Call free on 0800 707 6229 for huge extra savings on Exodus Discover Burma Tour
A mystical country only recently accessible, Myanmar is still both enigmatic and exciting. Bagan is a plain with over two thousand temples, enough, surely for even the most avid culture addict.
- 13 breakfasts and 3 lunches included
- All accommodation (see below)
- All transport and listed activities
- Tour leader throughout
- Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
- Three internal flights
- The mystical temples of Bagan
- Glittering Shwedagon Pagoda
- U-Bein Bridge at sunrise
- Inle Lake's one-legged fishermen
- Kalaw Hill Station trek
- Internal flights avoiding notoriously bumpy roads and long drives
Day 1: Depart London
Day 2: Arrive Yangon (Rangoon)
The day is free to recover from the flight or start to explore the teeming city of Yangon. There will be a welcome briefing this evening with an optional group dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 3: City tour including the incredible Shwedagon Pagoda and old colonial areas of this former capital
Yangon sits under the shadow of the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda. It is 2,500 years old and the most religious site in Myanmar that is said to contain eight hairs of the Buddha as well as 5500 diamonds and other precious stones. As the golden stupa glitters overlooking the city, life goes on in the busy streets below. To the south we will explore dilapidated colonial edifices and busy side streets on our city tour. Downtown Yangon with its unpaved streets lined with old wooden shuttered houses, medicine shops, temples and the more colourful markets offers plenty of photographic opportunities.
Day 4: Fly to Bagan (Pagan) with its ancient temples and pagodas; free time to explore until sunset
This morning we leave early for our short flight to the ancient wonder of Bagan (Pagan), where we will do a short orientation walk on arrival. There are over 2000 temples and pagodas in many shapes and sizes to explore amongst the 25 square miles of brick that compare to the Angkor kingdom of Cambodia, Chichen Itza and Machu Picchu as one of the world's most spectacular archaeological sites. This is where Buddhism, Hinduism and Nat worship come together in an array of different shrines. There is free time to explore the area by bike or on foot (optional) before this evening's visit to Shwezigon Paya one of Bagan's most famous temples.
Day 5: Full day tour to explore the largest temples as well as some of the smaller ones
A full day spent exploring the temple complex spreading out as far as the horizon with its peaks of brick stupas that dot the skyline in many shapes and forms. After the former Kings of Bagan introduced Theravada Buddhism in the mid-11th-century building commenced, a string of Kings followed building temples to worship their gods. Ananda Pahto with its bejewelled umbrella (hti), Dhammayangyi pahto and Shwesandaw Paya are the largest and most impressive sights we will visit along with the smaller hidden gems well away from the main tourist route which offers unique opportunities to delve deeper into the history.
Day 6: Morning sightseeing at Bagan; free afternoon
Returning to the huge site of Bagan this morning we will visit more temples including Manuha Paya and the bas relief figures at Nan Paya. Away from the other temples, we'll also see the 13th-century temple of Wetkyi-In-Gubyaukgyi with its impressive frescoes. Later we'll visit a traditional lacquerware artisan, as this area is famous for these beautiful products.
Day 7: Fly to Mandalay; visit Mandalay Hill for sunset
Following another short flight east to the former Kingdom of Myanmar we cross the plains and the great Chinese road before landing in Mandalay. Mandalay has one of the most evocative names in the world, epitomised by Kipling's poem and an adapted song 'On the road to Mandalay'. The former Kingdom of Myanmar was abolished in 1885 by the British in the 3rd and final Anglo-Burmese war, with the remnants being given away by the last King Thibaw Min. The remains now sit directly in the middle of a grid system similar to that of Manhattan. After checking into our hotel we will take a guided walk around the streets of downtown Mandalay where we will be able to see people going about their day to day lives in the local markets.
Day 8: Visit U Bein Bridge at sunrise; day exploring the countryside visiting Mingun and Sagaing villages by boat
An early start as we head out to one of Burma's most iconic sights - U-Bein Bridge, built in 1849 by Mayor U-Bein. This teak bridge spans over a kilometre and is best seen at sunrise when villagers cross it to begin their journey to work and the fishermen prepare for a day on the water. This is one of the most photogenic sights of the country and not to be missed. We then drive back to the hotel for breakfast before heading down to the port area where we board our boat for a cruise on the Irrawaddy River. We'll explore the pretty riverside village of Mingun, home to one of the world's largest bells (weighing in at 90 tonnes) and the Hsinbyume Paya with its whitewashed terraces and staircases.
