Backpacking in Myanmar – Your Most Comprehensive Budget Travel Guide

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Last Updated on: Jul 22, 2021 |

About this blog: Myanmar is a beautiful country. A 2 weeks backpacking in Myanmar took us to some of the best places in the country. In this blog, we will share about travelling to Myanmar, mainly backpacking in Myanmar. This comprehensive Myanmar Travel Guide with our trip highlights is one of the most comprehensive ones and has all the necessary information for budget travel in Myanmar as well as some handy tips.

Exploring and backpacking in Myanmar was thus on our bucket list for a long time. There are beautiful pagodas all over. And then there are lakes, floating villages, breathtaking landscapes, the Irrawaddy and smiling people who welcomed us with open hearts. Myanmar is one of the most culturally exciting places in Southeast Asia. 

Mingun Myanmar Itinerary

Backpacking in Myanmar was like a dream come true. When we came to know that we can travel from India to Myanmar by road, we decided that we have to go there. The excitement of doing the unknown was great. It was our Grand Myanmar Road Trip where we explored the major places of Myanmar by buses, cars, trains and cruise.

Myanmar at a Glance | Pin this for a later read!

An infographic about myanmar backpacking trip - a complete Myanmar travel guide

Myanmar – Then and Now

Myanmar has long been considered a pariah state when it was under military rule from 1962 to 2011. Very few tourists ever visited the country and even travel agents had boycotted Myanmar in the fear that tourist funding is not helping the locals but is actually fattening the treasury of the militants! After 2010, gradual liberalization began and the free elections were held in 2015. Since then, tourist inflow has also increased. But somehow Myanmar is still under the scanner with the army operations in the Rakhine state.

Young monks on the roads of Bagan in Myanmar

So a lot of eyebrows were raised when we decided to visit Myanmar. Advice and warnings poured in. And this brings to the question – is it ethical to visit Myanmar and is it safe?

Is it Ethical to Visit Myanmar?

This is a pertinent question that you might face before travelling to Myanmar. With the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and the stand of the country on the same, it might seem to be a difficult moral choice whether or not to visit Myanmar.

Smiling faces of Mandalay_Mandalay Travel Guide

Whether you want to travel to Myanmar is your personal decision. But the rest of Myanmar is separated from the region and there is no effect of conflict in the rest of the country. We would just like to say that tourism is helping the locals of Myanmar in a positive way after the liberation from military rule.

Is Myanmar Safe to Travel?

Yes. Myanmar is very safe to travel. Myanmar is now trying to attract tourists. Most of the main regions of Myanmar are quite safe to travel. Our personal experience says that the Burmese are quite helpful. We have not felt unsafe for a moment even when we did not actually know how the roads would be.

We had taken the land route to visit Myanmar. We had crossed the border at Moreh in Manipur and travelled to Mandalay by road. We did not have any previous point of reference about the roads and its conditions. We trusted our gut and travelled.

Infrastructure in Myanmar is beginning to grow. Myanmar now has first-class bus services between main towns. Sim cards are also easily available. There are a few restricted areas for foreigners to visit and permits are required. (List Restricted Areas of Myanmar)

Travelling in Myanmar was a great learning experience. The best part was that we did not know what was there ahead of us. While the language barrier was evident, the friendly locals made up for that. Every step we took, each journey in Myanmar was a learning process for us as travellers. Visit Myanmar with an open mind. You will come back with a fonder heart.

Yadana Hsimi Pagoda_Things to do in Mandalay

Is it Myanmar or Burma?

It is both. This southeast Asian country is known by both the names. While Burma more caters to the British colonial past, Myanmar is the name given by the Military government in 1989 after thousands were killed in an uprising. Many names were changed across the country. Rangoon became Yangon, Ayeyarwady became Irrawaddy, Moulmein became Mawlamyine. However, both the names are used interchangeably.

However, Burma describes only the ethnic Burmese, Myanmar is supposed to take in all those who are living in the country. Politically, Myanmar is the name, though we usually use both the names. 

Markets of Mandalay

Where is Myanmar located?

Myanmar or Burma is that Southeast Asian country which is yet to see the large influx of tourism. The country is bordered on the north and northeast by China, on the east and southeast by Laos and Thailand and on the west by Bangladesh and India. The southern part of Myanmar lies the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.

Myanmar Travel Map

Myanmar Travel Map

India and Myanmar

Myanmar or Burma as it was earlier called has a special connection with India. India has long since had a historical and cultural relationship with Myanmar. The cultural exchange included Buddhism and the Burmese script whose alphabets were adapted from the Grantha script. The last emperor of India Bahadur Shah Zafar breathed his last at Yangon. So much so that we have Bollywood songs that speak of Rangoon (Yangon).

How to get Visa for Myanmar?

