Travel to Myanmar and discover a country of mythical landscapes, ancient treasures and some of the friendliest folk you’ll ever meet. From the glittering spires of Shwedagon Pagoda, and the ancient temples of Bagan, to the tranquillity of Inle Lake and the lively atmosphere of Mandalay, Myanmar will excite, impress and intrigue you. Full of rarely seen sights and stories just waiting to be told, come and experience the magic of Myanmar.

Start
Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
Finish
Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
Countries
Myanmar (Burma)
Themes
Explorer
Code
TTKA
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
671kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Begin a Myanmar discovery with the symbolic and iconic Shwedagon Pagoda, a magnificent glittering temple crowning Yangon
  • Take a leisurely journey down the Ayeyarwady River to the fabled 11th century capital of Bagan
  • Experience the incredible sight of Bagan’s sea of temples; explore the best of 4,000 temples and monasteries, and climb to the shrine atop Mt Popa
  • Soak up the tranquillity of Inle Lake and sample the hospitality of the Shan people, one of many groups that contribute to the ethnic diversity of this colourful country

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 May 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Myanmar. The former capital of Burma, Yangon – meaning ‘End of Strife' – has been through tough times. Surviving protests, natural disasters and economic uncertainty, this city remains the commercial, historical and cultural heart of Myanmar. An airport arrival transfer is included and there will be a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1. Please check with the hotel reception or notice board for details. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive on time, you may wish to arrive a day early. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so have these on hand. As this is an arrival day there are no activities planned until the meeting, and you can arrive at any time. With any free time before the meeting, get your bearings and a taste of this wonderful city. Perhaps take a walk to Sule Paya then down to the Victorian Strand Hotel to admire both the colonial architecture and the bargaining madness of Bogyoke Market. Maybe take an Urban Adventure with a local guide, such as the Let Yangon Take You For a Ride, or take the circle train through the city and suburbs and see local life in Yangon. This evening why not soak up the unique atmosphere of this irrepressible city with dinner at a local restaurant.

Notes: The transfer is only valid if arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (we may not be able confirm requests made within 15 days of travel). Please note in some cases Intrepid are not able to secure the same room type for pre-tour accommodation that we stay at on the trip. You may need to change rooms on Day 1, and the hotel will assist you if this is necessary.
Explore one of the great sites of Myanmar – the legendary Shwedagon Pagoda. Dominated by glittering temples, Yangon is also home to a wealth of ancient relics, and it attracts an extraordinary mix of monks, pilgrims, worshippers and tourists. The legendary gold-gilded pagoda is studded with diamonds and gems, and is 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. Spend the morning walking around the complex, taking in the history, spiritual significance, beauty and ambiance of this ancient site. Afterwards, leave for the airport, seeing a bit more of Yangon along the way, like Kandawgyi Lake, where the reconstruction of a golden royal barge – Karaweik Hall – floats on the eastern side. Catch a flight to Mandalay – departure time will vary depending on flight availability. The flight takes approximately 1 hour, and after landing it’s approximately a 1 hour drive to the city and your hotel for the next three nights. Mandalay is Myanmar’s ‘Jewel City’, and you’ll and savour the sights, sounds and flavours of this bustling metropolis. Tonight you might enjoy a walk to one of the markets, where a great time can be had enjoying the hustle and bustle or bargaining for local wares.
Make your way down to the city’s lively waterfront, which offers an interesting backdrop for a boat trip upriver. The archaeological site of Mingun is your destination, the location of a number of interesting sights, including the world's largest (albeit unfinished!) pagoda – Pahtodawgyi. It’s also home to the world’s second largest ringable bell, the beautiful white Hsinphymae Pagoda, and temples dating back hundreds of years. The river is effectively a major trading, communication and commuting route and a wide range of different boats, barges and steamers can be viewed along the way. The journey usually takes 1 hour on the way there, and 40 minutes on the way back. Later in the afternoon, embark on a tour that visits the remnants of one of the once great cities that surround Mandalay – Amarapura, just 11 kilometres south of the city. You’ll also see Mahamuni Buddha Temple, an important pilgrimage site famous for its 2000-year-old golden Buddha statue, and, in a country renowned for so much gold, you’ll also stop by nearby cottage industry where gold leaf is made. Weather permitting, you might also glimpse a breath-taking sunset over the 200-year-old U Bein wooden bridge. If you have time tonight, why not catch a traditional show by the Mandalay Marionettes, or a non-conformist comedy show by the Moustache Brothers.
Today a drive up into the highlands to Myanmar's most famous and unique hill station, Pyin Oo Lwin, which provides an escape from the heat of the plains (approximately 2 hours/70 kilometres). Established during the colonial era in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a British summer capital, Pyin Oo Lwin today is a crossroad for traders visiting from China. With its colourful market, and hills lined with English-style country mansions, manicured gardens, and Chinese temples, you can see why this area is called the “vegetable garden” of Myanmar. Later, return to Mandalay where the rest of the day is spent visiting various temples, including Kuthodaw Paya, which claims to house the world's largest 'book' - 729 slabs contain the complete text of the Tripitaka, Theravada Buddhism's most sacred text. Stop by Mandalay Hill, where Lord Buddha is said to have left a footprint. It was once a challenging walk up the hill (236 metres), but these days, if in operation, a series of large escalators will do most of the work for you on the way up. A clear day reveals beautiful sunset views from the summit, and a host of religious shrines are found en route.
Climb aboard a ferryboat (weather permitting) this morning for a relaxing cruise down the majestic Ayeyarwaddy River to Bagan. The ferry usually departs around 7am and takes approximately 9 hours to travel the 36 kilometres to reach your destination. This is a wonderfully leisurely way to experience local life – sit back at the onboard restaurant and get a taste of rural Myanmar, observing the idyllic fishing villages dotting the riverbanks. Pass dozens of boats of different size and utility, testament to the role that this mighty river plays in the life of so many. Most time will likely be spent watching riverside life go by, though there are also allocated seats on the lower deck. Some ferries also have a cafe/bar on the upper deck for drinks and simple meals. Your leader will let you know in advance if you need to plan to bring any supplies. Arrive in Bagan and ready yourself to experience one of the most impressive archaeological wonders of Asia tomorrow.

