My Solo Trip to Myanmar, a Seven-Day Journey
My visit in Myanmar is by far the longest period that I traveled alone. Solo traveling isn’t new to me. I already before. I also went out of the country solo when I visited South Korea for the first time. But, my trip to Myanmar gave me more reasons to do solo backpacking in the future.
Myanmar is an amazing country. When I was still deciding where I will go next, I told myself that I didn’t want to visit a place with temples as its main attraction. But when I saw images of Myanmar and its temples, things had changed. I felt fascinated with the country. Besides, the country has recently just opened up to mass tourist, which made me feel more keen to visit it.
I spent seven days to explore Myanmar. I thought it is going to be lengthy to spend such period of time in one country, but when I finished my trip, I suddenly felt short about it. During the seven-day journey, I used my time exploring places in Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay. There are still other places of interest but these three cities or regions are among the most famous destinations in the country.
Day 01 – From Philippines to Myanmar
There are no direct flights going to Myanmar from the Philippines. A layover in Bangkok, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur is need to fly to Myanmar.
I took a flight from Manila to Kuala Lumpur then took a flight going to Yangon. It was at 10:25 AM when I arrived in KLIA2, the newest airport of Kuala Lumpur. My flight bound to Yangon was still going to depart at 5:50 PM, which left me with 7-hour window. I’ve thought of going to Putrajaya and Cyberjaya, which is close to the airport, but KLIA2 was too interesting to explore. I decided in the end not to get out of the airport anymore. I waited for my next flight while I wander around the new and warm airport of Malaysia.
I was on a window seat on my flight to Yangon. It was already dark when we reached the airspace of our destination. Nevertheless, I was still trying to see a vision of what Myanmar looks like from above.
It was few minutes before 7:00 PM when we landed at the international airport of Yangon.
Entry to Myanmar requires a travel visa. Fortunately, Filipino nationals holding ordinary passport are exempted. We may enter Myanmar without a visa and stay there for up to 14 days. The visa exemption is part of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, which was signed during the State Visit to the Philippines of Myanmar President U Thein Sein on December 5, 2013.
The visa-free entry agreement is expected to increase tourism, trade, and business venture between the Philippines and Myanmar.
Day 02 – Yangon
I stayed in Chan Myaye Guesthouse when I was in Yangon. The guesthouse is situated in Maha Bandoola Garden Street, which is just a few walk away from the famous Sule Pagoda.
The guesthouse offers dorm rooms and standard rooms for an affordable fee. I’ve stayed in one of their standard rooms, which I’ve found nice and clean. The hotel provides free breakfast daily. They also have free Wi-Fi.
The guesthouse is also close to some eateries, convenience stores and money changers. I’ve also found it easy to roam around the city since the guesthouse is approximate to several tourist spots and market places in Yangon.
What I also liked about when I stayed on this guesthouse are the staff as well as their effort of extending their help and services.
Day 03 – Arrival in Bagan
It was early morning when I had arrived in Bagan. The people offering their transport services when I went out of the bus was overwhelming that I had ended up riding a motorcycle to get to my guesthouse, which is located in New Bagan. Usually, people pick a horse cart to take them to their hotel but since I was alone in my journey, I opted for the cheapest one, which is the motorcycle that costs MMK 4,000.
I’ve decided not to get to any tours yet when I had arrived in the ancient city of Bagan since I’ve assumed I’ve had a lot of time to sight-see this popular Myanmar destination. I’ve slumbered in my room for hours, and it was already afternoon when I woke up. I wanted to catch the sunset in one of the pagodas so after grabbing a quick lunch, I hired a bicycle, took a map and went to Shwesandaw Pagoda. From there, I had witnessed the renowned sunset that Bagan has been praising about.
Day 04 – A Horse Cart Tour in Bagan
I woke up early and went to Shwesandaw Pagoda again, but this time to witness the sunrise. Afterwards, I’ve thought I have to move around and explore the temples situated around the complex. I’ve thought of hiring a horse cart so I won’t be struggling looking for the location of the pagodas that I had wished to go to.
