Travel Diary: 7 Days in Myanmar

4:03 AM


Hi everyone!!!

I know I took long enough to actually jot down my trip to Myanmar which took place in December 2017 (omg it's already June 2018!), but I told myself that some day, I HAVE to find time to sit down and jot down this trip which is to date, one of my favourite trips I've taken in my life so far.

Since the trip, I've been getting several requests even till today on our itinerary and also some questions about the trip. Also, since the trip, I also can't stop telling people (to their surprise) how beautiful Myanmar is *inserts heart shaped eyes emoji* I have also briefly documented our trip on my Dayre (link here), but I thought I should still have it documented properly on my page instead, with all the photos so they don't actually go to waste :)
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Our itinerary in brief (for the ones who TL;DR lol)
Day 1: Morning flight to Yangon → lunch in Yangon + visit Schwedagon Pagoda → overnight sleeper bus to Bagan
Day 2: Check into hotel in Bagan + breakfast → rest & wash up → explore Old Bagan 
Day 3: Catch sunrise in Bagan → explore New Bagan → overnight sleeper bus to Inle
Day 4: Check into hotel in Inle → rest & wash up → cycle around Naung Shwe and the surrounding kampungs → an early night to rest!
Day 5: Half day Inle Lake tour → early dinner → overnight sleeper bus back to Yangon
Day 6 & 7: Roam randomly around Yangon (tbh Yangon is quite boring after you've been to Bagan & Inle hahaha)

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Upon touching down in Yangon from our morning flight, we took a Grabcar down to our hotel although we were not planning to stay for the night. We went to our hotel and asked for help to help book our bus tickets to Bagan for the night. After that, we went to have lunch and the hotel receptionist recommended this place called Aung Thuka, which is located between our hotel and the Schwedagon Pagoda we planned to check out after lunch!

Tbh, I was super apprehensive about trying Burmese food at the start... I didn't have too good an experience with Vietnamese food and I haven't really heard much about Burmese food before? It really doesn't help that I am a very picky eater too LOL

Thankfully, my first experience was good and that kinda kicked off a good start for me! Aung Thuka serves Burmese dishes in a cai png style. It was lunch time and was really crowded, but there was a staff who could speak English (to cater to tourists).


After lunch, we walked over to Schwedagon Pagoda! Although the weather was freaking hot, please make sure you're still well covered with what you're wearing! H was wearing berms and he got stopped by the ticketing staff and was made to buy a longyi (which proved to be the best $3 he spent for the rest of our 6 days in Myanmar hahaha). Locals could enter for free but for tourists, the entrance fee to Schwedagon Pagoda is 10000 Kyat (SGD10) which really felt like a tourist scam but well... what can we do HAHAHA





After spending about an hour or two in Schwedagon Pagoda and exploring almost every possible corner and seeking shelter in every possible sheltered area there was (note: it is really VERY hot), we had a coffee break (and also our dinner) at a cafe nearby (well, not exactly near but costs around $2 by grab and 20 min by foot -- my choice was pretty clear under such a hot weather....)

By the way, it seems like many of the cafes in Yangon are opened and run by Singaporeans! You'll be surprised, really. By the way, most of the cafes we went in Yangon served decent coffee and food was also very, very affordable (for Singaporeans).

We then picked up our baggage from the hotel reception, collected our bus tickets and took a cab down to the bus terminal to take our overnight sleeper bus to Bagan! Do note that you'll want to set off earlier because the traffic conditions can be very bad... The journey from Yangon to Bagan is around 8-9 hours and you'll arrive around 5am in the morning the next day!

(took this off my ig story, for a quick summary for the hotels/ buses we took!)


Bagan, Myanmar

The best part of our trip to me/us, and possibly my favourite place I've visited anywhere so far! This is also where I met with my first traffic accident in my life LOLLOL (more on that later)

Since you're gonna arrive really in Bagan at around 5-6am in the morning, do make sure to check with your accommodation beforehand that they allow an early check in! Getting to your hotel after arriving at the bus terminal can also prove to be a problem because it's so early and there are no Grab/Uber in Bagan. Therefore, you're kinda at the mercy of the drivers who're already waiting for your arrival at the bus terminal and they're try to bring you to places like catching the sunrise and some temples before bringing you to your hotel. (which btw, the sun already rose by then so a bit no point) Therefore, you can either try to bargain (H did so with another couple) or you can opt for the cheaper option of taking a horse cart. Horse cart sounds like fun and hipster right? But don't forget it is very cold in the morning LOL.

In Bagan, there are 3 main areas where you can choose to stay -- Old Bagan, New Bagan or Nyaung-U, which is nearest to the bus terminal. We booked our 2 night stay in Bagan at Sky View Hotel at Nyaung-U.




And this photo itself already proves that it was a right choice!

We managed to get an early check in, washed up (after not bathing for the night before...) and had breakfast before heading out. The hotel provided e-bike rentals at 8000 kyat per day (SGD$8) and if you're riding pillion, that's 10000 kyat per day for a bike. I tried to ride the bike myself but bb noob so bb decided to be a burden and ride pillion instead. We do not have a license for riding bikes but that's the easiest mode of transport and there are very few cars/ tour coaches in Bagan, so it is pretty safe. The speed limit is also only at 20km/hr.

