Travel Diary: Myanmar, my 10th Southeast Asian Country
Travel Diary: Myanmar, my 10th Southeast Asian Country
Daily budget (extreme)- 30K kyat
(moderate)- 40K kyat
They say Myanmar has thousands of pagodas and stupas as old as Buddhism than anywhere else in the world. Although less grand in scale, imagine smaller Angkor Wat multiplied by hundreds? Thus, is it safe to say that it is the Land of Pagodas?
Speaking of safety, I heard that this Buddhist country is as safe as Taiwan. The security is tighter than other Southeast Asian countries. In addition, the strict Buddhist way of life and heavier penalty imposed for crimes against tourists help in the overall impression of Myanmar as a safe place to visit for travelers, especially for solo female ones.
- Which I like the most
It excites me ticking off the things to do in my travel goals. However, the honest truth is that not all of them live up to its hype. In a rate of 10, not all the recommended attractions or activities will fall in the highest score. On the flip side, there are those that are truly remarkable and worth it. In Myanmar, my favorite place among the so-called Golden Triangle spot are Bagan and Inle Lake.
Yangon can come in the middle. Of course, this is the only place where I was able to observe the city life of the locals. And last but not the least is Mandalay as I felt that it seems to have precious few things to check out which will really awe you.
In Bagan, I think the well-known, centuries-old pagodas and temples met my expectations. Watching the sunrise and sunset from one pagoda to another, all within a day, is the most fruitful and enjoyable thing I have ever done as a traveler. Moreover, I can’t help but fell head over heels in love with the striking views before me.
Inle Lake is refreshingly tranquil and quiet. Just being on one of the biggest lakes that I have seen in my life brings a unique serenity and peace in my heart.
- Places I Visited
Bagan– Whole-day temple hopping from Sunrise to Sunset, stopping over 15 temples.
Inle lake– Half-day small boat tour cruise with tailored visits to a silversmith shop, floating gardens, Phaung Da Oo Paya, Ywama Village, Paper & Umbrella making workshop from Kayan tribe, lotus weaving center, Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery and Cheroot workshop.
Mandalay– Half-day motor tour on quick stop to Mahamuni Pagoda, Kuthodaw pagoda, Jade Pagoda, Mandalay Hills, sunrise watching at Ubein Bridge, Inwwa, a monastery and several other pagodas.
1.Temple hopping in Bagan
2. Watch sunset and sunrise in Bagan
3. Walk around downtown Yangon
4. Spent an afternoon at Shwedagon Pagoda
5. Visit a park and try their street foods
6. Shop ‘til you drop at Aung Bo market
7. Explore Inle Lake
8. Sunset/Sunrise watching at Ubein Bridge
9. Sleep in an overnight bus/train
10.Ride a train from Mandalay to Hsipaw
- Where I Stay
A typical hostel that you will encounter. Although, it is conveniently located in downtown Yangon, one may get lost in finding it with its small signage, yet its red facade somehow hinted me that this was it. Dormitory is clean, and bathrooms as well but some of the showers are out of kilter. The free breakfast meal has an array of jam flavors and wide selection of local rice and coconut sweets to choose from with your coffee or tea. Plus, the rice sweets were delicious . I loved all of them. The English-speaking staff were all approachable and helpful. Not bad for the cheapest hostel that you can search for in Agoda ever.
Love the red touch of the 2- bed room which is spotless as its own toilet. Price ranges from 12-18 USD for this type of room. The flat screen TV has limited channels, at least, some of them are ( translated ) in English. Said room comes with free Western breakfast which is composed of bread, jams, omelet, and a tea or coffee. If not gratis, their breakfast normally costs 12,000 kyats. The receptionist spoke English well and accommodating. However, the owner or overall caretaker of the hotel can be rude. They provide taxi pick up to your chosen bus terminal for 1 USD though.
Before I go to a certain place, I randomly investigates what are its must try homegrown dishes in order to set my expectations. Surprisingly, it doesn’t matter to me if they taste good enough for me or not as long as I am able to try them. Nevertheless, in my time in Myanmar, I left the dining place with a happy tummy. Most of the time. Without further ado, click here for the must try foods in Myanmar.
Train– the cheapest mode of transport between cities which can cost as cheap as 1 USD but travel time is generally longer than bus.
Bus– a cheaper alternative to airplane to travel from one city to another. Travel time is between 5-13 hours and can cost between 10,000=15,000 kyats depending on the distance and company bus. It can be comfortable with enough leg area; some buses give free hot dinner, or wet tissue and a bottle of water and even a small pack of toothbrush and toothpaste.
Airplane– costs more but saves you from traveling whole day/night. Air Asia is known in the country which serves many routes getting to and around the cities.
The essential travel items that you bring when you travel such as sunblock/sunscreen, wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses as it can be very hot during the day. A sweatshirt, jacket or shawl as it can get very cold at night especially in Bagan and Inle Lake.
I saw how people are devoted to their religion and practicing its teachings in their daily lives. This I believe is what makes Burmese nicer people. When I was riding a bus to downtown Yangon & had to stand up most of the time, a young Burmese girl with a Tanaka on her face, held my right hand every time I was about to lose balance.
In the city center, everyone seems to be engaged in a business. Vendors usually asked me from where am I? In fact, almost all the people I met. They were curious to see foreigners interested to try their local cuisine. At first, they don’t believe that I don’t speak Burmese but I cannot pretend that I am from there.
In all conscience, I prefer Burmese food than Lao. The former has some gastronomical mixture of Indian, and Chinese dishes that are familiar to Filipino taste buds. Street foods can be salty which I like. They love noodles, spicy ones, and I was fascinated by how some inimitably savor like rice in a form of noodles. Curry are everywhere and the shrimp curry is what I enjoyed the most. There are even meals that are served in small plates assembled in a similar way like Korean foods. The only thing that I am not a fan of is their dessert. They have the combination of all taste you ‘d imagine; sour, salty, insipid, but no tang of sweetness at all. Good thing, there was fruit shake. Burmese , like Filipino, will get full easily. So, if you have to eat with your tour guide or driver, don’t bring them to a buffet.
Related articles:Foods to try in Myanmar
The drivers will customarily charge you fair enough but having an idea of the average tour price can justify your haggling with them. If it’s a whole day tour, they would ask you to treat them for lunch or for a quick coffee. Expect drivers who has more experience in tour guiding to be more conversant or good in English than the newer ones.
The only thing that really surprise me aside from the severe niceness of the locals is when I saw all the establishments owners in a row giving alms to the monks early morning just after they opened their shops. I respect whatever is their tradition and more so to these people who can donate, in the little ways they can, on a daily basis.
For list of items or souvenir ideas to buy in Myanmar, click here or below.
My itinerary and expenses on the following days below:
Day 1: Yangon, Myanmar
Day 2: Shwedagon Pagoda
Day 3: Bagan
Day 4: Inle Lake Trip
Day 5 : Mandalay
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