20 days / 19 nights
An in-depth journey throughout Myanmar that will take you beyond the highlights and under the skin of this beguiling country, beginning in Yangon before we head to the dramatic Golden Rock. Inle Lake’s shimmering waters await us next, and then it’s onto Mandalay, where local crafts, ancient cities and the world’s largest book are on the itinerary. We travel to Mount Popa and then the dazzling array of stupas and dramatic scenery at the ancient Burmese capital of Bagan. The archeological site and former royal capital at Mrauk U and Sittwe precede the opportunity to relax on Ngapali’s beautiful beach, before it’s time to head back to Yangon and our last look at this fabulous country.
- Day 1: Arrive Yangon. City center walk.
- Day 2: Train Journey. Shwedagon Pagoda.
- Day 3: Drive to Bago and the Golden Rock.
- Day 4: Travel to Yangon. Sightseeing.
- Day 5: Fly to Heho and onto Inle Lake.
- Day 6: Inle Lake. Phaung Daw U Pagoda.
- Day 7: Fly to Mandalay. City tour.
- Day 8: Ancient capitals of Amarapura, Ava and Sagaing.
- Day 9: Travel to Mount Popa and onto Bagan.
- Day 10: Bagan’s Ananda Temple and sunset.
- Day 11: Markets, village life and crafts. Fly to Yangon.
- Day 12: Fly to Sittwe. City tour.
- Day 13: Boat to Mrauk U and tour.
- Day 14: Sunrise and Shitthaung Temple.
- Day 15: Remote villages by boat.
- Day 16: Fly to Ngapali.
- Day 17: Free time and relaxation.
- Day 18: Free time and relaxation.
- Day 19: Fly to Yangon.
- Day 20: Departure.
Day 1: Arrive Yangon. City center walk.
We head into Yangon’s city center after our arrival and visit the Sule Pagoda before we take a stroll along Yangon’s lively riverside and visit Botataung Pagoda which houses relics of Buddha from India. We also call into busy Chinatown.
Day 2: Train Journey. Shwedagon Pagoda.
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.
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. Finally we 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 considered to be the most important religious site for the Burmese.
Day 3: Drive to Bago and the Golden Rock.
We drive to Bago and visit the Kha Khat Wain monastery, and the thousand-year old Shwemawdaw Pagoda which features a spire taller than the one of Shwedagon Pagoda. After three hours we reach Kinpun camp near the Golden Rock, a massive boulder entirely covered in gold leaf and balanced on the edge of a jagged cliff. A vertical 11km road climb is made by truck, with another 4km journey on foot to reach the summit. The Golden Rock here is rumored to actually balance on a single strand of Buddha's hair on the edge of a cliff.
Day 4: Travel to Yangon. Sightseeing.
After breakfast we return to Yangon, with a stop in Bago for lunch. We continue our sightseeing expedition at the 55-meter long Shwe Tha Lyaung Buddha, and also visit the four colossal Buddha images located at Kyaik Pun Pagoda. There is an Allied War Memorial park near Htauk Kyan as well as a "Nat" tree shrine.
Day 5: Fly to Heho and onto Inle Lake.
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. You can take an optional bike ride from Nyaung Shwe to the Red Mountain Estate, a winery tucked in the Shan Hills. An informative wine-tasting including some of Myanmar best wines is part of your visit (optional). Lunch at Red Mountain Estate Vineyard.
After lunch, 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.’
Day 6: Inle Lake. Phaung Daw U Pagoda.
After breakfast we visit the lake’s morning market, the location of which changes every day. We’ll 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. You also have the option to spend a half-day cooking with the Intha tribe.
Day 7: 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. In the afternoon, 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. You can take the option of making a traditional puppet, if time allows.
Day 8: 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. There’s an option of a very early start to take part in the ceremony of washing the face of Buhha at Mahamuni Pagoda.
Day 9: Travel to Mount Popa and onto Bagan.
A long six hour drive will take you to Mount Popa, an inactive volcano with amazing views. People travel here to worship the diverse spirits known as “nats,” with 777 steps up to the top of the mountain crest. We should arrive in Bagan with time to catch the sunset from atop a temple neat to the Ayeyarwaddy River.
Day 10: Bagan’s Ananda Temple and sunset.
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. An option to consider is an early morning hot-air balloon ride across the Bagan plains.
Day 11: Markets, village life and crafts. Fly to Yangon.
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. Then it’s off to the airport for the domestic flight to Yangon.
Day 12: Fly to Sittwe. City tour.
Accompanied by your guide, we take a domestic flight to Sittwe. We check-in and then enter the city center with a visit to the Cultural Museum and the local Mosque, as well as the ‘100 year old golden faced Buddha’ at Payagyi Temple.
Day 13: Boat to Mrauk U and tour.
After an early breakfast and market stop, we spend six hours on the Kaladan River as we head for the royal capital of Rakhine. The royal city of Mrauk U is a remarkable archeological site and our afternoon activities include a number of the city’s best pagodas and shrines.
Day 14: Sunrise and Shitthaung Temple.
We catch an early sunrise and carry onto the Royal Palace remains and the Museum. In the afternoon we’ll visit more of Mrauk U’s remarkable monuments, the highlight of which is Shitthaung Temple, built in 1535 and housing a significant collection of Arakanese Buddha images and reliefs. We also visit Andawthein Hall and the fortress of Dukkhanthein.
Day 15: Remote villages by boat.
We head out by jeep and then board a boat to reach the remote village of Kreik Chaung. We’ll see how little life has changed over the centuries for the local Laytoo Chin people. After a picnic lunch, we carry onto another village, Panbaung, before we head back to Mrauk U with a stop at the temple of Koethaung.
Day 16: Fly to Ngapali.
We take the boat back to Sittwe and then a domestic flight to Thandwe. On arrival at Ngapali, we head to our hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
Day 17: Free time and relaxation.
For the next 2 days, you will be free to indulge in your own activities. Either relax on the beach, ride a bike to the nearest village or even join a boat trip and snorkel or dive close to one of the many islands off the coast.
Day 18: Free time and relaxation.
Your second day of complete relaxation, if you so desire.
Day 19: Fly to Yangon.
After breakfast you return to Thandwe airport for the domestic flight to Yangon and the rest of the day at leisure.
Day 20: Departure.
The remainder of the day is at your leisure until your departure flight.