2 Weeks Solo Backpacking in Myanmar

Solo hiking in Myanmar

South East Asia is one of the most common destinations for solo travel adventurers. Among all the beautiful countries there’s one that is still under the radar for the masses: go solo backpacking in Myanmar.

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Formerly known as Burma, the country only opened its borders to the tourists less than ten years ago so it’s still unexploited and to go solo backpacking in Myanmar is a wonderful experience.

Backpacking in Bagan Myanmar

This has been one of my favourite countries among my solo backpacking adventures as it’s the country where I have met the most locals. They are super friendly people and they open easily for conversation no matter the topic.

Nowadays, Myanmar is quite a controversial country due to the situation with the Roghinya humanitarian crisis. I wrote my thoughts about this on my post Backpacking in Myanmar: to boycott or not

I spent almost a month backpacking solo in Myanmar and decided to compile a 2 week itinerary, including the must-go destinations and some awesome hiking!

Backpacking in Myanmar

I took mainly night buses to save on time and accommodation costs.

The buses in Myanmar are actually OK for sleeping, just make sure to bring earplugs and a good jumper as they’re always super cold!

This is my suggested 15 days solo trip to Myanmar itinerary:

Arrive to Yangon – 2 days / 1 night
Night bus from Yangon to Bagan
Bagan – 3 days / 2 nights
Night bus from Bagan to Mandalay
Mandalay – 1 day / 1 night
Hsipaw – 3 days / 2 nights
Night bus from Hsipaw to Kalaw
Solo Hiking Kalaw – Inle Lake – 3 days / 2 nights
Night bus Inle Lake to Hpa-An
Hpa-an – 2days / 1 night
Day bus to Yangon
Yangon half a day / 1 night

Backpacking in Myanmar
The Myanmar solo backpacking adventure in detail:
Arrive to Yangon – 2 days / 1 night

If you’re flying into Myanmar, chances are that you will arrive to Yangon which is the former capital of the country.

This is a typical developing big city which features lots of temples, stupas and pagodas. With the 2 most important ones being Shwedagon Pagoda and Sule Pagoda.

Backpacking in Myanmar

These can be reached on foot as most hostels are in the city centre. I stayed at The Lodge Yangon Hostel which was pretty cool, with a nice rooftop bar and tasty breakfast.

A common thing to do in Yangon is to ride the circular train which goes all over the city and surrounding areas.

The trip takes 3 and a half hours, however, from early 2019 some sections were under maintenance and it was not possible to do the entire loop. You can still ride a section a go back on the same way though.

A walk around Bogyoke Park is really nice as well. This park features a boardwalk around the Kandawgyi Lake where you can explore around for some nice views of the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Backpacking in Myanmar

What I enjoyed the most in Yangon was a free walking tour around the city centre. To my pleasure, it was mostly focused in Yangon and Myanmar’s political, architectural and social history instead of religious.

At the end of the tour it’s optional to leave a tip to the guide. I highly recommend you to put a couple of hours aside for this “free” activity!

At the end of the 2nd day I took a night bus from Yangon to Bagan. The bus cost around USD $15.

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Bagan – 3 days / 2 nights

Bagan is for sure the most touristy place in Myanmar. However, there are many good reasons why you should not skip this place on your backpacking trip around Myanmar!

Backpacking in Bagan Myanmar

Bagan was one of the most powerful empires in SE Asia and around the 12th century they had built over 10000 temples, pagodas and monuments. Today about 2200 still exist.

Although the bigger and more ornamented temples are always the main tourist attractions, I enjoyed more the smaller ones that I had for myself!

I spent two days cycling and scootering. Discovering narrow hallways, cramped stairs and 800 year old remains of frescos.

Located in dry lands, the empire was creatively resourceful with water management and at its height it boasted 2 million inhabitants.

Although you could squeeze only one night to stay in Bagan, I recommend to stay 2. Not only for the huge amount of temples to visit but also to enjoy an extra sunset and sunrise in this magical place.

Backpacking in Bagan Myanmar

I stayed at the Lux Pillow Hostel which was the cheapest place I could find on this touristy town. It was comfortable enough and had a basic breakfast included.


I wrote more in detail about my days in Bagan on this post: 2 Nights solo backpacking in Bagan.

After lots of exploring in Bagan, it’s time for another night bus towards the city of Mandalay.

Backpacking in Bagan Myanmar
Mandalay – 1 day / 1 night

From Bagan I took a night bus towards Mandalay. I was not feeling really well when I got to Mandalay due to food poisoning.

Luckily after checking in Ace Star Backpacker Hostel and resting a bit I felt better in the afternoon and I took a tuktuk towards U Bein Bridge.

Tip: in Myanmar, you can get cheaper tuktuk rides if you use the GRAB app, which is a sort of Uber in SE Asia.

U Bein Bridge, built in 1851, is considered the oldest teakwood bridge in the world. At 1.2km long it was once the longest as well.

Backpacking in Myanmar

Now it is a popular tourist attraction in Mandalay, but it’s also used by many local villagers, fishermen and lots of Buddhist monks as there are a few monasteries nearby.

I had the chance to speak with one lovely old monk and he told me he comes every single evening to watch the sunset, not a bad way to finish your day!

