BEST OF MYANMAR
Day 1: Arrival Yangon
Upon arrival, you will be greeted by your guide at the Yangon International airport and transferred to your hotel and the rest of the day at leisure.
Yangon is a city where contemporary and colonial Myanmar (19th and 20th centuries) continues to coexist decades after British departure. It is a handsome city with a history of over two millennia, though it has been a capital for a mere 100 years. Rebuilt on a grid plan in the 1850s, the wide tree-lined boulevards are bordered by fine stone buildings. In the 1880s, Yangon was renowned as “the Queen of the East”. Today, visitors can immerse themselves in the chaotic street-life, thriving markets, charming tea shops or just wander round the bustling capital, in what remains an incredibly safe city.
On arrival, transfer to hotel for check in.
Day 2: Yangon
After breakfast, start your sightseeing with a visit to the Botataung Pagoda. This 131 foot stupa is unusual in that it is hollow and visitors are able to walk around inside. The original pagoda was destroyed in 1943 when it took a direct hit from an Allied bomb. During the cleanup a golden casket containing a hair and two other relics of Buddha were found.
Continue to visit to Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, Reclining Buddha, which houses a 70-meter reclining Buddha. Also within the pagoda enclosure is a center devoted to the study of sacred Buddhist manuscripts. About 600 monks live in the monastery and spend their days studying and meditating.
In the afternoon, continue sightseeing to the Scott Market (Bogyoke Aung San Market) CLOSED ON MONDAYS AND GAZETTED HOLIDAYS where you can find all the consumer goods a Myanmar family could possibly need or want. The days when it was difficult to buy so much as an electric light bulb seem to be over. Scott market is a shopper’s paradise; it has everything from old ethnic material, spears, masks, gems, carvings….. You name it, it’s got it!
You will end the day with visit to Shwedagon Pagoda, the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar. The central stupa is 90 meters tall and gilded with gold leaf. As the sun begins to set enjoy the breathtaking views of the Pagoda and surrounding skyline and offer 1000 candles on Pagoda platform and gold leaf at your section according to the birthday of the week. The pagoda is especially enlightened for you, with 100 oil lamps all light up by the trustee of the pagoda.
Day 3: Yangon/Inle
After breakfast, transfer to Bagan Airport for a flight to Heho.
From Heho, a scenic one-hour drive leads to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway village to Inle Lake. Along the way, stop to see paper parasol making and the wooden Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery which features beautiful carvings and a collection of Buddha images.
Upon reaching the edges of Inle Lake, board a private motorboat to head out to Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular sights. Pass villages built on stilts over the lake, inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the leg-rowing fishermen and see their floating gardens built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles.
After Lunch, continue down a small canal leading to the Pa-oh village of In Dein. Explore the area on foot, strolling around the village, visiting a local school, and wander through the beautiful bamboo grove and up a beautiful stairway lined with wooden columns to old Shwe Inn Dein, an impressive and thankfully unrestored collection of ancient Shan style stupas. At the top there is a stunning view out across the lake and beyond, to the hills in the east and of the rolling countryside to the west.
Day 4: Inle Lake
In the morning, visit 5 days market and continue to the Phaung-Daw-U Pagoda, which enshrines five golden Buddha images carried back to Myanmar by the 12th century King Alaungsithu upon his return from the Malay Peninsula. The images were deposited in a cave near the lake, and were not rediscovered until centuries later. Since their relocation to this pagoda, however, they have been covered with so much gold leaf that they look more like balls of gold than Buddha figures.
Inle Lake on the Shan Plateau is an oasis where you will see the unique methods of farming and fishing which sustain the local residents. Surrounding the lake is a wide belt of silt and tangled water hyacinths, which over time, creates a thick humus-like layer. The government sells plots of this floating land to be farmed by the villagers. Women tend the plots from boats. They grow cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, beans and eggplant. Fishing is done by means of a conical trap containing a net that the fisherman thrusts to the bottom of the lake when he sees movement. All this is done while the fisherman perches precariously on the boat’s stern with one foot and twists his other leg around a long oar that he uses to propel the boat!
