Get to know enigmatic Myanmar the two-wheeled way on a cycling tour from Yangon up to Mandalay and Inle Lake

With its softly rolling terrain, quiet roads, abundance of outdoor attractions and idyllic rural countryside, Myanmar is the perfect place to get to know by bike. After a couple of days checking out Yangon's attractions, head north to the ancient city of Bagan – a landscape defined by thousands of ornate ochre-coloured temples. Cycle through toddy forest to Mount Popa, the reputed home of the country's spirits, watch fishermen working their trade on Inle Lake and creep through limestone caves stocked with Buddha effigies. Exploring Myanmar and its provincial backroads by bike opens up the country's essence in myriad ways.

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Start
Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
Finish
Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
Country
Myanmar (Burma)
Style
Original
Theme
Cycling
Code
TTXM
Physical rating
Ages
Min 14
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Bask in the golden glow of Yangon's giant Shwedagon Pagoda

  • Get off the beaten track and into Myanmar’s past cycling around Bagan's temple-strewn landscape

  • Ride through toddy forest towards Mount Popa, a volcano in the Pegu Range that's revered as the spiritual home of Myanmar's nats

  • Ditch the Gatorade and rehydrate with fresh coconut and fruit juice

  • Cruise along the Ayeyarwady to Mingun, a small riverside town situated at the base of an enormous temple

Is this trip right for you?

  • To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle.

  • While the cycling distances on this trip are relatively short and the terrain relatively flat the climate is warm and often humid so you’ll need a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy the trip – but remember we will always have the support vehicle on hand if you need to take a break for an hour or a day.

  • As our riding is done on a mixture of sealed and gravel roads there are no technical cycling skills required - but given the gravel sections we do suggest practicing riding off-road so you are comfortable with this once the trips begins.

  • There’s the possibility of a few hiccups along the way – a puncture here and there maybe – but there’s no doubt this is an incredibly rewarding adventure.

  • The weather in this region can be varied depending on the season. Be prepared to get sweaty and for the occasional rainstorm, which may require a change of plans.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2017 to 22 December 2017. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Myanmar. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with the 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).

Riding distance: none
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Yangon - Sule Pagoda - MMK3000
  • Yangon - Bogyoke Market (Scotts Market) - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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.

Riding distance: none
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yangon - Walking Tour
  • Yangon - Kandawgyi Lake
  • Yangon - Shwedagon Pagoda
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for the flight to Bagan.

Prepare to be astounded by Bagan, a grassy plain scattered with literally hundreds of ancient pagodas. A full day of cycling will take us to the city's most fascinating sites, including the teeming Nyaung Oo Market, the glittering Shwezigon Pagoda, and the atmospheric cave temple of Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi.

In the afternoon we visit a traditional workshop to observe how lacquer ware is made, then continue to the architecturally magnificent monastery of Amanda.

Riding distance: approx. 30 kms
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bagan - Temple bike tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we cycle through groves of towering palm trees, which you'll probably see the local men scaling for the juice they distil liquor from, to Mount Popa. The countryside we ride through is very picturesque, so be sure to bring your camera along. Sitting 1,518 metres above sea-level, Mount Popa is actually a volcano in the Pegu Range (and the mythical home of nats, Myanmar's 37 spirits).

Riding distance: approx. 60 kms
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mt Popa visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
For sunrise today, many travellers like to take an optional hot air balloon ride over the site. On this flight take in breathtaking views above the stupa-studded landscape, followed by a light breakfast and champagne. The entire experience runs for approximately 2.5 hours, with flights times an average 45 minutes (ranging 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.
Today's ride to Myingyan is a scenic one along the narrow, quiet roads that are typical of Myanmar's central dry zone. Though mostly flat, the route passes many unbridged sand creeks that wind through toddy forest towards Mount Popa. On the way we will pass the townships of Taungtha.

Riding distance: approx. 85 kms
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
There's a lot of distance to cover today, so you (and your bike) will be driven some of the way, passing the town of Ta Ta Oo. The first cycling leg, which passes through several small villages, is along flat roads roughly tarred . We continue cycling on from Myitthar before re-boarding our vehicle and taking the highway north to Mandalay.

Riding distance: approx. 80 kms
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Mandalay - Moustache Brothers - MMK8000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast we start cycling out of downtown Mandalay to the small town of Amarapura, home of the longest teak bridge in the world, before continuing on to Mingun, a small riverside town situated at the base of an enormous, uncompleted temple. Originally designed to be 152 metres high, Mingun's stupa, had it been completed, would have been the world's largest. According to local legend, work on it was halted when a local astronomer prophesied its completion would spell end of the country.

