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Overview

Join this action packed 14-day tour which goes through Myanmar’s famous sites including the Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda, Mahamuni Pagoda, U Bein Bridge, Dhammayangyi, Shwemawdaw Pagoda, Sadan Cave and Shwedagon Pagoda. This won’t be any ordinary trip as there will be opportunities to bike, motorbike, cave, trek and kayak along the way. A few relaxing stops will be made such as having tea at a popular tea shop, sleeping at a small village and witnessing the most beautiful sunset view in all of Asia. It’s the trip of a lifetime!

Trip Highlights

Myanmar in Motion

Discover Myanmar

Speed off in a motorcycle to see the Mandalay’s best spots and stop at a local beer station to try the best Burmese cuisine.

See the ancient cultural riches

Ride along the eastern outskirts of Mandalay passing through the market, hills, monasteries, temples and fields.

Trek through rural villages

Bathe and feed the elephants at Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp and learn about their story.

Itinerary

1

Arrival Mandalay

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

Just after sunset at 6pm, the evening’s escapades begin 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 ride leads to 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 feels more like a Christmas light show than a Buddhist pagoda.

Then it’s off through the heart of the city to a colorful night market. Mandalay is a fantastic place to explore markets as its location as the largest city along the Irrawaddy makes it a hub for wares coming from Northern Myanmar. Explore the stalls as the guide introduces many exotic fruits and vegetables.

Afterwards, we’ll stop at a local beer station for dinner. Busy with locals 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 we’ll 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 one of three activities. Choose between karaoke, comedy, or culture:

Karaoke: Enjoy an hour of one of the favorite pastimes in Myanmar, karaoke. Head out to Best of the Best karaoke. From the outside, BoB looks more like a casino than a karaoke joint. But inside is the latest technology in karaoke fun. Grab a private room and sing out the night. (Songs offered in English, Chinese, and Burmese)

Comedy: Cruise out to see the comedy styling of local legends, the Mustache 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 Mustache Brothers have been entertaining Westerners from their garage since their release.

Culture - Cruise along Mandalay’s kilometer-long moat being treated to waving 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 8.30 – 9.30)

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

Overnight in Mandalay.

2

Mandalay – Amarapura

Set off this morning for a fabulous bicycle ride through the eastern outskirts of Mandalay. The guide will be at the hotel with mountain bikes and, after a quick fitting, it’s time to start pedaling. The journey covers 20-30 kilometres (depending on start point and optional uphill climb) and is mostly on flat, sealed roads.

The first 4 to 6 kilometres lead out of the city, leaving behind the concrete buildings and moving on to a quiet road surrounded by fields and dotted with small villages. The first stop will be at a morning market where a range of fruits, vegetables, local snacks and other items are for sale. Walk around, take photos and interact with the friendly vendors.

Continue toward the east, arriving at the base of Yankin Hill, a popular pilgrimage spot for the locals, and turn south. This next stretch of road is shaded by large trees and there are many monasteries and temples on the sides. There is little traffic aside from the monks walking and other cyclists.

Next stop is Yeh Dagon Hill, where many Burmese come for meditation retreats. There is an option for a short 6 km loop leading up the hilly switchbacks. From here, turn back towards town on a different road and ride through more fields of sugarcane, sunflowers, beans and sometimes rice. Stop at a small village making traditional paper fans before heading back to the city.

This afternoon, switch the bikes for a private car and visit Mahamuni Pagoda and the former capitol city of Amarapura. Mahamuni 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 an almost ‘lumpy’ texture. 

Finally, stop at Amarapura, a former capital whose name means ‘City of Immortality’. Continue to U Bein Bridge for a walk along this 200-year-old teak bridge. The bridge was constructed with 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 this evening.

Overnight in Mandalay

3

Mandalay - Bagan

This morning transfer to the Mandalay airport for a flight to Bagan.

After meeting the guide and driver, head to a local e-scooter vendor and pick out e-scooters to explore the area.

Beginning with a 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.

Escape the heat of the day with a few hours of leisure in the afternoon.

A couple of hours before sunset, we’ll board a horse cart and take a leisurely ride throughout the Bagan archeological area. We’ll stop at an elevated viewpoint to catch the last rays as the sun sets over an unforgettable backdrop.

Overnight in Bagan.

