Today is arrival day so there are no activities planned. You are therefore free to relax and explore the city. Please try to arrive before 6pm for an important group meeting where you can meet the Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members. Please note that most nationalities requires a visa to enter Myanmar (Burma), please double check this with your travel agent or local Myanmar Embassy prior to your arrival. Following this we have an optional group dinner where you can sample some of the local cuisine.
Note that it is best to travel with US dollars in cash when visiting Myanmar. There are no ATMs and the use of credit cards and travellers checks is virtually impossible, as very few places are willing to accept them. Please arrive with enough US dollars, in good condition, to last you the length of your stay. Changing money into the local currency, kyat, is a good idea for small transactions and can be done upon arrival at any of the various money changers in town.
Our hotel is in the heart of Yangon and has comfortable twin / double share rooms with en suite bathrooms and air conditioners. Wifi is also available.
Today starts with a visit to the world famous 107 metres high golden Stupa of Shwedagon Pagoda, the 'heart' of Buddhist Myanmar. The Pagoda is believed to be 2,500 years old and the central stupa, glittering in the soft morning light, is surrounded by dozens of intricately decorated buildings and statues and is considered to be the symbol of Yangon.
Later, you will travel through the delta and over the Sittang River to Kyaikhtiyo. From Kinpun, the pilgrimage road runs 10 kilometres to the 1200 meter high pagoda on the famous Golden Rock. You will be transported on a truck to a camp from where we shall walk one hour to the Golden Rock. At the summit, a simple but beautifully located hotel awaits you. Arriving in the golden light of late afternoon is the ideal opportunity for some great photography.
Approx travel times:
Private transport Yangon to Kinpun: 4 hours (180 km/112 miles)
Truck ride to camp: 45 min (11 km/7 miles)
Walk to Golden Rock: 1 hour (1.5 km/ 0.9 miles)
Starting our return hike in the early morning we meet our truck transport to Kinpun. Continuing by bus to Bago we stop to explore this ancient capital of the Mon people including the huge reclining Buddha, Shwe Tha Lyaung and a photostop at the foot of the huge golden Shwemawdaw Stupa. After a stroll through the market we visit Kyaikpun Pagoda with its four Sitting Buddhas facing the cardinal points. Return to Yangon in late afternoon before jumping onto an 80 minute flight to Mandalay.
Approx travel times:
Walk from Golden Rock to transport: 1 hour (1.5 km/0.9 miles)
Truck transport to Kinpun: 45 min (11 km/7 miles)
Private transport Kinpun to Bago: 2 1/2 hours (100 km/62 miles)
Private transport Bago to Yangon 1 1/2 hours (80 km/50 miles)
Transfer to hotel Mandalay: 1 hour (51 km/32 miles)
Explore Mandalay where the Konbaung Kings resided and eventually capitulated to the British more than 100 years ago. After arrival we visit the famous Golden Monastery, Shwe Nandaw, the only building still existing from the more than one hundred that once stood on the palace grounds. From here we shall stroll to Kuthodaw Pagoda with its 729 marble slabs showing the entire Buddhist canon and commemorating the Fifth Buddhist World Council at the end of last century.
After lunch we visit Mahamuni Temple which houses the country´s holiest Buddha image, the 100 year old legendary Arakan Buddha made of pure gold. Next a visit to the workshops of gold plate, marble and bronze manufacturers. If you still feel fresh, you might enjoy a climb to the top of Mandalay Hill for a bird´s eye view (or take the elevator if you wish), and a visit the Shwe Kyin monastery for afternoon meditation.
On the morning of Day 5 we visit the former capital, Amarapura (Sanscrit for Beautiful Town). Walk over the world´s longest teak bridge, U Bein, and visit the Mahagandayong monastery with over 1000 monks residing along with the Sagaing Hills meditation centre, which has fascinating views over temples and pagodas in Sagaing and the Ayeyarwaddy River.
In the afternoon we travel by boat along the mighty Elephant River enjoying sights of washerwomen, buffalo carts and daily life on the riverbank. It takes one hour upstream to reach Mingun where a mighty king once tried to build the world's biggest pagoda and failed, yet even the dimension of his failure is still impressive. We return to Mandalay after sunset.
Our hotel hotel is in downtown Mandalay near the market and the night bazaar. We have twin / double share rooms with air conditioner and en suite bathrooms. Internet is available at the hotel.