From Mingun we board a boat for a cruise along the Ayeyarwady back to Mandalay, where we leave our bikes behind and take private transport to visit Mahamuni Pagoda. Other stop-ins for the day include a gold leaf workshop and Mandalay Hill, where Lord Buddha is said to have left a footprint. Stay here for sunset and be treated to superb views over city's lake and glittering stupas.

For some evening entertainment, consider catching a traditional show by the Mandalay Marionettes, or a non-conformist comedy show by the Moustache Brothers.

Riding distance: approx. 40 kms
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mandalay - Mandalay Hill
  • Mandalay - U Bein Bridge
  • Mandalay - Boat trip to Mingun
  • Mingun Paya
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Leaving Mandalay, cycle approx. 50kms through rural Myanmar, past fields, small, lively villages and beautiful landscapes, then drive on to Pindaya, a town famous for thousands of Buddha effigies stocked inside its limestone caves.

Riding distance: approx. 50 kms
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Following breakfast at the hotel, drive to the Pindaya caves for an explore of its caverns and tunnels. There are more than 8,000 Buddha images contained inside this labyrinth of tunnels and meditation chambers, with visiting pilgrims adding to the collection each day.

Cycle over the rolling hills of the Shan plateau to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway to Inle Lake. 14 miles long and 7 miles wide, this is the second largest natural lake in Myanmar. It sits 2,900 feet above sea level, nestled among the hazy Blue Mountains.

The route up into the Shan Highland includes a couple of tough ascents.

Riding distance: approx. 50 kms
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Inle Lake - Pindaya Caves
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning we ride along Inle Lake's western banks to the hillside pagoda complex of Indein. After a bit of time spent exploring the site's hundreds of Shan style stupas, we'll cross the lake by motor boat. From here our route follows an undulating road through dense farmland. You'll pass Intha villages (a local people known for their unusual style of leg-rowing), rice paddies, fields of sugarcane and traditional wooden houses. In the afternoon we'll travel by private car to a local winery for a tasting. Tonight we spend in Nyaung Shwe.

Riding distance: approx. 50 kms
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Inle Lake - Red Mountain Estate Winery Tasting
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we explore Inle Lake and visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake's main sanctuary of Buddha images and royal barges.

Cruising around Inle Lake by boat offers a chance to see local life from a different angle. You'll pass cottage industries and see the lake's famous leg-rowing fishermen. Their unique technique of rowing standing up, with a long paddle in one hand and their leg wrapped around it lower down, leaves a fishermen free to cast their conical fishing nets while moving. This unique style evolved due to the lake's covering of reeds and floating plants, which makes it difficult for someone to see and steer while seated. Next up we'll arrive in the village of Inpawkhone, a place famous for its traditional method of weaving silk from the stems of lotus flowers. It's a time consuming process, but one that results in high quality materials. After watching the weavers at work we'll visit a cheroot factory and see cigars being rolled by hand.

In the evening we'll return to Nyaung Shwe, where you'll be treated to a Shan traditional dinner.

Riding distance: none
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Inle Lake - Boat trip & village tour
  • Inle Lake - Traditional Shan Dinner
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Enjoy a morning soaking up Inle Lake's serenity before farewelling your support crew and transferring to Heho for the fly back to Yangon. An included arrival transfer will take you from the airport to your hotel.

Riding distance: none
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your cycling adventure through Myanmar concludes today in Yangon, There are no activities planned so you are free to depart at any time.

Riding distance: none
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

12 breakfasts, 1 dinner

Transport

Bicycle, Support vehicle, Plane, Boat

Accommodation

Hotel (11 nights), guesthouse (1 night)

Included activities

  • Yangon - Walking Tour
  • Yangon - Kandawgyi Lake
  • Yangon - Shwedagon Pagoda
  • Bagan - Temple bike tour
  • Mt Popa visit
  • Mandalay - Mandalay Hill
  • Mandalay - U Bein Bridge
  • Mandalay - Boat trip to Mingun
  • Mingun Paya
  • Inle Lake - Pindaya Caves
  • Inle Lake - Red Mountain Estate Winery Tasting
  • Inle Lake - Boat trip & village tour
  • Inle Lake - Traditional Shan Dinner

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for details.
2. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so as we can organise a suitable sized bike.
3. Due to restrictions on the internal flights clients cannot bring their own bike on this trip.
4. Bike helmets are compulsory on this trip. We are unable to hire bike helmets locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home.
5. Please provide passport details at time of booking with name as per passport, as these are essential for booking services on this trip.
6. Intrepid can book an optional sunrise balloon ride over the Bagan (operating October to March). Please refer to the itinerary for more information. Places are limited and we recommend advance booking with your agent.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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.

Reviews

Our Cycle Myanmar trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 6 reviews in the last year.

Cycle Myanmar, October 2017

William Laforest

Cycle Myanmar, October 2017

Simon saxton