Cultural Excursion

Culture and Natural Beauty of Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar

We customize every trip

Prices From: $1,938 Per Person

Shrouded in mystery and intrigue, Myanmar has long captivated the imagination of the discerning traveler. Unfortunately, due to the dire political situation Myanmar's legendary beauty and fascinating culture has remained relatively unexplored. Although renowned for its countless temples and celebrated Buddhist heritage, Myanmar's stunning landscape and natural beauty has remained a relative secret.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Yangon Arrival

Welcome to Myanmar! Upon arrival in Yangon, you will be met by our representative and transferred to your accommodations for check in.

Today we visit colonial-style city center of Yangon starting from one of the landmarks Sule Paya stupa – built over 2,000 years ago. We continue to the quaint Yangon Old Quarter, built during the British colonial era where many charming historical buildings are still located. During our stroll through bustling market streets full of merchants and food stalls, we visit a local pharmacy and learn about Myanmar traditional medicine, stop for a tea and snack in the fashion of locals, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Yangon.

We continue to one of Asia’s architectural landmarks, the elegant Strand Hotel built by the Sarkies brothers. Passing old port buildings on Strand road we head to lively Chinese and Indian quarters before reaching bustling Bogyoke (Scotts) Market, where hundreds of gemstone, handicrafts, art, clothes and food stores are tucked in a maze of color. (Please note that the market is closed on Mondays and on public holidays).

Late afternoon we complete the day with a sunset visit to one of the world’s most spectacular monuments, the Swedagon Pagoda, a gold covered bell dome structure that dominates the city’s skyline and is frequented by pious locals. The Shwedagon is an iconic symbol of the country, a sight not to be missed.

Overnight: Thamada Hotel

Day 2 - Yangon - Heho - Kalaw

Enjoy breakfast and then transfer to the airport for the flight to Heho, a quiet transit town with one of the few airport links in the beautiful hills of Shan State.

Visit the bustling main Heho Market, the meeting point for different ethnic minority groups of the surrounding areas to trade handmade goods and locally grown produce (on market days only). Enroute to Kalaw, we stop at a local family work shop to learn how Shan umbrellas and paper are made by traditional methods using the fibers of the mulberry tree. We continue our 1-hour drive to Kalaw, a former British colonial hill station where ambassadors would spend the summers enjoying the crisp mountain air and sipping on gin tonics.

After we check into the hotel and enjoy our lunch, we can spend the afternoon either relaxing in the fresh mountain air for those who prefer sedentary pleasures, or hiking around Kalaw’s beautiful forest vistas for those yearning more active pursuits. Local guides can adjust the duration and difficulty of the more active activities according to our wishes.

Overnight: Honey Pine Hotel (Breakfast included)

Day 3 - Kalaw - Pindaya Caves - Inle Lake

After breakfast, we embark on a morning walk to the Kalaw Market where ethnic minority groups gather for trading. We join in the ubiquitous tea culture of the Myanmar people at a local tea shop, where we sample local pastry delicacies and have a choice of three types of sweet milk teas. Our drive takes 1.5 hours to cross the Shan highlands and reach the Pindaya Caves. The Cave is unique in housing thousands of Buddha images donated by Buddhist devotees alongside caverns filled with numerous stalactite formations.

We continue driving to Inle Lake for another 2.5 hours. After checking into the hotel, we embark on afternoon explorations of Inle Lake, populated with floating islands and gardens made from the naturally tangled roots of water hyacinth plants and reeds. Delight in the picturesque sights of fishermen who balance and row with one leg, a technique indigenous to the Inn Thar minority group who do this only on Inle Lake.

Overnight: Inle Resort (Breakfast included)

Day 4 - Inle Lake & Inn Thein

After breakfast we journey out by boat, following the currents of a small river to reach the Inn Thein Pagoda Complex, a site that makes us feel as if we’ve stepped through a forgotten portal in time. To access the complex, we walk through verdant bamboo groves that open up to a field covered with the ancient pagodas constructed over 1,000 years ago.

Then transfer by boat to Thei Lei Oo. Thei Lei OoVillage is a beautiful rural farming village that lies on the eastern shore of the Inle Lake. The villagers belong to Inn Thar and Pao ethnic minority groups. They are well known for their farming skills and use of organic farming methods. The major crops cultivated are rice, sugar cane, potato, tomato, garlic and a variety of beans, as well as cucumber and flowers. During the winter season (November to February) the harvested sugar cane is sent to small on site molasses plants where the juice is extracted, made into molasses and then sent to city for of Mandalay Rum distillery.

