Why I Fell in Love With Myanmar


There was something about Myanmar that didn’t excite me. I’d made plans to visit every year for the four I’d been travelling — often announcing it on the site — but never followed through.

I think I expected it to be too challenging. I’d heard the Internet was unusable and for some reason my planned trips would always coincide with a heavy workload. I’d heard the buses and trains were uncomfortable and unsafe. I’d heard power cuts were frequent and long-lasting. I’d heard of friends who lived there and ended up with dysentery. I’d heard it was (aside from Singapore) the most expensive country in Southeast Asia, and offered poor value for money. I’d heard, I’d heard, I’d heard.

And because I knew the majority of travellers head to the same four places — Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake — it felt like my trip would be just like everyone else’s. I guess it just didn’t feel all that worthwhile.

Eventually, after three cancelled visits, I finally made it. I discovered most of my preconceptions were wrong, and it fast became one of my favourite Southeast Asian countries.

Inle Lake
Inle Lake views

Two Weeks is Enough to See the Highlights

Because I had such misguided preconceptions, I didn’t prioritise my Myanmar trip. I allocated less than two weeks to the country, and planned to visit the highlights. This was my route:

Yangon: 2 nights
Bagan: 4 nights
Kalaw: 3 nights
Inle Lake: 1 night
Yangon: 2 nights

Some notes:

I decided to go to Kalaw over Mandalay as I hadn’t heard many good things about it (there I go listening to other people again).

I was originally planning on walking the three-day trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake but backed out at the last minute because I was still suffering from mono and sleeping all the time.

I should have spent one night in Kalaw, and spent the extra two days in Bagan and Inle Lake.

My trip was for 12 nights. If you planned for 14, you could squeeze a couple of days into Mandalay. Overall, I think I received a great introduction to Myanmar — enough to feel like I started to get to know the country a little, and enough to leave me craving to return.

Sunset in Bagan
Sunset in Bagan

It’s Cool That You Can Apply for Your Visa Online

Okay, maybe I’m the only person who thinks it’s cool, but it made the whole visa application process so much easier from Chiang Mai. It used to be that you had to travel down to Bangkok and apply in person from the Myanmar embassy. I hit up MyMyanmarVisa.com (I know, it totally sounds like a fake site), filled in my details — fun part: they require you to upload a passport photo of yourself, and that was interesting trying to take a photo of one of mine with my phone so it looked legit — paid $50, and it was approved within three days.

Shan noodles
Total price for Shan noodle soup, two glasses of tea with condensed milk, and three samosas: $2

It’s Actually Not That Expensive

I was under the impression that I’d be blowing through $50-100 a day as I travelled through Myanmar but this really wasn’t the case.

Accommodation

Accommodation was the most expensive aspect but even that wasn’t too bad, hovering at around $35 a night for somewhere clean and comfortable with hot water and Wi-Fi. I’m not a super-mega-budget traveller these days, and it was definitely possible to do it for cheaper. I look for budget guesthouses that are clean, quiet, and central over dorm rooms and hostels. And, of course, being able to split costs with Dave makes nicer rooms more justifiable.

Additionally! I’d heard it wasn’t possible to book guesthouses online — that you had to phone them while you were in the country — but we booked most of them online. We’d usually head to Travelfish to find somewhere that looked nice, and then book it on Agoda. Easy.

Yangon: Chan Myae Guesthouse — We paid $32 per night for a room here and loved it so much that we returned at the end of our stay. The airport pick-up was helpful, the room was clean though basic, the staff were ridiculously friendly, and the Internet was pretty good. The free breakfasts were the worst of my life.

Bagan: Bagan Princess Hotel — We paid $35 a night for a room here and it had the worst Internet of my life. After a four night stay, where I left my laptop on and connected the entire time, I’d managed to download 10 of around 350 incoming emails. Other than that, I liked the guesthouse. Especially because I managed to leave my passport in my room after checking out (more on that soon), and the staff did everything within their power to help me out. The rooms weren’t the greatest — a bit dingy and dark, but the swimming pool was perfect for relaxing beside after a hot day exploring Bagan. The free breakfasts were terrible.

