DAY 1, 12 JANUARY 2022. ARRIVE IN MANDALAY
Arrive in Mandalay, the former royal capital of Burma. The royal era ended with the British takeover of the country back in 1885. Mandalay is the last of several historic royal capital cities in this region, constructed in 1857 by King Mindon as he moved the royal capital from the nearby Amarapura. Upon arrival in Mandalay, and after immigration procedures, meet the local guide and drive to the hotel. If time permits ascend to the top of Mandalay Hill, the city’s namesake, for a view over the city at night. After a welcome dinner in one of the city’s finest restaurants, drive to the hotel for the first night in Myanmar.
DAY 2, 13 JANUARY 2022. MANDALAY URBAN TOUR AND ON TO PYIN OO LWIN
Begin a tour of Mandalay with a visit to the Jade Market. Myanmar is famous for its high-quality jade, most of it making its way to neighboring China. If taking the time, one can learn here about the secrets of the trade- looking for clarity, the right colors, and the purity of the stone. In the morning hours, buyers and sellers are busy trading vast amounts of cash, which forms only a small portion of the estimated annual trade of more than 30 billion US dollars. From here, take to the Mahamuni’s Temple, where one of only three images depicting Lord Buddha in his own true form, and blessed by him, are located. Continue to Shwenandaw Monastery, the last remaining original structure of the royal palace, known for its beautiful teak wood carvings of Buddhist mythology. Then take a stroll along the Goldbeaters’ District to watch the laborious practice of beating gold nuggets into thin leaves, sold to pilgrims, which then glue these leaves onto Buddha figures in temples and shrines. In the afternoon, leave Mandalay for the short drive to Amarapura, some 12 km (7.5 miles) south of the former capital. Arrive in time for a short walk over the 1.2 km (3937 feet) U-bein bridge, and then hop on board a small local boat for a sunset cruise, offering marvelous views over the uniquely designed bridge. At dusk, take the one-and-a-half hours’ drive to Pyin Oo Lwin, and set in the hotel for the night.
Day 3, 14 JANURAY 2022. BOTANICAL GARDEN AND THRILLING TRAIN RIDE
With an early morning call, drive to the train station to take the approximately four-hours’ thrilling train ride over the Gokhteik Viaduct, of which Paul Theroux wrote in his acclaimed travelogue, The Great Railway Bazaar: “a monster of silver geometry in all the ragged rock and jungle, its presence was bizarre”. The viaduct, built back in 1900, rises 102 meters (335 feet) over the gushing river below, but with the narrow gauge rails, those riding the train feel as if the monstrous train, huffing and puffing up the mountainous terrain, is flying in the air over the narrow canyon. Soon after crossing the viaduct, disembark the train, and revert by car to Pyin Oo Lwin, also known as Maymyo. Once a British hill station, to which British officers and clerks escaped from the Burmese plains’ heat, it is today home to one of the most important and beautiful botanical gardens throughout Asia. After visiting the gardens revert to Mandalay for the night.
DAY 4, 15 JANUARY 2022. VISIT SAGAING HILL AND DRIVE TO MONYWA
In the morning hours, drive back to Amarapura, commonly known as ‘the City of Immortality.’ Here, visit the iconic Mahagandayon Monastery, home to some 1,500 Buddhist monks. In the late morning hours, the monks preparing for the last meal of the day, as the rest of it would be dedicated to religious studies and the monastery’s daily chores. After attending the lunch ceremony, drive to Sagaing, an important religious and monastic center. Climb atop Sagaing Hill for a view over the cluster of pagodas covering the hill slopes with the mighty Irrawaddy River at its backdrop. Revert to the vehicle and continue the road trip to Monywa, arriving in time for a visit at Po Win Taung, a hand-carved cave dating back to the 17th century, known for its beautifully painted walls and ceilings, decorated with Buddhist and folk motifs. Little known to most visitors to Burma, this is truly one of the country’s hidden gems. Continue to the hotel for an overnight in Monywa.
