What to do in Myanmar

Backpacking Myanmar 4 days Itinerary

Backpacking Myanmar 4 days Itinerary

Myanmar is one country I've never dreamed of and thought of traveling. Even when I've heard that they are giving a few countries visa free to enter their country, that includes Philippines in the list. Then one day I came upon an instagram account showing the explicit beauty of Myanmar, from them on I decided to see the place with my own eyes. My travel buddy initiate the first course of action of buying our promo fare ticket. We traveled with Jetstar airlines to the Golden Land of Asia. Let’s go! 

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Travel Tips
  • For flights, Skyscanner is excellent for comparing the best airline deals.
  • For accommodations, our family trusts Booking.com for reasonable prices.

Bold Decision

Myanmar is formerly known as Burma. A Southeast Asian country bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. There's always a time difference so do your research ahead of time. On my side, Myanmar's time is 1 hour and 30 minutes late compared to Singapore. Plenty of time to slack off going from one place to another. It's a short trip of just 4 days and 3 nights, so we've planned the trip accordingly to see as many places as we can. We decided to omit the guesthouse and instead take the sleeper bus to each place to save time and most importantly to cover more distance. It was a challenging journey of sleep deprivation, bladder control, time management and hygienic conditions. Game on! 

Myanmar 4 days Itinerary

March 12 Yangon, Myanmar

  • Changi Airport Terminal 1 to Yangon International Airport
  • Jetstar 3K581 Flight time: 9:10 Am - 10:40 Am 
  • Flight Travel time: 3 hours
  • Rented a taxi referred by a friend includes pick up from the airport, sightseeing and to the bus station. 
  • Taxi Fee: 20,000 kyat-25,000 Kyat

Morning Sightseeing:
  • Kandawgyi Park is 45 minutes away from the airport. 
  • How to get there: Take a taxi from downtown Yangon 
  • Open hours: 4 am – 10 pm daily 
  • Entrance fee:  3,000 Kyat (excludes Boardwalk fee)

Brunch in Kandawgyi Park: 
  • Hinthada Mon Hin Kha
  • Mandalay Meeshay
  • Watermelon Shake
  • Apple Shake

Early Dinner in People's Park 

  • Address: G-1 Myanmar Cultural Valley, U Wisara Road,Dagon Tsp,Yangon
  • Fried Rice with dried fish, Fried Rice mixed with corn and chicken and Shan Shan-style noodles
  • Spent: 18,000 Kyat

Sunset in Shwedagon Pagoda 
  • How to get there: From downtown, take a taxi to the Pagoda 
  • Open hours: 4 am – 10 pm daily (but closed on certain holidays, check website for details) 
  • Entrance Fee: 8,000 Kyat

Night Bus to Bagan: Aung Mingalar Bus Station 
  • Address: Thudhamma Road, North Okkalarpa Township, Yangon, Myanmar.
  • Before 6 pm went straight to the bus station to catch our Night Bus to Bagan.
  • It's 13 miles (50 minutes by car) from downtown and 5 miles (30 minutes by car) from the airport. 

Booked Online
  • Aung Mingalar Bus Station to Bagan Shwe Pyi High Way Bus Terminal 
  • JJ Express Night Schedule: (Last trip) 20:00-5:30
  • Bus Fare: 25 USD / 30 SGD per pax

March 13 Bagan (Ngaung-U)

  • 1 day stay 25 Sgd / 22,000 Kyat 
  • Pay upon arrival booked through Booking.com

Bus Arrival Time: 0530 in Bagan
  • Breakfast and Rest in Guesthouse
  • Sunset View in Pagoda
  • Taxi to main town Nyaung U, catch the Sunrise and transfer to Shwe Nadi Guest House. 
  • All routes Taxi Fare: 30,000 Kyat 
  • Bagan Compulsory Tourist Entrance Fee: 25,000 Kyat

Horse Car  
  • Whole Day Tour Price: 25,000 kyat - 30,000 kyat

Night Bus from Bagan to Ngaung Shwe-Inle Lake
  • Free Night Bus pick-up transfer from Guesthouse to Bus Station
  • Booked Online
  • Bagan Shwe Pyi High Way Bus Terminal to May Gate
  • Bagan Min Thar Night Schedule: (Last trip) 20:30-04:00 
  • Bus Fare: 25 USD / 30 SGD per pax

March 14 Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake)

Arrived 06:00 AM
  • Inle Lake Compulsory Tourist Entrance Fee: 12,500 Kyat/ 10 USD/ 10 EURO

Boat Tour
  • Boat tour price: 25,000 Kyat
  • Sightseeing: Sunrise, Pagoda, Traditional Fisherman

