BUDGETARIAN SERIES: The Ultimate Myanmar Temple Run for Less Than 20K ($401)

BUDGETARIAN SERIES: The Ultimate Myanmar Temple Run for Less Than 20K ($401)

Majority of our friends were quite surprised as to why we chose to visit Myanmar. What they don’t know is I have this planned for almost a year, making it our longest international trip to date.

It all started with a fascination. I first saw it real life in Bangkok followed by a trip to Cambodia then justified my fixation in Bali. Then it hit me, if I wanted to explore my temple curiosity, I must visit Myanmar.

Numerous people even asked if we were off to Maldives when hinted that we were in KL for a layover. And when I revealed that we were in fact going to Myanmar, a lot of messages came in questioning why we’re there.

Some even boldly said ‘eh puro templo lang dun di ba?’ Exactly! I was there to satisfy my temple obsession. I may be known for my beach adventures but temples do have a soft spot in my heart as well.

Myanmar is about captivating pagodas, conventional culture and living a simple life. Not a mainstream destination for dreary hearts. Aren’t you even curious what’s the story behind every pagoda? Because I really am!

bagan-5

Wanderlist no. 5: Myanmar. Check!

JUMP-OFF POINT

There are no direct flights to Myanmar so we decided to take advantage of Air Asia X‘s seat sale months’ prior our trip. Catch is, there will be hours of layover in Kuala Lumpur to get to Yangon.

We chose to avail such for fear that booking broken flights won’t cover us in case of delays.

Plane ride from Manila to KL and KL to Yangon will take around 4 hours and less than 1.5 hours, respectively.

SAMPLE ITINERARY

We were on a trip for 11 days however if you deduct the number of hours we were on the road, it will only add up to a total of 9 days of sightseeing. That is good enough for a temple run (pun intended).

Myanmar is cheap though can be quite crowded. So, we decided to hire a tour driver from local travel agents to show us around.

Best decision we’d made because we got to see a lot of places without getting lost plus the air conditioning of a high-end saloon car did help when it was a scorching 40-degree weather outside.

Day 1: KL Layover

We have hours to spare in KL because this was our gateway to Yangon, Myanmar.

And since we arrived at a reasonable time on our first day in KL, we thought of using it wisely by availing a city tour.

You’ll be surprised how the city bounces back to life during the night. Read here to know more about our experience.

Spots to Visit:

>> Batu Caves
>> Istana Negara
>> Petronas Towers
>> Menara KL Tower
>> Putrajaya
>> Cyberjaya Bridge
>> Putrajaya International Convention Centre

KL Layover 3

KL Layover 5

KL Layover 4

Day 2: Yangon Arrival

Yangon is the first Myanmar city we visited and saw many interesting sights. And I must say, its history is as good as the pagodas too!

And even though they that Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Asia, it sure does not look like it.

Read here to know more about our experience.

Spots to Visit:

>> Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda
>> Kandawgyi Lake
>> Botataung Pagoda
>> Sule Pagoda
>> Mahabandoola Park
>> Independence Monument
>> Colonial Buildings & City Hall
>> Bogyoke Aung San Market
>> Shwedagon Pagoda

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yangon-18

yangon-9

Day 3 & 4: Bagan

The main reason why I wanted to go to Myanmar is to see Bagan and its famous pagodas. Imagine my devastation when a strong earthquake hit the province recently.

But despite all that, it was still a wondrous feeling seeing those spectacular pagodas in real life. Got me a bit teary-eyed.

Read here to know more about our experience.

Spots to Visit:

>> Shwesandaw Pagoda
>> Shwezigon Paya
>> Gubyaukgyi
>> Htilominlo Pahto
>> Khaykminga Group
>> Ananda Paya
>> Tharabar Gate
>> Thatbyinnyu Temple
>> Shwegugyi Pagoda
>> Sulamani Temple
>> The Hill
>> Dhammayazika Pagoda
>> Iza Gawna Pagoda
>> Thanaka Museum
>> Gaw Daw Palin Temple
>> Bu Paya
>> Manuha Paya
>> Apeyadana Paya
>> Law-ka-ou-shaung

bagan-4

bagan-10

bagan-11

Day 5 & 6: Mandalay, Amarapura & Sagaing

High rise buildings, wide roads and very busy streets. Those are just some things I noticed once we set foot in Mandalay.

You can really see the resemblance with our very own Makati or Cebu. Made me miss Pinas quite a bit at that moment.

But behind those tall buildings were historical tributes to Myanmar’s rich history. Read here to know more about our experience.

Spots to Visit:

>> Mahamuni Pagoda
>> Bronze Carving
>> Wood Carving
>> Shweinbin Monastery
>> Mandalay Royal Palace
>> Shwenandaw Monastery
>> Atumashi Pagoda
>> Sandamuni Paya
>> Kuthodaw Pagoda
>> Mandalay Hill
>> Shwe Kyat Kya Pagoda
>> Irrawaddy Bridge
>> Sagaing Buddhist Monastery
>> Sitagu International Buddhist Academy
>> U Min Thonze Caves
>> Soon U Ponya Shin Paya
>> Kaunghmudaw Pagoda
>> Innwa
>> U Bein Bridge

mandalay-2

mandalay-7

mandalay-6

Day 7: Inle Lake

This is a place where most tourists exclude on their Myanmar itinerary.

