Upon arrival at Yangon International Airport welcome by our local tour guide and transfer to your hotel for check-in. In the afternoon drive to Mawtin Jetty and take a rickshaws for a short trip along the Yangon River, enjoy “High Tea” at the Strand Hotel built in 1896, once described as the “leading hotel of the East” and proceed to Botataung Pagoda, where sacred hair relic of Lord Buddha is enshrined in it. Overnight in Yangon.
YANGON – KYAIKHTIYO (Golden Rock) (B)
Early morning drive via Bago to Kyaikhto passing the World War II War Cemetery, dedicated to the 27,000 Commonwealth Forces who died in Burma and the Sittaung Bridge, an area humming with riverside activity, with small markets at the water’s edge, and small riverboats, coming and going with passengers and cargo. Carts drawn by water buffalo amble along the highway. At Kyaikhtiyo Township, transfer from your car to a special open truck for your ascent to Kinmon Base Camp (appr. 45 minutes drive). From here continue the journey up to the Golden Rock on foot. (This trail is sometimes steep, but is smooth, and there are covered shelters every 50-100 meters to rest, and have a cold drink. Porters will be available to assist anyone who wishes help, and a “sedan chair” conveyance is available for those who do not wish to walk.) Along the way, will be many pilgrims who have walked from the very base of the mountain. At the shrine, is a small stupa placed atop the Golden Rock, a massive granite boulder. Covered with gold leaf, and precariously balanced over the edge of the mountain, it is purported to be held in place, “balanced on hairs of the Buddha”. Enjoy the late afternoon activities at the shrine, before returning back to your hotel for overnight.
KYAIKHTIYO – BAGO – YANGON (B)
After breakfast continue the journey by air-con car to the small village of Kyaikhto. On the way visit the cashew nut plantation and the nearby Buddhist boys orphanage and also a rubber tree plantation. In Bago visit to the interesting Bago Market with varieties of vegetables, flower and commodity goods, the Shwetharhlaung Pagoda, with its giant reclining Buddha, having a history over 1000 years old; the nearby Monastic Education Center; the Mon Village, with its array of cotton weavers; the Shwemawdaw Pagoda, with 114 metres the highest pagoda in Myanmar and walk from there to the Hintha Gon Pagoda, the place where Bago was founded. Late afternoon drive back to Yangon and transfer to your hotel for check-in and overnight.
YANGON – HEHO – KALAW (B)
Morning flight to Heho in the Shan state. Upon arrival drive to Kalaw (appr. 1 hour), a former British colonial town. Kalaw, another hill station as well as peaceful summer resort nestled in pine-clad mountains, is 1,400 meters above sea-level. It is located 70 km west of Taunggyi. Many of the Tudor-style houses and English gardens of colonial days remain. In the neighborhood lie villages of Palaung and other hill tribes who come to Kalaw market held every five days in their colorful costumes, adding to the quiet attraction of Kalaw. Overnight in Kalaw.
KALAW – PINDAYA – NYAUNG SHWE – INLE LAKE (B)
After breakfast drive to Pindaya (appr. 2 hours drive), a charming village with its paper umbrella cottage industry. Visit the Pindaya cave, famous for its thousands of Buddha images and the paper umbrella cottage industry. In the afternoon continue to Nyaung Shwe (appr. 3 ½ hours) drive, a small town at the northern end of Inle Lake. From here take a boat for the transfer to your hotel, for check-in and overnight.
INLE LAKE (B)
Full day excursion on Inle Lake (25 km) famous for its unique one-leg rowers, typical floating gardens, local methods of fishing and village life and the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda housing five sacred and almost shapeless Buddha images, contorted because of the quantity of applied gold leaf, gifts from the believers. The Buddha images are purported to have come here in the 12th Century. In the afternoon excursion to Indein (appr. 1 hour drive) to see the ancient Bagan + Shan style pagodas, built during Bagan Period, passing the beautiful scenery with tall grasses and little water steps. The ruin pagodas, hide in the bushes will give you an impression of you were in the 12th – 13th Centuries ago. Overnight at Inle Lake.
INLE LAKE – HEHO – MANDALAY (B)
After breakfast transfer to Heho airport for the flight to Mandalay, the city of the last Myanmar Kings. Sightseeing of Mandalay starts with a visit to the Shwe In Bin Kyaung, one of the most outstanding monasteries and the down town are. In the afternoon visit gold leaf making industry, Mahamuni Pagoda, originally built by King Bodawpaya in 1784, hosting the revered Mahamuni image, cast in the 1st Century and now covered in thick gold leaves and arts and crafts center (bronze casting; stone carving, etc.). Then drive to Amarapura, the “City of Immortals” and enjoy the sunset at U Bein wooden bridge, over 150 years old, which is still in use. Overnight in Mandalay.
MANDALAY – MINGUN – MANDALAY (B)
After breakfast drive to Kywezon jetty to watch the busy riverside activity and take a local riverboat to the ancient capital of Mingun (appr. 1 hour per way). Visit the Settawya Pagoda, with a footprint of the Buddha, walk to the huge Mingun Bell, see the nearby unfinished Mingun Pagoda, built to be the world’s biggest pagoda and visit the Hsinbyume Pagoda, a reproduction of the mythological Mt. Meru. Then come back to Mandalay. In the afternoon visit the Shwenandaw Monastery, noted for its exquisite wood carvings, Atumashi Monastery, the “Incomparable Monastery”, the Kuthodaw Pagoda, known as the world’s Biggest Book for its stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures and sunset on Mandalay Hill, a vantage-point for panoramic view of the city. Overnight in Mandalay.
