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On your Discovery of Burma (Myanmar), travel from Yangon (Rangoon) to Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake and Kalaw. Starting in the former capital and waterfront city of Yangon with its crumbling colonial mansions and ancient stupas, marvel at the glittering Shwedagon Pagoda, wander the cobblestone streets of Bogyoke Market and unveil the secrets of Burmese cuisine. Travel to Bagan for the highlight of the trip and one of Asia's most iconic sights. Gain a bird's eye view from Mount Popa, discover the intricate details of temples up close, and watch as the sunset highlights countless stupas from the comfort of your river cruise.
In Mandalay, the last royal capital of Burma, jump on a trishaw to explore this historic city, experience a tradition Marionette show, and explore the former capitals of Amarapura, Ava and Sagaing. Next is Inle Lake with its floating gardens, colourful markets and famous leg-rowing fishermen, a visit to the local hill tribe market, and a vineyard tour and tasting. Stay in the old British colonial hill station of Kalaw including a trek through the surrounding hills to get an insight into the lives of the local hill tribes. Fly back to Yangon for your onward journey.
Our Discovery itineraries explore a destination in depth, with carefully selected experiences, and ample free time for relaxation. Like all GetAboutAsia trips, Discovery itineraries can be customised to create your perfect holiday. Discuss itinerary options and extensions with our Asia Travel Experts.
You will meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Yangon (Rangoon), answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.
Located in the fertile delta region of central Burma (Myanmar), the former capital and waterfront city of Yangon with its crumbling British colonial mansions and ancient stupas, thriving restaurants and lively bars, is a melting pot of old and new. Home to over four million inhabitants, it's a sprawling city, the streets interspersed with parks and lakes, much of its allure stemming from the colourful street life. Marvel at the glittering Shwedagon Pagoda, wander the cobblestone streets of Bogyoke Market or simply watch the rickshaw drivers in their striped longyis (sarongs) peddle lazily through the streets as you sip on a cup of tea at a roadside tea stall.
Yangon has a good choice of restaurants serving both authentic Burmese cuisine and international choices. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.
Itinerary Option: If you’re arriving to Yangon in the morning, discuss additional day 1 activities with our staff.
Accompanied by your guide explore the sights of Yangon. Begin with a visit to the octagonal Sule Pagoda. Originally an Indian structure but now Burmese, it is thought to be over 2,000 years old and said to enshrine a hair of the Buddha. Stroll through downtown Yangon with its faded colonial buildings and leafy boulevards and visit the beautiful colonial style Post Office. Watch the locals going about their daily business as you pass Mahabandoola Park, named after General Maha Bandula who fought against the British in the First Anglo-Burmese War. The park includes the Independence Monument, an obelisk which commemorates Burmese independence gained from the British in 1948. Next visit Chaukhtatkyi and the Reclining Buddha which measures 70 metres (230 feet) in length.
In the afternoon you visit the National Museum, the principle museum of Burmese art, history and culture. The museum was founded in 1952 and houses an extensive collection of ancient artefacts, ornaments, art works, inscriptions and historic memorabilia, related to history, culture and the civilisation of the Burmese people.
Next stop is Bogyoke Market, one of the oldest markets in Yangon, with colonial architecture and cobbled streets. It offers Burmese handicrafts and gemstones but also has traditional Burmese and Chinese food stalls. After the market, head to the Indian Quarter for a very different view of the city. Here you will find Hindu Temples and street stalls selling Indian food. End the day with a visit to the breathtaking Shwedagon Pagoda, or Golden Pagoda, its stupa dominating the city’s skyline. This is one of the holiest places in Burma, and one reason why Burma is known as the "Land of Golden Pagodas". The pagoda itself is 99 metres (326 feet) high, studded with solid gold plates and decorated with diamonds and other precious jewels.
Spend the morning learning about Burmese cuisine with an exclusive cooking demonstration in one of Yangon's best restaurants. Burmese cuisine is a delightful mixture of fragrant curries, tangy salads, healthy soups and tasty sweets, influenced by its neighbours, but with its own distinctive results.
Set off with your guide to Padonmar Restaurant, set in an old converted residential house. At the restaurant, meet with the chef and discuss the day's plan. Then visit the local market to explore the stalls where a huge variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, spices, herbs, pastes and other sauces used in local cuisine are on offer. Your chef will explain how each of the tropical ingredients are used in Burmese cooking as they are selected from the market.
