Burma - The Golden Land (Myanmar) Trip Notes
At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.
Trip code : PABG
Trip length : 17
Trip starts in : Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma)
Trip ends in : Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma)
Maximum group size : maximum 16
- Maymyo hill station
- Pagan's thousands of temples
- Pegu - ancient centre of the Mon kingdom
- 2000-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda
"Burmese food is fantastic, but when you're here you don’t see a lot of Burmese restaurants. It's mostly Chinese and Indian restaurants, and the Burmese save their traditional cooking for home. But Bogyoke Market in Rangoon has fantastic local cuisine. Having a feed with the local people is a real highlight and I can't go past the kyawswe noodles in coconut broth." San Khoo, Peregrine Product Manager.
- Upon arrival in Rangoon (Yangon), you will be met and transferred to a centrally located hotel. You will meet your tour leader and the rest of the group. After a pre-trip briefing, you will adjourn for a group dinner in a restaurant nearby (cost not included).
Rangoon (Yangon) - Mandalay
- This morning you will set off to see one of the great sites of Rangoon. The extraordinary Shwedagon Pagoda and surrounding temples and edifices attract an eclectic mix of monks, pilgrims, worshippers, and tourists.
- You will spend some time walking around the complex, learning about the history and the spiritual devotion of the area, and experiencing the ambience of this special place.
- You will leave for the airport (seeing a little more of Rangoon along the way), where your tour leader will coordinate the check-in for your flight to Mandalay on a private airline.
- Flight time is usually a little over an hour and after landing it is a 45-minute drive to the city, and your hotel for the next three nights. The rest of the afternoon is free – you could use this time to walk to one of the local markets, enjoy the hustle and bustle, take photos or bargain for local wares.
- You will make your way down to the city’s lively waterfront today, the perfect backdrop for your boat trip up-river to Mingun - the site of the world's largest pagoda (albeit unfinished), the world’s largest unbroken bell, and temples dating back hundreds, if not thousands of years.
- The river is effectively a major trading, communication and commuting highway, and a wide range of boats, barges and steamers can be viewed along the way.
- You will return to Mandalay late morning. This city was the former capital of Burma; though the surrounding countryside contains many towns that lay claim to the same title.
- Later in the afternoon you will embark on a tour visiting the remnants of one of these once-great cities, Amarapura. Weather permitting; you may also view a spectacular sunset over the 200-year-old, two-kilometre-long, U Bein wooden bridge, either from land or by boat.
- This evening you may wish to dine at your hotel, or your tour leader can recommend any number of great local restaurants: the selection of excellent dining options throughout this trip is extensive.
- Drive to one of Burma's most famous hill stations, Maymyo (Pyin U Lwin), will provide a welcome escape from the heat of the plains. Established during the colonial era in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it is today a crossroad for traders coming over from China. This is reflected in the colourful local market.
- If time permits, you will have the opportunity to explore the surroundings in a horse-drawn carriage called a 'myin-lay'.
- English-style country mansions and Chinese temples dot the hillsides in a place accurately referred to as the 'vegetable garden' of Burma.
- Later, you will return to Mandalay where the rest of the day will be spent visiting various temples, including the Kuthodaw Pagoda that claims to house the world's largest 'book'.
- If there is time, you will then climb Mandalay Hill (236 metres). In times gone by this was an arduous walk, but these days, if in operation, a series of large escalators will do most of the work for you.
- If conditions oblige, the sunset views from the summit are impressive and along the way there are many shrines of religious significance.
- You will depart early from the hotel today, and head for the waterfront to spend an entire day on a ferryboat as you cruise down the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River.
- Along the way, you will witness the idyllic way of life that epitomises these parts of rural Burma, this is especially apparent in the fishing villages that lie along the riverbanks.
- You will pass dozens of boats of different size and utility, a testament to the role this mighty river plays in the life of so many. There is a restaurant on board the ferry, and meals and drinks are readily available for purchase during the day.
- In the evening you will arrive in Pagan (Bagan), one of the most impressive archaeological wonders of Asia, where you will be met and driven to the hotel.
- (Due to the unpredictable nature of water levels and ferry operations on the Irrawaddy River between February and May, it is possible that some services may be cancelled during that period. Some of these cancellations may take place at the last minute and often without warning. If this is the case it may be necessary to fly between Mandalay and Pagan. There will be no extra cost for this flight).
- The sights of Pagan will be explored from dawn to dusk. Nyaung U's lively market contrasts with the eerie silence of the plains beyond, which are littered with over 4000 structures, including Gawdawpalin, Thatbyinnyu, Ananda and Shwezigon. The names of the temples and pagodas here are a testament to the glorious past of the region.
