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Best of Burma

Trip type: 
Cultural
Adventure level: 
3. Moderate
Max group size: 
16
Avg user rating: 
Awaiting reviews
Asia, Burma (Myanmar) | 17 days
Trip code: 
TTSM
What's included: 

Transport - In country flights, Taxi, Horse Cart, Bus

Accommodation - Hotel (10 nts), Guesthouse (3 nts)

Meals - 14 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners

Trip Highlights: 
Admire Yangon's golden Shwedagon Paya
Explore the magnificent temples of Bagan
Discover Mandalay, Burma's 'Jewel City'
Trek through rarely visited alpine villages and share a cup of tea with locals
see full itinerary >>

Trip Highlights: 
Admire Yangon's golden Shwedagon Paya
Explore the magnificent temples of Bagan
Discover Mandalay, Burma's 'Jewel City'
Trek through rarely visited alpine villages and share a cup of tea with locals
see full itinerary >>
What's included: 

Transport - In country flights, Taxi, Horse Cart, Bus

Accommodation - Hotel (10 nts), Guesthouse (3 nts)

Meals - 14 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners

Trip Overview: 

Discover a country of mythical landscapes, ancient treasures and some of the friendliest folk you'll ever meet. From golden-gilded Buddha's in Yangon and the magical temples of Bagan to the tranquillity of Inle Lake, Burma will excite, impress and intrigue you. Experience the South East Asia of twenty years ago - full of rarely seen sights and generations of stories just waiting to be told. Come and discover a little bit of Burma magic with us.

Itinerary: 
Day
1-3
Yangon (Rangoon)

Yangon (Rangoon)

Take an overnight flight - on arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Burma.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 2. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Formerly named Rangoon, Yangon is the country's biggest city and was the capital from 1885, when the British conquered the north and the kingdom of Mandalay, until just a few years ago when the government moved the capital to Naypyidaw.

To get your bearings and a taste of this wonderful city, take a walk to Sule Paya, then perhaps down to the Victorian Strand Hotel to admire both the colonial architecture and the bargaining madness of Bogyoke Market. Or sample some of the great Indian food on offer.

You visit the holiest of all shrines at Shwedagon Paya. The most religious site within Myanmar, said to contain 8 hairs of the Buddha, it glitters with gold, 5500 diamonds and hundreds of other precious gems on the hill overlooking the city. Come sunset the lights go on and the impressive stupa, lit with 4 beams of light, sits grandly like a shining beacon.

Included Activities

  • Yangon - City Walking Tour
  • Yangon - Kandawgi Lake
  • Yangon - Shwedagon Paya

Optional Activities

  • Yangon - Bogyoke Market (Scotts Market) - Free

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

Day
4-6
Bagan

Bagan

You head out early to catch our flight to the ancient wonder of Bagan.

Spreading out across the horizon are the peaks of 4,500 brick and gilded ancient temples. Dotting the skyline in many shapes and forms some say they compare in splendour to the majestic Angkor kingdom. Theravada Buddhism was introduced by the former kings of Pagan (Bagan) in the mid 11th century, which spurred on the swift building of a swathe of temples to worship their gods, be they Buddhist, Hindu or Nat, over the ensuing 200 or so years.

Exploring the temple site by bike is a great way to take in all the atmosphere of this stunning sight. You will be steered through the large and impressive temples, such as Ananda Pahto , Dhammayangyi Pahto and Shwesandaw Paya, as well as the smaller hidden gems offering wonderful opportunities to climb stairwells and get those magic photo moments. And don't worry if you're averse to riding bikes - your leader can arrange a pony cart as an alternative.

Hawkers often surround the most popular temples, selling lacquer ware or handicrafts, if a spot of shopping takes your fancy. There are also stalls offering cool drinks and a touch of shade.

After touring the temples, you head back to the hotel for a short rest, before heading out later for sunset viewing.

Enjoy sunset at the nearby Shwezigon Paya and feast on local delicacies opposite these 1,000 year old temples.

Consider catching a colourful marionette performance while sampling some traditional Bamar cuisine.

There is plenty of free time to get into everything that Bagan has on offer.

you can choose to grab a map of the Bagan Archaeological Park and explore more temples/paya at your own pace. Check out the Archaeological Museum, relax at Bamboo Garden with a latte, or sip a martini at the Beach Bar on the banks Ayeyarwaddy River during sunset.

Or why not take a day trip out to Mt Popa - a single mountain which juts out of the countryside, topped with monasteries and stupas. It is home and shrine to the 37 Nat spirits. Coming in all forms there is even a 'guardian of spirits (as in alcohol)' which gamblers simply know as 'Drunk Nat'. Sweeping views await those who venture to the top.

