Ngwe Saung Travel Guide – A Beach Destination Near Yangon

Ngwe Saung Travel Guide – A Beach Destination Near Yangon

Ngew Saung or Ngewsaung is a lesser known beach destination in the Irrawaddy region of Myanmar that is easily accessible from Yangon. The name Ngwe Saung means silver beach in Burmese language and is a suitable description. Yes, Ngapali Beach is the most popular beach destination of Myanmar, but I had something else on my mind. I really wanted to visit Ngwe Saung because of its low key vibe.. and also because I saw a of a picture of THIS spot.

Ngwe Saung - Pagodas on the beach

Ngwe Saung – Pagodas on the beach

Seriously, Ngwe Saung offers more than just this spot.

How to Reach Ngwe Saung, Myanmar

We booked Asia Dragon’s night bus from Yangon to Ngwe Saung that departed at 9 pm and arrived in Ngwe Saung just before 4 am. Unlike most of the other buses that depart from outside Yangon, this departs from downtown, so it’s possible to walk to the bus station from the hotel. Moreover, this bus also dropped EVERYONE directly outside their hotels. If you’re traveling in peak season, I’d strongly recommend you book ahead of time. We booked last minute and got the last two seats. The bus was comfortable but we got woken up many times throughout the night because the bus conductor would start announcing things on his microphone after every hour. If you decide to take a bus from Yangon to Ngew Saung, carry noise canceling headphones and eye mask so that you can sleep. Return bus tickets costed us around USD 30 per person.

Places to Stay in Ngwe Saung

We stayed in Oceanfront Campground because it was the most affordable place to stay that we found online. Most of the people had informed us that Ngwe Saung has more budget accommodation options compared to Ngapali Beach but because we traveled in peak season, we didn’t find anything cheaper than this. The friendly staff at Oceanfront Campground let us check in at 4 am, which was 8 hours before the check in time. Any other hotel would have charged us an extra night for this.

Ocean Front Campgrounds, Ngwe Saung, Myanmar

Ocean Front Campgrounds, Ngwe Saung, Myanmar

Our tents were super luxurious and were right on the beach. I wouldn’t really call it camping, it was more like “glamping”. The shared toilet had many stalls and was massive. This was the first time where I received free to use toiletries, a super clean towel and free water stayed on a camp ground. After exploring the nearby areas, we were very happy that we booked this place because it has the most amazing part of the beach area. Oceanfront Campground is actually a part of a very high end resort called Ngwe Saung Yatch Club and Marina, so they had an excellent swimming pool and other facilities. Their breakfast buffet is served in an open air restaurant that overlooks the ocean. I fell sick on my first day here and one of the staff members walked me to an in house doctor in this complex. Seriously, I cannot recommend this place enough!

Cash and ATMs in Ngwe Saung

Carry enough cash to last you a for few days. Even though there are two ATMs in Ngwe Saung, we were informed that they can be a little unreliable. Most of the high end places accept credit cards but they charge a 3-5% transaction fee.

Things to do in Ngwe Saung

01 | Enjoy The MASSIVE Beach of Ngwe Saung

Ngwe Saung Beach with Lovers Island in the distance

Ngwe Saung Beach with Lovers Island in the distance

We were pretty sleepy eyed when we reached Ngwe Saung, but our sleep deserted us when we saw the surroundings. The beach here is spectacular! It’s perfect for a good swim and the sandy part is massive – so plenty of room for sun bathing. The main white sand beach of Ngwe Saung stretches for many kilometers. No wonder WikiTravel calls it an “endless” beach!

02 | Walk on a Sandbat to reach Lovers’ Island

View Of Ngwe Saung and Sandbar from Lovers Island

View Of Ngwe Saung and Sandbar from Lovers Island

If you walk a little north of Ngwe Saung Yacht Club, you will see a little island in the distance. It’s called Lovers’ Island and a little sandbar emerges when the tide is low so you can walk to this island. As you walk on the sandbar to reach Lovers’ Island, you will notice a Buddha temple on your right and a little mermaid statue on your left. Climb on top of the Buddha temple to photograph the entire sandbar.

Chilling Under a Massive Tree on Lovers Island, Ngwe Saung

Chilling Under a Massive Tree on Lovers Island, Ngwe Saung

This island has many trees and a few viewpoints, so be sure to wear flip flops while exploring the island. We visited during the peak season so this part was a little too crowded for our liking.

03 | Admire the Pagodas on the beach!

In Myanmar, we saw pagodas everywhere. Even on the beach! If you’re curious about the exact spot of this picture, it is just outside Silver View Resort’s beach bar. For a local, the pagodas are a usual sight but to me they made the beach more beautiful. I could not stop photographing them from different angles because they made my sunset pictures special.

What else? Is there anything more to do in Ngwe Saung?

