Other departures: Manchester - £3059, Birmingham - £3049, Newcastle - £3049, Glasgow - £3169
Day 1: Yangon Arrival
Mingalabar and welcome to Myanmar! The former capital Yangon, also known as Rangoon, remains Myanmar largest city and continues to be the country & most important commercial hub and gateway for most of its international visitors. Its colonial background and religious legacy make it oneof the most mesmerizing and genuine places in all of Southeast Asia.
No Myanmar expedition can be considered truly great if it’s lacking a visit to the legendary Shwedagon Pagoda. Ready for an amazing experience? The visual delights present there alone, are worth the trip. Witness the colors transform on the 100-meter chedi which is literally enclosed in over 40 tons of gold leaf. You will start at the eastern staircase where you will find a row of shops at the base of the temple selling various religious items. Here you will find monks robes, alms bowls,offerings, incense and other unique Buddhist objects. As your browse the stalls your guide will explain the use and rituals of Myanmar’s Buddhist people. Shwedagon is largely considered to be themost important religious site for the Burmese; most visitors report that the trip is extremely memorable and still etched into their minds. OPTION: OILLAMP CEREMONY AT SHWEDAGON PAGODA Offering oil lamps upon Shwedagon’s platform is a somber and distinguished event that is steeped in the Buddhist belief in earning merit through performing good deeds. A typical ceremony begins with the local monks chanting “sutras”, a blessing that bestows a lifetime of good health and happiness in Myanmar. Therefore, please book at least 4 weeks in advance Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight in Yangon. Day 2: Yangon (B)
You’ll be taken downtown and start your tour on Mahanbandola Road where the Immanuel Baptist Church, originally built in 1830, is located. Continue east passing a couple of alley ways crammed with food stalls and markets. Turn right onto Pansodan Street with its many stalls selling second-hand and photocopied books. You’ll pass the High Court Building, the grand Inland Water Transport offices and even grander Myanmar Port Authority building until you’ll reach Strand Road. Your next stop will be outside of the majestic Strand Hotel and walk along Strand Road until you’ll see the Customs House and the Law Court, an impressive-looking colonnaded building. Turn north onto boisterous Bank Street and up onto Sule Pagoda Road, where you can consult one of the many fortune tellers who hang out under the trees. Be sure to make a photo stop at Sule Pagoda, downtown’s symbol whose construction dates back to over 2,000 years ago and have a glimpse of Independence Monument and Mahabandoola Garden.
Afterwards, you continue uptown in order to make a quick stop by the Royal Lake located in Kandawgyi Park which is very popular with local residents, especially in the early morning and around sunset. Catch a view of Karaweik Hall, a reproduction of a royal barge and enjoy a spectacular view of the Golden Shwedagon Pagoda. OPTION: HIGH TEA AT THE GOVERNOR RESIDENCE Take a break from touring and indulge in High Tea at ‘The Governor’s Residence’. Once the home of the Kaya State Governor, this leafy, colonial compound is the perfect place for a midday respite from the heat and buzz of the city. You’ll slip back in to the days of the colonial time as you enjoy tea or coffee and a selection of afternoon snacks in the hotel lounge. After sunset head on to Chinatown for a change of scenery and check out the dragons and incense ofthe colorful Khen Hock Keong Chinese temple. Soak in the busy atmosphere of the barbecue street next door. Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight in Yangon. Day 3: Yangon - Bagan (B)
