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Overview

Discover a less-travelled, more authentic side of Myanmar. Take the family on a cycling adventure, combining insightful cultural visits with fun, exploratory bike rides. Travel from historic Mandalay to Bagan by boat and bike, then onwards to the lush Shan Hills to pedal past elephants, hill tribes and Inle Lake.

Trip Highlights

Burma Family Cycling Explorer

Travel along the Irrawaddy River

Discover the wonders of the Irrawaddy with boat cruises and bike trips along the shore’s villages.

Enjoy a diverse mix of activities

Aside from biking enjoy light treks, boat trips, a craft class and other activities to ensure no one gets bored!

Get closer to Myanmar culture

Be immersed in the local culture in a fun, yet, educational way that will please kids and adults.

Itinerary

1

Mandalay (Sightseeing)

Transfer from Mandalay Airport to the hotel: 1 hour

Upon arrival in Mandalay, meet with the adventure guide and transfer to the hotel.

Once settled, head out and explore the craft shops of Mandalay. Mandalay is renowned as a centre of skilled craftsmanship and, in former times, supplied all the Royal courts. The tour of traditional workshops includes crafts such as marble masonry, Kalaga tapestry and gold-leaf making. At one of the shops, get to create and design a personal Marionette. Select the style and dress of the marionette and put together a unique souvenir -the perfect personalized memory of Mandalay.

Then, head to Shwe Nandaw Kyuang, the Golden Palace Monastery which is noted for its intricate wood carvings, and onwards to Kayuk Taw Gyi Pagoda to view the huge marble Buddha. The marble is from Sagyin quarry and took 10,000 men almost two weeks to transfer the rock from the riverside to its current location. Then, visit Kuthodaw Pagoda, home to ‘the world’s largest book’, a collection of more than 700 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings.

Finally, enjoy a spectacular sunset with panoramic views from atop Mandalay Hill, situated 240 metres above the city. The views of the surrounding countryside, Irrawaddy River, and city centre are stunning.

Enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight in Mandalay.

2

Mandalay - Mingun - Sagaing - Ava - Amarapura (Cycling)

Transfer from hotel to jetty: 15 minutesTransfer time (Boat): 1 hourCycling distance up to: 44 kmDifficulty: Easy

After breakfast at the hotel, depart for an excursion around Mandalay to explore the former capitals of Ava and Amarapura.

First, catch a boat and transfer the other side of Irrawaddy River. Then it’s time to unload the bikes and start our cycling to the main sites of Mingun, beginning with the famous Mingun Pahtodawgyi. This huge brick structure was left unfinished after an astrologer predicted the king would die should the temple be completed.  In the 1800s, an earthquake left several large cracks in the structure giving it the iconic fractured appearance it has today.  Then continue to the beautiful white Hsinbyume Pagoda, whose distinctive style is meant to resemble the mythical Mount Meru.  Afterwards, view the Mingun Bell which weighs 90 tons and is considered the world’s largest uncracked ringing bell.

After a short rest, continue our biking to Sagaing. Covered with 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries, Sagaing Hill is widely regarded as the religious centre of Myanmar.  It is home to 3,000 monks and 100 meditation centres.  Visit pagodas such as Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin and U Min Thone Sae.

We will then stop for lunch at a local restaurant before riding on to Ava, the capital of Myanmar from 14th to 18th centuries. After a short ferry ride across the river, we visit the old wooden Bagaya Monastery and the remains of the Royal Palace and Fort. There are many small villages located amid Ava’s ruins and, by riding we will get great glimpses of local life in the Burmese countryside.

Then we ride towards Amarapura, a former capital whose name means ‘City of Immortality’. Visit a silk-weaving workshop which produces exquisite handmade products and then continue to U Bein Bridge for a walk along this iconic 2000-year old teak structure. The bridge was constructed of 984 teak wood posts that were once part of the deserted Inwa Palace. At 1.2 kilometers in length, it’s the world’s longest teak wood construction. Enjoy a stroll along the bridge and the fabulous views of Taungthaman Lake and the surrounding countryside.

Return to Mandalay late this afternoon.

3

Mandalay - Yandabo (Boat)

Transfer to Yandabo by boat: up to 4 hours

Today, we head to the jetty and board a four-hour cruise down the Irrawaddy River to the village of Yandabo.  Historically significant, the treaty to end the first Anglo-Burmese war was signed here in 1826. Today, Yandabo is famous for its pottery.

