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Myanmar Arts and Culture Tour– 13 Days

Central Myanmar, Eastern Myanmar
  • 01Bagan
  • 01Inle sagar
  • 01monywa
  • 01Shwedagon Pagoda
  • 01mingun
  • 01Mandalay
  • 01Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

In order to get to know the real soul a country and its people one has to experience its arts, music, culture and celebrations.

Our Myanmar Arts and Culture tour is designed for the curious minds. Your journey will start from Yangon where we explore the architecture and heritage of the former capital and its thriving arts and music scene. In Bagan we study the magnificent history, legends and structures of one of the greatest civilizations of its time and the awe inspiring temples of Bagan.

Continue to Mandalay which Kipling put on the world map with his famous poem road to Mandalay. Mandalay is considered the cradle of Burmese culture and it was the last royal capital before British occupation of upper Burma. Explore the cultural heritage, performing arts and craft making traditions and the old Royal capitals that are located near Mandalay.

From Mandalay you will travel to Shan highlands and scenic Inle Lake with its charming floating farms and villages built over water. Explore the lake by boat and travel south to Loikaw capital of Kayah state and home region of Padaung tribe known for their brass rings body decoration.

Colonial architecture in Yangon.

Colonial architecture in Yangon.

DAY 1. HERITAGE & CULTURE OF YANGON

Arrive to Yangon. You will be welcomed by your Discovery DMC tour guide and signboard with your name. Transfer to hotel for check-in. Today’s visits include National Museum where you can see some of the royal regalia from the last kingdom of Burma and learn about diverse people of Myanmar.

Enjoy lunch in the local’s all-time favorite Feel Restaurant and get your introduction to tasty Myanmar cuisine.

In the afternoon you will explore Yangon’s colonial past on a Yangon Heritage Trust’s walking tour in the old quarter where many old beautiful buildings remain. After the walking tour visit some art galleries and meet a local artist or curator who will explain you about local art scene.

This evening you will join a Myanmar marionette in a small theatre. Marionettes are vanishing performing art tradition which was popular all over the country until few years ago. After the show is finished you can try to learn new skills from the masters and can see how the puppets are made. End the day with a stroll through lively evening food market in China Town and have a drink at one of the BBQ stations before returning to your hotel.

Meals:                   Lunch
Overnight:          The Loft Hotel 4* in Yangon

Shwedagon pagoda

The sacred Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is believed to enshrine buddha’s hairs and is covered in gold and decorated with gemstones.

DAY 2. EXPLORING SHWEDAGON & AUNG SAN’S FOOTSTEPS

Early start this morning and witness magical sunrise at the Shwedagon Pagoda. Enjoy the peaceful and holy atmosphere of meditators sitting around facing the majestic golden stupa rising over 100m tall to the sky. After spending enough time at the Shwedagon Pagoda your guide will show you the monastic area near Shwedagon where monks and nuns live. Observe monks and novices going out on their daily alms circuit barefoot. Then it is time for your first Myanmar breakfast which will be in a popular tea shop. Try the Shan noodles, Onyh Khao Souay or Mohinga soup, the national dishes, with Burmese sweet tea or coffee and start the day local way.

Explore a hidden morning market where various kinds of crops, seasonal vegetables, fruits and flowers are sold. See crafts men at work producing souvenirs for pilgrims and decorations for shrines and continue to Kandawgyi Park for a photo of the Hamsa bird shaped royal barge.

Short drive will bring you to national hero Aung San’s home museum which is also Aung San Suu Kyi’s childhood home. On the way to lunch which will be at the House of Memories Restaurant which used to be Aung San’s office. You will pass Aung San Suu Kyi’s house and NLD her party office which were long under tight surveillance.

After lunch enjoy 1hr social enterprise shiatsu massage by deaf youths who been trained by foreign experts after graduating from school.

Then a bit of shopping therapy at a store that makes unique and creative Myanmar retro souvenirs that you will not find anywhere else. You can also visit a Non-profit initiative store where underprivileged groups handicrafts are sold.

We finish the day with a visit to Nagar Glass Factory, a fascinating family-run enterprise, where the art of glass blowing has been practiced for generations until its temporary cessation some years ago.

Meals:                   Breakfast, lunch
Overnight:          The Loft Hotel 4* in Yangon

Bagan

Bagan

DAY 3. YANGON – BAGAN

Morning flight to Bagan. Your Bagan specialist guide will welcome you at the airport and bring you to a view point for introducing Bagan kingdom and archeological area. Today you will explore some of the finest temples in Bagan with mural paintings and unique decorations. Gain an insight to traditional building techniques and architecture of Bagan. Visit local artist making sand paintings and observe how Bagan’s famous lacquerware items are made from fine bamboo strips or horse hair and covered with layers of lacquer before polished etched and coloured or applied with gold leaf.

