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Grand Myanmar Tour – 15 Days

Golden Rock - Kyaikhtiyo, Central Myanmar
  • 01mingun
  • 01Mandalay
  • 01Shwedagon pagoda
  • 01Ubein Bridge at sunrise, Mandalay, Myanmar
  • 01The Temples of bagan at sunrise, Bagan, Myanmar
  • 01Optional tour: Sunrise hot air balloon flight
  • 01Balloons-over-Bagan
  • 01Bagan-bullocks
  • 01Inle Lake fisherman
  • 01Inle Lake
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Experience the most famous sights of Myanmar on this guided journey. Your trip starts from British administration constructed capital city, Yangon (Rangoon); where we visit the magnificent gold plate and gemstone decorated Shwedagon pagoda; take a stroll through quaint old quarter of Yangon enjoying sights and sounds of this bustling city.

Our journey continues northbound to Ancient Kingdom of Bagan, 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 and is truly a magical destination to visit.

From Bagan we continue to Mandalay for exploring Ancient Capitals of Myanmar (Burma) all situated near current Mandalay City. We visit; the last remaining palace building; centuries old teak wood monastery; the sacred Mahamuni Buddha’s temple; observe traditional gold leaf pounding, carving, tapestry and weaving in local workshops. We explore ruins of AVA kingdom by horse carriage and enjoy Ubein teak bridge vistas known for spectacular sunsets.

From Mandalay we journey to rural Shan State and beautiful Inle Lake region inhabited by minority peoples. By Inle we visit markets, floating gardens and cultural highlights on the lake and vicinity. From Shan State we fly back to Yangon and finish our tour in this thriving economic heart of the country.

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda.

DAY 1: ARRIVAL TO YANGON

Upon arrival to the Yangon airport, you will be welcomed by Discovery DMC guide and transferred to your hotel for check-in. After freshening up we will visit some of Yangon’s highlights; Chauk That Gyi pagoda to view its magnificent reclining Buddha, and Karaweik Hall to marvel at the uniquely decorated “hamsa-bird-shaped” floating barge on Kandawgyi (Royal) Lake.

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. Legends state that the sacred hairs of the Buddha are enshrined here. The Shwedagon is an iconic symbol of the country, a sight not to be missed.

  • Meals included: lunch, dinner
  • Overnight stay: in a hotel in Yangon

Bagan

Bagan.

DAY 2: YANGON WALKING TOUR & FLIGHT TO BAGAN

After breakfast at hotel we embark on a journey to explore Yangon highlights. Starting from colonial-style city center and one of the landmarks Sule Paya stupa – built over 2,000 years ago and being the focal point of numerous historical events in the city.

We continue on foot to the quaint Yangon old quarter, built during the British colonial era. Many charming historical buildings are still located here. 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. After lunch break we transfer to Yangon airport for 1hr flight (when direct) to Nyaung U/ Bagan.

Upon arrival to Bagan airport transfer to hotel in Bagan. (Please note that the market is closed on Mondays and on public holidays)

  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Overnight stay: in a hotel in Bagan

Bagan

Bagan.

DAY 3: BAGAN TEMPLES

After breakfast at hotel we begin our 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 Archeological Museum and the gold gilded Swezigon 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 re-incarnations. Next, we learn how Bagan’s famous lacquer ware crafts are produced in Myingaba Village, and then visit Htilominlo Temple to learn how Burmese sand paintings are created.

The day’s temple tour ends with a visit to the 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. For sunset, a Bullock or horse cart ride around the temples offers unparalleled photo opportunities of one of the richest archaeological treasures in Southeast Asia as the sun dips behind the temple ruins (weather permitting).

  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner in a local restaurant with traditional marionette show performance
  • Overnight stay: in a hotel in Bagan

Mount Popa

Mount Popa.

DAY 4: BAGAN, MT POPA & PRIVATE SUNSET CRUISE

After breakfast, a morning visit to the Manuha Temple, built by the Mon king in the 1300s to represent his time in captivity under the Bagan king.

We continue to the Nyaung U Market, the largest market in the Bagan region, and a Cigar work shop to learn how Burmese “cheroots” are produced. Next, a 1,5 hours drive takes us to 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.

In the afternoon, we drive back to Bagan and stop en route at a family-run toddy shop to observe the process of making the rich and caramel-like toddy candies from the sap of the toddy palms. In the late afternoon, we transfer to the Ayeyarwaddy River for a private sunset cruise where local cocktails can be enjoyed on board along with views of the temple silhouettes and bustling shore.

  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Overnight stay: in a hotel in Bagan

Our guides are flexible. All touring schedules and activities can be adjusted according to guests’ wishes.

Mandalay

Mandalay.

DAY 5: MANDALAY CITY IMPRESSIONS

After breakfast at the hotel, we transfer to Bagan airport for a 30min flight to Mandalay. Upon arrival to Mandalay your will be transferred 40 km/1 hour to Mandalay city where enjoy a morning stroll through the lively Zegyo Market in the heart of the city to experience more authentic local life in Mandalay.

