MYANMAR RIVER CRUISE & TREKKING TOUR
20 Days Myanmar with River Cruise and Trekking
Day 1: Yangon arrival Upon arrival at Yangon International Airport, you’ll be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel for check in. You’re free at leisure to relax after your flight or explore on your own. Overnight in Yangon.
Day 2: (B) Yangon – Sittwe – Mrauk U This morning after breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Sittwe. Upon arrival, transfer by chartered boat approximately 5 hours on the Kaladan River to Mrauk U, enjoying the scenery and river life along the way. Arrive later in the evening and check in to your hotel. Overnight in Mrauk U.
Day 3: (B) Mrauk U This morning begin a full day of exploring ancient Mrauk U beginning at the maze-like Shittaung Pagoda (Temple of the 80,000 Buddhas). The fortress-temple was built under King Minbin in 1535 after repulsing a Portuguese attack. Then on to Andaw-thein Temple (Tooth Shrine). The temple, first built as an ordination hall between 1515 and 1521 by King Thazata, contains a tooth relic of the Buddha. From there, continue to DukkantheinTemple, built under King Minphalaung in 1571 A.D. The interior features spiraling cloisters lined with images of Buddhas and ordinary people (landlords, governors, officials and wives) sporting all Mrauk U’s 64 traditional hairstyles. Onward to Le-myet-hna Temple (Four-sided Temple) located at the northwest corner of Shittaung Pagoda. It has four entrances, one to each cardinal point, and eight seated Buddhas round a central column. It was built entirely with black sandstones by King Min Saw Mon in AD 1430.
After lunch, we’ll proceed to Koe-thaung Pagoda (Temple of 90,000 Buddha Images), the largest of Mrauk U’s temples. According to legend, Koe-thaung Temple was largely destroyed by lightning because its builder, King Min Dikkha, wanted to outdo his father with the construction of a temple containing 90,000 images of the Buddha, as opposed to the 80,000 of his father’s temple, Shittaung Pagoda. Archeologists believe instead that construction quality of the temple is inferior compared to other temples in Mrauk U because of the very short construction period and the building materials used (more brick than sandstone). From there, explore the Archaeological Museum, featuring various inscribed stones, Buddha icons of Rakhine, artefacts from Vesali, and many other items. Late in the afternoon your exploration of Mrauk U continues at Bandoola Kyaung Monastery, containing priceless donated jewels and Buddha images, and Pitakataik (library), which was used as a depository for Buddhist scriptures in ancient times. Sunset at Harritaung Hill. Overnight at Mrauk U.
Day 4: (B) Mrauk U – Chin Village After breakfast, we’ll drive 20-30 minutes by jeep to the jetty and depart for Chin Village by boat on the shallow Lemro River. Along the way you’ll see farming scenery, kids swimming, and fishermen casting their nets. At Chin Village, you’ll notice some of the older women have full facial tattoos according to spiritual belief – a custom no longer practiced. Enjoy a walk around the village and surrounding area. Return to Mrauk U late in the day. Overnight in Mrauk U.
Day 5: (B) Mrauk U – Sittwe – Yangon After breakfast and hotel check out, your guide will transfer you to the jetty to return to Sittwe by express boat. Upon arrival in Sittwe, transfer to the Sittwe Airport for your flight back to Yangon, where you’ll transfer to your hotel. At leisure the rest of the evening. Overnight in Yangon.
Day 6: (B) Yangon – Mandalay – Ava – Amarapura Early morning breakfast at the hotel, then transfer to the airport for your flight to Mandalay. You’ll be met by your guide to begin a day of sightseeing beginning at the former Royal capital of Ava (or Inwa). See the old city by horse cart and pass through the ancient city walls to visit the brick and stucco Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery and Bagaya Monastery, constructed of teak wood. We’ll also visit a small workshop where alms bowls are made for monks. Up next is another former Royal capital, Amarapura. Here you’ll find traditional silk and cotton weaving workshops, as well as 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 7: Mandalay Today, dive into a comprehensive sightseeing tour of Mandalay’s primary temples, 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 in 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 8: Sunday departure – (B, L, D) Paukan Cruise: Mandalay – Mingun After breakfast and hotel check out, transfer to Gawein Jetty to embark at noon for your Irrawaddy cruise to Bagan. Enjoy a welcome cocktail and briefing in the saloon or on the sundeck, followed by lunch. After cruising upstream for two hours we arrive at Mingun, where we visit the impressive Mingun Pahtodawgyi. The ruins are of a massive construction project begun by King Bodawpaya in 1790 which was intentionally left unfinished. Moor overnight at a sandbank mid-stream. After dinner, guests can enjoy a Dance and Drama performance by the Mandalay Arts School on the sundeck (if available). Overnight on board.
