This absorbing journey, which explores the Golden Triangle and beyond, is a great introduction to the history, culture and magnificent scenery of a country little changed by time.
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Depart from London Heathrow for your flight to Mandalay via Bangkok. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your boutique-style hotel set amidst tropical gardens.
During your stay you’ll be taken by a guide for a sightseeing tour that starts at Amarapura, Myanmar’s formal royal capital and now a township of Mandalay. You’ll stop by the 150-year-old U Bein Bridge, the Mahagandayon Monastery – home to over a thousand monks – and the Bagaya Monastery with its impressive collection of Buddha statues. You then continue to Sagaing Hills where you’ll stop for lunch and a brilliant panorama of the surrounding landscape.
In the afternoon your tour takes you to the Mahamuni Pagoda with its spectacular gold-covered Buddha image. You’ll also examine the world’s largest book at the Kuthodaw Pagoda as well pay a visit to a craftsman’s workshop to see how Kalaga tapestries are made. Before returning to your hotel you’ll catch the sunset from Mandalay Hill.
Stay: Two nights in a chine suite at the Hotel by the Red Canal – bed & breakfast
Today you’ll board a flight from Mandalay to Bagan where you’ll be met by a breathtaking landscape studded with literally thousands of temples and pagodas.
You’ll have ample time to admire some of the region’s most impressive sites including the 11th century Shwezigon Pagoda, the Kyansittha ‘Cave’ temple and the Gubyaukgyi temple with its exquisite murals depicting Jataka scenes. You’ll then move onto Old Bagan where you’ll find the mighty Ananda temple and its massive standing Buddha images. The Shwe Gu Gyi temple, remarked for its impressive stucco carvings, is next, followed by the Moe Moe lacquer ware factory where you’ll be able to watch skilful craftsmen at work. Your day ends with more temple hopping and watching the sunset from one of the monuments perched along the Ayeyarwady.
You’ll also have the opportunity to view Bagan’s temples from a totally different perspective on a hot air balloon ride. Floating above the temples is a truly unique experience and offers a spectacular birds-eye-view of the landscape. After your flight, you can take an excursion to the extinct volcano of Mount Popa where you’ll be able to climb 777 steps to find the shrine at the top.
Stay: Two nights in a deluxe room at the Tharabar Gate Hotel – bed & breakfast
Another flight, followed by a boat ride, brings you to your resort on the eastern banks of Inle Lake near the Magyizin village. Inle Lake is a photographers’ dream with its tranquil waters framed by scenic high hillsides. Enjoy an excursion on the lake which will take you past traditional leg-rowed boats, floating gardens, untouched local villages – like the weaving village of Inpawkhon – and the Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda.
Over the next couple of days you’ll explore local markets which offer you an insight into the daily lives of the ethnic Pa-O, Danu and Intha inhabitants. Enjoy a two-hour walk through the village of Maing Thauk to find a hilltop stupa with incredible views across the lake and surrounding hillsides. In the afternoon take another scenic boat trip to Indaing, during which you’ll be able to watch local farmers cultivate their produce.
On your last day at Inle Lake you’ll visit Thalee Oo; a village half in the water with its traditional bamboo houses resting on stilts. You’ll meet local Intha families who use the land to cultivate peanuts, garlic, sugar cane and vegetables, as well as visit a working rice mill. Later you’ll venture to the tiny Pa’O village of Ywa Thit where the local women don their traditional dress and weave bamboo baskets.
Stay: Three nights in a lake house at Inle Princess Resort – bed & breakfast
Yangon is the final stop on your Myanmar tour. You’ll spend two nights at an intimate boutique hotel within walking distance of some of the city’s top attractions.
You can begin your sightseeing at the Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda and its impressive reclining Buddha, before continuing onto the famous Strand Road and Yangon harbour. Before lunch you’ll enjoy a drive through the downtown area where you’ll get to admire plenty of old colonial buildings, plus Chinatown and the Indian quarter. End your morning tour at the 2,000-year-old gilded Sule Pagoda.
In the afternoon you’ll browse for handicrafts at the Bogyoke (Scott’s) Market before venturing to Kandawgyi (Royal) Lake to enjoy the sunset over the mighty Shwedagon Pagoda, known the world over for its intricately decorated buildings and glittering golden stupa. The Pagoda itself is said to date back more than 2,500 years.
Stay: Two nights in a deluxe room at the Savoy Yangon – bed & breakfast
This morning you’ll be transferred to the airport to check in for your return flight to London via Bangkok.