This it the ultimate tour of Myanmar; perfect for those who have three weeks to spare and wish to leave no stone unturned. From the highlights including Bagan, Inle Lake, Yangon and Mandalay – to much more off the beaten track experiences including seeing the tattooed tribes and unique temples of Mrauk U (where few tourists stray), the colonial capital of Mawlamyine and the gorgeous karst scenery of Hpa-An; you’ll see it all. We’ve included some beach time in the middle so you can chill out and a couple of much-needed free days along the way. Having been to all of these places (and more) ourselves – we think this is the very best of Myanmar – in depth.
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 Bagan King (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.
Meet your guide at the hotel and transfer to Yandabo village, which is famous for clay pottery, by private car. On the way, lunch will be taken at a local restaurant before you explore this pretty village, known for the signing of the Yandabo Treaty which took place under a tree on the riverbank in 1826, between the British and Burmese. Tonight, check into Yandabo Home on the river banks (standard room).
Begin your day with a walk around the village of Yandabo and see the traditional clay pot making process. 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, which is rarely visited by tourists. In Bagan, the luxurious Bagan Lodge awaits (bungalow).
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 the 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!
We have not planned anything for you today so you can explore Bagan at your own pace – if you would like we can arrange a driver and guide to be on hand for you. There are more than 2,000 temples, stupas and pagodas in this impressive settlement and it is magic to walk or cycle around at leisure, soaking up the natural beauty and sacred atmosphere of Bagan.
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 washi and feed the elephants before checking into the idyllic Kalaw Hill Lodge (superior 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 before reaching 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.
In the middle of this epic trip we have planned a few days for you at 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 view room).
This morning we will fly you to Sittwe, where your private driver and guide will escort you to Mrauk U, home to striking temples and tribes of women who have their faces tattooed. Today’s drive is about five hours – along a scenic river road of rice paddies and local life with plenty of photo stops. Upon reaching Mrauk U, your guide will take you to a beautiful spot where you can view a panoramic of the town and learn more about its history. Check into the Shwe Thazin guesthouse (basic room).
This morning you will have the opportunity to explore the temples in this area, which are built from dark stone and wildly different to those of Bagan. Much fewer tourists make it here and since the area is flat, it is the perfect place to explore on two wheels and have many temples to yourself, accompanied by an expert guide on the archaeological site and general history of Rakhine Dynasties. We can also arrange a jeep for your today if you prefer.
This morning a beautifully scenic two hour boat ride down the Lemro River takes you off the beaten track and to an ethnic Chin village where you will meet and have a simple lunch with a local host family. Your guide will show you the traditions and culture of the Chin people and you will meet some of the older women who still have their face tattooed, who will be as intrigued by you as you by them! Return to Mrauk U by boat and car.
Early morning start a 4-hour cruise over the Kaladan River which stunning views of the surrounding fields and mountains in the distance – a highlight of any trip to Mrauk U. On arrival at Sittwe, we will fly you to Yangon where you will enjoy an early evening tour of the stunning Shwedagon pagoda, followed by local snacks and drinks and a walk through the night market – so you can experience Yangon like a local. Overnight at M Hotel (deluxe room)
Today your private guide and driver will escort you to one of the country’s most important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists; the Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo Pagoda). A big rock with a small pagoda built on top of it, is balancing on the edge of a mountain and looks as if it could tumble into the ravine below at any moment. From the basecamp you will travel with pilgrims by truck to see this spectacle before spending the night at Golden Sunrise Hotel (basic room).
Today is one of the most scenic and beautiful days of your tour; we take you off the beaten track and into the heart of remote Kayin tribal life. On kayaks, we will paddle through rice paddies before walking through a forest to visit some small villages where a traditional local lunch is served. Afterwards, visit the famous Saddar cave, which is one of the most spectacular caves of the country before staying at the luxurious Hpa-An Lodge (cottage).
We have not planned anything for you today so you can relax and enjoy the day at leisure, which we think is important on longer tours like this. We cannot think of a more perfect place for you to pause and unwind, than at Hpa-An with its gorgeous swimming pool set in the shadow of towering karst scenery. The more adventurous may wish to organise a hike today – or just set time aside to see thousands of bats exit a nearby cave at dusk!
Today you take a private cruise over the Thanlwin (Salween) River – one of the longest rivers in Myanmar, which boasts fantastic views of local life on the river banks. We stop in Pa Lin village for a walk with Kayin, Shan, Mon, Bamar and PaO people before arriving at the colonial city Mawlamyine where George Orwell once lived. You’ll take a walk and see the first baptist church and enjoy a home cooked lunch before checking into Cinderella Hotel (basic room).
Get ready to bid your farewells to this beautiful country (and maybe plot your return!) After a leisurely breakfast we will fly you directly to Yangon from Mawlamyine. From here nothing has been organised so you can catch your international flight home. Safe Travels!
This itinerary costs from £5,250 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.