Day 1 Yangon
Arrive anytime today. An arrival transfer is included. Today is arrival day so there are no activities planned. You are therefore free to relax and explore the city. Please try to arrive before 6pm for an important group meeting where you can meet the Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members. Please note that most nationalities requires a visa to enter Myanmar (Burma), please double check this with your travel agent or local Myanmar Embassy prior to your arrival. Following this we have an optional group dinner where you can sample some of the local cuisine.
Days 2-4 Mandalay (3B)
Early this morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Mandalay. Transfer to the base of Mandalay Hill and visit Shwe Nandaw Kyuang (Golden Palace Monastery) which is noted for its intricate wood carvings and to Kayuk Taw Gyi Pagoda to view the huge marble Buddha. The marble is from Sagyin quarry and took 10,000 men almost two weeks to transfer the rock from the riverside to its current location. Finally we’ll visit Kuthodaw Pagoda, home to ‘the world’s largest book’, a collection of more than 700 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. We then continue to Mahamuni Pagoda which is known for its lumpy Buddha statue. You can also visit some of the craft shops in the area. In the late afternoon head to Mandalay Hill to walk (or take the lift) to the top to see the views over the city, countryside and Irrawaddy River. On day 3, embark on a boat trip up the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay to the riverside village of Mingun, enjoying the picturesque scenery of this river and the lifestyles of the local people who live and work on these waters. Here we visit the Mingun Bell which weighs more than 87 tons and is more than 3.7 metres tall. This is the world’s largest uncracked bell. Just south of the bell you’ll also visit Mingun Pagoda, a giant brick structure built in the late 1700s and although it was unfinished due to economic troubles it is still an impressive site. Mingun’s other highlight is the Hisnbyume Pagoda, a white-washed temple built to resemble Mount Meru. Throughout Mingun there are small neighborhoods crafting traditional basketry and other artistic items and there is plenty of time to stop and interact with the craftsmen and friendly locals. We continue by road to Sagaing. Covered with 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries, Sagaing Hill is widely regarded as the religious center of Myanmar. It is home to 3,000 monks and 100 meditation centers and you will visit pagodas such as Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin and U Min Thone Sae. After lunch we visit Amarapura, a former capital whose name means ‘City of Immortality’. First visit a silk weaving workshop which produces exquisite handmade products and then visit Mahagandayon monastery, where over one-thousand monks reside. After touring this tranquil site, continue to U Bein Bridge for a walk along this 200 year-old teak bridge. The bridge was constructed of 984 teak posts that were once part of the deserted Inwa Palace and it is 1.2 kilometers in length making it the world’s longest teak span. Enjoy a stroll along the bridge and the fabulous views of the surrounding farms and streams. On day 4 we take a scenic two-hour drive to the former British hill station of Maymyo, now officially called Pyin Oo Lwin. The town is located on a plateau 1000m above sea level and is renowned for its cooler temperatures and lush foliage. Many reminders of the colonial era are still present in Pyin Oo Lwin, including brick and timber houses with British names and the Botanical Gardens to the south of town. Visit the local market in the center of the town near the clock tower where a colorful array of items are for sale including locally-produced jams and fruit wines. This afternoon is free to explore. We recommend a traditional horse and carriage ride through the town to see the historical houses including Candacraig, built in 1905. You can get your horse and carriage to drop you off at the 175-hectare Botanical Gardens where you can take a relaxing walk though the beautifully-landscaped gardens. Approx travel times on day 2: Transfer to airport Yangon: 30 min Flight Yangon to Mandalay: 1 1/2 hours Transfer to hotel Mandalay: 30 min
Day 5 Bagan (1B)
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the jetty for the boat to Bagan (Nyaung Oo). The journey takes 7-11 hours depending on the time of year and water level. On board there is a small café selling drinks and light meals (sandwiches, snacks and instant noodles usually).