Late afternoon enjoy a horse carriage or bullock cart ride in the archeological wonderland to witness a magical sunset from a temple terrace.
Meals:                   Breakfast
Overnight:          Tharabar Gate 4* in Bagan

Mount Popa

Mount Popa

DAY 4. BAGAN – SALAY – POPA

After breakfast, we begin the full day excursion out of Bagan, starting with a 35 miles/ 1,5 hours drive to the Yokesone Teakwood Monastery, in Salay village. The monastery is one of best preserved teak wood monasteries in the country with embellishments of skilled wood carvings and housing a small collection antiques and the largest lacquer ware Buddha image in Myanmar. Continue driving 1,5 hours to Mount Popa, the center for worshipers of the pantheon of Burmese ‘Nat” spirits and visit the Nat shrine at the foot the Popa mountain. Climb 777 steps to a pagoda at the top of the mountain for great views over the surrounding farming land and plains. In the afternoon drive back to Bagan with a stop en-route to observe the process of making the toffee-like palm sugar.

 

Meals:                   Breakfast
Overnight:          Tharabar Gate 4*  in Bagan

Monywa

Monywa

DAY 5. BAGAN – PAKOKKU – HPO WIN DAUNG CAVES – MONYWA

Scenic morning drive to Pakokku crossing the Ayeyarwaddy River over new bridge. Take a stroll through Pakokku’s bustling morning market to experience local life. Continue with a drive Pakhangyi north west of Pakokku for a visit to its well preserved wooden monastery and on to Hpo Win Taung. You might be able see some copper production along the way. Small scale entrepreneurs digging copper rich soil, separating minerals and after processing smelting to copper to bullion’s. This is seasonal activity and may be discontinued at any time. 

At the Hpo Win Taung Limestone Mountain you will visit the cave temples that are decorated with mural paintings dating back to the 15th century.

Further 25km drive will bring you to Monywa, the most modern and biggest city in the region. Monywa is a thriving riverside trading hub and a port town near the confluence of Ayeyarwaddy and Chindwin Rivers.
Meals:                   Breakfast
Overnight:          Win Unity Hotel 3-4* in Monywa

Mandalay

Mandalay

DAY 6. MONYWA – SAGAING – MANDALAY

After breakfast at the hotel visit the colorful Thanboudday Pagoda, regarded by some people as the “Little Burmese Borobudur”. It’s galleries are filled with over 582,000 Buddha images in all sizes, lending the hall a meditative atmosphere.

The drive to Mandalay is 150km/3hrs east of Monywa. On the way visit the peculiar Bodhi Tataung “Buddha Park”, the site of world’s tallest standing Buddha statue at 128m high. Also of interest is the 114m long reclining Buddha and the tens of thousands smaller Buddhas donated to the site by devout Burmese pilgrims.

Lunch break in Sagaing.

Drive up to Sagaing Hills for panoramic views over the Ayeyarwaddy River. Visit Buddhist Nunnery where you have the opportunity to learn about life of Buddhist devotees.

Continuing to Amarapura and Ubein Bridge a simple yet remarkable teak structure that spans 1,2km over Taungtaman Lake, you have the option to be rowed onto the calm waters (at additional cost to be negotiated with boatman). Ubein Bridge, silhouetted by the setting sun, is a magical experience and a photographer’s dream. On the way to Mandalay (15km drive) you can visit a cottage industry workshop to learn how Myanmar longyis and traditional fabrics are woven.

Meals:                   Breakfast
Overnight:          Sedona Hotel 4* in Mandalay

Mahamuni Pagoda Mandalay

Mahamuni Pagoda,Mandalay

DAY 7. MANDALAY CITY & MINGUN

Good morning Mandalay!  If you are able to get up very early (4am) you can catch Mahamuni Buddha getting his morning wash and teeth cleaned by a pagoda trustee who does this daily.

Rise up early and join the locals for morning exercise or a walk by the Mandalay palace moat and have local style breakfast in a popular tea room. Then head to a local market where you will visit a Burmese make-up store, popular local snack – tea leaf salad shop and a “pharmacist” selling ingredients for traditional medicine.

Continue to the artisan quarters of Mandalay, where some of the oldest craftsmanship are showcased dating back to the last kingdom of Myanmar. Observe the process of pounding gold leaf, detailing teakwood carvings and embroidering Myanmar tapestry and how bronze and marble Buddha statues are carved, cast and molded. Next visit the sacred Mahamuni Buddha covered in tons of gold leaf; 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.

For evening entertainment you may join the Mustache Brothers slack stick comedy show, in a modest home style theatre. For long Mustache Brothers were some of the very few who dared ridicule the authoritarian rule in public.

