVE: Join in on the free tour offered at the recommended hostel below and spend the day temple hopping and learning about Bagan’s history. Then head to bed early for the next day’s adventures.
DAY SIX: Get up early and catch the sunrise on a temple. If it’s the right season for hot air balloons you can watch the sunrise while in the air (for around $300USD). After breakfast (and maybe a nap) rent a scooter or bike and get lost while exploring temples. This will probably be your best day in Bagan.
Best souvenir to buy: Anything lacquer! Bagan is known for their lacquer and you’ll find most lacquer around SE Asia comes from here
Recommended place to stay: Ostello Bello
Day 7-9: Trekking Kalaw to Inle Lake
DAY SEVEN: Trekking in Myanmar is a must! You can either catch a bus from Bagan to Inle Lake or add in an incredible trek. I recommend getting a bus in the morning from Bagan to Kalaw, or get a night bus, but you’ll be trekking right after a bus that arrives at 2AM. Spend the evening booking your trek, packing a small bag to take with you and preparing yourself for the next few days. Read this for exactly what to expect from the trek.
DAY EIGHT: This will be day one of your trek and you’ll spend the night in a homestay! You’ll meet great people and eat delicious, fresh Burmese food.
DAY NINE: Enjoy the second day of your trek and arrive in Inle Lake! Clean up, grab dinner, and then you’ll probably just want to sleep!
Recommended place to stay: Golden Kalaw Inn
Day 10-12: Inle Lake
DAY TEN: Rent a bike and start exploring. Visit the market in town or head to the winery that’s more known for its great views, but don’t expect the wine to be great. Make sure you stop for a bite of food in town at The French Touch that’s a fusion of French and Burmese dishes. It’s a little pricey, but so worth it. I recommend trying the coconut beer.
DAY ELEVEN: Book yourself on a tour (this can be done through the recommended hostel) of Inle Lake. Get up early and watch the sunset from a boat, visit a busy market and then be taken around the floating villages to see what the locals work on and enjoy a traditional Burmese meal in a floating house.
Best souvenir to buy: A silk scarf or metal jewelry/knick knacks from a metalsmith
Recommended place to stay: Ostello Bello Nyaung Shwe
Day 12-14: Mandalay
DAY TWELVE: Arrive in Mandalay in the early morning via a night bus. Spend the morning catching up on some sleep if need be and then head out for the day to see some of the sites. First take a peek at Shwenandaw (Golden Palace Monastery), it’s a beautiful teak monastery. You can get a taxi relatively cheap to go and see the world’s largest book (Kuthodaw pagoda) which is a ton of pagodas with inscriptions on stone inside them. While there head up to Mandalay hill to get an awesome view of the city and the beautiful pink decorated temple at the top. Mandalay hill is also a great spot to watch the sunset!
DAY THIRTEEN: Check out Mandalay Fort, it is close to the city center, which is the last royal palace. Next make your way to Mahamuni Pagoda which is a major pilgrimage site. That evening make your way to U-Bein bridge for sunset before seeing a live puppet show at the Mandalay Marionette Theatre. There you can see a bit of Burmese tradition and it really is quite entertaining.
DAY FOURTEEN: Most flights from Mandalay leave around 12:30 if you’re heading to Bangkok. Enjoy your last meal in Myanmar, drink some Burmese tea and then head to the airport! Many people say that it’s cheaper to fly from Yangon and often make their way back down for a flight. Check prices before as I found flying from Mandalay was cheaper!
Best souvenir to buy: Marionette puppet or Royal Myanmar tea
Recommended place to stay: Ostello Bello Mandalay
If you want to do more things to do in Myanmar it is definitely possible to spend a day less in Yangon and Bagan (while still seeing everything) to squeeze in somewhere else north of Mandalay where less people go for a more unique Myanmar trip itinerary.
While in Myanmar make sure you try their famous tea leaf salad, tomato salad, curry and the Royal Myanmar tea.
Myanmar is an expensive country (compared to the rest of Southeast Asia) so expect accommodation to be around $15-20USD. Taxis cost between $2-20USD for short trips to full day hire. Meals are between $2-10USD, cheap meals being very easy to find at local sit down restaurants.
Check out this post for even more tips to help you with backpacking Myanmar with ease. And don’t forget to learn how to say hello and thank you in Burmese before you go! The locals will love you trying to speak their language.
Visit Myanmar with an open mind and an open heart and you will truly see what an incredible destination it is with this easy Myanmar 2 week itinerary.
Best Time to Visit Myanmar
Weather-wise the best time to visit Myanmar is from November to February during the country’s winter as temperatures are not stifling hot and there is the least amount of rain. From personal experience I recommend avoiding the rain/monsoon season (July-September) as unlike other countries where the rainy season could mean only a 1-2 hours of rain a day in Myanmar it could be a torrential downpour for 8 hours.
As Myanmar is still a relatively new country to travel to I wouldn’t worry too much about prices fluctuating but if you prefer to be safe for both price and availability travel during the shoulder months of October and March.
It is important to note that all accommodation in Myanmar should be booked in advance as there are not enough accommodation options to keep up with the tourists.
How to Get Around Myanmar
To get in and out Myanmar your safest bet is flying in and out of either Yangon or Mandalay. Border crossing by buses is also possible but borders have been known to close!
The best way to get around Myanmar is by night buses. Be sure to book VIP as the price is not much different but you will be happy you don’t see what’s not VIP!