Explore the splendours of diverse and fascinating Myanmar on this tour, a perfect introduction to the country’s natural wonders and cultural treasures. Start in Yangon to gaze in awe at the gilded Shwedagon Pagoda. In Bagan explore the countless pagodas, temples and markets, then fly to the ancient royal capital of Mandalay. The tour finishes at the beautiful Inle Lake famous for its floating villages gardens and the leg-rowers of the Intha tribe.
Highlights of your tour:
- Marvel at the sight of Bagan’s thousands of pagodas
- Immerse yourself in the country’s culture: visit local villages and markets learn traditional crafts and attend a Buddhist ceremony
- The stunning landscape and the famous leg-rowers of Inle Lake
Private Touring programme
Meals and sightseeing as per itinerary
Domestic flights included (prices subject to change)
3 Select & Mix experiences included in the price
Note: Please note that local suppliers in Myanmar may increase their rates without prior notice. Final price will be advised at time of booking. Special payment conditions may apply for Myanmar bookings.
Due to high demand Hot Air Balloon rides require booking and payment in advance.
Day 1: Yangon
Welcome to Myanmar. On arrival please clear customs and immigration. In arrivals area you will be met by a representative of our local operator and then transferred to your hotel (check in from 02.00pm).
Day 2: Yangon (B)
Begin your exploration of Yangon with a visit to Kyaukhtagyi Pagdoa to admire its 70 metre long reclining Buddha. Take a tea break at the local Modern tea Shop. Continue to the Royal Lake before visiting the gem of Yangon, the Golden Shwedagon Pagoda, with its 100 metre high chedi covered with more than 40 tons of gold leaves. This evening explore a local market and the vibrant streets of Chinatown.
Day 3: Yangon – Bagan (B)
Morning transfer to the airport for your domestic flight to Bagan.
Welcome to Bagan known to be one of the greatest architectural sites in Asia. When Bagan was the centre of Myanmar from the 11th to 13th centuries, the monarchs built multitudes of massive stupas and pagodas, scores of which are still present on the shores of the Irrawaddy River. The majesty of Bagan with more than 4000 red brick temples on a plain of the size of Manhattan island is one of the highlights of a Myanmar holiday that will soothe the eye of every traveller.
Discover the best of Bagan today. Your fist port of call is an elevated temple with its panoramic views of the Bagan plains. This viewpoint will give you a taste of the sheer number of temples as well as some of their distinctive styles. From here you will have a look around the Ananda Temple – one of the most exalted of Bagan’s temples. Your guide will aim to reach this point before the majority of tourists arrive, enabling you to enjoy the splendour of the temple in relative tranquillity. Continue to various other temples dotted around the temple plains to experience a variety of architectural styles in the area as well as the artistic wonder of the 9-14th centuries. Traveling amid the temples you will get a taste of rural Bagan life in this ‘living museum’ setting where farmers and families work amongst the monuments.
Next is your chance to learn more about the local culture with a visit to two workshops producing Bagan’s most famous products - lacquer ware and wood crafts. Watch the skilled craftsmen use traditional techniques passed down through generations to create beautiful items.
After a short siesta back at your hotel, board a private river boat and set off upriver towards Kyauk Gu U Min. Throughout your Irrawaddy river cruise you will be treated to fabulous scenes of life on and by the water: fishermen, ferry boats, riverside villages, and views of the Bagan temples. There will be a stop at a riverside village to go ashore for a short stroll and observe the lives of the river’s residents. The friendly people work as farmers and fishermen living a simple but happy life. After returning aboard the cruise continues to Kyauk Gu U Min on the eastern side of the river from where it is only a five to ten minute walk to the temple. This beautiful masterpiece has exquisite stone carvings depicting religious figures and flowers. The temple itself is built into the side of cliff and behind the main hall is access to a quiet and tranquil cave. Inside the cave there are several small recessed alcoves which are ideal for meditation. Legend has it that the cave was built during the 13th century for the locals to hide from the invading Mongols. After your exploration of Kyauk Gu U Min return to the boat for a relaxing cruise back to Bagan (around 1 hour.)
Day 4: Bagan (B)
Morning optional hot air balloon ride over Bagan
This morning start off with an exciting hot-air balloon ride above the Bagan countryside. You will observe one-of-a-kind views when the sun begins to rise over the Irrawaddy River and various stupas in the region. (Only available from October/November through March)
This morning visit the vibrant Nyaung Oo Market where the locals come to trade fresh produce and other goods daily. From here you will explore the Old Bagan starting with a visit of the renowned Shwezigon Pagoda constructed by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century as a religious memorial. Travel over dusty lanes and tree shaded roads past temples and monasteries to a small village. At one of the monasteries you will participate in a special traditional Buddhist ceremony. Around 10.30am you will witness an alms procession where alongside locals you will donate offerings of food to the monks. Afterwards you will receive a special blessing from the monks to ensure good luck and happiness.
