Arrival at Yangon airport, meet on arrival and transfer to the hotel. Your journey begins with sightseeing in Yangon to visit Shwedagon Pagoda to watch the effects of the setting sun before transfer back to hotel.
Overnight in Yangon
SHWEDAGON PAGODA: the highlight of any visit to Yangon, this pagoda dates back about 2500 years and was built to house eight sacred hairs of the Buddha. Its original shape has changed beyond all recognition over the centuries. Its bell-shaped superstructure, resting on a terraced base, is covered in about 60 tons of gold leaf, which is continuously being replaced.
Overnight in Yangon
Day 2 Yangon
After breakfast at the hotel, escort on an introductory tour of this colorful metropolis. First to visit Batatauang Pagoda’s circular treasure vault covered in a mosaic of mirrors, and Ngadatkyi Paya - rarely-tourist monastery hosting a spectacular 5 story Buddha image.
Afternoon, visit the National Museum with several interesting exhibits such as the regal Lion Throne of the Last Burmese King, the gem-encrusted crown jewels of old Burma, a modern art gallery, wood and lacquer furnishings from everyday life. Next, our guide will take you to Buddhist Art Museum where collected by begging bowls, palm leaf scriptures and wooden Buddha images since 18-20th century. Follow by visit Maha Wizaya Pagoda and Sule Pagoda - an excellent landmark of Yangon where a Sacred Hair Relic is enshrine.
Overnight in Yangon
BOTATAUNG PAGODA: this paya was named after the 1000 military leaders who escorted relics of the Buddha brought from India over 2000 years ago. This ancient monument was completely destroyed during WWII. It was then rebuilt in a very similar style to its predecessor, but the zedi is hollow and one can walk through it.
NGADATKYI PAYA: located in the Ashay Tawya monastery, this paya contains the huge seated "five-story" Buddha image.
NATIONAL MUSEUM: a museum with several interesting exhibits, especially the 8 meter high Sihasana Lion Throne, used by King Thibaw Min, the last Burmese king, and returned to Burma in 1908 by Lord Mountbatten. The main floor contains jewelry, old black and white photos of Mandalay Palace and Yangon, royal relics, Hintha opium weights, and inscribed tablets.
BUDDHIST ART MUSEUM: housed in a 1952 Art Deco-style building. The dominant lotus window depicts all the attitudes of the Buddha. The museum's contents were collected by the archaeology department: begging bowls, palm leaf scriptures and 18th-20th century wooden Buddha images.
MAHA WIZAYA PAGODA: built by General Ne Win in the 1980s. The pagoda is hollow with a ceiling depicting Burmese constellations and a permanent display of pagoda styles through the ages.
SULE PAGODA: this 48 meter high golden dome was used by the British as the nucleus of their grid pattern for the city when it was rebuilt in the 1880s. The pagoda's peculiarity is its octagonal-shaped stupa, which retains its shape as it tapers to the spire.
Day 3 Yangon - Bago – Kyaiktiyo
After breakfast, transfer via Bago to Kyaiktiyo. Stopping at major Pagoda and Museum such as KanbawzaThadi Palace & Museum, Shwemawdaw Paya, Shwethal Yaung Buddha, Maha Kalyani Sima, Mahazedi Paya, Shwegogale Paya, Kyaik Pun Paya, if time permit visit ‘Mon’ weaving and handicraft village producing woven bamboo wares before transfer to the hotel in Kyaiktiyo.
Overnight in Kyaiktiyo
BAGO: founded in 573 AD by Thamala and Wimala, two Mon brothers of noble birth, as an outpost of the Mon Thaton Kingdom. The site, which was then on the Gulf of Martaban, had already been earmarked as the location of a great city by Gautama, the historic Buddha.
KANBAWZATHADI PALACE & MUSEUM: the palace was home to King Bayinnaung from 1553 to 1599 and covered 204 acres. Bayinnaung, the brother-in-law of a Taungoo king, moved to Bago after conquering an older Mon principality called Oktha-myo. A small octagonal-shaped museum displays Mon, Siamese and Bagan-style Buddhas.
SHWEMAWDAW PAYA: this is one of the most venerated pagodas in Myanmar. The temple has a 1000-year history and was originally built by 2 merchants, Taphussa and Bhalita, to house some hair relics of the Buddha.
HINTHA GON PAYA: this shrine has good views over Bago from the roofed platform on the hilltop. According to legend, this was the one point rising from the sea when the mythical bird (the hintha) landed here.
