Get acquainted with Myanmar on a tour of downtown Yangon. Truly an incredible city, Yangon is packed with pagodas, giant Buddhas and countless historical sites. See the most beautiful religious sites in Myanmar, including the Shwedagon in Yangon, Shwesandaw in Bagan, the Shwe Yan Pyae (Teak Monastery) in Nyaungshwe and many more. Touring the ancient city of Bagan by bicycle is a magical way to see the place. You’ll have convenient and leisurely access to thousands of temples, stupas and pagodas.. Get off the tourist track and enjoy a uniquely local experience at the community lodge outside of Myaing. This innovative ActionAid project is the first community-based accommodation in the area, with meals and activities provided by local villagers. Read more about it here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/community-based-tourism-cbt-myanmar/
Travel to Myanmar and discover a country of mythical landscapes, ancient treasures and some of the friendliest folk you’ll ever meet. From golden-gilded Buddhas in Yangon and the magical temples of Bagan to the tranquillity of Inle Lake, Myanmar will excite, impress and intrigue you. A visit to Myanmar is to experience the South East Asia of twenty years ago, full of rarely seen sights and generations of stories just waiting to be told. Come and discover a little bit of Myanmar magic with us.
Breakfast Included: 14 Lunches Included: 3 Dinner Included: 2
Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Myanmar. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting/checking insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader.
If you have free time to explore before the meeting, we recommend stepping out onto the streets of Yangon. Why not take the Yangon Circle Line train for a three-hour local journey, or head over to Bogyoke Market and haggle with the locals? There’s also Sule Paya Pagoda, a 2000-year-old golden temple, and the Gems Museum, which houses some of the world’s largest sapphire, ruby and jade pieces. You may need a taxi to travel between some of these attractions; a one-way trip should cost about MMK 4,000.
Notes: You may wish to arrive early so you arrive in time to attend the group meeting today, and have free time to explore Yangon. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Start the day with a city walking tour of Yangon. Your leader will show you the city centre full of hustle and bustle of local life, street food and the shadows of the colonial time .
In the afternoon, We also head down to Kandawgyi Lake, where you’ll see Karaweik Hall, a reconstruction of a golden royal barge floating on the eastern side. Then visit the holiest shrine in the country, the Shwedagon Paya. This gold-gilded pagoda is studded with diamonds and gems, and said to contain eight hairs of the Buddha. It’s a particularly impressive sight at sunset when the lights come on and the stupa shines beautifully.
Rise for a very early start today, for your morning flight to Nyuang-U (about one and a half hours). From there, transfer to the ancient city of Bagan (about 20 minutes). Bagan is an archaeological site where Theravada Buddhism was first introduced to the Kingdom. It was once the site of 10000 temples, pagodas and monasteries and still has over 2000 brick and gilded ruins. You’ll start your visit with an orientation tour of the town and visit the archaeological site tomorrow. After the orientation tour, head to the nearby Shwezigon Paya, one of the town's main Buddhist sites, also incorporating a compound dedicated to the pre-Buddhism deities, the 37 Nats.
Spend the day sightseeing in Bagan, where you'll be given a bicycle and joined by a local guide. You’ll see many of the large and impressive temples such as Ananda Pahto, Htilominlo Temple, That Bin Nyu Paya (the highest pagoda in Bagan), Dhammayangyi Pahto and Shwesandaw Paya, as well as some of the smaller hidden gems. Exploring the temple site by bike is a great way to take in the atmosphere of this amazing place. There are also many opportunities to climb stairs to vantage points and capture some magical views. After touring the temples, head back to the hotel for a short rest before heading out again to see the stunning sunset over Bagan.
Enjoy a free morning in Bagan. You may like to spend more time exploring the stalls at the archaeological site, the cafes in town, or the nearby Nyaung U Market – one of the more interesting markets in the country. Other places of interest include the Archaeological Museum and the Royal Palace and taxis to these local sites cost around MMK5000. In the afternoon, you'll leave Bagan and get transferred to Myaing where we have developed a community-based tourism project to support local livelihoods with sustainable employment opportunities in tourism. Have dinner in our purpose built community lodge.