You would need a Visa to visit the country. Indians can visit Tamu near Moreh in Manipur and Rhikhawdar near Zokhawtar in Mizoram without a visa. But going beyond these places would require a Visa.

Visa on arrival is available in Myanmar only for business travellers. But it is quite easy to obtain an e-visa. You can apply for a Myanmar Visa online. We got our e-visa within 3 days of application. A 28-days visa would take USD 50. Make sure your passport is valid for six months.

You can also obtain Myanmar Visa from Myanmar Consulate in your city.

Backpacking in Myanmar - Quick Facts

What is the best Time to Visit Myanmar?

Myanmar essentially has a tropical climate having distinct wet and dry seasons. The country has warm to hot summers and mild winters.

MonthsSeasonRemarks
November to February Winter (Peak Season)This is the popular high season when the weather is mild and rainfall is least. This is the time when Myanmar gets the maximum tourist footfall.
March to AprilSpring (Shoulder season)During March and April, weather can be quite hot around Bagan and Mandalay. Weather remains cooler in Shan state.
May to SeptemberMonsoon (Low Season)Monsoon starts mid-May and peaks from July to September. The weather is stifling hot and you get lots of rain. Sometimes rains make roads impassable
OctoberAutumn (Shoulder Season)October remains hot as well, but better than May-June.

We visited during October and got mixed weather. While Mandalay received rain and in Bagan, it rained for a day. We missed the sunset in both Mandalay and Bagan due to bad weather. However, the second day in Bagan was full of sunshine and Yangon had great weather.

Little monks in Myanmar

How to reach Myanmar?

By Flight

The most common way of entry to Myanmar is by flights. Flights from Southeast Asian countries to Myanmar are quite affordable. There are 3 international airports in Myanmar – Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw.

By Land

Myanmar has multiple land border entries as well. Currently, it is possible to travel freely overland between the Myanmar borders with India and Thailand. The border crossing with Laos is remote and requires special permission which is also quite uncertain. The borders with Bangladesh and China are closed to foreigners.

India-Myanmar Overland Border crossing

There are two open border crossings connecting Myanmar and India. Both accept e-visas, require no special travel permits and are not in areas of restricted travel.

Difference in time between Myanmar and India

Moreh/Tamu

Moreh is in the state of Manipur, India while Tamu falls in western Sagaing Division. We had taken this route to visit Myanmar.

Read here to know about travelling from India to Myanmar by road.

Remember, to visit Manipur in India, one requires an ILP (for Indians) and PAP (for foreigners).

Border crossing at Moreh-Tamu border during our Myanmar backpacking trip from India

Zokawthar/Rikhawdar

Zokawthar lies in Champhai district of Mizoram, India while Rikhawdar is in the remote northwestern Chin State of Myanmar.

Myanmar – Thailand border crossing

4 Myanmar/Thailand border crossings are open for travellers.

  1.  Mae Sot (Tak province, Thailand) – Myawaddy (Kayin state, Myanmar)
  2. Mae Sai (Chiang Rai Province, Thailand) – Tachileik (Shan State, Myanmar)
  3. Ranong (Ranong Province, Thailand) and Kawthaung (Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar)
  4. Phunaron (Phu Nam Ron) (Thailand – nearest town Kanchanaburi) – Htee Kee (Tanintharyi Division, Myanmar – nearest town Dawei). This border is remote and e-Visa is not a valid entry at this border.

Read our detailed Guide on India to Thailand via Myanmar by road to know more about border crossing.

Remember, for e-Visa you have to mention the intended entry point in the eVisa application. You can enter from a different point but then it will take a longer time to process your Visa on arrival.

You can exit from any of the International Airports or land border checkpoints as this does not require to be mentioned upfront. 

Getting around Myanmar

Long Distance

For travelling across cities, you have the option to take buses, trains, private taxis and flights.

Buses in Myanmar

For backpacking in Myanmar and budget travel, we feel the best way to travel across cities in Myanmar is by buses. Myanmar has first rated bus services. JJ Express and Elite Buses are quite comfortable and we found them to be better than bus service in India. The buses have reclining seats, provide blankets, a bottle of water and snacks too.

Most of the buses travel overnight, which we thought was great.  We would not lose the day of sightseeing in this way. But it also has a negative side to it. The buses will arrive at the cities at some odd hour in the morning and you will not be able to check in to your hotel or hostel until 2PM. So if you want to take a nap, there is a long waiting time!

View of Mandalay River while backpacking Myanmar

We happened to reach Mandalay early in the morning and could only check in to our hostel at 2PM. We kept our bags at the hostel and went out for sightseeing. Thankfully, the hostel allowed us to use the toilets.

How to book buses in Myanmar?

Most of the bus companies have online sites. We had booked our bus tickets from JJ Express. You can also ask your hotel/hostel to get bus tickets for you. But that will incur an extra cost in the form of commission. So it is better to book your buses online.

