A two week Burma itinerary
Realistically, if you’re travelling all the way to South East Asia with kids, you’re unlikely to be planning a flying visit. And for a country as fascinating and varied as Burma (Myanmar), anything less than a fortnight means you’ll miss out on something.
But even taking it at a slow enough pace for a three-year-old, you can still get a good taste of the whole country in two weeks, as long as you’re happy to factor in plenty of internal flights.
We flew between each of the destinations below with Air KBZ, with most flights taking less than an hour. You’ll also need to allow two days flying either side if you’re travelling from the UK – we went via Bangkok, and the journey time was 15 to 17 hours, excluding check-in.
I deliberately chose more luxurious hotels for this trip as well but there’s plenty of choice for different budgets. As we travelled during the hottest part of the year, I knew I needed somewhere I was happy to retreat to for several hours in the middle of every day, with good aircon and a nice pool to cool off in as well. With a daughter who’s a particularly fussy eater, restaurants with a few Western dishes on the menu (for her…) was a bonus.
Day 1-3 – Yangon
With the main international airport, Burma’s biggest city is your inevitable starting point (unless you’re flying in to Mandalay’s International airport) but it’s worth at least a few days. We kept the first day completely clear to acclimatise to the new time zone and heat – expect high temperatures and humidity.
Don’t miss the Shwedagon pagoda, Kandawgyi Lake, Yangon’s colonial buildings, the Chaukhtatgyi reclining Buddha and a quick stop at the National Museum.
We stayed at: Kandawgyi Palace Hotel Set right on the lake, it’s got a pool and a dinosaur in the gardens for kids (a relic of the building’s time as a museum) – plus a great location so you can avoid a lot of Yangon’s traffic. Having all the facilities meant a much easier introduction with a jetlagged three-year-old so if you only splurge once, this is a great place to do it.
Day 4-5 – Bagan
One of the country’s two biggest tourist hotspots, there’s no way you should visit without seeing the endless temples, pagodas and stupas in this ancient city. In Burma’s ‘dry zone’, it’s also one of the hottest destinations in the trip, reaching 42C when we visited. There’s no way you could visit all the ancient buildings (over 4,000) even without kids, so stick to the key sites with a guide and plan to visit in the early morning and later afternoon. At cooler times and with older kids, you can hire bikes to explore the archaeological zone.
Don’t miss watching the sun set over the endless temples – some of the most popular spots get very busy and are very steep to climb back down with younger kids, but you’ll get great views from almost anywhere (take a torch though).
We stayed at: Aureum Palace Bagan One of relatively few hotels in Old Bagan (all of which are at the luxury end), you’re right in the heart of the Archaeological Preservation Zone and the (controversial) viewing tower looks right out across the landscape if you’d rather not climb a temple at sunset. They make a mean mojito as well.
Day 6-7 – Inle Lake
Burma’s second major tourist destination, it’s another unmissable option on the itinerary. 13.5 miles long and 7 miles wide, the still waters of the main lake are stunning – the famous leg rowing fishermen still head out with nets along with some photo-friendly lookalikes posing on their boats. But it’s down the tributaries where you’ll find the lakeside villages with their own traditional crafts – silversmiths, lotus weaving, cigar making, the list goes on – not to mention the floating gardens.
Don’t miss visiting In Dein – although this village isn’t off the regular tourist track, once you emerge from the covered walkway lined with stalls, you’ll feel like you’re in a lost city. Trees wind around stupas carved with elephants and Buddhas, in every shade from white and gold to deep red and faded black. Visit early or out of season and you might even get it to yourself.
We stayed at: Aureum Inle Part of the same group as the Bagan hotel, it’s set right on the lake itself which cuts journey times as you explore, with a pool and terrace, and some of the villas looking right out onto the waters (albeit rather low ones during the hotter months). Not even the most determined mosquito made it through the floaty nets around the beds either.
Day 8-10 – Pyin Oo Lwin
Up in the cooler hills outside Mandalay, Pyin Oo Lwin (previously called Maymyo) was the equivalent of India’s hill stations for the British. The coldest place in the country during winter, temperatures are more bearable in the hottest months too. With colonial architecture, lakeside restaurants and some beautiful botanical gardens, it’s a relaxing break with kids – I stayed for three days as I was travelling with family and as a cooler break for my daughter but two days is plenty to explore. You could spend the spare day in Mandalay, or in any of the other destinations instead.
Don’t miss the horse and carriage rides to take you around the town.
We stayed at: Hotel Pyin Oo Lwin Not far from the lake and the botanic gardens, it’s got big chalets with shady verandahs… and big fireplaces for winter.
OR TRY THIS: For another cool hill station, head to Kalaw which is closer to Inle Lake – visit the Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp which cares for elephants too old to work.
Day 11-12 – Ngapali Beach
On Burma’s west coast, the beaches on the Bay of Bengal have the same white sand and turquoise waters as the rest of the Indian Ocean – here you won’t have to share them with nearly as many people, especially if you visit out of season. Ngapali Beach is the most ‘developed’ of the beach resorts along the coast but it’s still a sleepy escape to relax at the end of the trip and unlike Ngwe Saung (which is even quieter), it has a small airport nearby.
Don’t miss hitting the beach itself and the great seafood at the string of restaurants
We stayed at: Hilton Ngapali Beach One of the newest hotels, opening in 2015, it’s also got one of the best pools in the area – with an infinity edge blending right in to the ocean, plus some beautiful villas. The trade-off is the fact you’re staying a little way north of the main beach, so there’s relatively small stretch of sand, but it’s a short taxi ride (around $5 one-way) to the main beach around Bayview and Sandoway resorts.
PIN FOR LATER: TWO WEEK BURMA ITINERARY
Images copyright MummyTravels
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links – if you do click through, you’re not affected but I may get a few pennies to put towards my return trip. All sites and hotels are ones I have used and stayed in personally during my own two weeks in Burma.