Yangon (3 nights) – Mandalay (2 nights) – Yandabo village Irrawaddy river (1 night) – Bagan (4 nights) – Inle lake (4 nights)
Total 14 nights accommodation, flights within Myanmar, transfers, private touring, 14 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 7 dinners.
Begin your independent travel to Myanmar with a step back in time with a stay at the elegant Strand Hotel as you explore Yangon and marvel at the Shwedagon Pagoda. A flight to Mandalay awaits to spend time discovering this northern city to experience the temples and traditional way of life.
Next we take you off the beaten track, usually on a cruise aboard a day boat, down stream on the Irrawaddy river* from Mandalay to Yandabo Home, near the village of Pan Nyo.
During the afternoon and the following morning you will explore this remote village and the surrounding farmlands enjoying the isolation and hospitality at Yandabo Home. The next day you will continue your river journey downstream* to the intriguing town of Bagan.
Bagan, where over 2,000 stupas and temples are dotted amongst the surrounding farms and villages is a treasure trove of discovery. Your accommodation in Bagan is in a palace hotel with views to the surrounding fields, and nearby stupas.
If Began is not beguiling enough for you… a short flight brings you Heho where you will be besotted by the charm and beauty of nearby Inle Lake. During your time at the Inle Princess resort your private touring will be by long tail boats with your drivers navigating across the lake past floating farms, villages and fishermen. Your stay on the edge of Inlay lake is a definite highlight of your visit to Myanmar and will be etched in your memory for years to come.
To conclude your Myanmar stay you will again luxuriate at the beautiful Strand Hotel in Yangon.
(* As the water levels are not always favourable, the journey from Mandalay to Bagan via Yandabo Village may need to be taken by road).
- Private arrival transfer from Yangon International airport to The Strand hotel.
- 2 nights at The Strand Hotel – Superior suite
- Breakfast daily at The Strand Hotel
The Strand Hotel Yangon
After breakfast, you will be met to begin your private tour. Firstly around the city centre which is filled with various historical and colonial buildings. Stop at the Sule Pagoda which is a 2200-year-old temple surrounded by government buildings. Then, head to Mahabandoola Park, where Independent Monument stands.
Continue your tour by passing City Hall on the way to the Botahtaung Pagoda. It is situated downtown beside the Yangon River. Next, visit the Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda, one of Myanmar’s more beautiful reclining buddhas which is topped by a crown encrusted with diamonds and other precious stones. The feet of the statue is carved with traditional symbols and often many locals gather to pay homage and pray.
Afterwards, you will be taken to Kawdawgyi Lake, here you can experience the panoramic views from the lake overlooking the Shwedagon Pagoda. Next, explore the famous Scott Market, a sprawling complex built in 1926 and noted for its variety of handicrafts and other items which provides an excellent opportunity for a shopping spree.
Complete your day with a visit to one of the world’s most spectacular monuments, the Shwedagon Pagoda, a gleaming bell dome structure that dominates the city’s skyline. Legends state that the sacred hairs of the Buddha are enshrined here. The Shwedagon is an iconic symbol of the country, a sight not to be missed.
- Private transfer from The Strand Hotel to Yangon domestic Airport
- Economy class flight from Yaongon to Mandalay including luggage
- Private Transfer from Mandalay domestic Airport to the Rupar Madalar Resort
- 2 nights Mandalay Hill Resort – Corner Suite room with executive lounge access
- Breakfast Daily at Mandalay Hill Resort
Mandalay Hill Resort
- Mandalay City Impressions tour
After check-in, enjoy a morning stroll through the lively Zegyo market in the heart of the city to experience authentic local life on your Private tour. We continue to the artisan quarters, where some of the oldest craftsmanship are showcased dating back to last kingdom of Myanmar. We observe the process of pounding gold leaf, detailing teakwood carvings and embroidering Myanmar tapestry. We also see how bronze and marble Buddha statues are carved, cast and molded.
Next, we proceed to the major highlights of the city: the sacred Mahamuni Pagoda, housing one of the most significant Buddha images covered in several tons of gold leaf and the crown prize in wars between competing kingdoms; Near the Mahamuni we visit the Jade Market for an insight to this trade.
