Day 1 - Yangon
After arriving at Yangon International Airport and transferring to our lovely hotel, we get acquainted and unwind over lunch. We then set out on foot to explore the colonial heritage of one of Southeast Asia’s most impressive capitals, basking in its unique spiritual atmosphere. With its broad, tree lined avenues, bustling waterfront and teeming markets, Yangon is a treat to explore. We start with a visit to Reclining Buddha. From the reclining Buddha, we continue on foot, through a local community, reaching the top of the Shwedagon Pagoda to enjoy the sunset. Rudyard Kipling called Shwedagon “a Golden mystery…a beautiful twinkling wonder.” The 2,500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda is said to be the world’s richest golden stupa, or Buddhist spiritual monument. Also considered the most sacred of all Buddhist sites in Myanmar, the golden dome rises 323 feet above its base and is covered with 60 tons of pure gold. As the last rays of the setting sun cast a brilliant light on the domes we observe local pilgrims and monks offering their devotions.
Day 2 - Yangon - Bagan
After breakfast, we fly to Bagan, considered one of the greatest sights of Asia! Located on the lush delta plain, Bagan was once a great royal city with over 13,000 temples. Although the majority of the temples have been destroyed, ancient temples still dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. Hundreds of temples and pagodas, from simple to magnificent, spread over 40 square kilometers. We start our exploration of Bagan by visiting the small 13th-century Gubyaukgi Stupa, which is known for its fine frescoes. We then stop at the Ananda Temple, one of the largest, best reserved, and most revered temples in Bagan. We also visit a local lacquer ware workshop, where we watch men and women ply their craft using traditional methods. Midday we check into our hotel and enjoy lunch by the pool, before venturing out again for our afternoon walk. We start at the Shwesansaw Paya. We then zig zag our way along quiet trails, visiting the Dammayangyi Pahto and Sulamani Pagoda. Along the way, we are likely to see cows drinking at watering holes and farmers harvesting sesame seeds. We end our walk by climbing to the top of the Pyathada Pagoda for stirring sunset views.
Day 3 - Bagan
Guests who book the balloon flight are picked up early in the morning to enjoy a spectacular sunrise over Bagan and the Ayeyarwaddy River. Gentle winds not exceeding 15 miles per hour guide the balloon, allowing passengers a serene, bird’s-eye view of ancient temples drifting by. On average the flight lasts between 45 minutes to 1 hour. We reunite at the hotel for breakfast before embarking on a walk through the Paya-thone-zu group of temples (a short ride to the east of our hotel). Midday we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant situated on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River before a visit to the archaeological museum, home to a collection of world-class Buddha images from the Bagan region. After our visit to the museum, we start our hike through Old Bagan, walking by the oldest stupa and the tallest temple. We admire frescos at the Thamya Temple and climb to the top of the Swegugyi Temple. Our walk concludes at Bagan’s ninth-century gateway, which is guarded by brother and sister spirits Late afternoon we take a short ride to the jetty and set out for a sunset cruise on the lower Ayarwaddy River Before returning to our hotel for dinner.
Day 4 - Bagan - Mandalay
After breakfast, take a morning flight to Mandalay – the old and historic capital of Myanmar’s last kingdom and their monarchs, be treated to a full day of sightseeing by coach. Tour highlights includes Gold leaf Hammering, Mandalay’s Mahamuni pagoda (It also known as Payagyi (big paya) or Rakhaing Paya)- with its spectacular Buddha image completely covered in 15 cm thick layers of gold leaf, it is a must see on your list! Lunch at a Burmese local restaurant will brighten and energies all). Your exclusive tour continues with a visit Myanmar’s ancients monarch’s Royal Palace. Another must visit is the Shwenandaw Monastery-noted for its exquisite wood carvings, Atumashi Monastery and Kuthodaw pagoda-known as the world’s largest book with its 729 slabs of Marble engrave with Buddha scriptures. The evening ends with a breathing view offered at Mandalay Hill, where almost all locals come for a panoramic of the city. Another sumptuous dinner is prepared for you at a local restaurant. Overnight in Mandalay.
