This 8-day itinerary is designed for independent travelers who want to experience Myanmar's diversity but have limited time. You'll discover Mandalay's royal vestiges, wander amid Bagan's endless religious monuments, cruise the beautiful waters of Inle Lake and experience Yangon's intoxicating blend of old and new.

Overview

During this trip, you'll get a taste of the country's history, traditions, and stunning landscapes as you explore Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake and Yangon. In each destination, a passionate local guide will show you around his or her hometown, introducing you to their daily life and traditional customs. These guided days are balanced with free time to allow you to discover more hidden corners on your own. 

Brief itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive Mandalay, visit U Bein Bridge Mandalay
Day 2 Mandalay Markets, Countryside, and Nunnery Lunch Mandalay
Day 3 Mandalay to Bagan Bagan
Day 4 Bagan by Electric Bike Bagan
Day 5 Bagan to Nyaung Shwe (Inle) Inle Lake
Day 6 Full day on Inle Lake Inle Lake
Day 7 Drive to Heho, Fly to Yangon Yangon
Day 8 Yangon Departure  

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Mandalay, visit U Bein Bridge

U-Bein bridge
Sunset at the famous U-Bein bridge, made entirely of teak

Your driver will be waiting at the Mandalay international airport for you.  On the drive into the city, stop in Amarapura to view U Bein Bridge, the world's longest teak bridge.

The drive will then continue into the city where you will check in at your hotel. A welcome note will be waiting, offering suggestions for dinner restaurants and reconfirming tomorrow's pick-up time.

Day 2: Mandalay Markets, Countryside, and Nunnery Lunch

Kuthodaw Pagoda surrounded by 729 shrines
Kuthodaw Pagoda with 729 shrines

This morning your local guide will be waiting to greet you at your hotel. You will head out to a neighborhood market for a chance to experience local life- browsing stalls piled high with local produce and rubbing elbows with the shoppers who come daily to buy the freshest items.

We then stop by Kuthodaw Pagoda, a temple with more than 700 marble slabs engraved with Buddhist scripture. We continue into the countryside, passing rice paddies and farms on the way to a Buddhist nunnery where we will enjoy a simple but filling lunch prepared by the nuns. This is a great way to learn about the societal role of nunneries in Myanmar.

Then it's farther into the countryside to either Dee Dote waterfall or a nearby set of falls. Take a short trek to a shady spot and enjoy the tranquil setting. (Note: if it is the weekend the falls will be busy with locals. If it is raining, the falls are quite dangerous and alternative plans will be made).

Day 3: Mandalay to Bagan

Bagan
Bagan, one of the world's greatest archeological sites

This morning you will be picked up at your guesthouse by a shuttle bus and transferred to the bus station for the minibus to Bagan (19-seater minibus). Note: Bus schedules are subject to change, but currently there is an 8:00 & 10:00 am bus; pick-up time is 1 hour prior.

The journey will take around 4.5 hours including one stop on the way. Near to Bagan, the bus will stop so that you can purchase your entrance ticket for Bagan. The bus will drop you at your hotel and the afternoon is free for you to explore on your own. 

Day 4: Bagan by Electric Bike

Bagan
Explore the scattered temples of Bagan by e-bike (electric scooter)

Spend a full day with a local guide exploring the temple plains, stopping in at famous monuments and some lesser-known sites. We will use electric bikes (like scooters) to cut through the smaller laneways and deliver a truly unforgettable experience. There are not enough words to describe the beauty of Bagan! If you wish, we can pop into a lacquerware workshop to see this labor-intensive craft being made by hand. This evening we head to a scenic spot to watch the sunset.  

Day 5: Bagan to Nyaung Shwe (Inle)

Nyaung Shwe village
Nyaung Shwe village

This morning a shuttle bus will pick you up and transfer you to the bus station for the trip to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway town for Inle Lake. The bus is scheduled to leave at 8:.30 am and the journey will take around 8 hours — firstly through the dry zone, then climbing into the Shan hills. You will be transferred to your guesthouse in Nyaung Shwe and the rest of the afternoon is at leisure.

Day 6: Full day on Inle Lake

Inle Lake
Houses on stilts in Inle Lake

Join your local guide and take a short trishaw ride to the Nyaung Shwe jetty where we board a private, wooden motorboat for a full-day excursion on Inle Lake. Explore villages built on stilts and floating gardens, getting a chance to learn about the life and culture of the lake’s residents. Stop in at workshops making incredible hand-woven silks and fabrics created from the fibers of the lotus flower.

We will also visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda where we can join local devotees as they come to pay homage to this sacred site. If time allows, there will also be a stop at Nge Phe Chaung, a wooden monastery with a remarkable collection of Buddha images. 

Day 7: Drive to Heho, Fly to Yangon

This morning transfer to the Heho airport for the flight to Yangon. (Note: In low season, the flights are not usually direct. You will not have to change planes but you may have to stop in another destination for a short layover). Upon arrival, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in Yangon. There are no tours included in Yangon.

Day 8: Yangon Departure

There are no services included on this day. Hotel check out time is 12.00 noon.

Map

Map of Essential Myanmar - 8 Days
Map of Essential Myanmar - 8 Days