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: To Golden Rock

After breakfast, we depart for Golden Rock. On the way, we visit the Htauk Kyant War cemetery, the final resting place for 27,000 allied soildiers who died during the World War II.

After lunch, we continue to Kyaik Hti Yo Pagoda (Golden Rock Pagoda) which is 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 atop Mt. Kyaiktiyo.

According to legend, the Golden Rock itself is precariously perched on a strand of Buddha's hair. The balancing rock seems to defy gravity, as it perpetually appears to be on the verge of rolling down the hill.

All pilgrims and visitors must take one of the local buses that pack people into the open air seats for an uphill drive filled with switchbacks and stunning scenery. Meeting the local pilgrims is typically one of the highlights of this excursion, both during our drive and also at Golden Rock itself! Once checked into our hotel, we continue to spend the rest of the day exploring this site before experiencing the sunset, which casts a beautiful glow.

Overnight in Kyaikhtiyo.

 

Day 3: Return to Yangon, City Sites

This morning we drive back to Yangon, making a few interesting stops along the way.

Overnight in Yangon.

 

Day 4: Fly to Mandalay

Today, we depart Inle Lake and transfer to Heho for our flight to Mandalay. After lunch, we visit Golden Palace monastery and UNESCO Site, Kuthodaw Pagoda, also known as the biggest book of the world because of its 729 marble slabs with Buddhist inscriptions.

Overnight in Mandalay.

 

Day 5: Mandalay - Former Royal Capitals and Monasteries

After breakfast, we drive to Amarapura, an ancient city located 11km south of Mandalay. We visit Mahargandaryon Monastery to see the lunch procession of 1000 monks and take a short walk on U Bein Bridge, the longest teak bridge in the world. We then drive to the ancient city of Inna (Ava).

After lunch, we visit Bagayar Teak Monastery, Yadanar Se Mee Pagoda complex and Me Nu Brick Monastery by horse carriages.

Overnight in Mandalay.

 

Day 6: Mandalay Sites

This morning our first visit is to a gold leaf making workshop. We then visit Mahamuni Pagoda, which is the second most famous pagoda after Shwedagon in Yangon. Next we visit a nunnery, which is off of the tourist track and a great experience! We see the procession of nuns for lunch.

We also visit Mandalay Hill for a spectacular sunset viewing.

Overnight in Mandalay.

 

Days 7 - 8: Begin 2-day Irrawaddy River Cruise

After an early breakfast, we transfer to the jetty for our 2 day river journey along the Irrawaddy River. We set sail upstream for Mingun village to visit the pagoda complex. After lunch on board, we visit the 90 ton Mingun Bell, which is the largest ringing bell in the world and beautiful Sin Phyu Me Pagoda.

Overnight onboard.

The next morning, we continue downstream on the river. After lunch, we visit Yandabo village, a small rural village where a treaty between the British and Burmese was signed in 1826 after the first Anglo Burmese war. Now the village is famous for its handmade terracotta pots produced in traditional ways. We continue our Irrawaddy cruise until we get to the place where the Chindwin River and the Irrawaddy River meet. Here we will moor overnight.

Lunch, dinner and overnight onboard.

 

Day 9: Bagan

In the early morning, we disembark from the boat. 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 by the captive Mon King Manuha. We then visit a viewing point where we can watch the sunset over the majestic Irrawaddy River.

Overnight in Bagan.

 

Day 10: Ancient Sites & Temples of Bagan

After breakfast, we visit Min Nan Thu Village, Phaya Thone Zu Phaya and Nandamanya Temples, noted for exquisite murals of 13th century and Kyat Kan Cave Monastery, a famous meditation retreat in Bagan. We also visit the archaeological museum where we see beautiful Buddha images of bronze, stone and lacquer.

In the afternoon, we visit Dhamayarzinka Pagoda and continue to farming villages around Bagan to gain an insight into the lives of the local people. We complete the day by watching the sunset over the many ancient temples dotting the countryside.