Day 5 - Mandalay
After a hearty breakfast this morning, visit the Jade Market for some shopping before proceeding to Amarapura - an ancient capital built exclusively at the advice of royal astrologers. Tour highlights are Mahagandayon Monastery - where you may witness and experience the daily lives of the monks studying Buddha`s scriptures. U Bein`s Bridge - 1.2km long wooden bridge built over 200 years ago is also a must see! Wood, Bronze and Marble Carvings and Castling villages awaits you. After lunch, a delightful boat trip to Mingun where the world largest ringing bell awaits you. Sightseeing Mingun Bell and Pahtodawgyi unfinished Pagoda offers first hand the rich culture and history Myanmar has to offer. Evening arrives and enjoy the sunset view of the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River & Middle Yoma from the roof of the boat. Dinner will be at a local restaurant that is sure to what your appetite. Overnight in Mandalay.
Day 6 - Mandalay - Inle Lake
After breakfast, we fly to Heho ,our gateway to Inle Lake. Known as the most beautiful lake in Myanmar, Inle Lake’s calm waters are surrounded by high hills and dotted with floating gardens and stilted villages. From Heho we board a coach for a stunning drive (approximately 1 hour drive) which winds though heavily forested hills where we see a variety of trees including banyan, jacaranda, acacia, and rubber trees. Monasteries, stupa, and small lakes dot the hills. We descend to the flat plateau where most of the county’s rice is grown along with a variety of fruits and vegetables and sugarcane. We stop at a local hotel for lunch before proceeding to a small jetty where we pick up our private boat for a 30-minute ride to our hotel, located on the shores of the lake. En route we may pass local Intha fishermen, known as “leg rowers” and famous for propelling flat-bottomed boats by standing on one leg and wrapping the other around the oar. After checking in at our beautiful lakeside hotel, we set off for a walk to a nearby village. Our route takes us through small villages, creating an opportunity to visit a local home. We return to the hotel in time to take a sunset boat ride out on the lake. Dinner is at the hotel.
Day 7 - Inle Lake
After breakfast we set off by boat to the village of Maing Thauk (a 20-minute trip) where we walk to the Forest Monastery along a trail shaded with tamarind trees, passing mango and sugarcane plantations. As we ascend into the jungle (approximate 750 ft ascent), our trail saddles a deep gorge with a stream running below. Bird calls punctuate our journey, and we may spot monkeys swinging in the trees. We arrive at the Monastery in time to see the Buddhist monks gathering for their mid-morning lunch. Further along the trail from the monastery is a stupa, where we enjoy stunning views of Inle Lake and the surrounding hills. On the way back from the monastery, we have a chance to visit the village of Maing Thouk, including an orphanage for preschoolers and a sugarcane farm where fudge and syrup are produced. We board our long tail boats for the 45-minute crossing to the southern end of the lake. The journey takes us through floating gardens of multicolored lotus flowers and hyacinths. The lake is also home to abundant waterfowl, including egrets and cormorants. We eat lunch at a local restaurant perched on tall stilts offering excellent lake views. After lunch, we board our boats for a leisurely return trip through the villages and vegetable gardens. We stop to learn about some of the traditional cottage industries, including lotus flower weaving, pottery, cigar making, and blacksmithing. We then enjoy the sunset as we return to the hotel by boat.
Day 8 - Inle Lake - Yangon
Today we return to Yangon. Depending on the flight time from Bagan we explore the city’s vibrant Bogyoke Market (formally known as Scott’s Market); a fascinating covered market where we find reasonably priced handicrafts, jewels, antiques, and traditional artwork from all over Myanmar. Or, choose to walk to the famous Strand Hotel for a cold drink at their old-world bar.
Day 9 - Departure
After a plentiful breakfast, we transfer to the airport where we bid farewell and begin our journey home or on to other exciting destinations.