A country with a dark past but a hopeful future, Myanmar was taken over by a military dictatorship and cut off from the world for over 50 years. Only recently opening up it's borders to travelers, a visit to Myanmar will take you back to what Southeast Asia was like before tourism took over. The unique experience that awaits here is bound to be filled with warm sunsets, tall golden pagodas, and many many monks.
I'd recommend arriving in Yangon and flying out of Mandalay or vice versa, that way you don't have to endure a roundtrip excursion by land. The domestic travel infastructure is still up and coming with bumpy roads, long bus rides and sketchy airlines.
For some reason I'd always dreamt of going to Myanmar. It was the one country that was on my radar for no reason other than I had a random urge to see it. Despite having such a strong interest I did zero research prior to my trip, leaving room for endless opportunities which I welcomed with open arms and high anxiety. These seem to go hand in hand for me!
I flew into Yangon, home to the beautiful golden Pagoda's sprinkled throughout the city. Arriving here was slightly overwhelming, typical of any Asian capital city, yet there was something exciting and new about it. Stay near China Town and make it your business to get to 19th Street at around 6pm to experience one of the coolest street food areas in SE Asia! I had planned to stay in Yangon for one night but was fortunate enough to connect with a new found friend over the Girls Love Travel portal. She was a Yangon native and showed me the best time I could have asked for! We grabbed drinks at a super posh rooftop bar overlooking the city (Atlas Rooftop Bar) where I met more of her beautiful and inspiring friends from around the globe. I ended up spending almost 3 days in Yangon and finding my happy place at Nourish Cafe where they have the best vegan food and yoga classes! DEFINITELY recommend!
I took my first overnight bus straight to Bagan, arriving at 5am. I checked into Ostello Bello (whatever you do STAY HERE) and walked across the street to purchase an e-bike. The e-bikes are really sketchy and a lot of them end up breaking down, but the locals seem to be used to it so don't stress. Definitely get yourself one and go on the free e-bike day tour through Ostello Bello. It'll help you get your bearings and see things you may have overlooked or never found. Apparently Temple 446 is the place to be for sunrise and sunset. We never found it and to be honest I don't even know if it truly exists, but we managed to find a million other perfect temples to climb up. The only real advice I have for Bagan is to catch every sunrise and sunset possible and to spend your days roaming. It's an incredibly magical place.
Side note: Apparently they will be banning access to the temples soon! Also, hot air balloons only run from October-April...but it's 500€...
After a few brilliant days spent in Bagan, I took my second night bus to Mandalay, just in time for sunrise at the U Bein Bridge. The experience was ok, definitely not worth the headache if you're not headed towards Mandalay. I was running out of money and time and didn't make it to Inle Lake or Ngapali Beach, but apparently they're both noteworthy stops and shouldn't be missed!
Just like all good things, I'm sure Myanmar will be back on the map in no time, so make sure to check it out while it's still off the beaten path!