SHWETHALYAUNG BUDDHA: huge reclining Buddha with a sign on the platform in front of the image giving the measurements of each body part. It is reputed to be one of the most lifelike of all reclining Buddhas. The Burmese say the image represents Buddha in a 'relaxing' mode.
MAHA KALYANI SIMA: this 'Sacred Hall of Ordination' was originally constructed in 1476 by Dhammazedi, the famous alchemist king, and son of Queen Shinsawpu. It was the first of 397 similar simas he built around the country.
MAHAZEDI PAYA: Originally constructed in 1560 AD by King Bayinnaung, it was destroyed during the 1757 sacking of Bago and the reconstruction was only completed in 1982. Stairways lead up the outside of the stupa, and from the top there are fine views over the surrounding area.
SHWEGUGALE PAYA: the monument dates from 1494 and the reign of King Byinnya Yan. Inside are 64-seated Buddha figures.
KYAIK PUN PAYA: built in 1476 by King Dhammazedi, it consists of four 30m-high sitting Buddhas placed back-to-back around a huge, square pillar.
Day 4 Kyaiktiyo – Yangon
After breakfast, visit Kyaikhityo (Golden Rock) - is the location of the incredible balancing boulder stupa. The small stupa sits atop the Golden Rock - a massive, gold leafed boulder delicately balanced on the edge of a cliff at the top of Mount Kyaikto. Kyaiktiyo is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Myanmar. In the mid afternoon return to Yangon. Evening free time at leisure
Overnight in Yangon
Day 5 Yangon - Heho - Inle Lake
After early breakfast, transfer to the airport for domestic flight from Yangon to Heho .Upon arrival, process by road to Nyaung Shwe (25km – 1 hour) and excursion by boat on Inle Lake.
Overnight in Inle Lake
Inle Lake, located in Shan State. It is beautiful with very calm waters dotted with patches of floating vegetation and busy fishing canoes. High hills rim the lake on all sides. The lakes shore and islands bear 17 villages on stilts, mostly inhabited by the Intha people. Enjoy the spectacular scenery and observe the skilled fishermen using their “leg-rowing” technique to propel themselves around the lake. Visit a local market and the Intha Village around the lake.
Day 6 Inle Lake - Pindaya – Kalaw
After breakfast, drive to Pindaya (90 km – 2 ½ hours) to visit Pindaya Caves - a unique site housing thousands of Buddha images and Shwe U Min Paya - the cluster of low stupas below the ridge near the Pindaya Caves. Afternoon process to Kalaw
Overnight in Kalaw
PINDAYA CAVES: these caves are ensconced in a limestone ridge overlooking the lake. Inside the cavern there are more than 8000 Buddha images made from alabaster, teak, marble, brick, lacquer, and cement and are arranged in such a way as to form a labyrinth throughout the various cave chambers.
SHWE U MIN PAYA: this is a cluster of low stupas just below the ridge near the Pindaya Caves. Beginning on the full moon of Tabaung (February/March), Pindaya hosts a colorful pagoda festival at Shwe U Min.
Day 7 Kalaw - Meikhtila – Mandalay
After breakfast, transfer by vehicle from Kalaw to Meikhtila - Journey west along Highway 4 past Thazi. Afternoon, continue drive from Meikthila to Mandalay - Journey north along Highway 1 past Kyaukse.
Overnight in Mandalay
Day 8 Mandalay
After breakfast, process to visit Kuthodaw Paya - the world’s largest book made of marble. Sandamani Paya - a cluster of slender whitewashed stupas. The temple enshrines an iron image of the Buddha cast in 1802, Atumashi Kyaung, Mandalay Fort - an imposing walled palace compound constructed in 1857 with a channel from the Mandalay irrigation canal filling the moat and Mandalay Hill with breathtaking view over the city.
Overnight in Mandalay
KUTHODAW PAYA: the central stupa here was modeled on the Shwezigon Paya at Nyaung U near Bagan. Building commenced in 1857, at the same time as the royal palace. The paya has been dubbed 'the world's biggest book', for standing around the central stupa are 729 marble slabs on which are inscribed the entire Tripitaka.
SANDAMANI PAYA: a cluster of slender whitewashed stupas built on the site of King Mindon's temporary palace used while the new Mandalay Palace was under construction. The temple enshrines an iron image of the Buddha cast in 1802 by Bodawpaya and transported here from Amarapura in 1874.
