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Gold-smothered stupas and soaring Buddha statues, serene waterways lined with floating gardens, fascinating handicrafts and hill tribes: these are just a few of Myanmar's little-known treasures. Ruled under a military junta until a civilian government was installed in 2011, Myanmar, or Burma, is a profoundly Buddhist country whose gentle people have retained many of their ancient traditions. Immerse yourself in the enchanting culture of Myanmar from the glorious
temples of Yangon and Mandalay to the
timeless stilt villages of Inle Lake.
Immerse yourself in the enchanting culture of Myanmar from the glorious temples of Mandalay and Yangon to the timeless stilt villages of Inle Lake.
Cruise the Irrawaddy in a teak riverboat, and ride a horse-cart at sunset
past hundreds of stupas and temples on the Bagan plain.
Take part in a candle-lighting ceremony at Yangon’s glittering Shwedagon Pagoda.
Glide past floating gardens, and experience a traditional leg-rowers race on Inle Lake.
Itinerary - 13 Days
Days 1, 2, & 3 — U.S./Mandalay, Myanmar
Depart the U.S., cross the international date
line, and arrive on Day 3. Transfer to our hotel
and meet for a welcome dinner tonight. Mandalar Resort (D)
Day 4 — Mandalay
Set off on an all-day cruise on the Irrawaddy River,
stopping first in Sagaing, where myriad pagodas
gleam white and gold on the hillside. Take in the
view from the Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, and
observe daily life at a convent and a community
school. Continue upriver to Inwa and hop into
horse-carts to visit Nan Myint Tower, Menu
Ok-kyaung Monastery, and the teak Bagaya
Monastery. Enjoy lunch on board as we sail to
Mingun, home to a massive, unfinished pagoda.
Watch the sunset on the river on our return to
Mandalay. Mandalar Resort (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Mandalay
Rise early to witness the morning face-washing ceremony of the Mahamuni Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Mandalay. Admire the carvings of the Shwenandaw Monastery and see the 729 chiseled marble slabs of Kuthodaw Pagoda. Explore the city wall and its moat and then stop in at a gold-leaf workshop. After lunch, visit the home of a local artist to see his collection of old paintings and tapestries. In the 18th-century capital of Amarapura, take a sunset walk across U Bein Bridge, a teak structure that spans nearly 4,000 feet, or paddle a canoe on Taungthaman Lake below. Mandalar Resort (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Mandalay/Bagan
Board a teak riverboat for a leisurely float downstream to Bagan. Listen to talks by our experts and watch a local artist demonstrate painting with a blade. Visit the riverside village of Yandabo, known for its pottery, and arrive in Bagan this evening. The Hotel at Tharabar Gate (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Bagan
During the 11th and 12th centuries, more than 10,000 temples, stupas, and monasteries were built on the Bagan plain. Today, the remains of more than 2,200 of these structures—from tiny stupas to towering temples—still dot the landscape. Examine 13th-century murals at Gubyaukgyi Temple, and stop in at a lacquerware workshop to watch artisans ply their craft. Continue to Ananda Temple, home to four great, gilded Buddha statues, and meet with an archaeologist at the site. Next, visit Htilominlo Temple and ride a horse-cart across the Bagan plain to Myaukguni Temple at sunset. During a special dinner under the stars, enjoy temple views and a traditional dance performance lit by hundreds of oil lamps. The Hotel at Tharabar Gate (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Bagan
Float high over Bagan on an optional sunrise hot air balloon ride. After breakfast, attend a novice initiation ceremony for children preparing to become monks. Enjoy a talk on Theravada Buddhism by a local monk and visit a village school. Later, head into the vibrant Nyaung U market and see the gold-plated Shwezigon Pagoda, Bagan's greatest reliquary. Learn how local palm wine is made at a toddy palm farm, then return to Bagan via Minanthu village and watch the sun set over its temples. The Hotel at Tharabar Gate (B,L)
Day 9 — Heho/Inle Lake
Fly to Heho and travel overland to Inle Lake, visiting Shweyanpyay Monastery and Nyaungshwe village along the way. Enjoy an afternoon on the lake, stopping at floating villages and pagodas on shore, and gliding past fishermen poling their skiffs with one leg. Inle Princess Resort or Villa Inle Resort & Spa (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Inle Lake
Spend the day exploring the lake, from lush floating gardens to vibrant lakeside markets. At the Phaung Daw U Pagoda, see five Buddha images so smothered in gold leaf that they have lost all trace of their original forms. Take a Shan cooking class or watch artisans at work at a silk weaving workshop. After lunch in a floating house, wander among hundreds of Shan-style stupas in Inn Dein, and visit Ngaphechaung Monastery, perched over the water on stilts and teak planks. Inle Princess Resort or Villa Inle Resort & Spa (B,L,D)
Day 11 — Yangon
Fly to Yangon this morning and set out to discover Myanmar's former capital. See a colossal reclining Buddha that stretches more than 200 feet at Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda, and examine royal artifacts at the National Museum. Encounter the glittering stupas of Shwedagon Pagoda, a soaring, gilded temple tipped with more than 4,500 diamonds. Participate in a lamp-lighting ceremony at the temple and enjoy time to stroll the grounds alongside the pilgrims and families that flock here. The Strand Yangon (B,L,D)
Day 12 — Yangon
Begin the day at Botataung Pagoda, an unusual hollow stupa filled with hundreds of Buddha statues. Then venture into the center of old Rangoon, a fascinating time capsule where British colonial buildings stand alongside Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Hindu sites. Stroll through Mahabandula Park and browse local handicrafts at the Bogyoke Aung San Market. Then meet with monks on a visit to the Kalaywa Tawyakyaung Monastic Education Centre. Toast our journey at a festive farewell dinner tonight. The Strand Yangon (B,L,D)
Day 13 — Yangon/U.S.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
What To Expect
This trip includes numerous village and temple visits that require walking over uneven terrain, boarding local boats, and climbing stairs in often hot and humid conditions. We will frequently be required to remove socks and shoes to enter religious sites. Travelers should be in good health and physically fit.