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Travel to Myanmar and discover a country of mythical landscapes, ancient treasures and some of the friendliest folk you’ll ever meet. From golden-gilded Buddhas in Yangon and the magical temples of Bagan to the tranquillity of Inle Lake, Myanmar will excite, impress and intrigue you. A visit to Myanmar is to experience the South-East Asia of twenty years ago, full of rarely seen sights and generations of stories just waiting to be told. Come and discover a little bit of Myanmar magic with us
Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Myanmar. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader.
If you have free time to explore before the meeting, we recommend stepping out onto the streets of Yangon. Why not take the Yangon Circle Line train for a three-hour local journey, or head over to Bogyoke Market and haggle with the locals? There’s also Sule Paya Pagoda, a 2000-year-old golden temple, and the Gems Museum, which houses some of the world’s largest sapphire, ruby and jade pieces. You may need a taxi to travel between some of these attractions; a one-way trip should cost about MMK 4,000.
Notes: You may wish to arrive early so you arrive in time to attend the group meeting today, and have free time to explore Yangon. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Start the day with a city walking tour of Yangon. Your leader will show you the city centre and some major attractions around town. In the afternoon, We also head down to Kandawgyi Lake, where you’ll see Karaweik Hall, a reconstruction of a golden royal barge floating on the eastern side. Then visit the holiest shrine in the country, the Shwedagon Paya. This gold-gilded pagoda is studded with diamonds and gems, and said to contain eight hairs of the Buddha. It’s a particularly impressive sight at sunset when the lights come on and the stupa shines beautifully.
Rise for a very early start today, for your morning flight to Nyuang-U (about one and a half hours). From there, transfer to the ancient city of Bagan (about 20 minutes). Bagan is an archaeological site where Theravada Buddhism was first introduced to the Kingdom. It was once the site of 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries and still has over 2,000 brick and gilded ruins.
You’ll start your visit with an orientation tour of the town and visit the archaeological site tomorrow. After the orientation tour, head to the nearby Shwezigon Paya, one of the town's main Buddhist sites, also incorporating a compound dedicated to the pre-Buddhism deities, the 37 Nats..
Spend the entire day sightseeing in Bagan. You’ll be given a bicycle and toured through the site by a local guide. You’ll get to see many of the large and impressive temples such as Ananda Pahto, Htilominlo Temple, That Bin Nyu Paya (the highest pagoda in Bagan), Dhammayangyi Pahto and Shwesandaw Paya, as well as some of the smaller hidden gems. Exploring the temple site by bike is a great way to take in the atmosphere of this amazing place. There are also many opportunities to climb stairs to vantage points and capture some magical views. To fully enjoy the day out, please make sure you wear comfortable clothes and adequate protection from the sun (long sleeves, sunglasses and hat).
After touring the temples, head back to the hotel for a short rest before heading out again to see the enormous Shwe Sandaw Temple at sunset.
A highlight of a visit to Bagan for many travellers is the optional sunrise hot air balloon flight over the site, possible on the mornings of day 4 or 5 (depending on availability). Experience breathtaking views above the stupa-studded landscape, followed by a light breakfast and champagne. The experience runs for approximately 2.5 hours, with flights times an average 45 minutes (can range from 1 hour to 20 minutes subject to local conditions). Weather dependent, flights operate between October through to March.
Advance bookings are highly recommended as places are limited. Please ask your booking agent for further details of the Premium and Classic service options.
Enjoy a free day in the area of Bagan. You may like to spend more time exploring the stalls at the archaeological site, the cafes in town, or the nearby Nyaung U Market – one of the more interesting markets in the country. Other places of interest include the Archaeological Museum and the Royal Palace. Taxis to these local sites cost around MMK5,000.
Another option is to take a day trip to Mt Popa, a mountain topped with monasteries and stupas. Climb the 777 steps to enjoy incredible views from the top and make a visit to the strange shrine devoted to the 37 Nat spirits. Your leader can help you arrange transport to Mt Popa for the best price, starting from MMK60 000, and the cost can be split between participating group members.