Notes: Due to the unpredictable nature of water levels on the river between February and May, the boat trip is subject to late cancellations during this time. If this is the case, we will travel by road between Mandalay and Bagan.
You can explore the incredible sights of Bagan from dawn to dusk today. This archaeological site is where Theravada Buddhism was introduced to the Kingdom of Bagan, and was once the site of 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries. Today, the ancient city still has over 4,000 brick and gilded ruins, and is a remarkable sight. Nyaung U’s lively market contrasts with the eerie silence of the plains littered with temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins, including Gawdawpalin, Thatbyinnyu, Ananda and Shwezigon – all names of temples and pagodas that bear testament to a glorious past. The graceful ageing of the temples, the stucco peeled off by the dusty winds, has revealed beautifully rusty red bricks that glow golden brown in the sun. Marvel at the spire-lined skyline, the lion-guarded doors, the wood carvings inside, and the foliage-covered ruins. Stop for lunch at the newly establish restaurant operated by Friends-International. The restaurant is a working hospitality training centre, with profits reinvested back into the training and education of youth in Myanmar, and further social enterprise projects. After visiting a local lacquerware workshop to gain insight into a craft this place is famous for, you might catch a glorious sunset from one of the ruins. To fully enjoy the day out, please make sure you wear comfortable clothes and adequate protection from the sun (long sleeves, sunglasses and hat).

Notes: A highlight of Bagan for many travellers is an optional sunrise hot air balloon flight over the site, possible on the mornings of Days 6 or 7 (depending on availability). Experience breath-taking views above the stupa-studded landscape, followed by a light breakfast and champagne. The experience runs for approximately 2.5 hours, with flights times an average 45 minutes (though it can range from 1 hour to 20 minutes subject to local conditions). Weather dependent, flights operate between October through to March. Advance bookings are highly recommended as places are limited. Please ask your booking agent for further details of the Premium and Classic service options.
A short drive (approximately 1 hour) takes you to mystical Mount Popa, an incredibly photogenic extinct volcano that's home to local spirits or deities known as 'nats'. It’s a spiritually significant place for the locals’ belief in nats – spirits or gods who take human form and guard objects. When people die they can become nats, and they can be vengeful or troublesome – therefore they require claiming, food, and offerings.1,000 years ago, after unsuccessfully trying to eliminate nat worship, King Anawrahta formalised a list of 37. For the energetic, there is a chance to remove your shoes and socks and climb the 777 steps to the shrine at the top of the hill. There are great views from the crater rim, and all around lovely dense vegetation filled with birds. Returning to Bagan, the afternoon is free to further explore this amazing area. You might hire a bicycle or even take a horse carriage and enjoy your own exploration of the seemingly endless archaeological sites. If you’d rather stay in town then there are the cafes 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. Your leader can help you organise getting to these.
Today drive approximately 25 minutes to the nearest airport in Nyuang U, and then hop on a plane to Heho (approximately 40 minutes), the gateway for Inle Lake. The calm waters of Inle Lake are the life-blood for many ethnic minority communities. They live in stilt houses along the lake's shallow fringes and surrounding areas. You’ll drive through picturesque countryside and rolling hills to your final destination, Nyaungshwe (approximately 45 minutes). This afternoon you might like to rent a bicycle and ride out to a local winery, where you can sample some of the local varieties and enjoy great sunset views. Otherwise, the town of Nyaungshwe is easy to walk around and explore.