You can also turn up at the local bus station and buy your ticket there. But do this only if you know the schedule of the buses. Most of the bus stations are outside the town. It is not a good idea to pay for an expensive taxi and get back to the city again.

The bus stations are usually far from the main town. Most of the time, either pick-up or drop to your hostel is provided by the bus companies. So double check it.

Mandalay - Myanmar Travel Guide

Buses and Toilet Breaks

Bus journeys in Myanmar can be long, taking upto 10-12 hours. And the buses do not have toilets on board. But the buses provide regular toilet breaks after every few hours. Just be aware that most of the toilets are squat toilets although you will find Western ones also in a few places. Do carry toilet paper with you.

The air vents in the buses make the temperature really cold in the buses. Even though the buses provide a blanket, you need to wear a warm layer to beat that cold. Wear them, especially if you are travelling in winter.

Trains in Myanmar

We always find train journeys to be very beautiful. Trains in Southeast Asia can be quite unique and a perfect opportunity to get an insight into the local people and culture. It is the same no doubt in the case of Myanmar. The trains run across beautiful landscapes, but the trains are quite slow. So unless you really want a train journey experience, you might want to avoid the trains.

Do not look for air conditioned coaches. It is better to book a First Class ticket on the train as it is going to save a lot of hassles. For overnight journeys, an ordinary class is not recommended.

Trains in Myanmar

We had taken the train ride from Bagan to Yangon. It was a good 17 hours of the train journey. We had booked in 1st Class. While the seats were good and linen and pillows were provided and we got an entire coupe to us, the fan in the compartment did not work.

The trains in Myanmar are still left in the past. There are coups and a well dressed attendant came to carry our luggage to your cabin. He also came at intervals to check on us and to give us our dinner at night.

If you love train journeys and the nostalgia of the trains, only then take an overnight train in Myanmar. Otherwise, buses are more comfortable and cheaper too. You can always take a circular train ride in Yangon if you want to experience Myanmar Railways.

Local trains in Myanmar

How to book trains in Myanmar?

In Myanmar, you can book tickets online. We had booked our train ticket from Go-Myanmar.com. They would issue an online confirmation of the ticket. You would require sending them the copy of your passport and the address of your hotel. They send the paper tickets to the hotel from where you can collect the tickets. Paper tickets are valid documents for travelling by train.

We took the slow train from Bagan to Yangon and also wanted to take the slow cruise ride. But it did not fall into place somehow.

Private Taxis

You can hire a private taxi to take you to the next destinations. But unless it is absolutely necessary, it is better to avoid them. There are no fixed fares and the prices are fixed at the spot on the whim of the driver. You have to negotiate a lot. You would be needing taxis to go to and fro the airport or bus station. 

View of Sule Pagoda at Yangon Downtown _ Yangon Travel Guide

Within the city – Local Transport

Local transport in Myanmar is slowly developing and sometimes travelling within the city can become quite a task.

If you are travelling within the town, you can take a taxi. Most of the taxi drivers now understand basic English. But as I said before, you have to negotiate a bit with the fare. But unlike the taxis for intercity travel, taxi fares within the city are a bit more regulated. At Yangon we had asked different taxi drivers at different places and they gave us more or less the same price for renting the car for a full day.

Bigger cities like Yangon and Mandalay have good bus services, but it will be quite a task to get on the bus if you do not know Burmese. All the road signs and those on the buses are in Burmese. We found a peculiarity about the buses in Myanmar. Vehicles move on the right side of the road. And the buses have doors on the left side (like that in India where vehicles move on the left side of the road). It seemed that suddenly one day the Burmese authorities decided to stop moving the vehicles on the left and start moving them on the right side of the road. And then they did not change the buses!

Trishaws are used by the locals to move around at Yangon

Tuktuks or autos are also an option for short distances. Again, here also you have to haggle with the price.

You can also rent bikes at some of the places like Bagan, Mandalay and Inle. Bikes can be rented from your hotel or hostel as well as rental shops. 

Getting off-the-beaten track in Myanmar

Getting off-the-beaten track in Myanmar is not easy. Myanmar is not open for exploration everywhere. Parts of Chin state and Mon state are restricted areas for foreigners and you have to get approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs &/or Ministry of Tourism before you can travel there. See the list here.

Best Places to visit in Myanmar

1. Mandalay – the last royal capital of Myanmar

Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery_Inwa_Mandalay_Myanmar

Mandalay was the last royal capital of Myanmar. Myanmar’s second biggest city has a charm of its own. Surrounded by hills and numerous pagodas, the city is all about the beautiful temples, lakes and old cities.

There are a lot of things to do in Mandalay, but do not miss the U-Bein Bridge and the sunset from Mandalay Hill.

