Essential Myanmar - Sun N' Sea Tours

Basic Information

13 days, 12 nights
Yangon, Myanmar

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Throughout Myanmar

Overview

Essential Myanmar

Itinerary

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
Day 5 Bagan, Nyaung U, MANDALAY
Day 6 MANDALAY, Morning Flower Market, Mingun, Sagaing
Day 7 Mandalay, U Bein Bridge, Heho, Nyaung Shwe, INLE LAKE
Day 8 INLE LAKE, Canoe Tour, In Dein & Ywama
Day 9 INLE LAKE, Balloon over Inle, Nyaung Shwe
Day 10 Heho, Thandwe, NGAPALI BEACH
Day 11 NGAPALI beach
Day 12 NGAPALI beach
Day 13 Ngapali Beach, Thandwe, depart YANGON

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!

Yangon
Yangon

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!

Yangon
Yangon
Breakfast

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.

Your guide
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.

Yangon Bagan
Bagan
Breakfast
YANGON -> BAGAN ~ 1.20mns flight

Day 4 BAGAN, Temples Cycle Tour

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.

Bagan
Bagan
Breakfast

Day 5 Bagan, Nyaung U, MANDALAY

Morning transfer to Nyang U Airport in time for your flight to Mandalay. Get the pick up and drive to our selected hotel on arrival. 

The economic centre of upper Myanmar, and the country's 19th century capital, Mandalay, or ‘City of Gems’, is the country’s 2nd largest city. It's synonymous with British Colonial rule and romance, due in part to Kipling’s love-affair with the city. Taking its name from the hill that watches over it, modern Mandalay is a thriving centre of commerce with a bustling city centre and central market. 

In the afternoon,  visit some of the city's key sites. Your guide will be happy to personalise your programme, but be sure to visit the Kuthodaw Pagoda at the foot of Mandalay Hill to read a few pages from the world's largest 'book'. Also on the list is undoubtedly the Mahamuni Paya, to witness the endless stream of devotees adding gold leaf to the Mahamuni Buddha; and the former Royal Palace of Shwe Nan Daw - constructed almost entirely of wood and dating from 1879. The remainder of your day is at leisure. In the evening there is a night market to explore and some excellent dining opportunities across the city. 

Bagan Mandalay
Mandalay
Breakfast

BAGAN -> MANDALAY ~ 30mns flight 

Day 6 MANDALAY, Morning Flower Market, Mingun, Sagaing

If you’re not adverse to an early start to the day – the market starts at 5am - take in the colours and smells of Mandalay’s morning flower market, located about 20 minutes from the city centre. Local growers arrive with their blooms carefully secured to their motorbikes, to sell primarily for offerings in homes and temples, but also for weddings and use in the city’s hotels. There’s a sociable buzz to proceedings and you’re likely to be the only curious tourists.
Get back the hotel for breakfast then take the transfer to Mandalay Port by 8.30am, in time to board a private chartered boat for your cruise along the Ayeyarwady River as far as the 18th century royal capital of Mingun.
After just 45 minutes cruise, you'll disembark and explore Mingun on foot, taking in the key sites, such as King Bodawpaya’s unfinished temple and the mighty Mingun Bell, considered to be the world’s largest un-damaged bell. There will also be time to visit the enchanting Hsinbyume Pagoda, with its crisp white wave-like roof set perfectly against the deep blue sky above.
Having returned to Mandalay for lunch break, drive to Sagaing, an important religious and monastic centre on the Ayeyarwady River, twelve miles south-west of Mandalay. Capital of Upper Burma’s Sagaing Kingdom during the 14th century, the town remains capital of the Sagaing Region, which stretches along much of the Myanmar-India border. Its surrounding hills are covered in monasteries and pagodas, several of which can be visited on today’s trip.

The afternoon, will be tailored to your preferences. Options include the Aung Myay Oo monastic school, which educates around 2,000 students who cannot afford government schooling. Children travel up to four or five hours to get here, and any donations and school equipment are always welcome. Peaceful Myinmu Nunnery is home to 15 Buddhist nuns, and Zayyastheingi Nunnery to 60, any of whom will be happy to discuss (using your guide as translator) their way of life, Buddhism, and anything else you wish to talk about.
For a scenic overview, U-Min Thone Se Pagoda contains many sitting Buddha icons and also offers excellent views across Sagaing Hill, with its monasteries and nunneries. Alternative vantage points include Shin Pin Nan Kaing Hill, although due to its many steps this is only suitable for the fit and able bodied. Soon Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda, built in 674AD on top of Nga-Pha Hill, is said to enshrine Buddha relics - and to grant wishes. The pagoda is also a wonderful spot to watch the sun set over Sagaing and the Ayeyarwady River. If there is enough time, a visit to 30 metre high Kaung Mu Daw stupa is also possible, as well as the thanaka stalls in front of it, and a nearby paper doll workshop. Following sunset at one of the viewpoints, return to your hotel. 

Mandalay
Mandalay
Breakfast

Day 7 Mandalay, U Bein Bridge, Heho, Nyaung Shwe, INLE LAKE

Make a morning visit to the iconic U Bein teak bridge, built in 1782 at the time when Amarapura was the royal capital. An impressive piece of engineering it claims the title of 'world's longest teak bridge' and is still used by the residents of Amarapura and its surrounding villages. Dawn is the perfect time to see the picturesque bridge and watch locals going about their daily business from one of the nearby teashops.

Transfer on to Mandalay 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!

