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MyanmarTemples, rivers and exploration of Eastern Myanmar

  • Highlights
Explore Myanmar’s highlights on this exciting tour! You will embark on a journey through the breathtaking temples of Bagan and the winding rivers that surround Mandalay and Loikawand. In the eastern regions, you will boat down the Irrawaddy and experience the beauty of the Padung people while also being astonished by the leg rowers and delightful floating gardens of Inle Lake. It's all waiting for...

Explore Myanmar’s highlights on this exciting tour! You will embark on a journey through the breathtaking temples of Bagan and the winding rivers that surround Mandalay and Loikawand. In the eastern regions, you will boat down the Irrawaddy and experience the beauty of the Padung people while also being astonished by the leg rowers and delightful floating gardens of Inle Lake. It's all waiting for you. 

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Trip highlights
  • Local culture
    Local culture
  • Local population
    Local population
  • Multi-activity
  • Train
  • Sailing activities
    Sailing activities

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Day 1: Welcome to Myanmar

Mingalabar and welcome to Myanmar! The former capital Yangon, also known as Rangoon, remains Myanmar largest city and continues to be the country's commercial hub and gateway for most of its international visitors. Its colonial background and religious legacy make it one of the most mesmerizing and genuine places in all of Southeast Asia. Upon arrival at the airport you will be greeted and transferred to you hotel for check in. You’ll be taken downtown and start your tour on Mahanbandola Road where the Immanuel Baptist Church, originally built in 1830, is located. Continue east passing a couple of alleyways crammed with food stalls and markets. Turn right onto Pansodan Street with its many stalls selling second-hand and photocopied books. You’ll pass the High Court Building, the grand Inland Water Transport offices and even grander Myanma Port Authority building until you’ll reach Strand Road. 

Your next stop will be outside of the majestic Strand Hotel and walk along Strand Road until you’ll see the Customs House and the Law Court, an impressive-looking colonnaded building. Turn north onto boisterous Bank Street and up onto Sule Pagoda Road, where you can consult one of the many fortune tellers who hang out under the trees. Be sure to make a photo stop at Sule Pagoda, downtown’s symbol whose construction dates back to over 2,000 years ago and have a glimpse of Independence Monument and Mahabandoola Garden.

After a complete rotation seeing the twice rebuilt City Hall continue west down Mahanbandoola Road through the chaotic Indian and Chinese quarters. Explore the gold shops of Shwe Bontha Street and have a look from outside at the Moseh Yeshua Synagogue on 26th street. You’ll reach Theingyi Zei market, where you can engage in a little pickled-snake hunting. Exit onto Anawratha Road until you reach into the Sri Kali temple, Yangon’s most colourful Hindu temples. Lunch and Dinner on own account. Overnight in Yangon.

Night at Chatrium Hôtel, Deluxe (Yangon)

Day 2: ​Make the most of Yangon

Get to know the ‘real’ Yangon with a fascinating morning excursion through the city and its suburbs. Start with a ride on the commuter train. Referred to as the ‘Circular Train’, the train travels slowly and stops often allowing travelers and vendors to hop on and off throughout the journey. Enjoy watching the activity on the train as well as outside as it passes through local neighborhoods and alongside markets (train ride is 20-30 minutes; basic carriage with no air conditioning).  Jump off at one of the stations and change to a different form of local transport, a trishaw, for a ride through a local neighborhood. Visit nearby markets to see fresh goods such as bananas and coconuts being sold as well as fresh fish, vegetables and other items. It’s then time to take a break- the local way! Sit at a tea shop, sip on sweet tea and taste a variety of traditional snacks.

Then you'll discover Myanmar with a visit of 70-metre reclining Buddha at Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda. After marveling at the grandeur of this site, head to a local tea shop for a truly local experience. Drinking tea is an integral part of Burmese daily life and tea shops are a great place to learn about the country's culture. Meet with locals who want to do business or catch up on the latest gossip as you sip sweet tea and sample traditional snacks. Resume your sightseeing with a visit to the gleaming royal barge at Kandawgyi Park. Then, as the sun begins to set, travel to the resplendent Shwedagon Pagoda. Begin at the eastern entrance to find a row of shops at the base of the temple selling various religious items such as monks robes, alms bowls, offerings, incense and other unique Buddhist objects.

