|Day 1||Arrive YANGON, Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon by night|
|Day 2||YANGON, Circle Train, Sule Pagoda, Colonial Walking Tour|
|Day 3||YANGON, Nyaung U, BAGAN, Temple Tour|
|Day 4||BAGAN, Temples Cycle Tour, Sunset Cruise|
|Day 5||BAGAN, Nyaung U, Heho, Nyaung Shwe, INLE LAKE|
|Day 6||INLE LAKE|
|Day 7||INLE LAKE, Heho, YANGON, departure|
Day 1 Arrive YANGON, Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon by night
Upon arrival in Yangon, you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel.
Formerly named Rangoon by the British, Yangon was the country’s capital until 2006 and is still the country's largest and most influential city. Its dusty streets are lined with an intriguing array of traditional wooden houses and shacks, imposing Colonial-era relics, and later twentieth century - although often already decaying - office blocks.
Having checked in to your hotel, the day is at leisure until a late afternoon visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda. This 2,000 year old temple is one of the most significant religious sites in Myanmar, and undoubtedly the one most readily associated with the ‘Land of the Golden Spires’. Explore the many shrines that surround the pagoda, as residents from across the city flock to this incredible landmark to make their daily prayers. As night falls, the pagoda is lit by floodlights that illuminate its golden surface and turn this already astonishing landmark into a truly mesmerising sight.
Continue on to Little India, a lively district of Yangon crammed with fantastic restaurants, with delicious scents and lively sounds to entice you in. If you can resist diving in for a meal, visit the Shri Kali Hindu temple, built by Tamil residents while the region was part of British India, and now maintained by the local Indian community. Next up is Chinatown, where a different riot of cooking smells will be waiting to tempt you. Drop in to the Cantonese Kwan Yin (or Guanyin) temple, founded in the early 1800s, before finally reaching 19th Street, lined with restaurants, street food stalls and hawkers selling cold beer. It’s time for a difficult decision - stay here with a cold beer and a plate of freshly cooked street food while you watch life go by, or proceed to a more sophisticated eatery for dinner. The choice is yours!
Day 2 YANGON, Circle Train, Sule Pagoda, Colonial Walking Tour
Morning transfer to the bustling streets of India Town, at the very heart of downtown Yangon round 26th Street. Explore the lively morning market where there will be plenty of time to barter with the vendors before making the short journey to Yangon’s Central Train Station to board the ‘circular railway’. This local commuter train service slowly weaves its way through the city’s various neighbourhoods, revealing the lively and colourful life of the inhabitants.
Upon arrival at Hledan, disembark and continue by car to the nearby Chaukhtatgyi Paya to visit the huge reclining Buddha. Also in the Hledan district is Yangon University and the area is home to many of the city’s more affluent residents.
After a break for lunch, returning to your hotel if you wish, transfer downtown to the Sule Pagoda. Known as the ‘gathering point’ by the city’s residents, the pagoda is one of the city’s great landmarks, and has also played an important part in contemporary Burmese politics. According to legend the Sule was built during the lifetime of the Buddha, making it more than 2,600 years old.
You may wish to consult one of the fortune-tellers residing in the many small rooms surrounding the pagoda before continuing west on foot towards Mahabandoola Park and Burma’s Independence Monument. From this point you can see many grand Colonial buildings including the City Hall, the Supreme Court and the Baptist Church.
Passing along Pansodan Street as far as the jetty, you may see boat loads of people making their daily commute across the Yangon River into the city to work, or to sell their homemade goods.
Set along the river bank, are many more fine Colonial buildings such as the Custom House, the British Embassy, the General Post Office and The Strand Hotel. The Strand was built in 1896 by Aviet and Tigran Sarkie, and opened in 1901. It was once home to the likes of George Orwell, Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham.
After continuing your tour down 41st street through a typical residential area, make a stop in a traditional teashop where your guide will talk you through the general etiquette involved in this popular pastime!
Day 3 YANGON, Nyaung U, BAGAN, Temple Tour
Early morning transfer to Yangon Airport for your flight to Bagan. We get the pick up and check in hotel on arrival. The remainder is on your own activities.
Sometimes written ‘Pagan’, Bagan is one of the most significant ancient religious cities in South-East Asia, matched only really by Angkor Wat. Myanmar’s capital during the 9th century, Bagan is defined by the thousands of spires and temples, many of them hundreds of years old that fill the broad valley. Bagan’s temples are the main reason people visit this historic city, but whenever you’re in danger of feeling templed out there are numerous interesting villages to discover nearby, an excellent and sociable restaurant street in Nyaung U, and in New Bagan there is a lively market and tea shop culture. To further ring the changes, you can also head off to explore the temples or villages by bike, with electric bikes available for those with less stamina.
During any visit to Bagan we ensure your programme remains both flexible and personal. Having met your guide, you will be able to discuss in detail what you’d like to achieve from your time in the region. Kick off the temple touring on arrival or break yourself in gently with snacks and a drink at a traditional tea shop. The choice is yours.
Maximum experience, minimum crowds
With literally thousands of sites to choose from, it’s no easy task selecting which temples and pagodas to visit first. However, Bagan certainly has a few headline acts, with the impressively solid-looking golden stupa of the Shwezigon Pagoda usually appearing high on most wish-lists. 11th century Shwesandaw Pagoda, with its strong Mon influences, is also likely to be near the top, and graceful Ananda, which is adorned with 1,424 Buddhas mounted in the walls.