- The area is also famous for producing lacquer-ware and sand paintings that are available in the stalls amidst the ruins.
- You may be able to do some of today’s exploration by horse and cart, and weather permitting; you will also enjoy a breathtaking sunset view from one of the ruins.
- You will drive for an hour before arriving at Mount Popa today, an extinct volcano that is home to local spirits or deities known as nats.
- For the energetic, you will have the chance to climb the 777 steps to the shrine at the top of the hill.
- Returning to Pagan, you will visit a local village to observe the lifestyle of the people and talk with some of the villagers.
- The afternoon is free for further exploration of this amazing area. You may like to hire a bicycle or take a horse and carriage and enjoy your own adventure around the archaeological sites.
- You will board a plane and fly to Heho today, which is situated in the Shan Plateau. From here, you will drive through picturesque countryside and rolling hills to your final destination, Khaungdaing, situated on Inle Lake not far from the main township, Nyaungshwe.
- This afternoon you may like to rent a canoe (for about an hour) and row to Lin Kin village, famous for its floating garden in the lake.
- On your way back you could stop at some of the village houses to see the process of making traditional snacks (optional and at extra cost).
- You will notice that the weather is much cooler here due to the high altitude. At certain times of the year, some of our tours will stay in a different hotel, located up in the hills in Taunggyi.
- A full day will be spent on the lake exploring the floating gardens and catching a glimpse of the local Intha fishermen who are famous for their unique 'leg-rowing' technique. These people are different from the Shans; they originate from the south of the country.
- The lake is also home to a wide array of bird-life including egrets, cranes, ducks, storks and birds of prey.
- Visits may be made to some of the local villages and your stay may coincide with one of the market days: always exciting with much of the commuting being done by local people using the ubiquitous long-tail boats.
- After breakfast at your hotel, you will transfer to the Indein ruins complex (about 45 minutes by long-tail boat).
- On disembarking, you will discover a pagoda and stupas that were built in the 8th century. You can also browse through the rows of shops along the corridor uphill, or just marvel at the surroundings.
- After spending some time here, you will embark on a walk towards Yankin, Pa O, and the Taung Yoe tribe village (1.5 km, approx 45 minutes). Along the way you will explore the mystery of more than 300 ancient stupas around the village, and then continue towards a Buddhist monastery (1 km, approx 30 minutes).
- You will then head north through farmland and bamboo forest to Naydaw (1.5 km, approx 45 minutes) to visit the Taung Yoe ethnic tribe village.
- From here you will turn south-west (5 km, approx 3 hours) through the valley, to reach west Taung Mauk, Pa O village.
- Another 20 minutes will take you to east Taung Mauk village. Finally, you will turn east through the valley to Indein (3 km, approx 45 minutes) where you will meet a boat and return back to the hotel.
- This evening you will enjoy a traditional Shan dinner and get to sample some of the local style culinary specialties.
- Note: the amount of walking 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 advisable, and arrangements can be discussed with your tour leader the day before.
- In the morning you will be transferred to Heho Airport for the flight back to Rangoon. Upon arrival you will be met by a private vehicle and travel by road to Kyaiktiyo.
- It is suggested that you pack an overnight bag for the one-night stop in Kyaiktiyo. The remainder of your luggage can be stored on the bus which will be waiting at the base camp while you're visiting the pagoda.
- It is approximately a five-hour drive to the base camp at Kinponsakan, where you will transfer to an open air truck with basic wooden bench style seating, and take a bumpy drive for 45 minutes up a steep hill to Rathedaung.
- After disembarking, you will walk 45 minutes to the summit (1180 metres above sea level). Porters with sedan chairs are available (at an extra cost) to carry those who are unable to walk.
- The Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo Pagoda) is a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists. There is a small pagoda (7.3 metres high) built on a gold-gilded boulder, 25 metres in circumference, and balanced in what appears to be a very precarious position on a tabular rock, jutting out from a ridge in the Eastern Yoma Mountains.
- Legend has it that the boulder is held in position by a strand of Buddha's hair. You will spend the evening walking around Kyaiktiyo (the name means 'pagoda borne on a hermit's head', in Mon language). Spending a night in Kyaiktiyo is one of Burma's most spiritual experiences.
Pegu (Bago) - Rangoon (Yangon)
- If you are lucky you might have the chance to visit the pagoda early in the morning again before descending.
- After descending from the summit, you will continue on the road that you travelled on yesterday, back to Rangoon.
- Along the way you will stop at Pegu (Bago), the ancient centre of the Mon kingdom in the 13th century. Here you will visit the Shwemawdaw Pagoda, which is even larger than the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, and the Shwethalyaung Buddha, one of the largest Reclining Buddhas in existence.
