- Mandalay's Buddhist devotion, the hustle and bustle of Yangon
- The brick pagodas of the great Bagan plains, the golden stupas of Inle Lake
- Private tours, cycling tour, high tea in a colonial mansion in Yangon, lunch with Intha people at Inle Lake: it's all included in the itinerary
- Our local Concierge service, recommended places to visit: all our usual additional services
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IN THE LAND OF GOLDEN AND WOODEN PAGODAS
From Mandalay's wooden pagodas to Bagan's bare brick temples, from Inle Lake's floating gardens to Yangon's colonial district, explore Myanmar from north to south. From pagodas to libraries, King Mindon Min made his wooden capital the spiritual centre of the kingdom, and Mandalay is still home to the country's most famous monasteries, beneath the sprawling bougainvillea. Less famous, and less visited than Angkor, the ancient royal city of Bagan spans an area of 30 square miles. Bare brick architecture, teeming with temples and stupas in a rustic, untouched landscape with its dirt bike tracks. Inle Lake, with its peaks blanketed in deep forests, is a purple oasis dotted with islands where pagodas stand. Yangon, with
To make the most of the trip without getting bogged down in the practical organisation, a guide is on hand for all tours throughout the itinerary. In Mandalay, spend a morning exploring temples and pagodas. A little further, along the banks of the Irrawaddy River, stroll through the ancient capitals, Sagaing, the country's spiritual centre, with its languid charm, between the whiteness of the stupas and the elegance of the golden spires; Ava and Amarapura. Getting to Bagan by road offers the chance to stop off in the villages dotted between the cotton and rice fields - it's a chance to visit the farmers' markets and a cigar factory, among the most renowned in the country. In Bagan, home to the world's largest concentration of Buddhist monuments, spend a day touring the most important pagodas, from Ananda to Gawdawpalin. The next day, electric bikes are available for exploring the charms of the huge complex dotted with temples and stupas. Fly to Inle Lake. Board a traditional canoe to explore traditional market gardening techniques as you pass through the floating gardens, before enjoying lunch with an Intha family. The next day, take to the water again, criss-crossing the lake to explore the pagodas and monasteries. The following day, arrive in the Sagar region by canoe at the very southern end of the lake - it is one of the most beautiful in Shan State; set off on foot to explore its 108 sunken stupas. Fly to Yangon, where you spend the morning exploring the pagodas: First up, Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple, and its splendid 230ft-long reclining Buddha; next, Shwedagon, where the faithful sit cross-legged and eyes closed, praying in front of a statue among hundreds of Buddhas. In the afternoon, enjoy high tea, in the lounge of a beautiful colonial residence that takes you back to the Burma of Kipling. Finally, on the last in day in Yangon, there is a car and driver available, to carry on exploring the city at your leisure.
Flight to Mandalay
Overnight flight, arriving the next day.
Meet your guide. Transfer and two-night stay in a pleasant city centre location. Mandalay is home to some of the country's most famous monasteries, and the monastic community – 40,000 monks among 500,000 inhabitants – is particularly large. Here, age-old culture is passed on in the shade of pagodas.
Included in the itinerary - Tour of Mandalay, the Mahamuni Buddha Temple (with nearly seven tonnes of bronze, and standing 13ft high. Made with gold leaf, it originally came from the ancient kingdom of Aarakan); Kuthodaw Pagoda, with its collection of 729 marble slabs engraved with Buddha's teachings; and Shwenandaw Pagoda, one of the finest examples of Burmese wooden art: the last vestige of the wooden royal palace of the 11th century.
Mandalay & Sagaing, Ava, Amarapura
Included in the itinerary - Private tour of ancient capitals. Situated on the west bank of the Irrawaddy River, Sagaing is the spiritual centre of the country: it boasts nearly 600 Buddhist pagodas and monasteries, and is home to 3,000 monks; golden roofs peak out everywhere above the treetops. Across the river, spanned by the famous Ava Bridge, lie the wondrous sights of the palace's watchtower and Bagaya Monastery, all made of teak. Finally, Amarapura, with its Mahagandayon Monastery, a centre for monastic and religious studies, and the legendary U Bein Bridge, built in 1782 and, at the time, the longest in the world at 4,000ft, the scene for a procession of monks crossing above Taungthaman Lake.
Included in the itinerary - Head to Bagan. Drive along the east bank of the Irrawaddy River fringed by a rolling patchwork of villages, sesame, cotton and rice fields. Cross the bridge leading to Pakokku, a large settlement that you ride through in a tuk-tuk, to visit its 'thanaka' paste market, in an ancient monastery, and a factory making cheroots, the famous Burmese cigars, which Pakokku is renowned for. Then, take a boat ride down the river. A succession of small fishing villages lie on the banks. After two hours on the river, arrive in Bagan for a three-night stay in a beautiful old colonial residence, the decor features the finest Burmese craftsmanship. The rooms are bright and spacious, while the garden is planted with century-old trees that shade a lovely swimming pool: a delightful place to stay.
