GOLDEN LAND OF MYANMAR TOUR
Yangon / Kyaikto / Bagon / Sagaing / Mandalay / Inle-Indein / Myanmar
14 Days Golden Land of Myanmar
Day 1: (D) Yangon arrival and city tour Upon arrival at Yangon International Airport this morning, pick up and transfer to your hotel for check in. We’ll begin an introductory tour of Yangon in the afternoon, including city center landmarks Sule Pagoda, Maha Bandula Park, and other remarkable sites of downtown Yangon, such as the 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, and Chinatown. Dinner and overnight in Yangon.
Day 2: (B) Yangon – Kyaikto Early this morning we’ll take a scenic drive to Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, the wondrous Golden Rock pilgrimage site in Kyaikto, via Bago. You’ll have an opportunity to photograph the Bago marketin the early light. We’ll stop en route at a World War II cemetery, dedicated to the 27,000 Commonwealth Forces who died in Burma, then Sittaung Bridge, an area humming with riverside activity. This afternoon at the temple site, you’ll transfer to a special open truck for a 45 minute ascent before continuing the journey up the trail to the Golden Rock on foot, accompanied by the many pilgrims who have walked from the very base of the mountain. Covered with gold leaf and precariously balanced over the edge of the mountain, Golden Rock is purported to be held in place, “balanced on hairs of the Buddha.” You’ll be among perhaps hundreds of pilgrims lighting candles, incense, and worshipping at this sacred monument as the sun sets behind it. Enjoy the early after-dark activities at the shrine before returning to your hotel. (Note: This trail is sometimes steep, but is smooth, and there are covered shelters every 50-100 meters to rest and have a cold drink. Porters will be available to assist anyone who wishes help, and a “sedan chair” conveyance is available for hire for approximately $25 for those who do not wish to walk.) Overnight in Kyaikto.
Day 3: (B) Kyaikto – Bago – Yangon Revisit the Golden Rock, just five minutes from the hotel, to watch the beautiful sunrise before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Then take an air-conditioned bus to Bago to visit Shwethalyaung Pagoda, which houses the second largest Reclining Buddha image in the world at 55 meters in length and 16 meters in height. The pagoda was built in 994 A.D. and restored in the late 19th century. Next, it’s Shwemawdaw Pagoda (Great Golden God Pagoda), built around in the 10th century. Officially the tallest pagoda in Myanmar, it was originally built to a height of 23 meters and was rebuilt higher several times until it finally reached its present 114 meters in 1954. Onward to Kyaik Pun Pagoda (built in the 7th century, restored in the 15th century), home of the impressive 27-meter-high statue of four Buddha images (Kakusandha, Konagamana, Kassapa, and Guatama) all sitting back to back facing four different directions. Then it’s on to the ancient capital of Sagaing. The Sagaing Hills, a famous religious retreat for Buddhists, are dotted with over 500 monasteries, used by some 6,000 monks and nuns. After lunch, pick back up with Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, featuring a large, smiling statue of Gautama Buddha, and Kaunghmudaw Pagoda, which stands out due to its egg-shaped design. Late this afternoon you’ll return to your hotel in Yangon for dinner and relaxation. Overnight in Yangon.
Day 4: (B) Yangon Before sunrise, depart for the Yangon River jetty to take the local ferry boat two hours to Twantay pottery village for some nice photo opportunities in the morning light. Return to Yangon with stops to photograph paddy fields and villages along the way. After dinner, visit 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. Overnight in Yangon.
Day 5: (B) Yangon – Bagan Before breakfast, return to Shwedagon Pagoda to see it in the morning light, then on to the botanical gardens and the fresh fish and vegetable market. Continue your morning exploring at Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda, featuring the colossal, 66-meter reclining Buddha. Continue to the Naga Glass Factory before a late lunch and transfer to the airport for a mid-afternoon flight to Bagan. Transfer to your hotel for check in. Dinner and overnight in Bagan.
Day 6: (B) Bagan temples This morning, begin a full day of visiting the beautiful and fascinating ancient ruins of Bagan with a view of the vast panorama of pagodas at sunrise from atop a temple platform. You’ll explore the colorful Nyaung U Market in the nearby town of the same name, the Ananda Temple – with four huge standing Buddha images and numerous seated figures in niches around the galleried interior – built in 1105. Dusk provides another panoramic photo opportunity from on high overlooking the Bagan Plains as the sun sets over the ruins of the thousands of picturesque pagodas. Overnight in Bagan.