We continue to the 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 proceed to the highlights of Mandalay: the sacred Mahamuni Pagoda, housing one of the most significant Buddha images in the country, covered in several tons of gold leaf and the crown prize in long past wars between competing Myanmar kingdoms; the Golden Palace monastery, the only 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 slabs and regarded as 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.

  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Overnight stay: in a hotel in Mandalay

Ubein Bridge Mandalay Myanmar

Ubein Bridge at sunrise, Mandalay, Myanmar.

DAY 6: AVA (INWA) – SAGAING – AMARAPURA – UBEIN BRIDGE

After breakfast at the hotel, we embark on a journey to the Ancient Kingdoms of Myanmar near Mandalay. We transfer 15km to Ava (Inwa), the ancient capital of the Shan and Burmese Kingdoms for over four centuries. We cross over the Myint Nge River by ferry and explore the small roads of Ava by horse cart.

We visit the Bagaya Teak Monastery, over three hundred years old yet well preserved and still in use by local monks; the Nanmyin watch tower, the last standing structure of the Ava dynasty palace compound also known as the “Leaning Tower of Ava”; and the Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery building with its graceful curves and archways.

We continue to the Ancient Kingdom of Sagaing  located across the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River. From the Sagaing Hills, we enjoy magnificent views overlooking the river and hill side covered with countless pagodas. We visit a monastery in Sagaing to learn about the life of Buddhist devotees and continue to well-known Silversmith Village near Sagaing. We continue to another beautiful ancient capital city, Amarapura, famous for its weaving and textile industries.

There, we visit a cottage industry workshop to learn how Myanmar longyis and traditional fabrics are constructed. We continue to the Ubein Bridge, a simple yet strong teak structure that spans 1,2km over Taungtaman Lake. The bridge silhouetted by the setting sun is one of the most magical experiences in Myanmar and a photographer’s dream.

  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Overnight stay: in a hotel in Mandalay

Inle Lake Inn Thar

Inn Thar fisherman sorting nets on Inle Lake.

DAY 7: INLE LAKE, FLOATING ISLANDS & LEG ROWERS

Enjoy breakfast and then transfer to the Mandalay airport for the 30 min Flight to Heho, a quiet transit town with one of the few airport links in the beautiful hills of Shan State. Visit the bustling main 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).

En route to Inle Lake, we stop at a Local family work shop to learn how Shan umbrellas and paper are made by traditional methods using the fibers of the mulberry tree. Next, we take a 1-hour drive to Inle Lake that descends through the valley with views of the Shan mountains and rice paddy fields.

After checking into the hotel, we embark on afternoon explorations of Inle Lake, populated with 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.

  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch
  • Overnight stay: in a hotel built on stilts over the lake or on the shore

Inle Lake Inn Thein

Inle Lake, Inn Thein.

DAY 8: INLE LAKE & INN THEIN BOAT EXCURSIONS

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 Villageto 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.

  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch
  • Overnight stay: in a hotel built on stilts over the lake or on the shore

Red Mountain Estate vineyard

Red Mountain Estate vineyard.

DAY 9: RED MOUNTAIN ESTATE WINEYARD – YANGON

In the morning we transfer to Nyauang Shwe town and visit nearby red mountain estate to tour of the lush vineyard situated on the side of mountain. Taste some of Myanmar’s premiere wines, and observe the different aging methods completed in their cellar cave.

After lunch in Nyaung Shwe we drive 1hr to Heho airport for afternoon flight to Yangon. Upon arrival to Yangon we transfer to our hotel. Rest of the evening is free for relaxing & own Yangon explorations.

  • Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Overnight stay: in a hotel in Yangon

Kyaiktiyo Pagoda

Kyaiktiyo Pagoda.

DAY 10: YANGON – BAGO – GOLDEN ROCK ( KYAIKTIYO )

Morning pickup from your hotel in Yangon and drive 1.5hrs/80km to Bago, one of richest archaeological sites in Myanmar and the ancient capital of Mon Kingdom. En route, we visit Htauk Kyan’s allied troops war cemetery honoring 6,000 war heroes, a Nat tree Shrine dedicated to famous nat spirit at the base of a grand tree, and a Cottage industry that produces intricate woven bamboo crafts.

In Bago we take a stroll through a colorful Bago market and stop for a cup of tea or coffee in local tea shop, like the locals do. We continue to the impressive 55 m reclining Buddha of Shwe Tha Lyaung and the 114 m golden spire of the Shwemawdaw Pagoda, the tallest in Myanmar.

After lunch at a local restaurant in Bago, we continue 3.5 hours/110 km to Kin Pun base camp to change our mode of transport to an open truck. The ride is shared with local pilgrimage makers for the next 11km to Yathetaung base camp, located 500 m below the summit ridge. A further 1 hour hike up a partly on steep road and paved trail leads us to the summit.

The Golden Rock, or Kyaiktiyo as the Burmese call it, is a fascinating sacred boulder covered in gold leaf and balanced precariously on the edge of a cliff. Crowning the boulder is a small shrine believed to contain Buddhas hair relics, the source of the gravity defying magic.