4

Bagan

Today will be a day at leisure. Take the time to relax or choose to do one of our optional tours.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Balloon Experience Over Bagan - Start the morning with an incredible hot-air balloon flight over Bagan’s temple-studded plains. Pastries, croissants, coffee and tea are provided while the balloon is inflated.  Climb aboard before gently rising above thousands of gilded stupas and earthen temples all back-dropped by the impressive Irrawaddy River.  A truly unforgettable and unique experience. (Note: available only from late- October to late-March; all flights weather permitting. CAN BE COMBINED WITH ANY OF THE OTHER OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES

Swe Daw Lay Su Legendary Tour: Discover one of Bagan’s most famous legends by following in the tracks of King Anawrahta and his precious white elephant. By boat, car and jeep visit four auspicious sites and travel amid rural villages bringing the legends to reality, while getting a chance to see Burmese local life.

Mount Popa and Toddy Farm Lunch: Venture through the arid planes of Bagan to Mount Popa,  home of Myanmar’s nats, the animist spirits worshipped by the Burmese. Join local pilgrims as they make offerings to the various shrines. Here will be a chance to climb the 800 steps to the top of Mout Popa for fantastic views of the area. Returning home, head to a nearby toddy farm to witness age-old techniques. Enjoy a traditional lunch in the farm before returning to Bagan.

Village Cycling Tour: Bike through Bagan’s outskirts and explore a land of endless fields, toddy palm farms and rolling hills. Along the way, pedal by scenic villages, stopping in to see what traditional rural life is like and meet with the curious locals. This guided day trip travels along narrow lanes inaccessible to cars and buses, leading well off the tourist trail.

Overnight in Bagan.

5

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, transfer 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 some time will be enjoyed 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. 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 the camp’s elephants wil lcme into view. The elephants will likely be enjoying a refreshing swim in the stream. There is an option 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.

NOTE:  For the wellbeing of the animals, elephant riding is not allowed.

Overnight in Kalaw.

6

Kalaw – Naung Tayar - Kalaw – Naung Tayar - Trek to Saung Khar Village

Transfer from Heho Airport to Naung Tayar: up to 1 hr 30 mins Transfer from Kalaw to Naung Tayar: up to 1 hr Walking time: up to 4 hrs Difficulty: EasyNote: Times may vary due to the pace of clients

This morning the tour begins at 08:00.

After breakfast, eEmbark on a trekking adventure through the Shan Hills to Inle Lake. Being with a scenic two hour drive which leads to the small town of Naung Tayar, starting point of the trek. The scenery is remarkably different from middle Burma and the air temperature is usually much cooler than the rest of the country.

Then meet with up with the porters for the trek and set off on foot. The journey begins with approx. two and half hour trek along the trail through agricultural fields and the Pa-Oh village of Done Kyar Pu before reaching Ngo La village. Lunch will be served at a local family’s home in this traditional town. After lunch, continue South East towards Saung Khar. On the way, there will be plenty of opportunities to stop and interact with the friendly locals.

Finally, after another couple of hours of trekking, reach the village of Saung Khar, the overnight stop for the evening. Tonight, the accommodation will be with a local family. This is a very unique opportunity and  a fun chance to interact with curious locals. 

Overnight in Saung Khar Village.

7

Saung Khar – Tharyar Gone trekking – Inle/Samkar

Transfer by boat to Inle: 2 hrs Transfer by boat to Samkar: 10 mins Walking time: up to 4 hrs Difficulty: Easy

Today the journey continues at 08:00.

Departing Saung Khar early, say goodbye to the host family and continue towards Inle Lake. The first two hours offer great views of bamboo forests and the valley of Naung Mon Village. Arriving in Naung Mon, visit the old Monastery to learn about monastic life in Myanmar and day to day village life. The monastery also serves as a community center and is an important part of rural Burmese life.

Leaving the village, there will be a gradual descent to the final trekking destination of Tharyar Gone. This section should take roughly 3 hours. Upon reaching the village is a short walk further to reach the shores of Inle Lake.

Depending on the timing, lunch will either be served in a village on the way or at a restaurant in Tharyar Gone.

If time permit, there will be a chance to visit the Thar Khaung Pagoda Complex before transferring to the Inle Lake hotel by long tail boat.

Overnight in Nyaung Shwe or Inle Lake.

8

Inle

Today the sightseeing starts at 08:00.

Early this morning, wWe’ll transfer to the jetty to board a boat and explore Inle Lake. After about an hour’s journey, we’ll disembark and begin a kayaking tour through the canals of Inle Lake. Passing by stilted homes and lake side pagodas, we’ll experience Inle like few others. After around half an hour of paddling, we’ll visit a local village to have tea and view some of the local cottage industries. Then, it’s back on the kayaks for another half an hour to return.