Next visit will be the Golden Palace Monastery, the sole surviving Royal Palace building in Mandalay, offering a glimpse of the original style and architecture of the Myanmar royals; and lastly, the Kuthodaw Pagoda, a compound housing Buddha’s teachings carved in the sacred Pali script on stone tablets and regarded the world’s largest book in terms of surface area. We end our day with sunset panoramic views over city skyline on Mandalay Hill, the highest point of the city. Dinner tonight at a local restaurant.
- Near Mandalay excursion to Ava (Inwa) – Sagaing – Amarapura – Ubein Bridge tour including lunch.
After breakfast at the hotel, we embark on a private journey to the Ancient Kingdoms of Myanmar near Mandalay. We transfer 15km to Ava (Inwa), the ancient capital of Shan and Burmese Kingdoms for over four centuries. Crossing the Myint Nge River by ferry, the small roads of Ava are explored by horse and carriage. Visit the old wooden Bagaya Monastery, a typical Burmese monastery with two buildings, one for the Buddha and another for the monks living there. There are many small villages located amid Ava’s ruins. While exploring the area by horse and cart, get an up-close glimpse of local life in the Burmese countryside.
We continue to the Ancient Kingdom of Sagaing, located across the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River. From the Sagaing Hills, we enjoy views of the hillside dotted with countless pagodas and pay a special visit to a monastery to learn about the life of Buddhist devotees.
We continue to another beautiful ancient capital, Amarapura, famous for its textile industries. There, we visit a cottage industry workshop to learn how Myanmar longyis and traditional fabrics are woven. Continuing to the Ubein Bridge, a simple yet remarkable teak structure that spans 1,2km over Taungtaman Lake, we have the option to be rowed onto the calm waters. Ubein Bridge, silhouetted by the setting sun, is a magical experience and a photographer’s dream.
- Mandalay to Yandabo by cruise (subject to river levels) alternate travel by road transfer
Early morning transfer to the banks of the Ayeyarwady River to catch the ferry-boat to Bagan. The scenery along the Ayeyarwady is timeless – oxen working the fields, water buffalo wallowing in the mud, golden pagoda spires, fishermen, villagers bathing in the river and, of course, every type of boat and river craft that you can imagine.
You should arrive in Yandabo Village around midday, a village on the bank of Ayeyarwady River between Bagan and Mandalay. It is historically recognized for the signing of the Yandabo Treaty which took place under a tree on the riverbank in 1826 between the British and Royal Burmese House-hold of Ava. It is also a well-known place for making pots from the riverbank clay. Upon arrival in Yandabo village for check in.
In the afternoon, proceed to Pan Nyo village, along the riverbank of Ayeyarwady River is worthwhile visiting to observe the daily life style of local people, where about 4,000 water buffalos are used to cultivate the land. They cultivate rice, plant seasonal vegetables and fruits, etc. You reach this village by taking a small boat to cross the big river.
- 1 night Yandabo Home
- Breakfast included at Yandabo Home
- Discover Yandabo morning
This morning, enjoy a leisurely walk through the picturesque Yandabo village, where almost every person in the village is somehow involved in producing water pots. Learn about this profession and if you like you can even try to mould your own pot. Visit the local school, chat up with people while sipping a cup of tea in one of the local homes.
Return to hotel, freshen and enjoy the peaceful place on the banks of this magic river while waiting for the ferry to Bagan.
- Irrawaddy ferry from Yandabo to Bagan – Subject to river levels
The ferry will arrive in Yandabo before midday. Leisurely sailing downriver to Bagan, arrive Bagan in the late afternoon and transfer to your hotel. Should the river levels not be favourable alternate travel by road will be arranged.
- Arrival transfer from Bagan ferry terminal to the Aureum Palace Bagan
- 4 nights Aureum Palace – Orchid / Jasmine lake view rooms
- Breakfast daily at Aureum Palace
Aureum Palace Bagan
- Discover Bagan tour
Pick up from your hotel from where you start your private tour with a visit to the Nyaung U market, the largest market in the Bagan region which will give you a glimpse into local life.
Continue with visits to a diverse selection of the most important pagodas and temples in Bagan. These include the Shwezigon Pagoda, a huge gilded temple built by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century and Gubyaukgyi (Wetkyi-Inn), a 13th century temple with exquisite murals of the ‘Jataka Tales’ (scenes from the life of the Buddha). Continue to the eminent Ananda Temple; one of the finest and largest pagodas, with a 51-metre (170-foot) shimmering gold tip plus four huge standing-Buddha images and numerous seated figures arranged around the interior gallery.