From here you will journey on by horse cart passing Thatbyinnyu, the tallest temple in Bagan, gigantic Dhammayangyi Temple noted for its remarkable brickwork and of course Sulamani Temple. Admire the sunset from the upper terrace of one of the surrounding temples.
Day 5: Bagan – Mandalay (B)
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Mandalay.
Mandalay is the second largest city of Myanmar and one of the ancient royal capitals. This booming modern & vibrant city is also the cultural heart of Myanmar its most traditional timeless and alluring city.
Upon arrival start exploring with a walk up to Mandalay Hill rising 240 meters above the city. At the top the reward is a full panoramic view the hazy blue outline of the Shan Hills to the east the Mandalay Palace (and the city sprawl) to the south and the Irrawaddy River to the west.
Continue to the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda known as the pagoda of the Great Marble Image. Admire the huge Buddha carved from a single block of marble. It is said that it took 10000 men almost two weeks to transport the colossal marble block from the riverside to its current location. Proceed to Kuthodaw Pagoda, frequently dubbed as “The World’s Biggest Book” for its collection of 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. Continue to the Shwenandaw Monastery, the Golden Monastery, which is the only enduring structure from the Royal Palace of the 19th century. This impressive structure is celebrated for its remarkable woodcarvings.
This afternoon visit to the Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda houses one of the country’s most honoured Buddha images completely covered in gold leaves that are every day applied to the statue by male devotees.
There are also many craft workshops in Mandalay and should you wish you can stop for a visit to one making gold leaf tapestries, wood carvings, or marionettes (if time allows).
Later drive to Amarapura Myanmar’s penultimate royal capital. Amarapura means “City of Immortality” though its period as capital was relatively brief. Visit Mahagandayon monastery, home to more than a thousand young monks and renowned as a centre for monastic study and strict religious discipline. Continue to the legendary U Bein Bridge which was built in 1782 when Amarapura was the Royal centre of attention. It spans 1.2 km across the shallow Taungthaman Lake and is said to be the longest teakwood bridge worldwide. Enjoy this very special atmosphere as the late afternoon sun casts long shadows and illuminates the local people heading home. Head back to Mandalay for the night.
Day 6: Mandalay - Sagaing - Ava – Mandalay (B)
Morning visit to Mandalay’s vibrant market. Continue across the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing. With 600 ivory coloured pagodas and monasteries, Sagaing Hill is generally seen as the spiritual hub of Myanmar and claims residence to around 3000 monks and nearly 100 meditation shrines. Visit pagodas such as Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin, U Min Thone Sae, and Shin Pin Nan Gyaing. Continue to Sagaing’s local market a less visited tourist site.
Return back to the eastern side of the river in the afternoon making a stop in Kan Daw village en route. Here you will see a small village where all of the families produce longyis and other textiles. Although no longer made 100% by hand the production is still fascinating and is a unique photo opportunity in contrast with the delicate weaving you will see later in Inle Lake. Tea and a light snack will be served in the family home before returning to your vehicle (Note: this village may not be accessible from May – September due to the monsoon rains)
Continue to Ava which was the standing capital from the 14th through the 18th centuries. Cross the small river by ferry and travel in a traditional horse carriage to the wooden Bagaya Monastery renowned for its extraordinarily elaborate woodcarvings.
Return to Mandalay in the early evening. (B)
Day 7: Mandalay - Heho - Inle Lake (B)
Transfer to the airport for your domestic flight to Heho. From Heho you will have a scenic drive (32km – 1 hour) to Nyaung Shwe gateway village to Inle Lake. Take a short orientation tour of Nyaung Shwe, a small town of narrow streets dotted with temples, monasteries, tea shops, and local houses. Then board a private motorboat and begin heading out onto Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular and breath-taking sights. Its calm waters are dotted with floating vegetation and fishing canoes to which scenic hills provide the perfect backdrop. Along the way you will pass several villages built on stilts and inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the daily activities of the local leg-rowing fishermen and see their ‘floating gardens’ which are built up from strips of water hyacinth earth and anchored to the bottom of the lake with bamboo poles.
