6 days / 5 nights
For this six day introduction to the extraordinary sights that Myanmar has to offer, we begin in Yangon with its dramatic pagodas and bustling markets before we head to fabulous Mandalay. Locals crafts and the world’s largest book await us. We move onto tour a series of ancient Burmese capitals with Bagan the undisputed headliner, with its dramatic scenery, before we return to Yangon.
Day 1: Arrive Yangon. National Museum and Shwedagon Pagoda.
On arrival check into your hotel.
Our first stop will be at the National Museum featuring exhibits of Burmese history, art and culture. Then we skip over to the Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda to see a 70 meter long reclining Buddha statue and move onto visit the legendary Shwedagon Pagoda. Witness the colors transform on the 100-meter chedi which is literally enclosed in over 40 tons of gold leaf. Shwedagon is largely considered to be the most important religious site for the Burmese.
Day 2: Fly to Mandalay. City tour.
After breakfast we take a domestic flight to Mandalay. The tour will begin with a visit to Mahamuni Pagoda. The pagoda houses one of the country’s most honored Buddha images, completely covered in gold leaves. Mandalay is famous for its expert craftsmen and we visit some traditional workshops to see why.
In the afternoon we continue with a visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda (where the marble stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures are called the ‘World’s Biggest Book’). Then Shwenandaw Monastery before we reach summit of Mandalay Hill to catch sunset views.
Day 3: Ancient capitals of Amarapura, Ava and Sagaing.
We begin with an expedition to investigate the previous capitals of Amarapura, Ava and Sagaing, starting at Amarapura’s Mahagandayon, home to more than a thousand monks, and a busy alms collection. Then it’s on to Ava which was the standing capital from the 14th through the 18th centuries. By horse and carriage, we visit Bagaya Monastery renowned for its extraordinarily elaborate woodcarvings and the Nanmyint Watch Tower - also called “the leaning tower of Ava“ – the remnants of the ancient palace, and Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery.
After lunch we cross the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing, with Sagaing Hill known as the spiritual hub of Myanmar and which claims residence to around 3,000 monks and nearly 100 meditation shrines. We stroll along the legendary U Bein Bridge which at 1.2 kms is said to be the longest teakwood bridge worldwide, before we return to Mandalay.
Day 4: Fly to Bagan. Ananda Temple and sunset.
After breakfast we take a domestic flight to Bagan, the center of Myanmar from the 11th to 13th centuries and home to 4,000 evocative stupas and pagodas on the shores of the Irrawaddy River. We start at Tayokye Pyay, a towering temple with great views. Then it’s off to the vibrant Nyaung U Market, before we arrive at the golden stupa of Shwezigon Pagoda for a closer look at Bagan’s affluent past. Continue to Wetkyi-In, Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with beautiful wall paintings and the stylish Htilominlo Temple. This afternoon will begin with a visit to Ananda Temple, certainly one of Bagan’s most beautiful temples, housing two distinctive Buddha images. Their expressions transform, according to your viewing point. By horse cart we visit Thatbyinnyu, the tallest temple in Bagan, Dhammayangyi Temple noted for its remarkable brickwork, and Sulamani Temple. We watch the extraordinary sunset over the plains from the higher verandas of one of these 3 temples.
Day 5: Village life and crafts. Fly to Yangon.
The rustic and tranquil village of Minnanthu is our first stop today. You’ll discover temples such as Payathonzu with its strange structural design, Lemyentha and Nandamannya as well. We board a boat for a leisurely journey down the Irrawaddy River, giving us a unique look at some of Bagan’s temples.
This afternoon we begin with a walk through Myinkaba village where you’ll have the chance to see local craftsman at their lacquer workshop. We then head to Manuha Temple (constructed in 1059) and investigate the Nanbaya Temple, a distinctive sandstone shrine, which according to myth, was the bastion of King Manuha. Then it’s off to Bagan airport for your domestic flight back to Yangon.
Day 6: Yangon walking tour. Departure.
After breakfast, we head to Yangon’s city center for a walking tour that will include the Sule Pagoda, the Pansodan Jetty, the old British government buildings, Botataung Pagoda and the crafts of Bogyoke Market (the market is closed on Mondays). The remainder of the day is at leisure until your departure flight.