Spa Package
  • Body Scrub and Shampoo in Amaradavi Day Spa: 30,000 kyat 

Night Bus from Nyaung Shwe to Yangon
  • Booked in Facebook (Pay with the Driver)
  • JJ Bus Address : A5/6, Mawlamyine Street , Aungmingalar Highway Bus Station.
  • Contact numbers : +95 1 637377 , +95 9 73123571 , +95 9 73123572 , + 95 9 73123573 , +95 9 73123574

Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake) to Yangon
  • JJ Epxress Night Schedule: (Last trip)
  • 18:30-6:00 am
  • Bus Fare: 25,000 Kyat

March 15 Last day in Yangon 

Sightseeing: 6am till 4pm 
  • Rented the same taxi which was referred by a friend including sightseeing and transfer to the airport. 
  • Whole-day Taxi Fee: 30,000 Kyat

Myanmar Breakfast
  • Shwe Ei Mok Hin Har (Rice Noodle Soup with Fish)
  • Shwe Taung Khout Swel (Noodle Soup with Coconut Cream)
  • Shwe Taung Style

Bike Tour inside Union National Races Village
  • Entrance fee: 4,000 kyat

  • Goodies Shopping in Hypermarket 
  • Souvenirs at Bogyoke Aung San Market

Early Dinner of Fried Eel, Steamed Fish and Coffee Frappuccino.

Drive to the airport by 5 pm
  • Yangon International Airport to Changi Airport Terminal 1
  • Jetstar 3K584 Flight time: 7:20 pm - 11:55 pm
  • Flight Travel time: 3 hours 

Myanmar Phrases
  • Cè-zù tin-ba-deh - Thank you
  • Cè-zù tin-mari (Ji Sew Teh Mari) - Thank you very much
  • Min-ga-la-ba - Good Morning, Good Afternoon and Good Evening

What to do in Myanmar

What to do in Yangon, Myanmar

First Day: March 12 Yangon
  • Changi Airport Terminal 1 to Yangon International Airport
  • Jetstar 3K581 Flight time: 9:10 Am - 10:40 Am 
  • Flight Travel time: 3 hours

It was a smooth flight from Singapore to Yangon via Jetstar Airways. We contacted my friend's brother to pick us up at the airport and at the same time hired him as our taxi driver for the whole day.  The foreign rate is significantly high all over the country, the usual rate of 2,000 Kyat for a taxi fare can go as high as 25,000 Kyat for non-locals. Our friend's name was Kyaw Min Oo, a patient and kind person who made us feel welcome in their beautiful country. 

Whole day Taxi Fee: 20,000 kyat - 25,000 kyat (includes pick up from the airport, sightseeing and to the bus station) If you're interested send me a private message so I can give you his number.

Kandawgyi Park

How to get there:
  • Take a taxi from downtown Yangon 
  • Open hours: 4 am – 10 pm daily 
  • Entrance fee:  3,000 kyat (excludes Boardwalk fee)

Kyaw pronounced as Kyo brought us to our first destination. Kandawgyi Park is just 45 minutes away from the airport and is located east of the Shwedagon Pagoda.  It is also known as the  "Great Royal Lake", formerly Royal Lake. It is considered as one of the two major lakes in Yangon. The iconic Karaweik, is a palace on the eastern shore of Kandawgyi Lake.

Myanmar Appetizers

We had a quick stroll in the park due to the unbearable heat, afterwards, we decided to have our first Myanmar meal inside the park with the floating palace in sight. Ordered: Hinthada Mon Hin Kha, Mandalay Meeshay with Watermelon and Apple Shake for our refreshment. It turns out this traditional Myanmar dishes were just appetizers. I found something unpleasant in my meal so I just sucked in my belly and forget about it. The park is quite expansive a great place to rent a bike which they don't have there. A place for lovebirds too which were abundant in the afternoon. 

People's Park

Our night bus was scheduled for 8 in the evening, so we got plenty of time for another meal and to visit Yangon's famous pagoda. Our first meal left us craving for more food so we decided to have an early dinner in People's Park, a few metres away from the Kandawgyi Park. This time around Kyaw joined us for dinner. Ordered: Fried Rice with dried fish, Fried Rice mixed with corn and chicken, Fried Beef and Shan Style Noodles. Compared to our first meal this one had an abundance of rice, lots of it. I was surprised when they served my fried rice with dried fish as it can feed two mouths, yet I still managed to devour the plate on my own. 

