I have done 4 days 3 nights free and easy to Yangon and Bago cities a few months back and below is the summary itinerary. We touched down in Yangon International Airport and stayed in Yangon throughout the 4 days 3 nights. I strongly recommend anyone who is doing Yangon city should include Bago city too. Bago is the ancient capital of Myanmar and there are several historical sites in Bago city which you can do within a day. Staying in Yangon is still preferable as the hotel facilities in Bago aren’t that great for city folks like us.
Mingalabar means “hello” in the Burmese language so you may want to pick up this word when visiting Myanmar. You hear “Mingalabar” everywhere, at the hotel, at the restaurant or at the entrance of the attractions. Burmese is the friendly nation and you can approach them and ask direction when you are not sure. Start your conversation with “Mingalabar” and smile. 🙂
How Safe is Yangon & Bago?
Yangon and Bago are pretty safe to travel and most people in Yangon speak English. Communication is not a problem at all. However, Myanmar is different from Vietnam and Thailand, far backward. Tourism is still not matured yet as the country has been isolated for decades and just opened up in 2011. However, that should not be the reason to stop you from visiting Myanmar, it still has plenty of interesting things to see and to experience with a very affordable price.
I suggest you do the following before your departure :
- Download Grab app so that you can use grab to visit places of attractions. Grab is cheap to use in Yangon and plenty of them. It arrives within 5-10 mins.
- Plan a city tour in Yangon City Tour ( 1 Day ) – Do it with private charger service instead to save.
- Plan a day tour to Bago City ( 1 Day) – Do it with private charger service instead to save.
How long do I need?
For Yangon and Bago only, 4 days 3 nights is enough to see these two cities.
Taxi & Grab
I picked up taxi from the Yangon International Airport to my hotel at Taw Win Garden Hotel Yangon, the 30 mins drive cost me about 10,000 kyatt/ USD 10.00. There is no need to pre-book taxi as there are tons of taxi outside the airport. The car that we hopped on to go to our hotel is not a real taxi, it did not has the meter which is a good thing I find. I don’t like meter taxi as it cost more if there is traffic jam and also you never know the meter has been “touched” and run faster than the usual one. I had experienced taxi scam in Hanoi so not really a fan of meter taxi in South East Asia country. Grab is a good choice to use in Yangon. We tried Grab for our return flight to the airport and it cost us only 7000 kyatt (USD $7.00)
In Yangon Airport, many drivers (not officially taxi driver) will come to ask you where you want to go. If you agreed with the price, just follow the driver and he will bring you to your hotel. Below is the driver we meet in the airport and his cost. Cost 10,000 kyatt to bring us to our hotel.
Alternatively you can use Grab taxi and within 5-10 mins, the grab taxi will be there to pick you up. We tried Grab from Karaweik Palace to our hotel 20 mins drive, only cost few dollars (USD 3-4).
Myanmar Currency Kyatt
Most places accept Burmese Kyatt so there is no need to change USD. Unlike Phnom Penh, Cambodia, most shops, restaurants and tuk-tuk driver demand for USD only and refuse to accept their own currency, Riel.
There is nothing much to buy in Yangon and Bago but below are my suggestion.
- Woodcraft a pair of owls. Owls mean a good fortune in Myanmar and Burmese placed them in front of the house.
- Traditional Burmese Pathein Umbrella – I have gotten a small one at USD 5.00
- Longyi – or we called it sarong
- Little wind bell – You get to see them hanging around temple pagoda.
- Jade or Ruby stones – only if you know about gemstones
Attire in Myanmar
Most attractions do not allow sleeveless and skirt and pants must be knee-length. No shoes and no socks to enter the huge temple pagoda. Bring along some wet tissue to wipe your feet on your way out.
What do you get out from Myanmar trip?
Travelling to Myanmar is like traveling in the time machine and back to the 50s and 60s. Expect little luxury and plenty of discomfort as roads and buildings are pretty scrappy and disorganised. Still a very interesting and fruitful experience.
Book with Klook
To explore Yangon and Bago city, you can do day tour with Klook and it is about S$30-40 + for a person. The day tour will come with an English-speaking guide. Click here to check the exact price for Yangon Private Tour & Bago Day Tour with guide. Lets do the maths here, if you have 4 pax, total will be S$160.00
Cheaper way to explore Yangon & Bago with Private Car Charter
There is another way to do Yangon and Bago city, that is use a Yangon Private Car Charter at around S$30.00 -S$50.00 for the whole car, whole day which can sit up to 4 pax. Yangon Private Car Charter will come with a driver and no guide, the driver will wait for you when you explore the attractions or places you wanted to see. Driver speaks simple English.
