This short and compact journey through the heart of the “Golden Land” takes in all of Myanmar’s essential destinations. It takes you back through thousands of years of Burmese history, from the temples of Bagan to the palaces of the former capital city of Mandalay, but this cultural focus is balanced by plenty of opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty of the countryside and interact with local people.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Visit the famous golden stupa of Shwedagon Pagoda.
  • Ride a hot-air balloon and watch the magnificent sunrise over the Bagan archaeological site with its thousands of temples.
  • Visit a school and interact with teachers and students to understand about the education system in Myanmar.
  • Enjoy the hospitality and friendliness of an untouched culture through visits to off-the-beaten-path villages and interaction with local people.
  • Admire the sunset and daily life activities on the Irrawaddy River and Inle Lake.

Day 1: Arrive Yangon (D)

On arrival in Yangon you will be welcomed by our local guide at the airport and transferred to Yangon (Rangoon), formerly the capital of Myanmar and still its largest city. After checking into your hotel and receiving a briefing about your itinerary, you will begin exploring the city in the afternoon. The city tour will introduce the main highlights of Yangon, including the revered Chauk Htat Gyi reclining Buddha and of course the Shwedagon Pagoda, which dates back over 2,600 years and is considered the holiest Buddhist site in Burma. Its huge golden stupa is covered with hundreds of gold plates and the upper section is encrusted with 4,351 diamonds. Later we will stop at a local open air tea shop to try the refreshing local drink as well as observing the method of making it. 

Overnight in Yangon

Day 2: Yangon – Bagan (B,L,D)

We’ll rise early this morning and take a short flight to Bagan, the “City of Four Million Pagodas.” Originally founded in 849 by the Burmans as the capital of their empire, this ancient city is one of the most amazing archaeological sites in the world – 5,000 temples, stupas (Buddhist dome-shaped monuments believed to contain relics of the Buddha himself) and pagodas lie scattered across an area of 42 square kilometres (16.2 square miles) on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River, testifying to the power and status of Bagan in bygone times. The most significant pagoda here is the golden Shwezigon Pagoda, constructed in 1057 by King Anawrahta, considered the founder of the Burmese nation, as a place of prayer and meditation. Enjoy a horse carriage tour here and you may be rewarded with the sight of a magnificent sunset over the temples.

Overnight in Bagan.

Day 3: Bagan - Hot-Air Balloon Ride - Sunset cruise on Irrawaddy River (B,D)

A pre-dawn start today for a 45-minute ride in a hot-air balloon to watch the stunning sunrise over the temples of Bagan. Then we take a stroll through the lively Nyaung Oo Market for a great photo opportunity, as local people buy and sell fresh produce and colourful clothing. Later we return to the hotel for breakfast and spend the rest of the morning at leisure. In the afternoon, we visit Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple featuring exquisite jataka mural paintings, and the elegant Htilominlo temple. Then we continue to the rural village of Minnanthu, one of Bagan's less-visited areas. This is a remote and quite poor area, but people are very friendly. Your visit here will attract curious looks and shy smiles when you greet or wave to the locals. You can explore more temples here before taking a sunset boat cruise on the Irrawaddy River.

Overnight in Bagan.

Day 4: Bagan – Mandalay (B,L,D)

After a short flight to Mandalay, we embark on a tour taking in the main highlights of the city. We start with Mahamuni Paya, the most sacred Buddhist religious site of all upper Myanmar. Then we visit the Myawaddy Convent, where you can observe more than 200 novice nuns taking their lunch and participate in informative discussion with the abbess. In the afternoon, our tour starts with a visit to the traditional Burmese wooden monastery of Shwenandaw Kyaung, continuing to Kuthodaw Paya, often known as “the world’s biggest book pagoda,” where the entire Tripitaka (Holy Buddhist canons) was recorded on 729-marble slabs in 1859. At the end of the day we will ascend the 236-metre Mandalay Hill to enjoy a commanding view of the city before returning to the hotel.

Overnight in Mandalay

Day 5: Mandalay – Inwa (B,L)

Today we will travel to the ancient city of Inwa or Ava, located 22 kilometres (13 miles) southwest of Mandalay on an artificial island. Inwa literally means “city of gems,” and it served as the imperial capital of successive Burmese kingdoms from the 14th to 19th centuries. Highlights of our tour of the city include the 27-metre Nanmyin watchtower, also known as the “leaning tower of Ava;” the Maha Aungmye Bonzan, a brick-and-stucco monastery which tries to imitate the traditional wooden style; and the famous Bagaya Kyaung teakwood monastery with its 267 wooden pillars, the largest of which measures 18m in height and 2.7m in circumference. Later we return to the hotel where the evening will be spent at leisure.

Overnight in Mandalay.

Day 6: Mandalay - Heho - Inle Lake (B,L,D)

Today we fly to the town of Heho where a short transfer will take us to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway village to Inle Lake. As we head out onto the Inle Lake in our private boat, we pass local villages and watch the Intha fishermen with their unique one-legged rowing style. We visit the Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, a simple wooden temple perched by the lake which is famous for its jumping cats, and then witness the production of traditional Intha silks and Burmese cigars in the cheroot factory at Inpawkhone weaving village.

Overnight at Inle Lake.

Day 7: Inle Lake - In Dein (B,L)

After breakfast you will experience the local lifestyle as you explore the bustling floating market, a peripatetic affair which travels around the waterside villages on a five-day circuit. Then you will cruise along a small canal to the Paoh village of In Dein. A leisurely walk through the village will bring you to the beautiful Alaung Sitthou, with its vegetation-covered stupas that overlook the breathtaking Inle Lake. The rest of the day will be spent at leisure.

Overnight in Inle Lake

Day 8: Inle Lake - Heho - Yangon

This morning we transfer to Heho for a flight to Yangon. If time permits, we will take a short train ride through Yangon's outskirts to witness the colourful scenes of daily life in the city suburbs, disembarking at Kyi Myin Daing to visit an authentic local market and interact with the friendly locals before returning to the city centre. Then you will transfer to the airport for your onward departure flight.