2009 - Backpacking to Burma

Backpacking Adventure
12 days to Mystical Myanmar
05 Dec <> 16 Dec 2009
(L-R) Ching Neng Bin, Catherine, Ching Bee Geok, Veronica Wan, Dato' Mohanadas, Mani, Rosalind Wan, Lim Kee Moon, Betty Ching at Shwe Zigon Zedi Pagoda, Bagan

The route: K.L > Yangon > Mandalay > Bagan > Inle Lake > Kalaw > Yangon > K.L

Day 01 (05.12.09) Kuala Lumpur > Yangon

Mingalarbar! Greetings from Myanmar. So pack your bags and get ready for this undiscovered country for its old charm and to experience it all. Discovering mystical Myanmar in 12 days and that was what we wanted to do in local style. 7 of us flew in to Yangon on 5th Dec. Dato' Mohanadas and Mani flew in next day. On arrival at the airport, we were met by tour manager Ms. Htay who had earlier arranged our hotel and inter-city transport for the 12 days journey across Myanmar. Each of us paid US209 for - 7 nights in 3star hotel with breakfast, 2 nights on long distance air-con express bus, all transfer and transportation with local vehicle, and ferry from the famous historic city of Mandalay to 11th Century of Bagan with its thousands of temples.

MAS return ticket - RM605 p.p.
Hotel & transport by Myanmar Tourex, - US209 p.person
Email: www.myanmartourex.com, mtourex@gmail.com,
Sleeping - Panorama Hotel, Pansodan Street @ US27 p.room
Yangon International Airport - 30 minutes drive to Yangon
Tour manager Ms. Htay from Myanmar Tourex Travel
Panorama Hotel, Pansodan Street
Sule Pagoda Rd.
Independence Monument at Maha Bandoola Garden
Immanuel Baptist Church in front of Sule Pagoda
Sule Pagoda, Yangon

A Mosque beside Sule Pagoda
Chinatown of Yangon lies west of the Sule Pagoda which is located in the centre of downtown Yangon. Proceeding west along the Sule Pagoda Road, from 18th to the 24th, Streets and Bo Ywe, Latha and Sint Oh Dan Roads steaming with traffic are the busiest quarters of the city.
This 1824 Guang Dong Kwan Yin Temple is located between the Latha and 20th Streets
Walking tour to different China Streets in Yangon

The best 'nasi briyani' rice in town at K1,500 a plate. Dinner at Nilar Briyani Restaurant, Anawrahta Rd. Pabedan Township, Yangon- www.nilarbriyani.biz.

Ladies Nite! Lets go! Myanmar beer at HTOO pub - K500 a glass (RM2)
Mingalarbar! Cheers everybody - Best beer in Yangon
Day 02 (06.12.09) Yangon > Mandalay by bus

After breakfast at hotel, we walked to Chinatown to explore the Yangon River front and the market. Came back to hotel at 1.30pm to meet Mohan and wife Mani. Went to change money - RM1 is K300, US1 is K980. The van came to pick us up at 3.30pm to the bus station - 25km away (1hr drive). The overnight bus departed at 5.30pm for a 10 hours journey to Mandalay.

Sleeping - overnight bus to Mandalay - K10,500 p.p.
I am wearing the traditional longyi for hotel breakfast
Maha Bandoola Rd, Yangon
Sule Pagoda is located in the center of Yangon, at the junction of Sule Pagoda Road and Mahabandoola Road, Kyauktada Township. This 48 meter (152 feet) high golden dome was used by the British as the nucleus of their grid pattern for the city when it was rebuilt in the 1880s. The pagoda's peculiarity is its octagonal- shaped pagoda.
My money changer friends beside the church
Walking tour to different China Streets in Yangon

Walking along Strand Rd to the Yangon River

Yangon River - boat jetty
Shri Kali Indian Temple
Dato' Mohanadas & wife Mani arrived at hotel. First Malaysian to conquer Mt. Everest, Mohanadas became national hero when he reached the 8,848m summit of Mt. Everest on May 23, 1997, after braving thick snow, strong winds and freezing temperatures.
Bus Terminal
Man Shwe Pyi Express bus - 10hour journey to Mandalay
Mid-night stop for hot drinks and the rice-field toilet
Day 03 (07.12.09) Mandalay

Arrived at Mandalay bus station at 3.30am. We waited until 5am before the van came to pick us up to Great Wall Hotel for breakfast. Walked to town along the dusty 78street - visited Royal Palace and the clock tower. Had lunch at the shopping centre. Took a pickup to Mahamuni and Ananda Pagoda and walked back to hotel. 

