Mandalay Itinerary (6 days): Mingun, Amarapura, Sagaing, Innwa

Six days backpacking in Mandalay, Hsipaw, and the ancient cities of Upper Myanmar: Amarapura, Sagaing, Innwa, and Mingun.

Just the thought of visiting a place called Mandalay already got me excited, the name seemed so exotic. There were a lot of places to visit in and around Mandalay that kept me busy for six days.

I spent my first day cycling around the main tourist spots at Mandalay city center, and then took off the next day for an overnight railway adventure to Hsipaw. When I came back, I spent two more days wandering around the ancient cities of Mingun, Amarapura, Sagaing, and Innwa.

Mandalay Itinerary

Destinations Details
  • Bagan
  • Bagan to Mandalay Bus
Day 1
  • Mandalay
  • Mandalay Bus Terminal to Mandalay City Center
  • Mandalay Hostel Check-in
Day 2
  • Mandalay
  • Mandalay Bicycle Tour
  • Mandalay Hill
Day 3
  • Hsipaw
  • Mandalay to Hsipaw Train
  • Hsipaw Village
Day 4
  • Hsipaw
  • Hsipaw Morning Market
  • Hsipaw to Mandalay
Day 5
  • Mandalay
  • Mandalay to Mingun Boat
  • Mingun Walking Tour
  • Mingin to Mandalay Boat
  • Mandalay Bicycle Tour
Day 6
  • Greater Mandalay
  • Amarapura U-bein bridge
  • Sagaing Hills
  • Innwa (Ava)
  • Sunset at U-bein bridge
  • Mandalay City Center Tour
  • Mandalay to Yangon Bus




  • Four days on horse cart tours of the ancient temples and pagodas of Bagan, and an excursion to Mount Popa Temple. The town was blessed with one of the most amazing sunrise and sunset views in all of South East Asia.

Day 1

Night bus to Mandalay


  • Moto = motorycle and driver for hire
  • Trishaw = three wheeled cycle rickshaw / pedicab
  • K = Myanmar kyat (MMK)


  • Make reservation and pay for bus tickets from hostel in Bagan – K15,000
  • Request staff to make reservation for hostel in Mandalay
    • Very important to do on your entire stay in Myanmar since accommodation options are limited and they tend to be always fully booked.

Bagan to Mandalay Bus

  • 3:45pm – Free pick-up transfer from hostel to new bus station in Nyaung-U
  • Meal at New Bagan bus station
    • Chicken curry and rice
  • 4pm – Departure from Bagan
  • 4pm to 11pm – Bagan to Mandalay aircon bus (7 hours)
    • 1 dinner stop
  • 11pm – Arrival at Mandalay bus terminal

Mandalay Bus Terminal to Mandalay City Center

  • Ride shared pick-up truck to city center (10 minutes) – K3,000 per person

Hostel in Mandalay

  • Check-in at Royal Guest House (No. 41 25th Street; phone: 0265697)
    • Aircon room with twin beds (Free breakfast and private TB) – US$20 per night
      • Shared room with another solo backpacker
    • Rooms were clean, spacious, and they had a place in the rooftop to hangout. Lots of good eating options nearby.

Sleep: Royal Guest House
Day expenses: US$10; K20,000 (estimate)

Day 2

  • 10:20am – Brunch at side street stall (cor of 84th and 25th steets)
    • Chicken with rice – K800
  • 12:30nn – Rent bicycle at shop across the street from Royal Guest House (25th street)
    • Bike rental – K1,500 (whole day)

Mandalay Bicycle Tour

  • 1:00pm – Mandalay train station
  • 1:15pm – Moat and fortress wall surrounding the Mandalay Royal Palace
    • Buy Mandalay to Hsipaw train ticket – US$8 (first class cabin)
  • 2:15pm – Mandalay Royal Palace
    • Tourist entrance was located at the east gate.
    • Pay Mandalay Archaeological Zone admission fee – US$10 per person
      • Valid for one week (7 days)
      • Includes admission to tourist sites around Mandalay, Sagaing, Amarapura and Inwa. I was not asked to show the ticket elsewhere.
  • 4:10pm – Mandalay Hill
    • Walk from the base of Mandalay Hill to the Sutaungpyei Pagoda temple at the summit (1 hour)
    • 5:30pm – Sunset at Sutaungpyei Pagoda temple
  • 7:45pm – Dinner at Smile All 81 (81st street near corner 23rd st.)
    • Meals from K2,000  (large servings good for two)
    • Delicious food and friendly staff

Sleep: Royal Guest House
Day expenses: US$18; K7,000 (estimate)

Day 3 to 4

Hsipaw train journey

Continued at:

  • Two days on a train ride to Hsipaw, regarded as one of the World's best railway journeys, and an experience of local life in the countrysides of Shan State in Northern Myanmar (Upper Burma).