MANDALAY – SAGAING – MANDALAY (B)
After breakfast drive to Sagaing Hill, a retreat for Buddhist devotees with numerous pagodas and monasteries (including nunnery, Oo Min Thonese and Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda), visit Kaunghmudaw Pagoda and proceed to Monywa, a typical Myanmar town located on the bank of the Chindwin River. Upon arrival visit the Hindu Style Than Buddha Temple, unique in all of Myanmar, beautifully decorated with the most beautiful stucco work in the country, dating from the 17th century. In the Afternoon visit the cotton blanket weavers; the traditional lacquer ware workers at Kyauk Kar village and finally go for sunset to the Alantayar Pagoda, sight of the largest reclining Buddha image in all off South East Asia, over 300 feet in length. Overnight in Monywa.
MONYWA – PHO-WIN DAUNG – PAKOKKU – BAGAN (B)
“Rise early to take the ferry to the other side of the Chindwin River where you board a pick-up to see the seldom visited 15th Pho Win Daung temple complex where more than 450,000 sandstone Buddha’s were carved in the hillsides in caves, alcoves, or tiny niches. The cave murals are still intact with indigo blues and soft pastels. Many of the Buddha’s can be seen without entering the caves or niches and footwear is permitted as long as one is not entering the sanctuaries. A stunning Buddha not to be missed is the reclining Buddha resting on a rectangular stone mosaic which shimmers with cut glass.” Then continue to Pankangyi, a 19th century town with old city walls and an archaeological museum. Visit to the Pakhan-ngai Kyaung, a 19th century largest wooden monastery with 332 teak pillars. En route stop at some villages to study the daily life of the people in the rural area. After arrival in Pakokku, a bustling tobacco trading centre, take a private boat and cross the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River to Bagan (appr. 2 hours). Overnight in Bagan.
Enjoy the whole day at the most extensive archeological site in Asia. Bagan has over 2000 temples and pagodas of various sizes in varying states of repair and spread across the plain. Shwezigon Pagoda, built by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century as a religious shrine; Gubyaukgyi, a temple with exquisite murals of Jataka scene and Ananda Temple with four huge standing Buddha images and numerous seated figures and niches around the galleried interior. In the afternoon visit lacquer ware home industry, Manuha Temple built in Mon style from 1059 and Nanphaya Temple, said to have once been the residence of King Manuha; Gu Byauk Gyi Temple (Wet Kyi Inn), which has very nice frescoes inside. Enjoy sunset over terraces of the Shwesandaw Pagoda. Overnight in Bagan.
BAGAN – MT. POPA – SALE – BAGAN (B)
After breakfast drive to Mt. Popa (appr. 1½ hrs drive). On the way visit some villages and watch the collection of juice from the palm trees, and its conversion into palm sugar. Visit the great extinct volcano. Rising out of the shimmering heat, the solitary volcanic crag of Mt. Popa is home to Myanmar’s most powerful ” nats “. Visit the Nat Museum with its life-sized statues of the 37 Nat Gods. Walk up the steps to the stupas and shrines that top the hill above the museum, seeing many pilgrims along the way. In the afternoon drive to Sale (appr. 1 ½ hours), a religious centre with many more working monasteries than found in Bagan today. Visit the Payathonzu, with three shrines containing mural paintings, Nan Paya, the largest lacquer Buddha image in Myanmar, said to date to the 13th century and the Yoke Sone Monastery, the oldest surviving wooden monastery in Bagan area. In the afternoon drive back to Bagan. Overnight in Bagan.
BAGAN – YANGON (B)
After breakfast transfer to the airport for the flight to Yangon. Upon arrival visit the Mae La Mu Pagoda, popular for all of its Buddha images, and a much more “folk oriented” feeling than other Pagodas. Tourists rarely visit it. Afternoon sightseeing starts with Chaukhtatkyi Pagoda (a huge reclining Buddha), Karaweik Hall, a Royal floating barge on the Royal Lake for a photo stop and late in the afternoon, visit the Shwedagon Pagoda described by Somerset Maugham: “The Shwedagon rose superb, glistening with its gold, like a sudden hope in the dark night of the soul of which the mystics write, glistening against the fog and smoke of the thriving city.” This massive bell-shaped stupa rises nearly 100 meters above its hill-top surroundings. Wander through this magnificent structure and its courtyards, stupas, bells, Temples, and Buddha images, and see religious and secular visitors from all parts of the globe. Shwedagon has become the symbol of Myanmar. Enjoy the sunset over the Pagoda. Overnight in Yangon.
YANGON / departure day (B)
After breakfast continue sightseeing of Yangon: Sule Pagoda , dating back over 2000 years, the Mahabandoola Park with it’s Independence Monument and walk around the downtown area and the sprawling Bogyoke Market. Wide streets, orderly town planning and neglected public buildings revive visions of British rule, while busy streets scenes and shimmering pagodas, bursting through a leafy canopy, hint at the rich local culture. Skyscrapers and glaring neon billboards have yet to overtake the capital. Afternoon free at your own leisure, till transfer to Yangon International Airport for your departure flight.