Kalaw: Honey Pine Hotel — We paid $36 a night for an immaculately clean room with decent Wi-Fi and pretty views. The staff were lovely, the breakfasts were awful. There’s a large roof terrace and library on the top floor — great for reading in the sunshine. Only complaint was that our room was a little cold.

Inle Lake: Inle Star Motel — We paid $40 a night here. It was perfectly located, right next to where you catch the boats to head out on the lake. Our room was clean, noisy during the day, and the breakfasts… well, this was the first place we came across that had a local breakfast option as well as a “Continental breakfast”, but I didn’t like it because it contained peanuts. Sigh. All good, would recommend staying here.

Fancy resort in Bagan
The swimming pool at Bagan Princess Hotel

Transportation

We travelled solely by bus, paying $18.50 for Yangon to Bagan; $12.00 for Bagan to Kalaw; $7.50 for Kalaw to Inle Lake; and $22.00 for Inle Lake to Yangon.

Entrance Fees

It felt like every day I was shelling out for some kind of entrance fees. In Yangon, it was all about the Pagodas (most entrance fees were $3, Shwedagon Pagoda was $8). You have to pay $15.00 to get into Bagan (now $20), and $10.00 to access Inle Lake.

Activities

Bit of a mixed bag here. Want to take a sunrise hot air balloon ride over Bagan? We were quoted $380 each, for a 45 minute ride. Insane so we skipped it. Other activities weren’t too bad: a sunset evening cruise + full-day cruise on Inle Lake came to $15.

Inle Lake Sunset
Sunset cruise on Inle Lake

Your US Dollars Have to be Pristine; We Mostly Paid in Kyat; There are ATMs but You Probably Can’t Use Them

Change your money into US dollars before you go into the country. I took about $750 in with me and ended up spending around half that. Take more than you think you’ll need. When changing your currency, mention that you’re going to Myanmar. At the place I went to in Chiang Mai, they had a special drawer of pristine notes for this. If your notes aren’t pristine, they’ll be rejected. Dave and I had several notes turned down — one because it had a slight bend (not like it had been folded or anything, it just didn’t lie flat on the desk), and the other because there was a small grey smudge on it. I kept my notes in an envelope inside a book to keep them flat.

There are now ATMs in the country, but my bank (Natwest in the UK) and Dave’s banks (Bank of Melbourne and Citibank in Australia, Wells Fargo in the US, and ANZ in New Zealand), still have banking sanctions in Myanmar, and you won’t be able to use them there. I think this is the case for most Western banks.

I was expecting to pay for everything in US dollars, but it ended up being the opposite. I paid for accommodation in USD, and everything else was Kyat. On my first day, I offered a woman $1 for a bottle of water and she burst out laughing. I usually changed my USD at our guesthouses for convenience more than anything else. Also, sometimes they may only have small denominations and you’ll end up carrying this in your purse:

Kyat to burn
The Kyat equivalent of 100 USD

The Buses Are the Best

I really didn’t expect to say that the best bus journeys of my life were in Myanmar, and especially because most of them were overnight. The VIP buses are so nice! The seats are enormous, you get a free meal and bottle of water, and it was so freaking comfortable. I slept the whole night both times, which never happens. I recommend booking with JJ Express — the best company we travelled with — and booking more than a few days in advance.

Lauren at Shwedagon Pagoda
Shwedagon Pagoda: all the gold!

No Power Cuts

I’d heard a lot about frequent, long-lasting power cuts, but we didn’t experience any during our two week visit. We were there in November, the start of high season, so I was surprised we remained powered up.

The Internet Wasn’t Even That Bad

In Bagan, it was awful but other than that, it was pretty usable. I was able to check emails, upload photos, and sit on Facebook. I got around 1mbps download speed but I found it fine to use. I was expecting to spend my time in Myanmar offline so this was a pleasant surprise. Of course, we were only in tourist areas.

The Guesthouse Breakfasts are Uniformly Terrible

That photo up there is of a breakfast I was given at my guesthouse in Yangon. It’s a banana toastie. That’s weird, right? Also, cucumbers with ketchup and mayonnaise on top. Also weird, right? On the next day, it was an omelette with carrots, peas, and sweetcorn.

