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.
Day 1 - Yangon Arrival
Welcome to Myanmar! Upon arrival at the Yangon Airport this morning, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
After getting situated at your hotel, we invite you on a guided walking tour of Yangon. Yangon downtown is unique with much of its colonial-era architecture still standing. Here you’ll find one of Asia’s most impressive collections of late nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings, religious and secular.
Starting after breakfast or lunch this walking tour will take you through downtown Yangon, focusing on its old colonial buildings. Your guide will walk you through the back streets in a relaxed tempo, explaining the history of each building. Some of them are empty, some are being restored and some are being used for different purposes than when built.
This walk along the streets of Yangon will at least architecturally take you a step back in time. The walk ends with a drink at Union Bar & Grill in the old Red Cross building on Strand Road.
Overnight: East Hotel Yangon
Day 2 - Yangon - Bagan: Shwedagon & Sunset Tour
So what’s behind the golden façade of the Shwedagon Pagoda? During this interactive half day tour we take you through the back door and show you the full history of the pagoda, the daily life of all people living in the immediate surroundings of the pagoda and a deeper insight in the Buddhist religion and how the spiritual belief is mixed with the belief in nats – the Myanmar spirits.
Enjoy an intriguing half day tour starting from the bottom of the hill and passing the workshops, markets and monasteries which will be useful or even essential to understand more of the country during the rest of your journey. The tour includes a traditional Burmese breakfast, offerings to monks and the pagoda, a visit to a fortune teller and a Burmese lunch.
In the afternoon, you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight to Bagan. Upon arrival, meet your guide and transfer to your hotel before some sightseeing in Bagan.
It’s better if you spend at least two nights in Bagan; one to see the sun go down from the top of an ancient temple, the other one to take a boat ride on the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River and have some sundowners on a sandbank in the middle of the river (if the river is not too high). Depending on the weather, a private boat tour on the river in the late afternoon should show you a spectacular sunset while your guide serves cocktails and snacks.
Overnight: Areindmar Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)
Day 3 - Bagan: Biking & Minnanthu Temples
We love Bagan, even more then Angkor Wat, not just because of the beauty of each temple and not just because of the lack of hordes of tourists. We like Bagan most because of the stunning landscape of ancient temple ruins that seem to be spread around randomly in between toddy palms and bamboo huts.
During this half day bicycle tour, your guide will show you some of the most spectacular landscapes of ancient temples. You can stop any time, any minute to take some beautiful pictures.
Minnanthu is probably the favorite temple area amongst frequent Bagan visitors. It’s quiet, it’s in a beautiful area and the temples here are often completely deserted. The guide brings you by car to this forgotten part of Bagan, then spreads out a blanket and serves a great picnic lunch after viewing two or three ancient temple ruins in the area.
Overnight: Areindmar Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)
Day 4 - Bagan - Heho - Kalaw: Trekking
Today you’ll be met at your hotel and transferred to the Nyaung U airport for your flight to Heho. Upon arrival, you’ll be met by your guide and transferred to Kalaw. From Kalaw you’ll be transfer to the start of your trek.
Depending on your arrival time and how long you want to walk through the forest (walks from 30 min up to 4-5 hours are possible – simply let us know what you prefer) you will find yourself in the natural surroundings of Asian jungle. Enjoy lunch at a local village on the way.
Tonight you'll spend the night at the local monastery in very basic accommodations. All part of the unique experience.
Overnight:Local Monastery (Breakfast, Lunch included)
Day 5 - Kalaw: Forest Trekking & Elephant Experience
Today, your specially trained Elephant conservation guide will take you for a rewarding day in the Kalaw forest encountering elephants, their mahouts and people living in the surrounding areas. Recently, young tourism professionals originating from Kalaw decided to set-up a project in the area that focused on protecting nature, elephants and the traditions of the local people. The results have been amazing.
In a big part of this private protected forest the nature can grow undisturbed creating a natural habitat for animals that could otherwise be easily hunted down and killed. The project includes creating a natural environment for some Myanmar elephants from this part of the world and helping the local population to grow out of the vicious circle of poverty through education and a strong economy
A delicious lunch with local specialties (often from Nepalese origin) will be served in a traditional village, in the jungle or in the camp. After lunch it is time to help the mahout by washing and feeding the elephant. Walk back in the afternoon to the main road and continue by car back to Kalaw town.
Overnight: Kalaw Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)
Day 6 - Kalaw: Bike to Indein - Inle Lake
Today mountain bikes are waiting for you to start a 4-5 hour biking trip to Indein. The trip is mostly off-road and technically easy with most of the roads being flat or downhill. However, the first hour some parts do go uphill.
