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Welcome to Burma! On arrival at the airport you will be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours free to relax and explore and become accustomed with your new surroundings.
This morning we head for Mawlamyine, situated at the mouth of the Thanlwin River. Enroute we visit The Allied War Memorial Cemetery in Taukkyan which commemorates over 30,000 British Commonwealth soldiers who died in Burma during World War II. There are over 6000 beautifully well-kept graves in all (along with 52 graves of WWI soldiers). Furthermore 27,000 names of fallen soldiers with no known graves are engraved on the Rangoon Memorial, an imposing and sombre memorial pillar. If road conditions allow we travel by way of the Kawkung Natural Cave and the town of Tathon, where we will stop for lunch. Mawlamyine is the capital of Mon State and home to the Thanlwin Bridge, the longest road and rail bridge in the country. Overnight-Attran Hotel
MAWLAMYINE After breakfast we take a ferry across to Bilu Gyun (Ogre Island) to visit some of the local communities that lie along the Thanlwin River. After a chance to explore some of the villages and watch traditional craftsmen at work, we head back to Mawlamyine for an afternoon tour of the city. Highlights this afternoon include visit to 100-year old Seindonn Minbaya Kyaung and sunset from the 9th century Kyaikthanlan Phayar (Pagoda), the highest structure in the city. Overnight-Attran Hotel
MAWLAMYINE Departing Mawlamyine today we drive south for about 2hours to Kin Pun ‘base camp’ where, on arrival, we continue in an open truck up a steep 11 kilometre track to Yathetaung. From here we then walk for another 45 minutes to the mystical Mount Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock) in time for sunset. Depending on the hotel we are staying in, we will either descent back by truck tonight to the base of the mountain or do this the following morning. Overnight- Mountain Top Hotel
GOLDEN ROCK If our hotel is at the top of mountain we have a chance to view the sunrise. We drive back to Rangoon today, travelling via the historic and interesting town of Bago. Founded in 573AD, the town is home to a number of sacred shrines and pagodas, including the Shwemawdaw Paya (the Golden God Temple) the tallest pagoda in the country. We visit the pagoda, as well as the Shwethalyaung Reclin-ing Buddha (the second largest in the world) and the Kyaik Pun Pagoda. If time allows we will also take a look around Bago's local market, before continuing our journey on to Rangoon.
This morning we fly to the archaeological site of Bagan, without doubt one of the most impressive religious sites anywhere in Asia. A half-day tour of some of its most distinctive pagodas include visits to the Shwezigon Pagoda, the 13th century frescoes and cave temple of Wetkyi-in-Gubyaukgyi and the Ananda Pagoda, one of the best preserved monuments in the entire city. Late in the day we watch the sunset from a panoramic viewpoint on one of the upper terraces overlooking the temple site.
After breakfast we continue our exploration of Bagan with visits to the Sulamani Temple of King Narapatisithu and the finely crafted brickwork of the Dhammayangyi Temple, the largest shrine on the site. This afternoon has then been left free to enjoy as you wish. There is a chance to take an optional trip out to Mount Popa, Burma’s sacred abode of the Nats (spirit gods). A volcanic plug that rises some 1,500 metres above the surrounding landscape, the summit provides some fine panoramic views of the surrounding hills. The journey also travels via a local farm producing traditional ‘toddy’ palm juice.
This morning we take boat trip about 2 hrs to Pakkou, which brings us to a bustling tobacco trading centre, on the banks of the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwaddy) River. From here we continue by road for about 3 hours to Monywa in the Chindwin Valley. This afternoon offers us the chance to visit the colourful Thanbuddhay Pagoda (home to more than 500,000 images of Buddha) and the Hiaungdawmu Buddha, the second largest reclining Buddha in Burma. Overnight- Winn Unity Hotel
MONYWA Today we cross the Chindwin River and visit the Po Win Daung Caves and Shwe Ba Daung. A system of nearly 500 sandstone caves that honeycomb the Po Win Hills, these extraordinary caverns contain around 450,000 paintings, statues and carvings, representing what many experts believe to be the most comprehensive collection of Buddhist art anywhere in South East Asia. After our visit we continue by road to Mandalay, Burma’s last royal capital and, for many, the centre of its most historic and culturally rich region. En route we plan to stop in Monywee Kayemon village to visit a blackmith and a local cottage industries where they make slippers.
After having breakfast, we take a short cruise to Mingun village and the ruins of the Mingun Pahtodawgyi which, had it been completed, would have been the world’s largest pagoda. Begun by King Bodawpaya in 1790, the pagoda is home to what is considered to be the largest uncracked bell on the planet. Returning to Mandalay we then spend this afternoon exploring some of the city’s major highlights, including the world’s largest book at the Kuthodaw Pagoda and the intricate wooden majesty of the Shwenanda (Golden Palace) Monastery. We also plan to include visit to craft shops where you can observe traditional and skilled goldleaf making, tapestry making and wood carving. If time allows we then head up Mandalay Hill for sunset.
A short distance to the south of Mandalay lies the former royal capital of Amarapura, perhaps best known for the 19th century, 1.2 kilometres giant Teak footbridge that spans Lake Taungthaman. We also visit some local cotton and silk weavers, before taking an afternoon drive to Inwa (Ava). Here we take a horse cart ride around the old city (which can be a little bumpy), visiting the monasteries of Manu Ok Kaung and Bagaya Kyaung and the ‘Leaning Tower of Inwa’, before driving back to Mandalay.