ATUMASHI KYAUNG: built by King Mindon in 1857, these ruins stand a little to the south of Kuthodaw Paya. This monastery was of traditional Burmese monastic construction (a masonry base topped by a wooden building) but instead of the usual multiroofed design it consists of graduated rectangular terraces.
MANDALAY FORT: an imposing walled palace compound constructed in 1857 with a channel from the Mandalay irrigation canal filling the moat. After the British occupied the city in 1885 the compound was named Fort Dufferin and became the colony's government house and British Club.
MANDALAY HILL: an easy climb up the sheltered steps bring one to a panoramic view over the palace, Mandalay, and the paya-studded countryside. The famous hermit monk, U Khanti, is credited with inspiring the construction of many of the buildings on and around the hill in the years after the founding of the city.
Day 9 Mandalay
After breakfast at the hotel, excursion to Inwa (Ava) - a charming horse-drawn carriage will take you to the Nanmyin Watch Tower - the remains of the palace building call ”leaning tower” of Ava. Visit the Maha Aungmaye Bonzan Monastery - built of brick and stucco as well as the Bagaya Kyanun Monastery - famous for its ornate woodcarvings and teak posts. Then continue to Sagaing and Amarapura with numerous monasteries and pagoda, a retreat for Buddhist devotees, and visit 200-year-old U Bein teak bridge - built in 1782 at the time when Amanrapura was the Royal Capital before return to Mandalay
Overnight in Mandalay
INWA: this ancient city, for a long time a capital of Upper Burma after the fall of Bagan, is on the Mandalay side of the Ayeyarwady River close to the Ava Bridge. From 1364 Inwa was the capital of the Burmese kingdom for more than 400 years, until the shift was made to Amarapura in 1783.
NANMYIN: the 27 meter high masonry watchtower is all that remains of the palace built by Bagyidaw. The 1838 earthquake shattered the upper portion and the rest has taken a precarious tilt.
MAHA AUNGMYE BONZAN: a brick-and-stucco monastery built by King Bagyidaw's chief queen for the royal abbot Nyaunggan Sayadaw in 1818.
BAGAYA KYAUNG: a monastery built of teakwood and supported by 267 teak posts. The main hall stands on a raised platform, separate from the monks’ quarters, and is designed so that space between the walls and roof allows air to circulate.
AVA BRIDGE: this British-engineered, 16-span bridge dates from 1934 and was the only structure that crossed the Ayeyarwady River until 1998 when a new Chinese-engineered bridge was completed at Pyay.
SAGAING: located on the right bank of the Ayeyarwady River, it is widely regarded as the religious center of Myanmar. It is popularly known as 'Little Pagan' as the Sagaing ridge is crowded with around 600 pagodas and monasteries in which there are more than 3000 monks. There are also around 100 meditation centers in the area.
THABYEDAN FORT: the fort built by the Burmese as their final resistance against the British forces in the third Anglo-Burmese war in 1886.
KAUNGHMUDAW PAYA: this is Sagaing's most important temple. It was built by King Thalun in 1636 and styled after a Ceylonese (Sri Langkan) pagoda in commemoration of the re-establishment of Ava as the royal capital.
TUPAYON PAYA: contracted by King Narapati of Inwa in 1444, Tupayon is of an unusual style for Myanmar: it consists of three circular stories each encircled by arched niches.
AUNGMYELAWKA PAYA: situated on the riverfront, this zedi was erected by Bodawpaya in 1783 on the site of his home before he became king. It is built of sandstone and based on Shwezigon Pagoda.
DATPAUNGZU PAYA: a comparatively recent pagoda, which houses many relics from other older temples that were demolished when the railway was built through Sagaing.
HSINMYASHIN PAYA: built in 1429 and known as the Pagoda of Many Elephants because of the elephant statues stationed at each entrance-way.
AMARAPURA: the name means City of Immortality, but its period, as capital was brief. It was founded by Bodawpaya as his new capital in 1783, not long after he ascended the throne, on the advice of court astrologers. His grandson and successor, Bagyidaw, moved back to Ava in 1823. The four pagodas that marked the four corners of the city walls still remain, as well as the watchtower and treasury building.
PAHTODAWGYI: built by King Bagyidaw in 1820, this well preserved pagoda stood outside the old city walls. The lower terraces have marble slabs illustrating Jatakas (scenes from the Buddha's life).
BAGAYA KYAUNG: built when Bodawpaya moved the capital to Amarapura, it was destroyed by fire in 1821. It was rebuilt several times and it is no longer a monastery, but houses a museum and library, of interest for its collection of palm-leaf manuscripts.