I went back to my hotel and there, I asked for assistance in looking for a horse cart that can circuit me around the temple complex. We started the tour at around 10:00 AM. From then, I spent the rest of my day discovering the temples or pagodas in the ancient city through the horse cart tour.
Day 05 – Exploring Bagan via E-bike
Most foreign tourists in Bagan use E-bike (electronic bicycle) to tour around the temple complex. I rented one on my last full day in Bagan. I went back to the temple complex and visited those temples that I hadn’t able to visit during the horse cart tour that I’ve done the previous day.
Day 06 – One Afternoon in Mandalay
It was already afternoon when I had arrived in Mandalay. It was a lonesome day for me as I had realised I was getting close to the end of my journey in Myanmar. But good thing was I was staying in Mandalay View Inn when I was in the city. My overnight stay in the hotel gave me a homey feeling.
Mandalay View Inn offers clean, comfortable, and affordable accommodation with exceptionally personalised services. This small and friendly hotel has 12 rooms, which is nestled in a quiet and convenient corner of Mandalay’s heart.
All guest rooms of the hotel are non-smoking and are air-conditioned. Each room has bathroom with hot and cold showers. The room also has refrigerator and TV. Other essential services and amenities can be asked from the reception area. The hotel also provides a simple yet nourishing breakfast daily. Wi-Fi is also available in the hotel.
The hotel is particularly located at 66th Street Between 26×27 Streets in Chan Aye Tha Zan Township. It is close to several tourist spots in Mandalay.
Since it was already late when I arrived in the city, I only visited few important landmarks such as Sandamuni Pagoda, Mandalay Hill and U Bein Bridge.
Day 07 – Leaving Myanmar
It was my last day in Myanmar, the most saddening part of my travel since I was about to leave the country that gave me remarkable and delightful experiences. Even so, I was still happy inside that I had able to acquire such wonderful moments that I will definitely treasure for a lifetime.
I checked out from my hotel before lunchtime to catch my flight to Bangkok, which was scheduled to depart from Mandalay at 12:45 PM.
Mandalay International Airport is situated in Tada-U, which is 35 km south of Mandalay. The airport is far from the city. It took me about an hour to reach the airport. It is convenient to book a taxi or private transfer going to and from the airport. These transports can be arranged in your travel agency, which in my case had it booked through Myanmar Delight Travels and Tours.
When taking a taxi from or to the airport, expect to pay MMK 12,000. Meanwhile, there are also shared taxis that cost around MMK 4,000 per person.
When I was in Mandalay International Airport I had experienced a minor incident with some airport staff who had tried to extort (close to extortion) me. One of the airport staff welcomed me when I went out of the car in the departure area of the airport. He then helped me in bringing my luggage until we reached the check in counter area. He even asked an airline staff to prioritise me in checking in for my flight. To set the record straight, I didn’t ask for help. I’ve thought they were just too glad and accommodating to help me. When the two staff had given me my boarding pass, they tried to ask money from me but I couldn’t give anything since I haven’t had much anymore. I was just glad that they were not that forcing to get money from me but the look on their faces show that they were expecting. To avoid further commotion, I just walked away and proceeded to my designated boarding gate.
It was on time when our fleet departed from Mandalay and flew to Bangkok. Happily, I was again assigned on a window seat. I had my one last sight of Mandalay International Airport before we had finally hovered to the sky.
Since the time the country relaxed its foreign policy with regards to tourism, the country had opened up several tourist-friendly lodging and hotels to cater the substantial tourist arrival. One can get a room per night for as low as MMK 10,000. But if you wish to stay in hotels that provide extra amenities and convenience, one has to spend MMK 80,000 and more per night.
Most of the accommodations in Myanmar also provide free breakfast, Wi-Fi and travel assistance.
Contacting a travel agency is also a great benefit in finding accommodation that suits one’s budget and interest.
Food is one of the stuff that I didn’t pay attention to while I was still preparing my itinerary for the trip. I’ve just thought that I’ll just simply eat wherever and whenever I get hungry.