A continual stream of pilgrims from Myanmar and Asia come to witness the wonder at least once in their life time. Enjoy the tranquil sunset, soak in the unique atmosphere and share in wonder with fellow monk, nuns, and lay pilgrims.

  • Meals included:
  • Overnight stay: in a hotel near the Golden Rock

Hpa An

Hpa An.

DAY 11: GOLDEN ROCK – HPA-AN

Wake up early for lovely sunrise views and a quiet morning stroll. Breakfast at the hotel before descending back to the Kinpun base camp. We drive to the quaint Karen State capital of Hpa-An, visiting en route Thanton, one of the ancient Mon kingdoms, and the Thamaya Monastery, the home of one of Myanmar’s most revered monks.

After lunch at local restaurant, we continue with visits to: the picturesque Kyauk Kalat, a standalone rock islet in the middle of a small lake; the Lumbini garden, a park housing one thousand Buddha images with the majestic Mount Zwekabin as its backdrop; and the Saddar cave, the most impressive limestone cave in the region, passing through an entire limestone mountain range and opening up to small lake and fields.

The cave also displays fascinating rock formations inside. We arrive Hpa An late afternoon. Time permitting, we enjoy the sunset at Shweyinmyaw Pagoda at the bank of Thanlwin (Salween) River.

  • Meals included: breakfast
  • Overnight stay: in a hotel near Hpa-An

Mawlamyine

Mawlamyine Buddhas.

DAY 12: HPA-AN – MAWLAMYINE (MOULMEIN)

After breakfast, we take a stroll through the Central market to get the feel for Hpa An local life, then visit the Kayin cultural museum, which exhibits the social, literary, musical and cultural heritage of the Karen (Kayin) ethnic peoples. Continuing on another 1hr drive, we reach Mawlamyine (Moulmein), the 4th largest city of Myanmar as well as 1st capital of British Burma, boasting of intact colonial era buildings.

In the afternoon, we make an excursion 64km south of the city to Thanbyuzayat, the westernmost terminus station of the infamous Burmese-Siam “Death Railway” built by prisoners of war during WWII.

We visit the Mon State Cultural museum with its displays of bronze, silverware, ceramics and sculptures; the Thanbyuzayat war memorial that honors the Allied Troops of British, American, Australian and Dutch from the war; and a death railway museum with a small locomotive of bygone days to commemorate the start point of the tragic railway.

If time permits, we learn about hand woven textiles at a Weaving workshop on the way back to Mawlamyine.

  • Meals included: Breakfast
  • Overnight stay: In a hotel in Mawlamyine

Bilu Island Myanmar

Bilu Island Myanmar.

DAY 13: MAWLAMYINE – BILU ISLAND

After breakfast at hotel we explore Myanmar authentic rural life by catching a 1,5hr ferry ride to Bilu Island, a pleasant town that has been largely untouched by development.

Touring by local pickup truck, we pass through idyllic rice paddy fields, rustic villages and palm lined roads. A visit to Cottage Industry workshops allows us to learn about the how local crafts such as walking sticks, wooden pipes and pens are made.

“By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea/ There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me…”. In the afternoon, we return to Mawlamyine and enjoy a Trishaw ride, or bicycle taxi, to visit the city’s highlights. The day ends with a sunset from the Kyaikthanlan Pagoda, immortalized in Rudyard Kipling’s poem that begins:

  • Meals included: breakfast
  • Overnight stay: in a hotel in Mawlamyine

Mawlamyine.

Mawlamyine Buddhas.

DAY 14: MAWLAMYINE – YANGON

After an early breakfast at hotel, we drive 7.5 hours/300 km to Yangon. Near Kyaikhto, we stop for lunch at local restaurant. If time permits, we visit Mon weaving workshop en route to Bago, with arrival to Yangon by the late afternoon.

  • Meals included: breakfast
  • Overnight stay: not included

Yangon

Colonial heritage Yangon.

DAY 15: YANGON DEPARTURE

Breakfast at hotel and free at leisure until transfer out to Yangon airport for your departure flight.

  • Meals included: breakfast
  • Overnight stay:

What’s Included in Trip Costing

  • Private tours and transfers with air conditioned vehicles as specified in our itinerary.
  • 2 bottles of water & 2 refreshing towels per passenger per day.
  • All entrance and permit fees to the sites mentioned in the itinerary.
  • English speaking local guides (other language guides available with additional cost).
  • Lodging with breakfast as specified in the itinerary.
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary.
  • Luggage handling fees at airports.
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary.
  • Luggage handling fees at Golden Rock.

Not Included in Trip Costing

  • Visa to Myanmar (note that pre-arranged visa is required for tourists).
  • International air fares or domestic air fares (always quoted and mentioned separately from tour package price).
  • Meals or any other item not described in the itinerary.
  • Early check-in, late check-out. Normal check out time from hotels in Myanmar is 11am or 12 o’clock noon.
  • Expenses of personal nature.
  • Drinks during meals, hotel extras and personal spending.
  • Camera & video fees. Some of the sites visited may ask small fees for photographing and video recording.
  • Drinks during meals, hotel extras and personal spending.
  • Tips & gratuities
  • Travel insurance