Shwedagon Pagoda

How to get there: 
  • From downtown, take a taxi to the Pagoda 
  • Open hours: 4 am – 10 pm daily (except holidays, check website for details) 
  • Entrance Fee: 8,000 Kyat

Shwedagon Pagoda is a gilded stupa located in Yangon, Myanmar. It has been officially named Shwedagon Zedi Daw. Also known as the Great Dagon Pagoda and the Golden Pagoda. We were fortunate to see a procession when we went there, Kyaw our tour guide told us it's a ceremony for families and relatives to celebrate a male child becoming a monk. 

Young Monks

The boys were dressed nicely and were carried in the procession. Even Kyaw had experience being a monk at a young age, he recalled the memory and said it was difficult. After being a monk for a few months or years you are given a chance to stay or go back to society. A decision that will shape your future, it takes dedication and commitment to be a monk. I respectfully salute those who stayed and accepted the silent path of Life.

Intricate Designs

It has a fancy entrance lobby with security officers, detectors inside a high ceiling building and a long escalator up to the main pagoda. I'm not used to its convenient method, I still prefer the old school of climbing a flight of stairs up to reach the pagoda. Our main plan was to go to Shwedagon Pagoda and see the sunset but we went there too early. The heat of the sun was blazing hot and walking barefoot didn't help at all as the tile floors were hot too. I've read a few blogs about the beautiful sunset in Shwedagon Pagoda. 

A must-see they say however when we got there it was too crowded, and the heat was too much for us. Before the clock strikes for sunset we were out in the streets. Good thing we went out early from the pagoda as the traffic really got bad in the city around that time. I also made sure we had a night bus booked for our two trips from Yangon to Bagan then Bagan to Inle Lake. Both were bought online. We hoped and wished everything went smoothly according to plan, with no interruptions like tire deflation, road blockage and detours along the road. 

Yangon to Bagan 

Second Day: March 13 Bagan (Ngaung-U)

Aung Mingalar Bus Station 
  • Address: Thudhamma Road, North Okkalarpa Township, Yangon, Myanmar
  • 13 miles from downtown - 45 minutes by car 
  • 5 miles away from the airport - 30 minutes by car, depending on the traffic. 

Aung Mingalar Bus Station to Bagan Shwe Pyi Highway Bus Terminal 
  • Booked Online
  • JJ Express Night Schedule: (Last trip) 20:00-5:30
  • Bus Fare: 25 USD / 30 SGD per pax
  • Travel time: 9-10 hours

Reliable Bus Company

We changed our clothes, brushed our teeth and washed our faces at JJ Bus Office Station. It wasn't really that clean but it's better than nothing. They served water and coffee while everyone waited for the bus transport, it clearly shows they care about their passengers and I knew from that moment I'd booked with the right company. It's crucial to book your sleeper bus with reputable bus services as it will ensure your safety and comfort. JJ Bus Service is an impressive transport company which provides quality chairs, on scheduled train times, your own TV screen with an updated movie list and airline stewarding service. The service attendant served juice, coffee and tea to everyone on board the bus. Even offering sweets and biscuits too. A blanket, bottled water and a box of cookies are given to all passengers, with 3 stops for bladder break: 1st and 2nd stop everyone must get off the bus while the last one allows passengers to continue their stay in dreamland.

What to do in Bagan

Our next destination is an ancient city in Myanmar known as Bagan. It is located in central Myanmar and southwest of Mandalay. A place holding one of the world's greatest archaeological sites. 

The night before we boarded the JJ Express Bus Service bound from Yangon to Bagan. The bus took off around 8 in the evening with traveling time of 10 hours thus arriving just about 6 in the morning. Bagan is definitely on our travel list, we didn't even have to think about it. There are approximately 2,000 pagodas and temples in the area. Each one was built on different centuries and stood against time. I want to be on one of those pagodas to see the sunrise and sunset. It may sound absurd to some people but every place I go the sun on the horizon gives a different warmth and feeling, even thou it is the same sun I've seen a thousand times. 

The Wolf Pack

In the terminal, just upon arrival and everyone slowly stepped out of the bus a few taxi drivers came after us like wolves which reminded me of my sleeper bus arrival in Cambodia. One driver kept following us all around the place. I was irritated with his presence, he didn't give me and my friend privacy to talk about our plan. The funny thing is we actually don't have a plan. We were thinking that if we get there early as scheduled then we want to see the sunrise in one of the pagodas and if it's late then proceed straight to our guesthouse. Luckily we made it just in time for the sunrise, the irritable driver eventually convinced us to take his ride to the pagoda and our guesthouse. 