Included Activities

  • Bagan - Walking tour
  • Bagan - Shwezigon Paya
  • Bagan - Temple bike tour

Optional Activities

  • Bagan - Dinner & puppet show - MMK8000
  • Bagan - Lacquer Ware Workshop Visit - Free
  • Bagan - Archaeological Museum - MMK5000
  • Bagan - Mt Popa Day Trip (transport only) - MMK40000

Accommodation

Hotel (3 nts)

 

Day
7

Ayeyarwaddy River

This morning you head to the pier for our 2 day cruise up-river to Mandalay.

Our chartered boat has a toilet/bathroom (cold water scoop shower only), with mats to relax on downstairs - this area is also used for meal times. Upstairs there are deckchairs, also for relaxing, and at night you will sleep on mats on the deck underneath the stars (and a mosquito net!). Please note that during the cooler months of December & January it can get quite cool overnight on the boat and although blankets are provided warmer sleeping clothes are recommended.

In the late afternoon you will make a village stop, and take time to stroll around Yandabo village, where the first Anglo-Burmese war ended. You spend some time here with the friendly locals.

(Due to the unpredictable nature of water levels on the Irrawaddy River between February and May, it is possible on the very rare occasion that some cruises may be cancelled during that period. Some of these cancellations may take place at the last minute and often without warning. If this is the case we will travel by road between Mandalay and Pagan.)

Included Activities

  • Ayeyarwaddy River - Overnight Boat

Accommodation

Overnight boat (1 nt)

Day
8/9
Mandalay

Mandalay

Wake this morning on the deck, and wile away another relaxing day witnessing the daily activities of life along the river.

Along the way, you will pay a visit to the Sagaing Temples. Loosely described as the 'Monte Carlo of Burma', Sagaing is a set of small hills, dotted with temples and gold covered stupas.

You arrive in Mandalay late afternoon, just in time perhaps to for an ice-cream/latte or frappuchino at the famous Nylon Bar or consider checking out the traditional Shan cuisine at Lashio Lay.

Once known as 'the golden city' Mandalay was the last capital of the former Kingdom of Myanmar, abolished in 1885 by the British as a result of the 3rd and final Anglo-Burmese war. The kingdom was pretty much given away by the last king - Thibaw Min, however its remnants still remain sitting in a grid of streets similar to that of Manhattan.

This evening (or the next, depending on what time the boat arrives) you visit the impressive Mandalay Hill. Lord Buddha is said to have left his mark on this mountain in the form of a footprint, signalling wealth and prosperity for the land standing before it. Discover all the glittering stupas, colourful mosaics and sensational lookout points as you relish in sunset views over the city.

There is plenty to do in your free time. Travel by river to the World Archaeological site of Mingun, with the world's largest uncracked bell and glistening white stupa; or jump on a trishaw and enjoy the short ride around or check out the city taking a van or a truck (local transport) visiting the cottage industry making gold leaf and the sacred Buddha image of Mahamuni Paya along the way. Covered in a massive 6 inch layer of gold leaf it is said to be more than 2000 years old and bears a perfect likeness to the Lord Buddha. The intricately carved teak monastery, Shwe In Bin Kyaung, is only a short driveaway. Perhaps for a change of pace, opt to see a puppetry or dance performance at the Mandalay Marionettes or Mintha Theatre.

Included Activities

  • Mandalay - Mandalay Hill

Optional Activities

  • Mandalay - Boat trip to Mingun archaeological site - MMK2000
  • Mandalay - Puppet show - MMK8000
  • Mandalay - Teak monastery - Free

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

Day
10/11

Kalaw

On route today you pass the impressive U Bein Bridge - at 1.2 kilometres long it is the world’s longest teak bridge - and have a short stop to view the sunrise. If time allows, you will enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, and a stroll along the famous bridge.

Heading along part of the 'great road of China' (the new super highway built by the Chinese), you make our way into the mountains of Shan state which offer stunning scenery and some fine opportunities for photo stops.

As a former British hill station Kalaw make a welcome retreat from the heat of the lower lying areas. While the surrounding hills are the home to various ethnic minority groups, including the Palaung, Danu and Pa-O.

Tonight you relax with some friends at a local restaurant and prepare for tomorrow's 12 mile trek.

You have a local guide who will lead us through the tea plantations and small villages, as you explore tracks away from other tourists and traffic. Mingling in villages along the way, you head for our lunch stop, where you have a chance to experience the local way of life. After a break you loop around and make our scenic descent back down to Kalaw.

