Burma Basics: Big Four in Seven Days – An Itinerary

Taking advantage of overnight trip aboard private buses, this packed itinerary will reward you with the best sights around Burma’s ‘Big Four’ – Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake – in only a week. Yangon and Mandalay can each be explored in a day, so we spent more time in Bagan and Inle Lake which is best enjoyed when you take your time.

We didn’t want to spend a night in Yangon so we booked the bus for Bagan days in advance through a travel agency, who were kind enough to allow us to conveniently leave our luggage at their office while we explored the city on the first and last days of our trip.

If possible, book bus tickets a day before departure. In Mandalay, we bought our tickets in the morning. Innkeepers and drivers can assist you in purchasing bus tickets.

BUDGET: USD 200 (USD 100 & MMK 80,000)

DAY 1: YANGON

8:00 AM: Arrive in Yangon (AirAsia)

10:00 AM to 3:00 PM: DIY tour of city center. Highlights: Lunch at Bogyoke Aung San Market, Sule Paya (entrance: USD 2) & Shwedagon Paya (entrance: USD 10)*

4:30 PM: AC Bus to Bagan (USD 26+, 11 hours)

DAY 2: BAGAN

4:00 AM: Bus arrives at Nyaung U

4:30 – 8:00 AM: Horse cart sunrise tour (MMK 5,000, 1-3 pax)

9:00 AM: Check in at guesthouse – NEW HEAVEN HOTEL (Double room: USD 14)

11:00 AM- 5:00 PM: Full-day horse cart (MMK 12,000, 1-3 pax) or DIY bike tour (MMK 1,500 bike rental) of Bagan Temples

DAY 3: BAGAN

11:00 AM to 3:00 PM: DIY Half-Day Bike Tour (MMK 750) – Nyaung U to Old Bagan to New Bagan

4:00 – 7:00 PM: Horse cart sunset tour (MMK 5,000), plus Ayeyarwaddy river cruise (MMK 12,000/boat, 1 hour)

8:00 PM: AC Bus to Mandalay (MMK 7,500, 7 hours)

Watch our video clips from the trip!

DAY 4: AROUND MANDALAY

3:30 AM: Bus arrives in Mandalay. Hire a blue pick-up taxi for a full-day tour (MMK 30,000 for 6pax). Buy bus tickets for Taunggyi (Inle Lake).

4:00 – 6:00 AM: Mahamuni Paya – Ritual washing of the Buddha

7:00 – 9:00 PM: Mandalay Hill – Ride a line-car up to the top then walk down

10:00 AM – 1:00 PM: Amarapura – U Bein Bridge

2:00 PM – 4:00 PM: Sagaing – Sagaing Hill

5:30 PM: Non-AC Bus to Taunggyi (Inle Lake) (MMK 10,000, 12 hours)

DAY 5: INLE LAKE

6:00 AM: Bus arrives at Shwe Nyaung Junction. Hire pick-up to Inle Lake (MMK 800-1,000/pax) (entrance fee: USD 5)

7:00 AM: Check-in at guesthouse – QUEEN INN (double bungalow: USD 15)

10:00 AM to 6:30 PM: Full-day motorboat tour of Inle Lake: floating villages, floating gardens, Ywama floating market, Jumping Cat Monastery, Indein ruins and watch the sunset over the lake. (MMK 18,000 for 6pax)

7:00 PM: Dinner at Mingalar Market

DAY 6: INLE LAKE

7:00 AM – 12:00 PM: DIY Bike + Boat Tour (see Lonely Planet guidebook) – Nyaung Shwe to Kaung Daing to Maing Thauk (via motorboat, MMK 5,000 for 3pax) (Bike rental: MMK 1,000)

3:30 PM: AC Bus to Yangon (USD 20 or MMK 15,000, 15 hours) – QUEEN INN sells bus tickets.

DAY 7: YANGON

6:30 AM: Bus arrives in Yangon.

9:00 AM – 2:00 PM: Shopping at Bogyoke Aung San Market & Ruby Mart Grocery

5:00 PM: Depart from Yangon (AirAsia)

ON GOVERNMENT ENTRANCE FEES: Independent travel can be beneficial to the Burmese people by minimizing the money that goes to the government and supporting private companies and local industries. Avoid paying government entrance fees by looking for alternative entrances, dressing up like a local (if you look Burmese), or, as we did in Mandalay, ask advice from your taxi driver.

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15 Responses

  1. love2type says:

    nice.. if only we have budget airlines that will take every juan to burma. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. thanks for sharing love2type! the most affordable route to get to myanmar from the philippines is to fly from manila to bangkok or kuala lumpur on a budget airline like Cebu Pacific, then to Yangon on AirAsia =)

  3. What an impressive shoestring budget you’ve got here! I’d like to visit Burma one day and hopefully contribute tourist dollars into local businesses that they may thrive (and not directly support their dictatorial regime).

  4. Thanks Nomadic Pinoy! Independent and responsible travel will contribute greatly to benefiting the Burmese people, who were some of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met =)

  5. chris says:

    Ang ganda ng burma! gusto ko makita ang Bagan,after vietnam yan ang sunod ko puntahan

  6. Myanmar is my fave place in SEA so far. Definitely a must-see before mass tourism flocks in.

  7. Niza Zainal says:

    Hi Alan,
    Thanks for sharing! Definitely useful for our Myanmar trip next year. By the way, is it possible to cover all four places in 5 days?

    Thanks heaps.
    Niza Zainal

  8. Hi Niza, you’re welcome! Seven days is already hectic, it would be impossible to see the Big Four in only five days. For five days, you can explore 3 of the Big Four =)

  9. Love reading ur blog..got introduced by Nathalie Penados…this is much more than what i need for my next travel to Myanmar this coming December..It’s gonna be a 7-8 days playin’ local in Myanmar..;). May i know where did u printed the visa from?? any particular and safe sites???

  10. Hi Millen, thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts! Visa application info and other pre-trip essentials on my other post: http://www.eazytraveler.com/2011/07/burma-basics-visa-application-money.html Good luck on your visit to Burma!

  11. Reiza says:

    Thanks for this EAZY! ๐Ÿ™‚ My sister and I are planning a trip to Burma this year, on a budget of course, and this will greatly help us. How’s the security situation over there?

  12. Hi Reiza! Burma is getting safer and safer to visit because its government is transitioning into a democracy. I believe visa-on-arrival is now available for Filipinos =) Enjoy your trip!

  13. nice one, ed! will definitely use your itin as a guide on our trip there this march! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Albert says:

    Thanks for this entry. Very very useful. I also have 7 days to cover my Myanmar adventure this coming November. I will definitely copy this itinerary.

  15. Alid Abdul says:

    I will going to Myanmar this January and your flash itin is really help me, can you share the full itin to me? thx

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