Catch an evening flight, arriving in Bangkok the next day. Your onward flight takes you to Yangon, where you’ll be met and taken to your hotel. You’ll be staying in a restored colonial teak mansion near the Shwedagon Pagoda and within 10 minutes of the centre of town.
Day 3: A day of unrivalled sightseeing now presents itself. From the grave solemnity of the Reclining Buddha in the Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda you’ll find a complete contrast in the colourful bustle and noise of places like Strand Road, Yangon Harbour, Chinatown and the Indian Quarter and downtown’s colonial buildings. Your morning ends at the 2000 year old Sule Pagoda. In the afternoon you’ll visit Bogyoke Market, specialising in handicrafts, and then peace descends with a trip to the Kandawgyi Lake and on to the golden Shwedagon Pagoda for sunset.
Stay: Two nights in a deluxe garden view room at the Belmond Governor’s Residence.
Road to Mandalay Cruise
Take an early morning flight to Bagan and transfer to the Belmond Road to Mandalay cruise vessel. Then it’s time for a guided tour of the 2000 temples and pagodas for which Bagan is famed. You’ll be able to enter some of the most significant sites before watching the sun set behind a field of ornate temples spires and domed pagodas.
Stay: Four nights in a deluxe cabin on the Road to Mandalay river cruiser.
Road to Mandalay Cruise
After a couple of hours spent haggling for handicrafts, wood carvings, fabrics and rattan artefacts in Bagan’s hectic markets – or exploring the locale on a bicycle – you set sail along the Ayeyarwady, one of Myanmar’s most interesting rivers, watching fishing and trading vessels busily working on this vast waterway. You’ll drift serenely past a parade of quaint villages, with homes built on stilts, and picturesque scenes of life on the busy waterside.
The following day you’ll land at the charming village of Shwe Kyet Yet, and in the afternoon you’ll be guided around Mandalay – widely regarded as the centrepiece of Burmese culture. Back on board you’ll watch the sunset and indulge in a sumptuous dinner.
The next day takes you to Mingun to inspect the impressive Hsinbyume Pagoda and the world’s largest crack-free bell. From Mingun you’ll ascend into the Sagaing Hills – the living centre of the Buddhist faith in Myanmar. The small town of Sagaing is famous for its silversmiths who work in the traditional way using centuries-old skills.
From Mandalay Airport you fly to Heho to be met and escorted to your hotel via the beautiful Valley of Nyaungshwe where a boat will take you to your hotel. In the afternoon you have ample time to appreciate the beauty of Inle Lake, on a cruise that takes you past traditional leg-rowed boats, floating gardens, fishing boats, the Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda and timeless local settlements – like the weaving village of Inpawkhon.
The following day you’ll sail off to Maing Thauk village to discover a hilltop stupa giving tremendous views over the lake and surrounding hills. An afternoon boat trip takes you along a waterway through farmlands to Indaing.
On your final day at Inle Lake you’ll visit Thalee Oo; a village with its toes in the water. You’ll meet local Intha families living in bamboo houses and cultivating peanuts, garlic, sugar cane and vegetables. You’ll stop at a working rice mill before venturing uphill to a monastery and the village of Ywa Thit, where PaO women still wear their traditional dress and weave bamboo baskets.
Stay: Three nights in a lake front villa at Villa Inle Resort and Spa.
From Inle Lake you’ll transfer back to Heho Airport for your flight to Thandwe, where you’ll be able to relax at a luxurious resort on the edge of an immaculate white sand beach. You’ll have three glorious days to enjoy that unbeatable combination of sea, sun and sand – with shady coconut palms, six acres of tropical gardens and fabulous Asian cuisine thrown in.
Stay: Three nights in a beachfront bungalow at Amara Ocean Resort.
All good things must come to an end. From Nagpali you’re driven to Thandwe Airport for a short hop to Yangon where you’ll connect with your flight to Bangkok and onwards home.
Gina was unfailingly helpful and pleasant at every stage - an asset to your organisation.- MB, Australia, New Zealand & French Polynesia, 2016