If this is your first time to Myanmar, you should not skip this post as this is a classic and essential Myanmar itinerary that will bring you to iconic destinations of this beautiful country. Explore ancient pagodas in Yangon, take a balloon on top of thousands of temples in Bagan city, admire the stunning view of Inle Lake, or get on a local boat sailing along the beautiful river to get to the famous U Bein Bridge.
Here are top things to do in Myanmar in 10 days!
Recommend: 1 day
No Myanmar trip could be complete without visiting the cultural hub Yangon to admire its iconic pagodas and enjoy the local life here.
Also, don’t forget to visit the legendary Shwedagon Pagoda. Aside from being a house of Buddhist worship, it is one of the largest structure and the most spectacular golden pagodas in the world, containing strands of the Buddha hair inside the shrine. The Shwedagon Pagoda is actually covered with gold plates, and the stupa’s top is encrusted with over 4,500 diamonds to make it like the Enchanted Kingdom!
Rangoon Tea House (Photo: theculturetrip)
You should take your time to explore the authentic life in Yangon. The most recommended restaurant when it comes to Yangon is Rangoon Tea House that draws inspiration from the heritage and tradition. Thus, it will bring you the wonderful Burmese food as well as a vibrant atmosphere of downtown. Prepare to enjoy brewed tea of different varieties which is a part of Myanmar culture.
It would be a big loss if you miss Bogyoke Market that is full of textiles, accessories, bags, and different souvenirs. Otherwise, pay Sule Pagoda Road a visit – a magnet for fortune tellers.
To stay: Kandawgyi Palace Hotel and Savoy Hotel Yangon are ideal places which are silent yet luxury oases in the middle of the buzzing city.
Recommend: 3 days
From Yangon, you will get a short flight to Mandalay – the second largest and the last royal capital of Myanmar. You will want to sightsee the Kyauktawgyi Marble Pagoda located on top of the Mindhama Hill. It is famous for the great Buddha image carved from a single block of white marble.
Trekking Mandalay Hill is a great way to feel the amazing touch of royal splendour and beautiful charm in the air in Mandalay. On the way up, stop to admire the view, the numerous temples, and watch the local life. Located on the foot of Mandalay Hill, Sandamuni Pagoda is known for the largest iron Buddha images with 1,774 slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. A short walk from here, you will see the Kuthodaw Pagoda which is called ‘the world’s largest book thanks to its 729 slabs.
Photo: Chris M
Crowning the summit is the Su Taung Pagoda, one of Myanmar’s major Buddhist pilgrim destinations. With Buddha statues, terraces, white and golden stupas, this top-hill pagoda provides you with an excellent view over the city which would be romantic yet panoramic.
The charm of Mandalay often lies under its surface, so if you love the feeling of fresh air on your face and the wind blowing through your hair, cycling around this pleasant area will be a perfect choice to explore it.
Once you come to see Amarpura which was the royal capital, don’t skip a boat tour to the famous U Bein Bridge – the biggest highlight here and the largest teakwood bridge in the world. Honestly, it is beautiful at any time of the day, but the most stunning moment should be at sunset that you can capture the bridge silhouette against the fiery, orange-red sky. Stop, stroll along the bridge, and sample exotic Burmese food.
Likewise, be sure to visit the Mahar Wai Yan Bon Thar Monastery – five-story Buddhist monastery which was built with the traditionally tiered roofs representing Burmese architecture. There are about 20,000 wooden carvings in the temple, 500 images of Buddha, and ancient manuscripts written on palm leaves
Photo: Lonely Planet
A crest of green hills covered with golden and white pagodas mark the skyline of Sagaing – a religious centre resembling the ancient Bagan. Located on the Irrawaddy River, Sagaing is a group of pagodas, monasteries, and nunneries for witnessing an enthralling scene. Some interesting attractions for you are Buddha Museum, Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya, Tilawkaguru Monastery, and Shwe-kyet-kya Stupa.
When it comes to craft in Mandalay, gold leaves, silk weaving, marionettes, and richly embroidered tapestries are worth mentioning. There are dozens of cottage workshops throughout this city. Stop at one to see how to make amazing artisan products without pressure to buy anything. If you want to purchase locally-made crafts, Jade Market, Gem Palace, Zegyo Market, Sein Myint Gallery, and Rocky shop are some places that you can have high-quality shopping experience.