Sleeping - Great Wall Hotel at K25,000 p.room
arrived at Mandalay bus station at 3.30am
The famous 78street
Bags of money taken out from the bank - no security guard - to be transported in open-van to Central Bank
Walking along the dusty 78street
bicycle repairer by the road side

Mandalay train station
The palace was constructed, between 1857 and 1859 as part of King Mindon's founding of new royal capital city of Mandalay. It has a 2km long wall on each side forming a perfect square and surrounded by a moat 210ft wide and 15ft deep.
On each face of the walls are three gateways placed at equal distances (508 m; 1666.5 ft) one from the other and from the corners. Each of the twelve gates is 4.8 m (15.75 ft) wide.

a large shopping centre - Zegyo Plaza
Dato' Mohan's adopted children

paving the road is done manually

According to Rakhine Chronicles, the Buddha in his lifetime, visited the city of Dhanyawadi in 554 BC. King Sandar Suriya (Sun Moon) requested the Buddha to leave an image of Himself.

Day 04 (08.12.09) Mandalay > Bagan by Boat

Van came to pick us up at 5am to the Malikha boat jetty at North Ganwein. We boarded the "Malikha 2 River Cruiser" and set off from Mandalay to Bagan (11 hours journey) down the Irrawaddy, the longest river (2000km) in Myanmar. View the natural beauty of Irrawaddy River and the fascinating scene of Mt.Sagaing, Pakokku, Myingyan and finally the ancient Bagan.

Lunch at Yandabo village by the river -visited a school and see how the villages make pots. Enjoy the sunset near Bagan. Disembark at Bagan Aye jetty at 5pm. Upon arrival each has to pay US10 entrance to this Archaeology Zone of Bagan. A van took us to Arthawka Hotel. Walked to town for dinner at Silver House Restaurant and walked back pass midnight.

Boat fee - US33 p.p.Entrance to Bagan - US10 p.p.Arthawka Hotel, Cherry Road, New Bagan - US30 a room
Welcome breakfast and coffee on-board

There were 100 Australian, 4 Thai, 1 Korean and 9 of us on-board
View of Mandalay Hill behind

Fascinating scene of Mt.Sagaing
Beautiful morning sky over the pagodas
Malikha River Cruiser is 105ft long, 17ft wide and its draft is 6ft

The great lower Chindwin plain

The new Ayeyarwady Bridge (Yadanabon) at Sagaing

"ROAD TO MANDALAY" a luxury river cruise ship created by Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express from the former MS Nederland since 1995 has a swimming pool, large sun deck, spacious observation lounge with large windows in addition to the excellent cabin facilities, a restaurant able to accommodate all passengers in one sitting and satellite communications.
Friends from Thailand

Afternoon stop at Yandabo, a village specialize in Pot-Making, where the peace treaty of the First Anglo-Burmese war was signed on Feb. 24, 1826.


School children singing

Sunset before reaching Bagan

Dinner at Silver House Restaurant, New Bagan

Day 05 (09.12.09) Bagan formerly known as Pagan

After breakfast, we walked to New Bagan town - visiting a market, lacquer-ware workshop & Bagan House before coming back to hotel for a swim in a salt-water swimming pool. We took a van (K17,000) from 1pm to 6pm for the temple tour of the archaeological sites. Bagan is a must for travelers and no visit to Myanmar can be complete without a visit the world's premier archaeological site of this ancient city. Bagan originated around mid 9th century AD by King Anawrahta and has over 4,000 monuments originally, but only 2,000 remain today.

Arthawka Hotel - US30 a room

Open air market at New Bagan

Our transport for temple tour - no seats
Their transport for temple tour - seats all-over
Lawkananda pagoda was built by King Anawrahta during his reign in 1059. The pagoda has enshrined the Buddha's tooth relic in Bagan. The pagoda is erected on the bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River.


Petrol station
In 1197 King Narapatisithu received four holy relics from the King of Sri Lanka and that he built the pagoda in 1198 to enshrine the relics.

Waiting for sunset
Day 06 (10.12.09) Bagan > Inle Lake

3am local bus, pickup at hotel for a hellish 13 hour journey to Inle Lake. The road was very bad, narrow winding dusty road up and down the Shan Mountain arriving more dead than alive in Inlay at 4.30pm. There was a bus change at Shwe Nyaung. Entrance to Inle Zone is US3 per person. Had dinner at Hupin Restaurant beside the market. As it was a horrible bus journey and completely shaken up, all of us slept at 8pm. We noticed power available from 5pm to 5am daily.

