Experience the beauty and intrigue of Burma

Travel to Burma and discover a country of mythical landscapes, ancient treasures and some of the friendliest folk you’ll ever meet. From golden-gilded Buddhas in Yangon and the magical temples of Bagan to the tranquillity of Inle Lake, Burma will excite, impress and intrigue you. A visit to Burma is to experience the South-East Asia of twenty years ago, full of rarely seen sights and generations of stories just waiting to be told. Come and discover a little bit of Burma magic with us.

Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)
Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)
Burma (Myanmar)
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16
Carbon offset
627kg pp per trip


  • Explore the magnificent temples of Bagan
  • See village life at the community lodge
  • Discover Burma’s ‘Jewel City’
  • Trek through rarely-visited highland villages
  • Delve into the underground at Pindaya
  • Admire Yangon’s golden Shwedagon Paya
  • See the work being done (in conjunction with Action Aid) to improve the lives of residents in the Pakokku District


Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Myanmar. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look on the reception noticeboard for where and when the meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you have free time to explore before the meeting, we recommend stepping out onto the streets of Yangon. Why not take the Yangon Circle Line train for a three-hour local journey, or head over to Bogyoke Market and haggle with the locals? There’s also Sule Paya Pagoda, a 2000-year-old golden temple, and the Gems Museum, which houses some of the world’s largest sapphire, ruby and jade pieces. You may need a taxi to travel between some of these attractions; a one-way trip should cost about MMK 4,000. Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel in time for the meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Start the day with a city walking tour of Yangon. Your leader will show you the city centre and some major attractions around town. In the afternoon, you’ll visit the holiest shrine in the country, the Shwedagon Paya. This gold-gilded pagoda is studded with diamonds and gems, and said to contain eight hairs of the Buddha. It’s a particularly impressive sight at sunset when the lights come on and the stupa shines beautifully. We also head down to Kandawgyi Lake, where you’ll see Karaweik Hall, a reconstruction of a golden royal barge floating on the eastern side. If you’re still feeling adventurous at the end of the day, consider doing an optional Urban Adventures tour - Yangon’s Streets By Night (cost not included). Please see urbanadventures.com for more information.
Head out early today for your flight to Nyuang-U (about one and a half hours). From there, transfer to the ancient city of Bagan (about 20 minutes). Bagan is an archaeological site where Theravada Buddhism was first introduced to the Kingdom. It was once the site of 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries and still has over 2,000 brick and gilded ruins. You’ll start your visit with an orientation tour of the town and visit the archaeological site tomorrow. After the orientation tour, head to the nearby Shwezigon Paya to enjoy sunset and perhaps a bite of local street food.
Spend the entire day sightseeing in Bagan. You’ll be given a bicycle and toured through the site by a local guide. You’ll get to see many of the large and impressive temples such as Ananda Pahto, Dhammayangyi Pahto and Shwesandaw Paya, as well as some of the smaller hidden gems. Exploring the temple site by bike is a great way to take in the atmosphere of this amazing place. There are also many opportunities to climb stairs to vantage points and capture some magical views. To fully enjoy the day out, please make sure you wear comfortable clothes and adequate protection from the sun (long sleeves, sunglasses and hat). Many travellers like to take an optional hot air balloon ride over the site. Please note that this needs to be pre-booked well in advance. See our ‘Important Notes’ section for additional information. After touring the temples, head back to the hotel for a short rest before heading out again to see the enormous Shwe Sandaw Temple at sunset. Notes: The bike ride through Bagan is on flat terrain and at a leisurely pace. At times we ride off the main roads on gravel and sand paths and roadways. You don’t have to be a serious cyclist to do the tour, however if for some reason you’re unable to participate in the ride, your leader can arrange a pony cart to take you around the sights (cost not included). Also, helmets are not a local requirement in Myanmar and may not be available. If you feel safer wearing a helmet you may need to bring your own.
Enjoy a free day in the area of Bagan. You may like to spend more time exploring the stalls at the archaeological site, the cafes in town, or the nearby Nyaung U Market – one of the more interesting markets in the country. Other places of interest include the Archaeological Museum and the Royal Palace. Taxis to these local sites cost around MMK 5,000. Another option is to take a day trip to Mt Popa, a mountain topped with monasteries and stupas. Enjoy incredible views from the top and make a visit to the strange shrine devoted to the 37 Nat spirits. Your leader can help you arrange transport to Mt Popa for the best price.
Venture off the tourist path today to the town of Pakokku, about a 45 minute drive away. Meet locals and practice your Burmese as you explore the town and local market. Continue on to your next accommodation, a unique Community Lodge in the Pakokku district. You'll be one of the first to experience this new community-based tourism initiative. Arrive at the Community Lodge for lunch and then head out in the afternoon on a bicycle ride around the nearby villages – another great opportunity to practice your language skills. Back at the lodge, have a group dinner. Notes: Accommodation at the Community Lodge is basic. You’ll be staying in simple twin share rooms, with share bathroom facilities. There is no air conditioning and only cold running water. Electricity is intermittent, so we recommend that you bring a torch and charge all your electrical items before arriving. You can expect your stay here to be wonderful and rewarding, but please remember that the project is only new and there may be a few hiccups along the way. The locals here haven’t had as much contact with tourists as in other areas of Myanmar, which will give you a very authentic experience of the country.