I didn’t have a single good guesthouse breakfast in Myanmar, so don’t use the free breakfasts as a selling point. They were all revolting. Instead, head outside and look for a steaming bowl of mohinga instead.

Lauren on an electric bike
With one of these, it’s easy to escape the crowds in Bagan

It Didn’t Feel Very Touristy

Every year, I read about how more and more people are visiting Myanmar, and I kind of expected it to be overcrowded and packed with tourists. It really didn’t feel like that, and it was so easy to escape the crowds.

The super popular places, yes. Shwedagon Pagoda was full of people at sunset, but Sule and Botataung were quiet in comparison. The well-known pagodas were crazy-busy at Bagan, but you often only needed to walk 50 metres to the next one and you’d have it all to yourself. Inle Lake can feel a little like a conveyor belt of tourists on boats, chugging along the same route and stopping at all the same stops, but if you decide to spend the day in Nyaung Shwe (the town with all the guesthouses, where you’ll likely be staying), everyone will be on the lake and you’ll be wandering down empty streets.

Beautiful, colourful Yangon
Beautiful, colourful Yangon

I didn’t Get Sick!

I was fully expecting to get sick. I especially expected to when Dave and I had a street food meal in Yangon where the meat was stone cold. Nope, we were fine.I even ate meat and fruit, which is usually a brave move. Can I give you any tips? Have soup wherever possible. Eat on the streets instead of in restaurants. It worked for us.

Market on the Circle Train
Market sprawled across the tracks, as viewed from Yangon’s Circle Train

Yangon is Great

Yangon was swelteringly hot, full of crumbling, colourful Colonial facades. The roads were chaotic but, unlike in most other Southeast Asian cities, there wasn’t a scooter to be seen (they’re illegal in Yangon). I developed an obsession with Shan noodle soups, my staple for much of the trip.

Walking around, Yangon felt like someone had taken my favourite parts of some of my favourite places and mashed them all together: the colonial architecture reminded me of Penang; the buses of Belize; the clouds of incense of Kathmandu; the trains of Sri Lanka.

We began our explorations on Yangon’s rickety Circle line (19 cents for a three-hour ride!), bouncing over the tracks and gazing out the window at lush grasses, hundreds of factories, and bustling markets that took place in railways stations, quickly shifting out the way when we rolled through.

My favourite part was pagoda-hopping my way across town, starting at Sule and ending in Shwedagon by way of the icy air conditioning unit at Botataung. Did I mention Yangon was hot? And that I was covering up by wearing jeans and a sweatshirt? It was worth the sweat, though. I was quietly awed by the shimmering golden stupas breaking up the city roofs. So much gold.

Lauren at Bagan
Bagan is the best

Bagan: So much Fun, Better Than Angkor Wat?

God, I loved Bagan so hard. Hands down, the most spectacular place I’ve been. I found it more incredible than Angkor Wat. We only had four days in Bagan but I could quite happily have spent an entire month there.

Rent an electric bike if you visit. They’re loads of fun, and make it so easy to get away from the tourists. One of my fondest memories from Bagan was just driving in one direction for half an hour, stopping next to a cluster of pagodas, and having them all to ourselves for the morning. Some of them were just as amazing as the popular ones but nobody seemed to be visiting them.

Lauren in Bagan
Views from the top of one of my favourite pagodas

Kalaw: Cold, Beautiful, Amazing Food

Everyone comes to Kalaw to hike. Our bus ride from Bagan was packed with people but when it came time to leave, we were the only foreigners on the bus. Everyone who comes to Kalaw leaves on foot.

After so much action in Yangon and Bagan, my mono caught up with me and I spent three days in Kalaw asleep. Once a hill station for the British to escape the heat, it’s now a pretty mountain town with a ton of hiking trails. Dave hiked, I ate.

Many of the descendants of the Indian and Nepali rail workers who migrated to Kalaw during British rule live here today, and I had some of the best Indian and Nepalese food of my life in several of their tiny restaurants.

Most people head to Kalaw and walk straight out again, but I recommend spending at least a day here, if only to eat everything in sight.

