Treasures of Myanmar

  • 13-day exploration of Myanmar's temples, pagodas, and timeless villages
  • Discover Yangon and Mandalay, the ancient capital of Bagan, and the stilt villages of Inle Lake.

Expedition Details

 

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.

Trip Highlights

  • 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

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)

Related Trips

National Geographic Expert

Jack Daulton

Jack DaultonAn acclaimed lecturer on the cultural history of non-Western civilizations, Jack Daulton has been an expert on trips to more than 50 countries. His academic work has included extensive study of the art and architecture of Asia and Africa, as well as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Jack is also a practicing attorney with a focus on international law relating to the preservation and conservation of the world’s cultural heritage. In a widely reported 1995 federal case, he recovered a 1,000-year-old sculpture that had been stolen from a temple in Myanmar.

Jack will join the following departures:

Feb 10 - 22, 2015
Feb 23 - Mar 07, 2015

Dates

2015
  • Feb 10 - 22, 2015
  • Feb 23 - Mar 07, 2015

Expedition Cost

2015

$7,295

Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $3,000.

The optional hot air balloon ride on Day 8 is $350 per person.

International airfare to Mandalay and return from Yangon and airfare within Myanmar are not included in the expedition cost. The group flights within Myanmar are $400 (subject to change).

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.