Spend your last couple of hours with an early morning walk and breakfast, then hop on a private bus towards Mandalay. Along the way, you’ll visit the Sagaing Temples, a beautiful area sometimes referred to as ‘the Monte Carlo of Burma’. The Sagaing Temples are a collection of gold covered stupas on the nearby hills. Total driving time from Pakokku to Mandalay is about six hours. Once known as The Golden City, Mandalay was the last capital of the former Kingdom of Myanmar. Depending on the arrival time, you may have time to visit Mandalay Hill, which is where Lord Buddha is said to have left a footprint. Stay here for sunset and to enjoy views over the glittering stupas and vibrant mosaics of the city at this magical time of day.
This morning your leader will take you on a walking tour of Mandalay. After seeing the town close up, you’ll take a boat down the famous Ayeyarwady River to Mingun. Here you’ll see the Mingun Pahtodawgyi, an enormous stupa which would have been the largest in the world if it had been completed. You’ll also see the world’s largest ringing bell and the beautiful white Hsinphymae Pagoda which sits nearby. After the excursion to Mingun, return to Mandalay where you’ll have some free time to do some optional activities. Perhaps find some quiet moments at the ancient Sweinbin Teak Monastery, or try your hand at gold leaf making in the Gold Pounders District. There’s also the Mahamuni Buddha Temple, an important pilgrimage site complete with giant golden Buddha. For some entertainment in the evening, why not catch a traditional show by the Mandalay Marionettes, or a non-conformist comedy show by the Moustache Brothers?
Today will be a long day of driving towards Kalaw. Along the way, you’ll visit the U Bein Bridge, the longest teakwood bridge in the world. You then head onto the Great Road of China, a new superhighway built by the Chinese. Finally, make your way into the mountains of Shan state and experience the stunning scenery of the area.
Today is a full day of hiking around the hills of Kalaw. A local guide will take you to a tea plantation and some small villages. Stop and chat with locals along the way and have lunch at one of the small settlements. This experience will take you off the beaten track and away from the tourist throng. If there’s time in the evening, you might like to visit some of the lovely pagodas around town as well as a local market. Notes: While today's walk is not difficult, you’ll cover about 20 kilometres in total and will be on your feet for most of the day. You’ll need a reasonable level of fitness for this part of the trip, and remember to bring appropriate hiking shoes. A support vehicle can be arranged to access the trails upon request from the halfway mark, so this means that you’ll need to be able to walk at least 10 kilometres unsupported.
Leave Kalaw for Nyuangshwe today, where you’ll be spending time around Inle Lake. You’ll set off across the mountains and farms and stop off at the Pindaya Caves, one of the Golden Caves in Shan state. Pilgrims flock here to worship the 8,000 golden Buddha images within the caverns, tunnels and chambers of the huge limestone cave. The drive will take you to the resort town of Nyuanshwe which will be our base for the next few days as we explore Inle Lake.
Start the day by heading out in a motorised boat. You’ll see local life on the lake, including fisherman who use a distinctive leg-rowing technique on their boats, floating tomato plantations and cottage industries such as silversmiths, weavers and cigar makers. If you’re lucky, you might even see the floating market which circles the lake every five days. Here you can buy traditional wares produced by the locals. For lunch we visit Phaung Daw Oo Paya, the most religious site in the region. Eat near the beautiful pagoda and then take a quick look inside at the various images of Buddha. You can also see a golden barge which is used during Phaung Daw Oo festival. Make a few more stops at local villages to meet the locals, then head back to your accommodation in Nyaungshwe.
Enjoy a free day around Inle Lake. Perhaps visit the Mingala morning market or Nyuangshwe's oldest Buddhist monastery, Yadana Man Aung Paya. For those wishing to venture further afield, you could hire a bike and cycle to the nearby hot springs, villages or temples. Perhaps join a tour to the Red Mountain Estate Winery or a boat trip to the Inthein villages. The price of these activities will depend on the number of people joining. Ask your leader about doing these optional activities. In the evening, enjoy a traditional Shan banquet. Notes: Due to the extremely high volume of tourists currently visiting Inle Lake we are not always able to secure our preferred accommodation. At times like these we may need to stay in a property with a lower room standard than in other destinations on this trip.
Bid farewell to the splendour of Shan state and make your way to the airport in Heho. From here, take a one-hour flight back to the hustle and bustle of Yangon. The journey ends with an optional final dinner and night out on the town in Yangon.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there is plenty to see and do in Yangon we recommend extending your stay a few extra days to make the most of all it has to offer. Perhaps do some of the activities suggested at the beginning of the trip, or ask your leader about our range of Urban Adventures day tours. Visit www.yangonurbanadventures.com for more information.
View trip notes to read full itinerary


14 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
Bicycle, Bus, Longtail boat, Plane, Private vehicle, Songthaew
Hotel (13 nights), Lodge (1 night)
Included activities
  • Bagan - Orientation walk
  • Bagan - Shwezigon Paya
  • Bagan - Temple bike tour
  • Inle Lake - Boat trip & village tour
  • Inle Lake - Pindaya Caves
  • Inle Lake - Shan Banquet
  • Kalaw - Full day trek
  • Mandalay - Mandalay Hill
  • Mandalay - Sagaing Hills
  • Mandalay - U Bein Bridge
  • Mandalay - Walking tour
  • Yangon - City Walking Tour
  • Yangon - Kandawgyi Lake
  • Yangon - Shwedagon Paya


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Important notes

1. Please provide passport details at time of booking with name as per passport, as these are essential for booking services on this trip.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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Best of Burma (Myanmar) , September 2015

Best of Burma (Myanmar) , September 2015