Yangon – Inle – Indein – Sagar – Bagan – Cruise – Mandalay – Sagaing – Ava – Amarapura – Mingun – Pyin Oo Lwin
This tour is designed for those travelers who don’t want to miss anything. All the important destinations in the Golden Land, including a long cruise on the Ayeyarwaddy River, the heart of the country.
Upon arrival in Yangon, your guide will meet you at the airport and help you transfer to your hotel.
Yangon, the largest city, is the main gateway to Myanmar. Ever green and cool with lush tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes the city has a quaint charm. The main attractions of Yangon are the world famous Shwedagon Pagoda, believed to have been built more than 2500 year ago and ancient British era colonial buildings.
If time permits, visit the Chaukhtetgyi Pagoda; an exquisite 65 m long reclining Buddha. This visit can serve as a first introduction to Myanmar’s Buddhism as you will learn about the previous lives of Buddha, described on the feet of the statue. On the walkway, fortune-tellers are sure to provide an interesting experience.
Then you will be taken to the heart of the city to get a feel of the hustle and bustle of Yangon. Visit the Colonial Quarter with heritage buildings dating from the British era. See the High Court, Yangon City Hall, Myanmar Port Authority, the Post Office, the Custom House and other less famous yet remarkable landmarks.
In the late afternoon, visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda with its world famous glittering gold stupa towering over the city.
Sunset at the Shwedagon Pagoda will certainly make a profound impression, one of the most intense memories in 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. Do not miss 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 an early 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. Stop and visit the Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery, just outside Nyaung Shwe, a fascinating wooden monastery with a red painted teakwood building and 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 longtail boat. See the Pa-O and Intha floating villages scattered along the lake, the unique leg rowers and their traditional fishing methods, the floating farms and more than anything, the sheer beauty of the lake itself. Visit the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda; the main sanctuary of Inle Lake where you can see five ancient images of the Buddha completely covered in gold leaf and 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.
Enjoy a delicious traditional Shan noodle soup and fried lake fish at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon, make your way back to your hotel by boat. The day ends by admiring the sunset on the boat and enjoying the unforgettable scenic beauty of Inle Lake.
Overnight at Inle Lake
After breakfast, visit to the rotating five day market which held once every five days at each 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 century Nyaung Ohak Pagoda. From there, a covered stairway with souvenir stalls leads to the Shwe Indein Pagoda. In this privileged location, contemplate great views across the lake and its valley.
Lunch at a restaurant near the bamboo forest. Try the avocado salad, a pizza made by local Intha women using seasonal vegetables. Local recipes are suitable for tourists.
On the way back, stop to visit family-owned workshops: silversmiths, blacksmiths and boat fabrication.
Overnight in Inle
Start a 3 hours boat trip to Sagar at the southern end of Inle Lake, passing by numerous Intha villages. Along the way, you will see more fishermen and many kinds of birds. Arrive in Sagar and visit the iconic ‘sunken’ stupas, a collection of 108 stupas dating from 16-17 centuries. Take a walk through the village to soak in the traditional ways of life. Visit a pottery-making village and photo stop at the picturesque religious site of Tharkhaung.
Simple lunch will be served at a local restaurant in the village.
After lunch, continue to visit Sagar and the ruins of the ancient pagodas complex, some partially submerged in water and some on dry land. Most of the Sagar stupas and religious statues are said to be from 16 to 18 centuries.
Overnight in Inle
After breakfast at the hotel, a car will take you to Heho airport for your flight to Bagan.
Bagan is the richest archaeological site in South East Asia and had been the capital of Myanmar for more than two & half centuries (1044-1286 A.D). Bagan lies on the left bank of the Ayeyarwaddy river, 190 km southwest of Mandalay. There are still more than 2000 red-brick temples and stupas in an area of 104 square kilometers.
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.
Lunch at a local restaurant and return to your hotel to relax during the hot hours of the day.
In the afternoon, visit Bagan by horse cart. The Thatbyinnyu Temple; the highest temple in Bagan with over 60 m built in 12th century, Dhamanyangyi Temple; the most massive of all the temples in Bagan built in similar plan to that of Ananda, the imposing Shwesandaw Pagoda with a series of five terraces built by King Anawrahta in 1057 AD.