Not much! Chill on the beach, enjoy the laid back vibe of this place and sip some fresh coconut water. If you have a scooter, head to the North side of Ngwe Saung to check out the village area.

Should you wear a bikini on Ngwe Saung beach?

A Cute Burmese Family on Ngwe Saung Beach

A Cute Burmese Family on Ngwe Saung Beach

Even though I didn’t see even a single local woman wearing a bathing suit on this beach, I think it’s perfectly okay if you want to wear a bikini as long as you carry a sarong to cover up. Most of the local women were fully dressed in jeans / longyi and shoes on the beach.

Local Burmese Girls on Ngwe Saung Beach

Local Burmese Girls on Ngwe Saung Beach

Burmese people are extremely polite and will never want to make anyone uncomfortable so none of the locals stared at the handful of tourists that wore bathing suits.

Getting Around in Ngwe Saung

While most of the things in Myanmar are highly affordable, the hotel and scooter rental prices are shockingly high. The hourly rate of scooter rental here is same as the usual per day in most of South East Asia. However, I highly recommend you rent a scooter for a few hours to explore the area around.

 

Ngwe Saung Beach After Sunset with Bullock Carts and Colorful Umbrellas

Ngwe Saung Beach After Sunset with Bullock Carts and Colorful Umbrellas

To my surprise, I saw many people riding on the beach with their scooters, so we did the same and it was an amazing experience. We saw many interesting sights such as bullock carts on the beach with many hand painted paper umbrellas, which is a special handicraft of the nearby town – Pathein.

Food in Ngwe Saung

Delicious Crab Curry in Ngwe Saung

Delicious Crab Curry in Ngwe Saung

Some of the most popular places to eat in Ngwe Saung are Bay of Bengal restaurant and Ume Café. We ate a delicious meal of chili garlic crab and squids at Blue Sky Seafood Restaurant. If you head towards the village area towards the North, you will find cheaper places to eat and a few beer stations. (Bars in Myanmar are called beer stations).

Nightlife in Ngwe Saung

There’s not much to do in this sleepy beach village except having a drink at Ume Café and Bar where they sometimes have a fire show at 7:30 pm in the evening.

Heading to Myanmar soon? Be sure to read my posts about travel tips for Myanmar and things to do in Yangon.

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Have you visited Ngwe Saung, Myanmar already and have a few tips to share? Let me know in the comments section.

You might also like:

Things to do in Yangon

Myanmar Travel Tips – 15 Things you need to know

Shwedagon Pagoda – fables, facts and tips

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Ngwe Saung - Myanmar's lesser known beach destination which is easily accessible from Yangon

Ngwe Saung – Myanmar’s lesser known beach destination which is easily accessible from Yangon

A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal Kwatra Paladini should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the infamous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. Join her and her husband (Sandro) on their journey as they hop from one music festival to another and explore the beautiful world that they are in love with! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Sonal Kwatra Paladini

Shwedagon Pagoda of Yangon – fables, facts and tips

Shwedagon Pagoda of Yangon – fables, facts and tips

“Then, a golden mystery upheaved itself on the horizon, a beautiful winking wonder that blazed in the sun, of a shape that was neither Muslim dome nor Hindu temple-spire.”

— Rudyard Kipling

Shwedagon Pagoda or Paya is the biggest and the grandest Pagoda in Myanmar. You will see many pictures of this famous landmark that has religious, historical and cultural significance. However, no picture can ever do justice to the real beauty of this golden stupa. It’s incredible that something like this exists on earth.

To help you make the most of your visit to this beautiful temple, we have divided this post into four parts:

  1. Interesting Facts and Fables
  2. Practical Information and Tips
  3. Features
  4. Area Around Shwedagon
The top part of the pagoda

The top part of the pagoda

Interesting Facts and Fables

It is built on a hill

Shwedagon Pagoda is called the pride of Myanmar and totally deserves that title. As you arrive in Yangon, you can’t help but notice the magnificence of this pagoda as it glimmers in the backdrop in the heart of the city. It is built on an elevated hill so you will notice it from a distance as you move around within Yangon.

The legend and a little bit of history

Legend has it that it was built more than 2600 years back and is the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world. The Pagoda stores significant holy relics of four previous Buddhas. The relics contain a few strands of hair of Gautama Buddha, water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa and the staff of Kakusandha.

As per the fable, two brothers from ancient city Balkh (present day Afghanistan) got the opportunity to meet Lord Gautama Buddha when he was alive and received eight of the Buddha’s hairs. The brothers traveled to Myanmar (then known as Burma) and found Singuttara Hill with the help of the King Okkalapa of Burma. This is where the relics of other Buddhas previous to Gautama Buddha had been preserved.

Destruction, Damages and Restoration

Several kings and queens of Burma had a role to play in raising the height of the stupa. The pagoda survived many earthquakes but the biggest damage was caused by an earthquake in 1768 that brought down the top of the pagoda. King Hsinbyushin later raised it to its current height of 99 m (325 ft).