Venture off the tourist path today, further into central Myanmar. Travel by private minibus for around two hours, stopping along the way at a local market. Arrive at your unique community lodge outside the town of Myaing, north of Bagan to experience a pioneering community-based tourism initiative in Myanmar. Then head out on a bicycle for the afternoon and ride around the nearby villages. Stop at the first village for lunch and enjoy a presentation about the project from a local member of the community (your leader will translate). The activities and meals are shared amongst the four villages nearby, so that they all benefit from the project. This is also a great opportunity to practice your Burmese. Visit a thanaka farm and try out the genuine product that you will see on the faces of many Burmese. Ride to a second village and learn about the local farming and seasonal crops. Back at the lodge, you’ll help out with a tree-planting project. Dinner this evening will be cooked by some of the nearby villagers, and entertainment will follow. Perhaps take this opportunity to interact and share your own culture with the locals.
Notes: Accommodation at the community lodge is basic. You’ll be staying in simple twin share rooms, with mattresses on the floor in the traditional style. Linen and mosquito nets are provided. Bathroom facilities are shared. There is no air conditioning and only cold running water and showers. Electricity is intermittent, so we recommend that you bring a torch and charge all your electrical items before arriving. You can refill your water bottle from the large water containers provided.
You can expect your stay here to be wonderful and rewarding, but keep in mind that the project is still developing with the direction of the community, and there can be some hiccups along the way.
If you’d prefer not to cycle, alternative transport (tuk-tuk) can be arranged when requested before the cycling activity at an additional cost of around MMK 8,000 per vehicle. Please note that it'll be difficult to arrange alternative transport during the cycling if you decide to drop out in the middle of it.
During the warmer summer months the cycling activities may be amended to avoid cycling during the intense heat of the day.
Wake up early this morning and cycle to the small, 170-year-old wooden monastery nearby. A couple more minutes on the bike and you’ll stop at a village for a simple local breakfast prepared by the residents. This is another great chance to strike up a conversation and practice your language skills. After breakfast you’ll cycle to another village and visit a women’s cooperative to learn about their weaving, sewing and craft (this is where Intrepid bags are made). Pedal back to the lodge mid-morning and bid farewell to the community. Travel on a private bus towards Mandalay with a lunch stop en route. Along the way, you’ll visit the beautiful Sagaing Temples, a collection of gilded stupas on the nearby hills. Total driving time from the community lodge to Mandalay is about six hours.
This morning your leader will take you on a walking tour of Mandalay. After seeing the town close up, you’ll take a boat down the famous Ayeyarwady River to Mingun. Here you’ll see the Mingun Pahtodawgyi, an enormous stupa which would have been the largest in the world if it had been completed. You’ll also see the world’s largest ringing bell and the beautiful white Hsinphymae Pagoda which sits nearby.
After the excursion to Mingun, return to Mandalay where you’ll have some free time to do some optional activities. Perhaps find some quiet moments at the ancient Sweinbin Teak Monastery, or try your hand at gold leaf making in the Gold Pounders District. There’s also the Mahamuni Buddha Temple, an important pilgrimage site complete with giant golden Buddha.
Tonight visit Mandalay Hill, which is where Lord Buddha is said to have left a footprint. Stay here for sunset and to enjoy views over the glittering stupas and vibrant mosaics of the city at this magical time of day.
For some extra entertainment in the evening, why not catch a traditional show by the Mandalay Marionettes, or a non-conformist comedy show by the Moustache Brothers?
Today will be a long day of driving towards Kalaw. Along the way, you’ll visit the U Bein Bridge, the longest teakwood bridge in the world. You then head onto the Great Road of China, a new superhighway built by the Chinese. Finally, make your way into the mountains of Shan state and experience the stunning scenery of the area.
