As Rudyard Kipling wrote ‘this is Burma and it is quite unlike any land you know about’. Experience the cultural delights of this extraordinary country across eight days, visiting the many religious buildings of Yangon, cruising down Irrawaddy River and exploring the many ancient stupas which fill Bagan’s incredible landscape.
Saturday. Welcome to Myanmar and Yangon, the commercial and spiritual centre of the country. After your airport transfer to our hotel, the day is free to spend as you wish. Acquaint yourself with the bustling streets of downtown Yangon or adjust to the time difference before the activities of the next day. In the evening there will be a welcome meeting from your tour guide.
We enjoy a tour of Yangon and its famous religious monuments today. 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 visit the golden hollow Botahtaung Pagoda, which was originally built over 2500 years ago.
We enjoy 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. Moving on we take a stroll around the colourful Bogyoke (Scott) Market, which sells an array of goods, including gemstones, handicrafts and clothes. Then 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 visit the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar, the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda, where locals gather to make offerings and prayers. 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. Bidding farewell to Yangon we leave on a morning flight to Mandalay, Myanmar’s last royal capital before the start of the colonial era. Upon arrival we visit the Mahagandayon Monastery, which is located south of Mandalay, in the ancient city of Amarapura. This is the largest teaching monastery in the country and 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 can take in the wonderful views across the city and hope to enjoy a spectacular sunset.
Overnight: Mandalay | Breakfast
We cruise up the mighty Irrawaddy River to Mingun this morning, where we visit the remains of what could have been the world’s largest pagoda. Intended to reach a staggering height of 152 metres, work on the pagoda stopped after the death of King Bodawpaya in 1819. It was dramatically split by an earthquake in 1838 but still remains incredibly impressive. We'll also see the mighty Mingun Bell.
We travel on to Sagaing Hill to 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 visit the remarkable Thirty Caves Pagoda and the Kaungmhudaw Pagoda.
This afternoon we drive to Amarapura, which is renowned for its textile industry. We see how traditional fabrics are woven at a cottage industry workshop before visiting famous U Bein Bridge, set over the enchanting Taungthaman Lake. Here we have the wonderful opportunity to see the bridge in all its glory at sunset. The silhouettes of monks commuting over the longest teak bridge in the world as the sun sets is an iconic image. In the evening we return to Mandalay.
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 approx 9 hours where 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 in Bagan the evening is at leisure.
Please note: 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. If travelling with us during this time a flight between Mandalay - Bagan replaces the cruise. Day 5 arrangements during this period involve a morning at leisure in Mandalay before transferring to Mandalay Airport to board the 30 minute 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 by booking our Ballooning Over Bagan Add-on. Nothing can quite prepare you for the spectacular sight of stupa-upon-stupa that fills the dusty plains of Bagan. Over 2,000 temples and pagodas dating back some 800 years creates one of the world’s most impressive skylines. Today we explore this mesmerising and peaceful Buddhist temple town.
Our sightseeing begins in the bustling river town of Nyaung-U to see the lively market in action and visit the glittering Shwezigon Pagoda, the simple Kyansittha Cave Temple and Manuha Temple which houses gigantic Buddha’s. Close by is the Nanpaya Temple, which was built by captive Thaton Kingdom King Makuta, and Ananda Temple, an existing masterpiece of the Mon architecture with four gold-leaf Buddhas.
The towering Thatbyinnyu Temple provides wonderful photo opportunities before heading over to Dhammayangyi Temple, a massive 12th century temple visible throughout Bagan. This is the best preserved of Bagan’s temples, hiding mysterious inner passageways and a dramatic history of death and murder. The magnificent Mingalazedi pagoda, the pinnacle of Myanmar pagoda architecture with its bell-like dome and intricate Jataka tiled terraces, is the last site of the day and a wonderful representation of Bagan’s architectural skills. On our way back to the hotel we also stop at a local lacquer workshop where we see how local craftsmen skillfully prepare Bagan’s most famous handicraft.
Overnight: Bagan | Breakfast
Bagan - Yangon. Enjoy the morning at leisure ahead of an airport transfer for our flight to Yangon. We’ll be met on arrival and transferred to our hotel to spend the rest of the day as you wish, whether relaxing in the hotel or venturing out into the city.
Overnight: Yangon | Breakfast
Saturday. Today is the end of our Myanmar adventure, with airport departure transfers once you have checked out of your hotel. Opt to extend your stay and further explore this delightful city by booking post tour accommodation.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 persons. Prices shown are per person when there are 2 persons (or 3 persons if you wish to book a triple) sharing a room. The 'Solo Room' price is applicable to all solo travellers, or if your booking party cannot reach the minimum of 2 persons in a room. Solo Rooms can also be booked by any other person wanting the comfort and privacy of their own room.
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.
Myself and my wife and two daughters thought this tour was the best holiday we have ever been on.The tour was very well organised by Bui and his Knowledge of Myanmar and its history was amazing. The motels we stayed in were very good. The days were very full and not a lot of free time, but this is what we wanted in a holiday, because there was so much to see in a small amount of time. (Bui 5* rating).
A very well organised tour!”