Check-in to the hotel and, following lunch, explore the village for a glimpse of the traditional Burmese way of life.

We will learn how the villagers make their famous terracotta pots from the riverside clay. Then enjoy a hands-on pottery lesson! After the guide explains the local pottery method, have a go at it.  Try to work the clay into a traditional pot, or create a unique design. Not only is this activity lots of fun, but it results in a fantastic souvenir as well!

Finish the afternoon off with a stroll by the river. As the sun sets, watch children playing in the water below and capture photos of the memorable moment.

overnight in Yandabo.

4

Yandabo - Myingyan - Bagan (Cycling)

Transfer from Myingyan to Bagan: up to 2 hoursCycling distance up to: 25 kmDifficulty: Very Easy

We will jump on the bikes and today pedal a few kilometers to Myingyan, which is situated on the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy River.

Today lunch is served at a local restaurant in Myingyan before transferring to Bagan by coach.

From the 11th to 13th centuries, when Bagan was the capital of Myanmar, the rulers constructed thousands of huge stupas and temples, many of which are still standing today near the banks of the Irrawaddy River.

Upon arrival to the hotel in Bagan, check in and take a rest.

In the late afternoon, head out to observe the process of making traditional lacquerware, one of Myanmar's best-known handicrafts and a specialty of Bagan. Stop at Bagan’s oldest lacquerware shop.  Visit a workshop where every phase of production, from splitting the bamboo to etching designs, is performed.  Each stage will be described in detail, giving a great overview of how this ancient craft has developed into an art form in Bagan.  The process begins with forming objects from bamboo, then painting them with lacquer. Depending on the quality desired, between eight and 16 layers of lacquer are applied- a high-end piece of lacquerware can take a year to complete.   After drying, the surface is polished.  The last stage is where things get creative and is a stage visitors can take part in.

In one of the workshops, craftsman sketch a traditional design on each coaster. After being provided with paint and a brush, take part in the creation of a masterpiece.    Afterwards, the creation will be set aside to dry and collected later in the day or the following morning.

From there, take a relaxing horse cart ride around Taungbi Village and observe daily life. Finally, proceed to a place to enjoy an incredible sunset. The sunset, with views across the plains studded with chedis and temples is an unforgettable experience.

Overnight in Bagan.

5

Bagan Temples (Cycling)

Cycling distance up to: 27 kmDifficulty: Very Easy

Optional Activity:

Balloon Experience Over Bagan - Experience the majestic landscape of Bagan with a soul-altering hot-air balloon ride over Bagan at sunrise -a thrill that promises to be a highlight of any trip to Myanmar. Dark and early in the morning, enjoy a snack of pastries, croissants and coffee and watch as the balloons are filled -an experience unto itself. Then, after boarding the balloon, gently lift off above the temple-studded plains of Bagan just as the sun begins to rise above the horizon. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that won’t soon be forgotten.  (Note: available only from late-October to late-March; all flights weather-permitting)  

We will spend a half day biking around the ancient temples today morning. (Note: due to our biking route today in Bagan, we will not have a support car with us today. But a motorbike will be accompanying the group with drinks and snacks as well as to take care of any emergency situations.)

The perfect way to explore ancient Bagan is riding through and cover the famous temples and pagodas in the Archaeological Zone. After taking a morning cycle around the Archaeological Zone, return to the hotel. This is good opportunity to cool down by taking a refreshing dip in the hotel pool. 

In the afternoon, around 14:00, we will transfer to the local boat jetty for a sunset cruise. The boat heads to a sandbank in the middle of the Irrawaddy River where a table and chairs are set up. Enjoy snacks and drinks on a private ‘island’. The children, and adults included, will have the chance to play with a cane ball called a ‘chinlone’. This is also a great opportunity for the kids to fly traditional kites or build sand castles while the adults relax and enjoy the views.

Return to the town just after sunset and transfer back to the hotel.

Overnight in Bagan.

6

Bagan - Popa (Cycling)

Cycling distance up to 51 kmDifficulty: Easy

Wake up early in the morning and say goodbye to the ruins of Bagan while heading into the Burmese countryside. The country roads are dotted with small plantations and lined by the toddy-palm trees.

The toddy-palm plays an important role in Burmese rural life. Beyond creating juice and sugars for people, it’s also used for making household utensils, construction materials and medicine. Stop at a roadside toddy manufacturer and observe the process of creating toddy juice.

