Myanmar Day 1 : Arriving in Yangon, Feel Restaurant and the VIP Night Bus from Yangon to Bagan
Part of me wanted to extend the flight time when the captain announced that we were arriving in a few minutes. I was already feeling comfortable in my seat in 40A but as per the captain’s instruction, I prepared for the landing.
I opened my window shade and got the first sight of Myanmar from 40 thousand feet above the ground.
I was no longer at my best – tired, sleepy, hungry and sleepy – and feeling bloated.
When we arrived at the Yangon International Airport, all the incoming travelers seemed to be at lost at what kind of immigration card to fill out. There is none available in the desk. Arrival Card is being handed out by the lady in blue uniform. It took us minutes to pass through immigration but it was a smooth entry as Filipinos need no visa to enter Myanmar.
We were welcomed by men in Longyi skirt offering services from taxi, FOREX and tours. The least I wanted was to get scammed on my first day in Myanmar.
FOREX: Exchanging Dollars to Myanmar Kyats
We decided to check the FOREX rates and exchanged US dollars to Myanmar currency. We checked around for good rates. I always bring USD whenever I travel but for Myanmar, they are very particular with how crisp (or not) the bills are.
Getting a Local SIM Card in Myanmar
We also got a local SIM (instead of roaming) so we can get connected to the internet everywhere we go. We paid 10,500 kyats (roughly Php 383.927 or USD $ 7.6) for 2.5 GB data for 5 days + call credits (which I haven’t consumed). It is the best deal!
Going Around Yangon – there’s UBER and Grab in Myanmar!
After getting the essentials, it was time to get to the hotel. I did a quick check on how far the Novotel Yangon Max from the airport – a quick 25-minute drive per Waze. As we are not aware how much the taxi cabs would charge us, we decided to ask the Tourism Desk at the airport (men in Longyi still following us and offering their services).
The very helpful lady said that it would cost us not higher than 10,000 kyats. But she said that we can also take Uber or Grab. I was over the moon when I heard it! That would save us from the painful scene of negotiating with drivers who speak a different language.
I got an Uber car and we waited at platform 8 of the Arrival Area. I was expecting a private car but what arrived was a normal cab (with an Uber sticker) 😀 It appeared that in Myanmar, Uber partnered with taxi service. Not complaining. The best ride when you are feeling low in energy 😀
We arrived in Novotel Yangon Max in less than 30 minutes!
Read my review of Novotel Yangon Max
Novotel Yangon Max is the hotel that you would want to retire in after an exhausting flight.
The Feel Restaurant, Yangon Myanmar
We settled for a while and had lunch at Feel Restaurant. It was recommended by the staff in Novotel Yangon Max and we had to go. They said that it was visited by Anthony Bourdain (now, also visited by Ruth dela Cruz and Ana Gonzales) :p
The restaurant setup was not intimidating at all – more like the local karinderia in Manila. I asked what’s their best seller and they offered me the Beef Curry. I am not really a fan of Curry but I had to try. It was unbelievably good!
The best part about our first Myanmar Food Experience was – we got a lot of complimentary dishes along with our orders. Ana and I just looked at each other in disbelief as plates of veggies, soup and desserts were served in our table.
We paid a total of 12,600 kyats (roughly Php 470) for full meal.
We went back to the hotel and got invited for a quick hotel tour and wine night.
VIP Bus from Yangon to Bagan | Bagan Min Thar VIP Express
We packed our luggage just in time for our night bus schedule to Bagan. Novotel Yangon Max arranged the tickets for us and we left the hotel at 7:30 (for 1-hour drive to the bus station).
When we arrived at the bus station, they checked our tickets and lodge our bags. We got our seats in row F where Ana and I sat together. We noticed that most of the passengers we were with are from European countries – mostly backpackers.
It was my first time to take a night bus. Ana said that she had taken more comfortable buses in Korea. It didn’t help that the couple in front of us fully reclined their seats giving us smaller space to breathe and relax our legs.
The VIP Night Bus from Yangon to Bagan is fully air-conditioned and offers reclining seats, blanket, neck pillow and snacks. I was relieved when I saw there is a toilet inside the bus 😀 Bagan Min Thar VIP Express Yangon to Bagan costs 18,500 kyats (Php 690). A better alternative than flying which would also save you one night accommodation.
I was looking forward to sleeping the entire trip – and sleeping I did. At times I would wake up and check the view outside – all trees and greens passing at the speed of the night bus. I could feel my bladder but I didn’t bother to get up (not even during a stopover). I am getting better at muscle control 😀
We woke up to the announcement of the conductor announcing arrival in a certain hotel. It appeared that they can drop off passengers along the way. Unfortunately, we missed our hotel stop and the bus was heading farther …
… to be continued.