DAY 5, 16 JANUARY 2022. CRUISE OVER THE IRRAWADDY TO BAGAN
The day begins with a visit to the Monyinthanbudde pagoda, housing 582,375 Buddha figurines of different sizes. Proceed to the Boditahtaung pagoda, famous for the 130 meters (426.5 feet) high standing Buddha and the 100 meters (328 foot) long reclining Buddha. Leave Monywa for the three hours’ drive to Pakkoku. En route, pause by Ma Oo Le, an abandoned archaeological site usually neglected by tourists. Upon arrival at Pakkoku, stroll around the local market and visit a workshop manufacturing the famous Burmese cigars- the “Cheroot.” Then take to the pier to embark on a private two hours’ cruise down the Irrawaddy River, all the way to Bagan. Upon arrival in Bagan, join hundreds of locals as they roll in to celebrate the annual Ananda Pagoda Festival. This is the evening before the full-moon day, the most important day of the festival and the locals are flocking in to prepare for the big day tomorrow. Walk amid the anticipating crowd and enjoy a very simple yet authentic dinner with the locals in one of the improvised restaurants operating during the festival. Stay in the temple’s vicinity in the evening as more locals walk in to join the celebrations at the end of a day’s work. Late in the evening, drive to the hotel for the night. If time permits, stop at Bagan Archeological Zone to climb atop one of the ancient pagodas for a fantastic view over the vast archeological site at sunset.
DAY 6, 17 JANUARY 2022. ENJOY THE ANANDA PAGODA FESTIVAL
With an early morning beginning of the day, drive back to Ananda Pagoda. From sunrise and until late in the morning, monks from different monasteries gather to receive alms from the immense crowd of locals gathered here on this auspicious day. The long line of monks, all dressed in orange robs amidst these historic buildings, is a scene not to be missed.
Leave the pagoda and spend the rest of the day exploring the Archeological Zone of Bagan. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the nowadays’ archeological zone was once the center for the Bagan Empire. The archeological site comprises nearly 4,000 pagodas and buildings dating back to the heydays of this mighty ancient empire of the 11th to 13th century.
Begin with the 11th century Shwesandaw Pagoda for a panoramic view over the archaeological site, to get a first impression of the massive site and multitude of these marvelous ancient structures. Continue to Shwezigon Stupa, a true marvel of traditional Burmese architecture with its magnificent Burmese golden stupa. This elegant bell-shaped stupa became the model of all stupas built after it in Myanmar. Take a short break from the archeological site for a stroll through the Nyaung-U farmers’ market. Pause by a local lacquerware workshop to observe the traditional lacquerware production process, all handmade, without modern machinery. In the afternoon, return to Ananda Temple, as the Full Moon events are about to begin. The Ananda Temple is one of the most prominent structures in the entire Bagan Archeological Zone. Dating back to the early 12th century, the temple features a fusion between Indian and traditional Mon architecture. To date, it is revered as one of the most sacred temples throughout the country. Hence, the annual festival attracts pilgrims and locals alike. Local vendors gather in their hundreds while the crowds enjoy traditional music and dances, some camping by the temple for days, taking the time to meet old friends, and catch up on the latest news. Drive back to the hotel at the end of this eventful day for a second night in the city.
Note: For conservation reasons and by decrees issued from time to time by the Archaeological Department, climbing atop the upper terraces of the pagodas in Bagan may not be permitted.
DAY 7, 18 JANUARY 2022. FLY FROM BAGAN TO INLE LAKE
Early in the morning, head to Nyaung U, the nearest airport to Bagan, to board a morning flight to Heho. Upon landing and after meeting the local guide, drive to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway to Inle Lake. At the pier, board a local boat to embark on a cruise, beginning discovering the lake, the breathtaking landscapes surrounding it, the fishermen with their unique fishing techniques, and the lifestyle of its inhabitants - the ‘Inthas’ or ‘Sons of Lake,’ inhabiting the lake shores on stilt houses. Arrive at the hotel early in the afternoon and enjoy an evening in leisure by the lake.
DAY 8, 19 JANUARY 2022. EXPLORING LAKE INLE BY BOAT
Depart for a full day of discovering the treasures of Inle Lake by boat. First, visit the morning market to meet the Inthar people and people of the hill tribes that inhabit the Shan mountains surrounding the lake, all dressed in their traditional clothing. After a stroll through the market, visit the floating gardens of tomato and other seasonal vegetables and flowers, a magnificent display of hydroponic agriculture being utilized here long before becoming a hot trend in the west. The lake is known for its leg rowers, local fishermen using traditional fishing techniques with their two-meters long bamboo-made fishing traps. Continue touring the lake’s surroundings, stopping from time to time by local villages to see the lifestyle and the craftsmanship of traditional weavers, blacksmiths, cheroot rollers, and boat makers. Wrap up the day with a visit to Ngaphechaung Monastery, a 200 years old monastery built on stilts over the lake, making it the oldest and biggest monastery in the region. After visiting the temple and enjoying the beautiful mosaics adorning it, hop back aboard the boat, and cruise back to the hotel for a second night by the lake.