After enjoying your breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your domestic flight to Bagan.Welcome to Bagan, known to be one of the greatest architectural sites in Asia. When Bagan was the centre of Myanmar from the 11th to 13th centuries the monarchs built multitudes of massive stupas and pagodas, scores of which are still present on the shores of the Irrawaddy River. The majesty of Bagan with more than 4000 red brick temples on a plain of the size of Manhattan Island is one of the highlights of a Myanmar holiday that will soothe the eye of every traveler. Discover the best of Bagan today! Not simply a chance to see the splendid Bagan temples, this excursion also introduces you to the Burmese culture, allows you to see traditional craftsmen at work and takes you up the mighty Irrawaddy River to a decidedly unusual ‘cave’ temple! Your first port of call is an elevated location amid the temple plains to see the fields and pagodas of Bagan. From here you will have a look around the Ananda Temple – one of the most exalted of
Bagan’s temples. We will ensure that our tour reaches this point before the majority of tourist arrive,enabling you to enjoy the splendor of the temple in relative tranquility. Continue to various other temples dotted around the temple plains to experience a variety of architectural styles in the area as well as the artistic wonder of the 9-14 th centuries. Traveling amid the temples you will get a taste of rural Bagan life in this ‘living museum’ setting where farmers and families work amongst the monuments. After a short relaxation at your hotel, you will be driven to the jetty where a private wooden river boat awaits you. Sitting either under the shade or on the open-deck you’ll be treated to fabulous views as you cruise down the Irrawaddy River. You’ll cruise past several small villages, fishermen, local boats and of course many of the ubiquitous Myanmar Buddhist temples. The views of Bagan from the river are particularly spectacular and offer a different perspective from the land based tours. As you finish your delicious and refreshing cocktail and the sun begins to sink slowly from view, you will prepare to disembark before being driven back, greatly relaxed, to your hotel for the evening. The perfect end to a busy day of sightseeing in Bagan! OPTION: IRRAWADDY SANDBANK DINNER Prepare yourselves for an incredible dinner experience that you will never forget. Board a local boat that will take you to a mid-river sandbank where a private gala-style dinner will be served under a starry open sky, surrounded by Bagan's resplendent temples mirrored on the leisurely river. Look forward to exquisite local dishes in a stunning surrounding. A Myanmar harp player will enhance the romantic atmosphere (optional).Prepare yourselves for an incredible dinner experience that you will never forget. Board a local boat that will take you to a mid-river sandbank where a private gala-style dinner will be served under a starry open sky, surrounded by Bagan & #39 is resplendent temples mirrored on the leisurely river. Look forward to exquisite local dishes in a stunning surrounding. A Myanmar harp player will enhance the romantic atmosphere.
Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight in Bagan. Day 4 : Bagan (B)
OPTION: HOT AIR BALLOON OVER BAGAN
The morning will start off with an exciting hot-air balloon ride above the Bagan countryside. You will observe one-of- a-kind views when the sun begins to rise over the Irrawaddy River and various stupas in the region. You’re simply not going to find many other opportunities like this on Earth. (Only available from October/November through March) Drive through Bagan’s countryside to the rustic village of Minnanthu, one of Bagan’s less visited regions; it’s very tranquil and isolated. You will discover temples built in the 13 th century with their peculiar structural design. Also, be sure to head over to Kyat Kan Cave monastery, which is an extremely important meditation retreat. There are also plenty of farming villages around Bagan if you’re interested in studying their particular way of life. Continue with a drive to Myinkaba village where you will also have the chance to examine the village itself as well as the local craftsmen. Learn more about the local culture with a visit to two workshops producing Bagan & #39;s most famous products: lacquer ware and wood crafts. Watch as the skilled craftsmen use techniques passed down through generations to create beautiful items.