Off we go to explore Old Bagan, with not much of a fixed plan in mind (of course, we checked out some of the main, big temples/pagodas) and stopped by as and when we felt like. I'll let the photos do the talking itself:





When it was approaching the sunset hour, we set off for Bulethi Temple together with hoardes of tourists trying to catch a glimpse of sunset. You really do want to be more careful if you're riding the bike because many other tourists will be riding the horse carts. While these horses are trained, and so are their riders, we were lucky  enough to meet one horse cart that lost control of the horse and the horse charged towards us and knocked us down -.-





So there we go, my first traffic accident -- by a horse cart HAHAHA.

It was quite traumatizing because it could have gone very wrong if by any chance the horse trampled over me/us but thankfully, it was just a few deep cuts on our hands and legs. Although that's more than enough to leave me/us feeling traumatized for the rest of the day LOL. However, can I just compliment that the tour guides (also the horse cart rider) was very nice? He and other guides offered help, cleaned and applied medication on us, offered me a ride on the horse cart, paid for the damages of our bike and called the hotel to come pick us up and waited till we were safely transported back. He was also truly sorry for the accident and it really made me feel a lot better, and less scared :')

We had our dinner at the hotel after cleaning up our wounds and just kinda spent the rest of the night doing nothing because I was too shooked to do anything else LOL. We also abandoned the plan of riding our bike in the dark to a pagoda early in the morning to catch the sunrise because I was scared LOL. Thankfully, we managed to catch a glimpse of sunrise from the rooftop of our hotel together with the hot air balloons! So I guess, we didn't miss out much after all :')



It was a more relaxing 2nd day in Bagan as we explored the New Bagan area. Can't quite remember where we exactly went, but I remembered we visited a local market and a cafe with home made ice cream. We set off for Inle Lake (the Nyaung Shwe town to be specific) in the evening and it was another long night journey getting to Nyaung Shwe.








Nyaung Shwe/ Inle Lake



This leg of the journey was super cold at night for me and Inle area can get very cold as well. The temperature was around 10 degC when we reached around 4am and I almost froze man. (I'm super scared of cold hahaha). Since we were staying in the Nyaung Shwe area, we opted to walk to the accommodation that we booked. Do remember to let your hotel reception know that you're reaching early too. We were unlucky because although we already gave that heads up, we were stuck outside the hotel we booked because the receptionist was sleeping, even when we rang them up a few times... After 20 min of being stranded outside in the cold, we decided to look for alternatives and found another accommodation who took us in immediately!



They were really nice and didn't even make us pay up front, showed us to our room and let us have a good rest first before asking for payment. It's a relatively new, and no frills hotel. Nothing fancy, but rooms were clean, with working heater, and breakfast was equally decent too for only SGD30 a night. The fact that they took us in with such great hospitality, already scored a full marks from me hahaha. They also offer bicycle rental at 1000 kyat a day, and that was our mode of transport within Nyaung Shwe itself :)



Since Nyaung Shwe / Inle Lake is located in the Shan state of Myanmar, we decided to try some Shan noodles for lunch!


There really isn't much to do in Nyaung Shwe itself, it's a good place to slow down your pace of life from the city bustle, so we spent the afternoon at a cafe, followed by a hour ride on our bicycle to our dinner place (ya talk about having all the time in the world... hahaha) located right at the end of another kampung.




My fav part about meals in Myanmar is that FISH is super affordable, and yummy! An entire fish is about SGD $5... and is cheaper than chicken and other meat :P

By the way, it was already dark after dinner so we got the restaurant to call for a songthaew for us to fetch us + our bicycles back to our hotel.







The second morning, we booked a half day tour out to Inle Lake via Klook! Another pretty chill day because we spent almost the whole morning till late noon sitting in the boat, sight seeing and visiting some local attractions like silk weaving, mining, boat making. Btw, there are also several resorts along the Inle Lake so these are alternative accommodations to consider if you don't wanna stay on the mainland, where accommodations can be more basic :)

We set off for Yangon on an overnight sleeper bus again that night!

Yangon


Back to the city, back to the jam hahaha. Tbh, I can't quite remember what we did after we reached Yangon. We probably went to Junction City (which is by Capitaland so you know... it's like mini SG), Rangoon Tea House, Chinatown and some cafes. Basically we ate the last 2 days in Myanmar HAHAHA.
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To conclude, it was indeed a great trip and I'm really glad to have checked Myanmar off the list before it becomes a hot tourist attraction. In fact, we also barely met with language barriers as most of the F&B vendors and tour guides can speak good English. Most hotels also accept USD as payment and it is way easier to change currency with USD than SGD.

Till I document my next trip, bye!

Love,
Xin Lin

Note: This is not a sponsored post. All photographs by me. No reproduction of any content and/or photographs is allowed without prior permission.

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