Days 6-7 Bagan (2B,1L)
Enjoy 2 days exploring Bagan, the first and most beautiful capital of the Burmese which was founded in the eleventh century. Along with Angkor in Cambodia, this is the most important temple and pagoda complex in Asia. One day 6 you have the option to take a hot-air balloon flight over the plains of Bagan. Enjoy the fabulous views as the sun rises over the stupas and Irrawaddy River. This is truly an unforgettable and unique experience! (Note: available only from October to March) USD 275.- per person We set off on a full day exploration of Bagan. The journey begins with a visit to an elevated temple from where you will have a panoramic view of the magnificent plains of Bagan. Continue to the colorful Nyaung Oo Market where every day the locals come to buy and sell fresh produce and other goods before visiting the golden stupa of Shwezigon Pagoda for an introduction in to Bagan’s rich history. Then, visit to nearby Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite jataka mural paintings and the elegant Htilominlo Temple noted for its fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations. We’ll then visit a local monastery for a special monk blessing. This afternoon begin with a visit to a traditional lacquer ware workshop where you can observe the production of one of Myanmar’s best-known handicrafts. Continue to Manuha Temple and Nan Paya, two unusual temples with an interesting history. Then on to Abyadama Temple and Lawkananda. Lawkanda is set amid a lovely location with many small turtles living there and is revered by the local fishermen. Enjoy an unforgettable sunset over the plains from the upper terrace of one of the temples. On day 7 the morning begins with more sightseeing, the schedule to be set by the guide and group depending on their interests. We recommend a visit one of the morning markets as well as more temples. At midday transfer to the outskirts of town to a village in the middle of a toddy palm farm. Watch as the locals scale the trees and harvest the juice of the palm fruit and then process it into alcohol or molasses. Then you’ll sit down to a delicious lunch prepared by the family. This is a memorable lunch and a chance to learn more about rural life and traditions in Myanmar. Return to Bagan in the afternoon and the remainder of today is at lesisure.
Days 8-9 Inle Lake (2B)
This morning fly from Bagan to Heho and then travel by road a further one-hour to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway village to Inle Lake. Along the way, stop at the wooden Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery which features beautiful carvings and a collection of Buddha images. Also visit around Nyaung Shwe by trishaw, passing the many monasteries and cruising along quiet residential streets. You’ll also visit the ‘tomato house’ where the lake’s freshly collected produce is sorted for distribution up country. We then board a boat and set off down the canal toward the main part of the lake. Pass villages built on stilts over the lake, inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the leg-rowing fishermen and see their floating gardens built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles. Inle Lake is the land of the Intha people. These people are known as leg-rowers and as architects of floating villages and gardens. The life of the Intha, who originally came from the south of Burma, revolves completely around the lake. On day 9, depending on its location, we start with a visit to the morning market, which rotates locations on a 5-day basis. (note: there are no markets on full moon or dark moon days). This daily market attracts people from all over the lake’s shores who gather to buy and sell their wares- if you are lucky you may see Pa-Oh, Inthar and Shan people in their traditional outfits. Wander amid the stalls where your guide will explain the local produce and goods for sale. Also visit Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, which houses dozens of Shan Buddha Images, but is more famous for its unique ‘jumping cats’ who jump through hoops in the air! Continue to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main sanctuary, which contains five sacred Buddha images covered in gold leaf. Explore the local crafts of Inle Lake with a stop at the weaving village of Inpawkhone and a cheroot factory, where the typical Burmese cigars are made by hand.
Day 10 Kalaw (1B)
Travel by boat and bus to the cooler air of this former British hill station. Option for an afternoon trek. Approx travel times: approx 2 1/2 hours
Day 11 Yangon (1B)
Following breakfast we drive to Heho airport for our flight over the length of Burma back to our starting point at Yangon. Visit Shwedagon Pagoda then the afternoon is yours to explore the markets and sights of Yangon with plenty of time for some last minute shopping before our final night dinner together. Approx travel times: Transfer hotel to Heho: 45 min Flight Heho to Yangon: 1 hour Tranfer to hotel Yangon: 30 min
Day 12 Yangon (1B)
You are free to depart at any time today. We look forward to receiving your evaluation regarding this tour itinerary and your CEOs performance. We value your input into what we could improve to make this trip even better and of course love hearing about what we are already doing well! You will be sent a post tour email on your return with details on how to go in line and fill in this simple form. Thank you so much in advance.