2. Yangon, the Business Hub

busy roads of Yangon - another stop in our backpacking Myanmar trip

Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the most important attractions in Myanmar as well as in Yangon. The largest city of Myanmar and the erstwhile capital of the country, Yangon is the bustling economic capital of Myanmar. Yangon is quite similar to Kolkata in India and we felt that they are twin cities built by the British. Other interesting places to visit in Yangon are the Sule Pagoda, Kandwagyi Lake, Downtown among many others.

3. Bagan

Sunrise at Bagan

All those breathtaking pictures of hot air balloons over the old temples in Bagan are in a way synonymous with Myanmar. Endless temples, hot air balloons, huge Buddha statues awaited us at Bagan. More than 3000 Buddhist temples and pagodas are scattered across the plains of Bagan, which was the site of the first Burmese kingdom.

Rent an e-bike and explore Bagan completely. The sunrise and sunsets of Bagan over the pagodas are world famous and should not be missed. Hot-air balloon ride is one of the most coveted things in Bagan, but it is not exactly for budget travellers. We were instead happy to see the sunrise from the temple top and see the balloons fly in the distance!

4. Inle Lake

The balancing Intha fishermen at Inle Lake - Myanmar Budget Itinerary

Inle is perhaps the most beautiful place that we visited in Myanmar. The sprawling and laidback Inle Lake is a sharp contrast to the bustling Yangon. Tucked in a valley and surrounded by canals and water bodies, Inle is a backpackers’ delight.

Inle Lake is so awe-inspiring that every visitor has something to take from here. Whether the water surrounded pagodas and temples, or the markets and floating villages, Inle is beautiful in all respects. If you have more time, then hike to the remote areas of Inle.

5. Hsipaw (famous for the train ride crossing Gokteik Viaduct)

Hsipaw train ride crossing Gokteik Viaduct Myanmar

Hsipaw is more known for short treks to Shan and Palaung villages. These treks lead to small villages, waterfalls, fields and also hot springs. Hsipaw is a historic town and was the home to the Shan princes once upon a time. Hsipaw has its own Little Bagan with old stupas, though not as impressive as Bagan. There is a 3-day trek from Hsipaw to Kalaw. 

Also, you can take the train from Pyin Oo Lwin to or Hsipaw to get some of the most amazing views of the country. The famous Gokteik Viaduct falls during this train journey.

6. Kalaw

Kalaw is just the place for exploring Myanmar countryside. There are several trekking routes in the region. You can hike through the hills and meet the friendly locals while enjoying the monasteries, sceneries and quaint villages. There is a trek route from Kalaw to Inle lake for 3 days.

7. Ngapali Beach

Ngapali Beach does not fall in the most common tourist circuit of Myanmar. This beautiful beach with swaying palm trees, tempting blue waters and white sand is a welcome break from the pagodas and temples that we see so much around Myanmar.

8. Mrauk-u

 Mrauk-u
Source: Wikimedia

Mrauk-u is the second most important archaeological site after Bagan in Myanmar. The temples here are quite different from that in Bagan. The temples have thick walls and are made mostly of stones unlike Bagan where bricks are used.  The place is culturally and historically quite important for Myanmar and it was the capital of the Arakan kingdom. Mrauk-u has some beautiful countryside consisting of Chin villages.

However, Mrauk-u lies in the conflicted Rakhine state and is currently out of bound to travellers. There is however conflicting news about the place being closed to foreign travellers. But I would suggest you drop the plan to visit this place for the time being. 

2 weeks Backpacking in Myanmar – Our Itinerary

Myanmar is a big country and has such diverse attractions like temples, lakes, mountains and virgin beaches; that a mere 14 days does not do justice. But since we have a job back home, we saw the best of Myanmar in these 2 weeks. What’s more, we also celebrated Durga Puja at Yangon!

Buddha statue at Sandamuni Pagoda in Mandalay_Mandalay Travel Guide

So here was our travel route in Myanmar:

Moreh (India) – Tamu – Mandalay – Bagan – Yangon – Inle – Mandalay – Tamu – Moreh

Myanmar Backpacking – Travel Advices

Money Matters : What currencies can be used in Myanmar?

The Myanmar currency is Kyat (pronounced as Chat). INR 1 was around 20-21 Kyats when we visited Myanmar. Kyats come in notes of value K50, K100, K200, K500, K1000, K5000 and K10000. There are no coins in Myanmar.

Myanmar currency - Kyats

You can use both Dollars ($) and Kyats (MMK) in Myanmar. Initially, Myanmar used to accept US Dollars from tourists, but now they have started accepting Kyats from travellers as well. Infact, most of the hostels expected that we paid in Dollars.