Biking through numerous Pa O villages in an area where few foreigners have been before is a great experience. Stop on the way to enjoy the fantastic views over the lake and the Shan country side. Lunch is included in a local village and at the end of the trip we visit the ancient ruins of Indein. From Indein we continue to your hotel by private motorboat where your luggage is already delivered to the room. This is a great trip that can start from Kalaw, Nyaung Shwe, Khaung Dine or Heho.
Overnight: La Maison Birmane (Breakfast, Lunch included)
Day 7 - Inle Lake: Day On The Lake
Inle Lake in southern Shan State is a vast natural lake surrounded by traditional Shan villages. On the lake itself the Intha people have been living for many centuries in villages built entirely on stilts. Today you will ride a private motorboat around the lake. Discover its natural beauty, visit the floating gardens, see some of the famous leg rowers, and have a cup of tea at a local family’s house.
On and around the lake, traditional markets are held in different villages according to a 5-day rotating schedule. Today we take you to visit one of these colorful markets frequented by the Shan and PaO people. We can also visit a local cheroot factory (where the Burmese cigars are made), floating tomato gardens, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Intha Heritage house - where the Burmese cats are bred - and if time, a weaving factory.
Overnight: La Maison Birmane (Breakfast, Lunch included)
Day 8 - Inle Lake - Yangon - Bago - Golden Rock
Today, you’ll check out of your hotel and be transferred by boat back to Nyaung Shwe. From Nyaung Shwe, you’ll drive about one hour to the Heho airport for your flight to Yangon.
Upon arrival, you’ll transfer to Bago by private car and guide and visit (if wanted) the war cemetery in Taukkyan where thousands of prisoners of war who worked on the death railway in Kayin and Mon State are commemorated.
We continue to Bago (1.5 hour drive) where we visit the Kha Khat Wain monastery – one of the biggest in the country. Bago used to be the capital of Mon kingdom in the former days. On arrival in Kyaiktiyo Basecamp (about 2 hours drive from Bago) we leave the main luggage behind in the car and take a bag for the night to go up the hill by trucks serving mainly local pilgrims.
One of the most important pilgrimage sites for Myanmar Buddhist and maybe one of the strangest (or unbelievable) sites for foreign tourist: the Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo Pagoda). A big rock with a small pagoda built on top of it, is balancing on the edge of a mountain and looks as if it could tumble into the ravine below at any moment (luckily some hairs of Buddha precisely placed in the pagoda prevent the rock from falling). The site can be reached after a short walk (1.5 hours) or a long walk (about 7 hours) and apparently taking the long route three times in a lifetime will bring good luck.
Surrounding the Golden Rock are numerous local teashops, rest places and monasteries as well as local souvenir shops (many of them offering traditional Myanmar medicine made off indigenous animals found by Kayin hunters living in the jungle in this region).
We stay overnight in the mountains at a hotel built within walking distance of the pagoda.
Overnight: Mountain Top Hotel (Breakfast included)
Day 9 - Kyaiktiyo - Mawiamyine
Early this morning you can visit the golden rock to watch sunrise (optional) then enjoy breakfast at the hotel and at around 8:00am we’ll head down to the base camp where we meet our driver.
Driving through Mon State towards Mawlamyine we pass the area which is assumed to be the seat of the last capital of the Mon kingdom: the city called Suvannabhumi. Burmese archaeologists have recently started the search again for the exact location of this ancient city. We also pass Thaton, an acient city famous for its durian and betel nut (as is the whole of Mon state). On arrival in the colonial city of Mawlamyine we visit a local house where a home cooked lunch of Mon specialties is served.
In the afternoon we’ll visit the Mon Museum which has some interesting displays showing the rich Mon culture. Then walk around the area with seeing impressive buildings from colonial times when writers like Orwell and Kipling where living in this city. We continue to visit the nearby village of Hpa Ouk which is famous for its weaving of the traditional Mon style sarongs for men and women.
Afterwards you’ll return to your hotel for overnight.
Overnight: Cinderella Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)
Day 10 - Mawiamyine: Thaniwin River - Hpa An
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before visiting the Seindon Mibaya Monastery. Queen Seindon built the Seindon Mibaya Monastery in Mawlamyine which is very fine example of architecture in the original Mandalay palace and has magnificent woodcarvings and other decorations. It’s a monastery so beautiful that one could actually call it a museum.
We’ll then continue to the Ni Paya to see the amazing view over the city and river before heading to the jetty to board a private motor boat that will bring us to Hpa An. At around 10:00am we’ll take a private boat for a cruise over the Thanlwin (Salween) River. After about an hour we arrive at a small jetty in U Na Auk village where we’ll take a tuk-tuk to visit the amazing carvings and decorations or the temples and ordination hall donated to the village by famous local, Mr Na Auk.
We continue the boat trip over the Thanlwin River with spectacular sights of Zwekabin and other limestone mountains rising from the rice fields. A lunch is served on the boat together with a bottle of white wine. We stop on the way in Pa Lin village for a walk around this local community with Kayin, Shan, Mon, Bamar and PaO people.