PALACE RUINS: little remains of the palace except for two masonry buildings - the treasury building and the old watchtower. King Bagyidaw and King Bodawpaya were both burnt here on the site of their 'tombs' and their ashes placed in velvet bags and thrown into the Ayeyarwady River.
U BEIN'S BRIDGE: the shallow Taungthaman Lake is crossed by a long and rickety teak bridge, curved to withstand the wind and waves. During the dry season, the bridge crosses mostly dry land.
Day 10 Pyin Oo Lwin – Mandalay
After breakfast, a scenic drive will take you to the former British hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo). The journey is across the plains, then up the twisting road into the hills. At the halfway mark one passes View Point, which has spectacular views. A delightful small town of colonial-style building, markets and botanical garden.
Afternoon, visit Pure cell Tower who offer an identical tower to Cape Town in South Africa, Church of the Immaculate Concertinos - a 100 year old church which features a large brick sanctuary with a bell tower and cruciform floor plan. The vaulted wooden ceiling and well-appointed interior is impressive and Japanese War Cemetery before drive back to Mandalay.
Overnight in Mandalay
Pyin Oo Lwin: Originally a Shan Danu Village. A legacy of the influx of South Asians during the British colonial era is that Pyin Oo Lwin is home to around 5,000 Nepalis and 10,000 Indians. For many years it was a British hill station as due to the altitude, even at the height of the hot season, it is pleasantly cool and the air is fresh.
BOTANICAL GARDEN: Colonel May used Turkish prisoners of war to develop this 237-acre botanical garden during WWII. The garden features wide expanses of manicured grass, large flowerbeds, natural forest, rose gardens and an orchid house.
PURCELL TOWER: this clock tower near the town entrance was a present from Queen Victoria, who offered an identical tower to Cape Town in South Africa.
NAUNG KAN GYL PAYA: located at the top of a hill, there are good views of the town from here.
CHURCH OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION: a 100-year-old church south of the central area, which features a large brick sanctuary with a bell tower and cruciform floor plan. The vaulted wooden ceilings and well-appointed interior are impressive.
JAPANESE WAR CEMETERY: cemetery containing around 50 graves. Each year during the months of December and January, friends and families of the deceased come from Japan to pay their respects.
Day 11 Mandalay – Bagan
After early breakfast, transfer to the jetty and board on the local boat from Mandalay to Bagan - Journey south along the Irrawaddy River past the town of Pakokku. Most of the country's agriculture is centered along the floodplain of the Irrawaddy River, which flows south from its source in Kachin State.
Upon arrival in Bagan, transfer to the hotel. Evening, free at leisure
Overnight in Bagan
Day 12 Bagan
After breakfast, start your day with a stroll through the colorful local market and continue the day with visits the most significant pagodas and temple of Bagan including Shwezigon Pagoda - built by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century as a religious shrine, Gubyaukhyi Temple at Wetkyi-Inn - the great colorful painting about the previous life of Buddha and the distinguished architecture make this temple an interesting site for a visit, Ananda Pahto - one of the finest, largest, best preserved and most revered of the Bagan temples. Gubyaukgyi Temple - a temple with superb murals of Jataka scenes, Manuha Temple - was built by King Manuha in 1059, it enshrines the unusual combination of 3 seated and one reclining image Buddha and visit Shwesandaw Paya to enjoy significant view over Bagan.
Overnight in Bagan
BAGAN: is a spectacular plain stretching away from the Irrawaddy River, dotted with thousands of 800-year old temple ruins. Although human habitation at Bagan dates back almost to the beginning of the Christian era, Bagan only entered its golden period with the conquest of Thaton in 1057 AD.
SHWEZIGON PAYA: King Anawrahta started the construction of the Schwezigon Pagoda to enshrine some relicts of Buddha. The construction was finished by his successor, King Kyansittha between 1086 and1090. Originally the Shwezigon Pagoda marked the northern end of the city of Bagan. The stupa's graceful bell shape became a prototype for virtually all-later stupas over Myanmar.
GUBYAUKHYI TEMPLE at Wetkyi-Inn: this Temple was built in the early 13th Century and repaired in 1468. The great colorful painting about the previous life of Buddha and the distinguished architecture make this temple an interesting site for a visit. This temple is not to be confounded with the Gubyaukgyi Temple in Myinkabe.
ANANDA PAHTO: one of the finest, largest, best preserved and most revered of the Bagan temples. Thought to have been built around 1105 by King Kyanzittha, this perfectly proportioned temple heralds the stylistic end of the Early Bagan period and the beginning of the Middle period.
