This itinerary was selected by National Geographic Traveler Magazine as one of 2015's "50 Tours of A Lifetime."
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.
China may be modernizing at a break-neck pace, but the quicksilver skyscrapers and bullet trains are a thin veneer. The world's oldest continuous civilization is bound to pull a cultural artifact or two out of its hat. Ponder the legends surrounding the Forbidden City, let your imagination fly on the Great Wall and dive into a culture thousands of years in the making.
Welcome to Myanmar! Upon arrival at the airport in Yangon International Airport, clear Immigration and Customs and proceed into the arrivals area, where you will be greeted by your private guide and driver for your hotel transfer. When you reach your hotel, check in, get settled and freshen up. (This service is on a private basis.)
Yangon, also known as Rangoon, is Myanmar’s largest city and most important commercial hub, located in lower Myanmar at the convergence of the Yangon and Bago rivers. This former Burmese capital artfully combines tradition, culture and modernity and is home to the stunning Shwedagon Pagoda, standing 99 meters high and dating back more than 2000 years. Pilgrimages and pagoda festivals abound, co-existing with modern day life that takes place in the ubiquitous tea shops found along the leafy avenues and fin-de-siecle architecture. Often called “the Garden City of the East," nature lovers will enjoy the city’s stunning lakes, verdant tropical trees and spacious parks.
Interested in discovering what is behind the golden facade of the Shwedagon Pagoda? During this interactive half day tour, you will be guided through the back door, to reveal what is usually hidden from travelers. Understand the full history of the pagoda, the daily life of the people living in the immediate surroundings, and gain a deeper insight in the Buddhist religion and how their spiritual belief is mixed with the belief in nats – the Myanmar spirits. This intriguing adventure will begin from the bottom of the hill, passing the workshops, markets and monasteries, which will be useful, or even essential, to have a true understanding of the country during the rest of your journey. This excursion includes a traditional Burmese breakfast, offerings to monks and the pagoda, a visit to a fortune teller and a Burmese lunch. (This service is on a private basis.)
Yangon's downtown is unique, with much of its colonial-era architecture still standing. You will find one of Asia’s most impressive collections of late nineteenth and early twentieth- century building here, both religious and secular. This half day walking tour will take you through downtown Yangon, focusing on its old colonial buildings. Your expert guide will lead you through the back streets at a relaxed pace, as they explain to you the history of each building. Some of them sit empty, as others are getting restored and some are used for different purposes than when they were originally built. This walk along the streets of Yangon will, at least architecturally, take you a step back in time. Your journey will end with a drink at a local restaurant. (This service is on a private basis.)
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Yangon and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Bagan. Upon arrival in Bagan, you will be greeted at the airport by your driver and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Today, you will embark on a full day tour by car through Bagan. Following in the footsteps of your experienced guide, you will be introduced to the best known temples of the area. Your adventure begins with a climb up to the top of a pagoda, from where you will be rewarded with a breathtaking aerial view. This iconic sight over the temples of Bagan is what the city is truly famous for. After time for plenty of photos, your exploration continues to other nearby temples, some that are even several centuries old. Places like the Ananda, Dhammayangyi, Sulamani, and Thatbyinnyu will certainly impress you.
Stop for lunch this afternoon at a local restaurant, before riding by horse cart to Pyathagyi Pagoda at 4:00 PM. You will arrive at the pagoda just in time to admire the colorful sunset. Between the captivating scenery and the refreshing drinks that will be served, this is the perfect way to end to your day. Please note that during this tour, whenever you pass by a temple that interests you, you can simply ask your guide to pull over. There is no set schedule today, so you can discover the sites at your leisure, catered entirely to your requests. At the end, you will be dropped off at your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Located on the eastern banks of the Irrawaddy River in central Myanmar, Bagan is famous for its picturesque Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins. More than 2,000 cover an area of 16 square miles, many of which date back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Bagan is the ultimate photographer's paradise. No matter if it's the colorful hour of dawn, or the balmy late afternoons, the impressive pagodas that decorate the landscape as far as the eye can see, is truly picture perfect.
Today, you will visit the Minnanthu temple. Considered the favorite temple among frequent Bagan visitors, it is a quiet, beautiful area that is often completely deserted. Your guide will take you by car to this forgotten part of Bagan and will spread out a blanket for a picture perfect picnic. You will enjoy a delicious picnic lunch, right in the midst of this historical setting. You will also have the opportunity to visit two or three other ancient temples ruins in the area. Today is sure to be an unforgettable and tasty experience! (This service is on a private basis.)