  • Taxi to main town Nyaung U, catch the Sunrise and transfer to Shwe Nadi Guest House. 
  • Taxi Fare: 30,000 Kyat 

A Land of Thousand Pagodas
  • Bagan Compulsory Tourist Entrance Fee: 25,000 Kyat

I was surprised when we drove through a checkpoint office we were asked for a compulsory tourist entrance fee. They said every foreigner has to pay for it to gain access to all the pagodas and temples in Bagan. I even thought it was a scam but later on, we found out it's an official rule. What a great way to invite tourist to visit their country. The drive to the sunrise area was less than an hour. I'm not 100 percent sure what's the name of the pagoda but I'm guessing it's in Shwe San Daw Pagoda. Climbing up inclined stairs at dawn wasn't really a good idea. One slip means total damage not just only to yourself but to the person next to you. We made it to the top along with a bunch of tourists with the same agenda. I always try to avoid the crowd, look around and find my sweet spot even if it means going a bit down the pagoda. 

Breathtaking Sunset

As the light fills the dark sky with shades of red, orange and yellow we stand in awe at its magnificent beauty. It was our first sight of Bagan, a temple town they call it. The sunrise was a splendid way of welcoming every one of its architectural beauty infused with nature's explicit radiance. We stayed longer as planned, ate some crackers and stared' at the horizon before getting down the pagoda. Good thing the driver was still there waiting for us. During the drive going to the guesthouse, he continued to talk about the day tours, in a hard-selling kind of way. He has done it the moment we arrived at the terminal and even all the way to our guesthouse. We were tired from the long bus ride instead of getting mad we kept our mouths shut. Sometimes you just need to be silent to send out your message to somebody.

Where to Stay in Bagan

  • 1 day stay 25 Sgd
  • Check out by 6 pm
  • Breakfast and Rest in Guesthouse

We had our breakfast while waiting for our room. I was quite impressed with the breakfast meal served at our table. I had a few pieces of toast bread with a variety of bread spreads, a scrambled egg, two mimosas (Indian pastry), small cups of coffee and orange juice and a small bowl of watermelon slices, plus a banana. A refreshing meal followed by a refreshing shower. 

Horse Car Whole Day Tour
  • Price: 25,000 kyat - 30,000 kyat
  • Itinerary: Visit as many pagodas as we can
  • Goal: Sunset View in Pagoda

Our ultimate plan for that day is to go on a Bike tour on our own hopping from one pagoda to another. However, the moment we went out from the guesthouse we knew the heat of the morning sun would burn us alive. There's a normal bike and motorbike rental in the guesthouse, but both options were not suitable for us, one is that it's too hot to bike around and two we don't even know how to operate a motorized vehicle. I can't remember the last time I drove a scooter. One guy was hanging around in the guesthouse lobby, he then approached us when he knew about our dilemma. He offered to take us around with his horse car for the whole day. It was an excellent idea. We still wanted a different kind of experience even if we were using a convenient method of transportation. Riding the horse car adds up to an authentic vibe to our Bagan tour. 

Shwe zi gone Pagoda

Our first stop is the Shwe zi gone Pagoda considered a pilgrimage centre. We didn't do much here as it was really hot, skipping from one shade to another and running like kids to the exitway. Good thing we found this colorful tiled floor in one of the shaded parts of the pagoda. The colors were pretty with a variety of shapes and designs, it was pleasing to the eyes. 

Tourist Traps

While we were having our moment of peace two girls approached us and handed us a flower with three incense. I was confused. They tasked us to place it in front, just beside the small Buddha on the wall. Afterwards, unsurprisingly they asked for money, which I denied. They didn't stop there, one girl took some paper bills in her pocket and showed us our country's currency which they want us to buy, and that really caught me off guard. We politely said no, left our resting place and ran our feet off to a nearby shaded area. Before we went inside the pagoda there were two girls too that escorted us from the entrance, they asked us to leave our slippers and attached a handmade butterfly pin to each of our shirts. We thought that was the pagoda's way of welcoming tourists, it was so overwhelming and our smiles were all over our faces - it came with a price.

Wetkyi Inn Village

Next, we went to a pagoda near Wetkyi Inn Village wherein we bought two paintings for the price of 30,000 Kyat. The artist himself was there and his name was Moon. He added sand to his art which makes it unique compared to the ones sold in the pagoda's market. I was drawn to it immediately, thought of my mum's collection at home and bought it right away. Moon also showed us around the temple, and the rooftop and took our pictures. 

Lava Floor

He laughed as we skipped and hopped from the hot stone floor, running like kids to the cold temple floor to see the picture he had taken and back again to get another shot. The warm weather plus the lava stone floor was nothing to him. After having a conversation about his city and bargaining with his paintings we proceeded to our horse cart with our driver named Chin Lai who patiently waited for us with his all-time buddy named Rambo who carried all the load to stroll us around the city. 

