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HomeFar East Holidays & ToursMyanmar/BurmaThe very best of Myanmar
Myanmar/Burma | 15/12n:

The very best of Myanmar

SMALL GROUP TOUR – ALL DEPARTURES GUARANTEED.

Highlights of this tour:

Mandalay, Amarapura, Sagaing Hill, Ava, Pyin Oo Lwin, Kandawgyi National Park, Pwekaku Waterfall, Peikchinmayaing grottoes, Monywa, Ayeyarwaddy River, the Plains of Bagan, Mount Popa, Kalaw, Taunggyi, Kakku, Inle Lake, Yangon.

This package holiday includes the following:

  • Return flight from the UK to Yangon
  • Three domestic flights in Myanmar: Yangon – Mandalay and Bagan – Heho – Yangon
  • Welcome pack, comprising postcards, a welcome book and a traditional bag
  • 12 nights at 3 and 4-star hotels
  • Local, English-speaking guide to accompany you on the tour
  • 12 x breakfast (days 3–14)
  • 12 x lunch (days 2–13)
  • Excursions by car or minibus with air conditioning
  • Emergency hotline staffed 24/7 throughout your trip

Comprehensive package of excursions included:

  • Sailing tour along the Ayeyarwaddy River to Mingun Pagoda and the Mingun bell
  • Shwenandan Monastery
  • Amarapura and Mahagandayon Monastery
  • Ride in a horse-drawn carriage at Ava; the U Bein Bridge
  • Pyin Oo Lwin, Kandawgyi National Park, Pwekaku Waterfall and Peikchinmayaing Grottoes
  • Thanbode and Bodhitathaung Temples
  • Plains of Bagan
  • Lacquerware factory
  • Shwezigon Pagoda, Nathtaukkyaung Monastery, Ananda Temple
  • Mount Popa
  • Kalaw, Taunggyi, Kakku
  • Sailing tour on Lake Inle, including visits to villages on stilts
  • Sule Pagoda
  • Shwedagon Pagoda
  • Admission and fees for the sights and attractions mentioned

Our promise to you:

  • The top highlights along this travel route
  • A well-constructed travel itinerary. No time wasted & world class
    logistics
  • Guaranteed price, with no hidden surcharges
  • Departure guarantee – the tour will take place regardless of the number of participants
Single room supplement £440
Discount for children under 12 years
Discounts for large groups

Choose this tour because…

Myanmar is one of the most beautiful and photogenic countries in Asia and is home to a deeply religious population. The countryside is truly amazing, comprising everything from broad waterways such as the Ayeyarwaddy River to giant, fertile plains and tall mountains clad in large stretches of forest. There are pagodas and monasteries everywhere, and the monks enjoy immense respect among the people. In fact, sending a son off to become a monk is considered one of the most prestigious acts of all in the Myanmar community.

There are many aspects that are sure to lodge firmly in your memory: the smiles, the tranquillity, the fertile surroundings, the ethnic minorities, the ox carts, the boats on Lake Inle, and the magnificent old wooden buildings. The colours in particular will leave a lasting impression: the gold on the pagodas, the Burgundy robes of the monks, the green paddy fields, the sunrises and sunsets, women and children with pale thanaka powder smeared in intricate patterns on their faces and arms. This tour will introduce you to all the highlights of the country, as well as a number of sights that are off the beaten tourist track.

Look forward to what is sure to be the tour of a lifetime!

Detailed Itinerary
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Day 1: Flight to Yangon
Day 1: Flight to Yangon

Departure day, where you will fly to Yangon with connecting flights along the way.

Day 2: Arrival and sightseeing in Mandalay
Day 2: Arrival and sightseeing in Mandalay

After arriving in Yangon, you will pass through immigration before collecting your luggage. A guide holding an Asiatours sign will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall, and will accompany you to your domestic flight to Mandalay. On arrival in Mandalay, you will be met by another guide who will take you to the hotel where you will be spending the night.

Mandalay is the second ‘capital’ of Mandalay – and was the last capital of the Kingdom of Myanmar. It is the city that will bring you closest to the lifeblood of Myanmar, both historical and spiritual. The Buddhist faith is deeply rooted in the Myanmar population, and this is clearly evidenced in Mandalay. There are hundreds and hundreds of temples and pagodas here, and almost half of the Buddhist monks in Myanmar live in and around Mandalay – and there are tens of thousands of them. Applied art and religious art have always played a prominent role in the city, and you are sure to see signs of this in many places. Finally, the city’s location in the heart of the country and next to the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River has seen it develop into a commercial centre for the whole country.

On arrival in Mandalay, you will be accompanied to the Ayeyarwaddy River to embark on a sailing tour to Mingun. The tour takes about an hour, giving you the chance to admire not only the magnificent landscape that lines the banks of the river, but also the boats on the river with their colourful sails. When the boats tie up at temporary jetties – that sometimes take the form of a broad plank from the vessel to the river bank – local women rush up to them, offering their wares for sale.