Day 9: Scenic drive to Kalaw, a former colonial British hill station
Today we leave early driving through some of the region's beautiful countryside (approx 6 hours) until we arrive at the hill station of Kalaw. Situated in the Shan State, Kalaw is a popular, peaceful and quiet former British hill station. At an altitude of 1320m and nestled amongst impressive alpine scenery it is pleasantly cool (it can even be chilly in the evening or early mornings) and a great place to escape from the tropical heat.
Day 10: Day walk through Kalaw past minority villages
Amid gnarled pines, tea plantations and bamboo groves, and accompanied by local guides we explore the surrounding hills of Kalaw on foot. Our walk will take in the daily life of the local villages where we may have the opportunity to drink tea with a village chief and in season we should see the inhabitants planting or harvesting the local crop. The tracks we walk on are centuries-old trading routes used by the Pa-O, Palaung and Danu ethnic minorities for moving their cattle and harvesting their crops. The views of the surrounding countryside are spectacular which few westerners get the opportunity to see. The trek is moderate on well trodden undulating paths.
Day 11: Drive to Inle Lake visiting Pindaya Caves en route
We leave after breakfast and travel east to Inle Lake. Our drive traverses undulating hills and dense farmlands, stopping at Pindaya caves where we will explore the caverns and tunnels en route to the magnificent Inle Lake. There are more than 8000 Buddha images within the Pindaya limestone caverns and meditation chambers. Pilgrims flock to the caves and install new Buddha images within this labyrinth of tunnels and chambers and there are many from around the world.
Day 12: Cruise on Inle Lake; visit local craft industries and lakeside markets, Indein pagodas and see the famous leg-rowing fishermen
An optional dawn start will usually provide the opportunity to witness the daily parade of saffron-robed monks receiving alms before breakfast. Afterwards we have a day on the lake visiting cottage industries, markets (if possible), monasteries, temples and small villages. We will see the famous leg-rowing fishermen casting their nets in the lake - this technique of standing up holding a long paddle in one hand with their leg wrapped around the paddle lower down leaves the fishermen free to cast their conical fishing nets.
Day 13: Cycle to minority villages around Inle Lake by support vehicle (if needed)
This morning we head out on bikes visiting the villages and farmland that surround the lake. The ride is on undulating fairly quiet roads and we will cycle at a leisurely pace. Please be aware it can be hot and the bikes will be fairly basic models. Helmets are supplied locally. This is a great way to get about but only suitable for those who have cycled before. The roads are mostly surfaced but there are some potholes. Anyone not wanting to cycle can use the support vehicle for the day which will follow the same route and stop at the same villages. We cycle around the edge of the lake towards an Intha minority group village passing rice paddies, sugar cane and traditional wooden houses.
Day 14: Fly to Yangon; free afternoon
We fly back to Yangon, where the rest of the day is free for last minute sightseeing or shopping. The huge Bogyoke Market is worth a visit with food, clothing and handicrafts all on sale (closed on Mondays and public holidays), or visit the Strand Hotel with its historic past which was often visited by the likes of Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham.
Day 15: Morning at leisure; depart afternoon
Free time in the morning. Afternoon depart for the airport for the return flight to the UK.
Day 16: Arrive in London
- 13 nights mix of standard and comfortable hotels
- Travel by private bus
- Three internal flights
- One moderate daywalk and a short cycle ride (optional)
13 nights standard hotels, all en suite.
The accommodation is mostly in standard hotels. Because of the surge in tourism since 2011 some areas are experiencing a shortage of hotels. This has increased the price of hotels and the quality may vary considerably from night to night. Overall you should be prepared for the service and quality of hotels to be less than in neighbouring south east Asian countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia however most hotels are still of a good tourist standard.
Please note, prices listed are guide prices only and are based on 2 people sharing and don't include any additional supplements. Holiday prices are fluid and dynamic and may be changed at a moment's notice, prior to booking, at which point they are confirmed. Please call the team free on 0800 707 6229 for more departure dates available and a quote.
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