Dinner and overnight in Bagan.

Optional 1 Hour 'Sunrise over Bagan' Balloon Excursion: $320USD
We recommend you book this in advance.

 

Day 11: Mount Popa

After breakfast, we drive to Mount Popa. We stop at Palm Forest to see how they climb the trees to get the sap and observe how they make palm sugar and moonshine. We continue to Mount Popa, an extinct volcano with spectacular views. It's shrine is dedicated to animist spirits known as "37Nats". The setting and views are spectacular. On the way back, we visit Shwesintaing village near Mt. Popa and then we return to Bagan.

Overnight in Bagan.

 

Day 12: Fly to Kalaw, Hill Station

After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Heho in Shan State. 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.

On the way, we stop at Tha Yet Pu village of Pa O’s tribe. The Pa O tribe are the second largest group in Shan State, famous for wearing their traditional black and indigo dress and colorful turbans.

After lunch, you can simply relax or enjoy a walk in the neighborhoods of Kalaw.

Dinner and overnight in Kalaw.

 

Day 13: Sightseeing in and Around Kalaw

After breakfast, we start our sightseeing in in the surrounding areas of Kalaw. We drive to Myin Ma Htee village of the Danu ethnic group. 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 followed by a visit to Hnee Phaya, which houses a 500 year old lacquer Buddha. In the late afternoon, we enjoy a walking tour through this peaceful place with an atmosphere reminiscent of the colonial era, or explore more of the town.

Overnight in Kalaw.

 

Day 14: Inle Lake

We take a morning drive to Nyaung Shwe for Inle lake. On the way, we stop at Shan Paper and Parasol workshop. We continue by boat to visit the Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda, one of the main principle shrines in Myanmar dating back to the 18th century. We visit the weaving village of Inpawkhon and a Charoot factory at Nampan village.

Overnight on Inle Lake.

 

Day 15: One-Legged Rowers of Inle Lake

We take a morning journey by boat to view life around the lake where we see the famous one-legged 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 406 pillars leads into the complex of over a thousand stupas. The passage holds many small ancient stupas, carved with figures and floral designs which leads to the Inn Thein Pagoda, said to have been built by the missionary of the Indian Emperor Asoka, who reigned over most of the Indian subcontinent in the 3rd century BC.

We continue on to the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, once famous for its jumping cats trained by monks.

Overnight on Inle Lake.

 

Day 16: Fly to Kyaing Tong

After breakfast, we fly to Kyaing Tong (via Heho or Mandalay). In Kyaing Tong, we make a visit to One Tree Hill view point, Shan Lacquerware workshop and take a stroll around the scenic Naung Tong Lake.

Overnight in Kyaing Tong.

 

Day 17: Hilltribes of Kyaing Tong

Today we explore the colorful Kyaing Tong market and enjoy a full day excursion to the surrounding hilltribe villages. We drive about one hour to visit an Arn village. Arn people are animist and known for their black teeth. We walk for about 2 hours in a very natural setting through tribal villages. We visit the Akha tribe to see their famous and spectacular head dresses that jingle with silver and colored tassels.

We also stop to meet the Lahu people, whose origins date back to the Tibeto-Burman era, as well as the Khun people known for their elegant embroidered silk longys and colorful turbans. Enjoy a simple lunch at a Shan village. We visit a Shan monastery and Palaung village before we end our day with a pleasant drive passing through many picturesque forests and terraced rice fields.

Overnight in Kyaing Tong.

 

Day 18: Fly to Yangon

Enjoy a leisurely morning before we depart for the airport for our return flight to Yangon.

Overnight in Yangon.

 

Day 19: 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.

Next, we visit the magnificent reclining Buddha at Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda. We then visit the Karaweik Hall - a floating barge on Kandawgyi Lake, the colonial city center of Yangon. We also visit the famous Scott’s Market of Yangon.

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.

Dinner and overnight in Yangon.

 

Day 20: Depart Yangon

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

 
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