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Bagan and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Heho. Upon arrival in Heho, you will be greeted at the airport and transferred to Kalaw. (This service is on a private basis.)
Today, a specially trained elephant conservation guide will take you on a rewarding adventure in the Kalaw forest, to encounter elephants, their mahouts and locals from the surrounding areas. Young tourism professionals from Kalaw, are the ones who decided to work towards a better future for the local area. The project they are working on focuses on protecting the nature, elephants and traditions of the people. In a major part of this private protected forest, the nature can grow undisturbed, securing a natural habitat for animals, that could otherwise be easily hunted.
To begin, you will follow your guide on a trek through the forest. Depending on what you prefer, you can hike anywhere from 30 minutes, all the way up to five hours. The picturesque nature paths will lead you to the natural surroundings of the jungle. Amidst the wild jungle scenery, you may enjoy a delicious lunch of local specialties. Alternatively, your lunch can be served in a traditional village, or at the main camp. Following lunch, you will be introduced to the fascinating elephants! You will have the chance to assist a local mahout, by washing and feeding these incredible creatures. After this unforgettable experience, you will say goodbye to your new friends and return to the main road, to meet your driver and transfer back to your hotel.
Sitting at an elevation of 4300 feet, the peaceful hill station of Kalaw offers a lush, cool respite from the heat of the plains. Known for its trekking, Kalaw is also interesting culturally with a diverse population of Shan, Indian Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims as well as Nepali Gurkhas who came to Kalaw to build the roads and railway line under British rule. Kalaw is the main setting of the novel “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats” by Jan-Philipp Sendker.
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. (This service is on a private basis.)
Magical Inle Lake is a vast natural freshwater lake located in the heart of Shan State, part of Shan Hills in Myanmar bordering Laos and Thailand. It is the second largest lake in Myanmar with an estimated surface area of 44.9 square miles, and one of the highest at an elevation of 2,900 feet. A wonderful watery world of floating gardens, stilted villages and crumbling stupas, Inle Lake is a place to be savored. Watch the unique leg-rowers of the Inthas, the native lake dwellers. Revel in colorful floating markets, meditative monasteries and interesting hill tribe villages in the surrounding mountains.
Inle Lake is surrounded by traditional Shan Villages, where the Intha people have been living for many centuries, in villages built entirely on stilts above the water. Today's tour begins with a ride on a private motorboat around the lake. This offers the chance to truly appreciate the natural beauty of the lake, visit the floating gardens, observe some of the famous leg rowers and enjoy some tea at a local family’s home. On and around the lake, traditional markets are held in various villages according to a 5-day rotating schedule. During this excursion, you will visit one of these colorful markets, frequented by the local Shan and PaO people. You will also stop at a local cheroot factory, where Burmese cigars are made, before visiting a floating tomato garden and the beautiful Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. This afternoon, you will be invited into a local Intha home for a traditional lunch, served to your liking. Your guide can also take you to a weaving factory if you are interested, before returning to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Explore the pristine surroundings of Inle Lake with a kayak to soak in the sound of nature. An active adventure is waiting today as we tour via kayak through rural villages in this part of Shan state. A 45 minute transfer will bring us to Shwe Nyaung where the kayaks are ready (2 persons per kayak) to start peddling on a creek that leads to Inle Lake. A landscape of fields filled with potatoes, rice, sugarcane, tomatoes, garlic and peanuts passes by while every now and then we stop in a traditional Shan or Intha village that hardly ever see foreign visitors. After about one hour we stop in a village for a 30 minute walk to meet some of the villagers in their house and learn more about their lifestyle.
We continue peddling and visit a local house in village to have a cup of tea and get to know the people living in this Intha village. Around lunch time we arrive at a picnic spot where a blanket is spread out in a bamboo forest and lunch is served. In the afternoon we stop two more times in local villages before we arrive around 3pm in Nyaung Shwe where we leave the kayaks and we walk back to our hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Inle and transferred to the Heho Airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Mandalay. Upon arrival in Mandalay, you will be greeted by your driver and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
This tour is the perfect introduction to Mandalay. You will start with a visit to the old capital of Amarapura, a quiet village where you will hear the soothing sound of weaving machines. Walk through the famous Mahagandayon monastery complex with hundreds of monks, visit a 100 year old weaving vocational training institution and traverse over the U-Bein Bridge, where we taste a sip of Mandalay rum which has been produced since 1886!