Continue up the stairs to the main platform of Shwedagon where you will gaze in awe at the 100-metre gold-covered chedi.After sunset head on to Chinatown for a change of scenery and check out the dragons and incense of the colorful Khen Hock Keong Chinese temple. Explore the vibrant street stalls where vendors sell all kinds of fruit, vegetable and other goods or simply just walk around and soak in the atmosphere of this little China in Yangon. Lunch and Dinner on own account. Overnight in Yangon.

Night at Chatrium Hôtel, Deluxe (Yangon)

Day 3: Discover the best of Bagan

Bagan is one of Asia's most impressive sites, with more than 4000 religious monuments built between the 9th and 14th centuries. After breakfast transfer (without guide) to the airport for your domestic flight to Bagan, discover the best of Bagan today! Not simply a chance to see the splendid Bagan temples, this excursion also introduces you to the Burmese culture, allows you to see traditional craftsmen at work and takes you up the mighty Irrawaddy River to a decidedly unusual ‘cave’ temple! Your first port of call is an elevated location amid the temple plains to see the fields and pagodas of Bagan. From here you will have a look around the Ananda Temple – one of the most exalted of Bagan’s temples. We will ensure that our tour reaches this point before the majority of tourist arrive, enabling you to enjoy the splendor of the temple in relative tranquility.

Continue to various other temples dotted around the temple plains to experience a variety of architectural styles in the area as well as the artistic wonder of the 9-14th centuries. Traveling amid the temples you will get a taste of rural Bagan life in this ‘living museum’ setting where farmers and families work amongst the monuments.You will be driven late in the afternoon to the jetty where a private wooden river boat awaits you. Sitting either under the shade or on the open-deck you’ll be treated to fabulous views as you cruise down the Irrawaddy River.

​ You’ll cruise past several small villages, fishermen, local boats and of course many of the ubiquitous Myanmar Buddhist temples. The views of Bagan from the river are particularly spectacular and offer a different perspective from the land based tours. As the sun begins to sink slowly from view, you will prepare to disembark before being driven back, greatly relaxed, to your hotel for the evening. The perfect end to a busy day of sightseeing in Bagan!Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight in Bagan.

Night at hotel Areindamar (Bagan)

Day 4: Travel over local markets and temples

After breakfast at your hotel, your guide and driver will pick you up to start your Bagan excursion. It’s off to the vibrant Nyaung Oo Market, where the locals come to trade fresh produce and other goods daily. From there you will start with a visit of the renowned Shwezigon Pagoda, constructed by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century as a religious memorial. Travel over dusty lanes and tree shaded roads past temples and monasteries to a small village. Explore the village on foot, getting a glimpse of local lifestyles of Bagan’s residents.

Continue to more lesser-known monuments, selected based on your interest, in the area for the remainder of the morning. If you wish, a short walk can be arranged through a series of smaller monuments which allows for a unique perspective of Bagan. You will ride a horse cart for an excursion that passes Thatbyinnyu, the tallest temple in Bagan and the gigantic Dhammayangyi Temple noted for its remarkable brickwork among others. Take pleasure in an extraordinary sunset from the upper terrace of one of the surrounding temples. Lunch and Dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Bagan.

Night at hotel Areindamar (Bagan)

Day 5: Walking through Mandalay villages

This morning you will leave from Bagan to reach Mandalay on a charming and beautiful road. Follow the east bank of Irrawaddy and cross the charming villages along the road to Myingyan. During your trip you are going to admire many fields of millet, sesame, cottonseed, corn, rice and many other legumes.Among the different roads between Mandalay and Bagan, the one which crosses Myingyan is absolutely the most attractive. You will stop to Shwe Pyi Tha village, a farmer village where, walking through its roads, you will have the possibility to meet local people and discover their simple daily life. You will continue your trip to reach Myingyan village where you will have the possibility to stop for a break. Go forward on your road, direction  Mandalay!

