Photo: Temple outside Monywa.

Burma forum

How much is realistic in a week?

Posted by lnj067 on 9/7/2014 at 02:49

Myself and three friends are planning a week in Myanmar at the end of September. I know it's a massive place and we are only really going to be able to get a taste of the country in that time, but we'd like to see as much as we can without just rushing round in a whirlwind.

We're looking at flying into Yangon on a Saturday and out of Mandalay the following Sunday to avoid having to loop back to the South and save a bit of time. Is it feasible to spend a couple of days in Yangon, Inle Lake and Bagan and make it to Mandalay in time for a Sunday morning flight? How long would people recommend spending in each place?

Also, read bad things about the trains so trying to decide between night buses and flights between places. Are the buses of comparable standards to those found in Vietnam, Thailand etc? Or is it worth the extra money for the flights?

Any advice would be very welcome :)

#1 lnj067 has been a member since 9/7/2014. Posts: 1

Posted by antoniamitchell on 11/7/2014 at 02:15

Yikes, it's gonna be tight!

Yangon - interesting city to wander, eat, etc. A lot of people seem to blow through in about a day (as Yangon has only one "must-see" destination) but I liked the city and happily spent a few days exploring. That said, your timeline is so tight you probably will want to move on fairly quickly.

Inle Lake - beautiful scenery. You'll want a minimum of 2 days (I'd suggest one for a boat trip, and one for cycling around the countryside), although if you're into treking, you could spend far longer in this part of Burma.

Bagan - again, you'll want a minimum of 2 days to explore the temples by bike or scooter, maybe take a horse cart.

Mandalay - IMHO it's not a great city, and isn't worth spending any time in for such a short trip.

Transport - very slow, always late. Trains are awful (imagine moving at walking speed, been tossed about violently, for hours and hours, until you want to vomit from motion sickness). Buses are much better - not always amazing, but still better than the train! Some of the VIP buses (the ones with 3 seats across) are quite comfortable, and you'll have a better chance of grabbing some sleep. Flights can save you some time, but are very expensive - I didn't take any myself, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were often late, same as everything else is.

So you could do something like:
Saturday (arrival day) and Sunday in Yangon.
Sunday night, overnight bus to Inle or Bagan (the bus from Yangon to Inle took me about 13-14 hours)
Monday and Tuesday in Inle or Bagan
Wednesday - bus (maybe overnight?) between Inle and Bagan (I think 8-9 hours), or maybe fly if there's no overnight bus.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday in Inle or Bagan (whichever's left)
Saturday night - overnight bus (assuming it exists) or fly in evening to Mandalay or Yangon (assuming there are evening flights)
Sunday - fly home.

IMPORTANT - you're going to have to carefully research the transport options (I'm not certain when the flights go) and assume whatever form of transport you take will arrive a couple of hours late. A bus that is scheduled to get you into Mandalay at 7am is probably a safe bet if you're catching the 13:00 Air Asia flight to Bangkok, but absolutely unsafe to try and catch a 10:00 flight.

Hope that helps

#2 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 541
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Posted by mooball on 1/8/2014 at 02:27 TF writer

It's feasible, but probably really tiring. It's just that the journeys between towns are just so long... I'd cut either Bagan or Inle...

Current schedule would be:
arrive Yangon
Inle Lake
go home

With that schedule you have hardly any time in Yangon -- just the day you arrive. You could boost your amount of time on the ground by taking night buses, but then you'll be exhausted during the day. So yes, the itinerary is feasible, but what's the point?

#3 mooball has been a member since 19/6/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 439
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Posted by pete61 on 3/8/2014 at 09:30

Yes feasible but you would have to fly between stops. It's not too exy. The bus between Bagan - Mandaly isn't too long though and OK. We had no trouble with flights being on time in Jan this year but agree the bus could take any time.
If you have to cut any location short, I'd make it Mandalay first then Yangon second. 2 days in Bagan and Inle Lake are required for each. If you had to cut one of these, I'd reluctantly cut Inle Lake.

Mooball, are you from the Tweed, NSW?


#4 pete61 has been a member since 27/9/2009. Posts: 39

Posted by mooball on 3/8/2014 at 10:58 TF writer

No Pete, but that's where the nickname comes from. :)

#5 mooball has been a member since 19/6/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 439
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Posted by saxomophone on 13/8/2014 at 23:59

I am in a similar situation to the OP and would appreciate some advice.

We (perhaps foolishly) fly into and out of Yangon , arriving 30 September (close to midnight) and departing 7 October (very, very early morning!). That only gives us 5 full days. The 6th day is in theory a full day but we will need to be at the airport not so long after midnight on 7th.

My thoughts:
30 September - Check in hostel
1 October - Yangon
1 October (overnight bus to Inle)
2 -3 October - Inle
3 October (night bus to Bagan )
4-5 October (Bagan)
5 October (night bus to Yangon)
6 October - Yangon
7 October (depart home)

We really want to see both Inle and Bagain. But the prospect of 3 overnight buses in the space of a week isn't so attractive - in fact it's downright horrifying.

The alternative is to cut Inle Lake region from the itinerary and simply do Yangon - Bagan region - Yangon. I think the second option is more realistic, maximising time in Bagan and minimising overnight buses (and rush). Any advice?

The perils of being paid on a fee per day basis with no paid holidays (we live in China and timed the trip with the 7 day national holiday here)....!

#6 saxomophone has been a member since 13/1/2009. Posts: 13

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