Golden Shwedagon Pagoda at Night - Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.Com

Golden Shwedagon Pagoda at Night

About All that glitters

This 325ft (99 meters) stupa that’s plated with 8688 sheets of gold, shimmers in the day light and sparkles when it’s dark – is indeed a sight to behold!  Oh and by the way, it is studded with more than 7000 diamonds and precious gems like rubies, sapphires, topaz along with a massive piece of emerald. It is said that the emerald bounces of the last rays of the sun as it sets. The crown is topped by a diamond bud called ‘sein bu’ which carries a 74-carat diamond.

 

Practical Information and Tips

How to reach

The best way to reach is by a local bus. Stand on one of the bus terminals and ask the bus driver. Even if they don’t know English, they will be able to understand the words “Shwedagon Pagoda” and will nod so that you can enter. The bus ticket was only MMK 100.

You can also hire a taxi from anywhere in the city.

What to wear

It is an unwritten rule about not wearing shorts while visiting a temple in South East Asia, but to my surprise, I saw a few tourists who appeared to be unaware. Well, no problem! At the entry area, if they notice that a visitor is wearing shorts, they don’t let them enter till they buy the traditional Burmese sarong like dress – longyi. You can wear pants or a modest maxi dress.

San was wearing long shorts that covered his knees but even he had to buy a longyi. It was funny that it happened right after we exchanged meaningful looks when some other tourists got stopped by the guards for wearing really short shorts.

Sandro buying his longyi outside Shwedagon Pagoda

Sandro buying his longyi outside Shwedagon Pagoda

Opening Hours and Best Time to Visit

The opening hours are 6 am to 10 pm. If you’re an early riser, then do visit when it’s still dark so that you can see a magnificent sunrise. However, for lazy people like me, the best time to visit this is 4 pm so that you can enjoy it in daylight, watch the sunset and see how it glitters when the darkness descends.

Shwedagon Pagoda Complex Night - Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.com

Shwedagon Pagoda Complex Night

 

Entry Fee

The entry charge for this pagoda is MMK 8000 for a day for per international visitor.

Shoes

Me carrying my flipflops with me in a bag at Shwedagon Pagoda

Me carrying my flipflops with me in a bag at Shwedagon Pagoda

Wear shoes that are “pagoda ready”, i.e., easy to remove. Do what the locals do and bring a carry bag with you for your shoes.

Toilets

There are no toilets in the main temple area. We asked a few guards and they told us to climb down the stair case till mid-way. We saw a few arrows that led us to the toilet area. However, we were not allowed to wear our flip flops inside the toilets, but to my surprise, the floor was sparkling clean.

Features

Entrances:

There are four entrances with stairs that lead to Singuttara Hill where the temple is built. Two giant mythical lion like creatures (leogryphs) guard each entrance. These stair cases are full of vendors that sell Buddha idols, tiny paper unbrellas, flowers, good luck charms and many other souvenirs.

Planetary Posts and Day Shrines

The Shrine at Wednesday or Rahu Corner at Shwedagon Pagoda

The Shrine at Wednesday or Rahu Corner at Shwedagon Pagoda

This octagonal base of this Pagoda has a post on each corner depicting the day of the week. Wednesday is divided into two shrines for am and pm. Most of the visitors pray at the shrine that represents the day of their birth.

Bells

Bell Inside Shwedagon Pagoda

Bell Inside Shwedagon Pagoda

There are 1485 bells inside this pagoda – ranging from different sizes and weights. It’s beautiful when so many of them chime together in the evening as the sun begins to set. Shwedagon once had the Great Bell of Dhammazedi – the largest bell to have existed in the recorded history. However, it was stolen by a Portuguese warlord. However, his ship sank due to the weight of the bell.

Bodhi Tree

Bodhi Tree of Shwedagon Pagoda

Bodhi Tree of Shwedagon Pagoda

There is a 150 year old Bodhi tree which is said to be a descendant from a seedling from the original Bodhi tree under which Gauram Buddha gained enlightenment. The original one was in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India.

The backside

The backside of Shwedagon Pagoda

The backside of Shwedagon Pagoda

The pagoda looks beautiful from every angle. However, we spent the maximum time at the back area where it was pretty much empty and it proved to be an excellent corner for photos. We also noticed a massive gong here.

The Base of the Pagoda

The base is made with bricks and we saw a monk walking on it. Do you see that little dot in the picture? Yup that’s a monk. It kind of tells you about the size of this pagoda in comparison.

Monk Walking on Shwedagon Pagoda's Base

Monk Walking on Shwedagon Pagoda’s Base

 

Candles at night

Candles around Shwedagon Pagoda

Candles around Shwedagon Pagoda

As the darkness descends, many devotees light up thousands of lamps and candles all around this pagoda. It is a sight to behold.

