Myanmar: A Burmese Adventure
Our Itineraries are provided as a preview of what to expect on our tours. Please, note, that itineraries are subject to change.
Mingalabar and welcome to Myanmar! The former capital Yangon, also known as Rangoon, remains Myanmar largest city and continues to be the country's most important commercial hub and gateway for most of its international visitors. Its colonial background and religious legacy make it one of the most mesmerizing and genuine places in all of Southeast Asia. Upon arrival at the airport, you will be warmly welcomed and accompanied to your hotel for check in (check in possible from 2 pm. Subject to availability). Visit Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, which is home to a 72 meter long reclining Buddha statue that features detailed carvings on his feet. Afterwards, you continue through town in order to make a quick stop by the Royal Lake located in Kandawgyi Park which is very popular with local residents, especially in the early morning and around sunset. Catch a view of Karaweik Hall, a reproduction of a royal barge and enjoy a spectacular view of the Golden Shwedagon Pagoda. No Myanmar expedition can be considered truly great if it’s lacking a visit to the legendary Shwedagon Pagoda. Ready for an amazing experience? The visual delights present there alone, are worth the trip. Witness the colors transform on the 100-meter chedi which is literally enclosed in over 40 tons of gold leaf. You will start at the eastern staircase where you will find a row of shops at the base of the temple selling various religious items. Here you will find monks robes, alms bowls, offerings, incense and other unique Buddhist objects. As you browse the stalls your guide will explain the use and rituals of Myanmar’s Buddhist people. Shwedagon is largely considered to be the most important religious site for the Burmese; most visitors report that the trip is extremely memorable and still etched into their minds. After sunset head on to Mahabandoola for a change of scenery. Check out the busy night market surrounded by the colonial building. Munch on some of the tastiest street snacks and mingle with the friendly Yangonites as you enjoy the lively atmosphere. Lunch and Dinner are on own account.
Following breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Bagan (flight not included, to be booked by agent). Welcome to Bagan, known as one of the greatest architectural sites in Asia. The majestic Bagan, about the size of Manhattan, with its more than 4,000 temples made of red bricks, is one of the highlights for each Myanmar travel and a visual treat for any holidaymaker. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel for check-in (official check-in time is 2 pm). Your first port of call is an elevated location amid the temple plains to see the fields and pagodas of Bagan. From here you will have a look at the Ananda Temple – one of the most exalted of Bagan’s temples. We will ensure that our tour reaches this point before the majority of tourist arrive, enabling you to enjoy the splendor of the temple in relative tranquility. Continue to various other temples dotted around the temple plains to experience a variety of architectural styles in the area as well as the artistic wonder of the 9-14th centuries. Traveling amid the temples you will get a taste of rural Bagan life in this ‘living museum’ setting where farmers and families work amongst the monuments. You will be driven late in the afternoon to the jetty where a private wooden river boat awaits you. Sitting either under the shade or on the open-deck you’ll be treated to fabulous views as you cruise down the Irrawaddy River. You’ll cruise past several small villages, fishermen, local boats and of course many of the ubiquitous Myanmar Buddhist temples. The views of Bagan from the river are particularly spectacular and offer a different perspective from the land-based tours. As you finish your delicious and refreshing cocktail and the sun begins to sink slowly from view, you will prepare to disembark before being driven back, greatly relaxed, to your hotel for the evening. The perfect end to a busy day of sightseeing in Bagan! Lunch and Dinner are on own account
Breakfast hotel. Today, there is an optional excursion: Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Bagan. The morning will start off with an exciting hot-air balloon ride above the Bagan countryside. You will observe one-of-a-kind views when the sun begins to rise over the Irrawaddy River and various stupas in the region. You’re simply not going to find many other opportunities like this on Earth. (Only available from October/November through March) After breakfast at your hotel, your guide and driver will pick you up to start your Bagan excursion. It’s off to the vibrant Nyaung Oo Market, where the locals come to trade fresh produce and other goods daily. From here you will start with a visit to the renowned Shwezigon Pagoda, constructed by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century as a religious memorial. Travel over dusty lanes and tree-shaded roads past temples and monasteries to a small village. Explore the village on foot, getting a glimpse of local lifestyles of Bagan’s residents. Continue to more lesser-known monuments, selected based on your interest, in the area for the remainder of the morning. If you wish, a short walk can be arranged through a series of smaller monuments which allows for a unique perspective of Bagan. From here you will journey on by horse cart for an excursion that passes Thatbyinnyu, the tallest temple in Bagan and the gigantic Dhammayangyi Temple noted for its remarkable brickwork, among others. Take pleasure in an extraordinary sunset from the upper terrace of one of the surrounding temples.