Kalaw sunset
View of Kalaw at sunset

Inle Lake: So Much Better Than Expected

Everyone we met in Myanmar said to skip Inle Lake. It was mega touristy, they told us, and there’s not that much to do there. We booked one night, which gave us two full days to explore. I guess that’s all you’d really need, but I could have stayed for three nights or so.

From the awkward sunset tour, where Dave, I, and the boat driver sat single file in silence for an hour, to the fun day on the lake, I loved every second. Our day tour was spent exploring stilted overwater villages, a silver factory (boring), a lotus weaving factory (really interesting), cheroot-making factory (I immediately developed an addiction to rose-flavoured cheroots),  Phaung Daw Oo pagoda (didn’t go inside because my scandalous shoulders were exposed. It looked pretty from the outside, though), the “long neck” Padaung tribe (skip! Please don’t support this!), and the Jumping Cat Monastery (there were no jumping cats). All in all, I normally hate this kind of tour. I hate being shuttled from stop to stop to stop, where everyone tries to make you buy things, but I didn’t feel pressured into it at all. Fun day! I wish I’d bought some cheroots.

I guess this post could be summarised as: Myanmar is awesome. Don’t form an opinion of a place before you arrive. I love, love, loved my time there, and can’t wait to return. Next time, I’d head to Yangon and Bagan, and then to some of the lesser-known places. So, go to Myanmar. It’s wonderful

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72 Comments

  1. Jub
    March 16, 2015
    Reply

    You covered everything in that write up!

    My first impressions were not quite as good, the internet was down in Inle Lake and Bagan so couple deadlines were missed haha. Buses, Inle Lake awesomeness, Kalaw food, non-touristy feel, cheap accomo and two weeks being enough for the highlights. That’s everything I agreed with! (probably more).

    I quite liked the ‘continental breakfasts’, I seemed to get toast, tea and fruit all the time. Next time, include Ngwe Saung Beach – amazing!

  2. Emma | banquets and backpacks
    March 16, 2015
    Reply

    I’ve heard the same about Myanmar too, as recently as a month ago a friend told me not to bother, that Myanmar is pure poverty. Still think I’m going to go at the end of the year anyway to see for myself. Thanks for the second opinion.

    • Lauren
      March 16, 2015
      Reply

      I don’t mean to be rude, but your friend sounds like a bit of a moron :-). I couldn’t even imagine saying something like that about any country.

      • Keith
        March 19, 2015
        Reply

        It is a bit harsh to call a person a moron just because a person did not like a country and would not recommend it to a friend. The posts that I have read of yours about China seem to say something very similar about China which I loved.

        I have recently returned from a trip to Myanmar and my personal experiences and feeling of the country are very different from yours. I did find the people wonderful and I hope they they can benefit in some way from the tourist currently coming to the country. You have to admit if you are paying $35 for a room it is expensive for SE Asia.

        • Lauren
          March 19, 2015
          Reply

          It wasn’t in reference to them not liking the country, but them saying that all it had was poverty. I would never say to anyone, don’t go to China, all it has are scammers. Or, all it has is pollution and trash. In fact, I regularly write about how I’m really keen to return to China to discover a different side to it, and how my biggest travel regret is the way I behaved while I was there. I guess I just find it shocking that anyone could summarise an entire country in such a dismissive and offensive way. But anyway, I agree with you, I shouldn’t have used the word moron. Apologies to Emma’s friend! I was in a bad mood and let my grumpiness get the better of me :-)

  3. Martha
    March 17, 2015
    Reply

    My husband and I are heading to Myanmar in August. Thank you for this wonderful post reminding me not to pay to much attention to what …”I’d heard. I’d heard. I’d heard.”

    • Lauren
      March 17, 2015
      Reply

      You’re welcome, Martha. I hope you have a fantastic time!