Night at Notte al Mercure Mandalay Hill Resort (Mandalay)

Day 6:  The Golden Monastery

Your orientation tour of Mandalay begins with a visit to Mandalay Hill, rising 240 meter above the city. At the top the reward is a full panoramic view, the hazy blue outline of the Shan Hills to the east, the Mandalay Palace (and the city sprawl) to the south and the Irrawaddy River to the west. Directly south of Mandalay Hill stands the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda with a giant Buddha carved from one marble block. Then proceed to Kuthodaw Pagoda, known as 'The World’s Biggest Book' for its collection of 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. Our final stop of the morning is Shwenandaw Monastery, the Golden Monastery which is the only enduring structure from the Royal Palace of the 19th century. This impressive structure is celebrated for its remarkable woodcarvings.Take a break at midday and proceed to your hotel to check in.

This afternoon continue your guided tour with a visit to the Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda houses one of the country’s most honored Buddha images, completely covered in gold leaves that are every day applied to the statue by male devotees. There are also many craft workshops in Mandalay and, should you wish, we can stop for a visit to one making gold leaf, tapestries, wood carvings or marionettes if you are interested and if time allows.Next drive to Amarapura, Myanmar’s penultimate royal capital. Visit Mahagandayon monastery, home to more than a thousand young monks and renowned as a centre for monastic study and strict religious discipline and continue on foot or by bus a short distance to U Bein Bridge. Enjoy the late afternoon beauty as the sun casts long shadows and illuminates the bridge. As a stunning day comes to an end head back to Mandalay. Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight in Mandalay.

Night at Notte al Mercure Mandalay Hill Resort (Mandalay)

Day 7: Enjoy the 600 ivory colored Pagodas

The day will begin with a visit to Mandalay’s vibrant morning market. The market is a hive of activity in the morning with vendors selling mainly fresh produce and meat but there is an array of other goods including spices, local ‘slippers’ and Buddhist donation items. You’ll be amazed at the colors and sounds as deals are made. Should you wish to buy some fruits or household items your guide can assist and advise on a monastery or nunnery in today’s touring at which to donate.Then, continue across the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing, the Buddhist centre of Myanmar. With 600 ivory colored pagodas and monasteries, Sagaing Hill claims residence to around 3,000 monks and nearly 100 meditation shrines. You’ll visit some of the more famous pagodas and enjoy spectacular views from the top of Sagaing Hill before returning down to the small town for lunch.

Drive north, on a scenic drive parallel to the Irrawaddy River, to Mingun. This riverside town was built by King Bodawpaya who flaunted his power by building some of the country's largest monument. Visit the massive Mingun Paya, which was intended to be the world's largest religious monument yet construction was halted when a fortune-teller predicted the King’s death uponcompletion. An earthquake that hit in the 1800’s, split the monument and reduced it to partial rubble – and these days it’s possibly the world’s largest pile of bricks.

​Carry on to the gorgeous alabaster Hsinbyume Pagoda, an unusual stupa built to resemble Mount Meru, the mythological mountain that stands at the centre of the universe. Your final stop will be at Mingun Bell, the world's largest 'uncracked bell' which weighs in at 90 tons. If you wish, you can also visit some of the many Mingun craftsmen selling items such as hand-woven baskets, watercolor painters and other vendors. A relaxing boat journey will take you back across the Irrawaddy River to Mandalay city. Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight in Mandalay. 