Mahabodi Pagoda

The last pagoda for that morning was an Indian Inspired Pagoda named Mahabodi Pagoda, it looks lost and at the same time where it belongs. Chin Lai told us it's the only one of its kind in Bagan. He also suggested we meet his friend to have our first Thanaka Face Painting after visiting the Pagoda. I was more excited about the face painting than visiting another pagoda so we had a quick peek inside and sat on the chairs for a few minutes.

Thanaka Face Painting

It turns out that his friend's place was just right beside the Mahabodi Pagoda, a small hut run by a friendly Burmese lady. Thanaka is a yellowish-like paste made from a whitish-yellow ground bark. It's a traditional routine for Burmese to have their face painted every day, mainly used as a sunscreen and as a cosmetic product which keeps the skin cool, tightens pores and is even used for skin disorders. I thought at first it was a religious act, like for Indians they placed dots or a small line on their foreheads after visiting the temple. It's amazing how each culture differs from one another. I'm lucky to experience both cultures in my lifetime. 

The Sweetest Lady

The lady then rubbed the thanaka bark in a circular smooth stone and added a few drops of water it produce a liquid paste. The liquid paste was then applied to our faces: both cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. My friend had the leaf design which she drew using a small stick while I had the brush strokes with the use of an unused toothbrush. The paste had a cooling effect, it was even better when we used the fan to dry the paste on our faces. I had to close my eyes for the relaxing, cold effect it had on my skin. After being exposed to the sun for the whole morning it was such a wonderful feeling. 

Highlight of the Trip

We kept on laughing as I brought along my foolishness with me, she was almost done with my face painting when I accidentally touched it so she had to rub in another paste to cover it up. It was sad to say goodbye to such a warm, hospitable lady, I'm overwhelmed by the friendly gesture she has given to two strangers in her homeland. This is the kind of experience which makes traveling more rewarding, it's not just about what you've seen but more about the connection you've felt with strangers who don't even speak the same language as yours. 

Traditional Myanmar Lunch

Afterwards, we proceeded to a small open-air eatery for an authentic Myanmar meal. We ordered Chicken with vegetables, fish curry with two plain rice plus watermelon and lime shake, and it came along with three side dishes: beans, salad and tofu with tomatoes. 

Exchange glances with a Stranger

We continued our pagoda and temple hopping in the afternoon. I've found this guy along with his other biker friends catching up on us. We both took shots of each other, shouted a few greetings and off we went our separate paths. I was laughing like a little kid seeing her favorite mascot for the very time. I love meeting strangers this way. 

Our Storyteller

Riding a bike was definitely faster, you can go and stop anywhere you want but I've realized renting out the horse cart with a local is another unique way of seeing the place through someone else eyes. Chin Lai shared a few of the stories of the places we've been to, I may not remember all of it due to my poor memory but I will always know he has shown Bagan to us in a different way. He didn't introduce the place as a tourist attraction or one of the best archaeological sites in the world, instead, he showed it as his home and he was glad to share it with us.

Thatbyinyu Temple

The moment we arrived in this temple a young teenage girl approached me right away. She said I looked beautiful which always brings a smile to my face, I mean who doesn't want to be called beautiful right. It may, be a sales technique because she was able to persuade me to buy the postcards she's selling. At first, I hesitated to buy the postcards, we went inside the temple first and made our clockwise tour. When she saw us making our way down the temple she ran and smiled. 

Burmese Teenager

She's a student and on weekends she sells postcards to tourists to finance her school needs. I was quite surprised when mentioned she knew about "Dyesebel", a popular drama series in the Philippines, and even made a fish gesture to symbolize the mermaid in the TV series. Eventually, I bought all 10 postcards, I had the feeling she was genuinely friendly, it was a perfect gift for my colleagues. It is lightweight, a perfect souvenir to buy for a backpacker and the pictures were an amazing series of shots in Bagan.

Sulamani Temple

My favorite temple is the Sulamani Temple in the late afternoon, the temple looked gloriously beautiful with the orange light. Chin Lai suggested we skip the sunset in the pagoda due to the cloudy day. However, we saw that the weather was fine and when we came to Sulamani Temple the orange light painted the temple in such a radiant glow. We hopped and skipped with excitement as we knew the sunset was going to be epic. We took a few jump shots from here and there and off we went our clockwise routine in each temple and waved our plea to Chin Lai to see the sunset.

Our unforgettable and stunning sunset photo was featured in Jetstar magazine.

