Yesterday I posted part 1 of this 28 days itinerary, which covered the part from Inle Lake over Mandalay to Monywa. Today we are going down south to discover some of the real pearls of Myanmar.
As a reminder, here is the full itinerary we’re going to follow in order to get the most out of our 28 days visa in Myanmar:
Part 5 – Bagan, the biggest ancient temples site in the world – 4 days
From Mandalay we take a boat down the Irrawaddy river, direction Bagan! The boat takes about half a day and is quite chill. Get out a book or podcast and get cozy.
Bagan is probably the most known tourist attraction of Myanmar and part of every itinerary. But be damned, it merits that status. Bagan is simply amazing! 😀
Most people recommended to stay in Old Bagan, however it’s a lot more expensive than New Bagan and in my opinion not really worth it. We stayed in the Bagan Nova Guest House. This is in New Bagan, which has plenty of nice restaurants and is as close to the ancient site as well.
Time to rent an electric scooter and start exploring the 10.000’s stupas and pagodas spread out over an area of 100 square kilometers !! 😮
You’ll need 3 days to explore most of the site. And don’t forget to catch a few sunrises and a glimpse of the hot air balloons! Read more about Bagan on my separate Bagan sunrise blog post here.
Some people squeeze in half a day trip to Mount Popa, but we felt this was too much … up to you 🙂
Part 6 – Finally some beach time at Ngapali beach – 2 days
From Bagan you can fly directly to Thandwe and a short taxi ride will take you to Ngapali beach, where you’ll have the choice between fancy resorts like the Ngapali Bay Villas & Spa with much reduced prices or just regular homestays.
Time to get those swimming shorts and bikinis out and relax on the beach! They say Ngapali beach is the most beautiful beach of Myanmar. I’m not sure about that. I heard the beaches around Myeik Archipelago are stunning as well (but very difficult to get to). In any case, the beach here is remarkably clean with only white sand between your toes, palm trees left and right and nice warm water. So enjoy yourselves! 😎
Part 7 – Off the beaten path in Mrauk-U, the hidden gem – 4 days
From Thandwe you can either fly to Sittwe or you can take the sea ferry, which obviously takes a lot longer and is not very regular. From Sittwe you’ll want to get on one of the boats to take you to Mrauk-U. The boat ride has some nice landscapes to get you warmed up. Really different from what we’ve seen up until now!
Mrauk-U is my favorite part of this itinerary, because it is really still a hidden gem. Not a lot of tourists go here, because it is actually quite difficult, time consuming and expensive to get to and the area is not as safe as the other trodden paths, but it is SO WORTH IT 🙂
The village of Mrauk-U is very charming with a lot of nice wooden houses and homestays. We stayed in the Golden Mrauk-U Guest House. They rent you a bicycle and off you go exploring.
Around Mrauk-U you’ll find dozens of stupas and pagodas from the Mrauk-U kingdom (history lesson here), which had a very different style than the architecture in Bagan for example. They are bell shaped and you can often find them on top of one of the many hills that dominate the landscape here. The Mrauk-U pagodos also have very detailed interiors and murals. Read all about the highlights on my separate Mrauk-U blog post.
You’ll need 2 full days with the bicycle to explore the ancient site and then it’s time to head back to Sittwe. This time I recommend to take the bus, because it’s cheaper & faster than the boat and you’ve already seen the landscape on the way in 😛
Part 8 – Back to civilization in Yangon – 1 day
From Sittwe you’ll fly to Yangon, the peoples’ capital of Myanmar. Lots more activity here in the buzzing streets compared to Mandalay. Be sure to pass by the golden Shwedagon pagoda, the main highlight. However also be sure to pass by the ATM before you do, because in Yangon they understand how to roll tourists. We were a bit disappointed after playing Indiana Jones in the raw history of Mrauk-U, so let’s just get a good nights rest and get ready for some roadtripping tomorrow!
Part 9 – Roadtrip to Hpa-An – 3 days
From Yangon you can get a bus to Hpa-An. However be sure to stop along the way for the shiny ‘Golden Rock’ at the Kyaiktiyo pagoda. It’s quite funny 😀
I actually would recommend to take the bus to Mawlamyine. Not that much to see there, but you can take the slow boat up the river to Hpa-An. It’s quite a nice experience with beautiful landscape all around you.
Once you get to Hpa-An, you need to rent a scooter and just explore the surrounding areas. Lots of rice fields and karst mountain ranges to be found. Every single one will amaze you. Trust me 😉
Despite what every blog says, I would not particularly recommend the Pindaya Caves. We did it and I was very disappointed. The cave itself is not that nice, is filled with neon lights and Buddha statues (you’ll have seen enough Buddha statues by now 😎 ). And the boat ride at the end is just a tourist trap.
Instead visit the Kyauk Kalap monastery, just for the fun of it, haha 😀 and definitely climb either the Hpan Pu mountain for a great sunset view (easier) or the Zwegabin mountain trek for a great sunrise view (more difficult) !! 😉
From Hpa-An you can either continue towards Thailand and cross the border in Myawaddy or you head back to Yangon and fly home.
Are you ready for the next adventure? 🙂