  4. Sky
    March 17, 2015
    Reply

    I’ve been attracted to Myanmar for a while now but never actually read many blog posts on it. It was just a far-off dream destination. Now I really, really want to go…

    • Lauren
      March 17, 2015
      Reply

      You totally should :-)

  5. memographer
    March 17, 2015
    Reply

    Never been to Myanmar, but heard a lot of good things about it. I might go there next year… Great and informative post, Lauren. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Love the pics, especially, Sunset in Bagan. Please post more ;)

    • Lauren
      March 17, 2015
      Reply

      Got lots of posts planned for this week! I’m loving posting more right now :-)

  6. Jimmy Dau
    March 17, 2015
    Reply

    Strange the Dave’s Citibank card didn’t work because mine did. Glad you had a great time, because it was one of of the best experiences I had. The people are super friendly and I could eat mohinga all day long. You didn’t miss much in Mandalay so don’t worry. Make sure you do the three day trek from Kalaw to Inle lake as well as the Golden Rock next time. They’re both amazing experiences.

    • Dave
      March 18, 2015
      Reply

      To be honest, I didn’t try my cards in the ATMs – I just went with what I’d been told by the banks when I messaged them to ask about it. It might have been fine, but I wasn’t going to risk it if I didn’t have to in case the card got held by the machine. I ended up with enough cash to last me, thankfully!

      • Lauren
        March 24, 2015
        Reply

        Yep, that’s it — I would have been happy to try an ATM with my card but I really didn’t want to run the risk of having the machine eat it.

    • Lauren
      March 21, 2015
      Reply

      I was disappointed we weren’t able to see the Golden Rock but we ran out of time. Definitely on the list for next time :-)

  7. tim
    March 17, 2015
    Reply

    I was there two years ago. Absolutely loved it. I was only in Mandalay and Bagan for a photography workshop. Mandalay is worth the time to go just to walk the streets and see the people with joy in their eyes even though poverty is so prevalent. The sense of community on the streets was amazing. Also, Ubein Bridge is wonderful to photograph. Even though bus traffic is making it touristy.

    I didn’t have so much luck with the bus however as the rickety bus from Bagan to Mandalay broke down in the middle of the evening causing the driver to give us half our money back on the side of the road and leaving us to fend for ourselves.

    I had very tasty breakfasts because I just walked the streets until I found a place that all the locals were eating. :)

    I really enjoyed your posts. Brought back great memories.

  8. Nico
    March 17, 2015
    Reply

    I have to agree with you that Bagan is spectacular. Think it’s the fact that it’s all on an open plain so you can see for miles.

    btw. I was able to use ATM in Myanmar with my Nat West card without a problem. Think it’s becoming easier to travel the tourist route with a bank card.

    • Lauren
      March 17, 2015
      Reply

      Oh, interesting! My dad works for Natwest and said it wouldn’t work for me. Pleased to hear that’s not the case.

  9. Miriam of Adventurous Miriam
    March 17, 2015
    Reply

    I love, love, love your guides to the Maldives and Myanmar! Like you, I’ve wanted to visit for the past years so hopefully I’ll prioritize it soon!

    • Lauren
      March 21, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Miriam! Glad you enjoyed them :-)

  10. Katie
    March 18, 2015
    Reply

    Thansk so much for this! I am heading there for about 2 1/2 weeks later this year with my Dad. It’s funny, like you I aren’t super excited because I don’t have any expectations. I guess I just haven’t heard much about it. Your post and Dave’s post have definitely convinced me to visit! My Great Uncle died as a prisoner of war, building the Burmese railway, so we are going to visit his grave (amazing that he even has one there!) and will definitely be visiting Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake and probably Mandalay and Kalaw too.

    • Lauren
      March 21, 2015
      Reply

      Wow, that’s incredible and sounds like it’s going to be an amazing trip. I hope you have a wonderful time! :-)

  11. Rachel
    March 18, 2015
    Reply

    I’m also one of those “to see is to believe” kind of person, but also, I don’t expect too much to a place, but rather hopes that I would enjoy my stay on that place and that everything would be fine.. at least in the end.

    • Lauren
      March 21, 2015
      Reply

      I always try to keep my expectations low so I don’t end up disappointed, and it worked out well for Myanmar.

  12. Catherine
    March 18, 2015
    Reply

    I’ve never really heard a lot about Myanmar – or maybe just blocked it out if it’s all negative – but it sounds absolutely amazing! I love the idea of just jumping on the circular train route and watching the city go by for three hours, especially if it only costs 19 cents!