You’ll arrive around 5:00pm in Hpa An and transfer by car to the hotel which is situated at the bottom of one of the limestone mountains. In the evening we enjoy dinner in a local restaurant with typical Kayin “Talabaw” soup which is made of bamboo shoots, rice and jackfruit.
Overnight: Hotel Zwekabin (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included)
Day 11 - Hpa An - Myawaddy: Border Crossing - Mae Sot
In the morning you will enjoy a trip through the tranquil rural scenery on a kayak while a Kayin man is peddling from the charming village of Lakkana to Muku village. On the way you will see rice fields, limestone mountains and tranquil Kayin villages. We stop for fresh fruit served in one of the wooden Kayin houses in a local village before arriving about two hours later at our final destination.
Please note: the creeks in this rural part are quite shallow. We use small kayaks to travel around which means that you could get wet. Slippers, shorts and a t-shirt are recommended.
As Kayin state is borders Thailand there is some very tasty Thai food available in the local restaurants along the road leading through the jungle towards Thailand. We return to the hotel for a shower and continue to drive towards the Burmese border town called Myawaddy.
Today‘s route is a special one as the road has just opened recently for foreign tourists. It is a scenic road through the mountains often used by local traders. On arrival at the border post your guide will assist with the customs and immigration formalities on the Myanmar side where it takes a walk across the bridge to reach Thai Immigration. Here you will apply for a visa (for most western countries you can get a visa on arrival which is valid for 2 weeks).
On odd days of the month (1, 3, 5, 7 August etc.) the driving direction for all cars is from Hpa An to Myawaddy while on the even days of the month the driving direction for all cars is from Myawaddy to Hpa An.
Spend the night in Mae Sot.
East Hotel Yangon
East Hotel is conveniently located between two major roads, Sule Pagoda and Bogyoke. Its location in the heart of Yangon makes it the perfect base for exploring. Accessible sights and areas include the famous Bogyoke market, located within walking distance, as well as the colonial Pansodan Street. Rooms are equipped with flat-screen televisions, unlimited mineral water, tea and coffee facilities, and wireless internet connection.
Drawing on the rich traditions of Myanmar’s Bagan region, Areindmar Hotel is nestled among the temples of New Bagan, just south of the city walls of the ancient capital.
Featuring 38 deluxe rooms around a large, leafy central courtyard, Areindmar is designed for travellers looking for an oasis of green to return to after exploring the wonders of this historic area.
The spacious rooms are flawlessly executed, combining modern amenities with traditional touches, such as local artworks and handmade teak and bronze furnishings.
Kalaw Hotel is in Kalaw Town, just west of Inle Lake in the Shan State. The area is well known for the many walks and treks available throughout. The hotel is just a 15 minute waslk to the Central Market.
La Maison Birmane
La Maison Birmane is located in Say Yon Street, Mingalar Quarter in Nyaung Shwe. La Maison Birmante is lovely small hotel, where great attention is paid to design. La Maison Birmane is located in a very quiet back street in the village of Nyaung Shwe(Inle Lake). It is just 500 meters from the river jetty to visit the inle lake, and a few minutes to the market, bank and many restaurants.
Mountain Top Hotel
The Mountain Top Hotel is a vantage point commanding a panoramic view of the lush mountain ranges below, where one can experience spectacular sunrise and sunsets. Just a few minutes walk to the Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock pagoda), at the top of Mt. Kyaikhtiyo, the Mountain Top Hotel is ideally situated for those who wish to make frequent visits to the pagoda. The hotel is at approximately 3,600 ft. above sea level, 130 miles from Yangon.
Situated in downtown Mawlamyine close to the Post Office and the Central Park, Cinderella Hotel is in a most convenient yet peaceful location in Myanmar’s third largest city. With a reputation for the most hospitable of staff, excellent food and an extensive list of amenities, Cinderella Hotel is undoubtedly the best value for money in the whole of Mawlamyine. Facilities include concierge, restaurant, babysitting service, bicycle rental service, coffee shop and a garden. Guest rooms provide the highest levels of comfort and are stylishly furnished with traditional teak furniture. Amenities are wide-ranging and include air-conditioning, mini bar, satellite TV, free Wi-Fi, IDD telephone, complimentary tea, coffee and water and 24 hour room service.
The new Zwekabin Hotel will offer you green and endless farm lands which can be seen from the hotel. It is surrounded by a moat and offers peace and tranquility. The Zwekabin Hotel is located a bit outside of Hpa-An, about five hours driving time from Yangon and one hour driving time from Mawlamyaing. There is a total of 24 rooms, all of them modern furnished and offering a nice view towards the Zwekabin Mountain, the landmark of Kayin State.