Return to Padonmar Restaurant where you will prepare the ingredients with your chef using traditional techniques to cook several Burmese dishes. At the end of the demonstration, enjoy the delicious meal that you helped prepare. After lunch return to your hotel.
Enjoy free time to further explore Yangon for the remainder of the day.
This morning fly from Yangon to Bagan where you meet your guide on arrival. On par with Angkor Wat, Bagan (Pagan) ranks as one of the great wonders of the world with over 2,000 awe inspiring pagodas. Situated in central Burma on the plains adjacent to the Irrawaddy River, the city is dotted with thousands of ancient stupas and temples from various eras making it one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in the world. Explore the temples on foot, bicycle, horse and cart, or take to the skies with a hot air balloon ride over the plains of Bagan. A cruise along the Irrawaddy River allows you to watch the sun set behind the stupas with the spires glowing in the dying rays - a sight not easily forgotten.
After leaving the airport, head with your guide for the drive to Mount Popa, a volcano rising 1,518 metres (4,980 feet) from the plains of Bagan in the Pegu Range, and considered to be the sacred home of the spirits. On the way, stop at a palm village to learn how palm sugar (jaggery) is produced. Continue to Mount Popa and the picturesque Taung Kalat Monastery which sits on top of an outcrop and holds a significant place in Burma’s history and religion. The Taung Kalat Shrine is home to thirty seven Mahagiri Nats, or spirits of Myanmar. Statues depicting the nats are displayed at the base of the shrine. The views from the top are spectacular, and on a clear day stretch back as far as Bagan and the Irrawaddy River.
On return from Mount Popa your guide will assist you in checking into your hotel and make arrangements for tomorrow. Bagan has a good choice of restaurants serving Burmese, Chinese and Western meals. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.
Itinerary Option: Optionally upgrade to a longer trip to Mount Popa, including a trek around Mount Popa and lunch at the Popa Mountain Resort. This may require an earlier start from Yangon.
The ancient city of Bagan was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan from the 9th to 13th centuries and built over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries on the Bagan plains alone. Today around 2,200 of the original temples and pagodas remaining standing.
Heading out on your bike with your guide, start your day with a visit to the Dhammayangyi Pagoda, Bagan’s largest temple. The temple is a square, single storey, pyramidal temple with six monumental ascending exterior terraces. The brickwork is perhaps the finest that can be found around Bagan. Continue on to Dhamayazika Pagoda, built in 1198 by King Narapatisithu after he received four holy relics from the King of Sri Lanka in 1197.
Make a short stop at Anauk Pwa Saw village to see the silk weaving work as well as Minanthu village which produces cooking oil from peanuts. Park the bikes for lunch at a local restaurant.
Back on your bike, cycle to Sulamani Temple that displays some of Bagan's finest brickwork and ornamental craftsmanship. The temple features two stories standing on broad terraces assembled to create a pyramid effect with pagodas standing at the corners of each terrace.
The last stop is the Ananda Temple, an architectural wonder, with a fusion of Mon and Indian architectural styles. It has four huge standing Buddha images facing north, east, south and west, with numerous seated figures arranged around the interior gallery. The 900th anniversary of this temple's construction was celebrated in 1990 with the temple spires being gilded in gold.
End the day with a sunset cruise on the Irrawaddy River. Witness local life as you sail past small villages on the river banks. Local fishermen, small boats and the many riverside temples taking on provide fantastic photo opportunities with the beautiful evening hues. With a cocktail in hand gaze over the plains and watch the changing colours as the sun sets over the mountains on the far bank of the river. The view of the brick temples against the backdrop of a vast river plain is breathtaking and unforgettable. With the engine switched off, listen to the sounds of the mighty Irrawaddy River and watch the final light of the sunset paint the stupas deep red silhouettes. After the cruise, return to your hotel.
Itinerary Option: Some customers prefer to tour the temples via air conditioned vehicle rather than bicycle. Discuss options with our staff.
This morning fly from Bagan to Mandalay where you meet your guide on arrival. With its numerous monasteries and pagodas and its rich history, Mandalay is the cultural and religious heart of Burma. Built on the shores of the Irrawaddy River at the foot of Mandalay Hill, this former royal capital of the Burmese Kingdom and last home of the kings is now Burma’s second largest city. Its name was made famous by Rudyard Kipling’s book "The Road to Mandalay" and evokes images of a bygone era and the city’s former royal glory.