But if you are bringing in dollars anyways, you have to bring in crisp, uncreased, unmarked, unfolded and fresh currency notes. That is a lot to ask. Also, pre-2006 dollar bills or ones with the letters AB and CB at the start of the serial number might not be accepted or exchanged (Don’t ask me why). So if you are carrying USD, carry them in pristine and flat condition. 

Where can I exchange money in Myanmar? 

You can exchange the dollars at Kyats in local banks of larger cities and at the airports. In Yangon, you can head to Bogyoke Aung San Market and exchange your currencies. There are numerous money changing shops here and they offer competitive rates. But visit the market before 4PM as these shops tend to close by that time.

Do not exchange money from the money exchangers on the street.

Travellers’ cheques are usually not accepted in Myanmar.

Puppet Show at Bagan Myanmar

ATMs in Myanmar

Myanmar now has a number of ATMs in all the major cities and tourist destinations. We saw a number of ATMs at Bagan, Yangon and Inle. These ATMs now accept almost all international bank and credit cards.

ATMs in Myanmar dispense Kyat only. So you can withdraw the local currency from the ATMs.

Quite naturally, there is a fee involved with withdrawal of cash. For ATM cash withdrawals, there is typically a K5000 ($3) transaction fee, and a withdrawal limit of K300000 ($200) per transaction in addition to the fees that your bank may charge. So for every transaction, there will be a fee of $4-5.

You might not find ATMs in smaller towns in Myanmar. So keep cash ready for these places for you never know when the ATMs run dry or there is internet failure.

When to use Dollar and when to use Kyat

Typically dollars are used to pay your accommodation in Myanmar and transport like flights and luxury buses. Some high-end restaurants can also expect dollars. But otherwise, Kyats are good to use in Myanmar.

We exchanged our money at Moreh and used Kyats in all our transactions in Myanmar without any problem. We also exchanged money at Bogyoke Aung San Market at a good rate.

Go for marketing at Bogyoke Aung San Market at Yangon _ Things to do in Yangon

Is Myanmar expensive? Myanmar Budget Travel Tips

This is one of the major questions that most of you would have in mind. For Indians, the flight cost to Myanmar takes a major chunk of the budget. Otherwise, Myanmar is quite budget friendly and backpacking in Myanmar can be done on a budget. We will give a break up of our cost to travel in Myanmar.

Accommodation

We stayed at budget hostels and guesthouses. All our hostels were within 20000-22000 Kyats.

Budget stay: Dorms – $10-15, Double room – $25-30

Midrange: $35-50

High end: $60+

Food: There are many options to eat in Myanmar. We tried local restaurants while we were outdoors. Some of the nights we utilized the kitchen of the hostel also. Breakfasts were provided at the hostels. For lunch, we ate at the local restaurants. We would spend around $10 for food everyday.

Travel: It took a major chunk of the budget. Since there were three of us, we rented cars for sightseeing at Mandalay and Yangon. We also took a cruise ride at Bagan.

Backpacking in Myanmar | How much does it cost to travel?

Expense TypeBudgetMid-range
VISA$50$50
AccommodationDorms – $10-15
Double room – $25-30
$35-50
Food$10$20-30
Local Flights$50-150$50-150
Trains$10-25 (upper class seats/ sleeper)$10-25 (upper class seats/ sleeper)
Buses$10-30 (long bus rides)$10-30 (long bus rides)
Ananda Temple Bagan Myanmar

Entrance Fees in Myanmar

A few of the pagodas have entrance fees for foreigners. And then there are the Archaeological Zone Fees.

PlaceEntry Fee or Zone FeeRemarks
Archaeological Zone Fees for Mandalay10000 KyatsIt includes a visit to Amarapura, Innwa, Pinya, Paleik, Shwe Nan Taw Kyaung, the Mandalay Royal palace, Sanda Muni Pagoda, Kuthodaw Pagoda, Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda and Mandalay Hill. It is valid for 5 days from the date of purchase.
Archaeological Zone Fees for Bagan25000 KyatsIt includes your visit to the entire Bagan area and is valid for 3 days.
Inle Zone Fees15000 KyatsValid for 3 days
Archaeological Zone Fees for Mingun & Sagaing (Mandalay old cities)5000 KyatsValid for 1 day
Entrance Fees to Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon10000 KyatsValid for a day

A few of the pagodas have camera fees of 200-300 Kyats

Yangon River Cruise - Myanmar Travel Guide

Sim Cards in Myanmar

Earlier, Sim cards were a luxury in Myanmar. I remember our walking tour guide say that even 5 years back, Sim cards would cost as high as $260! But now, after Myanmar has opened up to tourism, Sim cards are easily available and the network is quite good. We took a Telenor Sim Card at 3000 Kyats (only around 1.9$) and 1 GB data took another 3000 Kyats. 1 GB data was sufficient for our 2 weeks trip as most of the hostels have a good wifi connection. But the same cannot be said in the case of the restaurants.