Transfer to the airport for the flight to Heho (flight not included, to be booked by agent). From Heho, you will experience a lovely scenic one-hour drive (32km – 1 hour) which leads to Nyaung Shwe, gateway village to Inle Lake. Along the way, you will have an opportunity to visit rural workshops that specialize in traditional Shan paper and unique handcrafted umbrellas. Upon reaching the edge of the lake, take a short orientation tour of Nyaung Shwe, a small town of narrow streets dotted with temples, monasteries, tea shops and local houses. Then you will board a private motorboat and begin heading out onto Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular and breathtaking sights. Its calm waters are dotted with floating vegetation and fishing canoes, to which scenic hills provide the perfect backdrop. Along the way, you will pass several villages that are built on stilts over the lake, which are inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the daily activities of the local leg-rowing fishermen and see their ‘floating gardens’, which are built up from strips of water hyacinth, earth and anchored to the bottom of the lake with bamboo poles. You will also visit Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, which houses loads of early Shan Buddha Images. In the past this temple was known for its ‘jumping cats’ but these days there are only a few felines roaming around and none are jumping anymore. Yet the Buddha images are still worth the visit. Proceed to the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main haven, which contains five sacred images of Buddha decorated in gold leaf. There are also many traditional crafts originating on Inle Lake and, should you wish, we can stop for a visit to one making incredible woven items from lotus silk, boat builders (depending on the time of year), a cigar making workshop, blacksmiths or even silversmiths. The day will come to a close with a return trip by boat back to your hotel.
After breakfast, you’ll pay a visit to the lake’s morning market (the market is open every day apart from the dark moon and full moon calendar days). The market’s location rotates between the lake’s villages in a 5-day schedule and is also visited daily by the lake’s inhabitants as well as the surrounding natives who also come to sell and trade their wares. A 1-hour boat ride down a small canal will take you to the Pa-Oh village of Indein, positioned on the western shores of Inle Lake. Take a leisurely stroll around the village before ascending to the top of a hill. Once you’ve arrived at the summit, you will be greeted by an iconic Buddha image which sits enshrined among hundreds of stupa ruins and overgrown shrubbery. The Indein Pagoda complex is undoubtedly one of the most amazing sites around the shore of the lake and it consists of hundreds of small stupas which are overrun by moss and greenery. As an exciting day comes to close transfer back to your hotel for some well-deserved relaxation.
Enjoy your last boat ride from your hotel on the lake to Nyaung Shwe. From Nyaung Shwe you’ll be transferred Heho Airport for your domestic flight to Mandalay (flight not included, to be booked by agent). You will depart from Mandalay first thing for a picturesque two-hour drive (76 km) to the past British hill post of Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo), which is positioned on a plateau resting at around 1,000m above sea level. Various remnants of the colonial period are still in attendance in Pyin Oo Lwin. In 1896 The British colonial establishment decided to turn the locale into a hill post, christening it “Maymyo” after Colonel James May who was a well-known soldier stationed there. The railway system traveling from Mandalay turned Maymyo into a nice summer spot. The Pyin Oo Lwin of today is a sanctuary for numerous tribal groups in addition to some Nepalese or Hindus that immigrated throughout the British occupation. Take pleasure in a traditional horse and carriage outing around town. Admire the brick and timber houses, complete with English style gables, turrets, and chimneys and feel like you are taken back in time. You should also go to the local market to gaze at the various flowers and vegetables they have there. Check out the Botanical Gardens sporting around 432 acres of space and habitat to a varied blend of plant species from around the globe. The Gardens were launched by Sir Harcourt Butler, a previous superintendent of Burma.
Following breakfast, transfer to the train station for an enchanting 4-hour train journey on the Mandalay-Lashio train passing by villages and railway bazaars that float by the carriage windows in a timeless fashion. The history of this particular train is tied to the black market trade with China. Along the way, you will encounter many rich and enticing photo opportunities. The train also traverses the renowned Gokteik Bridge, which was built in the 1900s by the well-known Pennsylvania Steel Company when Burma was part of India. Take notice of the impressive height of the bridge; around 300 meters from the track to the valley floor. The train should arrive around 12:00 in Naung Pen where you will disembark and transfer by car to Mandalay. Picnic lunch on the train.
Breakfast. Walk up to Mandalay Hill, rising 240 meters above the city. At the top, the reward is a full panoramic view, the hazy blue outline of the Shan Hills to the east, the Mandalay Palace (and the city sprawl) to the south and the Irrawaddy River to the west. Directly south of Mandalay Hill stands the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, known as the pagoda of the Great Marble Image. Admire the huge Buddha, carved from a single block of marble. It’s said that the colossal marble block took 10,000 men almost two weeks to transport it from the riverside to its current location. Proceed to Kuthodaw Pagoda, frequently dubbed as “The World’s Biggest Book” for its collection of 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. Then it’s off to the Shwenandaw Monastery, the Golden Monastery which is the only enduring structure from the Royal Palace of the 19th century. This impressive structure is celebrated for its remarkable woodcarvings. Your Mandalay guided tour continues this afternoon with a visit to the Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda houses one of the country’s most honored Buddha images, completely covered in gold leaves that are every day applied to the statue by male devotees. There are also many craft workshops in Mandalay and, should you wish, we can stop for a visit to one making gold leaf, tapestries, wood carvings or marionettes if you are interested and if time allows. Next drive to Amarapura, Myanmar’s penultimate royal capital. Amarapura means “City of Immortality”, though its period as capital was relatively brief. You will start Mahagandayon monastery, home to more than a thousand young monks and renowned as a center for monastic study and strict religious discipline. Continue on foot or by bus a short distance to the legendary U Bein Bridge, which was built in 1782 when Amarapura was the Royal center of attention. It spans 1.2 km across the shallow Taungthaman Lake and is said to be the longest teakwood bridge worldwide. Enjoy this very special atmosphere as the late afternoon sun casts long shadows and illuminates the local people heading home. As a stunning day comes to an end head back to Mandalay for the night.