From here, begin to feel the road rising as the cycling tour begins an ascent towards the national park that encompasses Mount Popa, a now-extinct volcano.  This is the most challenging stretch of the cycling trip, as it heads up a steep incline to reach the summit. For those who find the going tough, our support vehicle will be on hand to take the strain.

After one final steep ascent, enter the heart of the national park. If you’re feeling energetic, why not climb to the sacred summit of the Gods (Mount Popa’s peak). On the flat plateau lies Taung Kalat Buddhist monastery —a focal point for annual pilgrimages to Mount Popa.

Hundreds of macaque monkeys are known to inhabit this region, but they are not the only ones that live here. Mount Popa is also known as the abode of the Mahagiri Nats (local spirits). So important are these spirits to the people of this region, they are worshipped every year during a festival that takes place from May to June.

Check in to Popa Mountain Resort which offers fabulous views over the surrounding area. Afternoon is at leisure.

Recommended to have dinner at hotel.

Overnight at Popa Mt Resort.

7

Popa - Meikhtila - Kalaw - Elephant Camp

Transfer from Mt. Popa to Kalaw: 5 hoursCycling distance up to 5 km for optional rideDifficulty: Very Easy

Today we will take a scenic drive to Kalaw via the small town of Meikhtila. Along the way, we will pass by villages with more opportunities to observe the traditional lifestyle of the rural Burmese. Their life is lacking in many modern amenities yet the concepts of mutual help and cooperation are central to village life.

We will reach Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp in Magwe village before proceeding to Kalaw.

Upon arrival a specialist guide from the camp will greet and transfer us to the main camp base. Enjoy a welcome drink while receiving a briefing on the day’s activities, the background of the camp and the history of elephants in Myanmar.

Option: Kids can ride about 5 km from the main road to the elephant camp. After visiting elephant camp, we will ride back to the main road.

Then embark on a short walk to the river, passing through a reforestation project set up by the camp and villagers. The elephants will likely be enjoying a refreshing swim in the stream and we can join the mahouts to bath these gentle giants if you wish.

Return to the main camp for lunch. There is time in the afternoon to explore more on foot with the local trekking guide or interact with the elephants. In the late afternoon say goodbye to the elephants and mahouts and transfer to Kalaw.

Kalaw is a charming little town with a mix of local and colonial-style houses. The slightly higher elevation means that the air temperature is usually much cooler than much of the country.

Overnight in Kalaw.

8

Kalaw - Naung Tayar - Thar Khaung - Samkar (Cycling)

Transfer from Kalaw to Naung Tayar: 1.5 hoursTransfer from Mhawbi Bridge to Samkar (Boat): 30 minutesCycling distance up to 26 kmDifficulty: Easy

Today we leave this charming town and start our cycling adventures through the Shan Hills. Before our cycling begins we transfer to the famous Myinmahti Cave, a natural cave system that has been created over thousands of years. The length of the main cave is 1028 feet along with many other small caves.

After visiting the cave we continue to our starting point for the day, Naung Tayar, and hit the hilly roads! Our ride will see us surrounded by seasonal agriculture and Pa-Oh Villages, we will have plenty of opportunities to stop and interact with the friendly locals.

Lunch is served in the form of a lunch box near Mhawbi Bridge, the end point of our cycling for today. We then transfer by a long tail boat to Samkar, an ancient village existing on the eastern shores of Inle Lake.

If time permits, we can visit Thar Khaung Pagoda Complex, a short walk from the shores of Inle Lake.

The rest of today is at leisure.

Recommend to have dinner at hotel.

Overnight in Samkar.

9

Samkar - Nampan - Nyaung Shwe (Cycling)

Cycling distance up to 38 kmDifficulty: Easy

Today we start our next cycling challenge to Nampan. It’s an enjoyable scenic and leisurely ride with mountain views at the right and lake views to the left. Not only the farms of maize but also the cultivation of rice will be seen on the way.

Upon arrival to Nampan, we will have our lunch at a local restaurant.

We activate this afternoon by taking a long tail boat to the center of the lake. Passing villages inhabited by the Intha people, who build their houses on stilts, and floating gardens built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles.  We will also see the iconic leg‐rowing fishermen of the lake who steer their boats with incredible balance. 

