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Exploring Myanmar (Burma) Holidays

An Ayeyarwaddy Adventure

Ideal for those who want to see the highlights of Myanmar with a river cruise at the heart of their trip; pack George Orwell’s Burmese Days for those lazy evenings as you sail down the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River, watching the sunset. The key sights of Burma are all on the river including Mandalay and its nearby ancient capitals – as well as Bagan – and it’s a great way to cut down on flights. We have selected a boutique five-cabin cruise for this tour but we work with plenty of other boats too (so please ask us about boat options and private charters). After a 4-night cruise you will visit Inle Lake and see the highlights of Yangon with a private guide – you could also add a few days on the beach at the end.

Your Itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Mandalay!

After meeting your private guide and driver at the airport, you will visit some fascinating sights on the way to Mandalay. Start with a visit to the snake temple in Paleik, which has 3 pythons that sleep at the feet of Buddha, before seeing one of the largest monasteries, the famous Mahamuni pagoda and the old capital of Amarapura. As the sun sets, walk over U-Bein Bridge and take a boat ride. Check into the Hotel at Red Canal (Rakhine room)

Day 2 - Board your Cruise: Ava & Saigang

This morning you will board your full board, four-night cruise  on Discovery Cruises’ boutique five-cabin river boat. Your river location is perfect for today’s excursions; with your cruise companions you will visit the religious centre and monasteries of Sagaing Hill, which was the ruling kingdom from 1315 to 1364. After, you will visit Ava, which is steeped in history and today forms a magnificent site of ancient temple ruins (side cabin).

Day 3 - Visit Yandabo Village & enjoy a sandbank BBQ

After breakfast you will disembark to visit Yandabo, a small rural village famous for its handmade terracotta pots produced in a traditional way. Then you will continue sailing to Mount Thantgyi, which has a pagoda on top of it. You will have the opportunity to climb to the top to see the view over Bagan on the other side of the river bank. After, enjoying a BBQ in the middle of the river on a sand bank (depending on water levels).

Day 4 - Visit a teak Monastery as you Cruise to Bagan

Today you will be jumping off board to visit the exquisite monastery of Yoke-Sone-Kyaung, on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River, which is famous with its spectacular woodcarvings. Then you will continue sailing downstream towards Bagan where you will dock for the night and enjoy dinner on board.

Day 5 - Explore the cultural wonders of bagan

After breakfast, you will disembark to visit the highlights of Bagan, home to more than 2,000 temples, pagodas and stupas. Your guide will show you some of the highlights of the area including Dhammayangyi, Shwezigone Stupa, Gubyaukgyi Temple as well as Nyaung oo Market and a lacquerware workshop. In the late afternoon you will take a horse cart to Shwesantaw Stupa for sunset before returning to the boat for the evening.

Day 6 - Disembark and explore Bagan at leisure

Bid your cruise companions farewell as you checkout this morning. We have not planned anything for you today so you can explore Bagan at your own pace – but we can arrange a driver and guide to be on hand for you if you prefer, as well as a picnic lunch or hot air balloon ride if you wish. This evening you will stay at the Hotel @ Tharabar Gate, which is in the heart of Old Bagan (deluxe room)


This morning we will fly you to Heho and drive you to nearby Kalaw, home to the Elephant Conservation Project. Your specialist guide will take you for a rewarding day in the forest – encountering elephants, their mahouts and local people. A delicious lunch with local specialities (often from Nepalese origin) will be served and you will also help the mahout wash and feed the elephants before checking into the colonial Amara Mountain Resort (deluxe room).

Day 8 - Take a train through the Shan Hills to Inle Lake

This morning your scenic 3.5 hour train journey will begin at the colonial train station in Kalaw and take you over the mountains and through the valleys towards Inle Lake. A unique local experience that offers great views and a glimpse of local life in the Shan hills. It is not unusual to be delayed when you stop at local hill tribe villages to on or off load local goods – a colourful sight! You will then be then escorted to Inle Lake View hotel by boat and car (deluxe room).

Day 9 - Enjoy a Day on the Lake!

Enjoy a full day private boating tour around the lake. Highlights include the colourful rotating five-day markets frequented by the Shan and Pa O people, the famous Intha fisherman rowing in the one-legged style; and visits to Phaungdaw U Pagoda, and a local cheroot factory (Burmese cigar). We will walk about 1 hour to enjoy a fantastic view over the lake. A home-made cooked lunch is served in a local house.