Bus is K10,500 p.person
Entrance to Inle Zone - US3
Nanda Wunn Hotel, Youne Gyi Rd - US25 p.room

Toilet stop - girls on the right, boys on the left

The Shan Mountain

Day 07 (11.12.09) Inle Lake

After breakfast at hotel, we walked to the lake to take the boat tour. The one day (8am to 6pm) boat fee is K14,000 and can take in the maximum of 5 person. Places visited - market, Phaung Daw Oo Paya Monastery, Myat Pwint Chel Silk Weaving Center, Mya Hintha Silver Smith, Sae Khaung Black Smith, Nampan Cigar making shop, Kay Lar Floating Garden, Nga Phe Kyaung Jumping Cat Monastery.

Nanda Wunn Hotel - US25 a room
One day boat fee - K14,000

Out of the numerous minority hill-tribe people of Myanmar, the "Paduangs" known as the long-neck Karens are the most famous.

Harvesting weeds in the lake

Lotus thread is used to weave a special robe for the Buddha.
Add caption

Sae Khaung Black Smith

People live in simple houses of wood and woven bamboo on stilts and largely self-sufficient farmers.

at Nampan Cigar shop

View of Phaung Daw Oo Paya Monastery from our restaurant
Lunch at Ngwe Zin Yaw restaurant
Phaung Daw Oo Paya Monastery

Our 2 boat men

Floating flower and vegetable garden

At the Nga Phe Kyaung jumping cat monastery

Sunset in the lake
Day 08 (12.12.09) Inle Lake > Kalaw by bus

After breakfast, we walked to the market and visited some monastery in town. Taxi came to pick us up at 12 noon to take us to the junction at Shwe Nyaung for the 1pm local bus to Kalaw. It was a 2 hour bus ride to Kalaw and checked in at New Shine Hotel. Dinner was Nepalese food at Everest Restaurant.

New Shine Hotel, Union Highway - US24 a room

Waiting at junction of Shwe Nyaung

Kalaw is a hill town in Taunggyi District popular with the British during colonial rule.

Best Nepali food for dinner
Christmas party at hotel with children caroling
Merry Christmas to you and everybody

Day 09 (13.12.09) Kalaw > Yangon by Eastern bus

After breakfast we walked round the township visiting Shwe Umin Paya Cave Pagodas, Hnee Paya Bambo Buddha and the hill-top Thein Taung Temple before taking lunch at Sam Family Restaurant. A 12 hour overnight not so VIP bus journey to Yangon at 5.30pm from the hotel.

Sleeping - Overnight bus to Yangon

Morning sky view from hotel

Shwe Umin Paya Cave Pagodas

Entrance to Hnee Paya Bamboo Buddha

I placed gold-leaf on the Bamboo Buddha image

Betty counted 280 steps up to this Thein Taung Temple

Day 10 (14.12.09) Yangon

Arrived at Yangon bus station at 5.30am after a sleepless 12 hour bus journey from Kalaw. A van came to send us to Panorama Hotel. After checking in we walked to Chinatown to buy fruits - apple and avocado. Spend the whole afternoon sleeping.

Sleeping - Panorama Hotel, Pansodan Street @ US27 p.room

Sunrise view from Panorama hotel

Best South Indian Food for lunch at Ingyin Nwe, Bo Son Dat Rd.
Day 11 (15.12.09) Yangon - Shwedagon Pagoda

After breakfast at hotel, we walked all the way to Shwedagon Pagoda (3km) along Alan Pya Pagoda Street passing through the Yangon Central Railway Station, Park Royal Hotel. Cut in through Lancaster Rd to Shwedagon Pagoda Rd. passing by Defense Services Museum, St. Gabriel's Church, Sein Yaung Chi Pagoda and Mahawizaya Pagoda. Had lunch at Happy World Restaurant in front of the Southern Entrance. We stayed on until sunset before walking back 6.30pm.

Sleeping - Panorama Hotel, Pansodan Street @ US27 p.room
Railway Station

Sein Yaung Chi Pagoda

Mahawizaya Pagoda

Southern entrance to Shwedagon Pagoda
There are four entrances that lead up a flight of steps to the platform on Singuttara Hill. The eastern and southern approaches have vendors selling all kinds of souvenir. A pair of giant mythical lions guard the entrances.

