Travelling Homebody - Top Things to Do in Myanmar - Inle Lake

18 Top Things to do in Myanmar (when you only have a week)

18 Top Things to do in Myanmar - Inle Lake - Travelling Homebody
18 Top Things to do in Myanmar - Inle Lake - Travelling Homebody
18 Top Things to do in Myanmar - Inle Lake - Travelling Homebody
18 Top Things to do in Myanmar - Inle Lake - Travelling Homebody
18 Top Things to do in Myanmar - Inle Lake - Travelling Homebody
18 Top Things to do in Myanmar - Inle Lake - Travelling Homebody
18 Top Things to do in Myanmar - Inle Lake - Travelling Homebody
18 Top Things to do in Myanmar - Bagan - Travelling Homebody
18 Top Things to do in Myanmar - Bagan - Travelling Homebody
18 Top Things to do in Myanmar - Bagan - Travelling Homebody

If you are planning on visiting Myanmar and you are short on time (as I was), here are my suggestions for the top things to do in each location. I visited Myanmar in 2018 and spent 8 days there — 2 nights each in Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake. I’l be honest and say that I wish I spent more time in Yangon and Inle Lake and considerably less time in Bagan and Mandalay.

This is a quick overview to give you an idea of what’s possible and I link to more detailed information, including flights, hotels and where to eat in the full version of each post.

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. I will earn a small commission if you book or make a purchase, but this is at no extra cost to you. You are under no obligation to purchase anything. It is entirely up to you.

Top things to do in Yangon

Visit the Reclining Buddha

Housed in Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple, this beautiful statue measures 66 metres (227 feet) in length, and was constructed in 1899, with a second version constructed in the 1950s. There is no charge to visit the reclining Buddha, although you may be approached by monks for a “donation”.

Escape to central Yangon

The traffic in Yangon is terrible. There is no other way to describe it, but if you want some respite, visit Maha Bandula Park. With an obelisk, and surrounded by British colonial architecture, the park is a welcome oasis from the craziness of the city. Enjoy a coffee in a local cafe and stay for the night market. Highly recommended!

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Explore the jetty area

Botahtaung Jetty is not the size of the Pansodan Ferry Terminal but  you can get a feel for the importance of rivers to the Burmese in terms of transportation and commerce.  The number of wooden bridges make for interesting photographs. And Botahtaung Pagodaa nearby if you want a change of scenery.

Poke around Scott’s Market

Bogyoke Aung San Market — also called Scott’s Market is a fabulous place to spend a couple of hours. Actually, you’ll need longer, because it’s so good. It was opened in 1926, and has around 2,000 shops over two floors. The market sells wooden carvings, textiles, paintings, jade, gemstones, black market money changers, puppets, restaurant, shoes and clothing. Be prepared to bargain. Highly recommended!

Take in the stunning Shwedagon Pagoda

It take a pretty special temple to impress me but the Shwedagon Pagoda — built around 2,600 years ago — is one impressive stupa in terms of sheer size and beauty. It is absolutely stunning. The grand scale of the main pagoda, and the gold leaf with which it is decorated, makes it unlike any place of worship I have ever visited. Highly recommended!

Have a drink at The Strand

The Strand opened in 1901 and welcomed writers, celebrities, businessmen and politicians through its doors. Proud of its heritage, the menu tells the story of the hotel — as well as what drinks and food is on offer. It’s a special place, and you can just imagine what it was like in its hey-day. The waiters are friendly, even through I was in my tourist gear. Highly recommended!

>> What to do in Yangon – your 24 hour guide – full version <<

Top things to do in Mandalay

Check out the local markets

I visited the night market, which was fascinating, and tried to go to the big day market the next day — but it was closed. Check with your hotel to make sure there is no public holiday (our hotel forgot to mention it when my tuk tuk was ordered). As an aside, there are many public (religious) holidays in Myanmar and sometime it’s hit and miss as to what’s open.

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Visit Mandalay Castle

My least favourite thing to do in Mandalay (and Myanmar generally). The castle was expensive and boring. Don’t go. Save your money and your energy and get a foot spa instead.

>> What to do in Mandalay – your 24 hour guide – full version <<

Top things to do in Bagan

Buy lacquerware

There are many lacquerware shops dotted all around Bagan. Most have workshops attached where you can watch the process of the lacquer goods being made. Most will say their products are unique to each workshop, but I found that wasn’t the case. Still, if you see something you like, buy it — and be prepared to bargain for the final price.

Visit the old temples

You can visit the temples on electric bikes (which can be hired cheaply) or by horse and cart (which was quite charming). If you go by horse and cart, be very firm with the driver about where you want to go, or you might find that you won’t actually get what you pay for.

Take a cooking class

This activity was one of my favourite things to do in Bagan (and in Myanmar). Run by a librarian where the proceeds go back to the community, the class also includes a market tour where you are given cash to buy ingredients before being taken back to a private house for the class. Highly recommended!

Sunset cruise up the Irrawaddy

If you are going to take a sunset cruise up the Irrwaddy, make sure you book and go through a reputable provider. The cruise is only a couple of hours, and while beautiful, be prepared for the boats to be a little dodgy. And the operators to be, well, unfriendly and lacking in basic customer service.

>> What to do in Bagan – your 24 hour guide – full version <<

Top things to do in Inle Lake

Visit Red Mountain Estate Winery

Easily accessible by car or bicycle, the Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery is set on top of a hill with beautiful views across the valley and lake. You can grab some lunch and enjoy a glass or two of wine. I opted for a table outside under a shady tree outside to make the most of the view and the weather (which was hot). Highly recommended!

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Walk along Mine Thauk Bridge

The bridge is a 500 metre teak bridge that connects two floating villages. It was hot out, so stop and have a refreshing coconut on the way back. If you take it easy, the walk there and back will take you a very pleasant hour and a half. Highly recommended!

Go to Khaungdaing (hot springs)

You could, but I’d advise against it even though it seems to be popular and your hotel may recommend a visit. It was dirty and run-down. TripAdvisor reviews agreed.

See a traditional puppet show

The Aung Puppet Show, which was located quite close to my hotel, was a delightful experience. Puppet shows are common in Inle Lake, but Aung is one of only eight licensed puppeteers in Myanmar. You can even buy a hand-made puppet to take home as a momento. Highly recommended!

A full day boat trip on the lake

For only 12,000 kyat (all up!) you can spend a fabulous, full day on Inle Lake. You’ll have your own long boat and driver who will take you to various spots around the lake, including silversmiths, silk workshops, long-necked ladies, pagoda ans market, and the famous cat monastery. Keep an eye out for the fishermen of Inle Lake and their unique fishing technique. Highly recommended!

Get a foot spa

Foot spas in Myanmar are cheap and very good, and the perfect way to while away and hour or so, particularly if you have spent a full day on the lake. Ask your hotel for their recommendation, or go with mine. Highly recommended!

>> What to do in Inle Lake – your 24 hour travel guide – full version <<


Gallery

All these photos were take by moi with my Canon 600D. I have done no post-processing (because I’m lazy), so these are straight-out-of-camera.

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