Day 1. YANGON: Arrival
After landing at Yangon International Airport, you’ll be met by a tour representative who will take you on an introductory tour of Yangon City. The best arrival time is before 9:00 in the morning. Please set your travel arrangements accordingly or book our optional pre-night stay in Yangon. You’ll first explore Yangon’s city centre, which contains several colonial-style buildings dating back to World War II. Other noteworthy sites you’ll see are the City Hall and the Independence Monument, where you will stop for a photo shoot. Along the way, witness and fall into stride with the daily life of the locals.
After lunch at a local restaurant of your choice (not included), visit the Kandawgyi Nature Park, which offers a lovely view of the famous Kandaweyi Lake and the Karaweik Royal Barge, both of which provide excellent backdrops for photos. Then, early in the evening, visit the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacrosanct Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar. Although its origins are unclear, the locals believe it was originally built 2,500 years ago and then renovated several times before getting its current look in the 15th century. The 8-sided central stupa is 99 metres tall, gilded with gold leaf and surrounded by 64 smaller stupas. Follow the guide’s lead around this massive complex and learn why this temple is so important. The rest of the day is free for you to spend at leisure.
Overnight in Yangon.
Day 2. YANGON → BAGAN
(1.5 hrs by plane, included)
After breakfast at the hotel, you will be met by a driver in reception who will transfer you to the airport, where you’ll take a domestic flight to Bagan. Bagan is an ancient city in central Myanmar, just southwest of Mandalay. Located on the eastern banks of the Ayeyarwady River, it’s known for the Bagan Archaeological Area, which has more than 2,000 Buddhist landmarks scattered around its green plains. This sanctuary town is one of Myanmar’s primary attractions. The Ayeyarwady River runs through its northern and western parts. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by a guide and taken on a full-day sightseeing tour. Visit the Nyaung Oo Market; the Wetkyi-in Gubyaukkyi, a temple with exquisite murals; the city gate; the Ananda Temple, the most beautiful house of worship in Bagan, with four huge standing Buddha images and numerous seated figures in niches around the galleried interior; and the Thatbyinnyu Temple, built by King Alaung Sithu in the early 11th century and the tallest temple in Bagan. After lunch, visit a traditional lacquerware workshop to see the production of one of Myanmar’s best-known handicrafts. Later, visit the towns of Minanthu and Phwasaw to see a slice of typical Myanmar village life. In the evening, ride a horsecar to watch the sunset over the Ayeyarwaddy River from the Shwesandaw Pagoda or the Bupaya Pagoda.
Overnight in Bagan.
Day 3: BAGAN → MANDALAY
After waking up to breakfast at hotel, meet your driver in reception and head to the airport to catch your flight to Mandalay, the regal previous capital in northern Myanmar. Upon arrival, your guide will welcome you and transfer you to the town. On the way, make a stop in Amarapura, an ancient capital built following the advice of astrologers. Here you’ll visit the Mahagandaryone monastery, where you can observe the daily life of the monks; the U Bein Bridge, which spans the Taungthaman Lake and is considered the longest teakwood bridge in the world. During the dry season it feels strangely high, but after the mid-year rains the water laps just beneath the floorboards. Then, once you arrive in Mandalay, begin a full-day sightseeing tour that includes a visit to the Mahamuni temple, home to one of the country’s most revered Buddha image. This statue has been covered with so much gold leaf by travellers that it has attained a unique and iconic ‘lumpy’ texture. Get a good look at this famous image and walk around the temple grounds for a feel of its unique spiritual vibes. Afterwards you are invited to witness a series of traditional workshops. The tour also includes stops at Mandalay Palace; the Shwenandaw Monastery, known for its exquisite wood carvings, the Atumashi Monastery; and the Kuthodaw Pagoda, which contains the world’s biggest book. End the tour by watching the sunset on Mandalay Hill. Overnight in Mandalay.
