Yangon – Mandalay – Cruise – Bagan – Inle Lake
This comprehensive tour thoroughly explores the richest culture of Myanmar (Burma) while enjoying luxurious holidays with the amazing exclusive services, activities and cruising along Ayeyarwaddy river.
Upon arrival at Yangon airport, young ladies, dressed in national attire, welcomes your party with jasmine flower garlands. You will be gifted with a traditional shoulder bag and a Myanmar country map. The unique Asia Elephant Coach is waiting to transfer you to the hotel in grand style.
Yangon, the largest city, is the main gateway to Myanmar. Ever green and cool with lush tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes, the vibrant city is unique in South East Asia. The main attractions are the world famous Shwedagon Pagoda, believed to have been built more than 2500 year ago and the downtown area with numerous ancient colonial buildings.
After lunch, visit Chaukhtetgyi Pagoda; a 65 m long reclining Buddha, a first step to introduce Myanmar’s Buddhism and find out about the previous lives of Buddha, inscribed on the feet of the statue. On the walkway, fortune-tellers are sure to provide an interesting experience.
Then you will be driven to the heart of the city to get a feel of the hustle and bustle of downtown Yangon. Visit the Colonial Quarter with impressive heritage buildings dating from the British era. See the High Court, Yangon City Hall, the Post Office, the Customs House, Myanmar Port Authority and other less famous yet remarkable landmarks.
In the late afternoon, visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda with its world famous glittering gold stupa.
Sunset at the Shwedagon will most certainly make a profound impression, one of the most intense memories of your trip. The platform of the pagoda is always lively with local pilgrims, monks and nuns, who come to pay their respects to the Lord Buddha, donate flowers, light candles and pray.
Walking around the pagoda’s platform, you will get a glimpse of the Burmese strong beliefs in Buddhism and will admire ancient decorative arts, the very important astrological dimension. You will be mesmerized by the rhythmic sounds of chants and the tinkling of the bells.
Overnight in Yangon
After your breakfast, your car will take you to the airport for your flight to Mandalay.
Mandalay is the former Royal Capital of Myanmar’s last dynasty. The country’s second largest city is the center of Myanmar culture and traditional arts and crafts and also a religious center with hundreds of Myanmar’s most important Buddhist monasteries.
Upon arrival, drive to Sagaing on the other side of the Ayeyarwaddy River. Sagaing is considered as the holiest site in the country because of the 600 monasteries, home to more than 4,000 monks and 2,000 nuns.
Visit U Min Thone Se and Soon Oo Pone Nya Shin Pagodas to enjoy the breathtaking panoramas view from the top of Sagaing Hill.
If you are interested, pay a visit to the Aung Myae Oo Monastic Education School that provides free education for under privilege students.
Continue south to Inwa (Ava), an ancient imperial capital from the 14th to the 19th century. Take a short ferry across of the river where your horse cart ride begins. Visit the Bagaya Monastery, a fine example of Myanmar masonry art and architecture, Mai Nu Brick Monastery, one of the finest examples of Myanmar architecture in the 19th century with multiple roofs and an impressive prayer hall. Then, proceed to the Old Watch Tower, a 30m unique solitary building. If time permits, take a stroll through the village to interact with local people and witness their natural way of life.
The last visit of the day is at Amarapura, another former capital nicknamed the Immortal City. Take a walk on U Bein bridge, the world’s largest and oldest wooden bridge with 1,086 teak posts reclaimed from the former royal palace in Ava. For sunset, celebrate cocktail hour on a romantic mini cruise on Lake Taungthaman, and see rush hour from the distance as villagers return home before dark. A peaceful, blissful moment after a busy day.
Return to Mandalay in the late afternoon.