Night at Notte al Mercure Mandalay Hill Resort (Mandalay)

Day 8: Admire the colonial buildings 

Upon arrival at the Heho airport, you are to proceed by road to Pindaya (59 km – 2 hour), a quiet town on the banks of the serene Botoloke Lake. Home to the local Danu people, Pindaya can only be reached by small and windy roads which snake their way through mountain ranges from Mandalay, Inle Lake, or Bagan. We will travel along a side road which is one of the most scenic in the area.Reaching the town, you will first visit the local market. Taking place every day, the market is a gathering place for area farmers who come to sell their fresh produce. Feel free to also visit a small shop that makes the famous Burmese tea leaf salad made with leaves of tea plantations from Pindaya. Then, continue your tour by visiting the famous caves of Pindaya, a unique site aged of more than 200 million years which is the house of thousands of golden Buddha statues. In order to visit these caves you will have to go through the pagodas of Shwe U Min - the white giant stupas that overcome the place.Take a break at midday for lunch (own account) then embark on your drive to Kalaw (60 km – 2 hours).

​En route it may be possible to stop at the Aung Ban wholesale market where garlic, chili, cabbages and other local produce is gathered for distribution throughout the country.Founded as a hill station by the British civil servants fleeing the heat of the plains, Kalaw still feels like a holiday resort: clean air, calm atmosphere leafy and green streets and some of the best trekking characterize this unique settlement. You can expect to reach Kalaw in the afternoon, giving you enough time to look around and soak up the local atmosphere while you shake off the effects of the journey. After checking in to your hotel, take a short orientation walk through the town, stopping to admire the colonial buildings, historic train station and numerous monasteries. The rest of the day is at leisure to do as you please. Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Kalaw.

Night at Amara Mountain Resort (Kalaw)

Day 9: Take your time to enjoy Taunggyi landsacpes

The tour will start with a drive by car from Kalaw towards Ayetharyar. If time allows you’ll also make a stop at the Ayetharyar Vineyard that produces quality red, white and rose wine. An informative wine-tasting is obviously part of your visit as well as a tour through the vineyard, both conducted by professionals in their field. Continue your drive to Taunggyi, the capital of the Shan state and then to Kakku.The drive is spectacular, crossing over the railway line and through small villages inhabited to the Pa-Oh people. After 2 hours you’ll reach the quite magnificent Kakku Pagoda complex and the astonishing sight of more than two thousand beautifully decorated stupas dotting the landscape, largely unknown to the rest of humanity.

Nestling in the Shan Hills, the origins of the Kakku Pagoda is the subject of much debate with the indigenous Pa O tribe believing that it has been here for more than two thousand years. There are no clear facts about the history of the stupas but most date back to the 11th-13th century, the same period when Bagan was thriving. Wander throughout the temples, taking your time to enjoy the wonder and awe of this site and discover the intricate carvings and stucco on the structures. You’re not going to stumble across other opportunities like this any time soon.Afterwards, you will be transferred to the scenic village of Loikaw.

Night at Loikaw Lodge (Loikaw)

Day 10: Loikaw and its surrounding

Take the time today to explore Loikaw and its surroundings and get an insight into the way of life in this remote part of Myanmar. Start with a visit to the morning market, before making your way to the Pan Pei village. This Paudaung village is a great example for many traditional inhabited areas in the region and during the visit you’ll get a more exact impression of the culture and lifestyle of the Padaung tribe. In the afternoon you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Loikaw Museum (closed on Sundays and holidays). In this surprisingly big museum you’ll find interesting information and exhibitions about the Kayah State. At the end of the day you’ll make your way to the Taung Kwe monastery and pagoda. This temple situated on the top of a hill offers spectacular views of the city and surrounding areas, especially during sunset. Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight in Loikaw.

Night at Loikaw Lodge (Loikaw)

Day 11: Visit the Pa Daung villages

Early in the morning, a car will be waiting for you to drive you to Phae Khone (1.5 hours, 40km). You will make a stop in some Pa Daung villages along the way. When you reach the village of Phae Khone, board a long tail boat headed north to Inle Lake for around 5 hours (120 km).The first part of this boat ride takes us to a remote area of Inle Lake, where tourists hardly ever visit, and afterwards to the village of Sagar. The “sunken” stupas are considered by many visitors to be the highlight of today’s tour. The 108 stupas are from the 16th and 17th century and for a few months every year they are partially submerged. In the late afternoon, you’ll be taken to your hotel where you’ll be able to relax for the rest of the evening. Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight on Inle Lake.

