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Overview

This compact journey packs a mighty punch. Soak up the wonders of Myanmar, from Bagan’s ancient pagodas to Inle Lake’s tranquil waters. Follow in the footsteps of kings in Mandalay and explore Yangon’s colonial past. A visit to Shwedagon Pagoda is the icing on the cake of this express holiday.

Trip Highlights

Myanmar Express

Get an in-depth look at Bagan

Spend a full day exploring Bagan, taking in its main temples like Ananda and Shwezigon plus some further afield.

Be enchanted by Inle Lake

Visit markets teeming with produce, travel through stilted villages and see iconic sites to embrace Inle’s culture and beauty.

Catch a glimpse of Myanmar history

Explore the former royal cities around Mandalay and wander Yangon’s downtown to see the remains of the British colonial era.

Itinerary

1

Arrive Mandalay

Upon arrival in Mandalay airport, you will be met by your guide and driver.

From the airport, head to Ava, the capital from 14th to 18th centuries, where a short ferry ride will take you across the river to where your horse and carriage are waiting. Take a ride to 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 as you travel by horse and cart, you’ll get a glimpse of local life in the Burmese countryside. We’ll stop for lunch in Ava before returning to our car. (Client’s account)

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 kilometers 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.

Overnight in Mandalay.

2

Mandalay

In the morning the tour starts at 08:00.

Your guide will pick you up at the hotel to get started on an incredible morning.  Transfer to 86th street for a walking tour of the surrounding streets.  Mandalay has become a bustling city as it is strategically located in northern Myanmar, near the ruby, gold and jade mines.  This position has allowed the jade industry to flourish as merchants from China, India and Thailand coalesce. We will visit the market, discovering white, yellow and green jade. The precious gem can be found in all forms, from its raw, unpolished state to beautiful handcrafted jewelry.  Watch as skilled craftsman cut and polish the stone on wet saws and sellers and buyers haggle over price. Our visit coincides with the busiest time of the day at the jade market.  Your guide will help you negotiate if you wish to bring one of the precious gemstones home. 

Continue 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 gold leaf, giving it an almost ‘lumpy’ texture. Mandalay is well known for its skilled craftsmen and as you tour traditional workshops, you will 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.

Next, visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda, whose 729 marble stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures have earned it the title ‘World’s Biggest Book’. Walk onwards to Shwenandaw Monastery, the only remaining building from the 19th century Royal Palace. This grand teak building is known for its exquisite woodcarving.

Head to the top of Mandalay Hill as the sun begins to set to enjoy magnificent views of the city and Irrawaddy River.

Overnight in Mandalay.

3

Mandalay – Heho – Inle Lake

After breakfast, transfer to Mandalay Airport for a flight to 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.

Depending on arrival time, you may be able to visit the Nyaung Shwe morning market where locals gather every morning to buy and sell fresh produce from the lake and its surroundings.

Continue by local trishaw down to the bustling canal which is a hive of activity in the morning as boats from the lake come in to unload tomatoes and other vegetables for distribution to the markets around the country. Watch as baskets laden with produce are transferred from boats to trucks and bikes.

Hop back on the trishaw and wind through quiet streets. Make a stop at the ‘tomato house’, a warehouse-like structure where tomatoes are sorted and priced for sale. Then, continue past some of the many monasteries and nunneries in the town, stopping for photos as you go.

Upon reaching the edges of Inle Lake, board a private motorboat to head out to Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular sights. Pass villages built on stilts, inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the 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. 

Overnight in Inle Lake.

4

Inle Lake - In Dein - Inle Lake

Today the sightseeing starts at 08:00 with a visit to the lake’s morning market. The market rotates its location around the lake’s villages in a 5 day rhythm and is visited by lake inhabitants and surrounding hill tribes who come to sell and trade their wares. (Note: market is daily except on dark moon and full moon day).

From the middle of the lake, continue down a small canal leading to the Pa-oh village of In Dein.  Explore the area on foot, strolling around the village, and wander through the beautiful Alaung Sitthou area.  Here you can climb the covered stairway to the top of a hill which is covered with picturesque ancient stupas and has magnificent views of the lake below.

After enjoying your visit to In Dein, return to your boat. Continue along the lake for additional sightseeing before returning to your hotel this afternoon.  

Overnight in Inle LakeNyaung Shwe.

5

Inle Lake - Heho - Bagan

This morning is at your leisure to further explore Nyaung Shwe. Should you wish to book a boat for the morning, it can be arrange for a surcharge.

OPTION: Biking and Wine Tasting- Bike from Nyaung Shwe to Red Mountain Estate, a winery tucked in the Shan Hills. The ride takes you along quiet, flat roads (around 5-10km depending on hotel location) past farms and villages. Reach the winery and enjoy an optional wine tasting. Return by bike to your hotel or meet your car for the airport transfer. (Note: Maximum 10 persons due to bike availability)

Just after lunch time transfer to Heho Airport for the 1.5 hour flight to Bagan. Upon arrival, your car and guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel.

Overnight in Bagan.

6

Bagan

In the morning the tour begins at 08:00.

Today, your journey begins with view of the magnificent plains of Bagan on the way to the colorful Nyaung Oo Market where every day, the locals come to buy and sell fresh produce and other goods. Take a walk here to the local village where you will see the production of pone yeh gyi and other local treats.

Then, continue to the golden stupa of Shwezigon Pagoda for an introduction in to Bagan’s rich history. Continue to 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.

Then visit a traditional lacquer ware workshop where you can 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 the statue is viewed.

Take a break midday for lunch (own account) and to escape the midday heat.          

Board a private river boat and set off upriver toward Kyauk Gu U Min. Throughout your Irrawaddy river cruise you will be treated to fabulous scenes of life on the water: fishermen, local ferry boats, riverside villages and views of the Bagan temples.

Continue by boat to Kyauk Gu U Min on the eastern side of the river where a five to ten minute walk takes us to the temple. This beautiful temple has exquisite stone carvings depicting religious figures and flowers on the door. The temple itself is built against the side of cliff, behind the main hall of the temple you can enter a cave. Inside the cave, there are several small niches where individuals can practice meditation. Legend states that the cave was built during the 13th century for the locals to hide from the invading Mongols.

After your exploration of Kyauk Gu U Min, you’ll return to the boat for a relaxing cruise back to Bagan (around 1 hour). Transfer back to your hotel upon reaching Bagan.

Overnight in Bagan.

7

Bagan - Yangon - Departure

After breakfast this morning, transfer to the airport for the flight to Yangon.

Upon arrival, your guide and driver will pick you up at the airport and you’ll 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. You’ll start at the post office – a lovely historic building- and walk to Sule Paya in the middle of downtown, passing by Strand Hotel, Mahabandoola Garden and Independence Monument along the way. Then visit Little India and Chinatown, a colorful cacophony of restaurants, temples and markets. Reach Bogyoke Market, formerly known as Scott’s Market, where there is time to browse through the dozens of stalls and shops. This is Yangon’s best market for handicrafts and other goods.  (Note: Market is closed on Mondays and public holidays).

From here, 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. Your guide will show you around the massive complex, explaining why this temple is so revered. Enjoy breathtaking views of the golden stupa from this vantage point.              

Return to the international airport for your onward flight.

Important Information

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
  • Credit card fees (2-3%) or bank transfer fees for non-cash payments
  • Any other items not mentioned

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
  • International departure Airport Tax Yangon  (USD 10/pax at present)
  • Credit card fees (4%) or bank transfer fees for non-cash payments
  • Any other items not mentioned

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