Food in Myanmar

Food at Yangon

The Burmese cuisine is quite diverse and is highly influenced by the neighbouring cultures. A traditional Burmese platter would contain rice, a curry, salad and a number of side dishes. We used to order rice and chicken or pork. Along with it came a number of other dishes which would invariably have a dried fish preparation, soup, salad made of fermented tea leaves and a lentil or bean preparation. The Burmese curries are mostly oily. You can also try the various types of noodles.

There are a number of Indian restaurants at Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay, though I did not see one in Inle.

Street food at these places is quite famous among the locals. The food shops in the corner never seem to be empty. Yangon also has a 2 km stretch where only street food is sold. But you need to have a strong stomach to try these.

Street Food at Yangon

Most of the hostels serve breakfast. There is usually one Burmese item at breakfast. Bread, coffee and tea are also served and you can have them as much as you want.

Do you get vegetarian food in Myanmar?

You will find vegetarian food at the Indian restaurants at Yangon and Mandalay. In Yangon, there are a couple of South Indian restaurants also. In smaller towns, the restaurant might have some veg items on their menu. But fruits like bananas, apples are easily available in Myanmar. Bakery items like cakes, buns and bread are also very easily available and they taste great.

Places to eat at Myanmar

Things to know before visiting Myanmar

  • In Myanmar, you have to remove your shoes before entering the house of your host. Infact, in hostels too, you have to leave the shoes outside at the shoe rack.
  • Also remember, there will be a lot of walking barefoot. While entering the pagodas, you have to keep your shoes outside.
  • The head is considered to be the most important part of the human body. Do not touch anyone’s head, even that of children. It is seen as a sign of aggression.
  • While accepting anything (even money), use your right hand to receive while holding the forearm with your left hand. Do this while giving also. This shows respect and courtesy. I was doing this back in India also for a few days after I came back from Myanmar.
  • Tipping is not usually expected in Myanmar. But you can always give some tips if you are happy with the service.
  • Respect their traditions and customs and pack some temple clothes. While visiting the pagodas and religious shrines, keep your shoulders and knees covered. In short, do not wear half pants and sleeveless dresses.
  • Carry your sun hat and sunscreen wherever you go. There is a lot of walking in the sun.
  • The Burmese are lovely people and are always smiling. They quite happily pose for photographs. Asking money for taking photographs has not yet gotten into them. But if possible, take their permission before taking a photograph.
  • You will face the fishermen of Inle Lake asking for tips while giving those balancing poses. If you wish to take photographs, you might have to shell out a few bucks.
  • Smile a lot and interact with the locals. Most of them know very little English and this is one of the major problems of tourism in Myanmar. But a smile says a lot and helps too.
  • Be ready for the snarling traffic in Mandalay and Yangon.
  • Alcohol is widely available in Myanmar. You will find beer stations at almost every town. There will be someone sitting at the table whatever be the time of the day it is.
  • In Myanmar, you will see almost everyone has applied something on their cheeks. This paste is known as Thanaka. Made from tree bark, it is a great sunscreen and gives a cooling sensation and protects from sunburn. You can try applying it in your face. I don’t know about its sunscreen properties, but it really feels good and gives a cooling sensation.
Myanmar Budget Travel Guide

A few important Burmese words that you should know

We had a tough time at the local restaurants to explain what we wanted to eat. They took us to their kitchen and we had to show them what we wanted. Here are a few words that are good to know.

  • Hello – min-ga-la-ba
  • Goodbye – thaw:-meh-naw
  • Thank you – kyei-zu-bah
  • Where is – beh-hma-leh
  • How much is it? – beh-lau-leh
  • Bill – báu-cha
  • Menu – mi.nù

Backpacking in Myanmar (FAQs Answered)

Is Myanmar travel expensive?

Travelling in Myanmar is very cheap. Backpacking in Myanmar is quite popular and you can explore Myanmar on a shoestring budget. Public transport is quite cheap, food is also cheap at the local eateries and there are hostels for accommodation across Myanmar. 

Is it safe to travel to Myanmar?

Myanmar is safe to travel. Myanmar is now attracting tourists and is developing the tourist infrastructure well. Avoid going to conflicted areas on your visit and you will have a safe and wonderful time in Myanmar.
Please note: Due to Covid-19, we do not recommend travelling to Myanmar as of now. 

Is Myanmar safe for solo female Travellers?

Myanmar is pretty safe for solo female travellers, just as anywhere in the world. You are unlikely to encounter problems here. The locals are friendly and helpful. However, adhere to the dress code in this Buddhist country.

What is the best month to visit Myanmar?

The best time to visit Myanmar is the winter months from November to March. October is also a good time and is just the beginning of the tourist season. 