 

The Area Around Shwedagon

Outside Shwedagon Pagoda

Outside Shwedagon Pagoda – can you see the lion guards at the entry?

The streets around Shwedagon are full of color with many roadside eating places, tea shops, temples, flower shops, fruit shops, carpenters and Dagon Beer stations.

Where to go before Shwedagon

If you arrive early, we suggest you explore the small streets around Shwedagon and spend time eating, drinking tea and clicking some memorable pictures. Moreover, there are many parks around this temple where you can relax in the shade of trees to escape from Yangon’s heat. You can also visit Kyay Thone Pagoda on Gyar Tawya Street and check out the artifacts on display inside.

Where to go after Shwedagon

Kandawgyi Lake is walking distance from Shwedagon Pagoda and it offers stunning views of this glittering stupa at night. Alternatively, you can take a taxi and head to Inya lake. You will find many lakeside restaurants in both these places where you can go for dinner and drinks. I found the restaurants in the Kandawgyi Lake complex to be a little pricier as compared to the ones on Inya Lake banks.

You might also like:

Things to do in Yangon

Myanmar Travel Tips – 15 Things you need to know

Ngwe Saung Beach – white sand beach destination near Yangon with pagodas on the beach

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Shwedagon Pagoda at night by DrifterPlanet.com

Shwedagon Pagoda – everything you need to know before visiting

Have you visited Shwedagon Pagoda and have some of your own tips to add? Let us know in the comments section!

A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal Kwatra Paladini should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the infamous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. Join her and her husband (Sandro) on their journey as they hop from one music festival to another and explore the beautiful world that they are in love with! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Sonal Kwatra Paladini

10 Fun Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar (in 2017)

10 Fun Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar (in 2017)

This post is not just about things to do in Yangon but is also a mini travel guide with information about where to stay and public transport. If you’re looking to spend a few days in Yangon, then look no further because we’ve got you covered. Also check out my post about Travel Tips for Myanmar.

Yangon may not be Myanmar’s capital anymore but is still the largest and the most visited Burmese city.  With its shimmering golden pagodas peeping through a backdrop of colonial architecture and streets that are dotted with vendors selling food, fruits, gadgets and all sorts of interesting things – Yangon is a photographer’s delight. If you’re visiting South East Asia, we strongly recommend you don’t miss out on this exotic city. Of course, you can read about typical touristy things to do in Yangon, but we have made a list for you which is a mix of sightseeing activities along with a few offbeat things, with just a few temples, lakes, parks, streets and hidden finds.

10 fun things to do in Yangon

1) Visit a Road Side Tea Stall and Sip Tea

Roadside Tea Shops in Yangon in Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.com

Roadside Tea Shops in Yangon. Do you see those tiny chairs? – things to do in Yangon

One of the first things that we noticed about Yangon is the abundance of tea stalls. These tea stalls are usually located on every block and sidewalk. It’s easy to spot them from the distance because of their tiny plastic tables, stools and chairs. These chairs look like they are right out of a baby’s bedroom! Seriously – these are the exact same chairs that my dad used rent for my birthday party when I was in school. Nevertheless, they look super cute and it’s a fun experience sitting on them and sipping tea. Tea is of two kinds – one is plain Chinese style green tea and the other is Indian style chai. None of the teashop owners that we met spoke English but understood our gestures well.

Tip: do as locals do and pour a few drops of hot green tea in your cup to rinse it before you drink the tea.

2) Catch Sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda and watch how it sparkles at night

Shwedagon Pagoda - things to do in Yangon
Shwedagon Pagoda at night - things to do in Yangon

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Shwedagon Pagoda complex - things to do in Yangon

No itinerary for Yangon will ever leave Shwedagon Pagoda out – after all, it’s the biggest and the grandest Pagoda in Myanmar. It is built on an elevated hill so you will notice it from a distance as you move around within Yangon. This 325ft stupa that’s gold-plated, shimmers in the day light and sparkles when it’s dark – is indeed a sight to behold! Legend has it that it was built more than 2600 years back and is the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world.

Shwedagon Pagoda Complex Night - Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.com

Shwedagon Pagoda Complex Night – Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.com

We suggest you arrive here by 4 – 4:30 pm to walk around and admire the beauty in the day light. Find a place to sit and enjoy the sunrise as your mind relaxes listening to chimes of the temple bells. Enjoy the beauty as devotees light up a thousands of candles and incense sticks. Get ready to be awestruck by the majestic beauty as the darkness descends and everything lights up. If you have read my post on Myanmar Travel Tips, then you definitely know how to dress and what to do with your shoes when you visit Shwedagon Paya.

How to reach: Many buses go to Shwedagon Road – just ask around and you will surely find a bus. We asked a few locals and got on to a bus from Sule Pagoda that took us to Shwedagon Road for 100 MMK per person.