After lunch, visit a lacquer craftsman’s workshop in nearby Myingaba village. Sightseeing continues with visits to Manuha Temple, built in Mon style in 1059; Nanpaya Temple, a unique sandstone monument that is said to have been the palace of King Manuha; and Gubyaukgyi (Myingaba) under the protection of UNESCO because of its ancient mural paintings.
For sunset, a horse cart ride around the temples offers unparalleled photo opportunities of one of the richest archeological treasures in Southeast Asia as the sun dips behind the temple ruins (weather permitting).
- Bagan – Mount Popa – Bagan tour including lunch with evening Sunset Cruise
Today, you will be met and transferred for your private journey to Mt Popa, an extinct volcano. After paying respects to the Nat Shrine at the foot of Mount Popa, you will climb the 777 steps to reach the mountain top monastery where powerful spirits are said to live.
Enjoy lunch at Popa Mountain Resort.
Stop by the local cottage industries on the way back to Bagan. See how palm juice is collected for the making of toddy wine and palm candies and chat to the locals. Sit down for a green tea and traditional snacks, like tea leaf salad, before returning to your hotel.
In the late afternoon, transfer to the Ayeyarwady River for a private sunset cruise where views of the temple silhouettes and bustling shore and be accompanied by cocktails on local snacks on board.
- Choice of tour – Off the beaten track around Bagan (Option 3 Exploring Bagan rural life has an additional surchage)
Option 1 – Villages, Temples & Monasteries – This morning visit Minnanthu village by horse cart. Visit Tayoke Pyay, Payathonzu and Nandamanya Temples (noted for exquisite 13th century murals) and Kyat Kan Cave Monastery, a famous meditation centre in Bagan. Visit farming houses around Bagan.
In the afternoon, enjoy an excursion to the beautiful Nat Htaung Kyaung, a monastery famous for wood carvings, built in 1781 by a group of monks. Admire the monastery’s collection of ancient Buddha statues and lacquer boxes. Return to your hotel.
Option 2 – Jeep Safari Off the beaten track tour – A trip without temples but just pure, village life experiences to discover the dry zone.
Drive out of Bagan with 4×4 car while local women carrying fire wood etc. for the market and communities are starting their daily activities. Nyaung Gyi is the first village visit and we stop to see a black smith work shop. In Se Ywa village we visit several local workshops (Plum purifying, cooking oil-producing, wooden slipper maker and ox cart-wheel repair shop). Then we continue to Taung Kong village where the majority of the people are farmers but also making pottery. Total about 5 hours’ drive with stops. A great trip for photographers and anyone interested in daily life of local people.
Option 3 – Exploring Bagan rural village life Pick up from your hotel and drive out into the country side. The road leads through stunning land scenery where depending on season peanuts, sesame, soya beans and other crops are planted. Each field is protected by palm trees which give shade to the farmers and which protect the fields from the wind. Stop in Sel Village and enjoy a walk through this wonderful quiet place. Wooden slippers are also produced here – people use them for showering or working in the fields. Many people here produce Soya Paste, a welcome ingredient to make a tasteful dinner.
From Sel, continue driving to Nga Thayouk village. Walk through this village and amongst many interesting things you can see families making cooking pots. The next village is famous for the children’s hairstyle which is the same like centuries ago where the top hair is not cut but kept in a knot. Children up to teenager age keep this style under the supervision of the head monk of the village. Before colonial rule, all of the country’s boys and girls wore their hair in this manner. However Sat Sat Yo village is the only place left in Myanmar where children still have their hair tied in this traditional style.Walk through this village and talk to the head master of the school and learn about village life in general. Picnic lunch box will be taken in the village. The monastery or one of the nearby homes offer shelter to enjoy a break and a light snack.