    • Lauren
      March 21, 2015
      Reply

      The Circle Train was so interesting, and because we left super early, there were hardly any tourists on it, either.

  13. Becky
    March 18, 2015
    Reply

    This is a really great guide – we’re going to Myanmar soon and I can’t wait to see the temples in Bagan, they look amazing in your pictures.

    • Lauren
      March 20, 2015
      Reply

      Ahh, it was so incredible! One of the highlights of my travels :-)

  14. Jenia
    March 18, 2015
    Reply

    We had mostly the same impression about Myanmar — except the guesthouses! I am so GLAD to hear that budget places are improving – for the most part we were disappointed, and in some cases very disappointed. The only place we liked our accommodations was Inle Lake. But everything else – from not being overly touristy to having a great time in Bagan is spot on. Cheers!

    • Lauren
      March 19, 2015
      Reply

      Ah, that sucks about the guesthouses, Jenia. They definitely weren’t as good value as other places in Southeast Asia but I found ours to be fine, and much cheaper than other people said they would be!

  15. Bethany
    March 18, 2015
    Reply

    Wow, absolutely amazing. I’ve never even considered visiting here before, but this post has completely changed my mind! Definitely adding to my list of places I want to go. Those colourful buildings in Yangon are just insane, all of your photos are!

    • Lauren
      March 19, 2015
      Reply

      That was one of my favourite photos! It was the view from our guesthouse in Yangon :-)

  16. Scott
    March 19, 2015
    Reply

    I don’t know what it is, maybe the whole “it’s called Mynamar but Burma in parenthesis” thing or my unfamiliarity with the food, but yeah, I really haven’t had a desire to go. But now, seeing this and some other things, my eyes are opening and while I am still not sure it will make the cut for us next year if we make it back to SEA, you never, never know.

    • Lauren
      March 19, 2015
      Reply

      Hahaha, yes, I wasn’t quite sure how to refer to it but all of the locals we encountered called it Myanmar, so that’s what I went with. I still feel pretty unfamiliar with Burmese food — I liked the soups when they didn’t have peanuts but didn’t really try much else.

      It is really great, though, and I fully recommend checking it out!

  17. Atanas
    March 22, 2015
    Reply

    Bagan looks amazing! It`s like from fairytale. I wish I`d go and see it myself. I actually did not know that Myanmar is some-kind of expensive in comparison with the other South East Asian countries – Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, etc. Although, looking at the picture of that Bagan Princess Hotel, I don`t find 35 dollars is a big amount of money. Especially, in comparison with some Western European Cities (and, yes, I`m talking about London, of course :)) F..k, I paid 25 GBP per night, staying in a crappy hostel, during the Olympics, And, of course, there was no pool, no green space around. Myanmar looks like real deal!

    • Lauren
      March 23, 2015
      Reply

      Well, the pool at the Bagan Princess was awesome, but the rooms were super basic! You’d pay $5 for them in Thailand. And yep, Myanmar is still cheap when compared to much of Western Europe :-)

  18. Katie
    March 27, 2015
    Reply

    Lauren, I’m so glad you wrote this post! I’m headed to Myanmar next month following almost exactly your route and I’m suddenly so excited!! Any extra tips? Anything you didn’t do that you wish you had??

    • Lauren
      March 27, 2015
      Reply

      I really wanted to see the Golden Rock but didn’t have enough time.

  19. Mike Robertson
    March 28, 2015
    Reply

    But banana toasties are ace..! Fair enough I’d expect a bit more banana in one, maybe a bit of cinnamon but they are great. I used to make them when I had a flat in Scotland and wasn’t a student either, you just have to be careful as they are as hot and lethal as pop tarts straight out of the toaster..!

    • Lauren
      March 28, 2015
      Reply

      It was pretty disgusting :-)

  20. Maria
    April 4, 2015
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, I super love your blog. I will be visiting Thailand on my birth month, June, and planning to stay there for a month. Will try to visit Myanmar and other nearby countries. I am making your blog as my guide now. I love you entries. Thank you thank you!