Bagan is home to over 2,724 temples, stupas and pagodas, erected between the 11th and 13th centuries, which span over 30 square miles. It's the largest concentration of Buddhist monuments in the world.
Included in the itinerary - Day tour of Bagan's most important temples and stupas, a day that includes a trip to Nyaung U Market; Shwezigon Pagoda; the great Ananda Temple, one of Burma's largest pilgrimage centres; the well-preserved frescoes on the walls of Wetgyi-Inn's Gubyaukgyi Temple and Dhammayangyi Temple. Bagan is also renowned for its lacquerware workshops that are also included on the tour. The next day, electric bikes are availablefor exploring the charms of the city at your own pace.
Bagan - Heho - Inle Lake
Private transfer to the airport and flight to Heho. Another private transfer to Inle Lake, sailing by canoe to the hotel on the shores of Inle Lake, for a three-night stay. It offers total peace and quiet and sumptuous comfort; the outdoor heated swimming pool is a delight. There's also a warm, friendly and professional welcome.
Included in the itinerary - Board a traditional canoe to explore the floating gardens, meet the market gardeners and fishermen in and around Inle Lake. And on the eastern shore of the lake, take a stroll through villages to learn about traditional Intha market gardening techniques. You are then greeted by a family from the Intha ethnic minority for a family lunch, in a house on stilts.
Inle Lake is a world of its own. The Intha villages on stilts, fringed with floating gardens, make it a truly special place. The peace and quiet is only disturbed by the gentle swish of the fishing boats on the water.
Included in the itinerary - Spend the day crisscrossing the lake in a traditional canoe, exploring the stilt houses, floating gardens, markets and pagodas. The Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery is a place to stretch your legs and admire its collection of ancient images of Buddha; meeting its inhabitants, with your guide, is an interesting and enriching experience.
Optional - Hiking the trails around the lake, from village to village, meeting Shan farmers. Optional - Cycling tour of Indein's Buddhist complex.
Inle Lake & Sagar
Included in the itinerary - Reach the Sagar region by canoe. Off the beaten track, at the very far southern end of Inle Lake, it is one of the most beautiful in Shan State, with its mountains, small villages and rice fields. Explore the 108 sunken stupas built in the 16th and 17th centuries. The region is also a producer of renowned rice wine. Undoubtedly less spiritual than Buddha's doctrine, but just as Burmese.
Inle Lake - Heho - Yangon
Private transfer to Heho airport and flight to Yangon. Another private transfer and overnight stay in a lovely location along Kandawgyi Park, not far from Kandawgyi Lake. The rooms are modern and comfortable, some with views of the beautiful Shwedagon Pagoda; the hotel also features a splendid swimming pool, lined with palm trees.
There are two sides to Myanmar's former capital. The former is imbued with the old-fashioned charm of the different periods in its history: golden pagodas and giant Buddhas, parasols and 'longyis', colonial facades swamped in greenery: The British atmosphere lives on under the banyan trees. The second is creative and dynamic, giving Yangon a new lease of life. Rampant urban development brings with it a host of different surprises, from contemporary art to gastronomy.
Included in the itinerary - Private tour of the pagodas of Yangon. Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple, and its famous 230ft-long reclining Buddha; Shwedagon Pagoda, a centre of Burmese religious devotion and a place to wander around silently listening to the mantras of the monks that you visit nearby. In the afternoon, traditional high tea, in the lounge of a beautiful colonial residence that takes you back to the Burma of Kipling.
Yangon - Return flight
For your final day in Yangon, there is a car and driver available to carry on exploring the city at your leisure.
Things to see and do - Roam through the former colonial buildings: the prestigious Balthazar Building, now home to dozens of families, the Accountant-General's Office, the Central Post Office, the former Myanmar Railways Headquarters - Visit the National Museum - Shop for 'longyis' or canvas and bamboo flip flops at the Bogyoke Aung San Market - Stroll through Chinatown.
Private transfer to the airport and catch your flight home.
A la carte
Ideal for getting the full insight into Bagan's pagodas and other wonders. We make it easy for you. A tour guide is available for all tours in the itinerary.
HIKING AROUND INLE LAKE
The distinctive feature of Inle Lake is its floating villages, where canoes are the only way to get around between houses on stilts surrounded by floating gardens. However, there are walking trails for getting to the lake from the land side and enjoying stunning views of the villages along the eastern shore of the lake. The walk begins in the village of Thalae U and continues along the shoreline to the village of Alae Myaung, where most people work in farming. It's a chance to meet the Shan farmers who grow vegetables here, help with picking and learn about their way of life.
BIKE RIDE FROM THE SHORES OF INLE LAKE TO INDEIN
Reach Kyay Zar Kone village by canoe, for an 11-mile bike ride to Indein, along a narrow channel that connects the lake with the inland area, before crossing a dense bamboo forest, to reach the road that leads up to the top of a hill and Indein's splendid Buddhist complex.
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