Myanmar is still the undiscovered ‘Pearl of Southeast Asia’. This is because the predominantly Buddhist country was isolated for years and shunned by many travelers. You can still taste the atmosphere of yesteryear! The population is affectionate; curious monks and other Burmese will enjoy the chance to exercise their English with you. Visit ancient royal cities around Mandalay and Bagan with its magnificent ancient temples and palaces. Stroll through hills and rice fields, visit markets, witness minorities in national costumes and go sailing on the rustic Inle Lake. Come to Myanmar now before the country is discovered by mass tourism!
Day 1: Yangon
Day 2: Yangon – Mandalay
Day 3: Mandalay – Mingun And Mandalay Visits
Day 4: Mandalay – Visit Ancient Cities – Mandalay
Day 5: Mandalay – Bagan
Day 6 & 7: Bagan
Day 8: Bagan – Mount Popa – Kalaw
Day 9: Trekking To Palaung Village
Day 10: Kalaw – Pindaya – Inle Lake
Day 11 & 12: Inle Lake
Day 13: Inle Lake – Heho Flight To Yangon
Day 14: Yangon
DAY 1: YANGON
Welcome to Myanmar! Your tour begins in Yangon, where you can check in to your hotel room from check in time 12 pm at noon on Day 1. Your travel companions will also arrive today, the exact time will be depending on their flight schedule. You will meet your English speaking tour leader at 12 pm noon on Day 1 in the lobby of your hotel in Yangon and will have the rest of the day to get acquainted with your new surroundings.
DAY 3: MANDALAY – MINGUN AND MANDALAY VISITS
After arriving into busy Mandalay and transferring to your hotel, you will have free time to explore. Mandalay is a city full of life, with much to see. The cityscape is dominated by Mandalay Hill (230 meters), especially pleasant at sunset. In the East, from the hill you have a view overlooking the Shan mountains. To the South is the center of Mandalay. In the West you look out over the Ayeyarwady River. The Mandalay Palace lies close to the city center and is also worth a visit. The palace is only accessible to tourists by one of the four sides (Eastern gate)Mingun is another noteworthy trip from Mandalay, especially in the rainy season when it is very picturesque. A boat trip on the Ayeyarwady takes you by semi-submerged villages and simple fishing boats with colorful sails in all shapes and sizes. Once in Mingun, you will find the remains of the Mingun pagoda.
The most important religious building in Mandalay is the Mahamuni Pagoda. The Mahamuni Buddha is visited by pilgrims from around the world. It is 3.8 m high and covered with several inches of gold leaf. In the South of the city you will find the bustling neighborhood artists: sculptors, wood carvers, gold leaf makers, silk and cotton weavers, copper and silversmiths.
DAY 5: MANDALAY – BAGAN
Today we travel by public air-conditioned express bus to the ancient city of Bagan. In its’ heyday, Bagan was a sprawling city with thousands of temples, pagodas and ruins of pagodas, which will still get your imagination going! Bagan was founded in 848 as a walled city. It developed in a glorious and mighty manor under the great king Anawratha. There were huge temple complexes built of gleaming white stone, brick and dark hardwood. In many of the temples beautiful murals can be found. The King conquered the land of the Mon in the south and took the royal family back with him, but also artists, craftsmen and Theravada Buddhism. The combination resulted in an unprecedented construction of pagodas, a habit that later kings continued. Due to the dry climate, a great many of these ancient buildings remain in good condition.
DAY 8: BAGAN – MOUNT POPA – KALAW
We continue today with a private bus venturing east to Kalaw. Along the way you will visit Mount Popa. On this striking rock there is a monastery and some pagodas. These are the houses of the nats, the ‘spirits’. There are 37 nats that the Buddhists should regularly consult and to whom they offer sacrifices. Mount Popa is where the Mahagiri nat resides and kings from all over central Burma would come to consult with Mahagiri. There is a 777 strong staircase if you should choose to climb up. Superstition forbids wearing red or black or green dress otherwise you risk upsetting the spirits! At the beginning of the evening you arrive in Kalaw, formerly a popular British ‘Hill Station’. You will find beautiful British colonial houses, pagodas, monasteries, churches, mosques and temples.
DAY 9: TREKKING TO PALAUNG VILLAGE
In the hills around Kalaw there live various hill tribes, each with their own language, dress and culture. With any luck you will see the special, rotating, colorful market, here every five days but never on a fixed weekday. It could also be that you find a similar market in Pindaya or Inle Lake, but that remains to be seen!
Accompanied by a local guide, you will head off for a walk to a Palaung village (included in your tour price). The Palaung women wear colorful blue and red clothes. In the villages you draw a lot of attention and the local guide will tell you about the traditional customs of the inhabitants. In this environment tanapet is grown, the raw material for making the local cigars. During the walk, you walk over ruts and by beautiful rice fields and bamboo forests. The terrain is slightly hilly, sometimes dense and sometimes completely open so you can enjoy views.
DAY 12: INLE LAKE
Every day is market day somewhere in Inle Lake, according to the five-day rotation system. These markets are accessible by boat. From far and wide, minorities and potential buyers travel from the surrounding mountains to visit the weekly market. Fruit and vegetables, pots and pans, utensils and sometimes entire boats, will be changing ownership.