May it be a lack of time or just wasn’t that interested, all I can say is, they did miss out the moment one decided not to go in Inle Lake.

That was our Day 7 in Myanmar and I was just praying that we could survive the travel fatigue and hope for none of us will get sick.

Read here to know more about our experience.

Spots to Visit:

>> Traditional Fishermen
>> Cheroot Cigar Making Shop
>> Lotus Silk & Cotton Weaving
>> Kay Lar Floating Garden
>> Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Note: There are many other shops that we visited but I just recommended those of importance and with traveler’s value.

inle-lake-4

inle-lake-2

Day 8 : Indein

It was a good feeling to see Indein in real life. Seems like you can sense the history there even without a guide explaining everything to you. It’s all laid out for you to appreciate.

Read here to know more about our experience.

Spots to Visit:

>> Maing Thauk Bridge
>> Maing Thauk Market
>> Ywama Village
>> Se-khong Village
>> Padaung People
>> Nyaung Oak Monastery
>> Shwe Indein Pagoda

indein-2

indein-6

Day 9: Back to Yangon

For the second time, we stepped foot in Yangon, it is already our last day.

We were there first when we arrived in Myanmar and since this city served as our gateway, we decided to do one last Yangon tour instead of renting an accommodation.

Read here to know more about our experience.

Spots to Visit:

>> Kabar Aye Pagoda
>> Maha Pasana Cave
>> Inya Lake
>> St. Mary’s Cathedral
>> Maha Wizaya Pagoda

yangon-16

yangon-13

Day 10: KL Layover again

Day 11: Depart for Manila

WHERE WE STAYED

KL Layover
Renting an accommodation at that point won’t be cost-efficient since our flight to Yangon will be at 6am the next day. So, we decided to stay the night at the KL airport.

Yangon
We didn’t intend to stay in a hotel on our first day in Yangon since we boarded a night bus to Bagan via JJ Express Highway Bus. Bus ride took almost 10 hours. For the second time, we were driven straight to the airport after our tour.

Bagan
We spent our first night in Bagan Central Hotel which is located near the Bagan temple complex. The next day though, we were picked up by OK Express for our 4.5-hour trip to Mandalay.

Mandalay
We spent our first night in Hotel A1 which is located near the Mandalay city center. And after our Amarapura and Sagaing tour the next day, we were dropped off by our tour guide to the JJ Express Bus Station as we were off to Inle Lake.

Inle Lake & Indein
We spent our first night in Three Seasons Inn & Spa which is within walking distance to the city center. The next day, we rode the JJ Expressway night bus back to Yangon. Bus ride will take around 13 hours.

FOOD RECOMMENDATIONS

SAMOSA – What I know about Samosas is that it’s an Indian dish and if you know me, I don’t eat Indian food. I just don’t. But this made me change my mind. Hindi pa high-end resto kinainan namen but I was blown away!

samosa

STEAMED PORK  Still from Lucky 7 (masarap food nila guys), I was even afraid to touch it but when I did, it tasted like the one inside a siopao.

steamed-pork

MONT LIN MA YAR – I couldn’t get enough of this Myanmar street food! It is a rice flour batter with quail egg toppings! Oooh, the combination of flavors is so clever.

inle-mont-lin-ma-yar

Myanmar Beer – I am not a beer person because even with San Miguel Beer, napapaklaan ako sa lasa. But Myanmar beer is different, it’s not bitter and I can still tolerate it even not served cold.

indein-myanmar-beer

TRAVEL TIPS

KL Layover

• KL though a modern city is still quite conservative when it comes to clothing. Shorts and dresses above the knee are still not prohibited in temples and in Batu Caves.

• It’s equally important to exchange your money to Malaysian Ringgit (RM) so you can pay in local currency. It is more convenient and cheaper that way.

• If you are in KL for a layover like us, we’ve come to know that you don’t need to go straight to the transfer desk if you plan to explore the city.

You may continue reading our KL Layover Travel Guide for more travel tips.

Myanmar

• There is a dress code when entering pagodas. Shoulders and knees should always be covered. Footwear is also not allowed inside. You must roam around barefoot. Don’t worry, temple vicinities are usually clean.

• Be guided of the Yangon entrance fees so you can allocate your budget money accordingly.

• You must pay a zone fee upon entry to Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake so you can breezily enter other temples and sightseeing areas. See corresponding fees below (in MMK):

Bagan: 25,000
Mandalay: 10,000
Inle Lake: 25,000

• Our JJ Night Bus ticket covers a free snack, blanket and wet wipes. Also, there is a small LCD monitor in front of you with free movies. All you need is to bring your own earphones.

• JJ Expressway Bus’ Inle Lake to Yangon ticket includes a free dinner. It could’ve saved us a few bucks if we only knew from the start.

