UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS

Overview

Be captivated by the inherent spirituality that makes Myanmar so special. Take a pilgrimage trip to the sacred Golden Rock and meditate with monks at a famous monastery. Explore the mystical world of spirit worship at Mount Popa and wander amid thousands of ancient pagodas in Bagan.

Trip Highlights

Spiritual Myanmar

Delve deep into Buddhism

Travel to the sacred Golden Rock, meditate with monks, explore ancient pagodas to learn about Myanmar’s Buddhist culture.

Learn about Myanmar’s nats

Visit Mount Popa, the mythological home of the nats, and learn about this form of spirit worship that is unique to Myanmar.

Experience local culture

Wander the streets of Yangon and visit local pagodas in Mandalay to see how spirituality is entwined in daily life.

Itinerary

1

Arrive Yangon

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

After freshening up, head into the downtown area of Yangon to explore its diverse range of architecture, ethnicities and religions. Start with a wander around Chinatown to check out the unique vibes of this ethnic enclave. Take note of the close vicinity in which one can find mosques, synagogues and Hindu Temples in this multi-cultural area.

Continue to Sule Paya, a golden stupa built to enshrine a hair of the Buddha. For those looking to try something different and unique, there is an option to meet with a palm reader near Sule as for some insight into the future (own account). Many Burmese consult with palm readers or astrologists on a regular basis and especially before a big event such as a wedding, examinations or prior to the birth of a baby.

Wrap up the day tour with a visit some of the city’s iconic colonial-era buildings such as the Post Office and Strand Hotel.

Overnight in Yangon.

2

Yangon

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Wake up early in the morning and head to Shwedagon Park. Every morning at 05:30, locals gather here to practice Tai Chi. Join them in their exercises or simply watch. (Join a private session with a Tai Chi master afterwards on request)

Today the sightseeing begins at 08:00.

After breakfast, sStart the day with a visit Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar’s most revered Buddhist monument. The morning hours see many local pilgrims and monks coming to pray and make offerings. Although the origins of the pagoda are unclear, local legend states that the original structure was built 2500 years ago and was renovated several times before 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. Follow the guide around this massive complex and learn why the temple is so revered by locals.

Next, visit the market at the bottom of the temple which sells a range of Buddhist goods, including monks robes, alms bowls and other specialty items.

Continue with a visit to Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, home to a 70-metre long reclining Buddha. This pagoda offers visitors great insight Burmese Buddhism, with murals depicting the life of Buddha and a great many locals who gather to pay homage and pray.

Next, visit Ahlein Ngar Sint. This temple is unusual in that it was founded by a monk that believed in supernatural phenomenon and its resident monks follow the same set of beliefs. The body of the founder is preserved in a glass case and, rather strangely, his hair and nails continue to grow.

Around midday, stop and take a break for lunch. Feel Myanmar is a typical Burmese-style restaurant popular with the locals that is highly recommended. (Client’s account)

In the afternoon, transfer to Mahasi Monastery, one of Yangon’s most renowned places for meditation training. Mahasi is renowned as an ‘Educational Spa’ throughout Myanmar, and many pilgrims come here to learn, study, and practice Vipassana Meditation. Mahasi usually requires a minimum of one week of study for the local yogis. However, they have granted special permission to our clients for one day programs. 
First, meet with the venerable monk who will discuss the importance of meditation in the life of the Burmese Buddhists (in English). A meditation teacher (monk) will then teach techniques and methods that have been used for centuries. After an hour of instruction and discussion, put the head to the Meditation Hall and practice the new-found skills while slipping away into a deep meditative state of relaxation in the peaceful setting of Mahasi.

After a transformative experience, transfer back to the hotel.

Overnight in Yangon.

3

Yangon - Golden Rock

Today the journey continues at 08:00.

Depart Yangon early in the morning for a journey by road to Kyaikhtiyo and the Golden Rock. The drive to Kyaikhtiyo Base Camp takes around 5 hours.

Upon arrival, head to a local restaurant for lunch.

Then, travel by local, open-air truck along a winding road (45 minutes) and be dropped off at the top, just a few minutes away from the Golden Rock. This huge boulder is covered by gold-leaf and delicately balanced on the edge of a cliff and considered to be one of Myanmar's most holy pilgrimage sites.  The pagoda here is said to hold a hair of the Buddha, and Buddhists from across the country come to pay homage to it. 

Overnight near Golden Rock.

4

Golden Rock - Bago - Yangon

This morning the tour starts at 08:00.