In the afternoon, drive one hour back to Kyauk Gu U Min temple on the eastern side of the river. The temple is famous for its amazing sandstone figures, gigantic Buddha statues and fine square frescoes. The temple itself was built against the side of a cliff; there is a cave behind the main hall. In the upper storey, there are some square niches on both sides of the inner and outer walls of the vaulted corridor. These niches are believed to show unfinished painted scenes from 550 Jatakas. These several small niches were dedicated to practice individual meditation. Afterwards, take the boat for a relaxing cruise back to Bagan (around one hour) along the Ayeyarwaddy River. Transfer back to your hotel upon reaching Bagan. A surcharge of around AUD $ 80 per person is applicable to this option (Option 3)
Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Flight Operated: Daily between October & March, 5.30 to around 8.00 or 8.30am Price per person: US$285 approximatly AUD $ 415.
Imagine floating over thousand year old pagodas and the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River, as the sun rises slowly from the horizon over the misty fields and temples. The magic of Bagan has inspired visitors to Myanmar for centuries. One of the most remarkable sights in Asia, where ancient temples dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. The flight duration is approx. 45min to 1hr depending on wind and air currents and other local factors. Balloons team will pick you up from the hotel and transfer to the launch site. After briefing session, set off for the spectacular flight. Upon landing enjoy glass of champagne and light snack prior transfer back to your hotel.
- Private transfer from your palace hotel to Bagan Domestic Airport
- Economy class flight Bagan to Heho with luggage
- Private scenic transfer by road and boat to Inle Princess Inle Lake
- 4 nights Inle Princess resort – Lake House
- Breakfast Daily at Inle Princess resort
Inle Princess Resort – Inle Lake
- Local market – Traditional Floating Craft Villages
Explore a 5-day rotating market on your private excursion (if your visit coincides with the schedule) which offers an insight into the life of the ethnic Pa-O, Danu and Intha people who come to these markets to sell and buy goods.
Continue to Nampan village, meeting with residents to witness traditional Ikat weaving techniques firsthand. Continue to Inpawkhon village, where you interact with locals, immersing yourself in village life. Visit a boat builder’s workshop, blacksmith shop and cheroot making factory, where you can try your hand at making the fabled Burmese cigar.
Lunch at Inthar Heritage House before your boat transfer back to the Inle Princess Resort.
- Shan Cooking Class morning tour (Including lunch)
The Shan cuisine is famous for its refined taste and the possibility to make amazing dishes with just a few local ingredients.
After breakfast, you will by picked up by boat by either Mr. Min or his lovely wife, your chef for the cooking class this morning. First, you will visit the Mingalar market or 5-day rotating market. The chef explains how to shop, traditional bargaining and explains the ingredients being purchased.Then, you will drive for about 15-20 minutes to a beautiful “hidden” place on the lake.
After a cup of tea, you will start with the cooking class and learn how to prepare 8-10 special Shan dishes. At the end, you will sit down to enjoy what you have created for lunch. You will also get a very nice recipe book of all the dishes to take home to impress your family and friends about your cooking. After lunch, you can go on a short canoe trip around the area to see some of the floating gardens and villages.
- Indein village & ancient Shwe Inn Thein pagodas (Including Lunch)
After breakfast travel by private long-tailed boat across the lake to Indein, at the western end of Inle, for one of the most scenic trips on the Lake. Passing through the busy village of Ywama, the largest on the Lake, with many channels and tall teak houses on stilts; enter a long, often tree-lined canal, either side of which farmers cultivate their land against the backdrop of the Shan Hills.
Disembark at the jetty and walk for 15 minutes through Indein village to reach the 14th – 18th century pagoda ruins of Nyaung Ohak. Many pagodas here remain charmingly unrenovated, with plants and even small trees growing out of them, making the area very atmospheric. A covered walkway popular with souvenir stallholders leads up to Shwe Inn Thein Paya, a complex of weather-beaten 17th – 18th century zedi; some newly reconstructed.
Returning to the river you continue by boat downstream past Yethar village, watching local life on the banks and birds in the trees until rejoining the Lake. Stop at Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the holiest religious site in southern Shan State.
Today, you are invited to join a family for lunch. You will enjoy a traditional Intha meal cooked by your hosts according to their family recipes. Take a look around the house, peek in the kitchen to discover some traditional cooking techniques and share a convivial moment with the inhabitants of the lake.
- Bonus – The Inthar Life exploration tour
Embark on an insightful excursion on Inle Lake. Spend an afternoon learning about the Inthar people, the native residents of the lake.