Day 10 - Shwedagon Pagoda & Yangon after sunset

This morning we will fly you to Yangon where you will enjoy an early evening tour of the shimmering, sparkling Shwedagon Pagoda. We will give you the full history of the pagoda and a deeper insight into Buddhism and also take you around the area, including a stop for local snacks and drinks and a walk through the night market – so you can experience Yangon like a local. Tonight you will check into the historic and colonial Savoy Hotel (deluxe room).

Day 11 - Bon voyage!

Get ready to bid your farewells to this beautiful country (and maybe plot your return!) After a leisurely breakfast we will will escort you to Yangon Airport by private car where you can catch your international flight home. Safe Travels!


This itinerary costs from £2,640 per person B&B based on 2 sharing and including all private transfers but not international flights.

You can get flights from as little as £500 per person return and do ask us for advice. Alternatively we can book the flights for you but a booking fee may apply.

What's included?

  • Prices start from £2,640 per person
  • Accommodation on B&B basis
  • Private transfers (air-conditioned vehicle)
  • All entrance fees with service of English speaking guide for excursions
  • 3 meals a day inlcuded on the boat (no drinks)
  • Lunch on Days 7 & 9
  • Internal flights
  • Local taxes
  • All trips are ATOL protected or ABTA bonded to ensure you are fully covered
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With one of the most evocative names in the region, Mandalay is the second biggest city in Myanmar and the gateway to great trekking in Hsipaw in the north. It is home to the iconic U-Bein Bridge (one of the most photographed sites in the country) and close to the old royal capital of Amarapura.
This is one of the best places to get off the beaten track and see rural Myanmar. Stay in a beautiful riverside lodge, take a trek through rice paddies and visit small Shan villagers where locals live just as they did 50 years ago. We also offer a fabulous boat ride upstream to a monastery which serves as a school for young novice monks.
Bagan is the ancient settlement that has really put Myanmar (Burma) on the map. With more than 2,000 historic stupas, temples and pagodas spread over a vast area, you really have to see it to believe it. We will ensure you get to the best spots for sunset or sunrise to see this amazing sprawl of temples over the valley - or better yet ask us about a balloon ride!
Inle Lake
This impressive freshwater lake is more than 13 miles long and resembles a vast silver sheet, reflecting the sky like a mirror. It is home to hundreds of herons, wild ducks and other bird life - as well as local fishermen who use unique fishing techniques with baskets. We have a fabulous selection of over-the-water boutique hotels to choose from.
Ngapali Beach
This has quickly become one of our favourite beach destinations in south-east Asia. Lined with rugged palm trees, this big sweeping bay of pristine sand feels so untouched and undeveloped. However, lying in the shade of the pine trees are a number of beautiful and tastefully designed luxury hotels that blend into their surroundings - we can't think of a better excuse to stop for a few days!
The Golden Rock
An important pilgrimage site for Buddhists around Asia; a large and precariously positioned gold-covered rock sits on the top of a mountain - home to one of the most well-visited stupas in the country. Expect an atmosphere charged with magic and devotion as everyone makes their way to the Golden Rock.
Mrauk- U
This former Rakhine capital offers a dramatic group of temples and pagodas (newer than those of Bagan) which have a fortress feel to them as they are made of stone with long twisting corridors inside. But it's also the perfect gateway for seeing rural river life - you can enjoy a boat ride here to Chin villages where the older women have their faces tattooed from a no-longer abided tribal tradition.
This charming city feels incredibly metropolitan compared to the rest of the country, but set against other Asian cities feels quite small. You can see the colonial architecture of a time gone by, sample some of the county's best street food and visit the remarkable Shwedagon Pagoda, which can be seen sparkling from almost anywhere in Yangon and is one of the most revered sites for Buddhism in the world, and said to enshrine eight hairs from Buddha.
A unique combination of landscape and beauty, Mawlamyine boasts a ridge of stupa capped hills to one side, the sea on the other and a town full of crumbling colonial architecture and mosques. From here you can explore remote ruins, sacred temples and un-touched beaches.
Explore Buddhist caves, sacred mountains and wonderfully rural countryside from this sleepy Mon State town
Pyin Oo Lwin
You would be forgiven for thinking you'd stumbled across an old English town at this colonial hill station, which was a favourite for British generals who were looking to escape the heat of the city below. Be sure to take a turn in the beautifully manicured Botanical Gardens.
Myeik Archipelago
A cluster of about 800 pristine and picture perfect white sand islands off the main coast of Myanmar. Most are completely uninhabited - or home to a small village or two where the nomadic seafaring Moken people live. These are best explored on a 3 or 4 night cruise - and we have some beautiful luxurious boats on offer.

Your adventure starts here!

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