Day 7: (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 8: (B, D) Bagan – Mandalay After breakfast, it’s an early morning flight to Mandalay, the city of the last Myanmar Kings. Upon arrival, begin the day’s sightseeing in Amarapura, a former capital of Burma until 1850 and now a township of Mandalay. We’ll explore 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, and is built in the traditional Burmese architectural style. Shwenandaw 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 in thick layers of gold leaves. You’ll also see Mahagandhayon Monastery, known for its strict adherence to the Vinaya, the Buddhist monastic code. Visit a craftsman’s workshop to see Kalaga tapestries before enjoying the sunset from atop Mandalay Hill.
Day 9: (B) Mandalay – Sagaing After breakfast at your hotel, transfer to Mingun by boat 11 km upriver from Mandalay on the western bank of the Irrawaddy River. The 45-minute boat trip to Mingun is a very pleasant way to see the life along the river. Sightseeing in Mingun includes Mingun Pahtodawgyi. The ruins are of a massive construction project begun by King Bodawpaya in 1790 which was intentionally left unfinished. Onward to Myatheindan Pagoda (also known as Hsinbyume), modeled on the physical description of the Buddhist mythological mountain, Mount Meru, then wind down the morning at a gigantic 90-ton bell, the largest uncracked ringing bell in the world. Return to Mandalay.
After lunch, drive to Sagaing. The Sagaing Hills, a famous religious retreat for Buddhists, are dotted with over 500 monasteries used by some 6,000 monks and nuns. Take in Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, featuring a large, smiling statue of Gautama Buddha, and Kaunghmudaw Pagoda, which stands out due to its egg-shaped design. Visit the village of Sagaing at the foot of Sagaing Hill with its markets, shops, and restaurants. Up next is another former Royal capital,Amarapura, home of the famous 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. Enjoy a sunset boat ride on the lake before transferring back to your hotel. Overnight in Mandalay.
Day 10: (B) Mandalay – Heho – Pindaya – Inle Lake After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Heho in Shan State. Upon arrival, you’ll be met by your guide and driven to Pindaya. This is an interesting drive up into the hills and across the Shan Plateau, through fields of mountain rice. Visit the magnificent Pindaya Caves, where thousands of different types of Buddha images are on display in the various chambers. Visit some local houses where families produce Shan paper and parasols. Then proceed to Inle Lake to check in to your hotel. Overnight at Inle Lake.
Day 11: (B) Inle Lake – Indein After breakfast, embark on a boating excursion on Inle Lake, famous for its unique one-leg rowers, floating gardens, fishing and village life. Visit the 5-day rotating market with its Intha and Pao tribes, a Cheroot Factory and the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda housing five sacred and almost shapeless Buddha images, contorted because of the quantity of applied gold leaf, gifts from devotees. The Buddha images are purported to have come here in the 12th Century. Break for lunch.
In the afternoon, proceed to Indein to see the ancient Bagan and Shan-style pagodas, built during Bagan Period. The ruins of the pagodas, some hidden in the overgrowth, will give you the impression of being there in the 12th – 13th centuries. Explore Shwe Indein, a group of Buddhist pagodas in the village of Indein. Afterward we’ll stop at Myaynigone Village to observe the local way of life and enjoy a cup of green tea with some of the villagers, then Inn Paw Khon, known for its lotus weaving and floating garden. Dinner and overnight at Inle Lake.
Day 12: (B) Kyauk Taing day trip Early this morning, we’ll depart by boat to explore the unspoiled culture and traditional lifestyle of Pao and Intha tribes around Sangha and Hmawbi. Visit Kyauk Taing, a Shan villagenoted for its earthenware pottery; visit Kyainkhan village to see the production of monk’s robes using fabric from thousands of lotus stems. After lunch, proceed to In Phaw Khon, a village of teak stilt houses known for its silk weaving workshops, then Nga Phe Chaung, a beautiful 200 year old wooden monastery built on stilts over the lake. Return to your hotel in the evening for dinner and overnight at Inle Lake.
Day 13: (B) Inle Lake – Yangon After breakfast, transfer by boat to Nyaung Shwe, a small town at the northern end of Inle Lake. From here continue by bus to Heho airport for your flight back to Yangon. Upon arrival in Yangon, transfer to your hotel. You’re free at leisure the rest of the day. Dinner and overnight in Yangon.
Day 14: (B) Yangon – departure This morning you’re free at leisure until your transfer to Yangon airport for your departure from Myanmar. End services.