UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS

Overview

From Mandalay to Yangon, travel the iconic and lesser-known sites of Myanmar while leaving a positive impact to local communities and the environment. Leave the lightest carbon footprints with eco-friendly transportation where possible, support projects that directly benefit the locals,  stay at responsible hotels and more! This is an amazing way to travel Myanmar with a heart. 

Trip Highlights

Make A Difference in Myanmar

Visit traditional villages

Stop for lunch at Magyeekan Village, visit a responsible elephant camp in Magwe Village, learn about the Intha people of Ywama Vlllage and support community based tourism. 

E-scooter around Bagan

Discover the lesser-known sites of Bagan while zipping through small roads pass the ancient ruins, traditional villages and age-old trades in an eco-friendly way.

Travel by rail from Kalaw to Inle Lake

Enjoy the gentle pace of travelling by train through the countryside of Myanmar and be fascinated by the sceneries and local life.

Itinerary

1

Arrival Mandalay

Upon arrival, be transferred to the hotel for check-in and a few hours of relaxation.

Just after sunset, the evening’s escapades begins with pick up from the hotel. Each person will have a private motorbike with an experienced driver (helmets are mandatory).

Speed-off into the cool and starry night. The first stop is Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda. Named after the large marble Buddha image inside (once the largest in the world), the complex now consists of multiple buildings. Bathed in red and green lights, the area glitters and shimmers in the night.

Then ride through the heart of the city to a colourful night market. Mandalay is a fantastic place to explore markets. Its location along the Irrawaddy River makes it a hub for wares coming from Northern Myanmar. Explore the stalls while the guide introduces the many exotic fruits and vegetables.

Afterwards, stop at a local beer station for dinner. Bustling with activity every night of the week, beer stations are the perfect place to try the local cuisine and observe everyday life in Mandalay.

If the time of year is right there is a chance to visit one of Mandalay’s local street festivals. Neighbourhoods come together to celebrate with street food, local games, and the occasional tattoo shop.  Some of the larger festivals have singing contests.

Then it’s off to a choice of performing arts, comedy, or a marionettes show:

Performing arts: Visit the Inwa School of Performing Arts at the Mintha Theatre for a night of traditional music and dance. The show is organised by a social enterprise that works to preserve Myanmar’s cultural heritage. Performers are young artists in-training and ticket proceeds are used to provide scholarships to talented young people in Myanmar whose families do not have the means to support their training. Enjoy a night out with a cause! (Showtime from 20:30 – 21:30)

Comedy: Cruise out to see the comedy styling of local legends, the Moustache Brothers. A mixture of comedy and traditional Burmese dance, this show is quite bizarre and absolutely unique to Mandalay. Jailed for telling jokes against the government 20 years ago, the Moustache Brothers have been entertaining Westerners from their garage since their release.

Marionettes: Cruise along Mandalay’s kilometer-long moat and be treated to friendly locals, beautiful views and cool breezes before heading to Daw Ma Ma Naing Marionette show. The small theatre, which was opened in 1986, holds nightly hour-long shows. The performances are mostly recreations of zat pwe (Buddhist Jataka tales) and stories from the Indian epic Ramayana. Traditionally, these cultural shows are used to educate and deliver the news. (Showtime from 20:030 – 21:030)

The night out on the town ends with a transfer back to the hotel.

Overnight at Mandalay Hill Resort.

Make a difference to local people: The motorbike tour is sourced locally. All of the drivers own their own motorbikes and are self-employed so they benefit directly from the tour.

Make a difference to local culture: For the evening entertainment 'Performing Arts' option to enjoy a night out with a cause by supporting a social enterprise that works to support traditional dance and music.

2

Mandalay

Today begins with a visit to Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda is home to one of the country’s most revered Buddha images which, over the years, have been covered with gold leaf giving it a unique texture. Mandalay is well-known for its skilled craftsmen and the tour of traditional workshops, to learn more about the city’s cottage industries. Observe the production of wood carvings, kalaga tapestries, and gold-leaf where the techniques remained unchanged from those used centuries ago to craft items for the Royal Court.

Afterwards, cross a bridge over the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing. Covered with 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries, Sagaing Hill is widely regarded as the religious center of Myanmar.  It is home to 3,000 monks and 100 meditation centers.  Visit pagodas such as Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin and U Min Thone Sae.