Notes: You will notice that the weather is rather cooler here due to the high altitude. At certain times of year there can be lots of insects around the lake. Please read ‘what to take’ section for further information.
A full day is spent on the lake seeing local life, exploring the floating gardens, and catching a glimpse of the local Intha fishermen who are famous for their unique 'leg-rowing' technique. The Intha leg-rowers navigate their long, narrow craft by standing on the stern with one leg and wrapping the other around the oar. This unique style evolved because the reeds that cover the lake and the floating plants make it difficult to see above them while sitting. The lake is also home to a wide array of bird-life including egrets, cranes, ducks, storks and various birds of prey. Visits may be made to some of the local villages, home to 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.

Notes: Make sure to pack some sunscreen and a hat – it gets hot on the late with no shade.
After breakfast, take a longtail boat a long a narrow canal to the Indein ruins complex (approximately 45 minutes). Disembark and discover a pagoda and stupas built in the 8th century. Explore the atmospheric ruins; crumbling stupas being reclaimed by greenery, and up a hill over 1000 zedi from the 17th and 18th centuries. Enjoy views across the valley and lake from the pagoda, browsing through the rows of shops along the corridor uphill, or just marvel at the surroundings. After some time exploring, start a walk towards to the Yankin, Pa O and Taung Yoe villages (1.5 kilometres, approximately 45 minutes). Along the way, explore the mystery of more than 300 ancient stupas around the village and then continue 1 kilometre, approximately 30 minutes, to a Buddhist monastery. Next, head north to Naydaw (1.5 kilometres, approximately 45 minutes) to Taung Yoe ethnic tribe village through farmland and bamboo forest. From here, turn south-west (5 kilometres, approximately 3 hours) through the valley ups and downs to west Taung Mauk, Pa O village. A 20 minute walk will get you to east Taung Mauk village. Finally, turn east through valley to Indein (3 kilometres, approximately 45 minutes) where you’ll meet your boat and return back to the hotel. This evening, reward all your efforts today with a traditional Shan dinner, where you’ll get to sample some of the local-style culinary specialties.

Notes: The amount of walking advisable today will depend on individual and group fitness and wishes, and also the time of year. In the hotter months from March to October, reduced distances are often advisable, and arrangements can be discussed with your tour leader the day before.
Catch a morning flight back to Yangon (approximately 1 hour – departure time will depend on flight availability) and discover more of this beguiling city in some free time. Visit Sule Pagoda in the heart of downtown Yangon or acquire some local handicrafts at the nearby Bogyoke Market, a major bazaar known for its colonial architecture and winding cobblestone alleys, or join an urban adventure to explore Yangon's streets by night. For a leisurely change of pace, perhaps indulge in high tea at the historic colonial hotel, The Strand. Maybe relax after a day of exploring with dinner at one of the many restaurants – sit back on a balcony, watch the sun set over the glittering spires of Shwedagon Pagoda and enjoy the last night of this unforgettable Myanmar adventure.
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.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Transport
Boat, Minibus, Plane
Accommodation
Hotel (11 nights)
Included activities
  • Yangon - Shwedagon pagoda candle lighting
  • Yangon - Kandawgyi Lake
  • Mandalay - Boat trip to Mingun
  • Mandalay - U Bein Bridge
  • Mandalay - Gold leaf pounding workshop demonstration
  • Mandalay - Mahamuni Buddha Temple
  • Mandalay - Kuthodaw Paya
  • Mandalay - Mandalay Hill
  • Mandalay - Pyin Oo Lwin day trip
  • Bagan - Friends International Restaurant lunch
  • Bagan - Archaeological tour
  • Bagan - Mt Popa Day Trip
  • Inle Lake - Boat trip & village tour
  • Inle Lake - Indein Temples Visit
  • Inle Lake - Traditional Shan Dinner

Dates

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Important notes

1. Please provide passport details at time of booking with exact name as per passport.
2. An airport arrival transfer is included. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking.
3. A single supplement is available on this trip.
4. Intrepid can assist with booking an optional sunrise balloon ride over the Bagan (operating October to March). Please see Days 6-7 for full details of this activity. Places are limited and we recommend that you book in advance. Please ask your booking agent for further details.
5. Departures from 1st January 2017: Based upon traveller feedback this trip will spend an additional night in Yangon, on Day 2. In the morning of Day 3 you will fly from Yangon to Mandalay.

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.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Classic Myanmar trips score an average of 4.8 out of 5 based on 76 reviews in the last year.

Classic Burma (Myanmar) , April 2016

Classic Burma (Myanmar) , April 2016