You will also visit Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery which houses many early Shan Buddha Images. In the past this temple was known for its ‘jumping cats’ but these days there are only a few felines roaming around and none are jumping any more. However, the Buddha images are still worth the visit.
Proceed to the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main haven which contains five sacred images of Buddha decorated in gold leaf. There are also many traditional crafts originating on Inle Lake. Should you wish, you can stop for a visit a maker of gorgeous items woven from lotus silk, boat builders (depending on the time of year), silver smiths, blacksmiths, or even a cigar making workshop.
Day 8: Inle Lake - Indein - Inle Lake (B)
Morning visit to the market where Inle Lake’s locals come to sell and trade their wares.
A 1-hour boat ride down a small canal will take you to the Pa-Oh village of Indein positioned on the western shores of Inle Lake. Take a leisurely stroll around the village and admire the mesmerizing views of the placid surroundings. Then depart for a 45 minute walk to Sae Ma village. Along the way enjoy the natural beauty and panoramic vistas of the area while basking under the shade of the bamboo grooves.
Upon arrival at the village observe the daily lifestyles of the rural inhabitants. On your boat ride back, should time allow, you'll stop at the Inthar Heritage House to learn more about the history and culture of the lake's indigenous people.
Day 9: Inle Lake - Heho – Yangon (B)
After breakfast, transfer to Heho Airport for a short flight back to Yangon. Upon arrival at Yangon airport you’ll be greeted by a guide and driver who will be at your disposal until returning to the airport for your international connection.
- Air conditioned transfers and transportation
- Accommodation in selected hotel category
- Domestic flights (price subject to change)
- Sightseeing with local private English speaking guides
- Activities meals and entrance fees as per itinerary
- 3 Select & mix experiences
- International airfares
- Optional tours and excursions
- Port Taxes and fuel surcharges
- Tipping/Gratuities (please refer to tour notes for a recommended guideline)
- Personal Expenses
- Departure taxes
- Hotel charges for minibar or any extra charges
- Visas (unless specified)
- Any other services not clearly mentioned in the inclusions above
Note: The hotel selection may change – please use this as a guideline only
Your choice of 3 Select & Mix experiences (no extra cost 3 experiences already included in the price of your holiday):
A. Yangon: Indulge in a high tea at the stunning Governor’s Residence Hotel and immerse yourself in the colonial times atmosphere (day 2)
Take a break and indulge in High Tea at a stunning colonial times historic site. This classic style hotel is a welcome retreat from the heat and constant buzz of the city. Relax in the casual yet elegant café while enjoying a full service High Tea of either Burmese or Western treats.
B. Yangon: receive a monk’s blessing and partake in Myanmar’s most beautiful ceremony as you join local worshipers to illuminate thousands of oil lamps at the base of Shwedagon Pagoda (day 1 or 2 late afternoon)
Partake in one of Myanmar’s most beautiful ceremonies as you join local worshippers and monks to illuminate hundreds of small oil lamps at the base of Shwedagon Pagoda. Having walked around and learned about the importance of this glittering monument you will return to a small pavilion and be given a candle. Led by a monk, light these delicate lamps one by one creating a line of wavering flames which illuminate the base of Shwedagon. Step back and soak in the serene atmosphere created with local worshippers saying their evening prayers in the glow of the lamps.
C. Yangon: Join the locals for a Tai Chi session followed by a traditional breakfast (day 2 or 3 early morning)
Start the morning the local way- with a dose of exercise in the park. Wake up early and transfer to Mahabandoola Park or Kandawgyi Park where every morning Yangon residents gather to walk, do calisthenics, and practice traditional martial arts. You’ll be met by an English-speaking Tai Chi instructor who will guide you through a series of slow graceful movements alongside the Myanmar practitioners. Enjoy the relaxing motions in this unique setting for around one hour. Continue your ‘local’ morning by heading to a nearby tea shop for a cup of tea or coffee and a bowl of noodles to re-energize for the day.
D. Bagan: Explore Bagan on a bike or E-bike tour (day 4 afternoon)
While Bagan’s monuments are easily visited by car, a biking trip provides a different perspective with the chance to criss-cross smaller laneways pass through villages and stop as often as you like. Set off with a local bike or e-bike for a half-day excursion. Pedal with your guide through the central part of Bagan with frequent stops on the way. Although there will be plenty of time to see religious monuments, it is the colourful local markets and village visits that are the highlight of the day. On the bikes, traveling slowly, you get to not just see the lives of the local people but to feel part of their daily activities: farmers on their way to the fields, children rushing home after a day at school and artisans putting the finishing touches on their handicrafts. Be sure to have your camera batteries fully-charged as there are plenty of opportunities for photos on this exciting biking excursion in Bagan.