Day 6 is a day of relaxed sightseeing as we travel by local public boat along the Ayeyarwaddy River, Myanmar's 'Super Highway'. Arriving at Bagan in late afternoon, we transfer to our hotel. When water levels are insufficient for the boat, we will use the bus for this part of the journey. Boat cancellations typically happen between April and September.
Bagan, the first and most beautiful capital of the Burmese was founded in the eleventh century. Along with Angkor in Cambodia, this is the most important temple and pagoda complex in Asia. An all-day visit on Day 8 is a day full of culture and history of a once great civilisation. In the morning, we wander through the marketplace of Nyaung Oo and get a glimpse into the lifestyle of Burmese people. Next we visit Shwezigon Pagoda built by the great king Kyanzittha, the only golden pagoda in the Bagan area. We continue to the caves of Kyanzittha Umin (with the oldest murals in Burma, showing the Mongolian invasion under Kublai Khan). In Gubyaukgyi, a perfect Indian-style temple, you will see hundreds of frescoes illustrating the jataka-stories of the previous lives of Lord Buddha. This morning ends with a visit to huge Htinlominlo Temple.
In the afternoon we explore Manuha Temple, erected over huge Buddha-images then enjoy the elaborate stone engravings at close by Nanpaya Temple. Heading south, be impressed by the beautiful Abeyadama Temple and finally Lawkananda Pagoda, a landmark of Ayeyarwaddy-fishermen. Visit traditional manufacturers of unique Bagan lacquerware and relax as the sun sets over Bagan from one of the pagodas.
Day 7 is free for you to continue your exploration of this gorgeous area or relax.
Our hotel is centrally located within easy walking or bicycling distance of the Ancient city of Bagan. We have comfortable twin / double share rooms with air conditioning and en suite bathrooms. Internet is available.
Approx travel times:
Cruise to Pagan (Bagan): 7-11 hours depending on the season and water level (177 km/110 miles)
Early morning we commence our overland trip to Kalaw. Today's journey is approximately 190 miles (300kms), and should take us about 8 hours. First we travel through sun-parched plains sprinkled with Palmyra Palms to the Mountain of Deities, Popa (2 hours). There we climb a staircase up the huge volcanic rock to see shrines for Nats (celestial spirits of Burmese mythology) and small temples for Buddha. It will take about 20 minutes to reach the top of Mount Popa (Sanscrit word for Flower) and we will pass by many small food stalls and local 'drugstores' selling herbal remedies. Following this we continue 6 hours to Kalaw and overnight.
From Kalaw, set out on a half-day hike, visiting a hill tribe along the way.
Approx travel time:
Private bus Bagan to Kalaw: 8 hours (260 km/161 miles)
The Former British hill station Kalaw is the starting point for various trekking tours. Following a morning visit to a central pagoda boasting beautiful glass mosaics we head to Pindaya (approximately 1.5–2 hours), an interesting drive up into the hills and across the Shan Plateau through fields of mountain rice, Pa-O and Danu villages.
Pindaya’s symbol is a 'pin-gu' (spider). Here we visit magnificent Pindaya Caves, set in a limestone ridge overlooking a picturesque lake where over 8000 thousand different types of Buddha images are on display in various chambers. From a temple complex built along the front of the ridge you can view the nearby Boutaloke Lake and the ruins of Shwe U Min Paya, a cluster of low stupas just below the ridge and visit some local houses where families produce Shan paper and parasols. The last leg of our drive takes us to Nyaungshwe - the biggest village and former capital of the local Shan Kings at Inle Lake.
Inle Lake is the land of the Intha people. These people are known as leg-rowers and as architects of floating villages and gardens. The life of the Intha, who originally came from the south of Burma, revolves completely around the lake. On Day 12 we visit some of the intriguing floating villages, then investigate the great Phaung Daw Oo pagoda with its five holy Buddha images and Nge Phe Chaung monastry.
Our hotel is situated near the entrance to Nyaung Shwe township, very near to Inle Lake. The hotel has twin / double share rooms with en suite bathrooms.
Following breakfast we drive to Heho airport for our flight over the length of Burma back to our starting point at Yangon. The afternoon is yours to explore the markets and sights of Yangon with plenty of time for some last minute shopping before our final night dinner together.
Our hotel in Yangon is the same hotel we used on Day 1.
Approx travel times:
Transfer hotel to Heho: 1 hour (30 km/19 miles)
Flight Heho to Yangon: 1 hour
Tranfer to hotel Yangon: 1 hour (16 km/10 miles)
You are free to depart at any time today.
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