Mandalay to Bangkok in 4 Weeks: My Ultimate Solo Myanmar Itinerary
My 4-week Myanmar itinerary is an epic journey from Mandalay to Bangkok on an overland route that takes in all the main sights and the most popular destinations in Myanmar. My preference was to take my time and see as much as possible but there were still things that I missed along the way. I loved the golden temples, the beautiful scenery, the unique culture and the warmth of the people that I met. I had an amazing time in Myanmar and this is my ultimate Myanmar itinerary.
**Myanmar is unsafe for travel at the present time due to civil unrest and armed conflict. Check with your government for the latest travel information.
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There are large distances between destinations when travelling from Mandalay to Bangkok
Overland travel between Mandalay and Bangkok can be slow and sometimes there are delays and the roads are not always good. My Myanmar itinerary includes travel by plane, river ferry, train and bus and I budgeted a full day for travel as transport delays and schedule changes are common in Myanmar. I took two domestic flights to avoid long overnight bus trips travelling alone. I was able to travel comfortably without spending a lot of money but if you’re on a tight budget you can save money on hotels and airfares if you travel overnight by bus.
I began my trip with a couple of days of seeing the sights in Bangkok before flying on to Mandalay in Myanmar. Travelling overland to Bangkok gave me an opportunity to visit Sukhothai in Thailand along the way before I connected with my flight home…and I loved Old Sukhothai!
I enjoyed researching this Myanmar itinerary and I’ve listed a selection of hotels including the ones that I stayed in. I was happy with all my choices. But things change so please check carefully and make sure the hotel rooms and facilities will suit you.
HOT TIP: Book a hot air balloon flight in Bagan and float above the temples at sunrise. From the air, the view is incredibly beautiful and you can truly appreciate the huge number of temples that were built on the plains of Bagan. I flew with Golden Eagle Balloons and loved every minute. It was an unforgettable experience and a highlight of my trip in Myanmar from Mandalay to Bangkok.
Myanmar highlights from Mandalay to Bangkok
See the highlights of my Myanmar itinerary in this video…
4 weeks from Mandalay to Bangkok
Fly to Mandalay International Airport to begin this epic Myanmar itinerary
I booked return flights to Bangkok and a separate flight to Mandalay.
You can take the worry out of your arrival or departure from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and pre-book a private transfer to or from downtown Bangkok.
On your journey from Mandalay to Bangkok, you’ll find stunning pagodas and monasteries. In Mandalay, you’ll discover the ancient capital at Inwa and visit the restored Royal Palace & the famous U Bein Bridge.
Day 1: Spend a day in a Tuk-tuk touring the beautiful monasteries and ancient temples of Sagaing** & Amarapura**
Day 2: Catch a river ferry to Mingun** / Inwa/Ava** Tour the ancient capital in a tuk-tuk or a horse & cart
Day 3: Visit the glittering Mandalay Royal Palace**/ Marvel at the world’s oldest book at the Kuthodaw Pagoda /Shwenandaw Monastery / Enjoy Sunset at Mandalay hill**
Where to stay in Mandalay
Hotel Yadanarbon** I loved this hotel, especially the rooftop pool with the stunning view.
But If you’re after a luxury five-star hotel try the Mercure Mandalay Hill Resort. I didn’t stay here but it’s in a great location near the Royal Palace and gets excellent reviews.
Click here for more Mandalay Highlights
Travel Day 4: Take the early morning tourist ferry to Bagan (7-8 hours) Relax and watch life on the river as you pass by and arrive mid-afternoon.
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More than 2,000 ancient temples adorn the plains of Bagan. This UNESCO world heritage site is truly astounding and it’s guaranteed to be a highlight when you travel from Mandalay to Bangkok! Bagan is a must-see destination on any Myanmar itinerary.
Day 5-7: Hire an e-bike & watch the sunrise or set over the ancient temples **/ Take an early morning hot-air balloon flight. From the air, you can fully appreciate the huge number of temples on the plains of Bagan** / Visit Mount Popa where an ancient monastery is perched on top of a craggy mountain.
Click here for more on my adventures in Bagan
Where to Stay in Bagan
I enjoyed my stay at the Hotel Yadanarbon Bagan
If you’re after an upmarket five-star hotel in Bagan try the Aureum Palace Hotel. It looks beautiful and gets excellent reviews.
Travel Day 8: Morning flight to Heho / taxi to Naungshwe (Inle Lake) (sunset boat trip on Inle Lake**)
Inle Lake is a highlight of this Myanmar itinerary and a delightful stop on your trip from Mandalay to Bangkok. Relax and enjoy the stunning scenery and the unique way of life on Inle lake.