Don a pair of Intha trousers and a hat then head to the boat jetty and board a private motorboat. Cruise onto the Lake’s waters and enjoy the views of the lush mountains that surround the lake. See Intha fishermen at work and stop for a closer look at their unique techniques. Observe how they use one leg to balance the boat, the other leg to support the fishing cage, one arm to aim the fishing cage and the other arm to steer. It is a technique that is unique to the region and takes years to master.
Head onwards to the floating gardens. Get up-close and see how these unique farm beds are built using bundles of weeds, mud and bamboo poles. Explore the rows of tomatoes, eggplants and other produce that grow on the highly nutritious gardens.
INLE LAKE OPTIONAL CYCLING ACTIVITIES
Cycling tour to Vineyards & Winery Take a break from classic sightseeing and discover a different side of Inle Lake. Start with a leisurely bike ride through Nyaung Shwe, the thriving trading town on the north end of Inle Lake. Pedal around the side streets of town, stopping to see warehouses piled high with tomatoes and to check out the bustling canals. There may be a chance to visit the market to see the fresh produce on sale and rub shoulders with the local shoppers.
Cycle away from town to the outskirts of Nyaung Shwe, leaving the tall concrete buildings of town behind and heading into the fields and farms. This area is home to a diverse mix of hill tribes. Be on the lookout for people from the Pa-O, Shan and Inthar ethnic groups in their traditional dress.
Follow the lake’s eastern shoreline south, stopping for photos and to visit villages on the way. Then turn off the main road and climb a short hill to arrive at the entrance of Red Mountain Estate. Take a tour of the winemaking facilities and learn about this joint venture between a French wine expert and the local Pa-Oh people. Hear about the challenges of growing grapes in the Shan State and Myanmar’s nascent wine industry.
Take a seat at the hillside restaurant and begin the Inle Lake Wine tasting experience. Unwind and enjoy the fabulous views over Inle Lake while sipping tasty wine. Then it’s time to hop back on the bikes and pedal to Nyaung Shwe. USD $ 45 Per Person
Cycling Tour to the Western Shore of Inle Lake Pick up from your hotel and transfer to Ton Le village on the western shore where the bike team is waiting for you. After familiarizing yourself with the bike, start the gentle cycling to Taung Bo Kyi and visit the monastery, a school (only on school days), the village and people at work and many other things which are all exotic to outsiders.
You will have the opportunity to meet the friendly local people and talk to them through the guide about their life, traditions, culture and other topics. Than cycling through Lae-Pyin and Than-Taung to Myay Ni Kone village where you can study the whole process of making rice cracker (Monte-Kyaut-Hnan-Htoo). It is one of the most famous snacks on the lake. Take a boat back to your hotel. USD $ 50 per person.
- Private boat transfer from Inle Princess Resort
- Private transfer by road to Heho airport
- Economy class flight from Heho to Yangon with luggage
- Private transfer from Yangon Domestic airport to The Strand Hotel
- 1 night The Strand Hotel
- Farewell evening dinner at The Strand Hotel
- Breakfast daily at The Stand Hotel
- Private transfer from The Strand Hotel to Yangon International Airport
COST – per person twin share:
- High season: January to March 2019 and November 2019 to March 2020 From $ 5326
- Low season: April to September 2019 From $ 4624
Note: The April to September period is when the river levels require the trip to Yandobo Home to be via road rather than on the Irrawaddy. Should the river levels also be unfavourable during the main season there would be a slight surcharge also. Unfortunatly river levels are unpredicable and we will advise you accordingly if a change to your travel arrangments is required. Also the cost for the internal flights within Myanmar are subject to change based on availability. We will know the exact cost at the time of booking your Independent travel to Myanmar.
All prices in AUD per person, twin share and conditions apply. Subject to availability at the time of booking and currency fluctuations. Amendments to duration and inclusions are permitted.
This custom made travel itinerary has been especially hand created and is a sample of the choices on offer in Myanmar. Durations, locations, hotels and touring can be altered to suit your individual requirements and needs. When you speak with us we will tailor and book your travel arrangements to your exact tastes and budget to ensure your individual experience is perfect for you. We aim in providing you your ultimate holiday to amazingly interesting destinations.
As we are in the era of dynamic flight pricing we will book you the best available airfare at the time you make your reservation at Myanmar. Considering travelling Premium Economy or Business class, ask us about our combination airfares available to you for your travel to Myanmar.
Important: A visa is required for travel to Myanmar.
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