Charming of Yangon
This is a land where holy men clad in traditional longyi are revered, thousands of ancient, religious stupas rise out of flat plains and floating-village life ebbs and flow upon Inle Lake. For a glimpse of old Indochina, there isn’t a more eye-opening destination than this mysterious country, which only began allowing Western travelers across its borders in recent years.
Yangon, the country’s capital, is an intriguing mix of British, Burmese, Chinese and Indian influences, which is evident from its colonial architecture to its unique cuisine. In this deeply Buddhist country, pagodas are scattered across the land, and some of the most impressive ones can be found in Yangon, including the Shwedagon Pagoda and the Sule Pagoda.
In Mandalay, Myanmar’s major commercial center, you can explore sites such as the monastery-studded Mandalay Hill, a pilgrimage site for Buddhists for nearly two centuries. Perhaps the best way to experience both the romance of the colonial era and see the Burmese people’s day-to-day realities is by cruising on the Ayeyarwady River all the way to Bagan, disembarking at temples and viewing life along the river.
If Yangon and Mandalay are Myanmar’s capitals of culture and commerce, then Bagan is the country’s spiritual center. Over 2,000 pagodas, stupas, and temples dot the golden plains of Bagan. This is a once in a lifetime sight to behold and is best seen from above in a private hot air balloon, which can be arranged by Luxury Myanmar Travel. Other highlights include the Ananda Temple (the best preserved in the city) and Mount Popa, a stunning volcano that serves as an ancient Buddhist pilgrimage site.
Our luxury Myanmar tours introduce Myanmar from an insider’s perspective. All itineraries include an expert Burmese guide accompanying you throughout your tour, providing an unrivaled level of service and insight, and the opportunity to meet local families, tour villages, and visit lesser-known temples and attractions while you discover the charm of this mystic land in style.
Day 1: Arrive in Yangon (D)
Upon arrival at Yangon International Airport, you will be welcomed by your tour guide and transferred to your hotel for check-in. Your sightseeing will begin by visiting the Kyaukhtatgyi Buddha (the fourth largest colossal reclining Buddha) and then visiting the National Museum after a photo stop at City Hall, and then the High Court in the heart of Yangon. In the evening you will visit the Strand jetty to witness the daily life of the local people followed by a visit to the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda. There will be a buffet dinner served at Karaweik Hall, which is a modern restaurant designed in the form of a huge Myanmar mythical bird, and which sits on Kandawgyi (Royal) Lake. You will stay overnight in Yangon.
Day 2: Yangon - Bagan (B/L)
In the morning you will fly to Bagan, a former capital, which is situated on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Bagan's spectacular plain, stretching for miles, is covered with thousands of temple ruins dating back to the 11th Century. Upon arrival, you will visit some of the most important sites, including Gubyaukgyi Temple, Ananda Temple, Manuha Temple, Shwesandaw Pagoda and a few villages which are known for producing the country's finest lacquerware. You will finish the day with a relaxing panoramic sunset view over Bagan Plain from one of the pagoda platforms, before an overnight stay in Bagan.
Day 3: Bagan - Mount Popa/Salay/Bagan (B/L)
Today you will embark upon an excursion to visit Mount Popa, located about 30 miles southeast of Bagan. You will enjoy the view of the glittering monastery at the top of Taung Kalat summit before continuing to Salay, a religious center and home of the famous writer and poet Salay U Ponya. You will visit the most famous sites in town, including Yoke Sone Kyaung, the oldest surviving wooden monastery, with beautiful carvings of 19th Century court life, antique religious objects, and tales of the Ramayana. You will stay overnight in Bagan.
Day 4: Irrawaddy Cruise (B/L/D)
In the morning you will transfer to the jetty and board the Ayravata cruise ship and sail in style aboard a luxury "boutique" steamer from Bagan to Mandalay. After check-in, you will enjoy a welcome cocktail before casting off and traveling upstream. In the afternoon you will stop to visit a typical river village and stay on the boat overnight.
Day 5: Irrawaddy Cruise (B/L/D)
You will continue steaming up the Irrawaddy River, with stops at the villages of Shwe Pyi Thar and Yandabo, which specialize in pottery making. While onboard, you can relax on the sundeck or observation deck, enjoy drinks at the bar, and see life unfold along the riverbanks as you make your way towards Mandalay. You will stay overnight onboard.
Day 6: Mandalay (B/L)
Upon arrival in Mandalay, you will have a tour of three former royal capitals: Amarapura (home of the Mahagandayon Monastery), Sagaing (the spiritual center of Burma with hundreds of stupas, monasteries, temples, and nunneries) and Inwa, where you can enjoy a leisurely horse cart ride around the peaceful countryside. You will finish back in Amarapura at U Bein's Bridge, a picturesque teak bridge that teems with monks and locals making their way home as the sun sets. You will stay overnight in Mandalay.
Day 7: Mandalay (B/L)
Today you will visit the Mahamuni Pagoda, housing the highly venerated image of Mahamuni and the Shwenandaw Kyaung Temple, a wonderful example of Burmese teak architecture and one of Mandalay's most historic buildings. Next, you will visit the Kuthodaw Pagoda, known as the "world's largest book" for the 729 marble slabs surrounding the central stupa on which the entire Tripitaka is inscribed. Some other stops will be a puppetry workshop and a wood-carving workshop, to see the ancient tradition of teak-carving by local artisans. You will stay overnight in Mandalay.
Day 8: Mandalay - Heho - Kalaw (B/L)
In the morning, you will fly to Heho and proceed by road to Kalaw, a popular hill station in British days. Highlights of today's tour include Thein Taung Pay (a temple perched on the hill overlooking the Thazi-Taunggyi Road), Aung Chan Tha Zedi (with its glittering stupa covered in gold-colored mosaics) and some trekking on the nearby plateau, which is inhabited by Palaung and Pao tribes. You will then surely be ready for a restful overnight in Kalaw.
Day 9: Kalaw - Inle Lake (B/L)
After breakfast, you will take a drive to Inle Lake, located in the Shan State. The lake's shore and islands bear 17 villages on stilts, mostly inhabited by Intha people. It is fascinating to watch the skilled fishermen using their unique leg-rowing techniques to maneuver their boats through the lake's reeds and floating plants. You will visit the floating gardens, an Intha village, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, and the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery. You will stay overnight at Inle Lake.
Day 10: Inle Lake (B/L)
You will take a boat trip to the lake's western shore for a visit to the hidden Indian Temple, which consists of hundreds of small stupas overgrown by moss and weeds. You will continue to the village of Sae Ma, stopping to explore the village and see the local school. In the afternoon you will meet the people in the villages on the lake and pay a visit to one of the monasteries, before an overnight stay at the Inle Lake.
Day 11: Heho - Yangon (B)
You will have free time until you are taken to Heho for your flight back to Yangon, where you will be picked up and transferred to your hotel. You will then have free time to explore Yangon on your own before an overnight stay.
Day 12: Depart Yangon (B)
There are no activities planned for today so you are free to enjoy yourself on your own until being transferred to the airport for your onward flight.