Then, go to Sagaing’s local market, a typical Burmese market that few tourists visit. Here, find a range of items for sale including locally made pottery, silver and other handicrafts. Then, stop at a small pottery village to see the process of making the ubiquitous water pots found throughout Myanmar.

Return toward the city and stop at Amarapura, a former capital whose name means ‘City of Immortality’. First visit a silk weaving workshop.  After touring this tranquil site, continue to U Bein Bridge for a walk along this 200 year-old teak bridge. The bridge was constructed of 984 teak posts that were once part of the deserted Inwa Palace. At 1.2 kilometres in length, it is the world’s longest teak span. Enjoy a stroll along the bridge and the fabulous views of the surrounding farms and streams.

Return to Mandalay late this afternoon.

Overnight at Mandalay Hill Resort.

3

Mandalay – Star Tortoise Project – Mt Popa

This morning, be met with the guide and driver at the hotel and set off to explore some fascinating sites between the famous destinations of Mandalay and Bagan. After around 2.5 hours of driving south, make a stop to visit the Burmese Star Tortoise Conservation Centre at Minzontaung Wildlife Sanctuary. This species is classified as highly endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and can be found only in Myanmar. Although this tortoise is now thought to be ‘ecologically’ extinct in the wild, with the technical support of the WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and TSA (Turtle Survival Alliance) towards captive breeding efforts, a remarkable increase in numbers has resulted, and as of late 2017 there were 2,815 Star Tortoises.

Be brought to the forest area where the rehabilitation program is taking place. This is a responsible ecotourism project because the contribution from the visit will be used to feed the tortoises, to hire guards to safeguard the tortoises from illegal poaching for food, medicine and pet markets, and to protect the breeding area from habitat destruction. From an educational point of view, visitors will have a chance to take part in a guided forest walk to observe natural breeding, acquire general knowledge on wild species and ultimately reintroduce this extinct species to the community.

After this truly unique experience drive a short distance and take a break with lunch at a local restaurant before continuing the overland adventure with a 2.5 hours drive towards Mount Popa National Park. Arrive at the hotel in time for check-in and a sunset view of both Mount Popa and Taung Kalat, the volcanic plug nearby.

Overnight at Popa Garden Resort.

Make a difference to the environment: Most travellers to Bagan take the short flight from Mandalay. Travelling by road offers a more eco-friendly way to travel.

Make a difference to wildlife conservation: Travelling by road between Mandalay and Bagan offers a chance to visit and contribute to the Burmese Star Tortoise Conservation Centre.

4

Mt Popa – Magyeekan Village – Salay

After breakfast take a very short transfer to Taung Kalat, the volcanic plug that is believed to be the home of the nats. Since ancient times, the people of Myanmar have believed in nats, or 37 spirits who serve as guardians. As Taung Kalat is the home of the nats, it is a very popular pilgrimage spot. Get a glimpse into this unique aspect of Myanmar culture at a small museum where statues of each nat are displayed. Then climb the stairs to the top of the shrine, joining local pilgrims on the way. On the way, learn more about the nats and the role they play in Myanmar society. Upon reaching the top, relax and enjoy the views.

(Note: The climb to the top involves 777 steps, many of which have to be climbed barefoot to respect the site’s spiritual significance; monkeys might also be present during the walk up but the guide will advise on how to keep them at a friendly distance).

Descend back down to the base and return to the vehicle for the onward drive to Magyeekan Village, a traditional Burmese village close to the town of Salay. The drive takes around 1.5 hours and allows time to enjoy the scenery from the comfort of the vehicle. Upon arrival in the village the local community will serve a delicious Burmese meal. Then, learn about the villagers’ lives while wandering through dusty paths leading from house to house in the small but charming village.

Afterwards drive 10 minutes to the former colonial port town of Salay. In the early 20th century, large oil deposits were found here and the city became one of the most important ports on the Irrawaddy. Today, the industry has moved upstream to the town of Kyauk, leaving Salay a sleepy town full of colonial charm. After arriving in Salay the first stop is Yoke Sone Kyaung Monastery, one of the oldest wooden halls in the area. Exquisitely carved, the monastery is one of the finest examples of Burmese craftsmanship in the country.

(Note: Yoke Sone Kyaung Monastery is closed on Mondays and public holidays).

Then, take a short 30-minute walking tour through Salay. Walk under the shade of 100-year old trees while exploring the faded colonial buildings. Along the way, pass by several monasteries and ancient pagodas before arriving at Salay House. This colonial building situated by the Irrawaddy River has been renovated into a restaurant and museum. Start by taking a tour of the museum for some historical background on Salay. Then head next door to the beautiful guest house which will be home for the night.

Overnight at Salay River View Inn.

Make a difference to local people: The lunch at Magyeekan Village is arranged by a community-based tourism enterprise ensuring that the economic benefits are shared throughout the village.

5

Salay – Bagan

After an early breakfast head back to the vehicle to transfer to Bagan.

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

The drive lasts around 1.5 hours and there is the chance to visit Kyauk market along the way for those that are interested. Upon arrival in Bagan, transfer to a local e-scooter vendor to get fitted for the electric scooter for the day. After a few minutes getting acquainted with the e-scooters, the adventure begins.

Beginning with an easy ride along New Bagan’s main road, the leisurely outing will eventually pass through Tharabar Gate, venturing into the archaeological zone.  Visit a few of Bagan’s main temples like Dhammayangyi, the largest built by King Narathu in the 12th century, and Ananda, famous for its four Buddha images.  Depending on time and interest, there’s the option to explore some lesser known temples around the complex. While riding through the plains, discover a traditional village, where it is possible to learn how local livelihoods have remained unchanged for years, from using earthen kilns to creating pottery to hand-pressing peanuts and sesames for oil. 

Around midday, head to Nyaung U for lunch at Sanon, a social enterprise helping disadvantaged youths enter the hospitality industry. Here, learn about the story of Sanon and enjoy a superbly cooked meal in the nice garden.

This afternoon, return to the hotel to escape the heat of the day.

In the evening, take the e-scooters back out to head to an elevated viewpoint for sunset.

Overnight at Bagan Lodge.

Make a difference to the environment: Not only are e-scooters an eco-friendly way to travel, but all of the e-scooters we use are locally owned and serviced so the money spent stays in the community.

Make a difference to local people: Lunch at Sanon vocational training restaurant helps disadvantaged Myanmar youths build a future in the hospitality industry through training and job opportunities.

6

Bagan

Start the day with a visit to the Nyaung U market. Armed with a shopping list prepared by the chef, wander through the colourful stalls to purchase fresh ingredients for lunch. Learn about the various items on sale- from exotic fruits to fiery chilies- and rub shoulders with the local shoppers who come every day to buy the best goods.

With bags full of ingredients, transfer to a local restaurant for the main event: a hands-on cooking class. Meet the instructor, a Bagan local with 15 years’ experience as a chef and proprietor, and start cooking! Join the chef to prepare lunch, using traditional techniques such as mortar and pestle to grind, chop and pound the ingredients. Cook several dishes using recipes handed down from generation to generation. Throughout the course the chef will explain about the cuisine of Myanmar, its influences and the typical eating habits of the local people.

After this insightful Bagan cooking class, it’s time to sit down and enjoy a feast of freshly prepared delights.

After lunch take some time to relax before getting in touch with the spiritual side. Transfer to Nat Htaung Monastery in Taung Bi Village. This is a picturesque monastery close to the Irrawaddy River. Participate in a traditional blessing ceremony with one of the resident monks.

Such ceremonies are an important part of Myanmar’s religious culture. Many people regularly visit their local monastery to receive blessings before significant moments in their lives, such as marriage and the birth of a new child. During this experience feel the positive energy of the ceremony and gain a better understanding of Buddhist culture. After the ceremony enjoy some tea and traditional Burmese snacks within the compound of the monastery.

Feeling blessed, it is now time to head to a nearby jetty for the boat transfer to a river island on the Irrawaddy at 16:30 (subject to change depending on sunset time). This will be the location for a one hour private sunset yoga class. The class is organised by the pioneer professional yoga studio in Bagan. Full equipment (mats, blocks, straps, towels) will be provided. Participants are led by certified yoga teachers from a variety of teaching background - Hatha, Vinyasa and Yin Yang Yoga.

(Note: River island yoga is only available from October to April, indoor classes at a yoga shala can be arranged at other times of the year).

The class is suitable for all levels and the beautiful surroundings provide the ideal backdrop for healthy yoga exercises. Benefit from the opportunity to learn some new moves and techniques to take back home and share with fellow yoga friends.

After an afternoon of mental and physical spirituality it is time to return to the hotel.

Overnight at Bagan Lodge.

