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Back Roads of Myanmar – 13 Days

Mount Popa, Bagan
  • 01Kalaw trainstation market
  • 01Little novices on road to Kalaw
  • 01Farming land near Kalaw
  • 01Cycling at country side
  • 01Shan state rolling landscape and gentle hills
  • 01Chief monk teaching novices in a local monastery near Inle
  • 01Local style transportation in Shan state
  • 01Ready prepared for the days ride
  • 01River crossing local style
  • 01Cycling on riverside
  • 01Ready for the days ride
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Experience the most famous sights of Myanmar on this fully guided and truck supported cycling journey on the back roads of Myanmar. On a day of your arrival you will have a chance to see the buzzing capital. In Yangon we visit the magnificent Shwedagon pagoda; take a stroll through quaint old quarter of Yangon enjoying sights and sounds of this bustling city.

We continue by flight to rural Shan State and its beautiful Inle Lake region inhabited by peaceful minority peoples. From Here starts our cycling adventure and we will visit to markets, floating gardens and cultural highlights on the lake and its vicinity.

From Inle Lake we continue our journey to Kalaw, a charming colonial hill station town inhabited by other fascinating minorities. From forested Kalaw region we descend to dry and almost desert like plains of Meikhtila and Mt Popa, a spiritual dead volcano rising up to 1518 km above sea level.

From Meikhtila we continue to Ancient Kingdom of Bagan, the greatest archaeological treasure of Myanmar with over 2000 pagodas and temple ruins located on the plains of Bagan located near by the great Ayeyarwaddy river (Irrawaddy).

During its days of glory Bagan was one of the greatest kingdoms in the World and is truly a magical destination to visit.

From Bagan we ride to Mandalay and explore some of the Ancient Capitals of Myanmar (Burma) all situated near by Mandalay City before returning and ending our trip to Yangon.

Back roads of Myanmar is a great way for all the cycling enthusiasts to experience all the magnificent sights that the country has to offer. After this journey you have truly see Myanmar at close range.

 

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

DAY 1: YANGON HIGHLIGHTS WALKING TOUR [-/L/D]

Upon arrival to the Yangon international airport, you will be welcomed by our Discovery Destination Management guide and transferred to hotel. Today we visit colonial-style city center of Yangon starting from one of the landmarks Sule Paya stupa – built over 2,000 years ago. We continue to the quaint Yangon old quarter, built during the British colonial era where many charming historical buildings are still located. During our stroll through bustling market streets full of merchants and food stalls, we visit a local pharmacy and learn about Myanmar traditional medicine, stop for a tea and snack in the fashion of locals, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Yangon. We continue to one of Asia’s architectural landmarks, the elegant Strand Hotel built by the Sarkies brothers. Inside, we visit the river art gallery, where the works of some of the most famous and skilled Burmese artists are on display fitting of the grand surroundings. We continue to bustling Bogyoke (Scotts) market, where hundreds of gemstone, handicrafts, art, clothes and food stores are tucked in a maze of color.

(Please note that the market is closed on Mondays and on public holidays)

After lunch in the afternoon, we continue on foot to Yangon Central Railway Station where we embark on the Yangon circle line train and travel as the locals do. The rail line ambles in a leisurely, 3-hour loop around Yangon and surrounding neighborhoods and is full of character. We disembark the train after few stops and approximately 30 minutes of travelling to continue sightseeing by our own vehicle. Late afternoon we complete the day with a visit to one of the world’s most spectacular monuments, the Shwedagon Pagoda, a gold covered bell dome structure that dominates the city’s skyline and is frequented by pious locals. The Shwedagon is an iconic symbol of the country, a sight not to be missed.

  • Meals included: lunch, dinner
  • Overnight stay: Hotel of your choice in Yangon
Inle Lake Inn Thar

Inn Thar fisherman sorting nets on Inle Lake.