The trishaw was invented in 1930 in Mandalay and became the most popular form of public transportation. Burmese trishaws are unique in that they have two passenger seats on one side of the paddler and are the ideal vehicle for travelling along the narrow laneways of Burmese towns.
With your guide, head by trishaw to visit the Shwenandaw Monastery, also known as the Golden Palace Monastery. This traditional Burmese monastery was built using part of the old Mandalay Palace. The teak structure in which King Mindon died was moved out of the Palace in 1880 and converted into the Shwenandaw Monastery. It is the only major building from the original wooden Royal Palace to have survived the bombings of World War II, and is the only authentic part of the Royal Palace which can still be seen today.
Then visit Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, built in 1853 and based on the Ananda Temple in Bagan. The temple houses a huge seated Buddha statue, cast from a single block of pale green marble. End the day at Mandalay Hill to enjoy the sunset and the panoramic views over the city of Mandalay.
Attend a short Burmese marionette show. The ancient art form of puppetry which once had a special place in Burmese culture is now struggling to survive and is fast becoming a dying art. The beautifully crafted puppets tell the stories of Burmese myths and folk tales. The performance presents Myanmar literature, history, religion, local life styles and customs through puppetry, music and dance.
Depending on time, either before or after the marionette show, check-in to your hotel. Mandalay has a good choice of restaurants serving traditional Mandalay cuisine as well as international dishes. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.
Accompanied by your guide, set out this morning to see the Mahamuni Buddha Image in Mahamuni Pagoda, the most ancient and revered of all Buddha images and the holiest pilgrimage site in Mandalay. The temple, one of the most famous in Burma, was built in 1784 and exhibits influences from both Hindu and Khmer (Cambodia) styles. Next visit the Cultural Museum which opened in 1996 and houses a collection of artefacts, costumes, royally commissioned art, coins, palm leaf manuscripts, royal furniture and other Mandalay regalia.
Then explore the Shwe In Bin Monastery, also known as the teakwood monastery. Built in 1895 in traditional Burmese style, the monastery was commissioned by wealthy Chinese jade merchants. The monastery is renowned for its elaborate and detailed wood carvings. Continue to the jade market where there is an active jade trade between the locals, and then on to a stone carvers workshop where you can see the workers blast slabs of rock and then chip, carve and polish the stone into familiar shapes.
Enjoy free time to explore Mandalay on your own for the afternoon.
Accompanied by your guide, explore Amarapura, Ava (Inwa) and Sagaing, the ancient former capitals of the old kingdom of Myanmar. The day begins with Amarapura or City of Immortality, the former royal city and ancient capital prior to Mandalay. Although its royal palace, great temples and fortifications are now in ruins, many of the pagodas, temples and monasteries still remain. Visit the 150 year old Mahagandayon Monastery to witness the daily life of the one thousand Buddhist monks that live here.
Then walk along the famous U Bein Wooden Bridge, built in 1782 and the world’s longest teak bridge. The footbridge was constructed from teak columns salvaged from the old palace and spans 1.2 kilometres across the Taungthaman Lake.
Cross the Irrawaddy River and head for the picturesque Sagaing Hill. The area houses hundreds of white-washed pagodas and monasteries, and is widely regarded as the religious centre of Burma. It is also home to over 3,000 monks and nuns and one hundred meditation centres. The day ends with a visit to Ava, the capital before Amarapura from the 14th to the 18th centuries. A horse and carriage will take you to the Bagaya Monastery and the remains of the Royal Palace. Return to Mandalay in the late afternoon.
This morning fly from Mandalay to Heho where you'll meet your guide and travel by road to Kalaw. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Kalaw.
Today sees you heading to the old British colonial hill station of Kalaw with your guide. The road winds its way through the mountains surrounding Inle Lake until it reaches Kalaw. The town sits on the western rim of the Shan Plateau at an altitude of 1,320 metres (4,330 feet) above sea level, set amongst rolling hills, pine forests and bamboo groves. This beautiful and charming town was established by the British as a summer resort hill station.
With your guide, visit the Pinmagon Monastery and see the bamboo strip lacquer Buddha Image, believed to be over 500 years old and 8 feet tall. Take a short hike along one of the many trekking paths that offer magnificent views of the rugged landscape. Visit the colonial Catholic King Church and wander through remnants of the colonial buildings in the town. Visit the local market where the hill tribes come to trade daily.
