BUDDHA CAVE IN SANDSTONE TOUR
10 Days Buddha Cave in Sandstone
Day 1: Yangon arrival and city tour Upon arrival at Yangon International Airport, you’ll be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel for check in. After refreshment, begin an afternoon orientation tour of Yangon with city center landmarks Sule Pagoda, Maha Bandula Park, and other remarkable sites of downtown Yangon, including colonial era buildings and City Hall, which is on the Yangon City Heritage List. Later, see Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda, featuring the colossal, 66-meter reclining Buddha. Then witness sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda, the glistening golden stupa that towers over the capital. It is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, and it is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas. This evening enjoy dinner and relaxation on your own. Overnight in Yangon.
Day 2: (B) Yangon This morning you’ll be transferred to Botahtaung Jetty to take a water bus to Insein terminal. Then take the Yangon Circular Train from Insein Station to Yangon central station. This is a great way to see a cross section of life in Yangon. In the afternoon, visit the National Museum. Founded in 1952, the five-story museum has an extensive collection of ancient artifacts, ornaments, works of art, inscriptions and historic memorabilia related to the history, culture and civilization of Burmese people. This evening visit the Karaweik Royal Barge. Overnight in Yangon.
Day 3: (B) Yangon – Bagan This morning, transfer to the airport for your morning flight to Bagan, where you’ll be met by your guide to begin a full day exploration of Bagan’s temples. You’ll start with the colorful Nyaung U Market in the nearby town of the same name, and then move on to Shwezigon Pagoda, completed in 1102 A.D. This was a prototype of later Myanmar stupas. Next up is the mysterious Kyansittha Umin (Cave Temple), and Gubyaukgyi Pagoda, restored in 1991 as part of a joint UNESCO/UNDP project. We’ll resume sightseeing in the afternoon at Tharabar Gate (the only surviving original gate at Bagan), and Ananda Temple, built in 1105 and one of four surviving temples in Bagan. Adjacent to Ananda Temple is Thatbyinnyu Pagoda, built in the mid-12th century and featuring two primary storeys, the second housing a seated Buddha image. And lastly, you’ll see Dhammayangyi Pagoda, the largest of Bagan’s temples. Enjoy a sunset horse cart ride around the pagoda grounds before transferring back to your hotel. Overnight in Bagan.
Day 4: (B) Balloon over Bagan and sightseeing Early this morning, the balloon team will pick you up from your hotel and take you on an hour-long balloon ride at sunrise over the ruins – an unforgettable experience! Afterward, the team will return you to your hotel in time for breakfast. Later, visit Myinkaba Village to see local monuments and observe the traditional process of creating lacquerware, one of the best-known Myanmar handicrafts and a specialty of Bagan. Near Wetkyi-in Village is Gubyaukgyi Pagoda, restored in 1991 as part of a joint UNESCO/UNDP project. Afterward, stop at nearby Manuha Temple (1067) and the adjacent Hindu Nanpaya Temple. Finally, enjoy an excursion to the lesser-visited countryside village of Minnanthu. Free at leisure the rest of the day. Overnight in Bagan.
Day 5: (B) Bagan – Mandalay by MGRG Express Boat After an early breakfast at your hotel, transfer to the jetty for a full-day boat trip to Mandalay on the Irrawaddy River, departing at 5:30 am. Spend the day cruising and enjoying the facilities onboard, arriving in Mandalay in the evening for transfer and check in your hotel. Overnight in Mandalay.
Day 6: (B) Mandalay – Amarapura This morning visit Amarapura and the Maha Gandar Yone Monastery, where 1,000 monks and novices line up at 10:30 every morning to receive their daily meal. Then visit traditional silk and cotton weaving workshops and later U Bein wooden bridge across Taungthaman Lake. Built around 1850 and spanning 1.2 km, it is believed to be the oldest and (once) longest teakwood bridge in the world. Return to Mandalay.
After lunch, we’ll begin a comprehensive sightseeing tour including Shwenandaw (Golden Palace), a historic monastery near Mandalay Hill. The monastery is known for its teak carvings of Buddhist myths which adorn its walls and roof. Shwenandaw is built in the traditional Burmese architectural style and is the single remaining major original structure of the original Royal Palace today. Next is Kuthodaw (Royal Merit) Pagoda, housing what is known as the world’s biggest book, consisting of 729 marble slabs engraved with Buddhist scriptures. Round out your day’s pagoda exploration at Mahamuni Pagoda, a major pilgrimage site southwest of Mandalay with its spectacular Buddha image covered with thick layers of gold leaves. Visit a craftsman’s workshop to see Kalaga tapestries before enjoying the sunset from atop Mandalay Hill. After dinner on your own, take in a cultural show at Mintha Theater. Overnight in Mandalay.
Day 7: (B) Mandalay – Monywa – Pho Win Hill After breakfast and hotel check out, you’ll be met by your guide and driven three hours to Monywa, a commercial center of the Chindwin Valley. On the way to Monywa, explore the astonishing Thanboddhay Pagoda, with over 500,000 images of Buddha inside decorating every wall, archway and niche. The buildings in this massive compound have interesting jataka reliefs. Then cross the Chindwin River bridge to a sandstone cave system in Pho Win Hill. It takes approximately 20 minutes to walk to the top of the hill, where you’ll see hundreds of sandstone caves containing Buddha images and well-preserved murals. Later you’ll see Shwe Ba Taung, a set of 46 cave chambers also holding Buddha images. Return to Monywa and check in at your hotel. Overnight in Monywa.
Day 8: (B) Monywa – Shwe Gu Ni Pagoda – Sagaing – Mandalay This morning, we’ll drive approximately 45 minutes to Shwe Gu Ni Pagoda. This 14thcentury pagoda is home to a 33-meter-high Buddha whose original face is barely visible through all the gold. From here, we’re on the road to Mandalay. On the way, we’ll stop at the ancient capital of Sagaing and the Sagaing Hills, a famous retreat for Buddhist monks and nuns. The Hills are dotted with over 500 monasteries. Continuing, we’ll explore Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, featuring a large, smiling statue of Gautama Buddha, Kaunghmudaw Pagoda, which stands out due to its egg-shaped design, and Ywa Htaung, known for its silversmiths. Continue to Mandalay for hotel check in. Overnight in Mandalay.
Day 9: (B) Mandalay – Yangon After breakfast at your hotel, transfer to airport for your flight back to Yangon. Upon arrival transfer to your hotel for check in. Spend the day at leisure on your own (car available), perhaps exploring the lively Bogyoke Aung San and Bahan Markets. Lunch and dinner on your own. Overnight in Yangon.
Day 10: Yangon – departure This morning, at leisure until your transfer to Yangon International Airport for your international departure. End services.