Myanmar (Burma) - The Road to Mandalay

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Day 1: Arrive in Yangon

Upon arrival at Yangon airport you will be met and transferred to our hotel.
We enjoy dinner and an orientation briefing tonight.
Overnight in Yangon.


Day 2: Yangon Sites - Shwedagon Pagoda

We visit one of the world's most spectacular monuments, the Shwedagon Pagoda.
For Burmese Buddhists, Shwedagon is the most sacred of all Buddhist sites in the country, one which all Burmese hope to visit at least once in their lifetime.

We drive to the Nanthida jetty to cross the Yangon River on a local ferry. We visit Dalla Village, riding in rickshaws through the small village streets which provide an interesting glimpse of local life. Visit the old colonial Strand Hotel, built in 1896 by Aviet and Tigran Sarkie, two of the Sarkie brothers. The hotel was used to quarter Japanese troops during World War II.

Next, we visit the magnificent reclining Buddha at Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. We then visit the Karaweik Hall - a floating barge on Kandawgyi Lake, the colonial city center of Yangon.

Dinner and overnight in Yangon.


Day 3: Fly To Kalaw

After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Heho. Upon arrival, we drive to Kalaw, a delightful hill station on the rim of the Shan Plateau, which is the market center for hilltribes from surrounding regions. At 1,320 meters, Kalaw has a cool and pleasant climate.

After lunch, you can simply relax or enjoy one of many short, local hiking options including hikes to a Palaung hilltribe village, Nee Paya (bamboo strip lacquer Buddha image).
Dinner and overnight in Kalaw.


Day 4: The Hill Station of Kalaw

After breakfast, we start our sightseeing in Kalaw. We visit Shwe Oo Min pagoda, a small cave with several Buddha statues, kalaw Train Station and a local market. The town is a market center for ethnic minorities from surrounding regions.

We return to Kalaw for lunch and drive east to a farming village where Pa-O and Shan people live. In the late afternoon we enjoy a walking tour through this peaceful place with an atmosphere reminiscent of the colonial era.
Overnight in Kalaw.


Day 5: Inle Lake

We take a morning drive to Nyaung Shwe for a short walk through the small town. We continue by boat to Nampan and the Golden Island Cottages. Visit the Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda, one of the main principle shrines in Myanmar dating back to the 18th century. Continue on to the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, famous for its jumping cats trained by monks. We finish with a visit to the weaving village of Inpawkhon.
Overnight on Inle Lake.


Day 6: One Leg Rowers of Inle Lake

We take a morning journey by boat to view life around the lake where we see the famous one leg rowers, typical floating gardens, local methods of fishing and magnificent scenery. After lunch, journey to the western shore of Inle Lake and the beginning of a stair path leading to the hidden Inn Thein Pagoda complex. A large, covered passage, supported by 804 pillars leads into the complex.
The passage holds many small ancient stupas, carved with figures and floral designs which leads to the Inn Thein Buddha Image, said to have been donated by the Indian Emperor Ashoka, who reigned over most of the Indian subcontinent in the 3rd century BC.
Overnight on Inle Lake.


Day 7: Fly to Kyaing Tong

After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Kyaing Tong. On the way to the airport, we visit a parasol workshop. After lunch at a local restaurant, we explore Kyaing Tong, with a visit to One Tree Hill view point, Shan Lacquerware workshop and the scenic Naung Tong Lake.
Dinner and overnight in Kyaing Tong.


Day 8: Hill Tribes of Kyaing Tong

Today we explore the colorful Kyaing Tong market and enjoy a full day excursion to the surrounding hill tribe villages. Visit an animist Palaung village whose tribe is amongst the oldest inhabitants of Myanmar. We visit the Akha tribe to see their famous spectacular head dresses that jingle with silver and colored tassels.

On the way, we stop to meet the Lahu people whose origins date back to the Tibeto-Burman era. We will also meet the Khuns people known for their elegant embroidered silk longys and colorful turbans. Enjoy a picnic lunch enroute to Kyaing Tong as we end our day with a pleasant drive passing through many picturesque forests and terraced rice fields.
Overnight in Kyaing Tong.


Day 9: Mandalay

Enjoy a relaxing morning before our transfer to the airport for the flight to Mandalay. Upon arrival, we pay a visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda to see the world's largest book made of marble.
We also visit Golden Palace Monastery (Shwenandaw Kyaung) and Mandalay Hill for a spectacular sunset viewing.
Dinner and overnight in Mandalay.