Visit the Ngaphechaung Monastery, a wooden monastery built on stilts over the lake. Here you will see impressive Buddha images in the Shan, Tibetan, Bagan and Inwa styles on a highly ornate wood and mosaic pedestal.
In the afternoon, you will visit Nampan Village where you can witness traditional village life on the lake and experience blacksmith, cheroot making factory, experience having a go at trying to make a cheroot – a famous Burmese cigar, and boat builder’s workshop.
Later that afternoon, drive to Red Mountain Estate Vineyards. Located along beautiful Inle Lake, in the high country Shan State of Myanmar, sits the Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery, which produces the best wines of the country. Since the beginning, the wines have been produced with locally grown grapes. All of the original 400,000 plants were imported from France, Spain and Israel and were specially chosen after experimentations from the French winemaker. The wines are made in the tradition of western wines, utilizing all new technologies and modern equipment imported from Italy.
Day 5: Inle Lake- Heho/ Mandalay
Free time at your hotel in the morning.
Later on, you will be transferred to the airport for the flight to Mandalay.
Mandalay was the last royal capital of the Burmese kingdom. Geographically and culturally at the core of the country, the city was established by King Mindon as a new centre for the study of Buddhism, and today remains the spiritual artery of a devoutly religious nation. Mandalay is home to more than half of the total population of monks in Myanmar. The former royal capital is itself only 150 years old, but its poetic and lyrical name, immortalised in numerous books and poems, conjures up childhood images of the romance and mysticism of the Orient.
On arrival, transfer to your hotel for check-in.
In the early evening a visit to the Shwekyin Kyaung Monastery situated at the northern base of Mandalay Hill. This stunning example of a 19th century teak monastery is the magical setting for a private viewing of evening prayers performed by the young novice monks in the ancient Pali language. Following the prayers the Abbott will invite the clients to come and join the young novices in the middle of the group where they will be blessed for prosperity and spiritual security.
Day 6: Mandalay- Road to Mandalay
B – L – D
After a short visit to Sagaing Hills to enjoy the panoramic views over the Ayeyarwaddy River, transfer to the Road To Mandalay berthed on the Ayeyarwady River at Shwe Kyet Yet village. Following a welcome meeting, the ship will set sail for Mandalay. After lunch on board, transfer to shore by local boat for a guided tour of the key sights of this fabled city, regarded as the centre of Burmese culture and Buddhist learning. Return to Road To Mandalay for dinner and local entertainment in the evening.
Day 7: Road to Mandalay
B – L – D
Join an early morning walking tour of Shwe Kyet Yet village which will include alms-giving to the monks by the ship’s crew. Enjoy breakfast while the ship sails down to the ancient capital of Ava. Disembark for a tour by traditional horse and cart including a visit to an ancient teak monastic school and the ruins of King Bagyidaw’s palace. The rest of the day is spent relaxing on board observing the local river life from the top deck. Afternoon tea is served and an on-board guide lectures on local places and customs. A casual cocktail party is followed by dinner on board.
Day 8: Road to Mandalay
B – L – D
The ship arrives at Bagan where over 2,000 temples and pagodas are scattered on an awe-inspiring plain beside the river. A guided orientation tour introduces you to the most important temples. After lunch you have the opportunity to rejoin the guide and visit the inside of some of the more significant pagodas. Alternatively, you can hire a bicycle or horse-drawn cart (with driver) and explore this fascinating area on your own. Late afternoon your guide takes you to watch the breathtaking vista of the sun setting over the plain. Dinner and local entertainment on board.
Day 9: Road to Mandalay – Bagan
After breakfast, disembark and continue with further sightseeing of Bagan.
The colourful religious centre of Salay is located in Central Myanmar, about 2 hours south of Bagan. Salay is home to many ancient monuments and colonial buildings that are decorated with beautiful wood carvings. Visit the famed Yoke-Sone-Kyaung monastery which was built in 1882 and today enjoys cultural heritage protection. Continue further to the ancient Buddha image of the Yadanabon 19th century period and the museum of Myanmar. Finally, visit the impressive Thar Ta Na Yaung Chi monastery, which also houses an orphanage.
Drive back to Bagan.
Day 10: Bagan – Yangon Departure
After breakfast you are transferred to the airport for your flight to Yangon. On arrival, connect with your departure flight.