You’ll also visit temples with their beautiful frescos before investigating some of the oldest temples in the region, built in the eleventh century by the Mon King Manuha. Your next stop is scheduled to be a highly sacred stupa that holds relics behind its walls. Here you can see the twelfth century inscriptions written in Burmese, Pyu, Pali and Mon, giving rise to the stupa’s sometime nickname of‘Myanmar’s Rosetta Stone’.Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight in Bagan. Day 5 : Bagan - Mandalay (B)
After enjoying breakfast, transfer to Nyaung U airport with guide for flight to Mandalay. Welcome toMandalay! Mandalay, the second largest city of Myanmar and one of the ancient royal capitals is often perceived and described in literature as Asia at its most traditional, timeless and alluring but those who go meet a booming and vibrant city located on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. However, despite the energy and thriving business it & #39 is where the cultural heart of Myanmar lies and tradition of music, dance and drama are still alive. Upon arrival in you’ll be transferred (1 hour) toMandalay city. Your orientation tour of Mandalay will kick off with a walk up to Mandalay Hill, rising 240 meter above the city. At the top the reward is a full panoramic view, the hazy blue outline of the Shan Hills to the east, the Mandalay Palace (and the city sprawl) to the south and the Ayeyarwady River to the west. Directly south of Mandalay Hill stands the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, known as the pagoda of the Great Marble Image. Admire the huge Buddha, carved from a single block of marble. It’s said that the colossal marble block took 10,000 men almost two weeks to transport it from the riverside to its current location. Proceed to Kuthodaw Pagoda, frequently dubbed as “The World’s Biggest Book” for its collection of 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. Then it’s off to the ShwenandaMonastery, the Golden Monastery which is the only enduring structure from the Royal Palace of the19th century. This impressive structure is celebrated for its remarkable woodcarvings. Once the sun starts to set, you’ll want to stroll along the legendary U Bein Bridge, which was built in 1782 when Amarapura was the Royal center of attention. It spans 1.2 km across the shallowTaungthaman Lake and is said to be the longest teakwood bridge worldwide. Enjoy this very special atmosphere as the late afternoon sun casts long shadows and illuminates the local people heading home.
Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight in Mandalay. Day 6 : Mandalay - Pyin oo lwin - Mandaiay (B)
You will depart from Mandalay first thing in the morning for a picturesque two-hour drive (76 km) to the past British hill post of Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo), which is positioned on a plateau resting at around 1,000m above sea level. Various remnants of the colonial period are still in attendance in Pyin Oo Lwin. In 1896 The British colonial establishment decided to turn the locale into a hill post, christening it “Maymyo” after Colonel James May who was a well-known soldier stationed there. The railway system traveling from Mandalay turned Maymyo into a nice summer spot. The Pyin Oo Lwin of today is sanctuary for numerous tribal groups in addition to some Nepalese or Hindus that immigrated throughout the British occupation. Take pleasure in a traditional horse and carriage outing around town. Admire the brick and timber houses, complete with English style gables, turrets and chimneys and feel like you are taken back in time. You should also go to the local market to gaze at the various flowers and vegetables they have there. Check out the Botanical Gardens sporting around 432 acres of space and habitat to a varied blend of plant species from around the globe. The Gardens were launched by Sir Harcourt Butler, a previous superintendent of Burma. On your way back don’t forget to stop by at the notorious Candacraig Hotel which was constructed in 1904. This is the eldest hotel in all of Myanmar and was even frequented by celebrated travel writer Paul Theroux as he was penning his book, ‘The Great Railway Bazaar’, as well as its follow-up ‘Ghost Train to the Eastern Star’. It is said that his room was number eleven. If you fancy enjoy a sunset drink or a nice cup of tea and feel like back in British Colonial times. Afterwards you’ll be brought back to Mandalay at some time in the afternoon. Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight in Mandalay. Day 7: Mandalay - Heho - Kalaw (B)
After enjoying breakfast, transfer to Mandalay airport with guide for flight to Heho. Upon arrival at the Heho airport, proceed by road to Kalaw, founded as a hill station by the British civil servants fleeing the heat of the plains, Kalaw still feels like a holiday resort: clean air, calm atmosphere leafy and green streets and some of the best trekking characterize this unique settlement. You can expect to reach Kalaw in the afternoon, giving you enough time to look around and soak up the local atmosphere while you shake off the effects of the journey. The rest of the day is at leisure to do as you please.Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight in Kalaw. Day 8: Kalaw - Inle lake (B)
