Although part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), visa-free travel for Filipinos to Myanmar had only been granted last January 4, 2014. Myanmar has finally opened its doors to welcome tourists and we are now able to revel in its long-hidden wonders. I chose Myanmar back in August for the first leg of my backpacking Indochina adventure. But as circumstances had not been too favorable, my trip there had just been enough for exploring Yangon. To accommodate my circumstances – solo female travel plus shortened schedule – I crafted a laid-back 3D2N Yangon itinerary involving only the highlights of the city. I meticulously documented my expenses, though, as a benchmark for any future trip planning. And albeit my stay had been short, I had been able to gather some very useful travel tips to help you plan your visit to Myanmar, land of the golden pagodas.
3D2N Yangon Itinerary
08:40 ETA Yangon. Change money at the moneychanger.
09:15 ETD Yangon International Airport
10:15: ETA Downtown Yangon. Royal 74 Hotel Check-In
12:30 Lunch at Feel Myanmar Food
13:30 National Museum Yangon – Closed on Holidays. Museum Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays 09:30– 16:30. Tickets are available until 16:00. Admission Fee: 5000 kyats for foreigners.
14:30 Shwedagon Pagoda – Pagoda Hours: 04:00 am – 22:00.
16:30 Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda
17:00 Ngahtatgyi Pagoda
17:30 Maha Wizaya Pagoda
18:30 Shwedagon Pagoda sunset and night lights
19:30 Dinner at Win Restaurant at the China Town
21:30 Back to the hotel
Day 2 Taxi Tour
09:00 Quick Breakfast
09:30 Start of Taxi Tour
10:00 Sule Pagoda
10:20 Drive down the colonial buildings street
10:30 Botataung Pagoda
10:50 Visit the Botataung Jetty
12:15 Drive by Aung San Suu Kyi’s House
12:30 Inya Lake photo op and lunch
13:15 End of lunch and start drive to the Kandawgyi Lake
13:40 Bogyoke Aung San Museum
14:00 Kandawgyi Lake
14:30 End of Tour. Freshen up at the hotel.
16:00 Walk around downtown Yangon. Have a drink at one of the coffee shops.
18:00 Have a Burmese Massage at the Sapel Traditional Burmese Foot Spa
19:30 Dinner at QQ Restaurant & Cool Drink
20:30 Early lights out
5:30 Check out. Start Drive to Airport. Breakfast stop.
6:20 ETA Yangon International Airport
3D2N Yangon Budget
8,000 MNK Taxi from Yangon International Airport to Royal 74 Hotel in downtown area
1,500 MNK Taxi from Royal 74 Hotel to Feel Myanmar Food
2,500 MNK Taxi from the National Museum Yangon to Shwedagon Pagoda
3,000 MNK Taxi from Shwedagon Pagoda to Chaukhtatgyi then to Nga That Gyi
4,000 MNK Taxi from Ngahtatgyi to Maha Wizaya Pagoda
3,000 MNK Taxi from Shwedagon Pagoda to China Town
170 MNK Water at the City Mart
1,900 MNK Shwe Ei Mok Hin Khar at Feel Myanmar Food
900 MNK Water Melon Juice at Feel Myanmar Food
6,700 MNK Dinner at Win Restaurant in China Town (1 stick grilled, 1 stick grilled broccoli, 1 stick potato balls, 4 sticks chicken and 1 cup of rice)
5,000 MNK Entrance fee to the National Museum Yangon
8,000 MNK Entrance fee to Shwedagon Pagoda
15,000 MNK Tour guide at the Shwedagon Pagoda
500 MNK Donation at Nga That Gyi
30,000 MNK 5 hours Yangon City Taxi Tour
3,500 MNK Pork with chili at Inya Lake eatery
1,800 MNK Fried vegetables at Inya Lake Restaurant
400 MNK Rice at Inya Lake Restaurant
1,000 MNK Iced Coffee at Inya Lake Restaurant
4,000 MNK Iced Caramel Coffee at Snow Factory
2,500 MNK Thai Fried Rice at QQ Restaurant and Cool Drink
3,000 MNK Sule Pagoda
4,000 MNK Botataung Pagoda
1,000 MNK Donation to Monk at Botataung Pagoda
200 MNK Parking fee at the Botataung Jetty
300 MNK Parking Fee at the Inya Lake
600 MNK Parking fee at Kandawgyi Lake
20,000 MNK Package D Massage at Sapel
8,000 MNK Taxi to Airport
500 MNK Big bottle of mineral water inside the ref in the hotel room
52,000 MNK 2 nights at Royal 74 Hotel
Total: 192,970 MNK or 151 USD
3D2N Yangon Travel Tips
- Transportation: Getting around Yangon involves flagging down taxis or hiring them at an hourly rate for a city tour, averaging around 6,000 kyats. Getting taxis off the streets means telling the driver the destination then them quoting a price. There are no meters and the rates are not standardized. Taxis are also air-cooled by default but air conditioning could be requested.
- Communication: As Myanmar is slowly being immersed into the “tourist culture,” more and more Burmese people are getting into learning English. But this is not yet always the case. Do not expect taxi drivers to speak English, not even the staff at the hotels. Also, a lot of signs are still only in Burmese.
- Money Exchange: Have your money exchanged at the airport as much as possible. If you suddenly find yourself short of kyat in the middle of the city, there are certified money exchange offices in the downtown area that change US dollars in 5, 10, 50 and 100 denominations. Money changers inside jewellery shops have the best rates. Do not transact with individuals who would offer money exchange just off the streets.
- Entrance fees: The Buddhist temples or pagodas are the main attractions in the cities and almost all require an entrance fee for foreigners. Some that don’t require fees have a myriad of donation boxes scattered around.
- Temple behavior: As in most religious sites, clothes are the main concern. Skirts or pants should always be below the knees, shoulders and chests should be fully covered and any kind of footwear is not allowed inside – shoes nor socks – rain or shine. Monks are everywhere but always make sure to ask for their permission before taking photos.
- Eating in Yangon: Since communication would prove to be difficult, the most effective style of ordering food would be by pointing at whatever you feel like eating. Burmese food would usually be salty or spicy or oily or a combination of two or all of these three. Be also sure to check the utensils they provide, as they are not always properly washed.
- Weather: Traveling during the monsoon season, like August, would be a real challenge as it can be sunny one minute then rainy the next. It would still generally be humid and hot so make sure to hydrate.
- Burmese Massage: A must try while in Yangon, the Burmese massage basically involves applying pressure through the pads of the fingers, squeezing muscles and some karate chops. All of these are done while fully clothed and seated. It is perfect after walking around barefoot all day.
- Running in Yangon: Some of the best places to do some jogging are at the Inya Lake, around the Kandawgyi Lake and at the People’s Park during early morning or late in the afternoon.
- Internet Connection: Although Internet speed in Yangon is slow, it could still be considered pretty decent (compared with the alleged average internet speed in the Philippines and also based on my experience). Extra tip: there is free Wi-Fi access at the Shwedagon Pagoda. 🙂
Still don’t know what a longyi is? Find out here (plus some other cool stuff).
August 20-22, 2015 Yangon, Myanmar
***photos were taken using iPhone6 and GoPro Hero 4 Silver