The old British colonial hill station of Kalaw sits on the western rim of the Shan Plateau at an altitude of 1,320 metres (4,330 feet) above sea level, set amongst rolling hills, pine forests and bamboo groves. This beautiful and charming town was established by the British as a summer resort hill station. Visit the Pinmagon Monastery housing the bamboo strip lacquer Buddha Image and the Catholic King Church, or just wander through town to see the remnants of colonial buildings. Visit the local market where the hill tribes trade daily or consider a short hike along one of the many paths that offer magnificent views of the rugged landscape.
Today hike through the undulating hills that surround Kalaw with your guide. Your hike will take you through several hill tribe minority villages where you can observe and converse with some of the locals. Keep an eye out for the women weaving the traditional colourful clothing you'll see the locals wearing. Your guide will explain how an extended family live in a single longhouse with only curtains and small partitions offering privacy. Food is prepared and shared amongst an entire village with life here mostly unchanged for millennia.
As you trek through the hills you'll pass through orange, banana, tea leaf and cheroot (Sebastian leaf tobacco) plantations with the local villages either tilling soil, planting, caring for, or harvesting these crops. You may hear the locals singing, chatting and laughing as they work together. Their traditional agricultural methods also employ the use of buffalo and wooden carts. You may also see the local women in huts or outside creating the local cheroot cigars smoked throughout Burma.
In some of the villages locals may offer you their local crafts including woven scarves, hats and other clothing. Although GetAboutAsia discourages donations to locals as this disrupts and corrupts their traditional way of life, making a small purchase of their handmade produce supports their traditional crafts and also makes for an authentic souvenir.
The exact itinerary will depend on your fitness and interests, and your guide will customise the itinerary based upon the time of year and their local knowledge of what's going on in the area around Kalaw. Depending on the itinerary you will be provided with a packed picnic lunch or will stop at local monastery for lunch, where you can chat with the novice monks using your guide as a translator.
This morning travel by road to Inle Lake. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Inle Lake and Nyaung Shwe.
At an altitude of 880 metres (2,900 feet) the freshwater lake of Inle is not only one of the highest lakes in the country but is one of the biggest. The lake is home to the Intha people who have lived, worked and survived off the lake for generations. They live in wooden and woven bamboo stilt houses surrounded by floating gardens. Inle’s constant source of moisture and its climate permits the Inthas to grow crops throughout the year. The most distinctive part of the Intha culture is the unique way they row their small wooden boats using their legs.
This afternoon, set off with your guide to the Red Mountain Estate Vineyard in Aythaya. Located on the side of Inle Lake, close to Taunggyi, the capital of Shan state, this vineyard was established in 1999 and is located at an elevation of 1,300 metres (4,265 feet). The vines were imported from France and Spain and the wines are made in the tradition of western wines, but the climate and the soils give the wines their distinctive flavour.
Take a tour through the vineyard conducted by the winemakers and then enjoy a tasting of several wines along with some snacks. Learn how the wine is made from varieties such as Shiraz, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Return to your hotel late in the afternoon.
Inle has a good choice of restaurants which serve both traditional Shan cuisine and Chinese dishes. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.
Accompanied by your guide, take to the water on a boat trip on Inle Lake to look at the beautiful scenery and observe the local way of life. See the large floating gardens where the Intha grow their fruit and vegetables. The floating garden beds are made from lake-bottom weeds which are formed into garden beds and anchored by bamboo poles. These fertile floating gardens rise and fall with the changing water levels. There are also floating markets where fruit, vegetables and handmade products are sold from small boats. Lunch is taken on the shores of the lake.
In the afternoon visit the Indain Pagoda Complex. Located on the western bank of the lake. Following a small covered path from the Pa O tribal village brings you out at a monastery and the impressive ruins of hundreds of ancient pagodas, some hidden under vegetation and dense foliage. Built during the 17th and 18th centuries, there are nearly one thousand stupas and pagodas in the area. The main stupa area on top of the hill offers breathtaking views over the surrounding area and into the valley, with the lake in the far distance.
Rise early to visit the rural but bustling five day market, named due to its location changing every five days and alternating between villages. The local people and the minority hill tribe people from the surrounding area congregate at the market to trade their goods. The atmosphere is vibrant and the market is alive with activity. The hill tribe people wear their colourful traditional costumes, uniquely woven and decorated with artistically designed jewellery. Market produce being traded includes fruit, vegetables, dried tea leaves, animals, and handmade items. Return to your hotel and spend the rest of the day at your leisure.
