DIY ITINERARY & TIPS TO MYANMAR: MANDALAY - BAGAN - MOUNT POPA - YANGON FOR FILIPINO TRAVELERS


Myanmar is a country in Southeast Asia where we Filipinos can visit visa - free for 14 days. Known for its raw beauty and culture untarnished yet from Western influence, Myanmar is a favorite backpacker destination. Pagodas and temples are everywhere that you'll get tired from counting. Most of all, this is a country where even the most budget - tight traveler can still enjoy essence of getting lost in a land full of warmth.   

This June, I am off to backpacking Southeast Asia covering Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Unfortunately, Myanmar remains in my bucketlist waiting to come to being. That's why I am more than grateful for meeting JD Abad online, a fellow backpacker who just came from a 5 - day DIY trip to Myanmar. While this tip is designed for Filipinos like me and him, this can also serve a general travel guide to Myanmar for everyone.

Below is his tips and itinerary to Myanmar that covers Mandalay, Bagan, Mount Popa and Yangon.

Thatbyinnyu Temple


Day 1
11:15AM - Bangkok to Mandalay (Air Asia = Php 4,200)
12:15PM - Arrival/Immigration clearance
12:45PM - Airport – Mandalay City (Van is MMK 5000 or Php 200)
1:00PM - Check In (Hotel Marvel for US$45 or Php 2,250)
2:00PM - U-bien Bridge (No Entrance fee)
3:00PM - Mandalay Grand Palace (No Entrance fee)
4:00PM - Kuthodaw Paya (No Entrance fee)
Mandalay Hill (Entrance fee for MMK1,000 or Php50)
7:00PM - Dinner at Mingalar Mall ( at Lotteria for MMK 6100 or Php225)
9:00PM - Sleep


Mandalay Grand Palace is the place where the last Burmese king lived. It's magnificent and historical to the locals before British colonizers destroyed it during World War II. It was constructed in the 18th century and rebuilt in 1990's with some modern materials. 

U-bien Bridge is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. Sprawled along Taungthaman lake, it is Myanmar's most photographed sites. The best time to see this bridge is just after sunrise when hundreds of villagers and monks commute back and forth across it.  

Kuthodaw Paya is a stupa where you'll find the world's oldest book. It is connected to the outside entry through a long corridor. Each of the shrines contain a marble slab where you can read Theravada Buddhism's sacred texts. 

JD's tip: I travel around the city by motortaxi and will usually give you a cheap helmet to wear as well. A day of sightseeing in the city (north and south sights) costs around MMK10,000.00 or Php 375


Shwezigon Temple

Day 2
3:30AM - Wake up
4AM - Mahamuni Paya or Washing of Buddha Ritual
Motortaxi rent is MMK 5000 or Php 187.50 
7AM - Breakfast Free
8AM - Bus ride to Bagan  for MMK 15,000 or Php 550 
12PM - Transfer from Nyaung-U terminal to hotel for MMK 2,000 or Php 75
12:30PM - Check in at hotel and lunch 
Hotel Yadanarbon Bagan Hotel costs USD35 per night
For 3 nights it is USD 105 or Php5,250


Shwesandaw Pagoda myanmar
1PM - Rent Bike 
Ebike is MMK 5000 or Php 200 
1PM - Bagan DIY tour: Shwezigone Temple, Htilominlo temple, Ananda Temple, Thatbinyu Temple, Bu Paya, etc  
There are over 2000 Temples, Pagodas and Stupas scattered over 42 Square Kilometers in Bagan. No Entrance fee on all temples
5:30PM - Sunset at Shwesandaw Pagoda (No Entrance fee)
7:00PM - Dinner at Bu Paya for MMK 5000 or Php 200 
9:00PM - Sleep

Mahamuni Paya is a temple where thousands of colorfully - dressed monks adore the 13-feet tall Buddha image every day. Unlike other pagodas, that claim it has Buddha's hair, bone or fingernail, in Mahamuni, it is not. Literally it is translated as "sacred living image" which is thought to be already 2, 000 years old. 

Shwezigone Temple is the most charming gold plated pagoda in Myanmar. It is one of the oldest and most pressive monuments particularly in Bagan. Lastly, its design is the most copied across the country for so many times.

