I have return plane tickets BKK > Yangon > BKK and a 28 day tourist visa. Is it feasible for me to see Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake, Mandalay - as well as taking the train journey from Mandalay to Maymyo, Hsipaw, and Lashio? Has anyone been to these towns? Any recommendations?
Except for Lashio, I've been to all places you mention and managed within 28 days. All places were beautiful and well worth it.
Can not help you much further since it was a long time (10+ years) ago so my travel tips would not be of much use and outdated.
Thanks for responding. I'll bet if you didn't have any problems with the journey 10 years ago, it should be feasible now as well. I've read on seat61.com that the trains in Burma tend to run on-time and are relatively reliable, so this is encouraging as well. Definitely looking forward to this trip.
Enjoy your trip.
I did visit Pathein at the time and did thoroughly enjoy that as well. Then took a train north. Lost the details but it's a wonderful trip as you've planned it. After all these years I still remain impressed by the beauty of the land and its people
We were in Lashio a couple of years ago heading to Mandalay from the Chinese border. It was a transit trip by road and only stayed overnight in Lashio so we didn't have much to do with the city but seemed yer typical regional centre from what we saw of the bus station, food stalls and acommodation and a bit of late afternoon wandering on foot. The car ride into Lashio from the border was memorable for the countryside and the traffic. The bus ride to Mandalay was a hoot with remarkable scenery and frequent cooling of overheated brakes. As always the people were open and friendly.
It sounds like a more remote but wonderful part of the country to see. My plans are more set now, and I think I will take a train from Yangon up to Mandalay, stopping for a few days at both Bagan and Inle Lake. Then from Mandalay up through Maymyo, Hsipaw, and Lashio. Back to Mandalay and then take the steamer down the Irrawaddy back to Yangon. Very excited.
Can I make one more suggestion? Moulmein in the southeast is a truly amazing seaside town. Wonderful authentic and if you like wandering in a gorgeous (it least is was then) little town by the sea: that's the place. There was even a famous british poet who wrote a poem about the place.
I would definitely like to see Moulmein, but was thinking it might be too much to travel that far into the north, get back to Yangon, and still have a few days left at the end of the visa to get to Moulmein and back to Yangon. Do you think it's feasible?
Well, I did it from Hsipaw on a long travel day (or perhaps 2) on the bus and it was easy. I didn't first go to Yangoon. Of that I'm sure.
Must say that I didn't spend much time in Maymyo and Inle Lake. But in exchange I visited Pathein and Moulmein so it should be possible
I also remember we had the best bus I've ever been in. I'm sure it was a converted bus used by the top brass of the government at the time. Two walkways and only business class seats (like in an airplane) with fully reclining chairs, armrests on both sides and your private screen for movies and a headset. Just weird and all at the local price.
That was the nightbus from Moulmein to Yangoon. If you go, let me know if that one is still operating
After taking into account the advice here and on other forums, I definitely think it's possible, as I will have 4 weeks. However I am not going to do any flying in country and hope to take trains and buses everywhere. I didn't realize - is it possible to get transport south from Hsipaw without first going to Mandalay?
I'm basically planning on flying into Yangon and having two days there, then the overnight train to Bagan, three nights there. Bus to Thazi and overnight in Thazi in order to get the train to Shwenyaung (Inle Lake) and spend the weekend there with a friend before we go up to Mandalay. We'll have maybe two days there and then will head north towards Maymyo, Hsipaw, Lashio. (This part of the trip is kind of wide open, she teaches in Mandalay and I'm kind of relying on her to figure this out.) I was thinking then I would have to return to Mandalay, and then catch the overnight train down to Bago. From Bago I'll go to Hpa-An and catch a Friday boat down to Moulmein.
It's a lot of traveling but with at least two or three days at every destination. If all goes well (and it might not, but I can always cut out some time in the north) I will have a relaxing three days in Moulmein (maybe will head down to Setse Beach also) before overnighting back to Yangon and back to BKK.
Fingers crossed this will work. Thanks for the advice, all!
Ended up having an awesome trip. Made it as far as Hsipaw for some great trekking but not to Lashio. Then it was back to Mandalay and then Yangon before Moulmein. I got to spend about three days down there going also to the "death railway" war cemetery in Thanyabazat and onto Setse Beach. A nice relaxing way to end a trip that was otherwise jam-packed with a lot of long haul traveling and physical activity.
If anyone's interested, I've started uploading some of my photos. Here are two albums, one from Bagan and the other from Inle Lake: