Take a peek into one of the world’s greatest cultures. Join insightful introductory tours in Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake. Then enjoy free time to take in the fascinating history and unique traditions that make Myanmar so very special.
Get an overview of Myanmar culture
Witness devotees praying at sacred shrines, see traditional craft workshops and explore lakeside villages for a taste of local culture.
See the ‘big four’ sites
In just ten days, see the four main tourist destinations of Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake.
Enjoy free time
Balance guided tours with days at leisure, allowing time to pursue special interests, wander solo through cities or simply relax.
Yangon Airport to Yangon city centre (20 km): 30 – 60 mins
Upon arrival, you will be warmly greeted by the guide who will accompany you as you transfer to the hotel.
Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is a relatively quiet and charming city. Its impressive colonial and spiritual heritage makes it one of the most fascinating cities in Southeast Asia.
After lunch (client’s account) visit Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, home to a 70-meter long reclining Buddha. A visit to Kyaukhtatgyi provides a great introduction to Burmese Buddhism with its many murals depicting the life of Buddha. The feet of the statue are carved with traditional symbols, and many locals often gather to pay homage and pray.
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 as while sitting amongst local businessmen, and other locals who gather at the tea shop to socialize or conduct business.
Next, the guided tour goes to Kandawgyi Park, one of central Yangon’s greenest spots. Here take a look at the glittering Karaweik Barge, a replica of the royal barge, with the vast lake and views of Shwedagon Pagoda in the background. Depending on the day, Kandawgyi may be busy with local families who come on the weekend to relax and enjoy the fresh air.
From here, continue to Shwedagon Pagoda, the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar. Although the origins of the pagoda are unclear, local legend states that the original structure was built 2500 years ago, then renovated several times before taking its current shape in the 15th century. The 8-sided central stupa is 99-meters tall, gilded with gold leaf, and is surrounded by 64 smaller stupas. Follow the guide’s lead around this massive complex and learn why this temple is so revered.
Overnight in Yangon.
Today is a leisure day. Spend it relaxing at the hotel, exploring independently, or book one of our unique ‘Insiders Tours’, which offer something for everyone (note: supplemental charge will be applied). Here are some great options:
Blessings Trail: Discover the rich mixture of cultures and religions in Yangon with this half-day walking tour. Visit Hindu temples, synagogues, churches, and mosques as well as unique Burmese spiritual places including nat shrines and fortune tellers. Along the way, also explore markets, tea shops and other lively local sites in the busy downtown area.
Yangon for Foodies: Get a taste for Burmese food and culture with our half-day guided ‘Yangon for Foodies’ tour. Visit some of the city’s best fresh markets, sample tasty treats, sip a cuppa with locals in a tea shop and enjoy a traditional curry lunch. From the sweet fried donuts to the strange fermented tea leaf salad, try lots of unusual local dishes that most people have never even heard of. (Lunch included)
Cycling the Backstreets of Yangon: This trip is an adventurous cycle through the heart of Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar. Due to a lack of development over the last 50 years, Yangon still has quite a few back roads. Perfect for cycling, these paths crisscross throughout the city, connecting Yangon’s many communities. This trip will explore areas rarely visited by tourists, places where bamboo houses and teak shops are still the norm in this rapidly growing city of 5 million.
Art Gallery Tour: Explore traditional and modern Burmese art with a guided tour of Yangon’s art scene. Visit a selection of local galleries displaying paintings, sculptures, and photographs from famous art pioneers and emerging young artists. Enjoy a cocktail at House of Memories Restaurant, a historic building once used as a headquarters for the country’s independence movement which also contains many remnants from the era, including General Aung San’s typewriter.
Overnight in Yangon.
Yangon - Mandalay
Mandalay Airport to Mandalay city centre (41 km): 60 mins
Early in the morning, transfer to the airport for the flight to Mandalay.
Upon arrival, begin a sightseeing tour of Mandalay with a visit to Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda is home to one of the country’s most revered Buddha images which, over the years, has been covered with so much gold leaf that it now has an iconic ‘lumpy’ texture. Mandalay is well-known for its skilled craftsmen. While touring traditional workshops, learn more about the city’s cottage industries and observe the production of wood carvings, kalaga tapestries, and gold-leaf. Many of the techniques used to create these have remained unchanged for those used centuries ago to craft items for the Royal Court.
In the afternoon, continue the tour of Mandalay with a visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda, whose 729 marble stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures have earned it the title of ‘World’s Biggest Book’. Continue to Shwenandaw Monastery, the only remaining building from the 19th century Royal Palace. This grand teak building is known for its exquisite woodcarving.
Then, head to the top of Mandalay Hill as the sun begins to set to enjoy magnificent views of the city and Irrawaddy River. Be sure to take some photos of this memorable setting.
Overnight in Mandalay.