Make a difference to local people: During the cooking class learn to cook traditional Myanmar dishes from an expert chef. Over 50% of the cost of this tour goes directly to a local restaurant in Bagan. The organisers of the yoga class provide free yoga classes for local people and free yoga teacher training and scholarships for local students to introduce yoga in Myanmar.

7

Bagan – Heho - Kalaw

This morning, transfer to the airport for a flight to Heho in the Shan State. From Heho, take a 2 hour drive to Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp in Magwe village. Upon arrival, be greeted by a guide from the Green Hill and be transferred to the main camp. 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.

Following this, embark on a short walk to the river, passing through a reforestation project set up by the camp and villagers. Be greeted by the elephants – the guide will explain their name, age, and how they ended up retiring at the camp. Trays of bananas and sugar cane will be brought out and spend some enjoyable time feeding the elephants. Afterwards, get dressed in traditional Shan garments to prepare for the elephants bathing. Walk to a natural pool, located between two small falls in the stream and join the elephants for a bath. 

OPTION FOR SHORT TREK: This morning, transfer from Kalaw to the Wet Pyu Ye junction and be greeted by a guide from the Green Hill Valley Elephant camp. Embark on a walk to the camp. The walk is mostly downhill and passes through a variety of forest types - teak, bamboo, etc - which is home to a variety of flora and fauna.  After 45-90 minutes encounter the camp’s elephants. The elephants will likely be enjoying a refreshing swim in the stream and it is possible to join the mahouts to bathe these gentle animals. Enjoy refreshments here or by a waterfall.

Return to the reforestation area to plant a tree before heading 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 back to Kalaw.

N.B. Elephant riding is not permitted at the camp and the welfare of the animals is the main priority.

Overnight at Kalaw Heritage Hotel (Winner of the 2017 Myanmar Responsible Tourism Awards for ‘Most Responsible Accommodation’).

Make a difference to wildlife conservation: Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp is operated as a refuge for mistreated elephants previously living in zoos or logging camps. The camp operates a no-riding policy to ensure the welfare of the elephants.

8

Kalaw – Inle

Meet with the guide after checking out from the hotel this morning and set off for a walking tour of Kalaw – an old hill station in Shan State founded by British civil servants who wanted to escape the heat of the country’s plains. The relaxing and refreshing climate make Kalaw ideal for a morning stroll on foot to discover the most important sites for local residents and visitors.

Start with a visit to Hnee Pagoda in the south west of the town, a 500 year old pagoda home to a bamboo Buddha statue. From there it is a leisurely 40 minute walk to the centre of Kalaw. As with many towns in Myanmar the market lies at the heart of Kalaw and is a hub of activity in the morning when villagers from the surrounding hills come to sell their wares. This will be the next stop of the tour where Shan souvenirs and local snacks recommended by the guide are available. During the walk to the market there are several reminders of the British colonial period, especially the architecture.

After the shopping and snacking, whet the appetite for lunch with a walk up to Thein Taung Pagoda and Monastery, just north of the market. The steep walk up the stairs offers great views of Kalaw and the surrounding hills. The monastery at the top of the hill is very peaceful and a beautiful place to relax, or interact with friendly monks. Rest for a short while before descending for a well-deserved lunch break.

Lunch at midday at a local restaurant where delicious Burmese or Nepali food (depending on client’s preferences) is served in a clean, comfortable environment.

After lunch take a short walk to Kalaw train station for the 13:30 (approximately) departure to Shwe Nyaung, near Inle Lake. Luggage from the hotel will be waiting at the station entrance along with car and driver. Once both luggage and passengers are safely on board it is time to begin the 50km (3.5 hours) adventure through the countryside. Myanmar has the longest rail network in Southeast Asia and the train is a fascinating way to travel from Kalaw to Inle Lake because the gentle pace allows time to really appreciate the scenery. The open windows in the upper class carriage provide the best in natural air conditioning and travelling by train provides an interesting insight into the lives of local people in the Shan hills. There are a few stops along the way to stretch the legs and buy a drink or snacks.

The rail adventure will end at 17:00 at Shwe Nyaung station. Be greeted by a driver and be transferred to the hotel for the night in Nyaung Shwe town (30 mins by car) or on the shores of Inle Lake (up to 1 hour by car). Note: Arrival at Inle Lake is after dark so transfers only possible to hotels with road access because boats will not be available

Overnight at Sanctum Inle Resort.

Make a difference to the environment: Experience travelling by train between these two destinations, a more eco-friendly alternative to the private car transport.