The base of the stupa is made of bricks covered with gold plates. Above the base are terraces that only monks and men can access. Next is the bell-shaped part of the stupa. Above that is the turban and the crown. The crown or umbrella is tipped with 5,448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies. The very top, the diamond bud is tipped with a 76 carat (15g) diamond. The height from base to crown is 368ft.

The Singu Min Bell was given by Lt.J.E.Alexander in 1827

Day 12 (16.12.09) Yangon > Kuala Lumpur

This was the last day, so last minute shopping for longyi and souvenirs. Our MAS MH741 departure at 2.30pm and arrived at KLIA at 5pm.
Shopping at Yangon Airport

Total expenses for 12 days adventure inclusive of air-ticket is RM1,752-00 per person

RM   80.00  Visa
RM 605.00  return Air ticket

US209.00  Hotel & transport booking
US  50.00  Food
US  10.00  Entrance to Bagan Zone
US  03.00  Entrance to Inle Zone
US  05.00  Entrance to Shwedagon Pagoda
US  10.00  Airport tax
US  27.00  Extra day hotel
US 314.00  x 3.40 = RM 1,067 + RM 685 = RM 1,752-00



  1. Yeap Guan Leng28 January, 2010

    Ching, you never run out of places to go...what a good life in retirement! Yeap Guan Leng

  2. Ong Ming Teck28 January, 2010

    Dear Mr Ching
    Very beautiful pictures indeed and some can also be submitted for the Grammy Awards.

    I have been to Yangon in 1995 for work under Public Bank then and the places are really fantastic now. Thank you and best regards.

    P/S I have been to Mondul Kiri which is about 500 km east of Phnom Penh last month and intend to travel to Koh Kong which is about 270 km west of Phnom Penh which is close to Thailand this weekend which is a holiday for all banks (Sat to Mon).

  3. hey why don't you refer to this country by its real name, Burma?

  4. Richard Tan29 January, 2010

    Hi Ching,
    I have stayed in the same hotel Yangon - Panorama. Good shots.
    Richard Tan

  5. Simply a mystical country~thanks for your kind sharing. My wish is to join u & your group for sightseeing tour one day. May u continue to visit more interesting places and
    share with us your journey.

  6. Professor Dr. Tin Tun30 January, 2010

    Dear Ching,
    Thanks for sending pics of your adventure in Myanmar. Please come visit next time. There are many more exciting places still to be visited in Myanmar. Such as East eg. Shan State , North Myikyina and West Rakhine State etc.... Meet and talk to the people there.
    Dr. Tin Tun

  7. Hi,
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and photos of your trip to Myanmar. I'm looking forward to backpacking in Myanmar one day.
    You may visit my blog http://mymountainadventures.blogspot.com.

  8. Ching ,

    Thks for sharing . Wished could hv followed ur group . Supposed to visit Rangon way back in 1969 for SEAP Games but gave it the pass becos of exams .
    A fantastic place to visit is the Galapagos lslands , Ecuador .

  9. Great photography, I enjoy viewing - what is on the card for 2010. Thanks Bob Lim

  10. Chin,

    I will not go to a country which is not democractic to people even though the place is nice and beautiful.

    thanks for sharing your experience with me.

  11. Dear Ching,
    I'm very impressed with your file keeping on all your adventures and the detailed reporting of all your trips. Helen(our Philippines financial controller) has definitely picked up your file keeping. I'm sure many who have joined you on your trips will want do the same.

    A brief intro, a family childhood friend; Katherine BK Chan. She is also impressed with your detailed reporting of your Myanmar trip and she wouldn't mind getting emails from you and keeping her in the loop with your future up coming trips.

    Good night my friend and thanks for the many interesting emails you send me.
    Song Poh.

  12. Dear Ching,

    Mingalarbar! Greetings from Myanmar Tourex Travel - Yangon!

    Thanks for the link & sharing your Fascinating Myanmar Trip. We are very happy to know that your group have great trip in Myanmar. This website will let more people know Myanmar, we will send the link to some of our clients who are interested and prepare to visit Myanmar.

    Once again, Myanmar still have more place to visit hope to service you again soon.

    Please do not hesitate to contact us for any further information or more assistance you may need.