3) Enjoy the nightlife at Inya Lake and enjoy a lake side dinner

Inya Lake Side Beer and Dinner - Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.Com

Inya Lake Side Beer and Dinner – Things to do in Yangon

We ended up visiting Inya lake at night just by chance since we had absolutely no idea where to go for a few drinks.  As soon as we reached, we knew we had made the right decision. Right after Shwedagon Pagoda, that was packed with tourists, Inya Lake was a complete change of scene. It appeared to be a popular hangout area for Yangon’s youth who were sitting around the lake on the grass with their guitars and openly drinking beer. We had a lovely dinner at one of the restaurants with a view of the lake. After dinner, we decided to head to the lawn area for a stroll. To our delight, there were many roadside vendors selling Dagon and Myanmar beers. While we saw conservatively dressed women everywhere else in Yangon, here we saw many local women that wore shorts. Oh and by the way, we did not see even a single tourist here.

How to reach: Hire a taxi. We paid 5000 MMK from Shwedagon Road. Carry your own beer because it’s expensive if you buy it from the vendors here.

4) Take a ride on Dala Ferry to visit Dala village

Dala Ferry Ride - Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.Com

Dala Ferry Ride – Things to do in Yangon

Dalla or Dala is a small village across the river from Yangon. This village is a 10-minute ferry ride away from Pansodan Pier in downtown Yangon. The ferry ride is as interesting as the village itself. Like many other places, the ferry ticket prices are different for foreigners. We paid USD 4 per person for a return ticket. In this brief ferry ride, we saw many people selling different things – clothes, cigarettes, combs, mirrors, bird eggs, fresh fruit and so much more! A trip to Dala gave us a quick snapshot of life in a small Burmese village. You can make a day trip to this village or cover it in just a few hours.

San enjoying a tricycle ride in Dala Village - Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.Com

San enjoying a tricycle ride in Dala Village – Things to do in Yangon

How to reach: Walk to Pansodan Ferry Terminal in downtown Yangon to start your journey

5) Visit Mysterious Kyay Thone Pagoda

Mysterious Kyay Thone Pagoda in Yangon. Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.com

Mysterious Kyay Thone Pagoda in Yangon – Things to do in Yangon

None of the guidebooks mention this place but we strongly recommend you visit it. It is on Gyar Tawya Street, a little before Shwedagon Pagoda’s East gate. This temple is a little different than the typical Burmese temples that are built in Stupa style, instead Kyay Thone Pagoda has a Chinese architecture style. The main temple is on water with a bridged pathway leading to it, connecting to a few islands in with mini temples. There is a massive golden Buddha idol inside along with many smaller ones around it – probably depicting Buddha and his disciples. If you walk around the temple you will notice that it has a few artifacts on display, such as ancient armor, old currency notes, etc. Something about this temple stirred my curiosity and I have tried to research about this temple online but I haven’t found anything. The sign outside is in Burmese and the only way I know the name of this place is thanks to my phone’s GPS tracking system.

Below is an embedded map with the GPS coordinates, just in case you want to visit it too.

How to reach: It’s a two-minute walk from Shwedagon Pagoda’s East Gate. Click here for directions.

6) Visit China Town for a Late Night Snack (or Any Other Time)

Chinatown at Night in Yangon - Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.Com

Chinatown at Night in Yangon

On our second night in Yangon, our midnight hunger pangs took us to China Town as we hunted for food. While all of the restaurants near our hostel appeared to be closed, Chinatown area was alive and bustling with activity. Noisy, colorful, lively and full of food – this is exactly what we expected and we were not disappointed – especially the 19th street. Like every other Chinatown, we saw roadside food stalls of things like sausages, chicken feet, chicken legs, seafood, fresh fruit, pork intestine and some other unrecognizable meats. During the day, Chinatown looks a tad different with fewer food sellers but more of tacky gadgets sellers.

Chinatown food in Yangon - Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.Com

Chinatown food – things to do at night

How to reach: On foot. We reached here on foot from our hostel that was near Sule Pagoda.

7) Explore Sule Pagoda and Around

Sule Pagoda at Night - Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.Com

Sule Pagoda at Night – Things to do in Yangon

If you visit Yangon on a budget, most likely you will stay in one of the budget hotels near Sule Pagoda. Although not as massive as Shwedagon, Sule Pagoda has it’s own charm due to it’s location and shape. This temple is located in the heart of downtown Yangon and it holds religious as well as political significance since many protest marches began from here. Moreover, this octagonal pagoda also serves as a roundabout with many different lanes that merge together.  If you walk around this pagoda, you will see a large white obelisk, which is Yangon’s Independence Monument. There is a beautiful garden next to it with fountains – Maha Bandula Park. If you walk further, you will see Immanuel Baptist Church and a few government buildings such as the High Court, City Hall, the Secretariat and Telegraph office.

How to reach: Almost every bus crosses this important landmark, so just ask the first bus driver that stops next to you. Alternatively, you can easily hire a taxi.