9

Inle

After breakfast set-off by motorboat across the main part of the lake to the village of Ywama, the setting for today’s traditional canoe boat tour on Inle Lake.

Upon reaching the village, step into a small but sturdy canoe boat along with one other passenger and the village guide. Enjoy the scenery while the village guide takes care of the paddling. It is also a lot of fun to try paddling for a while. Wind through the maze of canals and waterways that form the ‘streets’ of the village. Get up close to the famous stilted houses of Inle. Although the use of motorised boats on Inle Lake is ever-increasing, many people still use their non-motorised wooden canoes to get around and this tour provides a unique opportunity to step back into this traditional way of life on the lake. A pa yan (local straw cushion) is provided for comfort.

After around half an hour, give the village guide a break from paddling and go ashore for a village visit. Stop at a family-run workshops to see the traditional techniques used to make tofu, metal works and gold jewellery. There may even be a chance to learn about traditional medicine. This hour-long walk provides a fascinating insight into the deep-rooted heritage of the Intha people. 

Afterwards, return to the wooden canoes and explore another section of Ywama. See more fascinating scenes of local life and enjoy the tranquility of the quieter corners of Inle Lake. During the trip, stop at a stilted house to refuel with tea and snacks. Then loop back to the starting point, say goodbye to the village guide and transfer from canoe to motorboat.

After lunch at a local restaurant continue across the lake and down a narrow canal to the village of Indein. (Due to low water levels, Indein is often inaccessible by boat in April and May. The area can still be reached by road) Explore the area on foot, strolling around the village and wandering through the beautiful Alaung Sithu area. Walk up the hill to see its picturesque stupas and enjoy magnificent views of the lake.

Overnight at Sanctum Inle Resort.

Make a difference to local culture: Taking a traditional canoe through the floating villages of Inle provides a great opportunity to visit a local home, meet the family and learn about how they live on the lake.

10

Inle – Sagar Lake

After breakfast at the hotel, meet with a guide from the community of Phayartaung village on Sagar Lake. Afterwards, set off for Sagar, the far southern region of Inle Lake. Very few tourists make the trip down to this region yet it is one of the most beautiful places in the Shan State, with the mountains forming a backdrop for the small villages and fishermen on the water. The area was only opened to tourists in 2003.

Upon arrival in Sagar after two hours of beautiful boating, visit Thar Kaung Pagoda with its rows of stupas set against the stunning backdrop of the Shan mountains on one side and the lake on the other.

Then visit the iconic ‘sunken’ stupas of Sagar, a collection of 108 stupas dating back to the 16th century. Several months a year, the water level rises and partially submerges the stupas thus giving them their nickname. Go ashore near to the stupas and take a walk through the compound and its neighbouring village.

Lunch at A Little Eco Lodge in Sagar village.

After lunch continue to the south of Sagar Lake to the Inle Sanctuary at Phayartaung, a community-supported eco lodge providing jobs for local people.

Dinner and overnight at Inle Sanctuary.

Make a difference to local people: All staff at Inle Sanctuary are employed from Phayartaung village and 10% of the income is donated to the monastic school in the village.

11

Sagar Lake

This morning after breakfast, meet again with a community guide from Phayartaung village and start with a visit to the rotating 5-day market (depending on location on that particular day). Then, take a walking tour around Phayartaung village, including several stops such as a traditional weaving workshop and the local monastery which houses its very own mineral water purification plant.

Afterwards, board a boat to begin a tour of the local villages. Along the way visit a Pa-O village, a Shan village, a Kayah village and an Intha village to learn about all the different cultures and traditions living on the shores of Sagar Lake. See pagodas, traditional rice cracker making (with the opportunity to learn how to make it and taste some too), along with breathtaking green fields and mountains.

It is a truly authentic adventure that includes some travel by car to visit one of the villages which is not accessible by boat. Some of the roads may be bumpy and muddy but this only serves to add to the sense of adventure.

After a traditional lunch at a village home return to Inle Sanctuary by boat for an afternoon of relaxation. Relax on a private balcony and take in the beautiful surroundings of the lakes and mountains.

Dinner and overnight at Inle Sanctuary.

Make a difference to local people: Today’s guide, rice cracker producers and lunch host are all from Sagar Lake and benefit directly from the visit.