Htilominlo temple is known as the last Myanmar style temple built in 12th century. It is 46 meters high and built using red bricks. There are 4 Buddha statues on the lower and upper floors each facing one side of the temple.
  
Ananda Temple is considered as one of the most surviving masterpiece of the Mon architecture.  It is also known as the finest, best preserved, and most revered of all Bagan temples.


Sein Nyet Sister Temples

Day 3
Continuation of Bagan Temple tour by bicycle. 
Alternative way to see the sunrise over Bagan is by hot air balloon ride, one is called Balloons Over Bagan, around US$ 320 per person)
EBike is MMK 5000 or Php 200

Thatbinyu Temple is the largest of its kind in Bagan. It nmeans Omniscience of the Buddha or from the word "omniscience" itself, it translates as "knowing thoroughly and seeing widely".

Bu Paya, unlike the rest of its kind is gourd-shaped. he history behind it is quite contrasting while I did my research. It says it was built in honor of the 3rd king of Bagan who got rid of gourd-like climbing plant called "bu" because it infects the riverbanks. In commemoration of his good deed, this pagoda was built on the bank of Ayeyarwaddy river  glorifying his accomplishments.   



Dhammayazika Pagoda

Day 4
4AM - Wake up
5AM - Sunrise at Shwesandaw Pagoda (No Entrance fee)
8AM - Day tour at Mount Popa  for MMK 10,000 or Php 400
5PM - Massage  for MMK7,000 for Php 250 
6PM - Dinner  for MMK 10,000 or Php 400
8PM - Bus Ride to Yangon for  MMK 15,000 or Php 550

Mount Popa's top is home to temples with gold stupas. The Popa Taungkalat shrine has 37 statues at its base that represents spirits that were once so vital to early kings when it comes to their commencement as head of this country. Popa means 'flower' in Sangkrit. There are plenty of flowers in a bottle for sale to be offered at the temples. 


Day 5
5AM - Shwedagone Temple Entrance fee is MMK 8,000 or Php 300) 
+ Taxi  for MMK 7,000 or Php 250 
7AM - Yangon tour  
Taxi to Airport  is MMK 7,000 or Php 250 
1:25PM - Yangon to Bangkok (Air Asia = Php 2,500)

Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred and impressive Buddhist site in Myanmar. Covered with hundreds of gold plates and stupa top with encrusted 4, 531 diamonds - Shwedagon Pagoda is said to be as one of the wonders of the religious world. It's a repository of the best in Myanmar's heritage when it comes to architecture, sculpture and arts.

Yangon is the largest city in Myanmar. A DIY tour to Yangon can range from half-day to 3 days or more. Here are a few places you can visit: Shri Kali temple (a local market in downtown area), Sule Pagoda (a city navigational landmark), Bogyoke Aung San market (a British-designed market), Chinatown Yangon (one of the busiest and most action packed areas beeing with food vendors), Kandawgyi market (a nature park), Chaukhatatgyi Paya (reclining Buddha), National Museum of Myanmar, and Yangon Circular Railroad Ride.

 
Total expenses excluding souvenirs and tips = Php 19,000.00


JD's tips: 
  • Only crisp and mint condition US Dollars, Euros and Singapore Dollar bills are accepted for currency exchange in Myanmar, Thai baht only in Airports, and must not have any wrinkles, creases, tears or marks, otherwise they will not be accepted. US Dollars is also accepted in Bagan, current exchange rate is 1 USD is MMK 1,360.00
  • If the temple guard saw you with a DSLR they will charge you MMK 1,000. Camera phones and GoPro not a problem and won’t be charged.
  • Wear decently when in temples which means no short shorts, sleeveless shirts, shoes, slippers, socks et cetera.

Basic Burmese (Pronounce it phonetically)
Thank you = Chezu thinbade or chezu be (for short)
Do you understand = Nalela 
I don’t understand = parimangu matibu
Yes = Hoke/Kawng de
No = Mahopu
Have = Shide
Don’t have = Mashibu
Very good = Ayen kawng de
How much = Palawle


Never ending thanks and credits to JD Abad for sharing his DIY travel guide to Myanmar. You can reach him on Facebook here.

2 comments

  1. Nice article, thanks. Quite a tough schedule - a lot of early (very early !) starts.

    #1FiL

    ReplyDelete