Overnight in Mandalay
After breakfast, a short boat trip along the Ayeyarwaddy River (-1 hr) to visit Mingun village, 11 km north of Mandalay. Visit sites include: Pahtodawgyi, a giant brick stupa is constructed in 1790, Mingun Bell (90 tons), one of the world’s largest hanging bells, cast in 1808; the Mya Theindan Pagoda (1817) with its unique architecture symbolizing the Seven Seas of the Buddhist cosmology.
Back in Mandalay, visit the highly revered Mahamuni Buddha, always buzzing with local and national devouts. Don’t miss a visit to the workshops where gold leaf is produced by ancestral methods. The afternoon tour continues with Shwenandaw Monastery noted for its exquisite wood carvings, followed by Kuthodaw Pagoda, also known as the World’s Biggest Book consisting of 729 stone slabs engraved with Buddhist scriptures. End the day with panoramic views of the city and another spectacular sunset at Mandalay Hill.
Overnight in Mandalay
After breakfast, transfer to the jetty at Ayeyarwaddy River bank. Embarkation time is 08:00 at Jetty (Mandalay). Welcome Drink and briefing. Cruising downstream to Yandabo Village. Sightseeing about an hour at Yandabo Village. Yandabo is famous for the production of terracotta from the riverbank clay. We can see the process of making pottery in various stages. Yandabo, historically recognized for the signing of the Yandabo Treaty which took place under a tree on the riverbank in 1826 between the British and Burma. Back to the board and cast off. Relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of Ayeyarwaddy River till sunset time on sun deck.
Lunch and dinner on board. Set sail to Chindwin confluence and moor overnight on board.
In the morning, continue sailing downstream and arrive to Bagan round about 10:00 am. Disembark from board and transfer to hotel.
Bagan is the richest archaeological site in South East Asia and had been the capital of Myanmar for two & half centuries (1044-1286 A.D). Bagan lies on the left bank of Ayeyarwaddy river and 190 km southwest of Mandalay. There are more than 2000 red-brick temples and stupas in an area of 104 square kilometre.
Upon arrival, your guide will take you on a full day sightseeing in the World Heritage archaeological site of Bagan.
Start the morning visit with Shwezigon Pagoda; one of the oldest and impressive pagodas in Bagan, At Wetgyi Inn village, Gupyaukgyi temple boasts ancient mural paintings on the ceiling and interior walls depicting scenes from the Jataka tales, stories about the previous lives of the Buddha. Discover Htilominlo Temple; known for its elaborate plaster moldings and Ananda Temple; the most beautiful temple of all with several terraces leading to a small pagoda at the top covered by an umbrella, an ornament found in almost all pagodas in Myanmar.
Private Deluxe Lunch will be served under 100 year old trees in a typical monastery.
In the afternoon, visit Bagan by horse cart; Your romantic ride takes you to the Thatbyinnyu Temple; the highest temple in Bagan with over 60 m built in 12 th century, Dhamanyangyi Temple; the most massive of all the temples in Bagan built in similar plan to that of Ananda Temple, Shwesandaw Pagoda with a series of five terraces built by King Anawrahta in 1057 AD.
End the day with a gorgeous sunset over thousands temples, quite a magical moment.
Overnight in Bagan
Early morning (~05h 00), pick up and transfer to the launching ground of Ballooning in Bagan to enjoy a flight with spectacular view of ancient Bagan at sunrise. At -08h 45, you will return to your hotel for a full breakfast.
After breakfast, continue your discovery of Bagan with Nyaung U Market where they sell daily fresh products, seasonal fruits, vegetables and flowers. The best time to visit the market is between 08:00 and 09:30 AM. After this rush of colors, sounds and smells, visit the Manuha Temple with three statues of seating Buddhas and an image of Budhha entering Nirvana followed by the Nanpaya Temple; a Hindu Temple with intricate carvings of Brahma and depictions of other Hindu gods. Afterwards, proceed to a workshop of Bagan’s most famous craft; lacquerware. See how artisans patiently polish lacquer-coated bamboo shells to create exquisite art pieces.