DAY 2: BIKING HEHO TO INLE LAKE [B/L/D]

Breakfast at hotel and transfer to Yangon domestic airport for (1hr) flight to Heho, a quiet transit town with one of the few airport links in the beautiful hills of Shan State. We visit the bustling Heho market, the meeting point for different ethnic minority groups of the surrounding areas to trade handmade goods and locally grown produce (on market days only). Near the market we start our biking journey to Inle Lake stopping en route at a Local family work shop to learn how Shan umbrellas and paper are made from mulberry tree pulp. Descending from Shan highlands to lower lying paddy and farming fields we take a smaller unpaved road and continue to Khaung Daing village situated on the western shore of the lake. After late lunch we transfer to our hotel by boat on the Inle lake. On the way we see floating islands and gardens made from the naturally tangled roots of water hyacinth plants and reeds. Delight in the picturesque sights of fishermen who balance and row with one leg, a technique indigenous to the Inn Thar minority group who do this only on Inle Lake.

  • Biking: approx. 40km
  • Meals included: Breakfast, lunch in Nyaung Shwe, dinner at hotel
  • Overnight stay: in a hotel built on stilts over the lake or on the shore
Inle Lake Inn Thein

Inle Lake, Inn Thein.

DAY 3: INLE LAKE & INN THEIN BY BOAT [B/L/D]

After breakfast we journey out by boat, following the currents of a small river to reach the Inn Thein Pagoda complex, a site that makes us feel as if we’ve stepped through a forgotten portal in time. To access the complex, we walk through verdant bamboo groves that open up to a field covered with the ancient pagodas constructed over 1,000 years ago. We boat back to the lake and visit Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda, the home of some of the country’s most sacred Buddha statues covered in gold leaf by devout followers. We also make a visit to the Inpawkhon weaving village to learn how local silks, linens and lotus fabrics are handmade and crafted. As an extra treat, we stop at a house for Burmese cats built over the lake, where we see the preservation efforts and reintroduction of this rare pure breed of felines to Myanmar. At Nampan village, local craftsmen show us how Burmese cigars, or “cheroots,” are traditionally packed and rolled. We end our day with magnificent sunset canoe ride with boatmen who gracefully navigate and row perched on one leg.

  • Biking: Rest day. Should you wish to do cycling on this day we can take a ride to some local villages along the Shores of Inle Lake.
  • Meals included: Breakfast, lunch on the lake, dinner at hotel
  • Overnight stay: in a hotel built on stilts over the lake or on the shore
Kalaw

Discover Kalaw.

DAY 4: INLE LAKE – KALAW [B/L/D]

After breakfast, we ride bikes along shores of Inle Lake (approx. 10km) passing though small farming communities if lucky we might see some sugarcane plantations, harvesting and cane juice extracting. Near Main Thauk village we visit the Red mountain estate to tour of the lush vineyard situated on the side of mountain, and sample some of Myanmar’s premiere wines, and observe the different aging methods completed in their cellar cave. Our route to Kalaw travels through Inle Lake’s commercial center Nyaung Shwe. Enroute we pass lush paddy fields climbing and climb 400m up to cooler Shan plateau ideal for vegetable plantations. Kalaw a former colonial British hill station with Danu, Palaung and Pa-O minority population sits in a protected valley at altitude of 1320m. Time permitting we can make a stop at Myin Ma Hti lime stone cave, which houses various holy shrines and Buddha images.

  • Biking: approx. 80 km
  • Meals included: Breakfast, lunch box, dinner at hotel
  • Overnight stay:  Hotel of your choice in Kalaw
Kalaw

Kalaw Scenery.

DAY 5: KALAW – MEIKHTILA [B/L/D]

After breakfast, we ride down to Kalaw morning market, where ethnic minority groups gather for trading. We join in the ubiquitous tea culture of the Myanmar people at a local tea shop and sample freshly cooked local snacks before heading out of Kalaw. Winding mountain road soon starts to descend as we ride west to Thazi. The road condition varies greatly throughout this day. Be prepared for all kinds of road cover. From junction town of Thazi we continue our ride to small Meikhtila City known for its scenic lake. Box lunch will be served en route. We will arrive to Meikhtila late afternoon.