  13. hi.. just dropping by here... have a nice day! http://kantahanan.blogspot.com/

  14. Hi,
    Sure you all have a enjoyable trip. Great pictures and documentaries. Live life to the fullest. Cheers

  15. Ching..you organise the most interesting backpacking tours - wish could join u guys, perhaps next time :)
    Warm Regards,
    Calvin Yeoh

  16. Ramakrishna Ramachandran06 February, 2010

    Mr. Ching,
    That was great.
    See all your Mails.
    Send Regards to Mr. Allen.
    Best Regards.
    Rama, OBA

  17. Teoh Hock Lim06 February, 2010

    Hi Ching
    So enthusiastic to read your journeys...............Will definitely get involve when I'm done with working.......if there are still slots left for me hahaha
    Take care

    Hock Lim
    Public Bank

  18. Tong Chai Huat10 February, 2010

    Thanks for all the info you send me without which I will not be well informed. Your info on Dengue very good. I use it on myself last year when dengue strike me. Cured by papaya leaves juice. Whenever I come about people who caught Dengue I tell them to use papaya leaves by word of mouth. Looking forward to read your blog on China trip.

  19. Kevin (PBB KPR)15 February, 2010

    Hi Mr Ching

    Its feel good just reading and looking all those photos you have posted especially after a hard day from my work. Thanks for the sharing and Wishing you and your family Gong Hee Fatt Choy. With Best Wishes & Regards Always.

  20. Phillip Tinkler17 February, 2010

    Hi Ching,
    Just back from Taiwan and finally got to see the Myanmar trip. Really fantastic photo's as usual and not at all what I expected to see. Looks like we will have to do it one day.

  21. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now. Keep it up!
    And according to this article, I totally agree with your opinion, but only this time! :)

  22. Nice fill someone in on and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you for your information.

  23. Yeoh Khiam Ghee18 March, 2010

    TQ so much for sharing. Real nice photos taken & it must be a fantastic trip.

  24. hi ching,

    thanks for introducing me to your blog.its impreessive and inspiring.


  25. Thanks for sharing. I will use the info for my travelling to Yangon on 5-13/11.
    I admire your patience in documenting all your trips & you write very well too.
    Personally, I just simply share my photos at facebook. Feel free to connect me at wongmunheng@gmail.com.
    Thx again.
    By the way, send my regards to my OBS course mates, Chew & Mohan.

  26. Oh Teik Hean19 July, 2010

    Dear Mr. Ching Neng Bin,
    My name is Oh Teik Hean and I am from Teluk Intan, Perak. I came across some of your postings on travels and adventures and am really impressed. My friends and I who are in our sixties are interested to visit Myanmar. We hope that with your vast experience, you may be able to provide us the name of a reliable and reasonable travel agency to contact. We also hope that you can give some travel tips and advice if it is not too much to ask for.
    Thank you.

  27. Hi Teik Hean,
    Glad to know that you are interested to visit Myanmar. Well, you can always follow how we traveled, i.e. get a tour co. to arrange local transport and hotel for your group. If your group is more than 5 members, you pay US209 each for the 10days arrangement. Other than transport and hotel, everything is at your own expenses.

    The tour co. is Myanmar Tourex and the email: Web: WWW.myanmartourex.com, Email: (mtourex@gmail.com)

    Do not hesitate to contact me if your have any questions. My HP 012-5053199

  28. thanks for your info i am going next year july.. need minimum how many people? i only have 3 people here can i get a price like urs.. can it be cheaper i dont mind staying in low class hotel:)

  29. IS there any minimum number of people to get this price?

  30. Ching Neng Bin18 December, 2010

    Mr Wooi, If you have the time, do it yourself by getting the local bus and the guesthouses. It would be very cheap to travel that way. My email is : ching2662@yahoo.co.uk.

  31. Thanks for sharing your detailed tour, Mr Ching.

    I came across your blog when I was googling for backpacking tours to Myanmar.

    Irene Su

  32. Veloo Balakrishnan15 March, 2011

    Thanks Ching. Wow!..........real impressive. The way you presented the trip is so informative. Anyway, there are 3 in the group. We will be arriving in Burma on 10/4 morning and flying back on 19/4 morning. We have exactly 8 full days in Burma. Since small group, is it better to do it on our own? Can you plan an itinerary for us for the 8 days? Yangon - Mandalay - Bagan was my original plan or is better to replace Mandalay with Inle? Pls advice.
    Again thanks a lot. Take care

  33. This place is mind-blowing. All the pictures are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.