12

Sagar Lake – Phekon – Loikaw

Have a leisurely morning before saying goodbye to the picturesque home for the last two nights at around 10am. Continue by boat (driver only, no guide) further down the lake for another hour to the town of Phekon. The boat journey is full of fabulous scenery and home to many unique species of birds, both indigenous and migratory. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!

Upon arrival in Phekon, meet a guide and trade in the boat for a car to take a one hour drive to the town of Loikaw.

Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State, abounds with natural wonders, spellbinding tribes and unending wonders.  Bisected by the Bilu River, Loikaw is blessed with rolling mountains, lakes, markets and hill tribes – the most famous being the Padaung ladies that wear brass rings around their necks. The area was only recently opened to tourists in 2013, and is still very much off the beaten path.

Arrive in town in time for lunch at a local restaurant and then check-in to the hotel.

Shortly before sunset, head into downtown Loikaw to visit the Taung Kwe Pagoda. Perched on a spectacular rock formation, this pagoda is Kayah State’s most famous sight. The rock formation itself is said to be the origin of the town’s name (Loikaw is Shan for “Island of mountains”). With great views of the surrounding area, the pagoda is the perfect spot to end the day.

Overnight at Loikaw Lodge.

13

Loikaw

Today the sightseeing begins early in the morning.

Begin the day with a visit 30 minutes outside of Loikaw to the Demawso market (only open Mon, Wed, and Sat). This local market attracts tribes from the surrounding area selling unique wares, including the local khaung-yay wine. Local women line up with batches of homemade wine, each offering free samples to any interested customers. After deciding on a particularly tasty one, customers will make their purchase, filling up containers they brought themselves.

Following the market visit, drive out to the countryside for an easy walk through local villages and farmland.  After an hour, reach the Pan Pet village. Most of the inhabitants of Pan Pet are of the Padaung tribe. The Padaung women are famous for the many golden neck rings they wear. Though the tradition is dying out, most women over 40 in the village can still be seen wearing these heavy accessories. There will be a unique chance to interact with these ladies during a stroll through the village. A few roadside stalls have opened to cater to tourists here, so there will be a few chances to pick up some locally sourced souvenirs and refreshments.

After leaving the village, take the hour return back to the car and head for a late lunch.

In the evening, head to a jetty just on the outskirts of the city. The private motorboat cruises on the Bilu River which meanders its way through the heart of Loikaw and out into the countryside.  Pass under the city’s many bridges, witness locals washing clothes and bathing in the river and finish the 45-minute journey at Thatta Bilu village where our vehicle will be waiting to take us back into town.

Overnight at Loikaw Lodge.

Make a difference to local people: Today’s visit to Pan Pet village to meet the Padaung community is organized in collaboration with a local Community-Based Tourism provider – a community guide accompanies guests to ensure a respectful and non-voyeuristic experience in the village where everyone benefits.

14

Loikaw – Yangon

This morning take a short trip to the airport for a flight to Yangon. Upon arrival transfer to the hotel (early check-in dependent on availability) and spend the rest of the morning at leisure.

After lunch (client’s own account) embark on an insightful guided Yangon city tour exploring the highlights and some of the city’s lesser known sites.

Head to the heart of downtown where East meets West with a mix of pagodas, modern office buildings and historic landmarks. Walk around Sule Pagoda, City Hall, Independence Monument and some of the beautiful colonial buildings in the area.

Continue to a local tea shop for a chance to experience an integral part of Burmese life: drinking tea! Select from an array of snacks and enjoy a coffee or tea while sitting amid office workers, friends and families who gather at the tea shop to socialise or conduct business.

From here, continue to Shwedagon Pagoda, the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar, for sunset. The 8-sided central stupa is 99 metres tall and gilded with gold leaf and is surrounded by 64 smaller stupas. Walk around the massive complex while the guide explains why local Buddhists revere this temple. Marvel at the breathtaking views of the golden stupa, wrapping up this fantastic introduction to Yangon.

After this amazing experience soak up the energy and vibrancy of Yangon at night with a food-focused tour. Climb in a pedal-powered trishaw to cruise downtown’s maze of streets, stopping to admire illuminated landmarks and sample the city’s tastiest treats. Cap off the gastronomic adventure with dinner at one of Yangon’s famous barbeque shops.

Overnight at Rose Garden Hotel.

Make a difference to the environment: Transportation during the evening culinary tour is by trishaws which are powered by renewable human energy.

Make a difference to local people: A large proportion of the money paid for the evening’s tour goes towards the local people that operate the trishaws and small restaurants that we visit.