    • Lauren
      November 22, 2015
      Reply

      I hope you make it there, Maria! It was such a highlight for me :-)

  21. Renuka
    April 11, 2015
    Reply

    I like the fact that there’s no power cut and WiFi is pretty good! Myanmar looks very colorful, and over all an interesting destination to explore.

    • Lauren
      November 22, 2015
      Reply

      It was so much better than I was expecting :-)

  22. Aadarsh Dash
    April 21, 2015
    Reply

    Hey Lauren! Sometimes travel is hard but I’m extremely glad that you got to see nature at its finest in Myanmar. It is indeed a beautiful location and I after reading this post I plan to take a trip there this fall so that I can rejuvenate!

    • Lauren
      June 30, 2015
      Reply

      Hope you have an amazing time there!

  23. Hannah @GettingStamped
    June 9, 2015
    Reply

    Great post here about Myanmar. The gold Shwedagon Pagoda looks enthralling! :)

    • Lauren
      June 12, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks!

  24. Marko 'X Ray Cat'
    July 20, 2015
    Reply

    Wow :)

    Thanks Lauren for leaving so inspirational footsteps for me
    and countless others to follow :)

    I have yet to discover the wonders of Asia and Myanmar
    but thanks to your absolutely amazing post

    and vivid pics I truly felt like i was there breaking all speed limits with the scooter LOL,

    embracing the beauty of the sunset and meditating
    on the top of pagodas..

    I absolutely loved your post and
    your blog overall.

    I admire your courage to live life to your fullest potential
    and your mission to inspire others by sharing your passion
    with the world :)

    Love and light,
    Marko

    • Lauren
      July 22, 2015
      Reply

      Ah, thank you so much, Marko! You definitely need to head to Asia soon :-)

  25. Tara Woodruff
    July 21, 2015
    Reply

    Wow! Lauren! What a Beautiful Trip To a Land I thought would Be In hospitable. I Definitely want to Go Now!!

    ps Found you over On Marko’s Blog The XRay Cat

    • Lauren
      July 22, 2015
      Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Tara! :-D

  26. Vicky
    November 10, 2015
    Reply

    I’m heading to Myanmar in a couple of days (beyond excited!) and this post has been so useful in getting a realistic feel for what it should cost and what to expect. Especially about using ATMs…. . It appears that the national bank are now in the process of recalling foreign exchange licences so that the kyat is used more so will be interesting to see how this changes things.
    Another great post Lauren, thanks!

    • Lauren
      November 13, 2015
      Reply

      Great! So happy to hear you found my post helpful :-) Hope you have an amazing trip!

  27. Lena
    November 25, 2015
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, read both your Maldives and Burma one . Great stuff. Im actually planning a 7 days into Burma (like you been putting it off for 3 years now) . Alot have adviced to just take flights to save time, given i only have 7 days and would like to do the typical 4 hot spot . What do you reckon ?
    perhaps i can mix it up abit with one land ride?
    Kalaw seems like a pretty good place. How far is it from bagan?

    in Yangon, you recommended the Circular train. From some pics online , it does look like it may not be as ‘comfortable’ ? And looks abit messy inside of it?Other than to really just see locals going in and out of the train….. i suppose in the end is really to look out of the window and see the view? dont know if sitting a loop around yangon for 3 hours would be the best idea to be part of my 7 days itenary? Do advice. =)

    • Lauren
      November 25, 2015
      Reply

      Hi Lena. Yeah, if you only have 7 days, I’d recommend flying — the ride from Bagan to Kalaw, or Kalaw to Inle Lake would be a good option for a minivan ride.

      The circle train was one of my highlights in Yangon. You get to see so much of the city and the locals’ way of life, but if it’s not your sort of thing, then go temple hopping around instead :-)

  28. Todd Herman
    December 21, 2015
    Reply

    I have been thinking of going to Myanmar but heard that it is difficult; like taking prescription medication over there. Have you heard anything about that? I obviously take medication that I cannot be without. Also that cell phones/smart phones are not allowed?
    You pics are amazing!

    • Lauren
      December 21, 2015
      Reply

      You’ll have no issues with taking prescription medication in Myanmar, and phones are definitely allowed! You can buy SIM cards for them almost everywhere!