 

8) Enjoy Burmese Food

Delicious Burmese Food - Chili and shrimp salad by DrifterPlanet.Com

Delicious Burmese Food – Chili and shrimp salad – things to do in Yanon

In my opinion, one of the best ways to experience a new place is by eating the local food. Starting from breakfast to midnight snack – my food experience in Yangon is one that I’d love to repeat. If you are a sucker for curries like I am, especially Thai and Indian – you’re gonna love Burmese food.  Everything here is a mix of these two cuisines with a few Chinese influences. My first meal here was boiled rice seasoned with a few herbs, peanuts, onion, garlic and chilies and I loved it. It reminded me of Indian snack – bhel puri. Over the next few days, I had different varieties of noodles, salads, curries, soups and loved them all! I never had a single bad meal in Yangon. We were served a massive traditional Burmese breakfast at the hostel where we stayed, and I always finished everything on my plate.

Typical Burmese Streetfood Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.Com

Typical Burmese Street-food in Yangon – things to do in Yangon

Tip: If you’re not used to Asian street food, then please start slow with street food in Yangon to let your stomach prepare itself.

9) Kandawgyi Lake

Kandawgyi Lake During the Day - Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.Com

Kandawgyi Lake During the Day – things to do in Yangon

Although it’s a little smaller in size as compared to Inya lake, it’s definitely worth a visit because it offers stunning views of the nearby Shwedagon Pagoda, from where its walking distance. The best time to visit it in the dark when everything lights up. Unlike what we had read in the guidebooks, there’s no entry fee (or maybe we missed it) and it has a few lake side restaurants as well (a little more expensive than Inya lake).  Another interesting feature of this lake complex is that it features Karaweik Hall, a palace like landmark that appears to be floating in the water.

How to reach: Walk from Shwedagon Paya or take a taxi

10) Take a ride on Circular Rail

Yangon Circular Rail - Fun Things to do in Yangon by DrifterPlanet.com

Yangon Circular Rail – Image Source

Head to Yangon Central Railway Station which is a few minutes’ walk away from Shanghri-la Hotel in downtown Yangon, for a ride on Yangon’s circular railroad. This is an internal mode of public transport that many locals take. This ride lasts for 2-3 hours and you will get to witness many interesting sights such as fruit sellers, vegetable sellers, local markets, rural areas, villages, local merchants transporting massive baskets of goods, etc.  This ride is an excellent way to get a quick glimpse of life in Myanmar away from famous landmarks.

How to reach: Walk to Yangon Central Railway Station in downtown.

What about the Yangon Zoological Gardens?

I did not visit the Yangon Zoological Gardens for a few reasons. One of them is that I prefer seeing animals in National parks, instead of  zoos. Another reason is that Yangon is such a culturally rich city that I spent most of my time on the streets.

 

You might also like:

Shwedagon Pagoda – Facts, Fables and Tips

Myanmar Travel Tips – 15 Things you need to know

Ngwe Saung Beach – white sand beach destination near Yangon with pagodas on the beach

Bangkok in ONE Day

10 fun things to do in Yangon
Things to do in Yangon, Myanmar

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Have you visited Yangon and have a few tips to share of your own? Please let me know in the comments section.

A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal Kwatra Paladini should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the infamous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. Join her and her husband (Sandro) on their journey as they hop from one music festival to another and explore the beautiful world that they are in love with! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Sonal Kwatra Paladini

Myanmar Travel Tips – 15 Things to Know Before Visiting Burma

Myanmar Travel Tips – 15 Things to Know Before Visiting Burma

Breathtaking temples, mysterious ruins, virgin beaches, river deltas and exotic culture – Myanmar has it all! Yet, it is one of the least visited countries in South East Asia – which is why it is usually tough for travelers to find sufficient Myanmar Travel Tips prior to their visit.

Myanmar (formally known as Burma) has been somewhat isolated under a military dictatorship until recently but is now undergoing political changes and opening up to tourism. If you’re planning on visiting South East Asia, I urge you to give Myanmar a chance. To help you plan your trip, I am sharing Myanmar travel tips consisting of things I learned before and during my trip.

1) Embassy Visa vs eVisa

Myanmar Travel Tips - Myanmar visa

Myanmar Travel Tips – Myanmar visa

An eVisa for Myanmar costs around USD 50, whereas a direct visa application to the Myanmar Embassy will cost you around USD 17-25. Of course, we chose the latter! We applied from New Delhi and had to visit the embassy THREE times because of some confusion. At one point, I also printed a page from their website to show them one particular paragraph. It made me wonder if I would have saved myself many precious hours by applying for an eVisa?

Anyway, you can check iVisa for visa requirements, info and more details for obtaining a visa for Myanmar. We did use their service for applying for an eVisa for India (for San) after wasting many painful hours on Indian government’s visa website. Yes, they charged a little fee but we ended up saving our precious time while we were island hopping in the Philippines.