Leaving the kayaks behind, we’ll take the motor boats down a small canal leading to the Pa-oh village of Indein.  Explore the area on foot, strolling around the village and wander through the beautiful Alaung Sitthou area. 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.

This afternoon, either enjoy some leisure time or continue to explore Inle Lake.

Overnight in Nyaung Shwe or Inle Lake.

9

Inle - Bago

This morning, we’ll transfer to Heho for a flight to Yangon. Upon arrival, head to the city of Bago, capitol of the Bago region.

The sites in Bago are spreading out around the town and spend the day exploring with the guide, learning about the history and myths of the city. Stops include the 55-metre long reclining Shwethalyaung Buddha, the four seated Buddhas at Kyaikpun and the old palace of Kanbawzathadi. The Mon-style Shwemawdaw Pagoda is the most outstanding religious monument in Bago. This golden temple stands at 114 metres tall, higher than Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda, and can be seen from around 10 kilometres outside of the city. Next, visit Bago’s strangest, and some would say creepiest, sight. Nearby Kanbawzathadi Palace, the Snake Monastery is a pilgrimage site to see the 9 meter, and reportedly century old, Burmese Python.  The monastery is devoted to a Buddhist abbot who was reborn as a python.

Overnight in Bago.

10

Bago – Hpa An

Depart Bago this morning at 08:00 for a journey by road to Hpa An, the capital of Kayin state.

The capital of Kayin State, Hpa An is emerging as one of the most appealing tourist destinations in Myanmar. Notable for its spellbinding surrounding scenery, the town is a gateway to natural wonders.

As we approach the city, the mountains surrounding Hpa An will slowly come into view. Our first stop will be Kawgun cave. Every conceivable inch of this cave is covered in Buddha images, many dating back to the 7th century. There is also an option to climb to the top of a large rock formation for great views.

The next stop on the tour will be a sunset visit to Bat Cave. Living up to its name, Bat Cave is home to tens of thousands of bats and located along the bank of the Thanlwin River. As the sun dips in the background, the bats come out in droves and is quite a sight.

Overnight in Hpa An.

11

Hpa An

Today the tour starts at 08:30.

The guide and driver will pick up at the hotel after breakfast. Today’s first stop will be Sadan Cave. Typically only accessible from November to March, this cave will bring out is something out of Indiana Jones. Sadan starts off as a typical Myanmar cave, full of Buddha images and even a reclining Buddha. As the path leads to the back of the cave, a natural tunnel comes into view. Follow the row of lights through the tunnel for about 15 minutes to get to the other side. Reaching the end, a magnificent view of a hidden lake and meadow come into view.

Stop and have tea or coffee at the tea shop at the edge. From here, hire one of the local boat men to take a tour (client’s sit on the bamboo floor of the boat as there are no seats).  Take the boat around the small lake and then through another cave accessible only by boat.

After returning to the car, head toward Lumbini Gardens, where there are thousands (1150 to be exact) of identical Buddha statues before going to Kyauk Ka Lat. This natural rock sculpture, surrounded by a manmade lake, offers spectacular views of Mt Zwekabin and the surrounding area.

This afternoon is at leisure, or for something a bit more challenging, opt to hike to the top of Mt Zwekabin. The steep trail starts in Lumbini Park at the foot of the mountain. After a couple of hours, reach the monastery on top. Not only does the monastery come complete with fantastic views of the area but is also home to a group of local monkeys. Climb down the other side of the mountain to meet the driver and vehicle. The entire trek should take around 4 hours, depending on fitness levels.

Overnight in Hpa An.

12

Hpa An – Yangon

This morning the journey continues at 08:00 and , we’ll drive back to Yangon, arriving by late afternoon.

Tonight, embark on a foodie tour through downtown Yangon by local open air trishaw. The tour will begin at a local tea shop where guests will be able to enjoy Burmese tea and the city’s traditional culture. The tradition of drinking strong tea with condensed milk and sugar was brought to Myanmar by the British more than a century ago. However, people still drink green tea, which is complimentary in most of the local tea shops, to wash away the sweet flavor. The tea shop visited today is popular with locals and serves a variety of traditional Burmese snacks and noodles, all of which can be sampled. Some of the famous dishes are mont pyar tha let (rice pancake), mont leit pyar (wanton-like parcels of bean and jaggery), shwe htamin (golden sticky rice), mohingar (rice noodles with fish soup - Myanmar’s national dish) and own noe khauk swe (yellow noodles with chicken and coconut soup).