Mandalay at leisure
Today is a leisure day. Explore independently, relax at the hotel or enjoy the optional activity below.
OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Balloon Experience Over Mandalay – For the ultimate perspective on Mandalay, take a thrilling hot-air balloon ride over the city. While drifting gracefully over the city, get spectacular views of Kuthodaw Pagoda and its 729 white stupas, watch monks walk single-file through the city’s streets collecting alms, see markets become hives of activity, and revel in the legendary beauty of nearby Amarapura’s U Bien Bridge and the Irrawaddy River. (Note: available only from late- October to late-March; all flights weather permitting)
Mandalay’s Royal Capitaols: Begin this Myanmar royal capital experience in the spiritual hub of the country: Sagaing. Visit its monasteries, meditation centres and markets before continuing to Ava. Explore this former capital by horse cart, visiting a number of its colonial ruins. Top off the experience with a walk along Amarapura’s iconic U Bein Bridge.
Kyauk Se and Paleik: Spend a full day exploring the unique architectural marvels outside of Mandalay. Begin with the recently discovered ruins of Shinpin Tamoke Shwegu, an 11th century temple excavated in 2009. Continue to Sut-thwar temple and Kyauk Se for a local experience before wrapping up in Paleik, home to over 300 ancient temples.
Discover Mingun: Scenic beauty, historical sites and awe-inspiring buildings: this guided excursion showcases the best of Mingun. Take a boat ride up the Irrawaddy River to Mingun where architectural wonders are scattered throughout the sleepy village.
Mandalay Nights by Motorbike: Speed off into the Mandalay night where marionettes, crispy ducks and frosty Myanmar beers await. Riding pillion on a local motorbike, enjoy the twinkling scenery, friendly locals and cool breezes as your driver zooms around Mandalay’s frenetic streets. Stopping along the way at markets, restaurants and bars, experience the best food, drink and nightlife Mandalay offers. (Can be combined with the other tours)
Overnight in Mandalay.
Mandalay - Bagan
Nyaung U Airport to Old Bagan (9 km): 20 minsNyaung U Airport to New Bagan (12 km): 20 mins
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for the flight to Bagan (Nyaung Oo).
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 on the banks of the Irrawaddy River.
On arrival, the journey begins with views of the magnificent plains of Bagan on the way to the colourful Nyaung Oo Market where locals come to buy and sell fresh produce and other goods before. Then visit the golden stupa of Shwezigon Pagoda for an introduction into Bagan’s rich history. Afterwards, visit the nearby Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite jataka mural paintings, and the elegant Htilominlo Temple noted for its fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations.
In the afternoon, visit a traditional lacquer ware workshop where and observe the production of one of Myanmar’s best-known handicrafts. Continue to Ananda Temple, an architectural masterpiece and one of Bagan’s most beautiful temples. Built in the early Mon-style, Ananda contains two unique Buddha images whose expressions seem to change depending on the distance from which they are viewed.
From here, travel by horse cart for a tour passing Thatbyinnyu, the highest temple in Bagan, Dhammayangyi Temple, noted for its remarkable brickwork, and Sulamani Temple.
Enjoy an unforgettable sunset over the plains from one of the elevated viewpoint.
Overnight in Bagan.
Today is another leisure day. Explore independently, relax at the hotel, or partake in a highly recommended optional activity, listed below, which is one of Asia’s most iconic experiences. (Note: supplemental charge will be added).
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 an once-in-a-lifetime experience that won’t soon be forgotten. (Note: available only from late- October to late-March; all flights weather permitting.
Mount Popa and Toddy Farm Lunch: Venture away from the tourist-centre of Bagan and tap into Myanmar culture! Mingle with locals who come to pay homage to their guardian spirits at Mount Popa. Visit a palm toddy farm for a delicious lunch and a chance to experience countryside lifestyles.
Swe Daw Lay Su Tour: Follow in the tracks of King Anawrahta and his precious white elephant on a unique full-day excursion. Visit four sacred sites around Bagan where local pilgrims come to pay homage in hopes that their wishes will come true. Learn about the famous King and how this legend came to be.
Magyeekan Local Life: This overnight tour begins with a cruise down the Irrawaddy. Arriving at the sleepy town of Salay, enjoy a walking tour through the colonial area before transferring to Magyeekan village. A typical town, filled with bamboo homes and local craftsmen. Enjoy an overnight in a homestay in Magyeekan, meet with the locals, and dine on a meal prepared by the villagers. The following morning, return to Bagan.
Bagan Cooking Class: Local market. Local food. Local chef. Explore Bagan’s culinary side with an exclusive Bagan Cooking Class. This is the first of its kind in Bagan, and the only immersive cooking class in Myanmar. Work with a local restaurant whose proprietor and chef has more than 15 years’ experience with Burmese cuisine.