  • Biking: approx. 105km
  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Overnight stay: Hotel in Meikhtila
Mount Popa

Mount Popa.

DAY 6: MEIKHTILA – MT POPA [B/L/D]

After breakfast we start our ride to Mt Popa traveling through dry desert like landscape small transport network link town Kyaukpadaung and proceed to Mt Popa. Mount Popa, the Burmese spiritual epicenter for those who worship the pantheon of nat spirits and martyrs. After paying respects to the Nat shrine at the foot of Mount Popa, we climb nearly 800 steps to the pagoda perched at the top of the mountain to admire the views of the surrounding plains and farm lands. Last part of our cycling journey is uphill ride to Mt Popa Resort offering fantastic sunset views over the Popa Mountain and surrounding farm lands.

  • Biking: approx. 100km
  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Overnight stay: In  Mt Popa Resort
Bagan Myanmar

Bagan

DAY 7: MT POPA TO BAGAN [B/L/D]

After breakfast we ride west to Bagan on paved road and mostly flat terrain passing through farming lands and palm trees lined road. We make a stop at a family-run Toddy shop and observe the process of making the rich and caramel-like toddy candies from the sap of the toddy palms. In the afternoon we arrive to Ancient kingdom of Bagan is the greatest archaeological treasure of Myanmar with over 4000 pagodas and temples ruins located on the plains Bagan by Ayeyarwaddy river (Irrawaddy). Bagan was during its heyday one the greatest kingdoms in the World.

  • Biking: approx. 55km
  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Overnight stay: Hotel of your choice in Bagan
Bagan cycling

Bagan cycling

DAY 8: BAGAN BIKING [B/L/D]

After breakfast at hotel we begin our cycling journey into the Ancient Kingdoms of Bagan. The Dhamayazeka Zedi is our first visit, providing panoramic views of the temple studded plains of Bagan. We continue to the Manuha Temple, built by the Mon king in the 1300s to represent his time in captivity under the Bagan king; Taung Bi village, a typical Bagan neighborhood where we visit rice noodle & cigar workshops. En route to Nyaung U market, the largest market in the Bagan we stop by the Thanakha Museum. After lunch break we cycle to gold gilded Shwezigon Stupa, purported to contain a holy tooth relic of the Buddha. Not far from the stupa, the Myingaba Gu Byaukgyi Temple is a sight to behold, housing Bagan’s best preserved mural paintings of the Buddha’s Jataka reincarnations. We can also make a visit to a monastic school that provides disadvantaged children with free primary level education, we have the opportunity to interact with the school children. Late afternoon we visit beautifully symmetric and majestic Ananda temple with its four standing Buddha images that seem to gaze at the viewer with fixed serenity wherever the viewer stands and ride down to Ayeryarwaddy River for a Private sunset cruise where views of the riverside temples and bustling shore can be accompanied by cocktails on board.

  • Biking: 20-25km
  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Overnight stay: Hotel of your choice in Bagan
Mandalay Mandalay

Mandalay.

DAY 9: ROAD TO MANDALAY [B/L/D]

After breakfast we transfer out to Myingyan village by car or bus and start our cycling journey to Mandalay. We can stop at some villages and tea shops en route to see local life and to break the journey. Before reaching busy Mandalay we change to bus or car and transfer to a hotel in Mandalay. Mandalay, the last royal capital and cultural cradle of the Burmese before colonial era is a busy and developing trading city situated on the banks of Irrawaddy River.