Day 1: Head to Mandalay Hill and spend your whole day to explore numerous pagodas as well as discover the local life
Day 2: Start your next day in Mandalay with a biking tour around this area. Don’t forget to visit Mahar Wai Yan Bon Thar Monastery and take a boat tour to the iconic U Bein Bridge in Amarpura. Also, attend some cottage workshops and spend time at handicraft shops.
Day 3: Embark on a car tour to the friendly Sagaing to watch the magnificent view of nunneries, monasteries, and pagodas.
To help you enjoy a pleasant experience, Mandalay Hill Resort and Rupar Mandalar Resort Mandalay are romantic hotels with an exotic atmosphere and a touch of culture. They are just a few minutes drive to Mandalay Hill and Mandalay Palace.
Mandalay Hill Resort
Rupar Mandalar Resort Mandalay
Recommend: 2 days
On the next day, get driven to Bagan city – home to a huge number of temples in Myanmar. This ancient city was found in the mid-to-late 9th century by the Burmese. From the 9th to 13th century, Bagan was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom which would later constitute modern Myanmar. The Bagan Archaeological Zone is the main attraction that is equally well-known to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Remember to get on a hot air balloon riding tour to admire the full romantic scenes of mysterious temples in the sunrise which will make you feel like returning to the ancient past, in which each of those buildings marks a historical era with traditional culture.
Taking a cruise along the river at sunset is a must-try experience to immerse yourself in a romantic atmosphere. That is such a perfect time for you to observe the beautiful disappearance of the sun below the horizon while indulging in the extraordinary beauty of the tiered pagodas atop rambling teak monasteries as well as the villages of thatched homes raised on stilts.
Another interesting experience in Bagan is to ride e-bike around this city. The colorful Nyaung U Market is a must-see that is divided into various sections to sell a wide range of items. Once you get here, you can buy everything from fresh vegetables, fish, handicrafts to Burmese sarong. This lively market also shows you daily life of locals, for instance, watching artisans turn a block of plain wood into a piece of art, seeing novice nuns collect alms from people, enjoying the scent of local rice, or talking with friendly residents daubed with special sunblock than kaka to know where it comes from.
A symbol of the old Bagan is the Shwezigon Pagoda. As the pagoda enshrines a lot of sacred Buddhist relics, it is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. If you come here in December, you will see the annual Shwezigon festival attracting thousands of devotees.
The Ananda Pagoda is a single-storey structure built in 1105 – the end of the early Bagan period. Apart from showing Mon and North Indian influence in its architectural style, the gilded sikhara like a spire on top is visible from miles away over the Bagan plains. Thus, Ananda Pagoda is lit up by spotlights that create a mystical atmosphere when the darkness falls.
Hotel @Tharabar Gate
Aureum Palace Resort Bagan
Recommend: 3 days
The last few days of your journey will be in the picturesque Inle Lake – a highland lake in the heart of Shan Plateau. This freshwater lake is home to a number of endemic species that could not be found anywhere else in the world.
Moving to Inle Lake, you will experience the daily life of locals in Nyaung Shwe floating village. It is constructed on wooden piles driven into the water, and some of the teak buildings can be huge, up to 2 – 3 stories. Weaving in and out the village by boat is interesting, but be aware that photographing people cleaning their teeth or showering is inappropriate. Otherwise, you can enjoy the authentic atmosphere when visiting the floating markets and giving a hand with harvesting vegetable and fruits grown in the floating gardens.
You will be amazed by the calm and clear water of Inle Lake with 80,000 Intha people of 14 villages living here for fishing and farming. Ikat woven tapestries are also sold in the floating market that shows a unique style of weaving, bright colours, and geometric shapes. What will impress most is Burmese fishermen who have mastered an unusual technique of fishing – carefully balancing on one leg, wrapping their second leg around the oar while keeping both hands free to handle the cumbersome nets to hunt carps.
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda on Inle Lake is the most revered monastery in the area with five 800-year-old images of Buddha covered in gold leaf. The most important festival here might be the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda festival that is annually held in the 7th month of the Burmese lunar calendar (October/November).
Located on the western side of the lake, Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery is an attractive wooden attraction built at the end of the 1850s. Not only being known as the biggest and oldest monastery here, it is famous for jumping cats trained to leap through hoops as well as a collection of ancient Buddha images.
Want to discover the best of Myanmar? Don’t hesitate to book a tour with us to have an unforgettable experience in the old Burma.