After breakfast, rReturn to the basecamp by open-air truck and begin the return journey back to Yangon. En route, stop to explore the mysterious 16th-century capital of the Mon-Kingdom.

First, visit Shwethalyaung Temple for a look at the beautiful 55-meter long reclining Buddha. Then, visit a nearby Mon neighbourhood to experience the unique and quiet charm of rural Myanmar.

Continue to the Mon-style Shwemawdaw Pagoda, one of the most venerated religious structures in Myanmar. Its 114-meter tall spire is even taller than the one at Shwedagon Pagoda. From here, take a 15-minute walk to nearby Hinthar Gone Pagoda. The walk passes by many monasteries and nunneries, providing a great opportunity to see the simple, peaceful lives of monks and nuns in this area.

At Hinthar Gone Pagoda there is an extravagant nat shrine with dozens of statues and offerings. Depending on the day, it may also be possible to witness a traditional nat dance. (Note: Schedule depends upon donor offering; can only be confirmed one day before arrival)

Next, visit Bago’s strangest, and some would say creepiest, sight. Nearby Kanbawzathadi Palace, the Snake Monastery is an important pilgrimage site where visitors come to see the 9-meter long, and reportedly century old, Burmese Python.  The monastery is devoted to a Buddhist abbot who is believed to have been reborn as a python.

On the way back to Yangon, if time allows, stop at the Allied War Cemetery near Htaukkyan.  This beautiful, peaceful cemetery is the final resting place for over 27,000 Allied soldiers.

Overnight in Yangon.

5

Yangon - Ava - Mandalay

Early in the morning, transfer to the Yangon Airport for a flight to Mandalay.

On the way into Mandalay from the airport, before heading to the hotel, drive to the city of Ava where a short ferry ride heads across the river where a horse and carriage are waiting. Visit the old wooden Bagaya Monastery, a typical Burmese monastery with two buildings -one for the Buddha and another for the monks living there. There are many small villages located amid Ava’s ruins. While exploring the area by horse and cart, get an up-close glimpse of local life in the Burmese countryside.

Continue towards Mandalay for lunch and check into the hotel for a quick refresh. 

Later in the afternoon, head out to explore the surroundings of Mandalay Hill. Stop at Shwe Nan Daw Kyaung, the Golden Palace Monastery, which is decorated with exquisite wood carvings. The walls are decorated with wooden figures such as nats (spirits), zawgyi (alchemist) and Hanuman (a mythological monkey). There are also strange Christian angels there, which are worshipped by locals as nats. Nat shrines and nat figures take on important roles in the daily lives of Burmese people, and can be found blended in with the art of Buddhist figures.

Then, visit Ku Tho Daw Monastery, which is most well-known for housing ‘the world’s largest book’ and its 729 inscribed marble slabs. Each slab is housed by a small temple, making for a surprisingly impressive complex.

The day’s final stop is 63rd Street where, in the late afternoon, dozens of stalls set up on the street to serve snacks and other offerings to the locals. Visit the impressively named Maha Lawka Yan Hnain Aung Daw Mu Myat Swar Paya to witness Buddhist pilgrims grinding thanaka, which is used to scent water that’s used for washing Buddha statues. There are also many other symbolic spiritual places at the temple, including a small pond with fish and turtles.

Overnight in Mandalay.

6

Mandalay - Sagaing - Amarapura - Mandalay

Today the sightseeing begins at 08:00.

After breakfast in the morning, mMeet with the guide and driver and head to Sagaing, a 45-minute drive. Located just across the Irrawaddy River, Sagaing is considered by many to be the Buddhist centre of Myanmar.

Drive up Sagaing Hill to Umin Thonzeh, a long hallway built alongside a hill with thirty recessed entrances giving it the appearance of being filled with caves. Inside the building are 45 Buddha images, one for each of the 45 years that Gotama Buddha was enlightened as a Buddha. Then proceed to Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda and enjoy wonderful panoramic view of Sagaing Hill and its hundreds of stupas. Be sure to check out the ceiling at Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin for a look at the incredible 16-scene dream sequence of Kawthala King. Finally, continue to Kaung Mu Daw, an unusual hemispherical dome stupa that’s 46 metres in height. At the bottom of the dome are 120 niches, each with its own guardian nat.

Return to the bottom of the hills and visit a local nunnery. Here, learn about the unique lifestyle that Burmese nuns have while observing some of their daily activities and learning about their beliefs.

