Burma - The Road to Mandalay

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Day 1: Arrive in Rangoon (Yangon)

Upon arrival at Rangoon airport you will be met and transferred to our hotel. We meet for dinner and our orientation tonight. Overnight in Rangoon (Yangon).


Day 2: Rangoon Sites

Today we visit the colonial city center of Rangoon. We will see the Sule Pagoda, dating back over 2,000 years; the magnificent reclining Buddha at Chauk Htat Gyi; and the Karaweik Hall - a floating barge on the Kandawgyi Lake. We explore Bogyoke (Scotts) Market with its myriad of goods including food, clothing, handicrafts, gems and much more.

Following lunch at a local restaurant, 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. Overnight in Rangoon."


Day 3: Fly To Kalaw

After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for your flight to Heho. Upon arrival, we drive to Kalaw, a delightful hill station on the rim of the Shan Plateau, which is a 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, Kalaw Shwe U Min Pagoda or Nee Paya (bamboo strip lacquer Buddha image).


Day 4: The Hill Station of Kalaw

After breakfast, we start our sightseeing in Kalaw. We visit a small cave with several Buddha statues. We return to Kalaw for lunch and drive east to a farming village where Pa-O and Shan people live. In the late afternoon, enjoy a walking tour through this peaceful place with an atmosphere reminiscent of the colonial era. Nowadays the town is a market center for ethnic minorities from surrounding regions. 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. Each bungalow is made of local material and built on stilts up on the lake itself. 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 and finish with a visit to the weaving village of Inpawkhon. Overnight on Inle Lake.


Day 6: One Leg Rowers of Inle Lake

A morning journey by boat to view life around the lake with 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 to the beginning of a stair path leading to the hidden and relatively unknown 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. The passage ends at the Inn Thein Buddha Image, said to have been donated by the Indian Emperor Asoka, 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 our local lunch, we explore Kyaing Tong, visiting One Tree Hill view point and the scenic Naung Tong Lake. Overnight in Kyaing Tong.


Day 8: Hill Tribes of Kyaing Tong

Start the day off exploring 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 your 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). Visit a traditional hand- woven silk workshop as well as a Kalaga tapestries craftsmen's shop before we go to Mandalay Hill for a spectacular sunset viewing. 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. The Bagaya Monastery will fascinate you with an intriguing collection of Buddha statues.

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, built of brick and stucco, 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 enjoy a fantastic sunset. Overnight in Mandalay.


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

After an early breakfast, we transfer to the jetty to embark on a 3 day / 2 night river journey along the Irrawaddy River. We set sail for Mingun to visit the Pagoda complex. Enjoy lunch and dinner on board. Overnight on board.
The next morning, we continue on to Yandapo village, a small rural village that is well known for a treaty signed here between the British and Burmese in 1826. Now the village is famous for its handmade terracotta pots produced in traditional ways. After a short tour, we set sail to 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 Pagan (UNESCO)

In the early morning, we arrive in Pagan and are transferred to our hotel. After a stroll through the colorful local market, we continue the day with visits to the most significant pagodas and temples of Pagan. These are 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; Khay Min Ga Temple, noted for its panoramic view of the area's numerous monuments and Ananda Temple, with four standing Buddha images.

After lunch, visit one of Myanmar's most treasured handicrafts, a lacquerware craftsmen's workshop in nearby Myinkaba village. We visit Manuha Temple, built in the Mon style in 1059 and continue to Nanbaya Temple, a unique sandstone monument said to have been the palace of King Manuha. 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 to view beautiful Buddha images of bronze, stone and lacquer. Finally, we go to Bupaya Pagoda to watch the sunset over the majestic Irrawaddy River. Overnight Pagan.


Day 14: Ancient sites & temples of Pagan

After breakfast, visit the site of Tayokepyay Temple in Min Nan Thu Village; Phaya Thone Zu and Nandamanya Temples noted for exquisite murals of 13th century; Kyat Kan Cave monastery, a famous meditation retreat in Pagan. We continue to farming villages around Pagan 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. Overnight in Pagan.


Day 15: Mount Popa

After breakfast, we drive to Mount 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 have a leisurely drive back to Pagan. Overnight in Pagan.


Day 16: Fly To Rangoon, Golden Rock

After breakfast, fly to Rangoon 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 when it's lit up by the setting sun. Overnight in Kinpun.


Day 17: Rangoon

After breakfast, we return to Rangoon. Upon arrival, we drive to the Nanthida jetty to cross the Yangan River on a local ferry. We visit Dalla Village, riding in rickshaws through the small village streets which provide an excellent opportunity to observe how the local people live. 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. Enjoy your farewell Dinner! Overnight in Rangoon (Yangon).


Day 18: Depart Rangoon (Yangon)

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

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