Please note you need to pay extra USD $20.00 if you are going to Bago in Private Charter car, this is because Bago is about 2 hours drive from Yangon.
- Pro : Cheaper by half if you have 4 pax
- Con : There is no guide
My Budget for 4 days 3 nights Yangon & Bago cities in Myanmar
- Air ticket -SIA (Singapore to Yangon) – SGD 228.70 per pax
- Hotel – SGD 390 for 3 nights ( 1 night is SGD 130)
- Private Car Charter for Yangon & Bago with Klook :
- Viator – Total SGD 123 for 3 pax
Karaweik Palace Culture Show with International Buffet Dinner – USD 30 or SGD 41 per pax
- Travel Insurance – Income – SGD 37
- Cash – SGD 330 food, little souvenirs & Bago historical site ticket USD 10 or 10,000kyatt for 4 sites)
- Total Cost for 4 days 3 nights – SGD 1689.1 (3 pax) or SGD 563 (USD 412) per pax
I have compiled 18 blogs on Yangon and Bago top attractions to visit, click on the link to check them out.
The Yangon Circular train is like a time capsule which brings me back to the olden days, probably in the 50s–60s. This is also the place to interact with genuine local Burmese people. They are friendly and always put a smile on their “painted” face. This is truly a highly recommended trip for just 200 kyats (USD $0.15), you get to observe the interesting daily life of Burmese people and it is so different from our city life. Come as soon as possible, else this scene will be gone forever when Yangon city getting more developed.
Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the top highlights in Yangon or even in whole Myanmar. The Golden Pagoda has over 2600 years old history and also the biggest in Myanmar. The precious wonder of Myanmar is a 99 m gold stupa that dominates Yangon’s skyline. Shwedagon Pagoda is a huge complex and you need at least 2 hours to explore. Click on the link above to find out things you should watch out before you step foot in Shwedagon Pagoda.
If you have seen many cathedrals in Europe there is nothing too special for St Mary’s Cathedral. However I still encourage you to do a little stop when you are in downtown Yangon, it is very near to Bogyoke Market/Scott Market. You feel completely peaceful upon entering the St Mary’s Cathedral complex. It is also very clean with neatly trimmed green lawn. What made the cathedral different from the others is you need to take off your shoes to enter and pray with barefoot 🙂
This is a big bazaar situated in the heart of Yangon which offers Burmese handicraft and jewelry (Burmese Jade), art galleries, antique, umbrella, bags, shoes and many more. There are more than 2000 stores here.
If you happen to stroll around in heart of Yangon, the wet market & 19th Street BBQ Heaven are a must to check them out. It is filthy, smoky and uncomfortable but that is part of the travel experience while in Yangon City. Yangon has always been a mix of British, Burmese, Chinese, and Indian influences. You get to see it all here. The rundown alley, the yellow thanaka painted faces, men in longyi/sarong and chewing betel leaves making this place very exotic to visit.
In the heart of the city of Yangon boast Colonial Buildings, Sule Pagoda and Maha Bandula Park. Yangon is the old capital of Myanmar and also Myanmar largest city and most important commercial center. This city uses to be a bustling trading hub at the turn of 19th century, but when the General Ne Win, a dictator who took over the government, foreigners were forced to leave Yangon and the city deteriorated fast and fall behind. The Colonial Buildings, Sule Pagoda and Maha Bandula Park are at the same place so you can do three together.
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Another top destination in Yangon is Karaweik Palace which is located at the eastern shore of Kandawgyi Lake located in the center of Yangon, facing the stunning Shwedagon Pagoda. The Palace was converted into a classy restaurant cum cultural show event. The food is an international buffet and a whole range of Burmese traditional food. The cultural show was not the best as the dancers quality aren’t great but it still depicts Myanmar traditional art, music and dances from different tribes across the country.
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National Museum of Myanmar is located in Dagon, Pyay Road; not too far from the Shwedagon Pagoda. It is a 5 story museum which has a collection of ancient artifacts, ornaments, artwork, culture, and civilization of Burmese people. I visited the museum due to the raining day.
Bago is an ancient town 76 km away from Yangon. The road trip takes about 2 hours and you will experience plenty of interesting site along the way. Bago has several historical sites to visit which can be done within a day. Check out the 14 things to see along the road trip.