Day 4. MANDALAY: SAGAING – MINGUN
(50 km – 1.5 hrs)
In and around SagaingAfter finishing breakfast at the hotel, drive to Sagaing Hill, a well-known hub of meditation with hundreds of pagodas, monasteries and nunneries tucked into the surrounding valleys and hills. Begin with a visit to U Min Thoneze pagoda, which has a great many Buddha images displayed in a crescent-shaped colonnade. The Sun Oo Pon Nya Shin pagoda was erected in 1312 and the view it offers of Sagaing is truly marvellous. Later, visit Kaungmudaw pagoda, an enormous dome-shaped building built in the 16th century. Then observe some fascinating pottery and silversmith workshops. After lunch at a local restaurant (not included) recommended by your guide, continue with a boat trip to Mingun, where you’ll find the world’s largest bell. Admire the gigantic unfinished Mingun Pagoda, the Settawya Pagoda and the Hsinbyume Pagoda, erected by King Bagyidaw in 1816 in memory of his favourite wife. Its unusual architecture is quite striking. Then get to know Mingun village and its environs. At the end of the day, enjoy the drive back to Mandalay by contemplating the sunset over the mighty Ayeyarwaddy river.
Overnight in Mandalay
Day 5. MANDALAY → INLE LAKE
(130 km – 3.5 hrs)
In and around HehoKickstart the day with breakfast in the hotel, then leave Mandalay and take a flight to your next destination: Heho. Once you land there, a tour representative will meet and greet you. Then start your exploring with a road trip to Pindaya. The way to Pindaya cuts across one of the most densely farmed areas in Myanmar. A good reason to make the journey here is to visit the famous Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, a massive limestone cavern filled with thousands of gilded Buddha statues. Continue to Nyaungshwe, the gateway to the famous Inle Lake, and check-in at the hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to spend at leisure discovering the essence of this magical area. The Inle Lake region is one of Myanmar’s most famous destinations, a vast, serene lake skirted by marshes and floating gardens, where stilt-house villages and Buddhist temples rise above the water. Overnight in Nyaung Shwe or Inle Lake.
Day 6: INLE LAKE
Today breakfast at the hotel is followed by a leisurely boat trip on the Inle Lake, which is a staggering 18 kilometres long and is located 889 metres above sea level. It is the second biggest lake in Myanmar and is famous for its population of lake-dwellers and leg-rowers. Your boat will take you to visit a floating market (only on market days, which is every five days) and the must-see Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda, the holiest religious site in southern Shan State. Later, explore the town of Inpawkhone, famous for its silk-weaving handlooms and the Ngaphechaung Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries on the lake and one that is remarkably well-known for its cats, which have been trained to jump through hoops. Learn all about the traditional fishing techniques and discover the secrets of the floating gardens. Visit a number of fascinating workshops, that include silk weaving, cheroot (mild cigar) making, silverware and weaving sacred robes from lotus fibres.
Overnight in Nyaung Shwe or Inle Lake.
Day 7. INLE LAKE → YANGON
Wake up to breakfast at the hotel, then catch your transfer back to Heho Airport, where you’ll take a flight back to Yangon. After landing, while on the way to your hotel in Yagon, make a stop at the Loka Chantha Abhayalabhamuni Buddha Image, which was carved from more than 600 tons of white marble rock; it is a stunning 11 metres long. After lunch (not included), visit the Bogyoke Market, formerly known as Scott’s Market, the largest market in Yangon and one where you’ll get to browse a wide selection of Burmese handicrafts and other goods. (The market is closed on Mondays and on public holidays.) In the evening, go for a leisurely a wander through Chinatown, where you can also enjoy a spot of shopping and purchase a variety of Myanmar products and tropical fruits. Overnight in Yangon.
Day 8: YANGON: Departure
Wake up to a reinvigorating breakfast and spend this last day in Myanmar at leisure, be it enjoying one last walk around Yangon or relaxing at the hotel. When the time comes, hop onto your transfer back to Yangon International Airport to catch your flight to your next destination.