2) Research about the permits

Many areas in Myanmar are restricted to tourism and you need a government permit to enter them. These permits can usually be arranged by a travel agent for an expensive fee. Research well in advance and look for the most updated information because the situation is changing very fast.

3) Book your hotel beforehand

Myanmar has only a limited budget accommodation options that sell out months in advance. We booked the cheapest room we could find in Yangon a month in advance. It was a basic room with a shared toilet for which we paid USD 20. However, we arrived at Ngwe Saung without a booking. The cheapest we found was USD 55 per night for a tent on the beach.

Our fancy tent for USD 55 per night in Ngwe Saung

Our fancy tent for USD 55 per night in Ngwe Saung

4) Carry crisp US Dollar Bills in various denominations

Legally, it is not possible to buy Myanmar’s currency overseas. Carry USDs since it is the most preferred currency there and is easy to exchange almost everywhere. Make sure you carry clean bills because many people refuse to accept the ones that look slightly old. Higher denomination bills with fetch you a better exchange rate.

5) The Thing About Withdrawing Cash from ATMs

Although there are many ATMs in big cities, they are not very reliable due to power shortages. Carry cash while visiting smaller areas. Moreover, there’s a transaction fee of USD 3-5 per ATM withdrawal on international cards.

Make sure you alert your bank beforehand so that your card doesn’t get blocked when you try to withdraw cash in Myanmar. A few high end establishments accept credit cards but get ready to pay a 3-5% transaction fee.

6) Phone and Internet

My Telenor microsim in Mynmar with good 3G - costed me only 12k MMK

My Telenor microsim in Mynmar with good 3G – costed me only 12k MMK

Do yourself a favor and buy a Telenor SIM card with 3G at the airport. I bought one for MMK 12,000 kyats (Roughly USD 9) that lasted my entire trip without a single recharge. The 3G speed was pretty good and was faster than the WiFi that we experienced in an internet cafe in Yangon.

7) No need to carry a lot of toiletries

Our basic toilet supplies in our budget hotel

Our basic toilet supplies in our budget hotel

Unless you have specific needs, I’d advise you against carrying too many toiletries. Even our most simple hostels provided us with toothbrushes, toothpastes, super clean towels, shampoo, soap, etc. Moreover the supermarkets in Myanmar had most of the common brands such as Nivea and Vaseline at half the prices.

8) Wear shoes that are easy to remove

Myanmar is full of beautiful pagodas that are everywhere – even on beaches! Visit as many as you can because they are lovely. Even if you’re not into temples – you WILL want to visit them to admire their stunning architecture. Wear shoes that are “pagoda ready” and are easy to remove because you will need to enter barefoot.

9) Carry a plastic bag for your shoes

Myanmar Travel Tips - Me carrying my shoes in a pag at Shwedagon Pagoda

Myanmar Travel Tips – Me carrying my shoes in a bag at Shwedagon Pagoda

Do what the locals do – bring a few plastic bags in your bag pack to carry your shoes with you when you visit the pagodas. Many pagodas have multiple entries and exits so carrying your shoes with you will save you a lot of time. This is something I had to learn the hard way.

10) Dress Sensibly

Longyi clad Burmese Locals - men and women both

Longyi clad Burmese Locals – men and women both

Do not wear hot pants, crop tops and sleeveless vests while you’re here. Burmese people don’t show a lot of skin (even on the beach) and it’s a good idea to respect their culture. Moreover, if you wear shorts, you can’t enter the beautiful pagodas.

A typical Myanmar local male wears a checkered longyi (similar to lungi in India) with a knot in front paired with a collared shirt. A typical local woman wears a longyi with a side knot (kinda looks like a cute wrap around skirt) that shows a very tiny bit of leg along with a matching blouse. It’s a good idea to buy a longyi – it’s super comfortable to wear!

11) Carry noise canceling headphones and eye masks for overnight buses

We traveled extensively by overnight buses between destinations because Burmese trains don’t have the best reputation. Each time, we were woken up a few times during the night by strong lights and loud music. In one case, our bus conductor had a microphone and LOVED announcing things after every one hour.

12) Carry a torch for blackouts

The first black out that I experienced in Myanmar was just a few minutes after landing at Yangon airport. We heard from people that black outs are common in Myanmar. Carry a torch so that you can move around easily in case there’s one in your hotel.

13) Drink Bottled water and start slow with street food

Typical Burmese Streetfood in Yangon

Typical Burmese Streetfood in Yangon

As with most of the Asian countries, drink bottled water to avoid getting seriously ill. If you love Indian and Thai street food, you’re gonna LOVE the street food in Myanmar. Take it slow and let your stomach prepare itself.

My stomach has toughened after years of eating Indian street food but Sandro suffered from an upset stomach after the first night. Oh and if you don’t eat meat, you should check out this survival guide for vegetarian food in Myanmar.