We’ll enjoy sightseeing at some of the lake’s most renowned sites. Continue to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main sanctuary, which contains 5 sacred Buddha images, and proceed to the village of Inpawkhone to observe the traditional silk weaving techniques of Innthar people. Inpawkhone is also known for its weaving from the stems of lotus flowers, a time consuming process that results in high quality materials famous throughout the country. We will also visit a cheroot factory where the local Burmese cigars are rolled by hand.

Then, we will head to Nyaung Shwe, the main gateway to Inle Lake and transfer to the hotel.

Overnight in Nyaung Shwe.

10

Inle Lake Sightseeing - Red Mountain (Cycling)

Transfer from Red Mountain to Nyaung Shwe: 15 minutesCycling distance up to 17 kmDifficulty: Very Easy

A short morning walk to the jetty have us a good exhaustion. Then, we will take our private boat and depart to Inle Lake. 

Today, we join a local fisherman for an educational experience. The fisherman will showcase how they use traditional techniques, rowing one-legged and corralling fish into their handmade nets. Please don’t attempt this local technique, as it takes a lifetime to master the balance. Instead, use a traditional fishing pole and try to catch lunch. Whether or not your fishing expedition is successful, this will be a memorable encounter with the Inthar fisherman. 

Afterwards we motor to Inle’s floating gardens. These gardens are a large part of the region’s economy as the produce is shipped to the four corners of Myanmar.  Our guide will provide an insightful glimpse into how the gardens are created and harvested. We will have an opportunity to pick our own choice tomatoes for our upcoming lunch. If it’s open, visit Nampan market and shop for the day’s menu. Next, proceed to a traditional Inthar House at Tharlay village where we will spend time preparing the dishes with a local family. It’s a unique chance to spend time with the locals and learn about their cuisine and culture. Together we’ll prepare local delights including Inle Style Tomato Salad and other Inthar dishes. Our lunch will be served on a low table and enjoyed by sitting on the floor the local way.

After lunch, continue to Khaung Daing village on the lake’s western shores. This village is famous for its traditional Shan tofu – fried crackers and folded, triangular tofu treats. We’ll be able to watch (and perhaps participate!) as they sift the soy beans, boil them, mash them into balls then form tofu cakes to dry in the sun. This is a fabulous taste of local life on Inle Lake.

From there, we hop back on our bikes and ride to catch the sunset at Red Mountain Winery. You might not expect to find a vineyard in Myanmar. Upon reaching the winery we enjoy wine tasting (grape juice for the kids) with expansive views of the lake below. Then, transfer back to the hotel

Overnight in Nyaung Shwe.

11

Inle (Kayaking)

Transfer by boat to Ywama Village: 30 mins to 1 hourKayaking up to 1 hour and 30 minWalking up to 1 hour and 30 minDifficulty: Easy

Today is the day to have fun with another activity, Kayaking!

We will transfer to one of the main lakeside villages, Ywama. Ywama is an accurate glimpse at the everyday lives of the local people, a lifestyle that has remained relatively unchanged for generations. 

The kayaks will be waiting at a local home in the village. Our guide will offer a briefing and we will take a short test ride before entering Ywama’s web of canals. Although Inle Lake is the 2nd largest lake in Myanmar, the water is shallow, allowing the local tribes to build entire communities on stilts ‘floating’ over the water. Paddle through these small waterways, under and around traditional floating homes. Kayaking has only recently been introduced to Inle, so be prepared for some odd looks from the locals.

After about half an hour, we will disembark for a trek through a lively local village. This trek showcases local workshops such as tofu making, blacksmith, and gold smith. There may even be a chance to learn a little about the traditional medicine of the Inthar people.

After exploring the village we head back to the kayaks. From here, continue paddling through the small channels of the village. We will stop at a local house for a cup of tea and sample a few traditional snacks. After some more paddling the trip concludes at the same local house in which it began. It’s then time to transfer back to Nyaung Shwe.

The rest of the day will be at leisure to stroll around the town or relax at the hotel.

Overnight in Nyaung Shwe.

12

Nyaung Shwe - Heho / Yangon

Transfer from Nyaung Shwe to Heho: up to 1 hourTransfer from Airport to Yangon downtown: up to 1 hour

This morning we fly to Yangon. On the way to Heho Airport we stop at the wooden Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery which features beautiful carvings and a collection of Buddha images.

Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is a relatively quiet and charming city with an impressive colonial and spiritual heritage.

First off we visit Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, which is home to a 70 metre long reclining Buddha. Continue through the city, stopping as you wish to take photos.

We then venture downtown to explore the city centre and its fabulous mix of architecture and sites. The streets are filled with historical buildings many of which have a faded colonial charm not seen elsewhere in Asia. We’ll start at the post office, a lovely historic building, and walk to Sule Paya, passing by the famous Strand Hotel, Mahabandoola Garden and Independence Monument. It’s onwards to Little India and Chinatown, a colorful cacophony of restaurants, temples and markets. Reaching Bogyoke Market, formerly known as Scott’s Market (which is closed on Mondays and public holidays), there is time to browse through the dozens of stalls and shops. This is Yangon’s best market for handicrafts and other goods.

And finally, continue to Shwedagon Pagoda, the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar. Although the origins of the pagoda are unclear, the local legend states that the original structure was built 2500 years ago then renovated several times until taking its current shape in the 15th century. The 8-sided central stupa is 99 meters tall and gilded with gold leaf and is surrounded by 64 smaller stupas. Our guide will show around the massive complex, explaining why this temple is so revered. Enjoy breathtaking views of the golden stupa from this vantage point.

               

Overnight in Yangon.

13

Yangon - Wanat Chaung (Cycling)

Transfer by train from Yangon to Wanat Chaung: 2 hoursTransfer by car from Wanat Chaung to Yangon: 1.5 hoursCycling distance up to 34 kmDifficulty: Easy

Today is our final day to do some exploration on bikes!

The day starts with a short transfer to Kyi Myin Daing train station for a two hour scenic train ride in the outskirts of Yangon. We have the opportunity to see colorful bustling markets and watch local people go about their daily routine. This fun local train ride will give you an unforgettable experience.

Upon reaching the small station called Wanat Chaung, we’ll pick up our bikes and set off on a loop. Leaving the station, we cycle through trails and villages that rarely see tourists. The ride offers great views of the paddy fields as well as a fun chance to interact with locals along the way.

The scenery is remarkably different from nearby Yangon, with many trees, local neighborhoods and green fields filling the area. After a 13km ride we take a break for lunch at a basic local restaurant. 

After lunch we proceed to the Phu Gyi Reservoir, a great spot for some decent photo opportunities. Phu Gyi Reservoir is one of the main water resources for Yangon city. We take a leisurely ride on the 3km long reservoir bank and breathe in the fresh air.

We continue cycling to the famous Pan Ta Pwint Taung monastery and through a forest of rubber trees until we return to our start point.          

Finally, we transfer back to Yangon. After freshening up at the hotel we celebrate our farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight in Yangon.

14

Yangon - Departure

Transfer to the airport: 1 hour

Today is at leisure before transferring to our flight back home and saying goodbye to our guide.

Important Information

Our services include:​

  • Vehicles: (varies based on local conditions and vehicle sizes available). Private air-conditioned vehicle for transfer and back up as itinerary.
  • Bike & helmet rental, 1 cycling water bottle per each
  • Plenty of water provided throughout the day while cycling
  • Snacks and local fruits for cycling days
  • 1 EXO Adventure Certified English Biking Guide throughout the trip
  • 1 EXO Assistant Biking Guide on biking days for 11 cyclists and above except on Day 13
  • Mechanic on biking days for 7 cyclists and above except on Day 13
  • 1 local assistant cyclist on Day 13 for 11 cyclists and above
  • 1 first aid kit per guide
  • Each guide will have a full set of travel bike tools
  • Main support vehicle will have spare parts for biking days except in Bagan
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Sightseeing tickets where mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Accommodation as listed above.
  • Flight reconfirmations
  • Private boat for Mingun and Inle Lake visits

Our services don’t include:

  • Visa arrangement
  • International and domestic flights
  • Meals other than mentioned above
  • Soft drinks, or beverages beyond water – we can add this into costs at agents request
  • Beverage and alcoholic drinks at mealtimes
  • Tips
  • Energy drinks or powders, performance bars, or performance gels (Gatorade, Powerbars, Gu, Isostar, etc)
  • Personal Travel Insurance
  • Personal expenditure (Laundry, telephone etc.)
  • Any other services not clearly mentioned in the itinerary and in the inclusive portion.
  • Credit card and bank transfer fees
  • Other language speaking guides

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