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Southern Explorer by Elephant Coach – 5 Days

Golden Rock - Kyaikhtiyo, Bago
  • 01Big smiles
  • 01There are always many curious kids when we stop in villages
  • 01Myanmar curries
  • 01Girl with Thanaka burmese make up
  • 01Vendor woman at local market
  • 01Local market in Mawlamyine
  • 01Pagoda hair salon
  • 01Who gets to be in the photo most
  • 01Farmer girl
  • 01Rice harvest time
  • 01Monk novices
  • 01Bucket showers
  • 01Hello-Mr.
  • 01Girls and bullocks
  • 01Boy loading pots off the boat
  • 01Pilgrims lighting incense sticks by the golden rock
  • 01Monks applying gold leaf on the rock
  • 01Prayers at Kyikhtiyo golden rock
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For those who want to experience Myanmar with style, Elephant Coach is the way to go. This fully renovated classic Chevrolet passenger bus will make sure you are on the most stylish vehicle on the road. A classical interior made from local high guality materials, will give you comfortable journey where ever you are on the road. The feeling is kept classical but the buss has all the modern day comforts. Truly a unique way to see the wonders of southern Myanmar.

On this luxury journey of Southern Myanmar highlights we visit Bago, the ancient capital of the Mon Kingdom and explore local crafts making, markets and heritage sites of the region, including Shwemawdaw Paya, the tallest Pagoda in Myanmar and Shwethalyaung Paya with its impressive reclining Buddha.

We take part in one of Myanmar’s holiest pilgrimage sites to the Golden Rock (Kyaikthiyo), a boulder covered in gold leaf that miraculously, delicately balances at the edge of a cliff. From the Golden Rock our journey continues to Hpa-An, the charming trading capital of Karen State blessed with beautiful topography of limestone karst mountains.

Near Hpa-An we explore some of the caves inside the limestone mountains before continuing to Mawlamyine (Moulmein), the first waterfront capital of the British Burma colony.

In Mawlamyine we trace Kipling’s footsteps and we visit the last station of the infamous death railway build by POW during the IIWW and the Bilu island before driving back to Yangon.

On this tour all the longer distances are covered with the Elephant buss. The buss can be modified for six to eight passengers with own storage space for luggage. Comfortable chairs and the luxurious feeling will guarantee that you will experience a road trip of your life.

Giant Buddhas in Bago

Giant Buddhas in Bago

DAY 1: YANGON – BAGO – GOLDEN ROCK ( KYAIKTIYO ) [-/-/-]

Morning pickup from your hotel in Yangon and drive 1.5 hours/80 km to Bago, one of the 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 pagoda 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 500m below the summit ridge.

A further 1hr hike up partly on a 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 the wonder with many monks, nuns, and lay pilgrims.

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

Golden Rock

Golden Rock

DAY 2: GOLDEN ROCK – HPA-AN [B/-/-]

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 Thaton, one of the ancient Mon kingdoms, and the Thamanya Monastery, the home of one of Myanmar’s most revered monks.

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 Buddhas

Mawlamyine Buddhas

DAY 3: HPA-AN – MAWLAMYINE (MOULMEIN) [B/-/-]

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.

From here we continue 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 work shop on the way back to Mawlamyine.

  • Meals included: Breakfast
  • Overnight stay: Hotel of your choice in Mawlamyine

Bilu Island Myanmar

Bilu Island Myanmar

DAY 4: MAWLAMYINE – BILU ISLAND [B/-/-]

After breakfast at our 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 with local pickup truck, we pass through idyllic rice paddy fields, rustic villages and palm lined roads. A visit to cottage industry work shop allows us to learn about how the local crafts such as walking sticks, wooden pipes and pens are made. 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: “By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea/ There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me…”.

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

Yangon

Colonial architecture in Yangon.

DAY 5: MAWLAMYINE – YANGON [B/-/-]

After an early breakfast at hotel, we drive 7.5hrs/300km 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

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