Bulethi Pagoda

The sunset was spectacular. Beautiful, Captivating and Epic as it will always be. We sat at the perfect spot, captured the perfect moment and sealed in our hearts one of the most amazing sunsets of our lives.

Chin and Rambo

We wanted to spend another day in Bagan, despite just having a whole day experience that felt like a week of traveling. Jumping from one pagoda to another, running from one temple to another and sweating like a World Champion Boxer made it all worthwhile. I guess that's why it felt longer because we've seen so many things and had a good time with each one of them. Chin Lai wheeled us back safely to the guesthouse, he even called our bus company to pick us up at our place instead of going straight to the station. As we said goodbye to Chin Lai and Rambo it powered the travelers soul in me, I thank God for all the people we've met in Bagan who were truly kind to us and were willing to go the extra mile to put a big smile on our faces. 

Bagan to Ngaung Shwe,Inle Lake

Night Bus from Bagan to Ngaung Shwe-Inle Lake
  • Free Night Bus pick-up transfer from Guesthouse to Bus Station

Bagan Shwe Pyi High Way Bus Terminal to May Gate
  • Booked Online
  • Bagan Min Thar Night Schedule: (Last trip) 20:30-04:00 
  • Bus Fare: 25 USD / 30 SGD per pax

Second Sleeper Bus 

We took the night Bus from Bagan to Ngaung Shwe, Inle Lake the previous night. This is our second sleeper bus trip in Myanmar and I'm loving it! It feels liberating, unsafe, uncomfortable, adventurous, carefree, and exciting with a sprinkle of gypsy vibe dust. It may not come appealing to some, the trip doesn't come with a soft mattress, fluffy pillows, noise and dim lights. But for backpackers like us, the bus felt like home after a tiring, wonderful day out in the wild. Sleeping in a bus brings back memories of a 4-hour trip to the beach with my friends in Cebu, Philippines, going to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, a day before my birthday and some of my trips to Malaysia. The trips with my friends were special, I'm really missing them now and all the hilarious memories in the past.

Different Bus Company 

Good thing, we got a room in Bagan to wash up before making the trip or else we will smell like rotten eggs the whole day in Inle Lake. We booked a different bus service for this trip. Bagan Min Thar Bus service is not as comfortable compared to JJ Express but they were only the bus company that operated from Inle to Yangon on that day. It was the best choice for time-constrained backpackers. We didn't have our own TV set this time around, no snacks too yet we had one bottled water, a blanket and our very own neck pillow. 

Bumpy Ride

It was a bumpy ride, as I was charging both our phones and power bank I had to keep track of it to make sure the cables were still attached. The batteries must all be fully charged as we don't have the time and place to have them charged again. Another challenge of sleeping on a bus is keeping an eye on your belongings. Everytime the bus stops for a toilet break we make sure we have our passports, IDs and money with us, being cautious will totally save us from disaster. Moreover, In the middle of our sleep the bus stopped at a checkpoint just like in Bagan and of course collected a zone entrance fee again, better change those big notes you have to avoid the hassle. It was a good sign thou, a morning call to everyone to get ready as we had just entered the town of Ngaung Shwe. 

What to do in Inle Lake

  • Third Day: March 14 Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake)
  • Inle Zone Entrance Fee: 12,500 kyats/10 USD/10 EURO, Valid for one week.

Inle Lake is the second-largest lake in Myanmar(formerly known as Burma). The freshwater lake is located in Nyaungshwe or Nyaung Shwe, Shan State District and a part of the Shan Hills in the country. This is our next destination. Home of the famous floating villages, farm gardens, markets and their unique art of fishing.

Arrival in Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake)

We arrived in Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake) around 4:30 in the morning, the weather was surprisingly very cold I had to zip my jacket all the way up to my neck. It wasn't a bus station where the bus dropped us off but there were still a few drivers who welcomed our arrival. I'm not sure if those were hired to pick up their hotel guests, we were just happy that there was one vehicle available for us. 

The Challenge

The driver spoke the universal sign of the language of "OK" which had the same meaning as all the English language in his dictionary. We laughed. I really loved their down-to-earth vibes, they're just genuinely kind and caring. The language barrier was tough it even got worse when he pulled out his friend and introduced him as our boatman. They know exactly what they were doing  I guess we're not the first tourist who asked for a boat tour as early as 4 in the morning. Another significant challenge of being homeless is looking for a public toilet. 

Faith in Humanity

Good thing our driver was smart enough to find a place for us, I'm not really sure where we were at the time but I'm guessing it was near a temple. We were at their mercy, two female backpackers tired, and restless, with a little cash in hand, used clothing and pretty big grins on our faces. A test of honesty and faith in humankind. All went well. They waited and wondered. When nature calls you just gotta do what you're supposed to do. 