Day 9: Still and beautiful in the early morning take a sunrise boat tour on Inle Lake** See the floating gardens & local crafts, Temples, markets and the Jumping cat monastery/cycle to lakeside villages / Visit the Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung Monastery
Day 10: Take a taxi to the astounding Pindaya Cave Temple absolutely brimming with golden Buddha statues**
Where to stay at Inle Lake
Inle Cherry Queen Hotel Inle Lake is located right near the docks in Nyaungshwe. The rooms are clean and comfortable & the view from the rooftop is amazing.
For a luxurious hotel with a stunning location at Inle Lake, try the Novotel Inle Lake This hotel gets exceptional reviews.
Travel Day 11: Take a taxi to the station at Shwe Nyaung for the morning train to Kalaw (approx. 3 hours) and experience everyday life in Myanmar. Click here for timetables
When you’re travelling from Mandalay to Bangkok make sure you spend a few days in Kalaw. Enjoy hiking, beautiful scenery and a cave temple in this laid-back small town in the mountains. The weather is cooler here and the colourful Pa-O and Danu villages are nearby. Kalaw is a great destination to include in a Myanmar itinerary.
Day 12: Feed and wash the retired elephants at Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp** / Kalaw Cave Temple
Day 13: Trek for a day (or 3) to Danu and Pa-O villages through the beautiful green countryside past local farmers at work (Trekking is easy to arrange in Kalaw)
Where to stay in Kalaw
I stayed in the centre of town at the Dream Villa Hotel and I liked the location.
Alternatively, try the Kalaw Heritage Hotel. It’s a bit further out of town and gets great reviews for its historic setting & charming atmosphere.
For something more upmarket try the Royal Kalaw Hills Resort Guests love its colonial charm and delightful views.
** Allow extra time and hike all the way from Kalaw to Inle Lake. 2 – 3 day treks are very popular. On overnight treks, you will sleep in basic accommodation in a local Danu or Pa-O village or in a monastery
Travel Day 14: Take a taxi to Heho (1 hour) for an early morning flight to Yangon. Avoid the taxi touts and throng of drivers at Yangon airport and book your Yangon airport transfer in advance **I highly recommend this for other solo female travellers as the taxi touts at Yangon airport are relentless.
On the trip from Mandalay to Bangkok visiting Yangon is a must. You’ll be blown away by the stunning pagodas in Yangon, a must-see on any Myanmar itinerary. Friendly monks like to chat with tourists and the bustling Bogyoke market is fun to visit.
Take in an Irrawaddy River sunset at the dock near Botataung Pagoda, and visit St. Mary’s Cathedral and the Sule Pagoda nearby.
Day 15-16: Soak up the ambience and marvel at the history of the revered Shwedagon Pagoda** / Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda** / Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda** / Visit People’s Park / Jump on the circle line train for a taste of everyday life in Yangon / Shop at the Bogyoke Aung San Market
Where to stay in Yangon
Merchant Art Residence I loved the location of this hotel and the stunning nighttime view of Shwedagon Pagoda from the rooftop bar & restaurant.
If you’re after more luxury perhaps the Savoy Hotel in Yangon is more your style. It has a great location near Shwedagon Pagoda and gets excellent reviews.
Travel Day 17: Catch an early morning train to Kyaiktho (5 hours) / Then a Pickup or taxi to Kinpun / Transfer to a turbo-powered pickup for the rollercoaster ride to the Golden Rock Pagoda at the top of Mount Kyaiktiyo** Watch the sunset at Golden Rock and soak up the festive atmosphere amongst the pilgrims**
Visiting Golden Rock on the route from Mandalay to Bangkok is something you don’t want to miss. Enjoy beautiful mountain views and the most unusual pagoda you’ve ever seen and join the pilgrims for evening prayers. It’s an unforgettable experience.
Golden Rock is a wonderful place to stop between Bangkok and Yangon on a shorter Myanmar itinerary.
Where to stay at Golden Rock
Kyaik Hto Hotel Kyaiktiyo is located right near the entrance to the Golden Rock Pagoda & the views from the mountaintop are stunning!
If you’re on a budget there are cheaper options at the base of the mountain such as the Golden Sunrise Hotel which gets excellent reviews. But you’ll have to take the pickup truck to the mountaintop to see Golden Rock. Just remember the pickups stop running at sunset.
Read more about my pilgrimage to Golden Rock
Travel day 18: Soak up sunrise at Golden Rock then speed down the mountain in a pickup & catch a bus to Mawlamyine (approx 3-4 hours)
(Alternative: If you want more time in Yangon, Hpa-An or Bangkok, skip Mawlamyine and travel directly to Hpa-An by bus)
Mawlamyine is a little out of the way en route from Mandalay to Bangkok, but this city is full of character and worth visiting. Wander around this laid-back coastal city on foot, take a boat to Bilu island, jump on the back of a motorbike taxi or take a tuk-tuk to see the sights.