Next, head back to Mandalay for a visit to the famed Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda is home to one of the country’s most revered Buddha images which, over the years, has been covered with metres of gold leaf, giving it a distinct ‘lumpy’ texture. Because of its importance in the lives of local Buddhists, Mahamuni Pagoda is a fantastic place to witness the living culture of the area.

Afterwards, begin a tour of traditional craftsmen workshops and learn about the city’s booming cottage industry. Also, get a look at 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.

The final stop of the day is in yet another nearby ancient capital, Amarapura. Here, visit Bagaya Monastery and find a collection of Buddha images made between the 16th and 20th centuries, each reflecting a different period style. While here, learn about mudras -symbolic hand gestures used in Buddha images which have unique meanings. There is also a library with a collection of palm leaves etched with various sections of Tripitaka or Buddhist scripture.

Before departing Amarapura, head to U Bein Bridge for an unforgettable walk along this 200 year-old teak wood bridge. The bridge was constructed from 984 teak wood posts that were once part of the deserted Inwa Palace. At 1.2 kilometers in length, it is the world’s longest teak span. The real reason U Bien Bridge has become so iconic among travellers, though, is because of the legendary sunsets that occur there. As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, the entire area is bathed in golden light to create an absolutely unforgettable experience.

Overnight in Mandalay.

7

Mandalay - Mt Popa

OPTION: Awake early this morning (04:00) and transfer to Mahamuni Pagoda to witness the fascinating ritual involved with washing the Buddha image’s face.

This morning the tour starts at 08:00.

After breakfast at the hotel, bBegin the scenic drive to Mount Popa and Bagan. Along the way, visit local villages and learn about the unique cultures, traditions, and lifestyles found in Myanmar’s rural areas.

Arrive at Paleik after about 45 minutes and pay a visit to the famous ‘snake temple’. This temple features a statue of Buddha surrounded by snakes. The locals believe that this image brings good luck. Thus, every day they gather pythons, which live at the temple, and wash them in water. They also clean the Buddha image daily with water.  After visiting this unusual site, continue with a short-sightseeing tour around the town, which has Ava-style temples, before returning to Mandalay.

Continue the drive to Mt Popa and stop along the way for lunch 

Later in the afternoon, arrive at Mt Popa, an extinct volcano standing 1,518 metres high. Mount Popa has played an important role in Burmese culture, religion and history since earliest times. Its shrine is dedicated to the worship of the 37 Nats, the Burmese ancient animist spirits.

Check in to Popa Mountain Resort with fabulous views over the surrounding area.

Overnight at Popa Mt Resort.

8

Popa - Bagan

Today the journey continues at 08:00.

After a leisurely breakfast, tTransfer down to the base of Mt Popa. Its shrine is dedicated to the worship of the 37 nats, or ancient Burmese animist spirits. Learn about these nats and nat worship while climbing stairs to the top with the local guide. The view of Myingyan Plain from the top of the volcanic peak is impressive (and the climb is optional!).

Next, begin a one-hour drive to Bagan. Along the way, stop in a local village where the people use the fruit of palm trees to make wine and molasses. Witness the incredible production process before arriving in Bagan. Enjoy a tasty lunch at a local restaurant then check into the hotel and take time to relax and freshen up.

Later in the afternoon, embark on a horse cart ride through the plains of Bagan for a first look at some of the thousands of stupas found in the area. Continue to an elevated viewpoint to watch an unforgettable sunset over the plains before returning to the hotel.Wrap up the day with a walk to the top of one of these stupas for a spectacular view of the surrounding area at sunset. 
Overnight in Bagan. 

9

Bagan Sightseeing

This morning the sightseeing begins at 08:00.

Today, vVisit a range of sites to gain a better understanding of Bagan’s unique history, culture and the lifestyles of locals living in the area.

The journey begins with a visit to another elevated viewpointtemple to enjoywith spectacular views over the surrounding plains in the morning light. This is the perfect introduction to the grandeur and scope of Bagan’s architecture. Next, continue to Ananda Temple, one of the most revered temples in Bagan. Arrive early enough to enjoy this fantastic site in peace, well before all of the tour buses arrive.

Afterwards, head to Myinkaba Village and visit Gubyaukgyi Temple which is noted for the beautiful mural paintings of its inner walls and well-preserved plaster carvings on its exterior. Nearby are Manuha and Nanpaya Temples. Although relatively small in size, they house impressive Buddha statues and stone work.