PLEASE NOTE: For the 12 mile trek you will need to have a reasonable amount of fitness. There are support vehicles available, however these can only access the trails at the halfway mark - it does mean you will need to walk for the first half of the trek. Please wear comfortable shoes but please know - the trek is walked at a comfortable pace!

Included Activities

  • Mandalay - U Bein Bridge
  • Kalaw - Full day trek

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

 

Day
12-14
Inle Lake

Inle Lake

Setting off across the mountains and plateau crammed with farms you make a stop at the caves of Pindaya. As one of the 'Golden Caves' in Shan state, pilgrims flock to worship the 8000 or so Buddha images which adorn the caverns, tunnels and meditation chambers of this huge limestone cave. You venture into the labyrinth of tunnels with our guide to gain a better insight into its history.

Pushing on towards Taungyi, you take the turnoff to the resort town of Nyuangshwe, set at the northern end of Inle Lake and our base for the next few days.

The calm waters of Inle Lake are the life-blood for many ethnic minority communities found in stilt houses in lake's shallow fringes and surrounding areas.

Heading out in motorised boats you spend the day taking in all the sights from the distinctive leg rowing of local fishermen casting their nets, to the floating tomato plantations and a plethora of cottage industries such as silversmiths, weavers and cigar makers.

You may even come across the floating market which circles the lake each 5 days, where locals sell traditional wares and you can take advantage of shopping opportunities which might come our way.

Stopping for lunch in the shadow of Phaung Daw Oo Paya , the most religious site in Shan State, take a few moments to check out the gold-leaf coated Buddha images and many paintings which tell of the origin of the 5 statues. The gilded barge used during the Phaung Daw Oo festival to sail to all the temples around the lake is also on display.

Continuing on our adventure you visit local villages, where the locals greet you with smiles and handicraft items, as you make our way back into Nyaungshwe.

This evening you can sit back and enjoy a traditional Shan banquet.

There is lots to choose from on your free day! Perhaps visit the markets, take a wander around the nearby waterfront, cycle off into neighbouring villages, see old payas/temples and the lovely teak monastery Shwe Yan Pyay, or head for the hills on a trek to visit the Pa-O and Tero tribes.

Included Activities

  • Inle Lake - Pindaya Caves
  • Inle Lake - Boat trip & village tour
  • Inle Lake - Shan Banquet

Optional Activities

  • Inle Lake - Bicycle hire - MMK4000
  • Inle Lake - Shwe Yan Pyae Temple (Teak Monastery) - Free
  • Inle Lake - Indien Temples Visit - MMK34000
  • Inle Lake - Wine Tasting - MMK2000

Accommodation

Guesthouse (3 nts)

Day
15

Yangon (Rangoon)

You bid farewell to the splendour of Shan state as you make our way to the airport for our flight back to the hustle and bustle of Yangon. The flight to Yangon takes just over an hour.

Optional Activities

  • Yangon - Circular Train - MMK1000
  • Yangon - Sule Pagoda - MMK1000

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

 

Day
16-17

Trip ends

Your adventure ends today and you will be transferred to the airport for your overnight flight home.

 

Back in Burma

In 2003, there was a call for a boycott on travel to Burma by the then democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) party was denied the right to govern the country by the military dictatorship. After recent positive events within the country including the elections in November 2010, the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and the subsequent call to end the travel boycott by the NLD, we have been prompted to consider returning to Burma.

By reintroducing our grassroots style of travel, we can contribute to improving the circumstances of the Burmese people by way of initiating a two-way exchange. Firstly, resuming trips will give them a chance to interact with visitors from other countries, thus giving a rare glimpse into life and governance in other parts of the world. Secondly, taking passengers to Burma will help to build awareness of the complex issues this country continues to face, as well as positively contributing to the economy. It is important to note that any of our trips trip to Burma will have been carefully constructed to feature locally owned transport and accommodation wherever possible 

Bagan

Fly to Bagan and get the first taste of Burma's crowning glory at sunset. Exploring this phenomenal area - spanning some 42 sq km and compromising of thousands of brick and gold-gilded stupas - is a remarkable experience. 

Riverboat Cruise

Set sail on a riverboat cruise along the Ayeyarwaddy River. Soak up the serenity of life on the water and admire local villages and an ever-changing landscape as it rolls by. And, for a really authentic experience, sleep on deck under a canopy of stars.

Inle Lake

Heading out in motorised boats, you'll spend a day taking in all the sights from the distinctive leg rowing of local fishermen casting their nets and Nga Hpe Kyaung Monastery with its jumping cats and collection of ancient Buddha images to the floating tomato plantations and plethora of cottage industries such as silversmiths, weavers and cigar makers.