Some love the smaller pagodas, tucked away in the corners of rice fields, while for others it’s those journeys through the countryside, following little-used dust tracks, or leaving the air-con for an hour in favour of a horse-drawn cart ride amongst the temples and pagodas.
Sunrise and sunset are often considered the most impressive time of day in Bagan and your guide will be glad to suggest a choice spot to take in the view. It’s important to note, however, that to prevent un-necessary damage to these ancient structures, the Ministry of Culture have restricted the number of stupas that it is possible to climb to five specific pagodas.
We do appreciate that some visitors are wary of becoming ‘templed-out’. To combat this we can create more varied days, with visits to villages such as Myinkaba, where you can observe the process of traditional lacquer-ware crafting, or New Bagan town centre, or just simply create more time to relax by your hotel pool.
All our guides are highly experienced Bagan specialists, fully trained and licensed to work at the temples. Along with their exceptional knowledge of the Bagan region, the various temples and pagodas, and the civilisations that built them, your guide will know how best to avoid the busier times of day, not to mention where to catch the best sunrises and sunsets.
Put simply, they’ll adapt the itinerary to suit your preferences, and know every trick in the book when it comes to getting the best photos and most tranquil moments. If you have any specific requirements or special interests, let us know and we will arrange the guide with the most suitable expertise.
Day 4 BAGAN, Temples Cycle Tour, Sunset Cruise
Join your guide for a bicycle tour of Bagan. Begin by cycling along the main road towards Old Bagan, where most of the town’s temples are concentrated. First stop is ancient, simple but elegant Bu-Paya, thought to have been built by Pyusawhti, the third king of Bagan, who ruled from 168 to 243 AD.
Back on the main road, cycle through the 9th century Tharabar Gate, before taking a look at the Ananda Pagoda, which is one of Myanmar’s most impressive and revered temples. Built by 1105 AD and richly decorated inside, the temple has been described as ‘the Westminster Abbey of Burma’, and houses four gigantic solid teak Buddhas that are fully covered in gold leaf.
Along the road, the Shwezigon Paya is also covered in gold - this time on the outside. Completed in 1102 AD, this astonishing gilded pagoda is believed to enshrine a tooth and bone of Gautama Buddha. This area is a nice peaceful place to relax and explore the lesser known but nonetheless interesting (and certainly less crowded) temples, such as Mya-zi-gon, with its painted frescos, ruined Satu-Mukha, U-pali-thein ordination hall with its historic murals, and many others which are given numbers instead of names.
Continue to the village of Nyaung U, an excellent spot for lunch thanks to Yar Khin Tha Street, which is lined with good sociable eateries serving both regional and pan-Asian meals. The Thanaka Museum is nearby - thanaka is the distinctive skin paste used across Myanmar as both sunscreen and cosmetic - and worth a wander while lunch goes down.
Once back in the saddle, return to your hotel via Anawrahta Road, which passes various sites of architectural and archaeological interest.
Late afternoon, having had time to freshen up following your cycle tour, transfer to the banks of the Ayeyarwady River where you will board a small boat for a cruise along a particularly scenic section of the river. Relax and watch the sunset over one of Myanmar's most iconic panoramas.
Day 5 BAGAN, Nyaung U, Heho, Nyaung Shwe, INLE LAKE
Morning transfer to Nyaung U Airport in time for your flight to Heho. Upon arrival you will be met by your guide and transferred to Nyaung Shwe, set on the shores of beautiful Inle Lake and the main town in the region. It’s a picturesque drive; along the way you will pass many farmers bringing their crops to the roadside by ox-cart, for collection by wholesalers from as far afield as Yangon or China. You’ll immediately notice the refreshing difference in climate as well, with Heho sitting at an altitude of over 3000 feet.
After a chance to explore Nyaung Shwe, board a small boat and proceed onto Inle Lake. The narrow channels widen as you approach the lake proper, and you’ll soon be crossing the broad & (usually) tranquil waters, with hills and mountains surrounding you in every direction. The panorama is simply breath-taking, a mood only enhanced as you pass the fishermen deploying their unique foot-rowing technique. The region is home to at least eight different tribes, who live both on and beside the lake. Inhabitants of this region rely on the lake in a variety of ways, be it for transport, food or income.
During the afternoon, you will visit a floating vegetable garden and several minority villages, including Inpawkhone, a floating village famed for its weaving. You will also have the chance to learn about the traditional fishing methods used by the native Intha people. Later, there will be time to visit the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, with its famous five golden statues that are paraded around the lake throughout the fortnight-long festival of Hpaung Daw U, and the old teak Ngaphechaung monastery.
Upon arrival at your resort, the remainder of your day is at leisure. Get ready for one of life’s great sunsets!
Day 6 INLE LAKE
Your day is at leisure.
Day 7 INLE LAKE, Heho, YANGON, departure
Morning transfer to Heho Airport in time for your flight to Yangon, link your departure out.
|Accommodation||1 pax||2 pax||3 pax||4 pax||5 pax||6 pax or more|
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