Once you get your fix of the fascinating modern day melange that is Yangon, make your way North to the ancient city of Bagan, a former capital of Myanmar dating back to the second century. Here you will swap densely packed streets for expansive dirt plains littered with religious edifices numbering in the thousands - so many that it boggles the mind. The airport is outside of town, but make your way directly to the Heritage Bagan Hotel - only 5 minutes outside of the heritage sites. There are other hotels closer to the main sites, but Heritage Bagan is tastefully built (recently, we were some of their first guests in 2017) and designed and shockingly affordable for what it is - incredible value.
For your first day, book a full day bike and boat cruise tour with Grasshopper Bike Tours and spend your first day getting the lay of the land by bike. Starting early in the morning, you can watch the sun rise as you meander dozens of significant stupas and gu’s dotting the landscape. Lunch is simple and in the afternoon you will make your way onto a basic but entertaining sunset cruise on the Irrawaddy. Not to be missed.
The next morning you need to find a spot on one of the higher temples at the crack of dawn to enjoy the sunrise, or better yet book a hot air balloon ride to take in the entire landscape. The remainder of your second day should be spent either on a half day bike tours to see new temples, or lounging by the pool at Heritage and mapping out your next day. There is a decent market at Nyaung Nu for trinkets and gifts.
Black Bamboo - solid and casual meal with a variety of options.
La Terrazza - tired of salads and nan gyi thoke? Head here for excellent pasta and Chianti.
Heritage Bagan Hotel - Absolute best value for money, with an excellent pool and spa. Restaurant is lovely and the staff are excellent.
Pomelo - Outpost of the Yangon location, great gifts from artisans here that support a good cause.
Nyaung Nu Market - really dive into the market stalls, and see what goods you can find. For every tenth stall, you may find a gem.