Sorry to learn that many soldiers from the UK, Australia and other parts of the Commonwealth countries have fought in the Second World War, against the Japanese and sacrificed in this piece of the foreign land. The saddest things were the soldiers were buried here in Taukkyan War Cemetery, which is so many thousands of miles away from their home country, family, relative & friends.
Visit Taukkyan War Cemetery only if you are doing Bago one day tour as it is on the way and about 45 mins from Yangon. What surprised me most is local Burmese use it as a place for leisure and picnics. I thought a cemetery should be a quiet place for the dead?
Kha Khat Wain Kyaung Monastery is one of three largest monasteries in Myanmar. It is interesting to have a glimpse at their daily routine life. The number 1 tips – arrived before 11 am before the monks’ lunch, best to arrive here around 10.30 am. That way you can walk around and check out the surrounding of the monastic school, especially the kitchen area and the examination hall.
Kanbawzathadi Palace is the must-see place if you are a fan of majestic palaces and royal constructions. Even though Kanbawzathadi Golden Palace is the replica, it is still worth to visit to see the stunning Burmese architecture. You can use your imagination to visualize how it looks like in the 16th Century and learn about 3 famous King in Myanmar including King Bayingnaung who conquered Ayutthaya.
There are two reclining Buddhas in Bago, one indoor and one outdoor. The indoor is called Shwethalyaung Buddha. Beautiful mosaic stones were used and added to the pillow on which the Buddha’ headrests. Pay extra attention to Buddha’s pillows and Buddha’s feet in this temple.
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Shwemawdaw Pagoda in Bago is 114 meter which made the tallest pagoda in whole Myanmar. The tall stupa has experienced several earthquakes over the centuries, one in 1917 and the other in 1930. Each rebuild and repair made the stupa a little taller until 114 meters now. There is a small portion which are the remains from the earthquake. Do check it out too.
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Mya Tha Lyaung Reclining Buddha is located outdoor and is not sheltered like the other reclining Buddha such as Shwethalyaung Buddha in Bago. There are two reclining Buddha in Bago town, an indoor and outdoor version. The outdoor reclining Buddha has lesser makeup as compared to the indoor Shwethalyaung Buddha. I suspect the makeup on the Buddha’s face wear out due to the rain and sun since it is sitting outdoor. (Just a wild guess)
There are no entrance fees to White Elephant Park. The entrance to the park is also not that obvious as there is no signboard.
The elephants are kept in the beautiful pavilion but visitors are not allowed to go near them. A totally different experience I had in Chiang Mai Thailand where you are able to get up close and touching and feeding the elephants.
It was my first time to see the elephant in this color, the white pink greyish. However, not a very happy feeling as the elephants were chained and not allowed to roam freely. They look sad to me and who doesn’t if freedom is being the constraint. Not sure it is the right way to worship white elephants?
17. Where to stay in Yangon? = Taw Win Garden Hotel
During my 4 days 3 nights trip to Yangon, we stayed in Taw Win Garden Hotel. It is located 10 mins drive from Yangon city area; Shwedagon Pagoda, Sule Pagoda, the Colonial Buildings and Scott Market. From the airport, it only took us 30 mins to arrive at the Taw Win Garden Hotel. The hotel is also spacious, comfortable and clean.
Yangon International Airport looks better than what I have expected. It is clean, the floor is well carpeted and spacious. Staff at the airport are friendly and speak good English. Overall a pleasant experience.
The airport is also called Mingaladon Airport as it is located in Mingaladon which is 15 km away north of Yangon city. Click at the link above to check it out.
Food to try in Myanmar
- Mohinga – National dish for breakfast – beehoon rice noodles covered in a fish based soup and sprinkled with deep fried fritters.
- Deep Fried Stuff – You will encounter plenty of deep fried stuff on the street and some of the famous ones are deep-fried samosas, spring rolls, savory fritters, sweets, bread, noodles topped with deep-fried crispy garnishes.
- Shan cuisine or Shan noodles – I love Shan noodles, similar to some Thai noodles. Shan noodle is commonly eaten as lunch or dinner, is one of the unique Myanmar foods. “Shan” is originally from Shan state, the east part of Myanmar which lies next to the borders among China, Thailand, and Laos.
- Burmese Kyay Oh – The rice noodle beehoon soup (far front) with pork and egg is another famous dish in Myanmar.
Final thoughts :
Myanmar is a great country for traveling even tourism is still not as developed as Thailand and Vietnam. The locals are friendly, so don’t hesitate to ask for the help of directions. Most will do their best to help you.
What are your favorite sites in Yangon and Bago?
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