Proceed with a Visit to the Mahamuni pagoda and admire the century’s old Buddha statue originating from Mrauk Oo. It is a very lively temple compound, with locals sticking gold leaves to the Buddha statue. The Mahamuni is also an excellent place to shop around for the perfect Buddha statue (bronze or wood). Can’t find what you are looking for? Find a marble statue at the next stop at the marble carving street before heading back to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Mandalay, the last royal capital of Burma, lies in central Myanmar on the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy River. The name "Mandalay" evokes visions of rich history and exotic cultures. However, this relatively young royal city, considered by many to be the heart of Burmese culture, was actually built in 1857. The locals are known for their generous and charitable nature, primarily due to the fact that the area holds the world's largest number of monks to be found in any one place.
Today, you will enjoy a river cruise experience up the majestic Irrawaddy to the explore the city of Mingun. A short ride from the hotel brings you to the Mingun jetty where your boat is ready to cruise upstream. You’ll soon arrive on the banks of this unfinished city, home to a number of incomplete archaeological curiosities. Visit the partially constructed Mingun Paya, originally designed to become one of the world’s largest Buddhist stupas (religious temples). You’ll also visit the Mingun Bell, a bronze bell commissioned in 1808 by Myanmar’s King Bodawpaya that weighs around 90 tons.
After your exploration, you will return to Mandalay by boat. (This service is on a group basis.)
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Mandalay and transferred to the airport in good time to board your international flight to Kunming, China. Upon arrival in Kunming, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Kunming enjoys all the benefits of a modern Chinese city, without the pressure of living up to the standards set by Hong Kong, Beijing or Shanghai. This is laid back Chinese living, and a few days in Kunming is really worth one's time. Americans and Europeans who want to live in China are beginning to choose Kunming over other Chinese cities for this more familiar lifestyle. Other than the city life, there are some beautiful Karst landscapes in the mountains surrounding the city, and a few days can be lost exploring the temples that dot the city itself.
Today you will be met at your hotel to embark on a tour of the Jiuxiang Caves and the Stone Forest. Enjoy lunch at the Stone Forest Hotel.
Jiuxiang Caves are situated in Jiuxiang Township, about 70 kilometers from Kunming. There are more than one hundred karst caves in Jiuxiang scenic area. The caves at Jiuxiang are the largest cave group system in China. Inside the cave are many well-developed and wonderful stalactites and stalagmites, which look like pretty fairies welcoming their guests. Names have been given to them such as "Fairies Welcoming Guests", "Woman Weaver", and "The Fairy is coming out of bathing".
Note: The final stage is to climb up Bat Cave. This is the most challenging part as there are about 336 steps. Sometimes there are laborers who offering sedan chair service.
A fantastic natural phenomena, the Stone Forest, is located 90 km southeast of Kunming. The various shapes of karst landscape was formed due to millions of years' movement of Earth. The Stone Forest area is the home of the Sani people, their folk customs has become one spectacular scene, the colorful embroidery and minority dances combine with the natural sceneries, which will surely leave you a deep impression. (This service is on a private basis.)
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Kunming and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Lijiang. Upon arrival in Lijiang, you will be greeted at the airport by your driver and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Lijiang is situated in the middle area of the county, which is more than 2400 meters high above sea level. It enjoys beautiful scenes, an indeed famous city with long history and splendid culture. It is very rare in China that such well-preserved minority ancient cities still exist. The old town is quite busy in the afternoon and evening with an active atmosphere of the lights and crowd. An early morning visit will be less crowded.
Then visit Wangu Tower. Located on the top of Lion Hill, Wangu is the landmark building of Lijiang ancient town. This pure wood building is 33 meters (108 ft) tall, overlooking the scenery of Lijiang at its foot, and looking out to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the distance.
You will enjoy lunch at No.8 Lv Xue Zhai Restaurant today. (This service is on a private basis.)
Lijiang is famous for its winding maze of cobblestone streets that let one wander, and get lost, in its twisting turns. "Famous" is certainly the right word, as the large volume of tourists fill up the narrow streets pretty quickly in the morning. Though there are plenty of opportunities to leave the Old City district, we encourage our travelers to settle in and take part in the frantic shuffle. This is a rare opportunity to experience an ancient city that still functions at full capacity every day. One can really feel the energy left here by millions of people over centuries of activity.