The Translator
  • Pick up (back and forth): 4,000 Kyat each 
  • Boat Tour: 25,000 Kyat 
  • Sightseeing: Sunrise, Pagoda, Traditional Fisherman

We traveled for 10 minutes to the boat pier. A translator came along and explained that our boatman as we already know can't speak a single English word and our driver would pick us up after our tour. We were that lucky as these guys were pretty much nice to us. There was no plan at all, come what may be our motto for our Myanmar trip. I'm just happy that things were laid out nicely for us. 

Cold and Mesmerizing Boat Ride

It was freezing cold as we made our way to the lake. The dark waters showed no signs of marine life. It got even colder when were out in the open space. Seriously speaking we were not prepared for it at all. I wore harem pants with a cloth thinner than cotton and an even more feather-like sleeveless for the expected heat but we were terribly wrong. The first blast of the air caught us off guard, both of us looked at each other and shivered like a dog after his bath. We didn't know the temperature drops to the extent where I had to take out my scarf to keep myself warmer. All was forgotten when we saw the first rays of light, it was breathtakingly beautiful. The boatman stopped the engine, and we sat there mesmerized with its beauty. As one fisherman at a distance throws his net into the waters his silhouette makes the whole scene more surreal, it felt like I was inside a National Geographic magazine cover. 

Interesting Store

When the sun took over the morning sky, the temperature slowly climbed and the heat was on. More people were crossing the lake, and even the birds were awake to greet everyone hello. We visited a pagoda, a farm garden, and a few workshops and then had lunch in a restaurant overlooking the lake. While strolling around the lake we passed by this unique store in the village, it reminded me of the Philippines "sari-sari" store, which sort of means a "convenient store" and I pointed at it like a little kid who just spotted an ice cream truck. 

Heat Exhaustion

In the early afternoon, the heat was getting in our heads so we decided to end the boat tour too early as expected. Our boatman was pretty much happy about it, he could tell from our face that we were exhausted from the intense heat. He called his partner and picked us up from the endpoint. The extreme temperature change really sucked the energy out of us, we needed something to re-energize our senses. We decided to go to a Spa and mind you looking for a spa in Nyaung Shwe is quite a challenge. 

Amazing Spa Experience

  • Body Scrub and Shampoo in Amaradavi Day Spa: 30,000 kyat (each person)

Good thing we found Amaradavi Day Spa. Even though it was a bit pricey we decided to go for it. It was also a great excuse to get a body scrub because we hadn't taken a shower the whole day, plus a shampoo and blow dry for our sticky, messy hair. It's my first ever body scrub, I can't imagine people doing things which I can do for myself. Anyways there's always a first time. Two ladies did the scrubbing for me and they showed no mercy, they scrubbed really hard and it got me thinking is the dirt in my skin which made them scrub that way or it is just how it's supposed to be. The funny thing about it is I can totally doze off with every spa treatment, especially in the hair shampoo part. I totally lost it when they blew dry my hair, I'm glad my spa attendant was so kind to me and she just let me do my thing, she even gave me a back massage which totally made my day.

Happy Birthday!

We decided to have an early dinner and, at the same time celebrate my friend's birthday. It's her second time celebrating her Candles Day abroad with me. I wanted to make it special, so I asked the team from the restaurant to send out her sort of dessert cake with a candle on my signal. They agreed with the plan. Then out of nowhere one guy approached me and handed over a lighter, I was ok with that because I could just light the candle on my own then. In a minute or so the lady gave me a candle, and the ultimate surprise epic fail was right before my very face. We just laughed it out. I sang her a happy birthday song, and we drank a bottle of Myanmar Beer and chit-chat our hearts out. My friend had rosy red cheeks as head back to the Bus office. We laughed here and there, I love a little bit of alcohol to make things more interesting, even as we brushed our teeth in their office we really can't stop laughing. What a perfect way to remember Inle Lake in my travel memory bank.