Today is a full day of hiking around the hills around Kalaw (approximately 6 hours). A local guide will take you to a tea plantation and some small villages. Stop and chat with locals along the way and have lunch at one of the small settlements. This experience will take you off the beaten track and away from the tourist throng. If there’s time in the evening, you might like to visit some of the lovely pagodas around town as well as a local market.
Notes: While today's walk is not difficult, you’ll cover about 20 kilometres in total and will be on your feet for most of the day. You’ll need a reasonable level of fitness for this part of the trip, and remember to bring appropriate hiking shoes. A support vehicle can be arranged to access the trails upon request from the halfway mark, so this means that you’ll need to be able to walk at least 10 kilometres unsupported.
Leave Kalaw for Nyuangshwe today, where you’ll be spending time around Inle Lake. You’ll set off across the mountains and farms and stop off at the Pindaya Caves, one of the Golden Caves in Shan state. Pilgrims flock here to worship the 8,000 golden Buddha images within the caverns, tunnels and chambers of the huge limestone cave.
The drive will take you to the resort town of Nyuanshwe which will be our base for the next few days as we explore Inle Lake.
Notes: Due to the extremely high volume of tourists currently visiting Inle Lake we are not always able to secure our preferred accommodation. At times like these we may need to stay in a property with a lower room standard than in other destinations on this trip.
Start the day by heading out in a motorised boat. You’ll see local life on the lake, including fisherman who use a distinctive leg-rowing technique on their boats, floating tomato plantations and cottage industries such as silversmiths, weavers and cigar makers. If you’re lucky, you might even see the rotating market which circles the lake every five days. Here you can buy traditional wares produced by the locals. Stop for a home cooked lunch at a village near the lake and sample the regional specialities.
Visit Phaung Daw Oo Paya, the most religious site in the region and take a quick look inside at the various images of Buddha. You can also see a golden barge which is used during Phaung Daw Oo festival. Make a few more stops at local villages to meet the locals, then head back to your accommodation in Nyaungshwe.
Enjoy a free day around Inle Lake. Perhaps visit the Mingala morning market or Nyuangshwe's oldest Buddhist monastery, Yadana Man Aung Paya. For those wishing to venture further afield, you could hire a bike and cycle to the nearby hot springs, villages or temples. Perhaps visit a nearby winery to sample a local drop, or take boat trip to the Indein temple complex and nearby villages. The price of these activities will depend on the number of people joining. Ask your leader about doing these optional activities.
Bid farewell to the splendour of Shan state and make your way to the airport in Heho. From here, take a one-hour flight back to the hustle and bustle of Yangon. The journey ends with an optional final dinner and night out on the town in Yangon.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there is plenty to see and do in Yangon we recommend extending your stay a few extra days to make the most of all it has to offer.
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.
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"Had a great time in Yangon- friendly guides and drivers. The pagodas with all the gold and jewels are stunning although you get dirty feet exploring them." — Mr Phippen, Sydney, March 2018
"Trip was great in the group and people were kind. Highlight was definitely Inle Lake. " — Susan, Melbourne, November 2017
"The trip in Myanmar was fantastic as we saw a lot of the countryside and its people. The locals were so friendly, a lot of times very intrigued with us, and made us feel welcome in their country. We were very fortunate to travel with an accommodating group of like-minded people from many different countries. Photo is of Golden Rock." — Mr and Mrs Mcphee, Brisbane , December 2016
"My trip to Myanmar was much more than I’d expected. The warmth and friendliness of the people and the rich and colourful scenery - this very special country and its very special people should be on every ones travel list." — Mrs Laugs, Coffs Harbour, NSW , October 2016
"I just wanted to thank GetAboutAsia for arranging my holiday. I had a fabulous time and the guides were really great, knowledgeable, extremely friendly and helpful. Not forgetting the drivers of course who were very courteous. If I want to go somewhere else in the region or back to Myanmar I shall certainly get in touch with GetAboutAsia again." — June Sutcliffe , Fremantle, WA, April, 2015