Mingun Pagoda is the unfinished edifice that King Bodawpaya started work on back in 1790. Only the foundations were completed. The remainder was never built because an astrologist predicted that the king would die once the pagoda was finished. Mingun Pagoda would have been the biggest pagoda in the world, had it been completed. Instead, the foundations were destroyed by an earthquake in 1839. Next to the Mingun site stands a 90-tonne cast iron bell that was to have been installed in the stupa. The Mingun Bell is still the biggest bell in the world.

It is then time to return to Mandalay and visit some of the small traditional industries such as that of the goldsmith who hammers gold leaf intended for sale as an offering at the temples. During your sightseeing tour of Mandalay, you will visit: Kuthodaw Pagoda, which comprises 729 temples, one for each of the 729 intricately engraved leaves of the stone book which collectively make up ‘the biggest book in the world’; Shwenandaw (The Golden Palace) Monastery, which is one of the most beautiful carved wood monasteries in Myanmar and was once covered in gold leaf both inside and out; while the elements have worn the gold off the outside, everything still shines and glows indoors; and, finally, Mandalay hill, where you can stand on top and admire the view as the sun sets over the city and the Plains of Shan.

Overnight stay Gold Yadanar Hotel 

Day 3: Excursion to Amarapura, Sagaing and Ava
Day 3: Excursion to Amarapura, Sagaing and Ava

The day’s delights start in Amarapura, one of the old capitals of Myanmar, located just 10 km or so from Mandalay. The city is famous for its silk-weaving factories and, in particular, the Mahagandayon Monastery, where you can watch more than 1,000 Buddhist monks go about their daily lives, studying sacred texts and carrying out their chores. The monastery accommodates a large number of novices, whose days are divided up into studies in the morning followed by practical chores and games in the afternoon – you may even have the chance to watch the young novices playing football. Becoming a monk is not a lifelong vocation in the Buddhist faith. You can choose to live as a monk for specific periods, and several times during your life. This is not the case for Buddhist nuns, however, who typically choose to enter a nunnery for life. In Myanmar, it is a mark of prestige to be – or to have been – a monk, and most men have followed the sacred path for at least three months in their lives. While the monks are highly visible in everyday life, it is rare to see a Buddhist nun. One of the reasons for this is that the monks collect alms, but the nuns do not.

Following your stay in Amarapura, the tour moves on to Sagaing, which was the capital city for a short period following the collapse of Bagan. From Sagaing Hill, you can look out over a fascinating landscape featuring the Ayeyarwaddy River and the 700 or so monasteries and nunneries that stand close to the hill and the plains. Leaving Sagaing behind, you proceed to Ava and climb into a horse-drawn carriage for the tour to Maenu Okkyaung Monastery, the Nan Myint Tower and Bargaya Monastery, which rests on a total of 267 teak poles. The final experience of the day takes place back in Amarapura, where you have the chance to watch the sunset from the iconic teak bridge called U Bein, which is probably the most often photographed monument in Myanmar after Shwedagon Pagoda.

Overnight stay Gold Yadanar Hotel 

Day 4: Mandalay – Pyin Oo Lwin
Day 4: Mandalay – Pyin Oo Lwin

From Mandalay, you travel to Pyin Oo Lwin, which is located at an elevation of around 1,000 metres above sea level. During the colonial age it was known as Maymo mountain station. The British originally established a military outpost here, but the place quickly developed into a refuge for the British administration from the baking heat of the summer months in Rangoon. It was also here that the British children went to school. The town contains numerous colonial buildings, which add a special charm to the area. The region is green and fertile, and the climate is cooler than on the lowland plains. Coffee, vegetables and – in particular – strawberries are grown on the slopes here, and you are also sure to see some pine, eucalyptus and oak plantations. You will visit the local market in the town, Kandawgyi National Park (the former botanical gardens) with its collection of more than 250 different species of orchid, Pwekaku Waterfall and Peikchinmayaing Grottoes.

Overnight stay Royal Parkview Hotel 

Day 5: Pyin Oo Lwin – Kyaukme – Mandalay
Day 5: Pyin Oo Lwin – Kyaukme – Mandalay

Today, you will travel to Kyaukme to catch the train. Your journey will take you over the famous Gokteik railway viaduct, which spans a distance of 689 metres and stands on fifteen, 100-metre-high steel columns. When it was built, back in 1899, it was the largest railway bridge in the world. A picnic lunch will be served on the train. In the book The Great Railway Bazaar, the railway bridge was described as ‘a geometric monster in silver, whose presence in the jungle between rugged cliffs appeared bizarre.’ After your train journey, you will be met at the station and driven to Mandalay, where you will be spending the night.

