Discover Myanmar, an exotic land of tradition and sacred sites from the awe-inspiring religious monuments of Yangon to evocative Mandalay and its Royal Palace, the spectacular stupa-filled plains of Bagan and heavenly Inle Lake with a few surprises along the way.
Today we explore the fascinating city of Yangon and its famous religious monuments. In the heart of downtown we begin with a photo stop in front of Yangon City Hall, before visiting the Sule Pagoda, which is a peaceful place to retreat from the bustle of the city. The pagoda is near Maha Bandoola Park which is encircled by a host of colonial buildings and heritage sites, including Independence Monument and the High Court. We also see the hollow, golden Botahtaung Pagoda before lunch at the Yangon Tea House, which is reminiscent of the grand tea houses of colonial times and serves a delicious cup of traditional tea.
After lunch we take a stroll around the colourful Bogyoke (Scott) Market, which sells an array of goods, including gemstones, handicrafts and clothes. After some retail therapy we visit the giant 70 metre-long reclining Buddha of Chaukhtagyi Paya at Chaukhtagyi Pagoda, which has a crown encrusted in diamonds and other precious stones.
Later this evening we enjoy an excursion to the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar, the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda. Standing at 90 metres tall, the gold leaf central stupa dominates the city’s skyline and turns vivid hues of yellow, orange and red when the sun begins to set.
Overnight: Yangon | Breakfast, Lunch
Yangon – Mandalay. This morning we fly to Mandalay, Myanmar’s last royal capital. On the outskirts of Mandalay is the ancient city of Amarapura, a former capital of Myanmar which is rich in sights. Here we visit the largest teaching monastery in the country, the Mahagandayon Monastery. Hundreds of monks from the monastery queue to receive their daily alms from the people.
Travelling into the city we explore the Royal Palace and see the teak carvings on the historic Shwenandaw Monastery. We also have the opportunity to visit a local handicraft workshop to see bronze sculpting, gold leaf marking and wood carving, before spending the afternoon at leisure. This evening we visit the world’s largest book at the Kuthodaw Pagoda and our day concludes at Mandalay Hill, where we hope to enjoy a spectacular sunset, with vistas across the city.
Overnight: Mandalay | Breakfast
This morning we enjoy a cruise up the Irrawaddy River to Mingun where we visit the remains of what could have been the world’s largest pagoda and the mighty Mingun Bell. Intended to reach a staggering height of 152 metres, work on the pagoda stopped after the death of King Bodawpaya in 1819. Dramatically split by an earthquake in 1838, the monumental structure is still incredibly impressive.
Travelling on to Sagaing Hill we take in the spectacular views over the river and the rolling hills, which are studded with pagodas and stupas. On top of the hill is the ancient Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin pagoda and we see the remarkable Thirty Caves Pagoda and the Kaungmhudaw Pagoda.
Returning to ancient Amarapura, which is famous for its textile industry, we see how traditional fabrics are woven at a cottage industry workshop, before our final stop of the day at the famous U Bein Bridge. U Bein is the longest teak bridge in the world, set over the enchanting Taungthaman Lake. Here we have the wonderful opportunity to see the bridge in all its glory at sunset, which is a photographer's dream.
Overnight: Mandalay | Breakfast
Mandalay - Bagan. Transferring to the jetty this morning we board the MGRG express riverboat that plies the Irrawaddy from Mandalay to Bagan. The journey takes approximately 9 hours and you'll be treated to breathtaking views interrupted only by scenes of everyday life as family fishing boats pass and children wave from the shore. Upon arrival to Bagan hotel check in and free time this evening.
If travelling between 01 Apr and 31 July each year the water level of the river is at its lowest which prevents cruises from operating. These dates do vary depending upon rainfall and the amount of water coming down the river. When the cruises are not in operation we fly from Mandalay to Bagan. Day 5 arrangements during this period are morning at leisure in Mandalay before taking a short flight to Nyaung Oo Airport and transfer to Bagan where we spend the night. Please also note that only breakfast is included when we fly to Bagan, lunch and dinner is excluded.
Overnight: Bagan | Breakfast, Lunch
Early this morning there's the opportunity to float over Bagan in a hot air balloon for those that have booked our Ballooning over Bagan add-on. Nothing can quite prepare you for the spectacular sight of stupa-upon-stupa that fills the green, dusty plains of Bagan. Over 2000 temples and pagodas dating back some 800 years create one of the most impressive skylines to be seen in Southeast Asia. Our sightseeing today begins with a visit to the town of Nyaung-U to see the local market and Bagan’s most important reliquary shrine, the Shwezigon Pagoda, and the simple Kyansittha Cave Temple with interesting 12th century frescoes.
Continuing our sightseeing we visit the gigantic Buddhas housed inside the Manuha Temple, the sandstone carvings of the nearby Nanpaya Temple, and the Ananda Temple with its four standing gold-leaf Buddhas. Other highlights of the day include the towering Thatbyinnyu Temple, Dhammayangyi Temple and the Mingalarzedi Pagoda, which was the last of the large pagodas built in the 13th century, representing the pinnacle of Bagan’s architectural skills. Our final port of call is a local lacquer workshop where we can see local craftsmen skilfully prepare Bagan’s most famous handicraft.
Overnight: Bagan | Breakfast
Mt Popa & Colonial Kalaw Hill Station
Bagan – Mount Popa – Kalaw. Today we travel to the popular hill station of Kalaw with a stop en route at the extinct volcano of Mount Popa. The mountain is believed to be the abode of legendary Nats (spirit gods) and at the summit are numerous monasteries, pagodas and shrines in various architectural styles. Arriving into Kalaw, (approx. 7 hrs drive) a former British hill station perched on the western edge of the Shan Plateau, we enjoy breathtaking views and the serenity of the surrounds. Late this afternoon we visit Thein Taung Pay pagoda.