Accommodation at the community lodge is basic but has a lovely traditional setting on the bank of a beautiful lake. You’ll be staying in simple twin share rooms with linen and mosquito nets provided. There's no air conditioning but there's a fan in each room. Bathroom and shower facilities are shared. You can refill your water bottle from the large water containers provided. A torch is recommended in case of power shortage although otherwise the power supply is stable at the community lodge.
Prepare for a full day out visiting the near by villages today. Firstly, take a scenic walk to the first village and learn about their seasonal harvests. Then continue to the second village where you'll have some breakfasts, inc. fresh papaya, chickpea fritters, boiled eggs, potato curry etc. Next, hop on a bike and cycle to the third village. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and help the villagers to cook the lunch for yourselves. You'll be able to see how they prepare the lunch ingredients, what spices and sauces that they use for cooking and of course have a freshly cooked and tasteful lunch together. A community member will also come and talk to you about the development they are making at the project and in the villages with your leader's translation. You'll also have the chance to see how Thanaka is prepared and applied to face as a protection from the sun. There's also a weaving demonstration too. In the last village that you'll visit, you'll be able to plant a tree with the help of the locals there. In the evening, after dinner, villagers from the fourth village will also come and perform traditional dances and music for you.
After breakfast, bid farewell to the community. Travel on a private bus towards Mandalay with a lunch stop en route. Along the way, you’ll visit the beautiful Sagaing Temples, a collection of gilded stupas on the nearby hills. Total driving time from the community lodge to Mandalay is about six hours.
Head to the U bein bridge, the world's longest teakwood bridge for a stunning sunset
This morning your leader will take you on a walking tour of Mandalay. After seeing the town close up, you’ll take a boat down the famous Ayeyarwady River to Mingun. Here you’ll see the Mingun Pahtodawgyi, an enormous stupa which would have been the largest in the world if it had been completed. You’ll also see the world’s largest ringing bell and the beautiful white Hsinphymae Pagoda which sits nearby.
After the excursion to Mingun, return to Mandalay where you’ll have some free time to do some optional activities in the afternoon. Perhaps find some quiet moments at the ancient Sweinbin Teak Monastery, or try your hand at gold leaf making in the Gold Pounders District. There’s also the Mahamuni Buddha Temple, an important pilgrimage site complete with giant golden Buddha. Mandalay Hill, where Lord Buddha is said to have left a footprint is great to visit for its stunning sunset and to enjoy views over the glittering stupas and vibrant mosaics of the city at this magical time of day.
For some extra entertainment in the evening, why not catch a traditional show by the Mandalay Marionettes, or a non-conformist comedy show by the Moustache Brothers?
Today will be a long day of driving towards Kalaw. Head onto the Great Road of China, a new superhighway built by the Chinese. Then, make your way into the mountains of Shan state and experience the stunning scenery of the area.
Today is a full day of hiking around the hills around Kalaw (approximately 6 hours). A local guide will take you to a tea plantation and some small villages. Stop and chat with locals along the way and have lunch at one of the small settlements. This experience will take you off the beaten track and away from the tourist throng. If there’s time in the evening, you might like to visit some of the lovely pagodas around town as well as a local market.
Leave Kalaw for Nyuang Shwe today, where you’ll be spending time around Inle Lake. You’ll set off across the mountains and farms and stop off at the Pindaya Caves, one of the Golden Caves in Shan state. Pilgrims flock here to worship the 8,000 golden Buddha images within the caverns, tunnels and chambers of the huge limestone cave. The drive will take you to the resort town of Nyuang Shwe which will be our base for the next few days as we explore Inle Lake.
Start the day by heading out in a motorised boat. You’ll see local life on the lake, including fisherman who use a distinctive leg-rowing technique on their boats, floating tomato plantations and cottage industries such as silversmiths, weavers and cigar makers. If you’re lucky, you might even see the rotating market which circles the lake every five days. Here you can buy traditional wares produced by the locals. Stop for a home-cooked lunch at a village near the lake and sample the regional specialities. Visit Phaung Daw Oo Paya, the most religious site in the region and take a quick look inside at the various images of Buddha. You can also see a golden barge which is used during Phaung Daw Oo festival. Make a few more stops at local villages to meet the locals, then head back to your accommodation in Nyaung Shwe.