Your Travel Guide to Myanmar

Myanmar. The country formerly known as Burma. It’s a magical place that drops you right into raw-unfiltered travel. It’s my favorite country in the world – if you were to ask that question. It’s a large sweeping nation with so many cultures, religions, cuisines, and places to visit. And let’s not forget about the people. Such friendly people who don’t want anything in return. They just give out of the kindness of their heart. It’s what makes the country so special. It’s just something about traveling back in time and seeing it as if your the first. I hope you get to experience it too, so that you’ll know first hand what I am talking about. Do it before it becomes too developed, and loses its charm. 

Photo below from Bagan, Myanmar – six hours away from Mandalay.


Myanmar, located on the borders of Thailand, Bangladesh, China, and Laos, is one of those countries where you can start from the north or start from the south. Either way works, such that there’s a defined route to choose from, which makes stops in towns along the way. You’ll likely want to fly from somewhere in Thailand (Bangkok) or from Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) and fly into either Yangon or Mandalay as your starting point.

Related: Elephant Company – Best book on Burma’s Elephants.


Myanmar requires an e-visa for approval to travel to the country. You’ll have to apply at the Myanmar eVisa (Official Government Website) and pay $50 USD for a one-month long visa. It takes usually a day or two. Sometimes they will approve it within a few hours. Either way, plan ahead of time, as soon as you know when you are going to the country.

How to Get to Myanmar:

Quick, cheap flights leave from Bangkok to Yangon in the south or Mandalay in the north. You also have the option to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Yangon for cheap as well. A third option is taking the bus from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Hpa-an in the southeast.

Getting to Cities:

If you worry about getting from city to city in a new country, there’s no need to worry in Myanmar. Your money will make sure you get to the correct location at the correct time. Only a major national or local holiday will delay travel. That would be your only concern. There’s a lot of bus companies (i.e. JJ Express) and if you work with your guest house to secure the necessary bus ticket, then you will likely get a reputable company and the guesthouse will usually get you to the bus station at the correct time. I never had a problem with any of the buses on the way, and just like in any country, you’ll just want to take extra care of your belongings that you bring on the bus with you. You might also consider taking the day buses for safety (fewer crashes). 

Rainy Season:

Flooding and the rainy season is a real concern revolving around your travel to Myanmar. It’s not recommended to go during the heavy part of the rainy season as most spots won’t be enjoyable. This season lasts from June to October – with very high rainfall. The shoulder season is a good bet too – meaning any transition month (October, March). You might want to avoid the tip of dry season – March through May, as it will be very hot. The best season is from November to February.

Where to Stay:

Myanmar is complex in that it has guesthouses in many cities, but these guesthouses can only serve locals. No foreigners are allowed. You will have to go to or Hostelworld to find places to stay. In each of my city guides, I’ve listed a few places for places to stay.


In the countryside and in the cities, people are friendly. You will have to be careful of overly aggressive taxi drivers and people looking to scam you, but in terms of violent crime or theft, it doesn’t seem much different than other countries. Take the regular precautions and you will be fine. 

What to See and Do:

In each of my city guides, you can find a list of things to see and do. 


The largest costs in this country are transportation and visa. Flights to get there will eat some of your budget, buses in between cities cost more than a few days worth of accomodation, the visa adds at least a dollar to your every day cost. But for the most part, Myanmar is affordable, perhaps even the cheapest compared to other southeast asian countries. Hostels are less than $10, activities are abundant, markets have some of the best food for a dollar or two. 

Your Travel Guide to Myanmar:

Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake, Loikaw, Hpa-an, Yangon


Mandalay is usually the first stop on most people’s travels to Myanmar. It is the jumping point to famous places like Bagan (see below*) – where there are thousands of ancient temples. However, Mandalay has its own famous temples and you’ll want to see them. Plan on spending at least a day or two in the city to cover it all. Read the full blog post about Mandalay.


Bagan is the land of mystical pagodas. More than 2,000 still exist today. Each slightly different, yet familiar. There are some big and some small. Ones you can walk through, and ones that have just a small metal gate to peer your eyes through. The best part is getting lost, driving through the network of dirt roads on an electric scooter – all at your own pace. You’ll have memories for a lifetime – ones of the hot, dusty winds blowing against your face, the unexpected turns you made that led to your favorite pagoda, and stillness – a calming aura – that you can’t find anywhere else. Read the full blog post about Bagan.

Inle Lake:

Inle Lake serves as an outdoor lovers hub, a pass-through spot that leaves you thinking it was worth it. You’ll hear about it over conversations, about how Inle Lake was one of the best parts of one’s travels to Myanmar – a few days trekking overland, and a diverse number of things to do and see on the water. You can take a boat tour on the vast lake – speeding down the flat waters on a narrow and tippy boat. You can see floating villages, narrow river passages, pagodas, and people’s handicraft. Read the full blog post about Inle Lake.


Loikaw is about experiencing true Myanmar – away from all the tourists. In this small town, you’ll be surrounded only by locals. You can climb the famous Taung Kwe Pagoda in the sky, see the long neck women of Pan Pet and adventure around as if you are the first person to set foot in this city. Read the full blog post about Loikaw.


Hpa-an is another small town with relatively no tourist infrastructure. Here, you can climb the famed Mount Zwegabin for sunrise and visit the many caves in the area. The cave systems here are impressive. Some lead you out to the tops of mountains with grand overlooks, some lead to a small lake where you can get a boat back to the entrance. It’s worth the stop from Yangon or Thailand, if you have the time. Read the full blog post about Hpa-an.


Yangon is Myanmar’s largest city with over seven million people living here. It’s a true melting pot of all cultures. As you walk through the downtown center, you’ll find the muslim quarter, five minutes away is Chinatown, then there’s a large Indian influence too. There’s no shortage of great hostels that can guide you. I recommend taking the circular train for a half-days adventure. Read the full blog post about Yangon.

More Myanmar Guides Here:

These are my other guides for Myanmar:

Explore Bagan: Your Travel Guide to Bagan

Explore Inle Lake: Your Travel Guide to Inle Lake

Explore Loikaw: Your Travel Guide to Loikaw

Explore Hpa-an: Your Travel Guide to Hpa-an

Explore Yangon: Your Travel Guide to Yangon

Get Inspired for Myanmar: Top Five Reasons to Visit Myanmar

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