  29. Kiara Gallop
    October 12, 2016
    Reply

    I’m actually re-visiting your great post because I’m planning an itinerary for four weeks in Thailand and Myanmar at the moment.

    I forced my boyfriend to read it because he had all negative thoughts about going there beforehand. He actually thought I was taking him to India first of all until I politely informed him that Burma is not actually in India; it’s a country! ;-))

    Anyway, I digress…I was just wondering how much of your route you actually flew? (which routes?) and who you flew with?

    • Lauren
      October 13, 2016
      Reply

      I actually didn’t fly any of it — I took buses everywhere. We took an overnight bus from Yangon to Bagan, a minivan from Bagan to Kalaw, another minivan from Kalaw to Inle Lake, and an all-day bus back to Yangon.

  30. Kiara Gallop
    October 15, 2016
    Reply

    Ah, that’s good to know you can manage it all in those timescales without flying, because I’m not a great fan of flying and you miss so much of the country by travelling that way :-) Did you just book onward buses when you arrived on each place? Any particular company you’d recommend or are they all much the same?

  31. Brian
    October 29, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, thank you for writing such a good post. Lonely Planet got me interested in Myanmar (along with Colombia) but you’ve got me hooked so thank you for all the info.

    For what it’s worth, this was your intro to the country. Everyone has an itinerary set out (that was my flaw with Spain and Morocco) that we’ll wish we’d changed for the better.

    Anyway, thank you for all the advice. It looks breathtaking. Dunno if the electric bikes are for me though.

    All the best with Namibia :)

  32. Myanmar Guide
    December 22, 2016
    Reply

    Your blog about our country is very useful and interesting. If you come next time, contact us for a dinner treat ! (we will invite you )

    • Lauren
      December 30, 2016
      Reply

      Ah, thank you so much! :-)

  33. Margret
    April 22, 2018
    Reply

    Your blog about our country is very useful and interesting. If you come next time, contact us for a dinner treat ! (we will invite you )

    • Lauren
      April 23, 2018
      Reply

      Thank you! :-)

  34. Tony
    February 20, 2019
    Reply

    Excellent post. I’m currently living in Myanmar near Yangon, and I too was totally taken by surprise by the country.

    I’d love to know who told you it was expensive! It is the cheapest country that I’ve been to…in line with Moldova in Eastern Europe. I have a stupid one too by the way…a friend told me that there are no trees here. He said..once you pass from Thailand to Myanmar all the trees disappear. He was so wrong…this place is a jungle!

    I’ve been here for 2 weeks currently, and will be here for at least another 2, but I feel like I’ll be back in the future too. (Btw…you were fortunate not to get sick I would say)

  35. Jon Pontius
    August 7, 2019
    Reply

    Just as a shout out. I was just just in Yangon. (Cant wait to go back to Myanmar by the way!) The free breakfast at Grand United Hotel makes the sketchy nature of its area worth it.

    Bacon, Potatoes, Pancakes, Eggs, Myanmar rice, Malaysian noodles, stir fried veggies, Pho. So much food and it was all AMAZING.

    I want to go back soon. I loved how the locals werent pushy. I came from Cambodia to Myanmar and I had felt stressed and a little angry in Cambodia with the constant PUSHING PUSHING PUSHING.

    Myanmar felt so great that when people talked to me I didnt instantly suspect they were trying to scam me for cash. I actually could relax. God I LOVE myanmar.

    • Lauren
      August 12, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you so much for sharing, Jon!

  36. Andy
    November 4, 2019
    Reply

    Great guide! Last time I visited Myanmar I got sick. But now it’s time for a second trip and I hope your tips will help me having a better visit!

  37. Noi
    November 17, 2019
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    I enjoyed reading about your travels. Did you use a guide at all? If not, was it difficult to figure our maps and signs? Did the locals speak passable english to be able to assist?

    I have traveled all over SE Asia. I only used a guide in Cambodia and Bhutan.

    • Lauren
      November 17, 2019
      Reply

      Nope, no guide! Was easy to figure out signs and most people spoke decent English.

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