The early birds among you have the opportunity today to observe the ethnic minorities from the surrounding mountainous regions in the local morning market where they sell their handmade products. After that, drive to Nyaung Shwe, gateway to Inle Lake. Upon reaching the edge of the lake, you will board a private motorboat and begin heading out onto Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular and breathtaking sights. Its calm waters are dottedwith floating vegetation and fishing canoes, to which scenic hills provide the perfect backdrop. Along the way you will pass several villages that are built on stilts over the lake, which are inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the daily activities of the local leg-rowing fishermen and see their‘floating gardens’, which are built up from strips of water hyacinth, earth and anchored to the bottom of the lake with bamboo poles. You will also visit Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, which houses loads of early Shan Buddha Images. In the past this temple was known for its ‘jumping cats’ but these days there are only a few felines roaming around and none are jumping any more. Yet the Buddha images are still worth the visit. Proceed to the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main haven, which contains five sacred images of Buddha decorated in gold leaf. There are also many traditional crafts originating on Inle Lake and, should you wish, we can stop for a visit to one makin incredible woven items from lotus silk, boat builders (depending on the time of year), a cigar making workshop, blacksmiths or even silver smiths. The tour will come to a close with a return trip by boat back to your hotel Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight on Inle Lake. Day 9 : Inle Lake- Excursion to Indein (B)
After breakfast you’ll pay a visit to the lake’s morning market (the market is open every day apart from dark moon and full moon calendar days). The market’s location rotates between the lake’s villages in a 5 day schedule and is also visited daily by the lake’s inhabitants as well as the surrounding natives who also come to sell and trade their wares. OPTION: LUNCH ON RICE rotates between the lake’s villages in a 5 day schedule and is also visited daily by the lake’s inhabitants as well as the surrounding natives who also come to sell and trade their wares. BOAT Another culinary experience not to be missed on Inle Lake! Have a mouth-watering typical Shan lunch on a rice carrier boat in the middle of beautiful surrounding of Inle Lake. The boat has been transformed into a fully equipped ephemeral restaurant. Relax and enjoy an exquisite lunch while exploring the life on the lake from your floating private restaurant. (Subject to weather conditions. 1-hour boat ride down a small canal will take you to the Pa-Oh village of Indein, positioned on the western shores of Inle Lake. Take a leisurely stroll around the village before ascending to the top of a hill. Once you’ve arrived at the summit, you will be greeted buy an iconic Buddha image which sits enshrined among hundreds of stupa ruins and overgrown shrubbery. Here, from the peak, you will also be rewarded with mesmerizing views of the placid surroundings. The Indein Pagoda complex is undoubtedly one of the most amazing sites around the shore of the lake and it consists of hundreds of small stupas which are overrun by moss and greenery. On your boat ride back, should time allow you& stop at the Inthar Heritage House to learn more about the history and culture of the lake indigenous people and enjoy a delicious coffee and cake (snack break not included). As an exciting
day comes to close transfer back to your hotel for some well-deserved relaxation. Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight on Inle Lake. Day 10 : Inle lake - Heho - Yangon(B, D)
After enjoying brekafast, transfer to Heho airport with guide for flight to Yangon. Upon arrival at Yangon domestic airport, your car and guide will be at disposal for transfer you to hotel for check in.After short break at hotel, we will go and visit to Bogyoke Market, better known under the name & quote;Scott Market & quote; to stroll through the stalls filled with handicrafts and do your last minute shopping
(the market is closed on Monday and during the holidays). OPTION: FAREWELL DINNER AT LE PLANTEUR RESTAURANT This evening you will be taken to Le Planteur, Yangon’s landmark restaurant, for an outstanding dinner. Located in a lush tropical garden close to Inya Lake, the gourmet restaurant, bistro and wine bar assure that Le Planteur satisfies the needs of every customer at the highest level. he owner, Boris Granges, saw an opportunity to put his years of international experience fine dining and create Myanmar’s first fine-dining experience. Established in 1998, he founded the high end restaurant Le Planteur and it continues to gain accolades for its delicious cuisine, served in a warm,welcoming environment.
Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight in Yangon Day 11 : Yangon Departure (B)
Unfortunately, it is already time to say goodbye to one of the most impressive and enchanting country in the world. Transfer to Yangon International Airport, check-in for flight back.