Overnight: Kalaw | Breakfast
Danu Hill Tribe & Pindaya Caves
Kalaw – Palaung Hills – Pindaya. An early morning start allows us to enjoy a light trek into the Palaung Hills. Meandering through small ranges of rice paddies and tea plantations we arrive to Painaebin village, home to the indigenous Danu people. Walking back to Kalaw, we drive on to the quiet town of Pindaya, set amidst beautiful countryside and famous for its extensive cave network. Highlights of our sightseeing tour today include the carved Buddha images of the Pindaya caves, the ancient Banyan tree and small local factories producing Mulberry paper and bamboo hats.
Overnight: Pindaya | Breakfast
Pindaya – Inle Lake. After breakfast on day 9 we drive to the wonderful watery world of Inle Lake home to floating gardens, stilted villages and crumbling stupas. We tour the lake by boat and witness the unique rowing techniques of the local fishermen before visiting the unusual Nga Pe Chaung monastery and Inle Lake’s largest pagoda, the Paungdaw Oo pagoda. The remainder of the day and evening offer free time.
Day 10 is spent at leisure. You could take advantage of the lush surrounding countryside and partake in canoeing or cycling, or alternatively you could opt for an excursion to an Indein village to learn more about the ethnic tribes of the region or to Kakku, a valley of more than a thousand stupas to admire the intricate ancient carvings. Other options include a visit to Taunggyi - capital of the Southern Shan state and former British hill station or to Sagar to see the sunken stupas that lay under water for part of the year with local village visits along the way (bookable and payable locally).
Overnight: Inle Lake | Breakfast x 2
Inle Lake – Heho - Yangon. After breakfast we leave the lake and transfer to the Heho airport for our flight back to Yangon. Once back in Yangon, the remainder of the day offers free time for you to further explore this delightful city or sit back, relax and enjoy the hotel facilities.
Overnight: Yangon | Breakfast
Wednesday. Today marks the end of our Burmese adventure with hotel check out and airport departure transfer.
Ngapali Beach break
Opt to extend your stay and enjoy some rest and relaxation at Ngapali Beach, a pristine stretch of unspoiled, palm-fringed coast on the beautiful Bay of Bengal with our 14 day Best of Myanmar & Beach tour.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons. Prices shown are per person when there are 2 persons sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who require their own room and needs to be added to the per person price. If you are happy to be paired up with another single traveller of the same gender on your tour, this can be arranged provided there is another single traveller booked on the tour date of your choosing. If a roommate cannot be found the single room supplement will apply.
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard.
Rose Garden Hotel, Yangon
Located just a mile from the Shwedagon Pagoda and other attractions, the Rose Garden is an elegant hotel for your stay in Yangon. Enjoy the spacious superior rooms with locally-influenced decor, free Wi-Fi and a range of four-star amenities. The hotel's two restaurants and bar offer delicacies ranging from Burmese to Italian cuisine. Perhaps the highlight of this 7-floor hotel is its 60 ft outdoor pool, perfect for a sunny swim. A gift shop & gallery and 24-hour gym also feature among the hotel's services.
Eastern Palace Hotel, Mandalay
The Eastern Palace is an elegant hotel situated 10 minutes' drive from central Mandalay. Its all-day restaurant and rooftop bar, large pool, and fitness centre are available for guests to relax in after seeing the sights of the former royal capital. The bright and modern rooms are equipped with flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and en-suite facilities. The hotel is also near the elaborate Shwenandaw Monastery, once part of the Burmese Royal Palace.
Thande Hotel, Bagan
Built in 1922 to facilitate the arrival of the British Prince of Wales, the Bagan Thande Hotel is the only colonial era building in the city. Rooms are furnished to a high standard with beautiful teakwood, fine fabrics and traditional handicrafts. An Al-fresco dinner overlooking the Ayeyawaddy River facing numerous pagodas is a great way to spend evenings at this wonderful Burmese retreat. The hotel is perfectly situated by the river in Old Bagan and is surrounded by beautiful gardens and temples as far as the eye can see.
Conqueror Hotel Resort, Pindaya
The beautiful Conqueror Hotel Resort is perfectly integrated in to the stunning wilderness that surrounds it. Bamboo bungalows contain elegant and spacious bedrooms, complete with mosquito nets, satellite TV and tea and coffee making facilities. Delicious cuisine from Burma, China and Europe can be sampled in the magnificent dining area. After dinner, guests can head to the Venda Bar and indulge in a cocktail or two as they soak up the view of the setting sun and listen to the soft Burmese music floating through the air.
Amata Garden Resort, Inle Lake
On the eastern banks of Inle Lake, Amata Garden Resort is a charming 3 story hotel where guests can enjoy beautiful views of the lake and mountains. Guest rooms are beautifully furnished in traditional Myanmar design with luxurious and modern amenities - each with a view of the lake or mountains. Guests can dine at the Royal Lotus Restaurant where international and Myanmar cuisine is served up. The Sunset Bar offers delicious liquid refreshment - perfect for the end of the day and sunset.
Enhance your trip with these amazing added extras and add-ons
Tun was a great help in dealing with Thai Airway when they lost my luggage. He was also an excellent guide with a great knowledge of all things Burmese and a good friend by the end of the tour. I (and the rest of the tour group) couldn’t recommend him highly enough.”