During the course of my travel, a meal that I’ve found often available in the menu in the restaurants that I’ve eaten to was the fried rice. Fried rice may come with pork, chicken, shrimp or vegetables. I often ordered fried rice whenever I couldn’t find anything appetizing or if I was already fed up of think ing of what to eat. And I must say that the fried rice in Myanmar was pretty tasty and savouring. Fried rice sometimes comes with a side dish that consists of spicy vegetables.
On my first day in Yangon, I was able to try to eat in one of eateries situated along the street. I couldn’t find anything familiar to me but the fried chicken so that was what I had ordered.
In Bagan, I often eat in Star Beam and Sarabha Restaurant. Star Beam is nearby where I was staying and I have found their food delectable that eventually made me not to look for other places to eat anymore when I was in Bagan. Sarabha Restaurant is where my horse cart driver took me for lunch during my tour and I have also found their food appetising that I came back the next day to eat my lunch.
Meal costs around KMM 4,000.
Public buses and trucks are the main transportation in Myanmar. The country also has a railway system but I haven’t tried all of those. In some other parts, there are also motorcycles for hire. During my travels, I’ve only tried riding motorcycle, buses and taxis to get to my destinations. The rate of taxis in Yangon if you’d like to visit one tourist attraction to one another is about MMK 2,000.
I’ve tried riding a bus when I went to Bagan from Yangon. The bus costs MMK 18,500 per person.
Changing Money in Myanmar
Myanmar Kyat is the official currency of Myanmar. When traveling to this country, US Dollars are accepted but it is more advisable to use Kyat, as dollars are only mostly being recognised in hotels and restaurants. In paying for transportation and other petty expenditures, Kyat has to be paid. The regular exchange rate for US Dollar to Kyat is MMK 975 per $1.
When I arrived in Yangon, I changed half of my travel allowance for the country in one of the money changers situated in the airport. The exchange rate varies depending on how much dollar bill you are going to exchange. For $100 bill, the exchange rate was like MMK 964 for $1.
The same rule applies in money changers in downtown Yangon. I’ve changed the other half of my dollars in one of the moneychangers nearby the guesthouse. For $100 bill, the exchange rate was like MMK 970 for $1. It was MMK 6 higher in downtown, but if you compute it with dollars, the result was just minimal amount. So it doesn’t matter where to exchange your currency, in airport or in downtown.
When changing your dollar bills in money changers in Myanmar, the bills should be crisped and new. It should be clean. It should not have any damage on it. There should be no markings of any on it. My $100 bill has a small marking on it. I was then told that the exchange rate for it would be receded to a minimal difference, which was totally fine with me, as I had no any dollars with me to exchange. I’ve also learned that pre-2006 dollar bills are also not being accepted. The serial number should not begin with CB, BC, and AB.
Myanmar is a wonderful country to travel to. I haven’t expected that I was going to enjoy the country so much. My experiences while discovering this country gave me so much bliss and freedom that eventually leads me into plans of visiting it again. My interest about this country has nurtured even more.
My trip in Myanmar wouldn’t be successful without the help of Myanmar Delight Travels & Tours, which aided me with accommodations in Yangon and Mandalay. The agency was also helpful whenever I bugged them with questions about the country as I prepare my itinerary for the trip.
Myanmar Delight Travels & Tours, a travel agency in Myanmar, has a strongly built team of skilled and proficient travel professional with hands-on experience in diverse field that provides travel services, bookings, and reservations for hotel, car transport and other similar services in Myanmar. These offerings are of best service that certainly meets the satisfaction and convenience of its customers.
Contact Myanmar Delight Travels & Tours now to assist you with your travels wherever it is in Myanmar.
Chan Myaye Guesthouse
256/276 Maha Bandoola Garden Street
Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
Phone: +95 9 730 27373
Mandalay View Inn
17/B 66th Street Between 26×27 Streets
Chan Aye Tha Zan Township
26th StMandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Phone: +95 9 526 1119
Myanmar Delight Travels & Tours
No.899, Kyaung Lane, Pyay Road, 7 ward, 10th Mile
Sawbwagyigone, Insein Tsp
Phone: + 95-1 651 833