The Myanmar Explorer program gives you an in depth look at the historic, ethnic and environmental diversity that makes Myanmar such an interesting place to visit. Virtually unexplored by the traveling masses, Myanmar remains largely untouched and has a strong sense of tradition which permeates everyday life.
Visit exotic Myanmar - where India, China and South East Asia converge as one of the most fascinating corners of the globe!
Itinerary: 15 days
Day 1: Arrival in Yangon
On arrival at Yangon airport meet your guide and driver. They will transfer you to the hotel.
Rest of the day free at leisure till 1800 when you are expected to meet your guide at the hotel to go to the top of Sakura Tower in downtown Yangon for the After Sunset Tour.
At the end of the day many Yangonites leave their office and on the way back home they stop for some shopping, catch up with friends at a teashop, visit a pagoda or go to a beer station. This is exactly what you are going to do as well this evening.
Highlight of the tour will be the evening visit to the illuminated Shwedagon pagoda – a magic and mystical moment at a time that it’s not very busy on the main platform. After the pagoda visit there will be some snacks to be tasted as well as a local draft beer or a fresh lime juice.
Day 2: Yangon
You will be picked up at the hotel by a Trips in Asia representative. He will transfer you to the Aung Mingala bus station to make sure you will easily find the reserved seats in the air-conditioned night bus to Hsipaw (leaving at 1600).
Around 1900 the bus will make a 30 min stop for dinner. Toilet stops are made (on request) and at 0400 an early breakfast stop is made in Kyaukme (refreshment towels and toothbrush is given to refresh).
Day 3: Hsipaw Shan Village Trek
Around 0500 the bus stops at the main road in Hsipaw (before continuing to Lashio) to let you out opposite the Catholic Church.
There you will be met by our representative who will make sure your luggage is send to the hotel while you can stretch your legs and walk to produce market at the riverside which is starting right now – make sure you bring your camera. Continue to the large central market where Shan and other tribal people come early morning from nearby villages to trade. Continue to Mr Charles Hotel for breakfast and check-in.
Free time to take a nap and a shower (if wanted) or for example to walk around the town or rent a bike and visit the bamboo Buddha or the area with overgrown temple ruins called “little Bagan).
Around 1330 departure with your guide for a 4 hours walk through a panoramic scenery of paddy fields and other seasonal crops passing small creeks, Shan villages, local schools, the grave of the first prince of Hsipaw, a local nunnery as well as a wooden monastery. The guide will explain in detail about Shan life around Hsipaw and show you some home industries like cheroot (cigar) rolling, bamboo weaving and explain why each Shan village has a spirit house build at the entrance of the village.
Day 4: Hsipaw Boat Trip
The river passing through Hsipaw town is called the Dokthawaddy River and this morning your guide will take you for a boat ride up the river through amazing scenery of mountains, plantations along the river and general village life in this interesting part of Myanmar. We get out of the boat for an hour walk to visit a 150 years old Shan monastery in the forest. Time for swimming (if wanted) at the river confluence and on the way back in the direction of Hsipaw we visit a charming traditional Shan village. A 5 hours guided excursion that will give you an insight in Shan life.
The rest of the day is free at leisure to visit any of the other interesting places in Hsipaw on foot or by bicycle.
Day 5: Kyaukme Trekking
Going local today! The 0730 local bus will depart opposite the post office (an impressive colonial wooden building) at 3 minutes walk from your hotel. And when we say local we mean local… the bus is stopping at every village to let people or goods in an out and basically functions a bit like the local postman (for letter, packages or big bags of rice). Expect to be surrounded (or sit on top of) vegetables, rice and anything else you can imagine surrounded by local people.
Arrive around 0830 in Kyaukme and get out at the final bus stop right at the market where a local Trips in Asia representative will be waiting for you and take you to the guesthouse. During a full day trekking through the mountains surrounding Kyaukme the guide will give you an insight in the life of the Palaung people living in the hills. We have lunch in one of the Palaung villages. A great day out in the nature in an area where you can still find people who have never seen a western foreigner in their life and who live according to century old traditions.
Day 6: Kyaukme - Pyin Oo Lwin over the Gokteik Bridge
In the morning you have some free time to explore the town with its colonial buildings and the busy and colourful market where we suggest you to buy food and drinks for on the train. A 10 minutes walk (or take a motorbike taxi with trailer) will lead you to the train station. We have reserved seats for you till Pyin Oo Lwin station on the spectacular train crossing the mighty Gokteik Viaduct which was constructed in 1901 by constructors from the Pennsylvania Steel company and was once the second highest railway bridge in the world.
The train departs at 1105 from Kyaukme station and will pass the Gokteik viaduct around 1330. Through spectacular mountain scenery the train will slowly move forward over the old railway track passing small villages and towns where vendors will enter the train to sell drinks and local snacks. Expected arrival time in the Pyin Oo Lwin – the former summer capital for the British colonial administration – around 1600, but be warned – there might be delays with an historic railway like this one.
On arrival at the colonial train station a car a Trips in Asia representative is waiting for you to bring you to the Royal Parkview Hotel passing numerous colonial villas Pyin Oo Lwin is famous for.
Day 7: Colonial Architecture of Pyin Oo Lwin
Free time in the morning to walk to the National Kandawgyi Gardens; a great botanic garden established in 1915 featuring over 480 species of flowers and trees and well maintained. You also have time to visit the nearby waterfalls or the caves just outside Maymyo.