Overnight stay Gold Yadanar Hotel 

Day 6: Mandalay-Monywa
Day 6: Mandalay-Monywa

Today, you will travel to Monywa, a drive of around 120 km, which takes approx. 3½ hours. The route takes you through one of the central agricultural areas in Myanmar, giving you plenty of opportunity to see how the hard-working farmers cultivate magnificent crops in the fertile soil of the Chindwin valley. Monywa is home to a great many small agricultural wholesalers and grinding plants that process cotton, grain and edible oils, for example. In Powintaung, you will visit the cliff grottoes that house more than 400,000 Buddha figures. The tour then proceeds to the spectacular Thanbode Temple, whose central stupa is surrounded by 854 smaller ones. The central stupa slightly resembles Borobodur on Java, but is much smaller. The final stop on today’s tour is at Bodhitathaung Temple, which is surrounded by a large number of sacred bodhi trees.

Overnight stay Jade Royal Hotel 

Day 7: Monywa – Myinmu – Ayeyarwaddy – Bagan
Day 7: Monywa – Myinmu – Ayeyarwaddy – Bagan

Today, you will be driven to Myinmu, which stands on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River. Here, you will bid farewell to your guide and take the ferry to Bagan where a new guide is waiting for you. The tour takes up most of the day.

The Ayeyarwaddy River is fed by meltwater from the Tibetan highlands, and originates from the point where the N’Mai and Mali Rivers converge. Also called ‘Irrawaddy’, the Ayeyarwaddy River is the most important waterway in Myanmar and one of the most significant trade routes in the country as well. Throughout history, rice, cotton, fish and – in particular – teak have been transported from the upper reaches of the river to its mouth in the Andaman Sea. The Myanmar people used hnaw boats with their distinctive sails, while during the colonial period, the British built up the legendary flotille. In the 1930s, this was the biggest fleet of paddle-steamers and smaller river boats in the world, numbering around 650 vessels in total. It was immortalised in Kipling’s famous lines: ‘Come you back to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay’. However, the Ayeyarwaddy is not just important as a transport route. Its waters are crucial to the farmers who work the land on the plains below Mandalay, and who use them to irrigate their vegetable and paddy fields. The Ayeyarwaddy is also the habitat of the remarkably rare Irrawaddy dolphins and the Irrawaddy river shark.

During your sailing tour, you will have plenty of opportunities to observe the local life along the river. Every time the boat ties up, local women flock to the quay or the river bank offering their wares – refreshments, perhaps, or small hand-carved wooden items – for sale.

When the ferry arrives in Bagan, you will be met by our guide who will accompany you to the hotel where you will be spending the coming three nights.

Overnight stay Shwe Yee Pwint Hotel 

Day 8: Bagan
Day 8: Bagan

A visit to Bagan is one of the most captivating experiences Myanmar has to offer. Bagan is situated by the Ayeyarwaddy River and was actually the capital of the first Myanmar kingdom. During its golden years around 1,000 years ago, the city covered more than 40 km2. This is a good size for a city today, but back then it was an almost unprecedented expanse. Today, Bagan itself is just a small provincial town, but you can still sense the immense riches of ages past when, bathed in the soft light of the sunset, you stand at the top of a pagoda or temple, look out over the Plains of Bagan, and see the spires of hundreds of religious buildings reaching for the sky. On the dusty gravel tracks, horse-drawn carriages carry tourists, while ox carts transport the farmers’ fine produce to market. The ravages of time and, in particular, numerous earthquakes have destroyed many monuments, but the authorities are working hard to keep the most important ones in good condition.

The day’s delights start at a local market before proceeding to a lacquerware factory that manufactures wonderful, smooth items that are unique to Bagan. On the Plains of Bagan, you will visit sights including Shwezigon Pagoda, Nathtaukkyaung Monastery (which is built of teak), Ananda Temple and Dhamayangyi Temple. To round off your day, your guide will lead you to the top of a temple, where you can watch the sun go down, bathing the magical landscape in the soft, red light of dusk.

Optional excursion: How about viewing the Plains of Bagan from the air? Soar through the sky in a hot-air balloon, high above the hundreds of religious temples and pagodas as the sun gently sinks below the horizon. It is a truly enchanting experience. Interested? Make sure to book in good time, as balloon flights are extremely popular.

Overnight stay Shwe Yee Pwint Hotel 

Day 9: Bagan – Mt. Popa – Bagan
Day 9: Bagan – Mt. Popa – Bagan

Today, you will be heading off to Mount Popa, approx. 50 km from Bagan. Popa is an extinct volcano, whose peak is around 1,500 metres above sea level. Popa stands proudly and majestically as a solitary column in the landscape, and can be clearly seen from miles and miles away. When you arrive at the bottom of the mountain, you will encounter a flight of 777 steps leading up to the temple complex at the top. From the mountain peak, there is a truly magnificent view out over the otherwise flat landscape. The temple complex comprises a host of temples to specific ‘nat’ (spirits), which the faithful Myanmar Buddhists believe live here in Mount Popa. (This is one of the points that differentiates Myanmar Buddhists from others of the Buddhist faith).