GUBYAUKGYI TEMPLE at Myinkaba: Built in 1113 by Kyanzittha's son Rajakumar, this temple is famous for its well-preserved Stuccos from the 12th century on the outside walls. The magnificent paintings date from the original construction of the temple and are considered to be the oldest original paintings in Bagan.
MANUHA TEMPLE: King Manuha, the King of Thaton, who was brought captive to Bagan by King Anawrahta, built The Manuha Temple in 1059. It enshrines the unusual combination of 3 seated and one reclining image Buddha. It is said that this temple was built by Manuha to express his displeasure about his captivity in Bagan.
SHWESANDAW PAYA: In 1057 King Anawrahta built this Pagoda following his conquest of Thaton. This is the first monument in Bagan, which features stairways leading up from the square bottom terraces to the round base of the Stupa. This Pagoda is ideal to watch Bagan's magnificent sunsets.
Day 13 Bagan
After early breakfast, excursion to Mount Popa: rising 737 meters from the flat surrounding Myingyan Plain, Mount Popa is said to be an extinct volcano last active 250,000 years ago. It is considered the abode of Myanmar's most powerful nats and, as such, is the most important nat worship center in the country.
Afternoon, return to Bagan to visit Mahabodhi Temple - inspired by the Mahabodhi at Bodh Gaya in India, Dhamayangyi Temple, Sulamani Temple - this temple is one of the best examples of the later, more sophisticated temple styles, Nandamannya Temple - the mural paintings in the interior tell the story of the “Temptation of Mara”, Thatbyinnyu Temple - it is also called the “Omniscient” Temple and its enormous size makes it a classic example of Bagan’s middle period.
Overnight in Bagan
MAHABODHI TEMPLE: Inspired by the Mahabodhi at Bodh Gaya in India, this temple was built during the reign of King Nantaungmya (1211 – 1234). Temples of this nature only appeared during the Late Bagan period and the Mahabodhi is the only one of this style in Bagan.
DHAMAYANGYI TEMPLE: The brickwork of this temple is said to rank one of the finest in Bagan. Built in the 12th century, it is not exactly clear by which King actually started the construction. Some sources say it was King Narathu, others say it was constructed a little earlier, during the reign of King Alaungsithu.
SULAMANI TEMPLE: Built in 1181 by King Narapatisithu this temple is one of the best examples of the later, more sophisticated temple styles. Carved stucco on moldings, pediments, and pilasters represents some of Bagan’s finest ornamental work and is in fairly good condition.
NANDAMANNYA TEMPLE: This small, single chambered temple is dating from the 13th century. The mural paintings in the interior tell the story of the “temptation of Mara”.
THATBYINNYU TEMPLE: This temple rises up to 61 meters and is one of Bagan’s tallest monuments. It is also called the “Omniscient” temple and its enormous size makes it a classic example of Bagan’s middle period. King Alaungsithu built the Thatbyinnyu Temple in the 12th century.
Day 14 Bagan – Pyay
After breakfast, transfer by vehicle from Bagan to Pyay (Prome) - Journey on Highway 2 past Magwe and Taungdwingyi through the sprawling arid flood plain of the Irrawaddy River. Upon arrival Pyay, visit Shwesday Paya where the zidi purportedly contains a couple of Buddha hairs and visit Sehtatgyl “Big Ten-Storey” - an enormous seated Buddha figure rising up from the tree line.
Overnight in Pyay
PYAY: lies on a sharp bend in the Irrawaddy River. Nearby are the ruins of the ancient Pyu capital of Thayekhittaya and it has been the center of the most intensive archaeological work in Myanmar for much of the last 100 years.
SHWESANDAW PAYA: located in the center of the town, a lift takes visitors from street level to the elevated main stupa platform, which is perched on top of a hill. The zedi purportedly contains a couple of Buddha hairs.
SEHTATGYL: named 'Big Ten-Storey', with an enormous seated Buddha figure rising up from the tree line.
Day 15 Pyay – Yangon
After breakfast, excursion to Shwedaung Paya: small town which contains two famous payas, one of which is the Shwedaung Paya, 'Paya of the Golden Spectacles' a reference to a large, white-faced sitting Buddha inside the main shrine which wears gold-plated glasses, first added to the image during the Konbaung era. Afternoon, drive from Pyay to Yangon.
Overnight in Yangon
Day 16 Yangon
After breakfast at the hotel and free time at leisure before transfer to the airport for departure