Mandalay Heho Nyaung Shwe Inle Lake
Inle Lake
Breakfast
MANDALAY -> HEHO ~ 30mns flight 

Day 8 INLE LAKE, Canoe Tour, In Dein & Ywama

After breakfast, it’s back on the water, cruising in a southerly direction along the western bank towards In Dein and Ywama. En route, stop at one of the small lakeside villages, such as Minethauk or Nampan, and transfer to a smaller canoe to take a tour, guiding between the houses with ease thanks to the expertise of your boatman. 

Having switched back to your motorised transfer, continue to In Dein and Ywama; passing along a narrow canal, as far as a small Pa O minority tribe village. Disembark at the central marketplace and follow the old covered path that leads to a 13th century monastery, and the very impressive ruins of over a hundred ancient pagodas, some still well hidden by the lush deep vegetation all around….Upon reaching the main stupa atop a hill, stop to enjoy sensational views of the surrounding mountains, and down the valley to Inle Lake in the distance. Return to the lake and transfer back to your resort.

Inle Lake
Inle Lake
Breakfast

Day 9 INLE LAKE, Balloon over Inle, Nyaung Shwe

What better way to experience the sunrise over majestic Inle Lake than whilst soaring hundreds of feet up in the air?! Nestled between the mountains of the southern Shan State, ballooning over the lake whilst looking out across its surrounding mountainous panorama is one of those once in a life time travel experiences that you are not likely to forget in a hurry, for all the right reasons! 

Having been met at your hotel by the team from Oriental Ballooning, you will be transported across the lake to the launch site. Following a comprehensive safety briefing from their experienced UK-licensed Commercial Balloon Pilot, your UK-built balloon will gently lift off, with the pre-dawn mist adding to the magic of your flight. The flight will last for around one hour, ‘sailing’ at various heights above the ground and water. If the winds are too light for the balloon to cross the lake, a landing can be made on the floating platform that follows the balloon at all times…..Having returned to ground, you will return back to your hotel for breakfast. 

In the late morning transfer to Nyaung Shwe, where the remainder of your day is at leisure. A charming town, often overlooked en route to one of the lakeside resorts; those that take the time to spend a night or two in Nyaung Shwe are rewarded with a laid back, backpacker-esque atmosphere. There is a thriving local market and easy access to a range of activities including trekking, cycling and vineyard visits. There's an excellent range of local cafes and restaurants, and even a champagne bar if the desire so takes you. 

Inle Lake Nyaung Shwe
Nyaung Shwe
Breakfast

Day 10 Heho, Thandwe, NGAPALI BEACH

Morning transfer to Heho in time for your flight to Thandwe. Upon arrival,  you will be transferred to Ngapali Beach to check in to your hotel. The remainder of your day is at leisure.

Without doubt one of the most impressive beaches in South-East Asia, let alone Myanmar, Ngapali Beach is a series of long bays of fine white sand leading down to crystal clear water. Until recently served by a small handful of decent hotels, more are now being built as the country’s tourist industry flourishes. Although this means that Myanmar’s best known seaside village is more developed than it used to be, the greater choice of good quality accommodation is undeniably welcome. 

Inle Lake Heho Thandwe Ngapali beach
Ngapali beach
Breakfast
HEHO -> THANDWE ~ an-hour flight

Day 11 NGAPALI beach

Your day is at leisure. 

Ngapali beach
Ngapali beach
Breakfast

Day 12 NGAPALI beach

Your day is at leisure. 

Ngapali beach
Ngapali beach
Breakfast

Day 13 Ngapali Beach, Thandwe, depart YANGON

Morning transfer to Thandwe Airport for your flight to Yangon to connect with your onward flight. 

Ngapali beach Thandwe Yangon
Breakfast

THADWE -> YANGON ~ 50mns flight 

Rates (per person in USD)

Accommodation 1 pax 2 pax 3 pax 4 pax 5 pax 6 pax or more
High Season
MID-RANGE 3,140 2,001 1,853 1,732 1,693 1,636
SUPERIOR 3,538 2,400 2,253 2,131 2,092 2,035
Low Season
MID-RANGE 2,958 1,820 1,673 1,551 1,512 1,455
SUPERIOR 3,201 2,063 1,915 1,794 1,755 1,698
HIGH SEASON : JAN – APR & OCT - DEC, 2017
LOW SEASON : MAY – SEP, 2017

ACCOMMODATION SELECTION: 
MID-RANGE 
Yangon : Rose Garden hotel – Superior room 
Bagan : Bagan Thande hotel -  Superior room 
Mandalay : Bagan King – Superior room 
Inle : Inle resort  -  Deluxe room
Ngapali : Bay View beach Resort – Deluxe room

SUPERIOR 
Yangon : Chatrium Hotel -  Deluxe room
Bagan : The hotel @ the Tharabar Gate -  Deluxe room
Mandalay : Rupar Mandalar resort – Deluxe room 
Inle : Pristine Lotus Spa resort - Duplex Cottage
Ngapali : Ngapali bay villas - Deluxe room

Policies

Inclusions
English speaking, local guide where required 
All accommodation listed in double/twin share with breakfast 
Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles 
All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary 
Boat trip wherever it has 
All meals listed 
Government tax 
Exclusions
Visa 
International arrival & departure flight ticket and airport tax 
Domestic flights within Myanmar (to be quoted by the booking) 
Any meals not listed in the itinerary 
Drinks, other than water on activity days 
Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tips…)
Peak-season surcharge & compulsory meals to be advised at the time of booking 
Travel insurance  & other services not listed in “inclusive”
Remarks
The itinerary is flexible, depending on arrival or departure flights of passengers 
Ground operator reserved the right to amend or adjust itinerary to match with real situation
The confirmation is subject to the availability at the time of booking

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