Day 4

Back in Mandalay

  • 5:30pm – Arrival at Mandalay Bus Terminal
  • Dinner at Mandalay  Bus Terminal
    • Fried rice with chicken (K1,500) + 1L bottled water (K300) – K1,800
  • Ride moto to Mandalay city center – K2,000
    • Haggled from K3,000
  • Check-in at Royal Guesthouse
    • Stayed at same room
  • Wifi internet at NetCom (23rd street, a few doors away from Royal Guest House) – K500
  • Eat at Happy All Mr. Bar @ 81 st. – K3,000
    • Chicken Marlar curry – K2,000
    • Lime jiuce – K1,000
  • Exchange US$ to Kyats at travel agency near Royal Guest House (23rd st.)
    • Exchange rate- US$1 = K800

Sleep: Royal Guest House
Day Expenses: US$10; K14,600

Day 5

  • Wake-up. Free breakfast at Royal GH
  • Transfer to single fan room (shared TB) – US$9 per night

Mingun day tour

  • Trishaw ride to Mayan Gyan Jetty (for Mingun ferries) at end of 26th street – K1,000
  • Buy Mandalay to Mingun ferry ticket – K5,000 (roundtrip)
  • 9:00am – Departure from Mandalay
  • 9:00am to 10:20am – Mandalay to Mingun Ferry (1 hour and 20 minutes)
  • 10:20am – Arrival in Mingun
    • Was not asked to pay Mingun-Sagaing Archaeological Zone admission ticket
  • Mingun Walking Tour
    • Settawa Paya (Pagoda) at ferry landing
    • 10:25am – Giant Elephant statues
    • 11:05am – Hsinbyume Pagoda
    • 11:50am – Mingun Bell
    • 12:00nn – Mingun Pagoda
    • Lunch at side street stall
      • Chicken “adobo” with rice – K1,500
  • 1pm – Departure from Mingun
  • 1pm to 1:30pm – Mingun to Mandalay Ferry (30 minutes)
  • 1:30pm – Arrival in Mandalay
  • Pass by flower market and themed childrens park
  • Moto from Mingun jetty to Royal Guest House – K1,000

Bicycle tour to Buddha and Shwe In Bin monastery

  • Bike rental – K700 (half-day rental)
    • Asked for a discount since I was renting the bike for only a few hours
  • 3:45pm – State Pariyatti Sasana University
    • Got lost cycling around Mandalay. Went inside a monk school, where a monk befriended me and showed me the way to Shwe In Bin.
  • 4:00pm – Shwe In Bin (wooden teak) monastery
  • 4:40pm – Maha Myat Muni Paya
  • Internet at Netcom- K1,500
  • Dinner at cheap place across the road
    • Fried rice + chicken – K1,500

Sleep: Royal Guest House
Day Expenses: US$8; K14,200 (estimate)

Day 6

  • 7:15am – free breakfast
  • Buy Mandalay to Yangon bus ticket at travel agency near Royal Guest House – K10,400

Ancient cities of Upper Myanmar tour

  • Ride moto from Royal Guest House to roadside pick-up station along 29th street (less than 3 minutes) – K1,000
Amarapura: U-bein bridge
  • Pick-up truck ride from Mandalay to Amarapura (15 minutes) – K200
    • Told driver and conductor to drop me off near the U-bein bridge
  • 8:35am – Arrival in AmarapuraWalk to U-bein bridge (20 minutes to foot of bridge from main road)
    • Dropped off along the main road. U-bein bridge was still a long walk away.
  • Explored a small part of the bridge, planned to come back in the late afternoon and walk the entire length.
  • 9:55am – Walk back to main road
    • Was not asked to pay admission fee
Sagaing Hills
  • Pick-up truck to Sagaing town center (15 minutes) – K300
    • Dropped off at the foot of the Ava (steel) Bridge
  • Sagaing Hills moto tour – K3,000 round trip from Ava Bridge and back
    • 10:33am – Pon Nya Shin Pagoda – K300 camera fee
    • 11:05am – U Min Thonze Pagoda
    • 11:25am – Thidagu World Buddhist University
    • 11:51am – Kaung Mu Taw Pagoda
      • Moto driver requested additional K2,000 to take me to Kaung Mu Taw Pagoda
Innwa (Ava)
  • Moto to Innwa then Amarapura – Additional K2,000
    • Total moto hire from Ava bridge to and around Sagaing Hills, Kaung Mu Taw Pagoda, to and around Innwa, then drop off at Amarapura – K7,000
  • Innwa moto tour
    • 1:00pm – Mahar Aungmyebonsan Monastery
    • Lunch outside innwa monastery
      • Fried egg with rice – K1,000
      • Coffee – K200
    • 1:57pm – Lawka Tharahpu Pagoda
Sunset at U-bein bridge
  • 2:47pm – Arrival at U-bein Bridge
  • 4:30pm – Ride pick-up truck from Amarapura to Mandalay – K300

Mandalay tour continuation

  • Ride moto to base of Mandalay Hill – K1,500
  • Walk around sites near foot of Mandalay Hill
    • 5:20pm – Kyauktawgyi Pagoda
    • 5:38pm – Sandamuni Pagoda
    • 6:00pm – Atumashi Monastery
    • 6:05pm – Shwe Kyaung Monastery
    • 6:10pm – Dusk at Mandalay moat
  • Moto to Smile All 81 restaurant – K1,500
  • Dinner at Smile All 81
    • Pork with veggies, rice, cola – K3,100
  • Internet at netcom – K1,000
  • Check-out at Royal Guest House

Mandalay to Yangon night bus

  • Ride Moto to Mandalay bus terminal – K3,000
  • 9pm – Departure from Mandalay
  • 9pm to 7am – Mandalay to Yangon Bus (10 hours)
    • 1 dinner stop and multiple bathroom stops
    • Seats only; No sleeper beds.

Sleep: Bus
Day expenses: K34,500


  • Two days on a train ride to Hsipaw, regarded as one of the World's best railway journeys, and an experience of local life in the countrysides of Shan State in Northern Myanmar (Upper Burma).

Budget and Expenses

Total expenses: US$162 (estimate)

  • US$52 + K94,300 (US$110)

Daily budget estimate: US$32 per day

Date of travel: October 2012

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About the Author

Marcos Detourist, founder of Detourista Notes, is an off beat explorer who loves to capture and share beautiful places in Asia. You can find my travel itineraries and photos here and on my main blog,

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