Welcome to Yangon, the city formerly known as Rangoon. Upon arrival at the airport transfer to your hotel and this evening meet your fellow guests and Travel Director for a Welcome Reception drink with local appetisers.
This morning, we begin our walking tour in the colonial heart of the city. See the City Hall, the former Immigration Department, the High Court and the red brick General Post Office before continuing to the luxurious Strand Hotel, built in 1901, for a well-earned refreshment. Later we take the opportunity to try 'Mohinga' for lunch at one of Yangon's latest Tea Houses. It is considered to be the country's National dish; a fish broth with noodles served with various accompaniments. In the afternoon meet the students and teachers at a local monastic school, a Cultural Insight before visiting the nearby Ngar Htat Gyi Pagoda with its huge sitting Buddha. Return to the hotel to relax before an evening visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda. Take part in an oil lamp lighting ceremony before enjoying the sunset over the glistening pagoda.
We bid farewell to the radiant shrines of Yangon and fly to Bagan (formerly known as Pagan) where we visit the most important of the numerous pagodas and temples which are dotted in and around the town. Visit the golden Shwezigon Pagoda, built by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century. Continue to the Ananda Temple, a whitewashed masterpiece of Mon architecture with four standing Buddhas and the adjacent brick monastery from the early Bagan era with its well-preserved murals. A hands-on interaction with a Local Specialist sees us discover how lacquerware is produced in one of Bagan's famous workshops. We return to our hotel for an afternoon at leisure and later, we'll watch the sun set at Bu Paya Pagoda before enjoying a Be My Guest dining experience with a local family in their home.
We set forth through the picturesque rural countryside - fields of sesame, peanuts and soya are fringed with swaying palm trees en route to Sel Village where we will enjoy a Cultural Insight into how the villagers make soya paste and traditional wooden slippers. Our trip continues to Nga Thayouk where we'll see how local families make their traditional cooking pots, before arriving in Set Set Yo village, famous for the centuries-old traditional top-knot hairstyle worn by its local children. We enjoy a picnic lunch in the picturesque village and proceed to Kyauk Gu U Min Temple, magnificently set against the side of a cliff and famous for its incredible, gigantic Buddha statues and fine-square frescoes. Venture beyond the main hall and into a cave, exploring niches with unfinished painted scenes from 550 Jakatas. We board a boat and enjoy a leisurely cruise along the Ayeyarwady river back to Bagan and our hotel for the night.
This morning, we fly to Heho, the gateway to beautiful Inle Lake, whose waters we explore on board our own private long-tail boats. We'll pass the busy village of Ywama with its many channels and tall teak houses on stilts and cruise to Indein, home to a peaceful pagoda hill and the crumbling 14th-18th century pagoda ruins of Nyaung Ohak overtaken by the lush surrounding jungle. Venturing along the covered walkway lined with handicraft sellers, we walk up to Shwe Inn Thein Paya, a complex of weather-beaten 17th-18th century zedi, some of which have been newly reconstructed. After some time of quiet contemplation in this spiritual heart of Inle Lake, we travel by boat downstream to our hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.
As the sun rises over the waters of Inle Lake, we enjoy a Cultural Insight at a local market and engage with the local Pa-O, Danu and Intha people who visit the market to buy and sell goods. Traversing the tranquil waters of the lake we journey to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the holiest religious site in the area. Witness first-hand the extraordinary fishing prowess of the lake's Intha fishermen, who row standing up with one leg wrapped around a single oar, leaving their hands free to manipulate their conical fishing nets. Our intimate encounter with Burmese lake-life continues with a hands-on cooking class with a Local Specialist where we prepare various traditional dishes and afterwards enjoy them together for lunch. This afternoon, your choice of activities gives you two Cultural Insight opportunities: Visit a local vineyard for wine-tasting or take a guided village walk to see the local people making rice crackers and their quintessential conical fishing nets.
We transfer by boat to Nyaung Shwe and proceed to Heho Airport for our flight to Mandalay before boarding your own private boat to cruise up the Ayeyarwady River and in to the heart of the country to Mingun. This is a rare opportunity to witness first-hand local life along this mighty river - watch children cooling off in its waters and swinging from the hanging vines of trees, and see fishermen indulging in an afternoon snooze on their overturned long boats back from a busy morning's activities on the water. Dodge the bamboo rafts and ferries weaving their way up and down the river, its banks lined by beautiful golden stupas that emerge from the dense river-front forest. We enjoy lunch on board before arriving to Mingun where visit the Mingun Bell, which at 87 tonnes is the world's largest ringing bronze bell. Continue to the exquisite white Hsinbyume Paya on the banks of river, which rises in seven terraces representing the seven mountain ranges around Mt. Meru. See the unfinished, but mighty Mingun Pagoda, which was built to be the world's largest pagoda, but was never completed due to local superstitions. Later, we board our boat to venture back downriver to Mandalay and check in to our hotel.
This morning we will be exploring the natural beauty, nostalgia and exoticism immortalised in a Rudyard Kipling poem that bears this beautiful city's name. Our first stop is a visit to Amarapura, the City of Immortality, where we take a leisurely stroll along the U Bein Bridge, believed to be the longest teak bridge in the world. We continue to the hidden hilltop gem of Sagaing, once an ancient capital and today home to one of the greatest concentrations of monasticism in the world - the hillside dotted with white, silver and gold pagodas and monasteries. We enjoy a Cultural Insight into the lives of the Buddhist nuns who live in Sagaing and enjoy lunch in their company before making a stop at local workshops to witness the intricate creation of Kalaga tapestries and gold leaf being beaten into paper-thin pieces by Local Specialists. Gold leaf remains a feature on our journey through the hidden treasures of Mandalay as we visit the Mahamuni Pagoda, one of the most spiritual sites in the country and observe local male devotees adding gold leaf to the already thick layers of gold adorning the spectacular Buddha image. Our in-depth, intimate encounter with an undiscovered treasure has come to an end. Enjoy the last evening of your trip at a Farewell Dinner in a local restaurant with new friends.
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
Special Rate Solo Rooming: The following departures between, 12 May 2018 and 26 September 2018 include a discount of up to 50% on our standard single supplement.
Flights: Prices include internal airfares and taxes for flights: Yangon to Bagan, Bangan to Heho and Heho to Mandalay and are accurate as of 1st June 2017.
Travel Today, Sustain Tomorrow - In Yangon, you'll take part in a traditional oil lamp lighting ceremony with the locals at sunset and learn how your participation helps fund the pagoda's upkeep. You'll also visit a monastic school in Yangon where young monks and nuns study alongside the local children and discover how your visit helps to support the school.
Visas are required for Burma (Myanmar). Please contact the consulate/embassy for further information.