This morning drive from Kalaw to Heho where you fly back to Yangon for your departure flight from Burma.
Phone now to discuss options to personalise your itinerary.
Ideas to upgrade or extend your itinerary:
All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.
|Standard:||from AU $3,227|
|Superior:||from AU $4,464|
|Deluxe:||from AU $5,248|
All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!
Hotels each night of the itinerary (excluding your departure day). All GetAboutAsia accommodation is handpicked by us. Upgrades are available for this itinerary.
This trip package includes 4 internal flights (Yangon-Bagan, Bagan-Mandalay, Mandalay-Inle Lake, Inle Lake-Yangon) which retail at about 200 AUD per flight.
Visa for Burma
Burma just started their online e-visas last month. http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/
The e-Visa is open to tourists from 41 countries, including the US, but only grants entry to the country at Yangon International Airport, making the method unsuitable for those crossing at land borders or flying into Mandalay.
Money in Burma
There are now ATMS in major cities but not in local villages and credit cards accepted in some shops. We recommend to take a travelex cash passport and some US money to change over to local Kyat. If you have any kyat left over at the end of your trip you can change (at a lower rate) it back into USD at a hotel, or at the airport when departing.
Availability of accommodation and season.
|Physical:||Medium (light hiking)|
"We had a wonderful time. Ballons over Bagan was the highlight so thanks for suggesting that. The guide on Pandaw cruise was fantastic as were the other staff and they made our anniversary special. Thanks for organising our holiday. It was another great trip from Getaboutasia, fantastic job. " — Mr and Mrs Langridge, Marylands WA, November 2018
"Just wanted to let you know that we had a fabulous trip to Myanmar. The tour guides and drivers went out of their way to please us, nothing was too hard or inconvenient for them. The hotels were all fabulous and even the internal flights were okay. I would recommend this company to everyone. Thank you for all that you did as well. " — Honan Sisters, Atherton, June 2018
"The trip was FANTASTIC! The people are so nice warm and helpful. The place is amazing, Yangon a little less interesting but the guides gave us so much info. For me Bagan and Lake Inle were the highlights. The tour guides were all different and great, and they were so super keen to teach us everything. They found wheel chairs in the Pagodas because I had a boot on 1 foot so had to sit down to get it off the floor! (One guide was a little lethal running into people with the chair - he was a character) For the balloon flight they got around the problem of me getting in the basket before the balloon was fully inflated so Margaret and I sat with our backs to the ground in the basket to be righted into sitting position as the balloon went upright!!! My doctor had suggested getting a wheelchair at the airports as you know, and that was so good because in Singapore we had to go through all 3 terminals and 2 trains to get from 1 plane to the next so thanks for arranging that!" — Mrs Boot, Sydney, January 2018
"Enjoying everything in Myanmar. The food is delicious and spicy. This is atop Popa Mt.Very nice. Hotel excellent. Lots of pagodas!!!!! Sunset is stunning. " — Sue and Doug, Sydney, November 2017
"We had a wonderful time in Myanmar. We were very well looked after by our delightful guide and the lake was a great way to begin our adventure in Myanmar. We are still talking about the lovely time we had at Inle Lake." — Janet and Virginia, Wagga Wagga, NSW , August 2016
"Our trip to Burma was perfect and totally seamless, as arranged by GetAboutAsia. We were met by charming local people every step of the way, cared for as if we were royalty and given plenty of opportunity to explore and to have adventures of our own. Burma is an amazing country, with the friendliest people on earth and we loved every moment. Looking forward to booking our next trip with GetAboutAsia and we'll be recommending their services to our fellow travellers." — Mr and Mrs Shipley, Ipswich QLD , February 2016
"April in Myanmar was wonderful- warm, but not too warm. My friend and I had hoped for a combination of adventure, relaxation, sightseeing and some wow! We got the lot. The hotels were all fantastic and guides were all excellent: Knowledgeable and friendly. GetAboutAsia did a fantastic job of tailoring and organising our trip. We could not have asked for more obliging and pleasant service. It’s a pleasure to recommend GetAboutAsia." — Pauline Smart, Port Augusta, SA, April, 2015