Myanmar offers travellers a chance to discover a country just beginning to welcome foreign visitors across its borders. The sense of discovery is palpable as you uncover forgotten treasures, stand in the shadow of ancient pagodas and experience sensory overload in colourful local markets.
Our itinerary has been carefully crafted so that you come away with a true sense of this magical country – its’ people, its’ history and its’ unique local culture.
For those arriving early we’ll drop our bags off and make our way to the local railway station to board the circle line and be taken around Yangon getting a feel for the city witnessing both local and rural life. This evening we will enjoy our welcome dinner.
After breakfast we’ll explore the lively capital of Myanmar. Our walking tour starts with downtown Yangon where the British colonial influence is still evident today. We’ll pass by the Sule Pagoda located at the heart of the city. Our walking tour will also include a range of beautiful British colonial style buildings such as the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company’s old offices, the Secretariat as well as the City Hall all fine examples of Myanmar architecture. After lunch at a local restaurant we’ll head to Bogyoke Aung San Museum the former home of General Aung San, hero of Burmese independence and father of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi. We’ll head back to the hotel to freshen up to visit the majestic 2,500 year old Shwedagon Pagoda the country’s spiritual landmark as sunset approaches.
We’ll take an early morning flight this morning to Bagan home to thousands of Pagodas dating back to the 11th century. Arriving in Bagan we’ll set off to the Nyaung Oo Markets where you will enjoy learning about local food preferences. From here we will head to the Shwezigon Pagoda the prototype of the later Myanmar Stupas, Gawdawpalin (aka) Kandawplin Pagoda, consisting of two floors and one of the largest and most imposing temples in Bagan; Thatbyinnyu Pagoda, built in AD1144 by Alaungsithu, Bagan’s highest temple and containing 4 levels, Tharabar Gate he best preserved remains of the 9th century wall and the only gate still standing. Traces of old stucco can still be seen on the gateway. Lunch today will be home-hosted where you will interact with some of the locals and learn about their customs and way of life.
Slower pace today. Start your morning with an optional hot-air balloon and ride over Bagan’s temple studded plains. Climb aboard before gently rising above thousands of gilded stupas all back dropped by the impressive Irrawaddy Rive. After breakfast we will head to Mt Popa, which rises 1520 metres above sea level, and visit the Mahagiri Shrine that has been dedicated to the “Nats” (spirits). The walk to the summit is well worth it as we gaze at the wonderful panoramic view. Our return journey takes us to a toddy farm (local Myanmar liquor) for some sampling as well as a lacquer ware workshop.
Today an early start as we board our boat and cruise along the Irrawaddy River to Mandalay. Breakfast and lunch will be served on board as we experience rural life in Myanmar along the riverbanks. Who knows we might be lucky enough to see an “Irrawaddy” dolphin. The views arriving into Mandalay are as equally as impressive as the journey along the river with its’ hilltop pagodas, bustling harbor and unique riverside living. Welcome to Mandalay.
After breakfast we begin a full day sightseeing of the ancient capital of Mandalay. First stop the Kuthodaw Pagoda (also referred to as the “world’s largest book”). This is an amazing collection of 729 marble slabs (each slab a page) of the Buddhist scripture with a small temple built over each slab. Amid rice paddy’s we will marvel at the stunning Shwe Nandaw Monastery built of delicate exquisitely carved teak wood with its’ Buddhist figures adorning doors, walls, ceilings and the roof. After lunch we will take a cruise along the Ayeyarwaddy River to the ancient city of Mingun to visit the Mingum Bell weighing in at approx. 90 tonnes and the largest ringing bell in the world. To round off the day we will enjoy a real treat as we host a sandbank dinner along the shores of the Irrawaddy River before heading back to our hotel by boat.
We will enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning before we get transported back in time visiting 3 ancient capitals of Myanmar. First up we will be boarding our coach for Amarapura located 11 kms south of Mandalay. Here we will visit the U
Bein Bridge believed to be the longest and oldest bridge in the world. Before lunch we will stop at one of the local workshop specialising in bronze casting, gold leaf, wood and marble carvings that are all specialties of this region. After lunch we will transfer to Inwa , or Ava as it was previously known, where you will be taken around this ancient city by horse cart. Finally as the sunsets we will make our way to Sagaing Hill to gaze at the panoramic views of Mandalay and the surrounding areas.
Early morning flight today to Heho (Inle Lake) where we will be transferred to the Kalaw Elephant Sanctuary. Set in a lush valley this eco friendly sanctuary cares for elephants that are no longer able to work, injured or psychologically injured due to abuse in their many years of logging work. Get to know the elephants by feeding them bananas or wade in and join in scrubbing their skin with acacia. What an exhilarating experience for both you and the elephant. Lunch provided at the sanctuary and you even get to plant a tree to commemorate your visit and help restoration of the forest. Afternoon we will travel to our hotel at Inle Lake.
Early start this morning as we have a full day of sightseeing ahead of us of this incredible lake with its famous leg-rowing fishermen, floating gardens and villages on stilts as well as the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda and important site in the Shan State. For lunch today we will all take part in a cooking class where we will select our very own vegetables and learn how to make some local dishes from a master chef on the Lake. This afternoon we head to a silk weaving workshop to watch the fascinating process of spinning and weaver lotus flowers into stunning products such as scarves and shirts. A short boat ride through a long and narrow canal brings us to the Nyaung Ohak Monastery where you will gaze in awe at the crumbling pagodas filled with amazing carvings and Buddha statues
After breakfast we head to the hilltop village of Pindaya home to some great trekking opportunities to stretch your legs and enjoy your walk in the Shan mountains. Here we will have the opportunity to visit the Shwe Oo Min Cave. These are natural caves where there are many thousands of Buddha statues placed between the stalactites and stalagmites all shimmering against the cave walls. Enjoy a home-hosted lunch in a local village before we continue trekking. Returning later in the afternoon to Inle Lake for a well-deserved dinner.
Late breakfast this morning and free time to explore Nyaung Shwe or just relax at the hotel before we take our flight back to Yangon mid afternoon. Prepare yourself for a feast tonight our final dinner together.
After breakfast we will make one final stop at the Bogyoke Aung San Markets. With over 1,000 stalls this has to be a shoppers dream and perhaps a hunt through the alleyways for that one precious gift to take back home. Depending on your flight there might be time for a final lunch together before we say farewell.