  • Biking: around 100km. Flat terrain, road condition varies greatly on this day (cycling distance can be shorter or longer if clients wish)
  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Overnight stay: Hotel of your choice in Mandalay
Mahamuni Pagoda Mandalay

Mahamuni Pagoda,Mandalay

DAY 10: MANDALAY SIGHTS [B/L/D]

Today we will visit Mandalay highlights the lively Zegyo market in the heart of the city and take a stroll to experience authentic local life. We continue to the Jade market where blocks of raw jade is being traded, Artisan quarters, where some of the oldest craftsmanship is showcased dating back to last kingdom of Myanmar. We observe the process of pounding gold leaf, detailing teak wood carvings and embroidering Myanmar tapestry. We also see how bronze and marble Buddha statues are carved, cast and molded. Next, we ride to visit the major highlights of the city: the sacred Mahamuni Pagoda, housing one of the most significant Buddha images covered in several tons of gold leaf and the crown prize in wars between competing kingdoms; the Golden Palace Monastery, the sole surviving Royal Palace building in Mandalay, offering a glimpse of the original style and architecture of the Myanmar royals; and lastly, the Kuthodaw Pagoda, a compound housing Buddha’s teachings carved in the sacred Pali script on stone tablets and regarded the world’s largest book in terms of surface area. We end our day with sunset panoramic views over city skyline on Mandalay Hill, the highest point of the city.

  • Biking: Resting day. Touring by car
  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Overnight stay: Hotel of your choice in Mandalay
Ubein Bridge Mandalay Myanmar

Ubein Bridge at sunrise, Mandalay, Myanmar.

DAY 11: BIKING MINGUN – SAGAING – AMARAPURA – UBEIN BRIDGE – MANDALAY [B/L/D]

After breakfast at the hotel, we ride bikes through Mandalay to river jetty and embark on a 1-hour boat journey across the Ayeyarwaddy River (Irrawaddy) to the rural village of Mingun, known for its massive unfinished pagoda dramatically cracked in half by an earthquake in the 1800s; another attraction is Mingun’s bronze bell, believed to be largest  in the world. Our bike ride follows paved road with light traffic traveling through friendly villages over rolling hills until reaching the site of Ancient kingdom of Sagaing. From the Sagaing Hills, we enjoy views of the hillside dotted with countless pagodas. We continue our ride to another beautiful ancient capital, Amarapura, famous for its textile industries. Continuing to the Ubein bridge, a simple yet remarkable teak structure that spans 1,2km over Taungtaman Lake, before last lap back to Mandalay.

  • Biking: approx. 60km
  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Overnight stay: Hotel of your choice in Mandalay
Yangon City

Yangon City Hall.

DAY 12:MANDALAY – YANGON [B/-/-]

Early breakfast and transfer to Mandalay airport by car/ coach for your morning flight to Yangon. Rest of the day in Yangon is free for shopping and relaxing.

  • Meals included: breakfast
  • Overnight stay: Hotel of your choice in Yangoon
Yangon

Colonial heritage Yangon.

DAY 13: YANGON DEPARTURE [B/-/-]

Transfer to Yangon airport for your onward flight.

  • Meals included: breakfast

Please contact Discovery DMC reservations department for price quotation.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  •  English speaking local guides in Yangon. Throughout cycling guide from Heho to Mandalay.
  •  Private tours and transfers with air conditioned vehicles as specified in our itinerary
  •  Minibus and support vehicle during long cycling days
  •  Water, fresh fruits and local snacks during cycling days
  •  All entrance fees to the sites mentioned in the itinerary
  •  Lodging with breakfast as specified in the itinerary
  •  Meals as specified in the itinerary (quoted separately)
  •  Luggage handling fees at airports
  •  Bike rental & helmets (quoted separately. Most of our bikes are Trek 4300 and 4600 series)
  •  Mechanic & maintenance of hired bikes (Those who decide to bring own bikes should bring spares and tool set with them)

NOT INCLUDED

  •  Visa to Myanmar
  •  International air fares or domestic air fares (mentioned separately)
  •  Meals or any other item not described in the itinerary
  •  Early check-in, late check-out, services and non-mentioned meals in the itinerary
  •  Personal expenses
  •  Drinks during meals, hotel extras and personal spending
  •  Travel insurance
  •  Tips