Discover the fascinating culture, cuisine and natural heritage of Myanmar. A country filled with surprise and intrigue, shared by welcoming and friendly Burmese people. Begin your Myanmar holiday in the quiet and compared to its neighbouring countries, relatively undeveloped city of Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon. Explore the spectacular landmark of Shwedagon Pagoda and reclining Buddha of Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda. We also uncover the art, antiques and enthralling architecture Yangon is home to.
From Yangon, head up to Bagan, a plain strewn with fascinating temples and pagodas. Begin at an elevated temple, enjoying its breathtaking views over Bagan before exploring others including the majestic Ananda. Meander through Nyaung Oo Market where villagers gather to sell their produce and wares before sitting down to a cup of sweet Burmese tea.
From Bagan, it’s a short flight to Heho, set within the heart of the Shan State. We make our way to Nyaung Shwe at the northern end of Inle Lake and visit the local monasteries, nunneries and Museum of culture. We spend the next few nights on Inle Lake, exploring all it has to offer, ranging from a scenic winery to markets and the Pa-Oh Village of Indein where there is a chance to meet locals and observe their traditional lifestyles. We also wander through the beautiful Alaung Sitthou area.
From Inle Lake, fly back to Yangon and embark on a tour called ‘On The Blessings Trail‘ that uncovers the various religions practised in downtown Yangon. While walking through this lively section of town we’ll also stumble upon local markets selling everything from fresh produce to temple offerings to traditional medicine.
Arrive at Yangon International Airport. Please clear immigration & visa formalities, collect your baggage and proceed to the arrival lounge through the green channel if you do not have goods to be declared to customs. At the arrival lounge you will be welcomed by TOTAL HOLIDAY OPTIONS guide/driver holding plaque card, he will assist with transfer and check-in at the hotel. (Note check-in time is 1400 hrs) Have a brief rest, late afternoon we visit the Chaukhtatgyi, the colossal reclining Buddha; the Shwedagon Pagoda most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar. Although the origins of the pagoda are unclear, the local legend states that the original structure was built 2500 years ago then renovated several times until taking its current shape in the 15th century. The 8-sided central stupa is 99 meters tall and gilded with gold leaf and is surrounded by 64 smaller stupas and your guide will show you around the massive complex, explaining why this temple is so revered. Enjoy breathtaking views of the golden stupa from this vantage point and enjoy the sunset from there. Stay two nights in Yangon.
After breakfast, start your sightseeing of Yangon and visit Sule Pagoda in the heart of Yangon city. Botataung Paya, its most original feature is the dazzling zig-zag corridor, gilded from floor to ceiling, that snakes its way around the hollow interior of the 131ft golden zedi (stupa). Also, lookout for a bronze Buddha that once resided in the royal palace in Mandalay, and a large pond full of hundreds of terrapin turtles. Later in the afternoon, we visit Bogyoke Aung San Market (closed on Monday and public holidays), half a day could easily be spent wandering around this sprawling covered market, sometimes called by its old British name, Scott Market. (Note: Market is closed on Mondays and public holidays).It has over 2000 shops and the largest selection of Myanmar handicrafts and souvenirs you’ll find under several roofs, from lacquerware and Shan shoulder bags to puppets and jewellery. Pick up some nice slippers here, convenient for all the on-and-off demanded by Paya protocol, and a longyi. Your highlight for this evening is the dinner in Karaweik Palace, overlooking the Royal Lake. The dinner is served with fine Burmese food and amazing cultural show. Later return to the hotel with an overnight in Yangon.
After early breakfast at the hotel or take the packed breakfast box transfer to the airport to board the flight to Bagan (Nyaung Oo). From the 11th to 13th centuries, when Bagan was the capital of Myanmar, the rulers constructed thousands of huge stupas and temples many of which are still standing today on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Begin your first experience to visit Nyaung Oo Market where dozens of vendors come to sell their fresh produce and products. The market is at its busiest early in the morning as the locals come to do their shopping. This is a great opportunity to observe the daily lifestyle of the friendly locals. Then continue to the glittering Shwezigon Pagoda, a prototype of later Myanmar stupas. Next, visit Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite jatakas mural paintings. Continue to the elegant Htilominlo Temple, noted for its fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations. Take break midday to escape the heat and enjoy lunch at your leisure. This afternoon, visit the New Bagan area and one of its many lacquer-ware workshops. Here you can observe the traditional technique of making these handcrafted products from start to finish. The process takes incredible skill and patience and Bagan’s craftsmen are well renowned for their fantastic lacquer products. As today comes to a close, travel to the boat jetty and embark on a sunset cruise. Enjoy a cocktail and a stunning view of Bagan as you cruise along the Irrawaddy River. Stay three nights in Bagan.
After breakfast, We start with the exotic horse cart to one of the biggest temples in Bagan: Nan Paya pagoda and many other interesting sites nearby, continue with sightseeing to Minkaba Gubyaukyi Temple, experience the architectural difference in MyaZedi pagoda before heading to Manuha Temple. The highlight of today is the panoramic sunset view from the second highest pagoda of Bagan the ShweSandaw pagoda. Later return to the hotel with an overnight in Bagan.
Leaving the Bagan temples behind, we begin the drive to Mt Popa – an extinct volcano standing 1518 metres high. Mount Popa has played an important role in Myanmar culture, religion and history since earliest times. Its shrine is dedicated to the worship of the 37 Nats, the Burmese ancient animist spirits. Learn about nats and nat worship as you climb the stairs to the top with your local guide. The view over the Myingyan Plain from the top of the volcanic peak is wonderful (and the climb is optional!). After sightseeing transfer back to Bagan and overnight.