Day 9: Monday – (B, L, D) Irrawaddy cruise: Mingun – Sagaing – Yandabo Early this morning we continue cruising downstream. During the two-hour journey, admire the natural beauty of the river and the life of its banks while relaxing on the sundeck or just sitting outside your own cabin. Enjoy the sunriseover Sagaing Hill. After breakfast passengers wishing to visit Sagaing can go ashore with their guide. We’ll resume cruising at 10:30. In the late afternoon we’ll stop at Yandabo, a river village specializing in pottery-making. The Treaty of Yandabo, which ended the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826), was signed here on 24 February 1826. Visit the pottery workshops, the monastery, and a local school. Moor overnight near the village of Shwe Nann Tint.Overnight on board.
Day 10: Tuesday – (B) Cruise – Bagan Cast off early in the morning for the last leg of our journey. Enjoy the sunrise near Bagan. Passengers will disembark at Aye Yar Jetty mid-morning, where you’ll be met by your guide to begin sightseeing in ancient Bagan. Begin 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. 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. Continue to Dhammayangyi Pagoda, the largest of Bagan’s temples. Lastly, experience sunset from the ancient pagodas. Overnight in Bagan.
Day 11: (B) Bagan – Mt. Popa After breakfast at your hotel, you’ll be driven an hour to Mt. Popa, a volcano which rises 1,520 meters into the sky. Climbing to the summit of Mt. Popa takes about 45 minutes and you can visit the Mahagiri Shrine dedicated to the Nats (spirits) at the top, as well as enjoy the wonderful panoramic view. This afternoon visit Myinkaba Village and observe the traditional process of creating lacquerware, one of the best-known Myanmar handicrafts and a specialty of Bagan. Finishing up, stop at nearby Manuha Temple (1067) and the adjacent Hindu Nanpaya Temple. Overnight in Bagan.
Day 12: (B) Bagan (Free day) Today, you are free at leisure. While it’s impossible to explore all 2,000 plus temples in four nights, by renting one of the recently introduced e-bikes you’ll be surprised at just how many you can fit in; this will also help you to get off the beaten track a little. Overnight in Bagan.
Day 13: (B) Bagan – Heho – Pindaya – Kalaw After breakfast and hotel check out, 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. From here, we’ll proceed to Kalaw for hotel check in. Overnight in Kalaw.
Day 14: (B) Kalaw trekking This morning visit the Kalaw local market. From there, you can enjoy the day return-trekking to Palaung villages around Kalaw. Depending on the route and points of interest, your trek will be 4, 5, or 7 hours. Your guide will make recommendations and provide information about routes, etc., based upon your preferences. This evening visit the 500-year-old Bamboo Buddha Image. Overnight in Kalaw.
Day 15: (B) Kalaw – Inle Lake Today we’ll drive to Nyaung Shwe Jetty and board a private boat to explore the culture of Inle Lake. There’s much to see, from the beautiful nature to the temples to its unique one-leg rowers, floating gardens, fishing, blacksmiths workshops, and village life. Visit the 5-day rotating market with its Intha and Pao tribes selling their wares. See Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, which houses 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. See Inn Paw Khon Village, known for its lotus weaving and floating garden, and later Nga Phe Chaung, a beautiful 200-year-old wooden monastery built on stilts over the lake. Overnight at Inle Lake.
Day 16: (B) Inle – In Dein excursion This morning we’ll visit the temple site of In Dein to see the ancient Bagan and Shan-style pagodas, built during Bagan Period. The ruins of the pagodas, some hidden in the growth of nature, will give you the feeling of being there in the 12th – 13th centuries. Explore Shwe Indein, a group of Buddhist pagodas in the village. 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. Overnight at Inle Lake.
Day 17: (B) Inle – Heho – Yangon After breakfast and hotel check out, transfer to Heho Airport for your flight back to Yangon. Upon arrival you’ll be transferred to your hotel for check in. This afternoon, visit Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda, featuring the colossal, 66-meter reclining Buddha. Then explore Bogyoke Market, a great shopping location for Myanmar art, handicrafts, lacquerware, and jewelry. Round out your day by experiencing 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. Overnight in Yangon.
Day 18: (B) Yangon – Kyaikto Today you’ll experience one of the highlights of Myanmar when you’re taken on 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 market in 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 19: (B) Kyaikto – Bago – Yangon After breakfast at your hotel, return to Kyaiktiyo Pagoda to see it in the morning light. Then we’ll drive back to Yangon visiting Bago again on the way to explore sites not visited yesterday, including 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. Also see 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. You can also take in the Bago Market and a traditional cheroot factory and discover the daily life of the locals. Continue to Yangon for hotel check in. Overnight in Yangon.
Day 20: (B) Yangon – departure This morning, enjoy a final visit to Yangon’s notable sites including city center landmarks Sule Pagoda, Maha Bandula Park,and other remarkable sites of downtown Yangon, including colonial era buildings, the National Museum, and City Hall, which is on the Yangon City Heritage List. Later, transfer to the airport for your departure. End services.