This short but crisp tour takes you to the most popular tourist destinations of Burma. Yangon, with its faded colonial feel, still retains its ancient Buddhist roots with the shimmering golden Shwedagon Paya pagoda. Bagan is another breathtaking vista with about 4,400 Buddhist temples and stupas. Mandalay, the ancient capital of Burma, is the most thoroughly Burmese city with its famous pagodas. Surrounded by rugged hills, the magical Inle Lake adds the serene touch to this cultural extravaganza.
Tour Plan: Yangon – Bagan – Mandalay – Sagaing – Ava – Mandalay – Heho – Pindaya – Inle Lake – Indein – Heho – Yangon
Day 1: Arrival Yangon – Your Myanmar holiday begins by discovering Yangon, the country’s largest city. Explore downtown’s eclectic mix of cultures and colonial buildings. Highlights include vibrant street markets, the Indian quarter and a vast array of colonial vestiges and religious monuments.
Day 2: Yangon – Get to know the ‘real’ Yangon with a fascinating morning excursion through the city and its suburbs. Start with a ride on the commuter train. Referred to as the ‘Circular Train’, the train travels slowly and stops often allowing travelers and vendors to hop on and off throughout the journey. Enjoy watching the activity on the train as well as outside as it passes through local neighborhoods and alongside markets. (Train ride is 20-30 minutes; basic carriage with no air conditioning). Continue see the massive 72-meter long Buddha image at Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda then mingle with the locals at Kandawgyi Park. As the sun begins to set, head to Shwedagon Pagoda where you will join Buddhist devotees at the country’s holiest shrine. Cap off the night with a visit to the vibrant Chinatown, walking amid the neighbourhood’s bustling food stalls and local bars.
Day 3: Yangon to Bagan – Awake early this morning for a flight to Bagan. Touch down in one of Asia’s most remarkable architectural sites. Spend a full day exploring the temple plains, stopping in at famous monuments and some lesser-known sites. After a visit to the famous lacquerware workshops of Bagan, board a wooden motorboat for a cruise on the Irrawaddy River. Watch the sun set over the town’s mighty ruins and riverside villages. This is the perfect end to a busy day of sightseeing in Bagan.
Day 4: Bagan – Awake early for an optional hot-air balloon flight over the temples of Bagan or grab a few extra hours of shut-eye and start touring after breakfast. Start the day like a local, with a visit to the vibrant morning market. Then continue to Shwezigon pagoda, Bagan’s holiest site. The rest of the day is spent exploring temples and villages, getting a closer look at the local ways of life in central Myanmar. As the day comes to a close, climb aboard a horse-drawn cart for a scenic ride through the plains.
Day 5: Bagan to Mandalay – Take an early morning flight to Mandalay for an exciting excursion around this historic city. Start with a visit to the top of Mandalay Hill for an orientation to the city’s history and layout. Then explore the many sites located at the base of the hill, including the giant marble Buddha image at Kyauktawgyi and the ‘World’s Biggest Book’. The final stop of the morning is Shwenandaw Monastery, the only remaining building of the Royal Palace.
After lunch, continue exploring the sprawling city with a trip to Mahamuni Pagoda. This magnificent Buddha image is one of the country’s most revered statues and is covered in layer upon layer of gold leaf. The day comes to a close with a memorable trip to Amarapura, the former royal capital. Visit Mahagandayon Monastery, home to hundreds of monks, followed by a short walk to U Bein Bridge, the world’s longest teak bridge. Watch as the sun sets over this beautiful site then return to town for the evening.
Day 6: Mandalay to Sagaing to Ava to Mandalay – Start the day with a trip to Sagaing. With more than 100 meditation shrines and 600 other religious buildings, it is no wonder why Sagaing is considered the spiritual centre of Myanmar. Explore some of the most important sites and, if you are lucky, meet monks or nuns and learn more about their life.
Continue the day with a visit to the historic sites of Ava, also known as Inwa. Travel by horse cart along the dirt roads of the town which served as Myanmar’s capital several times between the 14th and 19th centuries. See relics of Ava’s former glory such as its watch tower and several beautiful religious buildings.
Day 7: Mandalay to Heho to Pindaya
Leave the flatlands of Mandalay this morning and travel to the hills of the Shan State. A short flight will take you to Heho where a car will be waiting for a scenic drive to Pindaya. Pass through fertile fields growing cabbages, pumpkins and other seasonal crops and keep an eye out for members of the Pa-Oh and Danu ethnic groups in their distinctive traditional dress.
Upon reaching Pindaya, head straight to the market. Mingle with the locals as you browse the stalls selling everything from fresh produce to dried fish. After checking in to your hotel, venture to the outskirts of town and meet with a local family at their tea plantation. Take a short walk, learning how to identify fresh leaves ready for harvest. Walk to the family’s house where they will serve tea and local treats. You will also have the opportunity to learn how to prepare tea leaf salad, one of Myanmar’s most beloved snacks.
The final visit of the afternoon is the renowned Pindaya caves. Arrive in the late afternoon, long after the day tour buses have left, and wander through the massive cave to admire then thousands of Buddha images found inside.
Day 8: Pindaya to Inle Lake – Continue your excursion through the Shan State with a beautiful drive to Nyaung Shwe. Upon arrival take a short tour of this charming town before hopping into a long-tail boat for a trip on Inle Lake. Spend the day cruising around the calm waters, soaking up the splendid mountainous landscape that surrounds the lake.
Explore villages built on stilts and floating gardens, getting a chance to learn about the life and culture of the lake’s residents. Stop in at workshops making incredible hand-woven silks and fabrics created from the fibers of the lotus flower. You will also visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda where you can join local devotees as they come to pay homage to this sacred site. If time allows, there will also be a stop at Nge Phe Chaung, a wooden monastery with a remarkable collection of Buddha images.
Day 9: Inle Lake to Indein
Depending on the day, there may be a chance to visit one of the lake’s morning markets to see members of various ethnic groups coming to buy and sell fresh produce and other goods. Then take a morning boat trip down a jungle-covered canal to reach the Indein jetty. Take a leisurely walk around Indein, a village inhabited by the Pa-Oh ethnic group. Climb to the top of a hill where hundreds of small stupas cover the land. Enjoy mesmerizing views of Inle Lake from this elevated viewpoint and relax in the tranquil surroundings, a perfect way to end your exploration of Inle Lake.
Day 10: Inle Lake to Heho to Yangon
Your Myanmar adventure concludes today with a flight to Yangon. Should time allow, head downtown to Scott’s Market (also known as Bogyoke Market) for some last-minute souvenir shopping or relax at one of Yangon’s many tea shops. A driver will pick you up in time for a transfer to the international airport for your onward flight.
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