12 days / 11 nights
We open up Myanmar during this twelve day voyage of discovery to give you a real feel for the magic of the country and its people, beginning in the shimmering city of Yangon, and then onto Mandalay, where local crafts, ancient cities and the world’s largest book await you. The extraordinary caves near Monywa are a sight to behold, bettered only by the dazzling array of stupas and dramatic scenery at the ancient Burmese capital of Bagan. The unique leg rowers and dazzling floating gardens of Inle Lake await you before we return to Yangon with a bagful of memories.
- Day 1: Arrive Yangon. Walking tour and Shwedagon Pagoda.
- Day 2: Train journey, National Museum.
- Day 3: Fly to Mandalay. City tour.
- Day 4: Ancient capitals of Amarapura, Ava and Sagaing.
- Day 5: Monywa and Caves of Po Win Taung.
- Day 6: Boat journey to Bagan.
- Day 7: Bagan’s Ananda Temple and sunset.
- Day 8: Markets, village life and crafts.
- Day 9: Fly to Heho and onto Inle Lake. Phaung Daw U Pagoda.
- Day 10: Inle Lake and Indein Pagoda.
- Day 11: Fly to Yangon.
- Day 12: Departure.
Day 1: Arrive Yangon. Walking tour and Shwedagon Pagoda.
We head into Yangon’s city center and visit the Sule Pagoda before we head over to 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 considered to be the most important religious site for the Burmese. We close the day with a walk around the busy Chinatown area.
Day 2: Train journey, National Museum.
We start the day by taking a ride on the Yangon circular train for an unusual view of the city, ending with a visit to Insein Market.
After lunch, our first stop will be at the National Museum featuring exhibits of Burmese history, art and culture. Then we call in at the Bogyoke Market before we skip over to the Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda to see a 70 meter long reclining Buddha statue.
Day 3: Fly to Mandalay. City tour.
We take a domestic flight to Mandalay, the second largest city of Myanmar, and begin with a visit to Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda houses one of the country’s most honored Buddha images, completely covered in gold leaves. We carry onto Kuthodaw Pagoda (where the 729 marble stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures are called the ‘World’s Biggest Book’). Then it’s off to Shwenandaw Monastery, before we reach summit of Mandalay Hill to catch the stunning sunset views.
Day 4: 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 5: Monywa and Caves of Po Win Taung.
It’s a 3 hour drive to Monywa on the eastern banks of the Chindwin River and en route we call in at Thanboddhay Pagoda, an enormous Buddhist temple that happens to be endowed with more than 500,000 images of Buddha. The Boditahtaung Pagoda houses the biggest Buddha likeness in Myanmar, measuring in at 100m long x 27m high.
After lunch we cross the Chindwin River and carry onto the dramatic Po Win Taung by jeep. The 947 sandstone caves that have been hollowed out of the surrounding hills, contain what is considered to be the best collection of mural paintings and Buddhist statues in SEAsia. We then head to Shwe Ba Taung, carved into the cliffs, to end the day.
Day 6: Boat journey to Bagan.
After breakfast, we travel along the calm eastern river, stopping at traditional villages before we reach Pakokku, with its history of craft work. In the afternoon, we board a local boat for a relaxing two hour journey downriver to Bagan, and the next stage of our adventures.
Day 7: Bagan’s 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 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 a traditional lacquer workshop followed by 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 8: Markets, village life and crafts.
We start the day at the Nyaung U market, followed by a walk through Myinkaba village where you’ll have the chance to see local craftsmen at their lacquer workshop. We carry on 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. After lunch we have the option to cycle to the tranquil village of Minnanthu, visit remote temples, a cave monastery at Kyat Kan before we enjoy sunset over the plains from the top of Tayokpye temple.
Day 9: Fly to Heho and onto Inle Lake. Phaung Daw U Pagoda.
After breakfast we take a domestic flight to Heho. After an hour’s drive we reach Nyaung Shwe, gateway village to Inle Lake. En route, we’ll stop at the teak monastery of Shweyanpyay to witness the intricate wood carving artwork. We take a boat out onto Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular sights. We’ll pass several stilted Intha villages built over the lake, and observe the local leg-rowing fishermen and see their ‘floating gardens.’.
We’ll check into the hotel and then visit Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, which houses many early Shan Buddha Images. It’s also famous for its unique ‘jumping cats.’ We continue onto Phaung Daw U Pagoda, the lake’s main haven, which contains five sacred images of Buddha decorated in gold leaf. A stop at the weaving village of Inpawkhone and a cheroot factory, where traditional Burmese cigars are handmade, will close the day.
Day 10: Inle Lake and Indein Pagoda.
After breakfast we visit the lake’s morning market, the location of which changes every day. A 1-hour boat ride will take you to the Pa-Oh village of Indein, on the western shore of Inle Lake. We ascend the moss-covered stairway to the top of a hill, and the Indein Pagoda complex with its iconic Buddha image which sits enshrined among hundreds of stupa ruins and overgrown shrubbery. We walk to Sae Ma village and then grab a boat to return to Tharlay village, all the while finding out more about the lives of the local Intha population.
Day 11: Fly to Yangon.
After breakfast, we spend the morning at leisure around the lake before a return to Heho and the short flight back to Yangon.
Day 12: Departure.
The remainder of the day is at your leisure until your departure flight