Loikaw, SagarInle Lake
Pristine Lotus Resort (Inle Lake)

Day 12: The famous Inle Lake

After breakfast you will board your wooden motorized boat and begin heading out onto Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular and breathtaking sights. Its calm waters are dotted with floating vegetation and fishing canoes, to which scenic hills provide the perfect backdrop. Pay a visit to the lake’s morning market (the market is open every day apart from dark moon and full moon calendar days). The market’s location rotates between the lake’s villages in a 5 day schedule and is also visited daily by the lake’s inhabitants as well as the surrounding natives who also come to sell and trade their wares. Along the way you will pass several villages that are built on stilts over the lake, which are inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the daily activities of the local leg-rowing fishermen and see their ‘floating gardens’, which are built up from strips of water hyacinth, earth and anchored to the bottom of the lake with bamboo poles.

You will also visit Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, which houses loads of early Shan Buddha Images. In the past this temple was known for its ‘jumping cats’ but these days there are only a few felines roaming around and none are jumping any more. Yet the Buddha images are still worth the visit. Proceed to the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main haven, which contains five sacred images of Buddha decorated in gold leaf. There are also many traditional crafts originating on Inle Lake and, should you wish, we can stop for a visit to one making incredible woven items from lotus silk, boat builders (depending on the time of year), a cigar making workshop, blacksmiths or even silver smiths. If time allows you will also pay a visit to the local silversmith and a pirogue workshop in the village of Nampan. The day will come to a close with a return trip by boat back to your hotel. Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight on Inle Lake.

Inle Lake
Pristine Lotus Resort (Inle Lake)

Day 13: The charming village of Indein

After breakfast you’ll pay a visit to Indein. A 1-hour boat ride down a small canal will take you to the Pa-Oh village of Indein, positioned on the western shores of Inle Lake. Take a leisurely stroll around the village before ascending to the top of a hill. Once you’ve arrived at the summit, you will be greeted buy an iconic Buddha image which sits enshrined among hundreds of stupa ruins and overgrown shrubbery. Here, from the peak, you will also be rewarded with mesmerizing views of the placid surroundings. The Indein Pagoda complex is undoubtedly one of the most amazing sites around the shore of the lake and it consists of hundreds of small stupas which are overrun by moss and greenery. 

​On your boat ride back, should time allow, you'll stop at the Inthar Heritage House to learn more about the history and culture of the lake's indigenous people and enjoy a delicious coffee and cake (snack break not included). As an exciting day comes to close transfer back to your hotel for some well deserved relaxation. Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight on Inle Lake.

Pristine Lotus Resort (Inle Lake)

Day 14: Last day in Yangon

Depending on your flight departure you may still have time to stretch your legs in Nyaung Shwe and stroll through the charming village. The city is more alive in the morning and with this walk you get a real insight into the local lifestyle. A visit to the local village market should not be missing. Drive to Heho and flight to Yangon. Upon arrival to Yangon, you’ll be taken to your hotel for check-in.
Lunch and dinner on own account (in Yangon, the car and guide will be at disposal until departure flight time).

Inle Lake, Nyaung ShweHehoYangon

YangonBaganMandalayAmarapuraSagaingMingunHehoPindayaKalawLoikawSagarInle LakeIndeinNyaung ShweYangon

Price details

This tour idea is fully customizable

The price reflects this specific itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.

Included in the price:

  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast
  • In-trip ground transportation
  • Activities according to your customized tri
  • Airport transfers
  • 24/7 local agency support
  • Trip creation with an expert local agent

Not included in the price:

  • Arrival and departure flights
  • Meals and beverages not indicated
  • Personal expenses
  • Service gratuities
  • Visa fees
  • Travel insurance
Book your flights to Myanmar
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