Itinerary: Myanmar and Singapore

The trip we made to Myanmar was combined with a small trip to Singapore as well. The two countries are extremely different and this made this trip extra special. Singapore is very westernized and extremely well organized, Myanmar has opened up for foreigners just a few years ago. People are not familiar with tourists and speak hardly any English. Below you will find our itinerary and additional travel info.

Itinerary:

Singapore – Yangon – Bagan – Kalaw – Inle Lake – Yangon

kaartje 1Click on the map to get our whole itinerary!

We only had a total of 13 days for both Singapore and Myanmar meaning we had to make choices and travel at a high pace. My desire for plans and organizing everything in advance came in this case very handy! I highly recommend taking a bit more time, especially for Myanmar which is a big country. At the moment it is not possible to travel freely throughout the whole country, off the beaten path. However, there are many beautiful places you can visit as a tourist. To see most highlights in Myanmar, you will need at least 2 to 3 weeks.

Our trip started in Singapore, where we stayed for 4 days. Then we flew to Yangon where we stayed for a day after which we continued to Bagan. Yangon is fun for a couple of days, however, I wouldn’t recommend to stay here more dan 4 days. Bagan is a lovely place, a destination where can really relax and enjoy the beauty you are surrounded with. We stayed for only 2 days but could have stayed for a whole week. Then we flew to Kalaw, a village where many trackings start. Kalaw was a cute small mountain village, where we spent New Year Eve. After one and a half day of Kalaw, we started a two-day track to Inle Lake. It’s possible to do a three-day tracking, but for us, two days were perfect. In Inle Lake we had, some bad luck with the weather, you can read our experiences here. We only stayed here for two days, but I would have liked to spend a few days longer here. If we would have had more time in Inle Lake we would have gone cycling around the lake and enjoy the many places near the lake. We ended our trip in Yangon, where we stayed for just 2 more days after which we flew back home.

Reflecting on our itinerary, I have to acknowledge that we did a lot in just 13 days. However, because we did everything by flight if was more than doable. This however made this trip a lot more expensive than it otherwise would have been.

What did we skip because of time?

If we had had more time, we would certainly have stayed longer in Myanmar. The following places are high on my wishlist to see again:

Mandalay:
The city itself apperently is not that special, but the temples, nature and of course the famous U-brain bridge are beautiful places to see.

Ngapali:
This is a coastal town. The beaches of Myanmar seem to be beautiful and without tourists. Accommodation costs are slightly higher because there is simply not much supply here. Also keep in mind that you do make extra travel costs, only from Yangon and Mandalay there are convenient flights to here.

Myanmar: hiking in Kalaw


Transportation

By air

Both from the Netherlands to Singapore and from Yangon to the Netherlands we flew with Emirates (one of my favorite airlines). From Singapore to Yangon we flew with Jetstar which was also perfectly fine.

In Myanmar, we did everything by plane. The flights were short and with nice services. Would we have had more time than we would probably have taken some buses to save money. Flying in Myanmar means you won’t fly in the newest and best planes, they often use second hand planes. When we entered one plane, we even saw it still had Italian stickers on it. Kind of funny! We have booked tickets far in advance, especially in high season flights can be full quickly. In case you have the time and it doesn’t matter if you fly a day later, you can easily book your tickets right at the airport.

Airlines that I can recommend:

  • AIRKBZ (with this we flew, great!)
  • Air Mandalay
  • Golden Myanmar Airlines.

For the routes, you can best have a look on Wikipedia (wauw that sounds weird, but trust me, Wikipedia will be a great source for once), where you will see exactly which airliner flies to where, lot’s of puzzling! Yes … I never said that traveling in Myanmar is simple.

The websites of the airlines are certainly not advanced, however, we managed to book our flights. Flying is not cheap in Myanmar, you easily pay € 100 for a one-way ticket. However, it is much quicker than to travel by road. By the way, you only have to be at the airport half an hour before your flight and therefore lose little time traveling.

Some names of the airports in Myanmar are slightly different from their city name:

  • Yangon airport = Rangoon
  • Bagan airport = Nyaung U
  • Inle Lake airport = Heho

By train

We didn’t take a train in Myanmar and to be honest I wouldn’t recommend taking one either. Unless you are up for a great adventure. We have heard many funny stories about wagons that were unlinked which resulted in people being stranded for days. The trains also go slowly and apparently are not that safe. An advantage of traveling by train is that you can see great parts of the country and travel on a low pace.

By bus

It is possible to travel with buses through the country. You can, for example, take night buses. This is a lot cheaper than flying in terms of price. You pay about 10 to 20 euros to get from Yangon to Bagan. Next time, we would prefer taking these over flying unless we wouldn’t have much time like we did this trip.


Other useful tips

Travel time
Singapore has a Monsoon period (Oct-Jan) where it rains more often. We were there in December and despite some showers, we had plenty of sun.
We also visited Myanmar in December, and for Myanmar, this is the perfect season. Myanmar has a cool season (November to February), a hot season (March to May) followed by the rainy season (June to October). The best time to travel is during the cool season. If you travel outside the cool season it might be too hot or too wet do for instance do a tracking.

Money
Singapore uses the Singapore Dollar. You can pay with debit card and change money anywhere in the country and the city. Your Credit Card will probably work everywhere aswell.
In Myanmar this is different. There are many more ATMs nowadays than before, but they don’t always work or accept your debit card. Keep this in mind and take multiple debit cards or credit cards with you. You can carry Euro’s or Dollars with you to exchange in Myanmar, this will give you a quite favorable rate. However, be aware that every note you want to exchange must be perfect (no cracks or creases), and that only notes of 50$ or € or higher are accepted. The local currency in Myanmar is Kyat.

Cost
Singapore is not a cheap country. You can use Europe as a benchmark here.
Myanmar is extremely cheap in terms of food. Overnight stays are relatively expensive compared to other Asian countries. We paid about € 50 per night (2 persons). Activities and travel by public transport is very cheap in Myanmar, however, flying is a lot more expensive.

Wifi
In Singapore, you will find great WiFi everywhere.
In Myanmar, the Wifi is also getting better. A year ago this was different, but nowadays every hotel has pretty good working WiFi. Are you looking for tips on how to stay online while abroad? I wrote a blog full of tips on this topic.

Hot air balloon over Bagan
During our trip, we were thinking of doing a hot air balloon flight over Bagan. There are many positive but also many negative reviews on this activity. Pro: it is beautiful, the views are supposed to be magnificent. Con: it is extremely expensive (€ 500 pp), and strongly dependent on the weather. In the end, we decided not to do this, we didn’t regret this decision even though pictures of a hot air ballon ride above Bagan still look beautiful.


More blogs about Myanmar:

Video: beautiful Myanmar
Why I got my scuba diving license in The Netherlands!

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