What is the wettest month in Myanmar?

June to October is the wettest season in Myanmar with a high rainfall. The months between June to August experience heavy and longer periods of rainfall, particularly on the Bay of Bengal coast, Yangon and the Irrawaddy Delta region.

How many days do I need in Myanmar?

Two weeks in Myanmar is ideal for exploring Myanmar. You can visit most of the attractions within this time. If you have less time, you can still have a great experience in Myanmar, but it would need better planning. At least 5 days are required to visit Myanmar’s two best destinations.

How much money do I need in a day in Myanmar?

If you are on a budget, then you will probably spend $25-35 per day in Myanmar including your food, stay and local transport.

How do I dress in Myanmar?

It is recommended to dress conservatively in Myanmar. Most of the pagodas like Schwedagon Paya have a strict dress code. Shoulders and knees need to remain covered. Ladies need to pack conservative clothes. Shoes are not allowed inside the pagodas.
As the temperature remains warm most of the year, it is recommended to wear light and airy clothes.

Is English spoken in Myanmar?

The official language of Myanmar is Burmese, spoken by the majority of the people. You will find English speaking people in all the main cities and touristy places like Bagan and Inle. However, in small towns and villages and offbeat places, you will find fewer people speaking English. 

Myanmar is a wonderful place to visit. The place is still relatively new to tourism. If you have any questions about travel and backpacking in Myanmar, do let us know.

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Backpacking in Myanmar - What to expect
Myanmar travel Guide

Reproduction of the content, including the photographs without prior consent/permission of the writer and photographer, is not encouraged at all and a violation of the same will attract legal action. If you need anything, Contact Us.

Agni Amrita 2 Backpackers

by Agni Amrita

We are Agni and Amrita, the story-telling team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers and partners in crime in travel and (mis)adventures of life. We have been travelling together for more than a decade looking for immersive experiences while enjoying the little beauties of life.

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53 Comments

  1. Got thrilled after reading your tale of overland trip to Myanmar and Thailand from India. Excited to know about so adventurous couple and enthusiastic about traveling

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for your kind words. Please keep reading our blog for more travel stories.

      Reply
  2. This is the most well described and informative article about Myanmar that has ever been mentioned. Myanmar has a very rich. history and also a very delicious and rich cuisine.

    Reply
    • Thank you!

      Reply
  3. I’m so happy I found this. Definitely the most informative piece I’ve found about Myanmar on a blog yet. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much!

      Reply
  4. Thank you Agni & Amrita for your detailed info. It was very helpful. Hope I would visit someday.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much! I hope you visit soon.

      Reply
  5. Now Myanmmar is on my list. I like their cuisine. The architecture looks beautiful also. It would be worth a long visit to see the quiet culture.

    Reply
    • Yes, Myanmar is so beautiful. Hope you visit there soon.

      Reply
  6. This is very well written article on Myanmar. Is possible to go by own car? How much does carnet and escort service charge? I agency / agent help us in getting these?

    Reply
  7. Very well written. You have captured almost all the relevant information like visas, currencies and internal transport. Bagan and Yangon are extremely high on my list. I really hope that I get to go there soon and when I do, will be referring back to this.

    Reply
    • Thank you Ami. Myanmar is a beautiful country.

      Reply
  8. Myanmar never crossed my thoughts in travel plans and you have just explained why! I have heard that its expensive to visit and appreciate the breakdown of costs you share. You put together such a detailed accounting of your travel , it must have taken a lot of time and effort. In the end this is such a helpful post.

    Reply
    • Thanks Adele. Myanmar eluded us exactly for the same reason. But once we went there, we found, it is not at all costly.

      Reply
  9. This is a very helpful post even if you are not looking to go backpacking to Myanmar and thinking of a few days on this beautiful country. I have this on my to visit places and this post surely helps me plan better. I would love to visit starting with the more commercial Yangon and then onto Mandalay. The food scene is another reason why I want to visit this country. Thanks for sharing a very informative post.

    Reply
    • Thank you Amar! I am glad that the post helped.

      Reply
  10. That Myanmar-Thailand railroad sounds ambitious, almost a bridge too far. On the subject of bridges, that private car ride to Mandalay sounds like an epic pain. Expensive and all night on bad roads. At least you persevered and had a great trip.

    Reply
    • Yes, the private car was a bit pain. But compared to the flight costs from India and the rest of the tour, it was worth all the trouble. 🙂

      Reply
  11. I’ve only briefly read about the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, and it’s definitely an ambitious project! I love road trips as well, so I’ve loved reading about your road trip on the Friendship Highway. Myanmar is a beautiful country and there are so many things that I would love to see. Bagan and Yangon look like the two places that I would enjoy most. Great beginner’s guide to Myanmar!