Then, learn more about local culture with a visit to two workshops producing some of Bagan’s most famous products: lacquerware and woodcrafts. Watch as skilled craftsmen use techniques passed down through generations to create beautiful local goods. Take a break with lunch and return to the hotel for a short rest, escaping the extreme heat of the midday sun.

Later in the afternoon, head to the Irrawaddy River, board a private riverboat, 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.

Arrive Kyauk Gu U Min on the eastern side of the river and take a five-to-ten minute walk to the amazing temple here. Take time to admire the exquisite stone carvings depicting religious figures and flowers on the door. The temple itself is built against the side of cliff. After passing through the temple, head to a cave entrance just behind the main wall. Inside the cave there are several small niches where individuals can practice meditation. Legend states that the cave was built during the 13th century when locals used it to hide from invading Mongols.

After exploring Kyauk Gu U Min, return to the boat for a relaxing cruise back to Bagan (around 1 hour). Upon arrival, transfer back to the hotel for a well-earned evening of relaxation or head out to do some last-minute souvenir shopping.           

Overnight in Bagan.

10

Bagan - Yangon - Departure

After breakfast transfer to airport for flight to Yangon.

Important Information

Our services include:

  • 9 nights 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
  • All transfers and excursions with private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Horse cart tours in Ava and Bagan
  • Boat trip to Kyauk Gu U Min in Bagan
  • Entrance fees for the visits mentioned in the program
  • Drinking water while touring
  • Permission for monastery meditation visits
  • Porter fees at airports

Our services do not include:

  • International ticket to/from Yangon
  • Domestic flights (please refer to the supplement table below)
  • Meals other than 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

Customize this tour

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Fusce rutrum tincidunt lacus. Phasellus eget est elit. Nullam placerat et lacus quis malesuada. Vestibulum ipsum tortor

Similar Tours

Not quite right or still need some more inspiration? Take a look at the journeys below and discover what other people who liked this tour also looked at!

3 Days / 2 Nights

Back to Nature – Ulu Muda Escape

  • Discover untouched rainforests of Ulu Muda
  • Up close & personal with wildlife
  • Explore newly discovered limestone caves & saltlicks
  • Cruise down Lake Muda
  • Earth Lodge stay in the middle of dense rainforests
  • 9 Days / 8 Nights

    East Coast Boutique Island Hopping

  • Relax on Thailand’s best islands
  • Stay in charming seaside hotels
  • Cruise the Gulf of Thailand
  • Seek out quieter beaches
  • Swim in tropical seas
  • 11 Days / 10 Nights

    Family Fun in Malaysia

    • Explore Malacca and Penang on trishaw
    • Leisurely train travel from KL to Ipoh
    • Hands-on activities to keep old traditions alive
    • Fun-filled scavenger hunt at Tropical Spice Garden
    • Traditional Gondola cruise in Putrajaya
    3 Days / 2 Nights

    Taman Negara Rainforest Explorer

  • Traditional wooden longboat ride
  • Scenic countryside and riverside views
  • Taman Negara rainforest in night & day
  • Stay in riverside lodge
  • Spot wildlife & native flora & fauna
  • 5 Days / 4 Nights

    Glamping in the Mergui Islands

  • Glamping under the stars
  • Beautiful island Nyaung Oo Phee
  • White sand beach and crystal clear waters
  • Snorkel to neighbouring islands
  • Enjoy dinner on a private beach
  • 8 Days / 7 Nights

    The North Loop

  • Cruise along the Golden Triangle
  • Learn to cook Akha cuisine
  • Explore Tham Lod Caves
  • Summit Thailand’s highest peak
  • See Chiang Rai by rickshaw
  • @ 2000-20 EXO TRAVEL ALL RIGHTS RESERVED | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

    Please login to access the full Agent Hub.

    Contact Us

    We’re experts who take pride in tailor-made itineraries that suit any need. Please fill in the form below and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.

    Please fill in the appropriate information below regarding any travel plans or enquiries. Our team of travel experts will get back to you shortly.

    Contact Us

    We’re experts who take pride in tailor-made itineraries that suit any need. Please fill in the form below and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.

    Please fill in the appropriate information below regarding any travel plans or enquiries. Our team of travel experts will get back to you shortly.

    Contact Us

    We’re experts who take pride in tailor-made itineraries that suit any need. Please fill in the form below and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.

    Please fill in the appropriate information below regarding any travel plans or enquiries. Our team of travel experts will get back to you shortly.

    Copy link