DAY 9, 20 JANUARY 2022. CRUISE TO INDEIN AND FLY TO YANGON
Today take a full-day excursion to the archaeological site of Indein. The Indein Pagoda complex and Inle Lake are connected through the winding Indein creek. On the banks along the creek lies a cluster of nearly two-thousand stupas dated back to the 17th and 18th centuries; many of these are crumbling ruins overgrown with bushes. The slowly deteriorating pagodas create a mesmerizing scene and serve as a reminder to mother nature’s powers, which seem to undermine manmade structures and reclaim its long-lost grounds. While cruising to and from Indein archeological site, watch local farmers as they plow and harrow their fields with water buffaloes. In the afternoon, take a boat ride across the lake, meet the driver and board the vehicle for a drive to the Red Mountain Winery. Here, learn about the history of local vineyards and wine production and enjoy wine tasting with the lake’s beautiful view perched below. From here, drive to Heho to board an evening flight to Yangon. Arrive in Yangon late in the evening, and drive to the hotel in the city center. If time permits, stop for a view over the beautifully lit Shwedagon Pagoda before setting in the hotel for the night.
DAY 10, 21 JANUARY 2022. DEPARTURE FROM YANGON
Take the entire day to explore Yangon. The city’s name translates to “the Peaceful City,” and was given by the founder of the Third Burmese Empire, King Alaungphaya, back in 1755. Begin the day with a walk through the bustling street market in China Town, where the trade is at its peak in the morning hours. Continue walking through downtown by the Sule Pagoda, the old city’s geographic center designed by the British architect that changed Rangoon from a small fishing village into the national capital it turned to be during British rule. Walk past beautiful colonial buildings, a reminder of the time when British ladies and gentlemen roamed the city streets. Pause by Sinoutan jetty on the Yangon River where traders come to sell and buy products from all throughout the country. Early in the afternoon, visit the 65-meters-long Chaukhtatkyi Reclining Buddha, and then on to pay a visit to the wonders of Shwedagon Pagoda. The pagoda, rising to almost 100 meters (328 feet) in height, is lavishly gilt, decorated with 60-tons of pure gold and other precious and semi-precious stones. After touring the city’s most iconic site, drive to the airport for the departing flight out of Yangon.
Dates & Pricing
Best of Myanmar private tour rates quoted in USD and are valid for two confirmed travelers and above.
[email protected] reserves the right to change the best of Myanmar private tour prices and programs due to changes in flight schedule, changes in airfares, and other local circumstances.
Prices are based on twin share occupancy.
Discounted rates for groups of 4 travelers and above:
4 travelers- US$1555/ person
6 travelers- US$1399/ person
- Applicable only for travel groups of 4 people or more booking their trip together.
12th January, 2022–21st January, 2022
- $1,842 Per Person (From 2 people)
- $490 Single Room Supplement
- Accommodation at selected hotels
- 2 domestic flight Bagan/Heho/Yangon
- Transfers by private air-conditioned vehicle
- English speaking guides
- Private boat for Inle Lake sightseeing
- Entry fees to all sites included in the program
- Meals as indicated in the program
- Drinking Water
- International flights to Mandalay and from Yangon
- Myanmar tourist visa
- Travel/health insurance
- Expenses of personal nature (food and drinks beyond those provided, laundry, etc.)
- Anything not clearly mentioned in the program
- Mandalay- Triumph Hotel 4-star
- Pyin Oo Lwin- Aureum Palace Hotel 3-star (best available)
- Monywa- Win Unity Resort 4-star
- Bagan- Ananta Bagan Hotel 4-star
- Inle Lake- Novotel Inle 4-star
- Yangon- Rose Garden Hotel 4-star
Note: the above listed hotels are tentative, and shall be confirmed only upon confirmation of the trip.