Breakfast. Transfer to the airport of Mandalay for your flight to Yangon (flight not included, to be booked by agent). Upon arrival at Yangon airport, set off for a pleasant drive to Kyaikhtiyo (190 km, 5 hours), home to one of Myanmar's most well-known landmarks. Renowned for its unstable location and religious significance, the 'Golden Rock' is a massive boulder covered entirely in gold leaf and precariously balanced right on the edge of a jagged cliff. On the way, you will pass the Allied War memorial park near Htauk Kyan, the final resting place for over 27,000 Allied soldiers where you can make a brief stop. Upon arrival in Kin Pun, a small town at the foot of the mountain, switch vehicles to a public local truck for a winding, exhilarating ride the top of the mountain. If you wish, you can get off at the half-way point (45-minute drive – truck stop “Yeataetaung”) and continue on foot all the way up. A challenging – yet rewarding – paths to the summit (4 km – around 45 min). Arriving at the Golden Rock you’ll be awe-struck by the gleaming Golden Rock and the views that surround it. The pagoda here is said to hold a hair of the Buddha and many Buddhists from all over Southeast Asia come here to worship. Watch as the sun sets overtop of Kyaikhtiyo - a magical sight- and then return to your hotel for the evening.
Breakfast. In you wish to pay an early visit to the sacred place at sunrise, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Golden Rock again to soak in its atmosphere, especially when the glinting boulder is bathed in the purple, sometimes misty light of dawn. Afterwards, you’ll drive or trek down to the base camp by the same route and return to Yangon. On the return, stop in Bago to stretch your legs and explore this former capital of the Mon kingdom. Browse through the colorful local market where vendors sell flowers, produce and spices. Your exploration of Bago will continue to the thousand-year-old Shwemawdaw Pagoda which features a spire taller than the one of Shwedagon Pagoda. And then carry on your sightseeing tour to the 55-meter long Shwe Tha Lyaung Buddha, which is recognized as one of the country's most extraordinary images. You can also, should time allow, visit Hin Thar Kone Pagoda which has some interesting Nat figures and offers views over Bago from its upper platform. Once you’ve arrived back in Yangon (ca. 80 km - 1.5 hours), you’ll be dropped at your hotel. Note: The visit of Golden Rock in the early morning – at sunrise – is only available for clients staying at Mountain Top Hotel or Kyaiktho Hotel. Guests staying at Golden Rock Hotel will have to leave the hotel early and walk approximately 45 minutes up to Golden Rock if they wish to reach the top on time for sunrise as Golden Rock Hotel is not located at the top.
Breakfast. Unfortunately, it is already time to say goodbye to one of the most impressive and enchanting countries in the world. Depending on your flight schedule, you can go on your own at Bogyoke Market, better known under the name of Scott Market to stroll through the stalls filled with handicrafts and do your last minute shopping (the market is closed on Monday and during the holidays). Transfer to Yangon International Airport, check-in for flight back.
• Meet & greet upon arrival at airport
• Arrival and departure transfers
• 2 nights in Yangon at Rose Garden Hotel or similar
• 2 nights in Bagan at Amata Garden Bagan Hotel or similar
• 2 nights in Inle Lake at Amata Garden Resort or similar
• 1 night in Pyin Oo Lwin at Aureum at Governor House Hotel or similar
• 1 night in Golden Rock at Mountain Top Hotel or similar
• 2 nights in Mandalay at Eastern Palace Hotel or similar
• 11 meals: 10 breakfasts and 1 lunch
• Visit Yangon with its unique Shwedagon Pagoda
• Visit Bagan’s temples
• Private wooden river boat down Irrawaddy River
• Visit rural workshops specialized in Shan paper and handcrafted umbrellas
• Orientation tour of Nyaung Shwe
• Visit the 5-Day Morning Market on Inle Lake to discover ethnic minorities in the area
• Arts and culture tour in Mandalay and handicraft workshops
• Sunset watch from the world‘s longest teak U Bein bridge in Amarapura
• Sunset boat ride with cocktails on the Irrawaddy River in Bagan
• Colonial town visit – Pyin Oo Lwin and its famous botanical garden
• Local train ride via the famous Gokteik viaduct
• Visit the famous religious site – Golden Rock
• English-speaking guides
• Entrance fees for the visits as mentioned in the itinerary (except camera fees)
• 2 water bottles per day and towels
• Domestic flight:Yangon-Bagan
• Domestic flight: Bagan-Heho
• Domestic flight: Heho-Mandalay
• Domestic flight: Mandalay-Yangon
• Optional activities
• Dinner transfers (payable to local drivers)
Useful info about our trips