Night Bus from Nyaung Shwe to Yangon

  • Booked in Facebook (Pay with the Driver)
  • JJ Bus Address: A5/6, Mawlamyine Street , Aungmingalar Highway Bus Station.
  • Contact numbers : +95 1 637377 , +95 9 73123571, +95 9 73123572 , + 95 9 73123573 , +95 9 73123574

  • Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake) to Yangon
  • JJ Express Night Schedule: (Last trip)
  • 18:30-6:00 am
  • Bus Fare: 23,300 Kyat (includes dinner)

  • Back to Yangon, Myanmar

Last Day in Myanmar

I had a wonderful sleeper bus experience for 4 days straight in Myanmar. Even thou I wasn't able to bathe properly, get a nice and clean toilet for all my natural needs and have enough sleep. I have started to embrace the adventurous essence it has given to my traveler's soul. It's the amazing feeling of just letting go and literally stepping out of my comfort zone. Sleeping on a bus puts you at risk for back pain problems, losing your belongings, sleep deprivation, separation anxiety, even road accidents and worst case scenario getting hijacked by bandits. Being brave enough to put yourself out there, just trusting your instincts and hoping things go well according to plan gives you the freedom of a gypsy soul. No wonder Gypsies travel from one place to another like there's no tomorrow. They're literally free-spirited people who go along with the flow of events, allowing the force of the universe to work its natural powers over their existence. 

Fourth Day: March 15 Yangon 
6am till 4pm Sightseeing

  • Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake) to Yangon
  • JJ Express Night Schedule: (Last trip)
  • 18:30-6:00 am
  • Bus Fare: 25,000 Kyat
  • Whole-day Taxi Fee: 30,000 Kyat

Myanmar Breakfast

The previous night we boarded the bus in Nyaung Shwe to Yangon. We rented the same taxi on our first day which was referred by a friend. The whole taxi fee includes sightseeing and transfers to the airport. Our oh-so-awesome friendly driver's name is Kyaw Min Oo, a Burmese guy who loves to smile at any given situation. He brought us to a small busy restaurant which serves authentic Myanmar dishes for breakfast. 

Myanmar Breakfast:
  • Shwe Ei Mok Hin Har (Rice Noodle Soup with Fish)
  • Shwe Taung Khout Swel (Noodle Soup with Coconut Cream)
  • Shwe Taung Style

Bike Tour in Union National Races Village

  • Entrance fee: 4,000 kyat
  • Bike Rental: 1,000 kyat

Goodies Shopping in Hypermarket 

Early Dinner: Steamed Fish, Crispy Eel and Frapuccino

After we proceeded to the Union National Races Village to know a little of the country's history. This was just a quick tour as the sun was over our heads and its unbearable. I really don't know why the heat got us as we have the same weather in Philippines and Singapore. We wanted to escape the heat and freshen up so we asked Kyaw to dropped us off at the nearest mall. The toilet was clean and quiet so it gave us ample of time to wash our faces and all. 

Funny Filthy Moments

I've never imagine bathing myself with baby wipes and alcohol in a small hypermarket in the city of Yangon. It was a bit funny as the toilet cleaner started to noticed our monkey business, when we came out from the toilet there more of them as if we were a new attraction in a zoo that's a must to see. Afterwards, we proceeded to the supermarker bought some myanmar tea and coffee, dried pork skin and some mynamar dried fruit candies, it only cost us around 200,000 kyat-400,000 kyat for all of this. It's always cheaper to do goodies shopping in the supermarket than in any tourist sites, its more safer as it has an expiry date and way more varieties too. 

Souvenirs at Bogyoke Aung San Market

We had a hard time looking for keychains in the hypermart so we texted Kyaw to pick us up and send us to the famous tourist market around the area. As the clock struck 4 in the afternoon it was time to drive to the airport. The traffic gets really bad in the afternoon, providing an hour or more of travel time to the airport. 

Yangon International Airport to Changi Airport Terminal 1
Jetstar 3K584 Flight time: 7:20 pm - 11:55 pm
Flight Travel time: 3 hours 

Here are a few tips about Myanmar:

Myanmar Words

I learned a few Myanmar words during my short trip, this really comes in handy as it puts a smile on everyone's face. Make someone's day by saying these few kind words with a big smile. 

  • Cè-zù tin-ba-deh - Thank you (I say this after purchasing something)
  • Cè-zù tin-mari (Ji Sew Teh Mari) - Thank you very much (I used this often as it is more respectful and really brightens up their faces)
  • Min-ga-la-ba - Good Morning, Good Afternoon and Good Evening 

Money Exchange

As of 2016 1 US Dollar = 1178.10 Myanmar Kyat while 1 Singapore Dollar = 867.30 Myanmar Kyat. In Yangon International Airport there's a limit of 200 USD for money change for some reason. Better change a few kyats for your travel expenses in your country. We managed to change a few dollars to kyat in Nyaung Shwe and slightly higher too, they close early in the afternoon so once you find a money changer get your money change right away. 


Myanmar's dry season is from October to May, the wet season is from May/June through to early October. 

Have fun and be safe ^__^

Do you want more adventure?
If you still have more days to spare why not go to Phuket, Thailand and have a relaxing weekend by the beach. 

Where am I going next?

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