CONTACTS

KL Layover

Our KL city tour driver is Mr. Zaidi. You may contact him at +60 11-1929-2912 via WhatsApp or shoot him an email at zaidii73@yahoo.com.

Yangon

Our Yangon tour contact was Green Myanmar Travel & Tours. You may contact them thru their Facebook page or email them at hello@green-myanmar.com.

Bagan

You may email our tour driver directly at kokomyo66@gmail.com. His name is Myo Thi Ha. We also stayed at Bagan Central Hotel. We booked them thru booking.com.

For our Bagan to Mandalay transfers, we were also picked up by OK Express, you may reserve your seats online thru their Facebook page.

Mandalay

We had a local Mandalay tour contact, Tony Hla Shwe. You may email him at info@theamazingmyanmar.com. We also stayed at Hotel A1. We booked them thru booking.com.

Inle Lake & Indein

We stayed at Three Seasons Inn & Spa which we booked via booking.comThis is also where we availed our boat tour services.

With regards to our Yangon to Bagan, Mandalay to Inle Lake and Inle Lake to Yangon bus transfers, you may contact JJ Express Highway via their Facebook page to reserve your bus tickets online.

**Our KL-Myanmar tour has been done during our Myanmar trip last Oct 27 – Nov 04, 2016. Pics were taken using Nikon D3100 and Samsung S7.                                                                                                                                  

TRAVEL EXPENSE SUMMARY

Expenses Currency Subtotal in Php ÷ by 2
Day 0: KL Layover
KL City Tour + airport transfers RM 300 3,480 1,740
Dinner RM 17 197.2 98.6
Day 1: Yangon to Bagan
Airport transfer + Yangon tour USD 68 3,284.4 1,642.2
Ooredo Sim MMK 4,500 135 68
Breakfast MMK 3,200 96 48
Botataung Pagoda Entrance Fee MMK 12,000 360 180
Sule Pagoda Entrance Fee MMK 6,000 180 90
Lunch MMK 9,500 285 143
Shwedagon Pagoda Entrance Fee MMK 16,000 480 240
Shwedagon Tour Guide MMK 10,000 300 150
JJ Night Bus to Bagan USD 38 1,835.4 917.7
Day 2: Bagan
Breakfast MMK 3,000 90 45
Bagan Day 1 Tour USD 42 2,028.6 1,014.3
Bagan Central Hotel USD 36 1,738.8 869.40
Bagan Zone Fee MMK 50,000 1,500 750
Lunch MMK 12,000 360 180
Dinner MMK 10,500 315 157.50
Day 3: Bagan to Mandalay
Bagan Day 2 Tour USD 42 2,028.6 1,014.30
Lunch MMK 7,000 210 105
OK Express Bus to Mandalay MMK 18,000 540 270
Dinner MMK 1,800 54 27
Day 4: Mandalay
Hotel A1 USD 25 1,207.5 603.8
Mandalay Day 1 Tour USD 50 2,415 1,207.5
Mandalay Zone Fee MMK 20,000 600 300
Lunch MMK 5,000 150 75
Dinner MMK 6,000 180 90
Day 5: Sagaing & Amarapura to Inle Lake
Hotel A1 USD 25 1,207.5 603.8
Mandalay Day 1 Tour USD 50 2,415 1,207.5
Lunch MMK 8,000 240 120
Boat to Innwa MMK 2,400 72 36
Innwa Horse Cart MMK 10,000 300 150
JJ Night Bus to Inle Lake USD 24 1,159.2 579.6
Day 6: Inle Lake
Bus station to hotel drop-off MMK 2,000 60 30
Inle Lake Zone Fee MMK 25,000 750 375
Three Seasons Inn & Spa USD 25 1,207.5 603.8
Inle Lake Boat Tour USD 25 1,207.5 603.8
Lunch MMK 9,000 270 135
Snack MMK 200 6 3
Dinner MMK 5,000 150 75
Day 7: Indein
Hotel to bus station drop-off MMK 2,000 60 30
Indein Boat Tour MMK 25,000 750 375
Lunch MMK 6,500 195 98
Dinner MMK 2,300 69 34.5
JJ Night Bus back to Yangon USD 38 1,835.4 917.7
Day 8: Back to Yangon
Airport transfer + Yangon tour USD 68 3,284.4 1,642.2
Breakfast MMK 2,700 81 40.5
Lunch MMK 9,000 270 135
Airport dinner MMK 9,500 285 142.5
TOTAL P 39,925 P 19,962.5

Disclaimer: Airfare and pasalubong shopping not included. We got our RT Air Asia X tickets for P12,995/person during a seat sale. 

In total, our KL-Myanmar expenses will be P 32,957.50 to which was still reasonable enough for a 9-day international trip. Take note, we hit 2 countries at the same time!                                                                                             

Also read:
Bella’s Layover Series: A Glimpse of KL at Night
Dream Krabi-Phuket Trip for Php 15,000
Amazing Bali for Only Php 11,000

Romblon-Bora Trip for Php 6,300
Exploring Batanes for Only Php 8,500
Cagayan Trip for less than Php 5,000
Davao Vacay for Less Than Php 6,500

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Written by Tody Dino

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