Today we drive to Kalaw, set high on the western edge of the Shan Plateau. Popular with the British during their time in Burma, Kalaw still retains a little something of its colonial charm and is an ideal base for hill-tribe treks. On arrival you will have some free time to enjoy this engaging hill town, whose attractions include the gold lacquered bamboo Buddha of Nee Paya and the Catholic church of Christ the King. Overnight- Hill Top Hotel
Today we we learn about hilltribes in Burma. We drive to the start point of our walk and then commence a 2 hour ascent (300m approx) to Painebin village. We’ll walk at an easy pace with stops to see tea and cheroot cultivation, orange groves and vegetable gardens. The village has a noticeably cooler climate, and locals often still wear traditional costume.The Palaung have their own distinct ethnic scripture, monastic regulation, traditional culture and local law. After visiting the village we take a simple picnic lunch (included) at a monastery and return the same way downhill by foot to our bus and then on to Kalaw. Overnight- Hill Top Hotel
After a brief tour of Kalaw this morning we continue on by road to the beautiful setting of Lake Inle. Surrounded by hills and populated predominantly by the Intha people, Lake Inle is one of the highest lakes in the country. Devout Buddhists, the local population of self-sufficient farmers and fishermen live in simple stilted houses of wood and bamboo, growing their food on floating gardens of grass and seaweed. We plan to make a tour of some of the local villages by boat and pay a visit to the famous ‘cat jumping’ monastery of Nga Phae. Time permitting we will make a short visit to Leshae Village where you can see the making of Buddha images from dried flower powder. Overnight- Golden Island Cottages Hotel
Our boat takes us to the western part of the lake this morning, to a local Indein village, where we visit a hilltop complex of 1,000 stupas (places of worship). From up here we can enjoy some great views across the lake and on to the valley beyond. Continuing by boat on to the villages of Nanpan and Innpawkhone, we also get a chance later in the day to see some traditional boat making and silk weaving, and hopefully some local fishermen practicing their uniquely distinctive rowing technique. Overnight- Golden Island Cottages Hotel
This morning we drive to Heho airport for flight to Kyaing Tone which was considered the capital of the Golden Triangle and for many years was closed to visitors due to trafficking and insurgency. Nowadays peace has returned to the quiet, pagoda lined streets of this attractive town. It is a perfect base to explore the surrounding rugged terrain, buildings from British colonial rule and ethnically diverse hill-tribe villages that still largely follow traditions and animist beliefs that have changed little over the centuries. Overnight- Princess Hotel
KYAING TONE This morning we have a scenic 2 hour drive through dense forests and terraced rice paddies to Loi-mwe. Standing at 1600 metres above sea level, Loi-mwe means 'misty mountain' and enjoys commanding views of the surrounding area and a temperate climate. There remain a number of fading colonial buildings from the British era and a 100-year-old Catholic church. Tracks from the road lead up to the villages of the Lahu, Akha and Wa ethnic minorities. Our local guide will choose which of these villages we visit en route. After exploring this part of Shan province we make our way back to Kyaing tone. Overnight- Princess Hotel
KYAING TONE Today we continue exploring the rich ethnic tapestry of the Golden Triangle region. The starting point for our morning trek is the Lahu village of Pin Tauk, a short scenic drive from Kyaing Tong town. Here we leave our bus and take an easy trek through villages of Nam Lin Mai and Nam Lin Koun, home to the Akha, Lahu and Ann minorities. We walk at an easy pace with breaks, returning to Pin Tauk. We drive back to Kyaing Tong in the afternoon where we will visit Naung Tong Lake, central to the old British settlement. A giant Buddha statue marks the spot where Kyaing Tong was founded about one thousand years ago. Time permitting we will also visit 'One Tree Hill' where a lone 245 years old Kanyin - byu (Idptero carpus) tree stands. Overnight- Princess Hotel
KYAING TONE This morning we catch a flight back to Rangoon. On arrival, your will be met by you and transferred to your hotel check in. In the evening, you will visit the magnificent Shwedagon pagoda, landmark of Myanmar and one of the greatest wonders of the world.
After breakfast, we drive about 4 hrs to Ngwe Saung Beach to enjoy the next 5 days at your leisure. Overnight- Myanmar Treasure Resort
NGWE SAUNG BEACH Today after breakfast you will be picked up from your hotel and transferred bac to Yangon feeling relaxed and refreshed. You will be taken to your hotel for check in the the rest of the day is yours free to explore.
Today your sightseeing begins by visiting Chaukhtatkyi Pagoda, houses the fourth largest colossal reclining Buddha, photo stop at the heart of Yangon such as City Hall, High Court and many colonial style buildings, shopping in the Bogyoke market formerly "Scott market", where you can get a wide range of Myanmar handicraft, jewelries, fabrics, lacquer wares and so on. Then visit Botahtaung Pagoda, a famous landmark on Yangon’s waterfront where one can see Buddha's hair relic, Nanthida Jetty to witness the daily life of the local people and Yangon's River that offers a remarkable atmosphere with spectacular colors and photo opportunities then stroll around in China town an evening market selling various kind of food, fruits and products.
Today is a free day until our arrangements end with a departure transfer to the airport to meet your homeward bound flight.