Day 19: Visit the biggest reclining Buddha in the world / Enjoy a magnificent Myanmar sunset at Kyaikthanlan Pagoda**/ Mahamuni Paya
Where to stay in Mawlamyine
I enjoyed my stay at the Royal Hinthar Hotel Mawlamyine, especially the lovely pool and swanky dining room
Alternatively, Hotel Suggati is located next to the river and gets great reviews
Travel Day 20: Catch a local bus or riverboat to Hpa-An (2-3 hours) Take the riverboat for a more relaxed, scenic trip. I shared the bus with a young man carrying a squawking chicken in a sling over his shoulder like a handbag. The local bus is faster but can get very crowded.
Set amongst a spectacular landscape, the ancient cave temples in Hpa-An are rich in history and truly amazing to visit! Hpa An is just a few hours’ by road from the Thai border and makes a spectacular addition to a Myanmar itinerary from Bangkok to Yangon.
Day 21: See the cave temples on a full-day tour** (book a budget shared tour at Galaxy Hotel or hire your own tuk-tuk for the day) Kawt Ka Thaung Cave** / Sadan Cave **/ Waterfall Village / Kawt Gone Cave** / Ya Thay Pyan Cave** & more…
Day 22: Hike Mount Zwegabin** (3 hours) / Take a boat across the River to a viewpoint at Hpan-Pu village/ Sunset over the river at the Shwe Yinhmyaw Paya** / Eat traditional Myanmar curry at San Ma Taw
Where to Stay in Hpa-An
At Hotel Gabana Hpa-An you’ll find comfortable accommodation just a short walk from town.
For a luxurious stay in a stunning, serene location consider booking a cottage at Keinnara Hpa An. It’s further out of town but gets exceptional reviews.
Travel Day 23: Take a shared taxi to Myawaddy / Maesot border with Thailand (2-3 hours) / walk across the border & pickup a motorbike taxi to the bus station then a minibus to Old Sukhothai (5 hours)
The ancient ruins of Old Sukhothai are a magical stop on your trip from Mandalay to Bangkok. The beautiful ruins at the Sukhothai Historical Park were once the capital of Thailand and they are especially photogenic at sunrise and sunset!
Day 24-25: Hire a bicycle or a tuk-tuk to get around the Sukhothai Historical Park** and visit the temples outside the park **
Travel Day 26: Take a tuk-tuk or songthaew to New Sukhothai for a bus to Bangkok (8 hours)
Find out Why you’ll love Old Sukhothai in Thailand
(Alternatively: If you have more time to spend in Thailand you can extend your trip from Mandalay to Bangkok. After you’ve seen the enchanting ruins of Old Sukhothai, head north towards Chang Mai & Laos or head south and stop at Ayutthaya for some more Thai history on the way to Bangkok).
Where to stay in Sukhothai
Old Sukhothai Scent of Sukhothai Resort is just a short walk from the beautiful historical park.
For a more luxurious stay try the Legenda Sukhothai Hotel. It gets excellent reviews for its beautiful lush grounds and wonderful saltwater swimming pool.
After an epic journey from Mandalay to Bangkok, you’ll arrive in Thailand’s capital city. Before you connect with your flight home spend a couple of days enjoying the sights in vibrant Bangkok
Day 27-28: Visit the glittering Grand Palace & marvel at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha / Wander down the road to the giant reclining Buddha at Wat Pho / Cross the river to Wat Arun the Temple of the Dawn. Enjoy the bustle & the street food in Chinatown / relax with a classic Thai massage & spa/experience traditional Thai music & dance with sumptuous ornate costumes
Where to Stay in Bangkok
The mid-range Tongtara Riverview Hotel is located near the river and Asiatique for riverside dining and shopping. You can catch the ferry to the main sights in Bangkok and avoid the city traffic. Cool off in the pool after a day of sightseeing and enjoy sweeping city views from your room.
A popular five-star option is the Hansar Bangkok Hotel. I didn’t stay here but it gets great reviews for its central location and excellent service.
This is my ultimate 4 week Myanmar trip, seeing as much as possible without rushing from place to place, but you can take a similar route faster and cheaper than I did if you’re short of time.
Myanmar Itineraries & Travel Tips
The Beautiful Temples of Bagan in Myanmar
3 Weeks in Myanmar: Mandalay to Yangon
11 Days – Myanmar Highlights: Mandalay to Yangon
The Best Things to Do in Mandalay Myanmar
Useful Advice for Solo Travel in Myanmar
How to spend 3 days or more in Bangkok
If time permits continue south of Bangkok to enjoy the beautiful Islands and stunning beaches. I loved Ko Phi Phi, Krabi & Ko Samui…
For peace of mind make sure you buy travel insurance before you go, especially if you are travelling solo. I use Travel Insurance that covers me for overseas medical, lost baggage, and other expenses and I can concentrate on enjoying my trip without worrying about something going wrong.