Get ready to skim over jade lakes, amble on a horse carriage through golden plains, and hustle through city streets in a rickshaw as you delve into one of the most astonishing countries in all of Asia.
Our Burma trip takes you on a journey from Irrawaddy villages to Buddhist shrines, with diversions away from the main sites and into the heart of the country. Admire architectural marvels, discover different cultures, and learn the secrets behind local arts and crafts on a journey to see the Grand Burma tour has to offer.
Your voyage embarks from Yangon, where you’ll wander among the city’s diverse population as you gaze at golden pagodas and stately monuments. Venturing beyond Yangon’s urban borders, you’ll travel to the Golden Rock, one of the holiest sites in Myanmar, and Bago, an ancient Mon capital for your first taste of rural Burmese lifestyles.
Flying north, touch down at Inle Lake, where you’ll stroll among weaving workshops and hill tribe markets. Witness the incredible leg-rowing fishermen, ‘unique Burmese’ way of fishing.
Mandalay: visit gold-leaf making; the venerable Mahamuni Pagoda, Myanmar traditional handicraft workshops, marble works, wood carvings and continue to Mahagandayon Monastery (Buddhistic University) and silk & cotton weaving workshops.
Spend two full days in Bagan, where the country’s history is reflected in the temple construction. Along with exploring the pagoda and includes ample opportunities to wander amid the villages and crafts workshops of this tranquil town.
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. (Normal check-in time 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, 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 breakfast, depart Yangon early this morning for a journey by road to Kyaikhtiyo, the Golden Rock. Late morning, arrive at Kyaikhtiyo base camp (approximately 5 hrs). Travel by local, open-air truck along a winding road. A short walk up the stairs will lead you to the top of the mountain. Before reaching the city limits, stop in Htaukkyan Township to visit the Allied War Cemetery. This beautifully-landscaped, peaceful area is the final resting place for more than 27,000 Allied Soldiers who perished during the World War II campaign in Myanmar Golden Rock a huge boulder covered by gold leaf and delicately balanced on the edge of a cliff, Golden Rock is one of Myanmar’s main pilgrimage sites. The pagoda here is said to hold a hair of the Buddha and Buddhists from across the country come here to pay homage. Overnight stay at Kyaikhtiyo.
After breakfast, return to the base camp by open-air truck and begin the return journey to Yangon. En route, stop in Bago. Bago, also known as Pegu, was the capital of the Mon Kingdom in the 15th century and is a town steeped in legend. The sites in Bago are spread out around the town and you’ll spend time exploring with your guide, learning about the history and myths of the city. Stops include the 55-metre long reclining Shwethalyaung Buddha, the four seated Buddhas at Kyaikpun and the old palace of Kambozathadi. The Mon-style Shwemawdaw Pagoda is the most outstanding religious monument in Bago. This golden temple stands at 114 metres tall, higher than Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda, and can be seen from around 10 kilometres outside of the city. While in Bago we’ll also take time to visit the city’s local sites, including the town market and a Mon neighbourhood where the locals once produced woven textiles. From Bago, return to Yangon this afternoon. On arrival to Yangon check into the hotel evening is at leisure.
After breakfast, leave Yangon for Heho. Inle Lake, the second largest lake in Myanmar, located 900m above sea level and is home to unique one leg rower Intha people. 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 and stay two nights at Inle Lake.
After breakfast, visit the lake’s morning market. The market rotates its location in a 5-day rhythm and is visited by lake inhabitants and surrounding hill tribes who come to sell and trade their wares. (Note: the 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 Indein, return to your boat. Continue along the lake for additional sightseeing before returning to your hotel this afternoon. Overnight stay at Inle Lake.
Have breakfast at the hotel, then travel to Kalaw (50 km – 1½ hours), an interesting drive up into the hills and across the Shan Plateau, through fields of mountain rice. Kalaw, which was formerly a British Hill Station. Enjoy walking through Kalaw, visiting the local market, the tiny train station and perhaps walking up the hill to see the old catholic church (if open). Lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, take a walk through the hills and start walking to Myin Ma Hti village 31/2 hours. The ethnic groups are Danu, first walk through the pine forest and after 1 hour walking you will see potatoes, mountain rice and huge vegetable plantation field. They all worked with ox and buffalo, no machine no tractor. Unbelievable to see people working a huge field with man power and animal. Enjoy the natural beauty, on the way you'll see little boys and girls helping their parents. The Myin Ma Hti's villager is farmers 100% earn their living on agriculture. Myin Ma Hti known for his lime cave 200meters long. Return to your hotel. Then visit a local workshop making umbrellas and paper from the mulberry tree. This is one of the few areas in Myanmar still practising this craft. Later transfer to Heho airport for short flight to Mandalay, on arrival check in-to the hotel with two nights in Mandalay.
After breakfast drive to Mandalay pier, you’ll 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 an impressive 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, begin with a 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. Your final stop today will be Amarapura were we visit the 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. Stay overnight in Mandalay.
After breakfast, continue with the Mandalay sightseeing later travel to Sagaing, a 45-minute drive, located across the Irrawaddy River, Sagaing is considered by many to be the Buddhist centre of Myanmar. Visit the 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. Later transfer to the airport to board the flight to Bagan, on arrival check into the hotel with two nights in Bagan.
After breakfast, 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. 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. Dinner and overnight in Bagan.
Early morning optional hot air balloon trip over Bagan: A once in a lifetime experience, take an unforgettable hot air balloon ride over the temples of Bagan at dawn. Available from October to March only, the 45minute to 1-hour flight glides over temples, stupas, villages and dependable on the wind, the Irrawaddy River. 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.
After breakfast check out of the hotel and proceed to Nyaung U airport to fly to Thandwe. You will be greeted and transferred to Ngapali Beach, a 20-minute drive. Ngapali Beach is a quiet 3-kilometre stretch of white sands lined by coconut palms. The warm, clear waters are perfect for water sports such as snorkelling and there are several small islands around which can be reached by boat. On arrival check into the hotel with two nights stay at the Ngapali Beach.
After breakfast, leave Ngapali Beach for Yangon arrive midday later explore Bogyoke Market, formerly known as Scott’s Market, where there is time to browse through the dozens of stalls and shops. This is Yangon’s best market for handicrafts and other goods. (Note: Market is closed on Mondays and public holidays). Afterwards, go the green expanse of Kandawgyi Park. The park is a popular place for people to come on an evening to relax and dine at one of its many restaurants; dinner is at leisure at your choice of restaurant. It houses the Karaweik barge, a replica of the royal barge; and also a large lake with views of Shwedagon Pagoda. 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 (Except at Inle Lake and Beach)
Service of local English speaking guides in every location (Except at the Beach)
Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
Activities and sightseeing as mentioned in the itinerary
Domestic airfare in economy class 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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