- After exploring Pegu, you will continue back to Rangoon for the night.
Bassein (Pathein) - Ngwesaung
- Turning your attention towards the delta region, you will head west and drive for three-and-a-half hours to the port city of Bassein (Pathein), which is famous for its colourful hand-painted umbrellas (sometimes this stop will be made on Day 16, on the way back to Rangoon). You will see how these parasols are made on a visit to a local factory, before continuing on to the a little tropical paradise on the coast.
- Burma’s little-known secret is its beautiful coastline fronting the Indian Ocean. At Ngwesaung (pronounced ‘neway-song’) lies an un-spoilt white sand beach, 15 kilometres long and bordered by tall swaying palms.
- You will have the chance to relax for a couple of days, staying in a hotel that has the lush settings of a resort.
- You will have the chance to swim in the waters of the warm, blue tropical sea, visit small fishing villages and local markets, explore the countryside by bicycle, and enjoy optional boat trips to the beautiful off-shore islands (cost not included).
- Please note that during the rainy season (May-September), some facilities may be closed and some activities may not be available due to inclement weather.
- You will depart after breakfast and drive for approximately four hours back to the capital today. Along the way stop in Bassein (Pathein) to visit the local cottage industries and pay homage to those who gave their lives during World War II at the Htawk Kyant Commonwealth War Cemetery.
- Depending on what time you arrive back in Rangoon, you may have free time to visit Sule Pagoda, which marks the centre of town (this is an optional excursions and at your own expense).
- You can spend your last evening together enjoying a meal (optional) and wandering around town.
- The tour will come to an end today after breakfast. A transfer to the airport is not included; however, your tour leader will be on hand to advise you as to the options available.
While the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.
Explore the world on two feet - or two wheels! Our active trips range from classic treks & trips where walking forms an integral part of the itinerary to cycling tours offering a totally new perspective on a destination.
Some of our active adventure tours include the classic treks such as the Inca Trail, Kilimanjaro or Everest Base Camp as well as shorter one day or overnight hikes. Our cycling tours allow you to access hidden corners of a destination, discover remote villages and meet the locals – either en route or even by cycling alongside them. All our active trips are fully supported – with either porters and mules or by a support vehicle.
Our Plus tours allow you to immerse yourself within a destination or culture whilst travelling and sleeping in comfort. They are packed with highlights to ensure you get the most out of your valuable time away yet are also slower paced allowing you time to savour the culture, traditions and sights of your destination – the perfect balance.
On some trips we’ll push you out of your comfort zone to ensure an authentic experience, on other trips you will stay in amazing places where there is no ‘roughing it’ involved. There is plenty of choice so you can select a trip with as much activity or as little as you wish. Our small groups ensure a more intimate experience and that the impact on the local environment and community is kept to a minimum. Extra Comfort tours offer rich and rewarding adventures and are stress-free, safe and, most importantly, fun!
- Innovative itineraries offering authentic travel encounters
- A mix of active adventure, culture, wildlife, sightseeing and relaxation
- Well appointed, quality hotels in central locations
- Arrival transfers, transport (mostly private) and accommodation included
- Many meals and adventure activities also included
- Fully trained and experienced local leaders
This tour is operated by our partners Peregrine Adventures
- The services of expert English-speaking local tour leader throughout the tour
- Sightseeing (including entrance fees where applicable): Rangoon - Shwedagon Pagoda and Karaweik Hall; Mandalay - Kuthodaw Pagoda and Mandalay Hill; Amarapura; Maymyo hill station; archaeological site at Pagan; Mount Popa - home to 'nats' (local deities); ancient centre of the Mon kingdom – Pegu; Shwemawdaw Pagoda; Shwethalyaung Buddha; and port city of Bassein
- Local flights by private airline: Rangoon to Mandalay, Pagan to Heho (for Inle Lake), and Heho to Rangoon
- Boat trip to Mingun - the site of the world's largest pagoda and unbroken bell
- Day ferry boat cruise down the Irrawaddy River (subject to water levels) from Mandalay to Pagan to discover rural Burma
- A full day discovering Inle Lake on a traditional long-tail boat
- Trek to ethnic minority villages on Shan Plateau
- Traditional Shan dinner
- Trek to the summit of Kyaiktiyo to visit Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo Pagoda) and spend the night
- Three day stay at Ngwesaung Beach
- Free time to explore Rangoon, Mandalay and Pagan
- Arrival transfer.
International flights, departure taxes (if required), visas, other meals, insurance, tips, any additional optional tours or activities, and spending of a personal nature, including drinks, laundry, souvenirs.
16 breakfasts, 1 dinner
Most of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don't worry if that doesn't appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and 'me' time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.