En route to Mount Popa, you will pass through fertile agricultural land, stopping in several places to visit some of the small cottage industries that produce goods such as ‘palm candy’. You will almost certainly see women carrying goods suspended from yokes that they bear across their shoulders, as well as land being cultivated using ox-drawn tools, and farmers hoeing weeds in their fields by hand. You will also visit a village to experience life as it is lived by a great many people in Myanmar. The day finishes off with a sailing tour along the mighty waterway: the Ayeyarwaddy River.

Overnight stay Shwe Yee Pwint Hotel 

Day 10: Bagan – Heho – Kalaw
Day 10: Bagan – Heho – Kalaw

The day starts with a flight from Bagan to Heho, from where you will travel by car to Kalaw. Used as a mountain station in the colonial years, Kalaw is located in the heart of the Shan hills, approx. 1,300 metres above sea level. The climate here is very pleasant, the hills are heavily wooded, and the small town is peaceful and tranquil, with an atmosphere that calls to mind colonial times. It is the perfect place to go trekking. The area around Kalaw is dotted with ethnic villages such a Pao and Palaung, which you can easily hike to in no more than a couple of hours.

Overnight stay Mount Pleasant Hotel 

Day 11: Kalaw – Taunggyi – Kakku – Inle
Day 11: Kalaw – Taunggyi – Kakku – Inle

From Kalaw, you will continue on your merry way to Taunggyi, the vibrant capital of Shan State, with a population of around 200,000. During the colonial period, the city was a cool oasis for ‘heat-struck’ British administrators. Traces from that age include a church, a neglected graveyard and a row of cherry trees. The city has grown to become one of the most active commercial centres in Myanmar today as it enjoys a strategic location between Thailand, China and India. It is home to numerous ethnic minorities including Shan, Sikh and Punjabi people, and it is a favoured location among retired Gurkhas. After leaving Taunggyi, your tour continues on to Kakku, giving you the chance to admire the magnificent countryside en route. Kakku is home to a remarkable collection of pagodas. More than 2,000 of them, measuring 3–4 metres in height, are arrayed in intricate rows and generate a fantastic feeling of peace and clarity. Your journey then proceeds to Inle, stopping off at Ayetharyar vineyard on your way. This is the first vineyard in Myanmar, and was founded as recently as in 1999. Towards the end of the afternoon, you will arrive at Lake Inle where you will be spending the coming two nights.

Overnight stay Paramount Inle Resort 

Day 12: Inle
Day 12: Inle

The whole day is devoted to experiencing Lake Inle, one of the absolute highlights of your tour. The lake is 22 km long, 11 km wide, situated at an elevation of 900 metres above sea level, and surrounded by mountains in all directions. It is one of the most beautifully situated lakes in the world, and its waters are almost always as calm as a mill pond. Rich in nutrients, the lake is full of aquatic plants, which have an interesting effect on life in a number of ways. For example, it is impossible to use ordinary methods for rowing on or fishing in the lake. The locals have developed a very advanced rowing technique to help them make their way across the water. The rower stands with one leg in the stern of the canoe and one leg wrapped around an oar, and pushes his way forwards.

The water in the lake is very shallow, so wherever you go, you are sure to meet fishermen using a unique fishing style. They cannot fish with standard nets on account of the numerous aquatic plants, which are actually considered a resource rather than a problem. The plants are fished up from the lake, converted into elongated, floating ‘fields’ up to a metre wide, and used to cultivate tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and other delicious fruit and vegetables. You will also visit floating villages, silk weavers, the unique lotus leaf weavers, and the Phaungdaw Oo and In Thein pagodas.

Overnight stay Paramount Inle Resort 

Day 13: Inle – Heho – Yangon
Day 13: Inle – Heho – Yangon

Today, you will be driven to the airport in Heho to catch your flight back to Yangon. On arrival at the hotel, you will have time to check in and freshen up before heading off to experience the Bogyoke market and enjoy a stroll through Chinatown. You will then visit the giant reclining Buddha at Chaukhtatgyi and round off your day at the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda, which is considered one of the wonders of the world.

The rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish.

Overnight stay Panorama Hotel 

Day 14: Return journey from Yangon
Day 14: Return journey from Yangon

The day is yours to do with as you wish until it is time to depart. You will be picked up and driven to the airport for your flight from Yangon to the UK, which will include connecting flights along the way.

Day 15: Arrival back in the UK
Day 15: Arrival back in the UK

Arrive back in the UK after a fascinating holiday in Myanmar, packed with wonderful experiences.

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