Trishaws will be waiting outside to continue the evening journey. Each client will get their own trishaw and local driver. We’ll take a short ride through the downtown area and head past St Mary’s Church and the former Minister’s Office. Once known as the Secretariat, this beautiful red brick building was built by the British in the late 1800s and takes up an entire city block. Famous as the location where national hero General Aung Sang was assassinated in 1947, the inside of the building has been closed to the public for over 50 years.

After about a 15 minute ride, we’ll head down a small ally off the main road to get to one of the most famous noodle shops in Yangon, 999 Shan Noodle. The will be the opportunity to pick from a variety of dishes, though the restaurant is popular for its Shan noodles. Typically eaten for breakfast, Shan noodles can be had as a soup or salad and are fantastic any time of day.

From here, we’ll head on foot through the heart of downtown, past landmarks like Mahabandoola Park, City Hall, and Sule Pagoda, lit up like a beacon in the middle of town. This short stroll should work up an appetite for next stop, a local Indian restaurant. During British rule, Yangon was populated with more Indians than Burmese. Many of their descendants still live here today with their influence being seen on many of the local dishes. Try some of the Indian influenced snacks that are still popular with Burmese people.

From here, it’s back on the trishaws. We’ll take a ride through Little India, with its colorful temples and make one last stop, Chinatown. We’ll continue through a bustling night market before heading to 19th street. Famous for its bar-b-ques, 19th street is a lively place to enjoy meat and vegetable satays, washed down with draught Myanmar Beer.

Overnight in Yangon.

13

Yangon

Today the sightseeing begins at 08:30 and will be a full immersion into the everyday life of Myanmar’s largest city. Board the local ‘circle train’ which runs from Yangon’s main railway station in a circle around various neighborhoods in town and on the outskirts of town. The slowly traveling train gives the unique opportunity to enjoy observing the lively and colorful life of the rural Burmese people.

Disembark after 45 minutes – 1 hour in Insein Township. One of the city’s best fresh markets is here, filled with vendors and piles of colorful items for sale. Spend time walking amid the stalls examining the fruits, produce and meats on sale as well as chatting with the friendly locals.

Afterwards, head back to the city by car.

After lunch, take a cycling tour through the rarely seen areas of Yangon. The tour begins at the bike depot. Here, clients will be fitted for their bikes and have a chance to test drive before taking off. Leaving the depot, the tour soon loses itself in a maze of alleys around Shwedagon Pagoda. Pass by vendors hawking all sorts of colorful flowers, monk’s robes, and shimmering Buddha statues. The route then heads to Kandawgyi Park. Cycle through trails and over wooden bridges while circling this picturesque lake in the center of the city. The largest golden stupa is always there, shining across the lake.

From Kandawgyi, we’ll delve into the back roads of Yangon. Ride to a local market, past mosques and colorful Hindu temples. Suddenly we will find ourselves in a ‘local village’. Anything can happen as we cycle through this little visited community. See golden stupas sprouting out in the midst of bamboo homes and vendors selling all sorts of exotic foods. It’s not uncommon to see communities of children playing football or even monks playing the traditional game of Chinlone.

A sudden blast of a horn makes us realize these people live nearly on the railway tracks, with old open wagons passing all day, Thanaka-painted faces staring out of the open windows. We will cross these tracks (clients will need to carry their bikes roughly 25 meters, guide will assist) and head south.

Along the way, we’ll visit a tea shop to experience a daily staple of life in Myanmar, drinking tea. Hours are spent in these shops chatting, watching TV and conducting business. Not only is this a great chance to try some traditional Burmese snacks, but it’s a fantastic opportunity for people watching.

Eventually, we’ll pop out near the Yangon River. From here, we’ll have great views as we continue along the water and experience life at the port. This trip affords a great contrast between the industrial city side and the rural scenery across the river from Yangon.

Heading north, we’ll pass by monasteries and stupas on our way to Yangon’s most recognizable landmark, Shwedagon Pagoda. 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 and the guide will give a tour of the massive complex, explaining why this temple is so revered. Enjoy breathtaking views of the golden stupa from this vantage point.

A short cycle takes us to the bike depot to complete the tour.

Overnight in Yangon.

14

Yangon - departure

Transfer to the airport for a flight home.

Important Information

Our services include:

  • 13 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 guide station guides (1 guide per location)
  • All transfers and excursions with private air-conditioned vehicles with drivers
  • Horse cart tour in Bagan
  • Trishaw in Yangon
  • Kayaking in Inle Lake
  • Private local boat for Inle Lake excursions
  • 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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