End the day by enjoying the splendid sunset over thousands temples.
Overnight in Bagan
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 08:00 AM to 09:30 AM.
After this rush of colors, sounds and smells, visit the Manuha Temple with three statues of seating Buddha 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; lacquer ware. 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 and let the midday heat ease down.
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
Around noon you board the luxurious Anawrahta, berthed at the quay in Bagan. After a warm welcome by the crew offering fine refreshments, move into your “home” for the next few days.
Enjoy a leisurely lunch as the ship sails towards Pakkoku, an old trading town on the western bank of the Ayeyarwaddy. Right before arrival, see the longest bridge in Myanmar (Pakokku Bridge).
On shore the tour takes you to some of the small industries in this area, such as a cheroot-rolling factory and a producer of ‘Burmese slippers’ (“flip-flops”). Local handicraft vendors try to make a living by selling to passing visitors. A visit to the thriving market gives an insight of the local goods and specialties. Pakokku is also well-known for the production of tobacco. If you like to buy some Burmese cigars to bring home, this is the place.
Continue touring to the Shwegu Temple. This temple features incredible, intricate carvings made from rare Yamanei wood. It also houses a unique Buddha image seated on a lotus throne. Back on board, Anawrahta continues her journey northwards on the Ayeyarwaddy.
As the evening approaches and the Burmese sun immerse everything in a golden light, a special event is happening at the Kipling’s Bar. Dress up in style and raise “A toast to the past” during a British Club gathering where gents may whiff cigars and ladies sip on tasty gin tonics. Share some tales of the old (British-Burmese) days.
Dinner is served at the adjacent Hintha Hall. If you feel like it, join the open-air cinema showing classic movies on the Sundeck, under the stars.
Overnight onboard Anawrahta
For early morning risers there is a special opportunity to participate in a yoga session on the sundeck. Strengthen your muscles and ease your mind by merging with the Ayeyarwaddy and its meditative slow flow. The next stop is Yandabo. While having breakfast the ship passes the confluence of the Ayeyarwaddy and its great tributary, the Chindwin River.
Arrive at the quiet, small riverside village of Yandabo, a unique and fascinating gem of a village where in 1826 the King of Ava signed the Treaty of Yandabo, ending the First Anglo-Burmese war. Nowadays the villagers produce a type of water clay pot reputed to keep water cooler than pots from anywhere else in the country. Anawrahta’s broad-knowledge guides will offer all the explanations.
On foot, explore the village. You quickly notice that the villagers here are extremely friendly, charming and open to chit-chat. You will definitely take home some enchanting memories. Their techniques and skills to produce a variety of pots and utensils are fascinating. Try yourself to create one of these pots.
Back on board, a delicate lunch buffet awaits you. As the ship continues its journey northwards, gaze on the river banks of this eternal waterway from your bench on the sundeck or alternatively, take a treatment at the Thanzin Spa to achieve a blissful relaxation.
In the afternoon, learn more about some long-lasting Myanmar traditions (longyi and thanaka demonstrations). A fascinating presentation about the history and culture of Myanmar follows.
Dinner is served at the Hintha Hall.
After dinner, drinks at the Kipling Bar or catch the open-air cinema on the sundeck.
Overnight onboard Anawrahta
In the morning, the yoga class helps you get in the right form for the day.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast as the ship sails northwards before arriving in Ava.
Disembark for a wonderful discovery of some famous highlights of this former royal capital. By horse-drawn carriage, explore this area sprinkled with many distinguished ancient monasteries: Bagaya Kyaung a jaw-dropping teak monastery built in 1834, nowadays a monastic school; Maha Aung Mye Bonzan Monastery or the Nanmyint Watch Tower come both from a different art inspiration. You will have a laid-back aperitif at a secret place in the magical peace of Ava.
Back on board. a feast of a lunch buffet is served and Anawrahta continues its navigation northwards, eventually arriving at the highlight of this journey: the Royal City of Mandalay. Take a moment to observe the beautiful Sagaing Hills with hundreds of scattered pagodas while the ship is gliding by.
Anawrahta will dock at Mandalay pier in the early afternoon (approx. 2PM).
