Here is my rough itinerary for a 20 day trip to Myanmar.
Yangon - Ngapali or Chaung Thar - Bagan - Mandalay - Inle - Yangon
Some questions -
1. in my last post, dana has replied that 20 days will be nice but at that time i have not included the beach. and we will like to spend 5-7 days at the beach which leaves not many days... so will 13 - 15 days enough to cover bagan - mandalay - inle - yangon?
2. is the route okay in terms of convenience? we may choose to fly one route but undecided which yet, and may skip that option if possible.
3. can anyone suggest, based loosely on the itinerary, which beach fits in better? ngapali or chaung thar?
4. i know i am a bit greedy but will i also able to squeeze in a day or two in kalaw to do the trekking?
thanks all in advance.
It's enough time but you'll have to be quick in some places maybe 1-2 days in Bagan or Mandalay.
The best part of Bagan is exploring the temples by bicycle and getting out to some of the remote ones which tourists rarely if ever see. When my wife and I were there last month we spent the whole day without seeing another westerner and only ran into about 10 locals in the temples along the southern plain.
Just to let you know...the painful bus journey from Ngapali to Bagan via Pyay takes two and a half days. Which means a night in Pyay (Prome). From Ngapali to Pyay alone is 12 hrs plus,an the road is bad!
And from Yangoon to Ngapali? There is a bus that goes via the southern beach resort of Gwa. The road is not much better and it takes around 17 hours.
If your budget allows for it, I'd also suggest suggest flying. Not only to Ngapali but to the other places around Myanmar also. Notoriously slow road travel in Myanmar can seriously cut into the time you spend enjoying the actual towns and sights. Even the one boat option - from Mandalay to Bagan - eats up an entire day.
Obviously, one way to increase your time in the other places - and include a Kalaw trek - would be to cut down on the number of days you stay at the beach.
You really need at least 3 full days each in Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake to get a proper feel for those places - and in the case of Mandalay, the surrounding ancient capitals. And just north of Mandalay is the hill station town of Pyin U Lwin, where you can also easily spend a few more days.
For most tourists, there isn't a big reason to spend a lot of time in Yangon. Once you've seen Shwedagon, it's time to get out of town. But I love just walking around Yangon, seeing street life, hanging out at teashops, talking to monks, etc. Budget at least two days there, but maybe not much more.
Thanks for all the replies.
We have decided to just take it at our own pace,
and not rush to cover all the mentioned places.
maybe we will see other parts of myanmar too
and maybe we need another trip to see more places
thanks a lot!
Fly if you can between all these locations. Flights are fairly inexpensive and it takes less than an hour in the air for most of the routes you mention. The two beaches you mention are both nice with Ngapali being further north and with better water conditions but also usually more tourists and higher prices. I would not spend more than 2-3 days at the beach though since they hold nothing very different from other ones you can visit in asia. Mandalay is a good spot for short trips further afield to temples, mining operations and smaller villages, Bagan is a must see and you can also take a day trip to mystical Mt. Popa and do some trekking in the area. Inley lake is very nice and the newly opened Sekin lake is one of the better trips in the area. Kalaw is good for trekking and is near Inley. Yangon does have more than Shwedagon to see. The Nagar glass factory, crocodile farm, wildlife park, zoo, nearby Bago with its cheroot factories, bird park and markets and Twante with its markets and pottery factories are also good day trips. Tour companies avoid even telling about these places because there is nothing in it for them so most tourists/travelers never even know most of these places exist. I think the Lonley Planet guide gives info on the glass factory but not much else. Whatever you decide, you will sure to have a great trip.