    Reply
    • Thank you Martha. We too enjoyed our road trip to Myanmar.

      Reply
  12. Wow.. thanks for this article. I honestly never imagined that a 10-day trip would cost anything less than 500 dollars! I liked the detailed explanation on things such as visas, security and currency. This is very helpful information to tourists planning to visit Myanmar.

    Reply
    • Thank you Lora. I hope that this would help all those who want to plan a trip to Myanmar

      Reply
  13. Such a well planned and well thought out itinerary for Myanmar. Thank you for showing the breakdown of your expenses, it helps us to plan. I really enjoyed your photos. Bagan looks magical, what a great way to see the temples via a hot air balloon ride. I would love to spend some time on Inle Lake as well.

    Reply
    • Thank you Jane. BAgan is truly magical and so is Inle Lake.

      Reply
  14. This looks like a fantastic guide to Myanmar. I haven’t really considered visiting the country yet but its good to know that it is safe and tourist-friendly. Also, an overnight journey in the first class sounds like a great way to cover some distance in a cheap way and also enjoy the nuances of a rail journey. Thanks for the tip on getting the eVisa before entering the country. Looks like it’ll have to be at least for a week when I plan my trip!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Medha. Yes, you need to have at least a week in Myanmar. The more the better.

      Reply
  15. Hi many thanks for this invaluable piece. I hope I won’t face much problem at Tamu border point. My entry and exit point will be Tamu.

    Reply
    • Thank you Deepak. I am sure you will enjoy Myanmar.

      Reply
  16. Such detailed itinerary and beautiful pictures .My heart is saying “let’s go”.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much. Myanmar is indeed a lovely place.

      Reply
  17. A very helpful blog entry with lots of useful information. This infographic is really great! I would like to see all those places someday. They are on my list of places to visit.

    Reply
    • Thank you! Hope the information helps the travellers.

      Reply
  18. This is a detailed itinerary and it is surely very helpful for planning my trip to Myanmar. I have been there two years back but I am surely bookmarking for referencing to others.

    Reply
    • Thanks Shreya. I am sure you had a great time there even 2 years back!

      Reply
  19. I am tempted to visit Myanmar. Good, useful information.

    Reply
    • Thank you Kirti!

      Reply
  20. Form the captures, to the itinerary to the infographic, everything about this post is just awesome. Thanks for a detailed and comprehensive post that is super interesting and helpful. Bookmarking for future reference.

    Reply
  21. What a detailed and comprehensive itinerary and travel guide for Myanmar – you’ve included so much information that will be useful to anyone travelling there 🙂 I haven’t been there yet, but maybe one day soon! x

    Reply
  22. This is such a detailed guide on Myanmar. We have it on our list and I think it’s time I should be planning a trip there. Your itinerary looks really effective. I am bookmarking it for referencing 🙂 The pictures look really amazing too!

    Reply
    • Thank you Anjali! Its good to know that you found the guide useful.

      Reply
  23. Myanmar is such a fun country to visit. I always laugh seeing the photos of the fisherman doing their tricks for tourists. It’s hilarious watching them paddle normally until they see a tourist and then OOPS trick time. Love how easy it is to get a simcard now. Kinda a life saver for tourists.

    Reply
    • Yes, Myanmar is a lovely place to visit. And now they are trying to become more tourist-friendly as well.

      Reply
  24. Oooh yesss, reading and seeing this makes me want to go back to Myanmar. Despite the fact that some terrible things happen inside the country it’s a magical country to go to. Would love to go back and explore more.

    Reply
    • I guess things happen in almost every country. But Myanmar is definitely one of the most beautiful places.

      Reply
  25. Myanmar has always been on my bucket list of places to visit. Love your in depth content – will definitely save it for when I visit.

    Reply
    • Thank you Diana.

      Reply
  26. This is so detailed I love it! The photos are beautiful too! Thank you for also sharing traditions we should respect when visiting. I had heard about the touching of the heads but not about what hand to use when giving/receiving. Super interesting.

    Reply
  27. What beautiful pictures! I am glad yall were safe there and it looks like a scenic place to visit

    Reply
  28. This is one of the most in-depth coverings of Myanmar that I have ever read. Thank you so much for all the amazing content.

    Reply
  29. Such a comprehensive guide! I’m hoping to visit Myanmar next year, so this will definitely come in handy! Love your pictures btw!

    Reply
  30. Wow, what a detailed itinerary of Myanmar. I love skimming through the entire blog for now. Why i said skimmed because I have already bookmarked it for my Myanmar Road Trip adventure.

    Great read and Fabolous Shots

    Reply
    • Thank you Debjani. You must visit Myanmar, i am sure you will love it.

      Reply

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Agni Amrita

Hi! we’re Agni & Amrita.

A creative couple, explorer and the team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers.

Find more about us.

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