Day 10: Former Royal Capitals and Monasteries

After breakfast, we depart for Amarapura outside of Mandalay, to visit the Mahagandayon Monastery, where more than a thousand monks live and study. Time permitting, we will have the opportunity to observe the monks having their last meal of the day in total silence. We continue to U Bein Teak Bridge, built in 1782 at the time when Amarapura was the Royal capital. Visit a traditional hand- woven silk workshop as well as a Kalaga tapestries craftsmen's shop.

After lunch, embark on a short boat excursion to the former Royal Capital of Inwa (Ava). A horse drawn carriage awaits us for a ride to the Nanmyint watch tower, the remains of the palace building nicknamed "the leaning tower of Ava". We continue the journey to Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery as well as Bargayar Monastery, famous for its impressive, ornate wood carvings and teak posts. Continue on to Sagaing Hills, which is a retreat for Buddhist devotees and later we enjoy a fantastic sunset.
Dinner and overnight in Mandalay.


Days 11 - 12: Begin 3-day Irrawaddy River Cruise

After an early breakfast, we transfer to the jetty for our 3 day / 2 night river journey along the Irrawaddy River. We set sail for Mingun to visit the Pagoda complex. Relax and enjoy lunch, dinner and overnight on board.

The next morning, we continue on to Yandapo, a small rural village where a treaty between the British and Burmese was signed in 1826. Now the village is famous for its handmade terracotta pots produced in traditional ways. After a short tour, we continue our cruise of the Irrawaddy to where the Chindwin River and the Irrawaddy River meet. Here we will moor overnight.
Lunch, dinner and overnight on board.


Day 13: To Bagan (UNESCO)

In the early morning, we arrive in Bagan and are transferred to our hotel. After a stroll through the colorful local market, we continue with visits to the most significant pagodas and temples of Bagan. We visit the Shwezigon Pagoda, built by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century as a religious shrine; Ku Byanuk Gyi, a temple with superb murals of Jataka scenes; and Ananda Temple, with four standing Buddha images.

After lunch, visit a lacquerware craftsmen's workshop in nearby Myinkaba village, which is one of Myanmar's most treasured handicrafts. We visit Manuha Temple, built in the Mon style in 1059. Next, we explore the Myingaba Gu Byaukgyi Temple, a temple noteworthy for its mural paintings under the protection of UNESCO. We also visit the archaeological museum where we see beautiful Buddha images of bronze, stone and lacquer. Finally, we go to Shwe San Daw to watch the sunset over the majestic Irrawaddy River.
Dinner and overnight Bagan.


Day 14: Ancient sites & temples of Bagan

After breakfast, visit Dhamayarzinka Pagoda, Min Nan Thu Village; Phaya Thone Zu and Nandamanya Temples noted for exquisite murals of 13th century; and Kyat Kan Cave monastery, a famous meditation retreat in Bagan. We continue to farming villages around Bagan to gain an insight into the lives of the local people. We will have a late lunch and enjoy some further temple visits. We complete the day by watching the sunset over the many ancient temples dotting the country-side.
Dinner and overnight in Bagan.

Optional 1 Hour 'Sunrise over Bagan' Balloon Excursion: $320USD


Day 15: Mount Popa

After breakfast, we drive to Mount Popa. On the way, we stop at Palm forest to observe how palm sugar, toddy (sky beer) and moonshine are made. We continue to Mt Popa, an extinct volcano with spectacular views. Its shrine is dedicated to animist spirits known as "Nats" and you will have time to climb the 777 steps to the shrine at the top of the peak. The setting and views are spectacular. In the afternoon, we drive back to Bagan for dinner and overnight.


Day 16: Fly To Yangon, Golden Rock

After breakfast, we fly to Yangon and drive to Kinpun to visit The Golden Rock, one of the most important religious sites in Myanmar and a dream destination for devout Buddhists. The boulder is painted gold and is balanced on the edge of a cliff. According to myth it is held in place by a strain of Buddha's hair. Spend the rest of the day exploring this site before experiencing the sunset which casts a beautiful glow.
Overnight in Kyaikhtiyo.


Day 17: Return to Yangon, Scott's Market, Farewell Dinner

After breakfast, we return to Yangon. Upon arrival, we continue seeing some of Yangon's sites including the famous Scott's Market (also known as Bogyoke Market) with its myriad of goods including food, clothing, handicrafts, gems and much more. The rest of the afternoon is free before we reminisce on our unforgettable journey to Myanmar during our farewell dinner.
Overnight in Yangon.


Day 18: Depart Yangon

After breakfast, you have free time until your transfer to Yangon Airport for your departure flight.

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