DAY 2: YANGON – MANDALAY
You have a free day in Yangon. Take today to start to have a good look around the city. It is a beautiful, friendly city with various attractions including the golden Shwedagon Pagoda, which is easily the most stunning. Some of the other beautiful pagodas include Sule or the Botataung. Walking between the pastel colored colonial houses, you will get used to your new environment. Take time out to enjoy a cup of tea in a teahouse, chatting with the locals, who will be most interested in you.
In the evening you will transfer to the bus station and take the overnight public bus to Mandalay, where you will spend the night on board.
DAY 4: MANDALAY – VISIT ANCIENT CITIES – MANDALAY
You have a free day. The streets of Mandalay are dominated by numerous tricycles and old cars. It offers a colorful example of the mix of Myanmar’s many ethnic minority groups. Although we have plenty of time here, you will still have to choose from the many attractions of the city and its surroundings.
Outside the city you can go on an optional excursion to the ancient royal cities: Amarapura (Taungmyo), Sagaing and Ava (Inwa). Since the fall of Bagan, the cities of Ava, Amarapura and Sagaing were constantly changing places as the capital of Myanmar. Now you can visit excavations and temples in these ruined cities and you will marvel at the grandeur of these places. Amarapura is famous for the interesting U Bein Bridge, the longest teak footbridge in the world (1,200 m) on the nearby lake. Sagaing is a perfect spot to spend the morning watching the mendicant monks.
DAY 6 & 7: BAGAN
After breakfast, we take a boat out across the Irrawaddy to the island of KYUN THIRI where we will enjoy a morning visiting the local monastery. Tradition dictates that all Buddhist males must at some time in their lives become monks – if only for a few days. During our visit we will make a donation to the monastery to assist some of the poor or orphaned boys in undertaking their vows. We will then spend the rest of the morning with the people of the island, learning about their unique agricultural way of life. In the afternoon, we can also make a visit to a MONASTIC SCHOOL (Zay Ta Won) which provides education for over 500 students, who cannot afford for school, from nearby villages then we can help pupils with their day to day activities or teaching them some English lessons and make donation.
DAY 10: KALAW – PINDAYA – INLE LAKE
Your tour bus will drive you to Pindaya. Along the way you see Pa’o minorities at work everywhere. In the Pindaya Caves (entrance fee not included) there are more than eight thousand Buddha statues in all different shapes and sizes. These are donations from pilgrims and kings from different periods and some are hundreds of years old. Once you enter the cave, the gold leaf radiates towards you. Some images are only seen when you enter the very dark and damp caverns, so for these a flashlight is convenient.
You drive to the charming town of Nyaung Shwe, access point to the Inle Lake. Just before the village you pass Shwe Yan Yagh, the wooden monastery with its large, oval-shaped windows that is renowned by photographers. Shan cuisine is very famous in Myanmar, especially the fish from the lake, which is very tasty. At night you should definitely try a fish dish at one of the many local restaurants.
DAY 11: INLE LAKE
Free day at Inle! Between high mountain ranges lies the beautiful Inle Lake. It is known for its Intha fishermen, using their legs to steer and fishing with conical nets. Take a long, relaxing boat trip on the lake to get the best idea of everyday life. You will travel through channels and creeks, under wooden bridges, by floating villages with their floating gardens filled with purple water hyacinths, an unforgettable experience!
The Inle Lake is also home to the wooden Ngahpe Kyaung, the charming monastery of the ‘jumping cats’ (although dwindling in numbers!), that is certainly worth a visit. Around the lake you can visit the local people displaying their skills, such as silversmiths, silk weavers and cigar makers. Furthermore, the photogenic countryside is ideal for hiking and cycling trips.
DAY 13: INLE LAKE – HEHO FLIGHT TO YANGON
Today you will transfer to Heho airport for your flight back to Yangon where, depending on the time of your flight, you will still have time to spend the last of your kyats. The large Bogyoke Aung San Market has almost everything, from souvenirs to medications. In the town are two large lakes. From the terrace of the luxury Karaweik restaurant, built in the shape of a boat, you can watch the sun set into the water with the mighty Shwedagon in the background.
Perhaps you are tired of the city? Then you can explore the surrounding countryside. A fun excursion is a visit to Twante. This rural village is two hours by boat from Yangon and is known for its pottery and weaving. It is also an ideal place to say goodbye to the Burmese countryside.
Private tours and transfers with air conditioned vehicles as specified in our itinerary.
2 bottles of water & 2 refreshing towels per passenger per day
All entrance fees to the sites mentioned in the itinerary
English speaking station guide (different guide in each region)
Boat rental in Inle Lake & Mingun
Boat rental & Horse Cart in Ava (Inwa)
Trekking guide in Kalaw
Bus ticket from Yangon to Mandalay on Day 02 & Mandalay to Bagan on Day 05
Breakfast only for the whole trip
Domestic Airfare (Heho-Yangon)
Luggage handling fees at airports
International air fares (always mentioned separately)
Meals or any other item not described in the itinerary
Early check-in, late check-out. Normal check out time from hotels in Myanmar is 11am or 12 o’clock noon
Expenses of personal nature
Drinks during meals, hotel extras and personal spending
Travel insurance & Tips & gratuities
Compulsory Xmas and New Year Eve dinner
``A most enjoyable trip. Our tour leaders Duong was excellent. Well, orgomufed, capable completely got on very well with the whole group.``