You are expected to meet Mr Cameron at 1330 at his antique shop at the Maymyo market (Gandamar land shop AA-5/6). A native from Pyin Oo Lwin who will show you around his native town by horse cart and tell you everything about the history of the colonial buildings in Pyin Oo Lwin. Mr Cameron and his colleagues are the experts on colonial antiquities in Pyin Oo Lwin and will bring you to places like the secret society building, the colonial Candacraig hotel, the former Japanese police station, the former swimming pool for the British, the old coffee factory, the church of England, the Governors house, the private house of Mr Burnet’s son (Mr Burnet used to be the famous chef at Candacraig Hotel) and a local colonial house where the residents are happy to tell their family’s history. During this 2.5 hours tour you will get to know the intimate side of the colonial history of this former British hill station.
Day 8: Pyin Oo Lwin - Mandalay
This morning at 0900 you will be “car-pooling” to Mandalay. A shared taxi (total 4 passengers) will pick you up at the hotel in Pyin Oo Lwin and drive you down the hill towards Mandalay. In Mandalay the shared taxi will drop you at your hotel.
After your travel from Pyin Oo Lwin, the rest of your morning free at leisure till 1300 when you are expected to meet your guide at the hotel for the Mandalay orientation tour:
This tour is the perfect introduction to Mandalay. We pick you up after lunch and go to the Mahamuni pagoda and have a look at this century’s old Buddha statue originating from Mrauk Oo. Starting from the early morning (when the Buddha’s face gets washed and his teeth are brushed by monks) this temple compound is very lively. Only men are allowed to stick gold leaves to the Buddha statue while women can watch and pray to TV screens around the compound with live images of the statue. Mahamuni is also an excellent place to shop around for the perfect Buddha statue (bronze or wood). Can’t find what you are looking for? Find a marble statue at the next stop which is the marble carving street. The old capital of Amarapura is a very quiet village nowadays where you only hear the sound of the weaving machines. We walk through the famous monastery complex (with hundreds of monks), visit one of the small weaving factories and walk over U-Bein bridge to the other side of the lake before heading back to your hotel.
Day 9: Mandalay
Free day in Mandalay to discover the city on your own or join one of our many local excursions.
Day 10: Mandalay - Bagan
Transfer to the bus station. Departure from the bus station is at 08:30 AM and the expected arrival time is around 1:30 PM.
By many described as more impressive then Angkor Wat, the temples of Bagan never fail to impress. Over 4000 temples (most of them around 800 years old) are spread out over an area roughly 8 sq kms. It’s this landscape of temples that make the area so special and the best way to explore is to go around (by bike, horse cart or car) and simply stop at whatever temple you fancy to have a closer look at.
On arrival in Bagan we bring you immediately to Buledi temple to get a first impressive view over the temple area of Bagan. The guide will then take you to the Ananda temple to explain more about this ancient kingdom. We end this orientation tour with the climbing of Shwesandaw Pagoda from where the guide will point out the most important temples of Bagan.
Day 11: Minnanthu Picnic
Minnanthu is probably the favourite temple area amongst frequent Bagan visitors and you know why? It’s quiet, it’s a beautiful area and the temples here are often completely deserted. The guide brings you by car to this forgotten part of Bagan and will spread out a blanket and serve you a great picnic lunch in this historical setting before or after visiting 2 or 3 ancient temples ruins in this area.
The rest of the day is free to explore the ancient ruins of Bagan on your own.
Day 12: Ruins of Indein
Transfer to the airport. Flight from Bagan to Heho airport in Shan State (estimated timing 0830 / 09:0). On arrival in Shan State drive through a mountainous scenery in direction of Inle Lake from where we take a private boat to go by boat to Indein.
In the south of the lake the ruins of Indein are certainly worth a visit. Partly covered by vegetation the area looks like a “pagoda forest”. We will walk about 1 hour to enjoy a fantastic view over the lake and visit the primary school in Sae Ma village. A home-made cooked lunch is served in a local house and we continue with a local canoe to Phaung Daw Oo pagoda. From Phaung Daw Oo pagoda we proceed by motorboat to Golden Island Cottages which is a hotel build on stilts in the middle of the lake.
Day 13: Inle Lake - Nyaung Shwe
Breakfast at the hotel and continue visits on the lake. On and around the lake, traditional markets are held in different villages according to a 5-day rotating schedule and today we will try to fit in one of the traditional markets frequented by Shan and PaO people living nearby.
For sure we will do a great deal of exploring on the magnificient Inle Lake.
Inle Lake in southern Shan State is a vast natural lake surrounded by traditional Shan villages. On the lake itself the Intha people have been living for many centuries in village built entirely on stilts on the lake. Today we will take you by private motorboat around the lake to discover the natural beauty of the lake, visit the floating gardens, hopefully see some of the famous leg rowers and have some tea at a local family’s house. We will certainly also visit a local cheroot factory (where the Burmese cigars are made) and if wanted we visit a weaving factory.
Transfer by boat to Nyaung Shwe which is a small and lively town at the edge of the lake and used to be the hometown of the Shan prince of Nyaung Shwe (his former palace can still be visited). On arrival in Nyaung Shwe we take you by local trishaw to your hotel.
Day 14: Nyaung Shwe – Heho - Yangon
Transfer by car to Heho airport for the onward flight back to Yangon.
Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel.
An excellent half day tour at the end of your trip to Myanmar starting (or ending) with a lunch at Sharky’s restaurant – a local entrepreneur who is growing organic vegetables and producing locally made “French” cheese, ham and other delicious food. A 1, 5 hour foot massage is what you deserved after a long trip to Myanmar and afterwards our specially selected shopping guide will bring you to whatever shop you like to find you final souvenirs to bring home, whether it is shopping for a longyi (local sarong), umbrella’s, old books, gold leaves or even a trishaw (bicycle taxi) or a contemporary painting – our specialist knows where to find it!
Day 15: Yangon Departure
Breakfast at the hotel before arranging your own transfer to the airport for your flight back, hotel staff can assist you.