Starting the typical tour in Yangon, then entering the more stunning world of Myanmar’s attractive destinations such as Bagan, Amarapua, Ava, Sagaing
Upon arrival, you will be greeted by your our Guide who will accompany you as you transfer to the hotel. Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is a relatively quiet and charming city. Its impressive colonial and spiritual heritage makes it one of the most fascinating cities in Southeast Asia. This afternoon, your journey begins with a visit around the city and its highlights.
Stop at the National Museum where a tour of the priceless ancient artifacts, works of art and historic memorabilia will help you gain insight in to the country’s history. Of particular note are the three halls on the ground floor, which hold exhibits on the evolution the Myanmar alphabet, the Lion Throne Room, and artifacts from the Yatanabon Period.
Continue to Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, which houses a 70-meter reclining Buddha. Late this afternoon, visit Shwedagon Pagoda, the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar. The central stupa is 90 meters tall and gilded with gold leaf. As the sun begins to set enjoy the breathtaking views of the Pagoda and surrounding skyline before transferring back to your hotel.
Overnight in Yangon.
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for the flight to Bagan (Nyaung Oo). From the 11th to 13th centuries, when Bagan was the capital of Myanmar, the rulers constructed thousands of huge stupas and temples many of which are still standing today on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. On arrival, your journey begins with a visit to Tayokye Pyay, 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. 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 Ananda Temple, an architectural masterpiece and one of Bagan’s most beautiful temples. Built in the early Mon-style, Ananda contains two unique Buddha images whose expressions seem to change depending on the distance from which the statue is viewed. From here, travel by horse cart for a tour passing Thatbyinnyu, the highest temple in Bagan, massive Dhammayangyi Temple, noted for its remarkable brickwork, and Sulamani Temple. Enjoy an unforgettable sunset over the plains from the upper terrace of one of the temples.
Overnight in Bagan.
OPTION: Start your morning with 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) After breakfast, visit the colorful Nyaung Oo Market where villagers gather every day to buy and sell their produce and other goods.
Continue to Myinkaba village and take a short walking tour to explore Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite jataka murals paintings and the temples of Manuha and Nan Paya. Also visit a workshop where you can observe the detailed production of lacquer ware, one of Myanmar’s best known and most traditional handicrafts.
This afternoon, continue to the rural village of Minnanthu, one of Bagan’s least visited areas. Here you will explore temples such as Payathonzu, Lemyentha and Nandamannya before heading to the riverside pier. Board a local boat for a slow cruise down the Irrawaddy River. As you cruise the waters, observe the lifestyle of the fishermen and riverside villagers as well as enjoying the unique perspective of Bagan’s temples.
Return to your hotel this evening. Option: Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Irrawaddy River to watch the sun set over the planes. A cocktail will be served on a sandbank in the middle of the River- a magical way to end the day (USD 60 per person; minimum 2 people)
Overnight in Bagan.
Early this morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Mandalay. Upon arrival, begin your sightseeing tour of Mandalay with a visit to Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda is home to one of the country’s most revered Buddha images which, over the years, has been covered with gold leaf giving it an almost ‘lumpy’ texture.
Mandalay is well known for its skilled craftsmen and as you tour traditional workshops, you will learn more about the city’s cottage industries. Observe the production of wood carvings, kalaga tapestries, and gold-leaf where the techniques remained unchanged from those used centuries ago to craft items for the Royal Court. This afternoon, continue your tour of Mandalay with a visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda, whose 729 marble stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures have earned it the title “World’s Biggest Book”.
Continue to Shwenandaw Monastery, the only remaining building from the 19th century Royal Palace. This grand teak building is known for its exquisite woodcarving. Head to the top of Mandalay Hill as the sun begins to set to enjoy magnificent views of the the city and Irrawaddy River. Overnight in Mandalay.
After breakfast at the hotel, depart for an excursion around Mandalay to explore the former capitals of Amarapura, Ava and Sagaing. Begin your tour in Amarapura, where you will attend a special ceremony. Witness the alms collection at Mahagandayon monastery, when over one-thousand monks gather to collect their daily meal from the local Buddhists.
After this beautiful spectacle, continue to U Bein Bridge for a walk along this 200 year-old teak bridge. The bridge spans over 2 kilometers in length and offers fabulous views of the surrounding farms and streams. Before leaving Amarapura, stop at a silk weaving workshop which produces exquisite handmade products. Continue to Ava, the capital from 14th to 18th centuries and travel by horse and carriage through the area stopping to visit the old wooden Bagaya Monastery and the remains of the Royal Palace and Fort.
This afternoon, cross a bridge over the Irrawaddy River 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, U Min Thone Sae, and Shin Pin Nan Gyaing.
Overnight in Mandalay.
After breakfast, transfer to Mandalay Airport for a flight to Heho. From Heho, a scenic one-hour drive leads 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. Upon reaching the edges of Inle Lake, board a private motorboat to head out to Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular sights.
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. 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. If time permits, there may be time to enjoy a short walk through one of the lakeside villages.
Overnight on Inle Lake.
After breakfast, visit the lake’s morning market. The market rotates its location around the lake’s villages in a 5 day rhythm and is visited by lake inhabitants and surrounding hill tribes who come to sell and trade their wares. (Note: market is daily except on dark moon day and full moon day). From the middle of the lake, continue down a small canal leading to the Pa-oh village of In Dein.
Explore the area on foot, strolling around the village, visiting a local school, and wander through the beautiful Alaung Sitthou area. Alaung Sitthou is filled with picturesque ancient stupas and has magnificent views of the lake below. After today’s tour, drive to the Heho Airport for the flight to Yangon and upon arrival, transfer to the hotel.
Overnight in Yangon.
Depending on flight time, there is an option to take a ride on Yangon’s Circle Train in the morning. This morning transfer to Yangon Railways station to take a unique ride on the city’s circular train ride through the outskirts of town (45 minutes ride). This slowly traveling train gives you unique opportunity to observe the lively, colorful lifestyle of the local people.
Disembark at the Insein market where you can peruse the various stalls and interact with the friendly vendors before transferring back to Yagnon. This afternoon, visit Bogyoke Market, formerly known as Scott’s Market, where you can browse through the wide selection of Myanmar handicrafts and other goods before transferring to Yangon International Airport for your onward flight. (Note: Market is closed on Mondays and public holidays)