Traditional Burmese lunch at a local restaurant. Don’t forget to try Poneyaygyi, a pea powder paste, prepared as a vegetarian curry or a tangy salad.
After lunch, relax at your hotel, refresh with a swim in the pool maybe, and take a break from the midday heat.
In the early evening, visit the village of Minn Nan Thu to observe the simple ways of life of local folks, their home craft businesses and community. After that, see the pagodas surrounding this village; the unique Phayathonzu Temple, a complex of three temples conjoined through narrow passages, Nanda Mannya Temple with the interior walls decorated with fine frescoes and mural paintings. Sunset at Bupaya Pagoda, a pagoda in a gourd shape that stands on the bank of Ayeyarwaddy, one of the best places to enjoy sunset.
Overnight in Bagan
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Heho.
Upon arrival, meet your new driver and travel to Nyaung Shwe (-28 km), an ancient capital of Shan state, at the entrance of Inle Lake. First, visit The Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery, just outside Nyaung Shwe, a fascinating wooden monastery. Admire the red painted teakwood building with oval windows, richly decorated with mosaics and golden ornaments. Great photography !
After check-in at the hotel, depart to explore the exquisite sights of Inle Lake by InDevi Luxury Boat. See the Pa-O and Inthar floating villages scattered along the lake, the unique leg rowers and their traditional fishing methods, the floating farms and more than anything, enjoy the sheer beauty of the lake itself. Visit the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda; the main sanctuary of Inle Lake which houses five ancient images of the Buddha completely covered in gold leaf followed by the Nga phe Chaung monastery; the biggest and oldest monastery with a collection of old Myanmar’s Buddha images from different areas that are well worth seeing. Experience an interesting visit to a silk and lotus weaving workshop and watch the fascinating process of silk and lotus production in the weaving sheds. The rhythmic clacking of the looms will take you to ancient days. Last stop at a cheroot making workshop where local women roll Burmese traditional cigars by hand.
Ephemeral Lunch on boat will be served in the middle of Inle Lake.
In the afternoon, make your way back to your hotel with your luxury longtail boat. The day ends by taking in the sunset on the boat and enjoying the unforgettable scenic beauty of Inle Lake.
Overnight in Inle Lake
After breakfast, visit to the rotating five day market which is held once every five days at each lake village. See hill tribe people come down from mountain villages to sell and trade their goods.
(Note: the market is daily except on dark moon days and full moon days).
From there, your boat travels to Indein, an ancient Pa-O pagoda complex set in a beautiful picturesque corner of the lake. Take a pleasant walk through a bamboo forest to reach the ruins of 14th – 18th centuries Nyaung Ohak Pagoda. From there, a covered stairway with souvenir stalls leads to Shwe Indein Pagoda. From this privileged location, contemplate great views across the lake, valley and surrounding mountains.
Enjoy Shan Picnic Lunch at Bamboo Forest. Try the avocado salad and a pizza made by local Inthar ladies using domestic vegetables. These local recipes are suitable for foreign tourists.
On the way back, stop to visit at family-owned workshops; silversmiths, blacksmiths and boat fabrication.
Overnight in Inle Lake
After breakfast, transfer to airport for your domestic flight to Yangon.
Upon landing in Yangon, visit the colorful Bogyoke Aung San (Scott’s) Market (closed on every Monday & public holiday) where you will find a wealth of antiques, beautiful craftsmanship and high quality gems and jewelry.
In the evening, take a stroll around Chinatown to experience this busy part of Yangon with local teashops, restaurants, street sellers, traditional Burmese snacks and exotic fruit vendors. Check out the food stalls serving crickets, grubs, worms and other bizarre foodstuff.
Farewell Dinner at the best French Restaurant (Le Planteur). Beautiful setting on Inya Lake.
Overnight in Yangon
In the morning, enjoy at leisure until your departure flight. Your guide will accompany you to the airport and bid you farewell!
End of Tour!