You will follow an agro trail that runs from the lake through the village and the surrounding organic farmland in a wide looping curve back to the lake. It affords an excellent window into village life untouched as it is by modern development. Return to hotel by boat.

Overnight: Inle Resort (Breakfast included)

Day 5 - Inle Lake - Mandalay

After breakfast, we embark and visit Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda, the home of some of the country’s most sacred Buddha statues covered in gold leaf by devout followers. We also make a visit to the Inpawkhin Weaving Village to learn how local silks, linens and lotus fabrics are handmade and crafted. As an extra treat, we stop at a house for Burmese Cats built over the lake, where we see the preservation efforts and reintroduction of this rare pure breed of felines to Myanmar.

At Nampan Village, local craftsmen show us how Burmese cigars, or “cheroots,” are traditionally packed and rolled. Then we boat to Nyaung Shwe town to explore the quaint town and shop for local handicrafts. In the afternoon, we transfer to the Heho Airport for the next connecting flight to Mandalay. Upon arrival, you’ll be met and transferred directly to your hotel.

Overnight: Mandalay City Hotel (Breakfast included)

Day 6 - Mandalay

After breakfast at the hotel, we enjoy a morning stroll through the lively Zegyo Market in the heart of the city to experience authentic local life. We continue to the Artisan Quarters, where some of the oldest craftsmanship is showcased dating back to the last kingdom of Myanmar. We observe the process of pounding gold leaf, detailing teakwood carvings and embroidering Myanmar tapestry. We also see how bronze and marble Buddha statues are carved, cast and molded.

Next, we proceed to the major highlights of the city: the sacred Mahamuni Pagoda, housing one of the most significant Buddha images covered in several tons of gold leaf and the crown prize in wars between competing kingdoms; the Golden Palace Monastery, the sole surviving Royal Palace building in Mandalay, offering a glimpse of the original style and architecture of the Myanmar royals.

Lastly, the Kuthodaw Pagoda, a compound housing Buddha’s teachings carved in the sacred Pali script on stone tablets and regarded the world’s largest book in terms of surface area. We end our day with sunset panoramic views over city skyline on Mandalay Hill, the highest point of the city.

Overnight: Mandalay City Hotel (Breakfast included)

Day 7 - Mandalay - Bagan

After breakfast, you’ll travel to Amarapura, about 15 km from Mandalay, to visit the Mahagandayon Monastery, where more than a thousand monks live and study. Time permitting you will have the opportunity to observe the monks having their last meal of the day in total silence.

Continue to the 200 year old U Bein Teak Bridge, built in 1782 when Amarapura was the Royal capital. Then visit a traditional hand-woven silk workshop before proceeding to Bagaya Monestery, a compound with a superb collection of Buddha statues.

You’ll then transfer 15km to Ava (Inwa), the ancient capital of Shan and Burmese Kingdoms. Crossing the Myint Nge River by ferry, the small roads of Ava are explored by horse cart. You’ll visit the 300 year old, well preserved Bagaya Teak Monastery, which is still in use by local monks. You’ll also see the Nanmyin Watch Tower, the last standing structure of the Ava dynasty palace compound also known as the “Leaning Tower of Ava”; and the Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery, a 300-year old architectural wonder with graceful archways.

You’ll then transfer to airport for the domestic flight to Bagan. Upon arrival you’ll be met and transferred directly to your hotel.

Overnight: Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort (Breakfast included)

Day 8 - Bagan

After breakfast, we begin our journey to the ancient kingdoms of Bagan. The Dhamayazeka Zedi is our first visit, providing panoramic views of the temple studded plains of Bagan. We continue to the gold gilded Swezigon Stupa, purported to contain a holy tooth relic of the Buddha. Not far from the Stupa, the MYingaba Aba Gu Byaukgyi Temple is a sight to behold, housing Bagan’s best preserved mural paintings of the Buddha’s Jataka reincarnations.

Next, we learn how Bagan’s famous lacquer ware crafts are produced in Myingaba Village before visiting Htilominlo Temple to learn how Burmese sand paintings are created. The day’s temple tour ends with a visit to the beautifully symmetric and majestic Ananda Temple with its four standing Buddha images that seem to gaze at the viewer with fixed serenity wherever the viewer stands.

This evening, a bullock or horse cart ride around the temples offers lovely photo opportunities of one of the richest archeological treasures in Southeast Asia as the sun dips behind the temple ruins (weather permitting).