Bagan’s Temples on Two Wheels: Bagan’s incredible historical heritage is best appreciated on two wheels, whether by mountain, local or electric bike. Cycling along the paved roads and dirt paths lined with earthen-colored temples and stupas allows visitors to encounter a living landscape where farmers still till the land and herd goats. The two-wheeled vantage point provides a grand perspective on the thousands of monuments packed within Bagan’s 42-square kilometre Archaeological Zone, making it one of the best ways to capture this photogenic destination.
Overnight in Bagan.
Bagan at Leisure
Today is another day at leisure. Relax at the hotel, explore independently or book one of our previously mentioned ‘Insiders Tours’, which offer something for everyone (note: supplemental charge will be applied). Overnight in Bagan.
Bagan – Heho – Inle Lake - Nyaung Shwe
Heho Airport to Nyaung Shwe (28 km): 45 minsNyaung Shwe Jetty to Hotel on Inle Lake (10 – 20 km): 30 – 60 mins
After breakfast, transfer to Nyaung U Airport for a flight to Heho. From Heho, a scenic one-hour drive leads to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway village to Inle Lake. Along the way, stop at the wooden Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery which features beautiful carvings and a collection of Buddha images.
Upon reaching the edges of Inle Lake, board a private motorboat and head out onto Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular sights. Pass villages built on stilts over the lake, inhabited by local Intha people. Observe the famous leg-rowing fishermen and see their floating gardens built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles. Visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main sanctuary, which contains five sacred Buddha images covered in gold leaf.
Explore the local crafts of Inle Lake with a stop at the weaving village of Inpawkhone and a cheroot factory, where typical Burmese cigars are made by hand.
If time permits, take a short walk through one of the lakeside villages.
Overnight on Inle Lake.
Inle Lake - at leisure
Today is a leisure day. Explore the peaceful surroundings of the lake or take some time to relax.
We can also arrange a full day on the lake with a guide to visit the morning markets, villages and other sites.
Balloons Over Inle: Your morning starts with a boat journey across misty Inle Lake just as the sun begins peaking above the surrounding Shan Hills. Upon arrival at the launch site, you’ll be treated to coffee, tea, pastries, croissants and the obligatory safety briefing. Lift off to explore the Inthar’s stilted homes, fisherman taking to the lake, farmers tending their floating gardens and the incomparable mountain and lake scenery.
(Note: available only from mid-November to late-March; all flights weather permitting)
Inle Lake Cultural Kayaking: Cruising through the waterways of Ywama with local escort and exploring the everyday lives of local people, a lifestyle that has remained relatively unchanged for generations.
Full Day Sagar Tour: Leave the tourist trail behind and discover an authentic corner of Inle Lake. Journey past spectacular scenery on the way to Inle’s far southern reaches. Step ashore to find villages untouched by time, see traditional ways of life and explore the awe-inspiring ‘sunken’ stupas of Sagar.
Nyaung Shwe Challenge: Hop on a bike to explore Inle Lake’s shoreline, an area of physical beauty and incredible traditions. Ride through villages untouched by the modern world, seeing how residents rely on the lake and land to survive. Be captivated by scenes of vibrant fields, clear waters and dark blue distant mountains
Cooking With Cats: Experience authentic Intha culture! Join a hands-on cooking class to prepare delicious dishes from Inle Lake’s indigenous people. Learn about the efforts being made to preserve the Intha’s rich traditions and cuddle with rare Burmese cats, all the while supporting a vocational training centre.
Full Day Kakku Tour: Venture away from the tourist trail to discover Kakku, one of Myanmar’s hidden gems. Tucked away in the Shan mountains, the collection of 2500 stupas beckon to be explored. Wander amid the 11th century site, admiring the intricately carved monuments and unlocking the mystery behind their origin.
Overnight in Inle Lake.
Inle Lake – Heho – Yangon - Departure
After breakfast in the morning, transfer to Heho Airport for a flight to Yangon. Connect to the onward international flight or ask a travel consultant about extending the stay in Yangon.
Our services include:
- 9 nights accommodation in a shared twin room or shared double room with daily breakfast
- English-speaking station guide on touring days and for airport transfers
- All transfers and excursions with private air-conditioned vehicles with drivers
- Private boat in Inle Lake excursion
- Porter fees at airports
- Entrance fees for the visits mentioned in the program
- Drinking water while touring
Our services do not include:
- Domestic flights (please refer to the airfare table)
- International ticket to/from Yangon
- Meals not mentioned (B = breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- Visa arrangements for Myanmar
- Visits not mentioned in the program
- Drinks and personal expenses
- Tips and porters at the hotels
- Any other items not mentioned
- Credit card fees (2-3%) or bank transfer fees for non-cash payments
- No services in Yangon on day 10 are included.
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