After breakfast checkout of the hotel and fly to Mandalay. Arrive Mandalay and travel to Sagaing a 45-minute drive located across the Irrawaddy River, Sagaing is considered by many to be the Buddhist centre of Myanmar. Drive up to Sagaing Hill to Umin Thonzeh. The name translates as ’30 Caves Pagoda’ but in reality, the temple is one long hallway built alongside a hill with thirty recessed entrances giving it the appearance of being filled with caves. Inside the building, you will find 45 Buddha images, an auspicious number 45 reflecting the number of years that Gotama Buddha was enlightened as a Buddha. Then proceed to Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda and enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of Sagaing Hill with hundreds of stupas. If you look up at the ceiling at Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin you will find the old paintings describing the 16 scene dream sequence of Kawthala King. Finally continue to Kaung Mu Daw, an unusual hemispherical dome stupa that reaches 46 metres in height. At the bottom of the dome, there are 120 niches, each with its own guardian nat. Return to the bottom of the hills where we’ll visit a local nunnery, a chance to the lifestyle of the Burmese nuns and learn more about their beliefs and daily activities. Drive to Mandalay and check-in at the hotel. Your final stop today will be in Amarapura. Visit Bagaya Monastery, where you will find a collection of Buddha images from 16th to 20th centuries reflecting many different styles. It is also a good place to learn about mudras, the statue’s hand gestures which have different meanings. There is also a library with a collection of palm leaves etched with various sections of Tripidaka. Some of the oldest book date back to the early 18th century. Before departing Amarapura go to U Bein Bridge for a walk along this 200-year-old teak bridge. The bridge was constructed of 984 teak posts that were once part of the deserted Inwa Palace and it is 1.2 kilometres in length making it the world’s longest teak span. Enjoy a stroll along the bridge and fabulous views of the surrounding farms and streams in Myanmar. Later return to your hotel for two nights stay in Mandalay.
This morning after breakfast, visit the Mingun Bell which weighs more than 87 tons and is more than 3.7 metres tall. This is the world’s largest uncracked bell. Just south of the bell you’ll also visit Mingun Pagoda, a giant brick structure built in the late 1700s and although it was unfinished due to economic troubles it is still a beautiful sight. Mingun’s other highlight is the Hisnbyume Pagoda, a white-washed temple built to resemble Mount Meru. Throughout Mingun there are small neighbourhoods crafting traditional basketry and other artistic items and there is plenty of time to stop and interact with the craftsmen and friendly locals. In the afternoon we walk up Mandalay Hill. Rising 240 metres above the city, the hill provides a great viewing platform of the surrounding countryside, Irrawaddy River and city centre. At the base of the hill, you’ll stop to visit Shwe Nandaw Kyuang- or Golden Palace Monastery- which is noted for its intricate wood carvings and to Kayuktawgyi Pagoda to view the huge marble Buddha. The marble is from Sagyin quarry and took 10,000 men almost two weeks to transfer the rock from the riverside to its current location. Finally, visit Kuthodaw Pagoda, home to ‘the world’s largest book’, a collection of more than 700 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. Later return to the hotel for overnight stay.
After breakfast, transfer to Mandalay Airport for a flight to Heho, a scenic one-hour drive leads to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway village to Inle Lake. Along the way, stop at the wooden Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery which features beautiful carvings and a collection of Buddha images. We will also stop in Nyaung Shwe for a short walk around town and visit the colourful market if it is being held that day. Upon reaching the edges of Inle Lake, board a private motorboat to head out to Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular areas. Pass villages built on stilts over the lake, inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the leg-rowing fishermen and see their floating gardens built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles. Visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main sanctuary, which contains five sacred Buddha images covered in gold leaf. Explore the local crafts of Inle Lake with a stop at the weaving village of Inpawkhone and a cheroot factory, where the typical Burmese cigars are made by hand. If time permits, there may be time to enjoy a short walk through one of the lakeside villages. Later return to the hotel with two nights in Inle Lake.
After breakfast, visit the morning market which rotates its location around the lake’s villages in a 5-day rhythm and is visited by lake inhabitants and surrounding hill tribes who come to sell and trade their wares. (Note: market is daily except on dark moon day and full moon day).From the middle of the lake, continue down a small canal leading to the Pa-oh village of In Dein. Explore the area on foot, strolling around the village, visiting a local school, and wander through the beautiful Alaung Sitthou area. Here you can climb the covered stairway to the top of a hill which is covered with picturesque ancient stupas and has magnificent views of the lake below. After enjoying your visit to In Dein, return to your boat. Overnight at Inle Lake.
After breakfast, leave Inle Lake for Yangon. You’ll start at the post office – a lovely historic building- and walk to Sule Paya in the middle of downtown, passing by Strand Hotel, Mahabandoola Garden and Independence Monument along the way. Then visit Little India and China town, a colourful cacophony of restaurants, temples and markets. Later return to the hotel for overnight stay.
Hotel accommodation with private facilities
Meals as specified (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Travel, transfers and sightseeing by Private car with driver as per Itinerary
Services of a private air-conditioned vehicle with driver (no air conditioning at the Inle Lake area)
Service of local English speaking guides in every location
Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
Activities and sightseeing as mentioned in the itinerary
Culinary experience as mentioned in the itinerary
Domestic airfare as per Itinerary
Assistance and transfers
All current collectable local taxes
Early check-in and late check-out from the hotel
Meals: As specified in the itinerary
Expenditure of personal nature, such as porter charges, camera fees, drinks, souvenirs, laundry etc.
International airport tax in Yangon (US$10 per person)
Services not listed in above inclusions
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