Overnight: Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort (Breakfast included)

Day 9 - Bagan - Popa - Yangon

After breakfast, a 1.5hrs drive takes us to Mount Popa, the Burmese spiritual epicenter for those who worship the pantheon of nat spirits and martyrs. After paying respects to the Nat Shrine at the foot of Mount Popa, we climb nearly 800 steps to the pagoda perched at the top of the mountain to admire the views of the surrounding plains and farm lands.

In the afternoon, we drive back to Bagan and stop enroute at a family-run Toddy Shop to observe the process of making the rich and caramel-like toddy candies from the sap of the toddy palms and catch late afternoon flight from Bagan to Yangon.

Overnight: Thamada Hotel (Breakfast included)

Day 10 - Yangon Departure

Sadly this is your last day in Myanmar. Your guide will transfer you to the airport for your international departure flight home.

Accommodation Information

Thamada Hotel

This three star property is centrally located and close to nearly all that Yangon has to offer. It is within close proximity to the Scott Market and Yangon’s Central railway station. However, all 58 rooms are furnished with air conditioning, hot and cold shower and bath, television, mini bar, telephone, voicemail, safety box and hair dryer. An onsite restaurant offers a variety of Western and Asian cuisine all day long. Thamada Hotel is a favorite amongst budget travelers.

Honey Pine Hotel

This simple hotel offers a good location only a few minutes walk from Kalaw’s market and restaurants, and is a good value base from which to explore this beautiful area. The hotel’s dining room is only open for breakfast however there’s a range of local restaurants in the vicinity. Guest rooms are simply decorated but comfortable.

Inle Resort

Magnificently located on the shores of the Inle Lake, this unique boutique Eco-Resort & Spa is open since 2005 and is one of the finest resorts in this unique tourist destination. Custom built and designed with the unique flair of traditional native style architecture, the "Inle Resort & Spa" is distinguished by its signature roof, prominent on the Lake; a welcome beacon to its guests. Blessed with an excellent location, the "Inle Resort & Spa" has character and quality facilities topped with personalized service. As a long-term stakeholder, "Inle Resort & Spa" is fully committed to responsible tourism for the ecological and cultural protection of the Lake environment.

Mandalay City Hotel

The Mandalay City Hotel, located in the heart of the Royal City of Mandalay, is an oasis offering a welcome respite for business and leisure travelers alike. The Hotel has 61 superior and 6 deluxe rooms. Each of the 67 well appointed rooms is designed to provide comfort, functionality, modern day convenience and ultimately value for money.

Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort

Bagan Thiripyistaya Sanctuary Resort is situtated on the banks of the Irrawaddy, Myanmar's river of history and legend. The Resort sprawls over 24 acres of landscaped gardens, which is home to mature tropical trees and flowering plants, as well as native birds and a number of small tame animals. Oriented towards the west, the Resort revels in panoramic river views, glorious sunsets and silver moonglow, and a pervading atmosphere of profound peace, warmth and comfort.

Location

Region: Asia - Southeast

Address:
Yangon
Myanmar

Amenities/Activities

Breakfast Breakfast

Day Tours Day Tours

Ecologically Responsible Ecologically Responsible

Hiking Trekking Hiking Trekking

Archeology Indigenous Archeology Indigenous

General Information

Price Includes

  • All accommodation as mentioned
  • Domestic flight tickets (including luggage handling fees at airports):
  • * Yangon Heho
  • * Heho Mandalay
  • * Mandalay Bagan
  • * Bagan Yangon
  • Daily breakfast at hotels
  • Meals as per mentioned in program
  • Private tours and transfers with airconditioned vehicles as specified in our itinerary
  • Local Englishspeaking guides during tours
  • Bike rental for cycling tours as specified
  • Water, fresh fruits and local snacks during cycling days
  • All entrance fees to the sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Full support before, during & after your trip
  • *Please Note: Traveling in Myanmar is essentially adventure travel. Road conditions vary greatly, communication, electricity supply and standard of lodging and local services are often not up to western standards. Travel times and schedules are subject to changes without prior notice. The tour operator reserves the right to amend touring schedules and itinerary if needed before and while on tour.

Price Excludes

  • International flights, unless otherwise noted
  • Visa arrangements for Myanmar, VOA assistance available on request
  • International airport departure tax if applicable
  • Travel insurance (recommended)
  • Visits not mentioned in the program
  • Drinks and personal expenses
  • Tips and gratuities to guides, drivers
  • Early checkin, late checkout, services
  • Expenses of a purely personal nature
  • Any other items not mentioned