Meals:                   Breakfast
Overnight:          Sedona Hotel 4* in Mandalay

Inle Lake Inn Thar.

Inn Thar fisherman sorting nets on Inle Lake

DAY 8. MANDALAY – INLE LAKE         

Breakfast and transfer to Mandalay airport for the 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 fibres 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.

This evening savor Inn Tha and Shan cuisine dinner at the View Point Restaurant.

Meals:                   Breakfast, dinner

Overnight:          Thanaka Hotel 3*+ in Nyaung Shwe

Cooking Class

Cooking Class

DAY 9. INLE LAKE COOKING CLASS

Breakfast at hotel and join a cooking class in Nyaung Shwe. This half day activity is run by charming local couple in their simple open air kitchen and garden. You will be picked up at 9am in Nyaung Shwe and brought to local market where you will participate in buying ingredients for the food you will prepare in the class. After shopping, head to class room and prepare a delicious local style lunch with the guidance of your cooking mentor. You can choose couple dishes to learn out of many so this class is ideal for those too who have special dietary restrictions and you are always welcome to add your own touches to your dishes. This is a social affair where you join a class with others which is part of the fun.

After lunch it is time for light exercise and a bicycle ride to Main Thauk Village 10km where you will visit the Red Mountain Estate vineyard and have the opportunity to taste Myanmar’s premier winery’s harvest. Cycle back to Nyaung Shwe with sun setting behind the distant mountain range in the horizon.

Meals:                   Breakfast, lunch at the cooking class

Overnight:          Thanaka Hotel 3*+ in Nyaung Shwe

Inle,Sagar Myanmar

Inle & Sagar

DAY 10. BOAT EXCURSION TO SAGAR

After breakfast visit the rotating morning market of Inle Lake, frequented by hill tribe folks. The market is held 5-days a week, each day at a different location. Continue by boat approx. 3hrs to southern part of the Inle Lake to Sagar, or Samkar as the locals call it. Samkar is a peculiar collection of centuries old stupas perched on the western shore of the lake, some of the stupas being partially under water. In the afternoon walk around and mingle with the friendly villagers and learn about local ways of life.

Meals:                   Breakfast
Overnight:          Little Samkar Lodge 1-2* in Sagar

Loikaw

Loikaw

DAY 11. LOIKAW

Transfer to Loikaw, capital of Kayah State by car 2hrs. You will be among the first foreign travelers to visit there. Kayah state tourism has only started to develop softly couple years ago and many displaced Karen’s have returned back to their home region from other parts of the country or Thailand. Expect simple and limited services here.

Today you will visit small Kayah cultural museum in town and drive out to a limestone cave 15km outside of the city. After walk around at the cave return back to Loikaw for a magnificent sunset panorama from top of a majestic limestone karts mountain rising high above the town.

Meals:                   Breakfast
Overnight:          Kayah Lodge 3*

Padaung lady.

Padaung lady in festive clothing

DAY 12. VISIT BAN PHE KAREN VILLAGE

Drive to Demoso and to Ban Phe Padaung tribe village which is one of the first community tourism projects in Kayah State and was sponsored by European governments. The project was set up by a team of local and international experts, including Pascal Thwe Oo, the author of the Land of the Green Ghosts.

During the village visit you will have the opportunity to learn about local culture and traditions in the region. See how traditional handicrafts are made, and how threads coloured, participate making Kayah sausages and listen to local music and legends.

Some of the Padaung ladies still wear, their trade mark, brass rings around their necks and joints. You may be able to see these ladies in the villages where we visit but this cannot be guaranteed.

Meals:                   Breakfast
Overnight:          Kayah Lodge 3*

Colonial heritage yangon

Colonial heritage Yangon

DAY 13. LOIKAW – YANGON AND DEPARTURE

Transfer to Loikaw airport for a flight to Yangon. Connect to your international flight in Yangon.
Car will be at your disposal during this day until your departure flight from Myanmar.

Discovery DMC sales team would be more than happy to assist you with.

Meals:                   Breakfast

Please contact Discovery DMC sales department for price quotation.

WHAT’S INCLUDED IN OUR 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
  • Lodging with breakfast as specified in the itinerary
  • Luggage handling fees at airports
  • Meals specify  in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees or zone fees which are specified in itinerary

 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
  • Peak season surcharges & Compulsory dinners during Xmas & New Year’s
  • Early check-in, late check-out. Normal check out time from hotels in Myanmar is 11am or 12 o’clock noon
  • Drinks during meals, hotel extras and expenses of personal nature
  • Camera & video fees. Some of the sites visited may ask small fees for photographing and video recording.
  • Tips & gratuities