Today after breakfast you will enjoy a tourist cable ride up Jade Dragon Mountain and visit the Baisha Murals at Baisha Village.
Noted as the highest tourist cable in China, the Large Cable way goes up to Shanzidou (Shanzi Peak) the main peak of the snow mountain, with the an entire length of 2,914m, a top altitude of 4,506 km, and a perpendicular ascent of 1,150m. The cable car will take you into the clouds, where you will be far away from the worldly hurly-burly, and find yourself in a real paradise. Many visit Ganhanzi, Baishuihe (White Water River), and Glacier Park from this cableway.
Painted over a thousand years ago, the murals of Baisha Village, combine the cultures of Han, Tibetan and Naxi people displaying the life stories of the Tibet Buddhism, Confucian and Taoism. Drop by Dr. Ho's clinic, an experienced traditional Chinese medicine doctor in Lijiang. Visitors will see how Dr. Ho and his apprentices diagnose and treat patients, and get to know about the local clinic and herb culture. (This service is on a private basis.)
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Lijiang and transferred to the airport. (This service is on a private basis.)
Founded in 1995 and since then in private ownership, the Savoy Hotel is a four star colonial boutique hotel. All of its 85 full time employees are committed to a personalized and attentive service. The Savoy is ideally located in the picturesque area of Yangon, overlooking the Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar's "twinkling wonder" and the nearby People's Park. Just ten minutes drive from the city centre and 20 minutes to the International Airport. All 30 deluxe rooms including six suites express the charm of "the old days" with traditional Myanmar antiques, teak furniture and spacious bathrooms. Nicely overshadowed by tall old trees, the pool with its lounge area makes the Savoy Hotel a silent oasis in the middle of the bustling city.
Surrounded by more than 4000 ancient temples and Pagodas, you will be enchanted by the breathtaking views. The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate is within 5 minutes walking distance to the spectacular Ananda Temple known as ‘The Jewel of Bagan’. The Hotel offers 83 luxury rooms including 4 Suites. Every room is decorated with teak floors and typical Burmese furniture. All rooms are fully air-conditioned and feature an IDD Telephone line, Sat- Television, Safety Deposit Box, Mini Bar and a private Garden. Each room with its high ceiling and different hand painted wall painting which are all copies of original Temple Painting of the Bagan period.
The Amara Mountain Resort is a former colonial residence in Shan mountain range, Kalaw, Myanmar. Each of its 10 spacious rooms are individually decorated in Asian and European style. They each have an open fireplace and a private bathroom made of marble and wood. The restaurant features both Western and local dishes and is located amongst the property's trees and gardens.
Magnificently located on the shores of the Inlay Lake, this Boutique Eco-Resort & Spa is one of the finest resorts in this unique tourist destination. Custom built and designed with the detailed flair of traditional native style architecture, the Inle Resort & Spa is recognized by it's signature roof, prominent on the Lake; a welcome beacon to all guests. Located in an ideal spot, the resort 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.
Myanmar is like no other place on earth. Renowned as “The Golden Land” a name inspired by Marco Polo to describe the dramatic view of the gold-spired pagodas that can be found throughout the country. Mandalay, the former capital city of the Myanmar Kingdom, is a spectacular destination for historical and cultural travelers. Mandalay Hill Resort lies at the foot of Mandalay Hill with a panoramic view of a myriad of pagodas and faces the distinctive architecture of the Royal Palace and its beautiful moat. Your visit enhanced by the fun-loving hospitable people of Myanmar whose lives remain simple and relaxed will become treasured and timeless memories. Just one hour by air from Yangon and twenty minutes flight from Bagan, Mandalay lies within reach of some of most remarkable archaeological sites in the world that has inspired visitors to Myanmar for nearly a thousand years.
This 28 story hotel near Wujiaba Airport was built in 1998 and underwent a partial renovation as quickly as 2004. Many of the hotel's employees speak English and its management is proud of the amount of hotel experience they collectively have. All the rooms are designed with international travellers in mind, and the hotel has made sure Western amenities are the norm throughout.
Located conveniently in the South Gate Square in Old Town Lijiang, The Wangfu Hotel is unique and charming with it's colorful and traditional Chinese architecture and decor throughout the premise. Feel relaxed and immersed in culture when winding your way through our small courtyards, passing between gates and listening to the water run through the waterside pavilions.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.