15

Yangon

Early this morning meet the guide and driver at the hotel and transfer to Mawtin Jetty on Yangon River. Take a short walk around the busy jetty area to learn about the destination of the boats waiting to depart. Pass by the old Burma Railways Goods Office nearby that is now used as an office for the single track railway travelling alongside the downtown section of the river.

Then return to the jetty and jump on a local motor boat for an exciting 20 minute ride across the Yangon River to Kanauangto River Island. Although just a short trip from the hustle and bustle of downtown Yangon, Kanaungto River Island feels like a world away. Cars are uncommon and the atmosphere is laid-back. It is also very different to the more commonly visited ‘other side of Yangon’ – Dhala, which is now much busier and frantic than the ‘rural atmosphere’ it is famed for.

Upon arrival, climb into a pedal-powered trishaw for a 2-hour tour of this 3-mile long island which is uniquely surrounded by rivers and canals on all sides. During the trishaw tour stop by the market if on the morning tour (Please note: The market only opens in the morning) before heading into the quiet streets to witness the peaceful daily lives of the island’s residents.

This is a perfect ‘slow travel’ experience getting travellers up close and personal with the island’s friendly residents that are unaccustomed to such encounters. There is no rush to tick sites off the list so just sit back and enjoy the ride, and feel free to request the guide to stop and hop off for a chat with a local resident or for a photo opportunity when coming across something a bit out of the ordinary.

Say a warm goodbye to the trishaw driver at the end of the tour and get back into a boat for the fun return journey across the river back to downtown Yangon.

After reaching the jetty, enjoy lunch (on own account) at a local restaurant.

After lunch drive to ‘Amazing Grace’ in Yankin Township. This is a social enterprise training people with hearing and physical disabilities to make handmade fashion accessories using recycled materials. Learn about the business’ social mission before taking part in a 1-hour crafts workshop led by one of the trainers to produce a lovely piece of male or female jewellery. Children can do a fun painting activity on small papier-mâché animals so make sure they’re dressed to get a bit messy. All these personally-made handicrafts can be taken back home as a memorable souvenir (Please note: The workshop is open from Monday to Saturday).   

After spending time in the workshop, transfer south-west through downtown Yangon to ‘Htwe Oo Myanmar’ for a traditional puppet show at 17:00. The unique show lasts around one hour and gives the audience an intimate opportunity to see the puppeteers work their magic. There is also a chance to get ‘hands-on’ and try the skillful work at the end of the performance. Puppet theatres are an important tradition in Myanmar culture and Htwe Oo helps preserve the tradition by creating job opportunities for young puppeteers from universities in Yangon and Mandalay, as well as offering financial and medical assistance to old puppeteers.

After the evening’s entertainment, head to Linkage Restaurant for dinner and give back to Myanmar society at this vocational training restaurant.

Overnight at Rose Garden Hotel.

Make a difference to local people: 1.5 USD per person from the morning’s river island trip goes towards the village clinic or school in Ah Lett Chaung village where visitors can learn about and observe the community development work being done. All stops during the afternoon and evening activities are at social businesses that use their profits to help people from disadvantaged communities.

Make a difference to local culture: During this tour visit the home of a family of puppeteers to watch an educational 45-minute show that helps to preserve the tradition and culture of puppetry in Myanmar.

16

Yangon - departure

Transfer to the airport for the flight home.

Important Information

Our services include:
●    15 night’s accommodation in a shared twin room or shared double room with daily breakfast
●    Meals as mentioned in the program (B = breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
●    English-speaking station guides (1 guide per location)
●    All transfers and excursions with private air-conditioned vehicles with drivers
●    Private local boat for Inle Lake excursions
●    Motorbike tour in Mandalay
●    Ebike tour in Bagan 
●    Trishaw ride in Yangon
●    Puppet show
●    Porter fees at airports 
●    Entrance fees for the visits mentioned in the program 
●    Drinking water while touring 

Our services do not include:
●    International ticket to/from Yangon
●    Domestic flights (rate: please refer to our flight tariffs) 
●    Meals other than mentioned (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
●    Visa arrangements for Myanmar 
●    Fuel Surcharge for domestic flights 
●    Visits not mentioned in the program 
●    Drinks and personal expenses
●    Tips and porters at the hotels
●    Credit card fees (2-3%) or bank transfer fees for non-cash payments
●    Any other items not mentioned
 

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