Backpacking in Myanmar

Mandalay was not my favourite place though. For me, this is just another big city in Myanmar which to be honest was not the most beautiful one. But it’s mandatory to go there so you can then continue your backpacking adventures towards Hsipaw by train which features the stunning Goteik viaduct.

Built in 1900 (yeap that’s a few days ago!) and with its highest point at 102m to the ground it’s considered an engineering masterpiece! the train passes really slowly over the viaduct so you have plenty of time for awesome photos!

Not everything in life is easy though, to catch the 11-hour-long train you need to wake up at silly o’clock as the only departure is at 4am from Mandalay.

Train Mandalay to Hsipaw

Totally worth it!

Hsipaw – 3 days / 2 nights

Located in Shan State, Hsipaw is a laid-back little town with a cool few places for hiking which makes it perfect for my idea of solo backpacking.

If you’re super tight on time but still made it here with the train from Mandalay, you can do just a short day hike towards Nam Tok waterfall, make sure to pack a towel so you take a dip at the waterfall!!

Hsipaw waterfall

You can also visit Little Bagan and there are a couple of nice places for food around town. Staying at Mr. Charles Hotel was worth every penny just for the tasty buffet style breakfast!

I wrote more in detail about my time in Hsipaw on this blog post: Solo Backpacking in Hsipaw.

Hsipaw hiking

If you do stay 3 days in Hsipaw (or even 4 days) you should definitely do the overnight hike around the surrounding mountains. It’s really beautiful and you get the chance to learn about all the different cultures that live in a relatively small area.

This hike was one of my favourite things to do in Myanmar and you can check my extended comments on my post about Overnight Hike in Hsipaw.

Backpacking in Myanmar

After these culture and nature charged days the next recommendation on my 2 week Myanmar itinerary is to go for my favourite hike in Myanmar!


Solo Hiking Kalaw – Inle Lake – 3 days / 2 nights

I arrived to Kalaw after admittedly the worst night bus of all from Hsipaw.

If you take the night bus, make sure not to have a heavy dinner as the road is super twisty and lots of people were throwing up….a pretty miserable journey…

Backpacking in Myanmar

But it was totally worth it as the next few hiking days were my favourite in all of my time solo backpacking in Myanmar!

I spent one full day walking around Kalaw and then 2 days hiking between Kalaw and Inle Lake. Many people do this hike with one of the inexpensive guided tours but I highly recommend you to hike with no guide!

Solo hiking in Myanmar

The landscapes I saw on this hike were incredibly beautiful and having them for myself was even more precious.

Check out my post about Solo Hiking Kalaw-Inle Lake with no guide for the entire hiking story! 🙂

If you’re hiking between Kalaw and Inle Lake make sure to bring some layers as it can get pretty cold early in the morning and late in the evening.

Solo hiking in Myanmar

When I first started the hike at 7:30 am in Kalaw the temperature was 8°C!

The hike is in between 45 and 55 Km long, depending on which trails you take. The route is well marked and every 2 or 3 hours you find small villages were it’s possible to buy water or food.

This should be another must on your trip to Myanmar if you love hiking as much as I do!

Solo hiking in Myanmar
Inle Lake 2 days / 1 nights

Finishing the hike from Kalaw will make you arrive to Inle Lake around early afternoon.

The end of the hike will lead to a beautiful boat ride from the town of In Dein.

Solo hiking in Myanmar

I checked-in at the Ostello Bello hostel, picked up a bike and rode to the Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery.

The Myanmar Wine tasting costs only 500MMK and it’s best to go around sunset as the views of the lake are terrific!

Wine tasting Inle Lake Myanmar

If you’re solo backpacking in Myanmar, I’d recommend you to team up with other fellow backpackers for a tour around the lake as there are some temples to visit and also the chance to see first hand on the peculiar fishing technique the locals have in Inle Lake

Backpacking in Myanmar
Hpa-An 1 day / 1 night

I arrived to Hpa-An after another long night bus from Inle Lake, count 13 hours on this journey.

The little town of Hpa-An was in all honesty an OK destination. I did a short hike towards Mount Zwegabin which is the tallest limestone mountain around Hpa-An.

Hpa-An mountain

Beautiful views but the climb is mostly in man-made steps. You can have lunch at the summit and look at the views next to monkeys which seemed to be enjoying the views as much as I did.

If you’re short on days, I’d skip this place above the rest as it was not the most special of all.

Hpa-An viewpoint

After a good night sleep and great breakfast at the Little Hpa-An Boutique Hostel it was time to get an early morning bus towards Yangon where I spent my final night and flew to Vietnam on the following day.

Have you decided to book your flight to Myanmar?

Check my blog post about Quick tips when arriving to Myanmar for some more helpful information on your backpacking adventure!

Remember that you must likely have to apply for an eVisa (if you’re from neighbouring aSEan nations you can get a visa on arrival). You can apply for an eVisa on this official government link

Backpacking in Bagan Myanmar

Feel free to drop any questions if you’d like to know more about this solo backpacking in Myanmar in 2 weeks itinerary. I’ll happily help you tailor it if you have more or less days! 🙂

Check out all my Myanmar Adventures‘ posts for more detailed inspiration on your next backpacking trip!

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