14) Get ready to squat in a toilet

A little hut with a tiny toilet which I used in Dala village

A little hut with a tiny toilet which I used in Dala village

If you have traveled to Asia then you probably know the drill. Myanmar is no exception. If you decide to visit villages, you may not find WCs but will have to use traditional toilets where you need to squat to pee in a hole.

15) Respect and learn about the culture

Burmese people are polite and helpful. Please respect their culture and familiarize yourself with the local etiquette. Burmese people hand over things, especially money with right hand with their left hand touching the elbow. I found it to be very respectful and started doing it while I was there.

If you have a Buddha head tee shirt, tattoo or jewelry – please hide them when you’re here. Don’t be shocked if you smile at a local and you see a “red smile” flashing back at you. That’s not blood but betel stains since many locals chew betel leaves. Oh, and if they make a loud kissing sound – they are probably calling out someone, not sending you flying kisses.

Have you visited Myanmar already and have a few tips to add? Let me know in the comments section. 

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You might also like:

Shwedagon Pagoda – Facts, Fables and Tips

Things to do in Yangon

Ngwe Saung Beach – white sand beach destination near Yangon with pagodas on the beach

Visa to Myanmar by Amy on the road

Myanmar Travel Tips by DrifterPlanet.com - Everything you need to know before you visit this golden land.

Pin it – Myanmar Travel Tips by DrifterPlanet.com

A hippie travel writer with flowers in her hair, Sonal Kwatra Paladini should have been born in the 1960s! Bitten by the infamous travel bug, she has an itch to explore resort-free destinations, offbeat islands and small villages. Join her and her husband (Sandro) on their journey as they hop from one music festival to another and explore the beautiful world that they are in love with! Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sonal Kwatra Paladini

India to Thailand via Myanmar – Road Trip Itinerary

India to Thailand via Myanmar – Road Trip Itinerary

As you know, San is from Germany and I’m from India.  Many times I turn green with envy when he shares stories of crossing borders within EU seamlessly from one country to another, by driving, hitchhiking or many other ways.

But now, it’s time for me (and many of you) to jump with joy because starting this week; we can travel from India to Myanmar and Thailand by road!! I’m now dreaming for traveling from India to Thailand via Myanmar and creating a Road Trip Itinerary.

Excited?? Here’s how we want do this road trip:

India to Thailand via Myanmar – Road Trip Itinerary

1) Reach Imphal, visit the Loktak Lake and see the famous Kangla Fort.

India to Thailand via Myanmar – Road Trip Itinerary. Loktok Lake (Image by Northeasttourism.gov.in)

2) Head to a quiet small town – Morah in Manipur, which is 105 KMs from Imphal.

3) Get on India – Myanmar friendship road and cross the border and enter Tamu, Myanmar. It’s only 4.5 KMs from Moreah to Tamu as per Google maps!

4) From Tamu, Head to Mandalay (Myanmar), which is 557 KMs from Tamu.  Spend a few nights in Mandalay, park our vehicle here.

5) Optional: Take a ferry or minibus to Bagan. This is Bagan.

India to Thailand via Myanmar – Road Trip Itinerary. Bagan (Image by wikitravel.org)

6) From Bagan, get back to Mandalay, sleep, rest, and regain our energy for a big drive to Yangon (Myanmar) which is 542 KMs.

7) Reach Yangon and spend a few nights here as well. Enjoy the delicious Khaw Sway and visit Kandawgyi Lake in downtown Yangon. (Read our guide about things to do in Yangon by clicking here)

India to Thailand via Myanmar – Road Trip Itinerary. Kandawgyi Lake, Yangon (Image by Wikipedia.org)

8) From Yangon, drive to Myawaddy (Myanmar), which is 440 KMs away and is on Myanmar – Thailand border.

9) Drive a little more and voila, enter Mae Sot (Thailand)!!!! Mae Sot is only 9.3 kms away from Myawaddy as per Google maps.

Visa Information

Myanmar: Evisa is possible for citizens of India, US, EU, ASEAN countries and more. We recommend you get in touch with the embassy since ithe nformation provided online is still vague.  Although sources say that Evisa is possible for Indians, some sources say that prior visa stamp is mandatory if you’re entering Myanmar by road. Click here for more information.

Thailand: Indians can obtain Visa on Arrival at the passport check-point between Myawaddy and Mae Sot. The queues are usually long for the locals (Burmese and Thais) but there’s a separate window for foreigners with smaller queues.

We think this is just the beginning and we are hoping for many other international borders to open up for easy travel from one country to another.

You might also like:

15 Things to know before visiting Myanmar

Bangkok in ONE Day

Things to do in Yangon

Ngwe Saung – a white sand beach destination near Yangon

Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan

Thailand Destination Guides

Myanmar Destination Guides

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