In the afternoon, a city tour takes you to some very interesting sights of Mandalay. Observe the process of the gold-leaf making, visit a silk-weaving manufacture and finally take a stroll through the amiable sculptors’ streets with many marble workshops. The highlight of this day is the famous 200 year old teak posts U-Bein Bridge. We planned a sunset mini-cruise in a small rowing boat around Taungthaman Lake, with a view on the bridge and villagers returning home before dark.
Return to the pier. After some refreshing time and before dinner, you are invited to watch a traditional dance and music performance by students and teachers of the Mandalay Art School.
After dinner, our nightly open air cinema is offering another classic movie on the sundeck. You may also prefer socializing with your fellow passengers at the Mandalay lounge.
Overnight onboard Anawrahta
Wake up early morning and follow the fluvial activity on the Ayeyarwaddy before breakfast is served.
Today, take an amazing morning tour of the most impressive pagodas of Mandalay, the Royal City. First, visit the Kuthodaw Pagoda, also known as the “the World’s Largest Book”. This pagoda comprises a gilded pagoda, hundreds of smaller shrines housing marble slabs inscribed with the entire Buddhist Canon. Continue to the Mahamuni Pagoda, certainly one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Myanmar as it houses the most highly revered Buddha statue in the country.
Last but not least. visit the atmospheric Shwenandaw Monastery, maybe the finest example of traditional 19th century wooden monastery buildings. It used to be part of King Mindon’s Mandalay Royal Palace. From this elevated point get fine panoramic views over the city of Mandalay.
Return to the ship and have lunch while Anawrahta sets sail to the site of Mingun. Mingun showcases the monumental stupa of King Bodawpaya. It was never completed due to an astrologer claiming that once the temple would be completed, the king would die. Take a relaxed walking tour to reach the nearby world’s biggest uncracked bronze bell, weighing 90 tons.
Upon return to the ship, the cruise manager invites to a High Tea at dusk with cocktails, sweats and special treats. Anawrahta sails gently back to Mandalay. Dinner is served in the restaurant and afterwards the crew offers a farewell entertainment in the lounge before you retire for your last night onboard.
Overnight onboard Anawrahta
After breakfast, say goodbye to our friendly hosts during the last 5 days.
After disembarkation, take the road to Pyin Oo Lwin by private car (67 km/~ 1 hr 30). After check-in at your hotel, visit Pyin Oo Lwin city and start with the local market with an abundance of cool climate produce and an immense variety of flowers. Pyin Oo Lwin is also called Pan Myodaw (the city of flowers) as it produces most flowers that every household in Myanmar uses daily as offerings to their family Buddha shrine.
In the afternoon, visit the pleasant Kandawgyi National Garden (Maymyo Botanical Garden). Relish in a variety of plants, trees, flowers and animals in a 49 acres natural forest. From there, take a short ride on a colonial-style horse cart to admire some colonial era mansions. See Maha Ant Htoo Kan Tha (a huge marble statue of Buddha) situated at the top of a hillock offering a scenic view over the nearby cultivated valley and refresh yourself in the small and pretty pools at the Pwe Kauk waterfall, a favorite with local folks If time permits, end the day by a quick visit to the Paikchin Myaung Natural cave, filled with hundreds of Buddha statues and impressive stalagmites.
Overnight in Pyin Oo Lwin
Morning departure by train to Naung Pain village (~ 4 hr) passing over the famous Gokhteik viaduct. Built over a deep gorge (300m) by the Pennsylvania Steel Company over 100 years ago; it was, at the time. the second highest railway bridge in the world. The scenic view along the viaduct is nerve wrecking. Arrive at Naung Pain station and return to Mandalay by car.
Overnight in Mandalay
After breakfast, drive to Sagaing by crossing the bridge over the Ayeyarwaddy River. Sagaing is considered 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 panorama views from the top of Sagaing Hill.
If you have a bit of free time, visit Aung Myae Oo Monastic Education School that provides education for children, from villages near and far, who cannot afford school.
Overnight in Mandalay
After breakfast, drive to the airport for your domestic flight to Yangon.
Upon landing, 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, sellers and exotic fruit vendors. Check out the food stalls serving crickets, grubs, worms and other bizarre foodstuff.
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 the Tour!