Distance biked will vary but is a minimum of 10km maximum of 20km.
E. Bagan: Cooking class with local family
Your guide and driver will pick you up to start your Bagan excursion. It's off to the vibrant Nyaung Oo Market where the locals come to trade fresh produce and other goods daily.
You're invited to a local home to join for Myanmar traditional cooking experience. Meet the friendly family who awaits in the humble kitchen while preparing an array of ingredients for today's cooking. Your host will briefly explain to you the local vegetables and herbs hand picked in the garden or freshly brought back from the morning market. Some products exclusively found in the Bagan region will probably be on the menu today. While the hosts cooks up a storm in the kitchen you will find some time to share cooking methods, stories, and laughs. After a lesson in the traditional cooking methods it is time to enjoy the meal together in the home garden. Explore the authentic tastes of Burmese cuisine in a cosy atmosphere. Don't be afraid to finish your plate - it is the Burmese way of showing appreciation for your meal!
F. Bagan: Take a sunset boat cruise with cocktail & snacks (day 3 late afternoon)
You will be driven late in the afternoon to the jetty where your private wooden river boat awaits. Sitting either under the shade or on the open deck you'll be treated to fabulous views as you cruise down the Irrrawaddy River. The views of bagan from the river are particularly spectacular. As you finish your evening cocktail and the sun slowly sinks from view you will prepare to disembark before being driven back to your hotel.
G. Mandalay: Afternoon bike tour to Ava and the iconic U Bein Bridge on time for sunset (day 5 afternoon)
Departing from the hotel in the early afternoon you’ll be transferred out of the hustle and bustle of the city to the biking starting point. The ride starts out by passing through farms and villages where instead of fighting traffic you will be encountering friendly, smiling locals and farm animals wandering around the roadside. You’ll continue along shady paths through Ava also known as Inwa getting a bit of a rest as we cross the small canal by ferry boat. From here you’ll continue towards U Bein Bridge. One of Myanmar’s most iconic sites, U Bein is a teak bridge spanning more than 2 kilometers over Taung Ta Man Lake. Watching the sunset from the lake shores is a memorable way to end the day. After soaking in the views drive back to Mandalay arriving around 19.00.
This biking trip is easy-moderate: total cycling distance is 20 km on flat mostly sealed roads but at times a bit bumpy; recommended to wear long shorts/three-quarter length pants and t-shirts and closed shoes.
H. Mandalay: Take a cooking class at Alice & Su Kitchen (day 6 morning)
Your morning will begin with a visit to the sprawling morning market near the town centre. With your guide, explore the seemingly endless stalls filled with fruits vegetables meats spices and an entire range of other items. Stop for a cup of tea to watch and observe the activities of the tea shop where local residents come to socialize and discuss business. Then continue to a small restaurant where your host chef is waiting to welcome you. Over the next 1.5 hours you will learn about the traditions of Myanmar food and its preparation. A combination of hands-on and demonstration will provide you with a great overview of the techniques tools such as mortar and pestle and key ingredients to making local dishes such as salads and curries. At the end of the class sit down to a delicious lunch which you have helped prepare.
Please notify in advance if any allergies or dietary requirements
I. Inle Lake: Kayak on Lake Inle passing by small villages on stilts vegetable farms and one leg rowing fishermen (day 8 morning)
Embark on a scenic boat ride from your hotel until you reach the starting point (around 45 min depending on your hotel location) of your kayaking adventure. Equipped with life jackets, you will start kayaking southbound along the narrow waterways of the lake. Feel close to nature as you move on tranquil waters flanked by high mountains passing by small villages on stilts, vegetable farms, and one leg rowing fishermen that have become the symbol of the local Intha tribe. Paddling a kayak through the beautiful natural environment is definitely the best way to be close to it.
Note: 4 Kayaks available for max. 8 persons. Take extra clothes to change. Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat.
J. Share lunch with a local Intha family in their stilt house (day 8)
Your destination for today’s lunch is a traditional stilt house situated on the outskirts of a charming village by the lake. Seat on soft pillows – handmade here on the lake – around the low tables like a real Burmese. The traditional decor of this beautiful Burmese structure will give you a glance at the lifestyle of the Intha the main ethnic group of Inle Lake. Your hosts will treat you to a mouth-watering feast prepared according to their family recipes. If you're feeling curious feel free to make a detour to the kitchen and help the cooks give the final touch to the Intha dishes. Quality Shan wine, local beer, or soft drinks will accompany this lovely meal.
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