This two-week tour of Myanmar takes you to the highlights and beyond; beginning in Mandalay you will explore the ancient former capitals of this fascinating country before heading north for a slice of rural life in Hsipaw. From there you travel to Bagan to admire hundreds of temples, stupas and pagodas before visiting elephants in Kalaw and the idyllic and iconic Inle Lake – you finish your journey with a few days on the beach.
After meeting your private guide and driver at the airport, they will take you to 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 Bagan King tonight (superior room).
Today you will board a boat to visit the former royal capitals around Mandalay. Stop at Mingun Pagoda (and see a huge crack caused by an earthquake) before taking a leisurely boat cruise for about 3 hours downstream to delightful Ava – a simple lunch packed in rattan baskets is served on board. In Ava, horse carts will take you around this magnificent site of ancient temple ruins before returning to Mandalay by car.
This morning you will be driven to the scenic town of Hsipaw in Northern Shan state by private car. In the late afternoon your guide will take you for a 2.5 hour walk through paddy fields and other seasonal crops, passing small creeks and water buffalo, small villages and local schools and monasteries. You will learn about Shan traditions, spirit houses and local industries before relaxing at your lush Riverside Lodge (bungalow room).
This morning you will be shown around the historic Shan Palace by the cousin of the last prince of Hsipaw. Mrs Fern will welcome you and tell you the fascinating story of her family’s fall from grace in post-colonial Burma (if she is at home, if not the guide will explain the history). Continue by boat on the Dokthawaddy River and drive to a monastery built by a prince for a traditional Shan lunch. Enjoy a free afternoon.
Enjoy a wonderful train journey through the Shan mountains crossing the mighty Gokteik Viaduct which was constructed in 1901 in British colonial times and was once the second highest railway bridge in the world. You pass spectacular scenery and small villages and towns where vendors will enter the train to sell drinks and local snacks. After a five hour train ride, the colonial town of Pyin Oo Lwin – and your lovely hotel – is a short drive away (deluxe room).
Spend your morning admiring the colonial buildings and pretty botanical gardens of Pyin Oo Lwin, a colonial hill station that was popular with the British who sought refuge from the heat of the city. Afterwards, your private driver will escort you to the riverside village of Yandabo, which is famous for its clay pottery, with lunch en route at a local restaurant. Spend tonight at the delightful Yandabo Home (standard room).
This morning explore the village of Yandabo, known for the signing of the Yandabo Treaty which took place under a tree on the riverbank in 1826, between the British and Burmese. Continue to Pakkoku by Private car (3.5 hrs driving), where you will visit a local slipper factory and market before taking a private boat to Bagan. Lunch is served on board, before stopping at Kyauk Gu Ohnmin cave temple. Check into Tharabar Gate Hotel (deluxe room)
We start the day climbing Buledi or Shwesandaw Paya for a first impressive view over the area. From here, you explore Gubyaukgyi Temple, famous for its frescoes and Ananda, which is one of he most beautiful temples – and the uncompleted Dhammayangyi with its chilling ghost stories! Enjoy a picnic lunch in quiet and often deserted temple ruins. before taking a horse cart to a sunset pagoda with some refreshing drinks served!
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 idyllic Kalaw Hill Lodge (deluxe room).
Today we have planned the most fun way for you to arrive at nearby Inle Lake. Your luggage will be transferred but you can enjoy a leisurely bike ride from Thaung Lay Lone to Indein. After a short drive, you begin your 3 hours bike trip – which is mainly flat – passing sugarcane and garlic fields, Khaung Dine village with some beautiful views on Inle Lake. At Indein visit the famous ruins before continuing to Pristine Lotus by boat (floating duplex room).
Enjoy a full day boating 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.
To finish your trip we will fly you to the beautiful Ngapali Beach, which 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. We’ve planned nothing for you for the last three days of your trip so you can relax, unwind and reflect on all you have seen from the comfort of Yoma Cherry Hotel (upper garden room).
Get ready to bid your farewells to this beautiful country (and maybe plot your return!) After a leisurely breakfast we will fly you back to Yangon, where you will arrive by 1pm. From here nothing has been organised so you can catch your international flight home. Safe Travels!
This itinerary costs from £3,195 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.