Gems of Myanmar: Exploring Nature, Heritage, and Hospitality

14 Days - 13 Nights Amarapura, Bagan, Heho, Indein, Inle Lake, Mandalay Division, Mingun, Nyaung Shwe, Pindaya, Sagaing Division, Sagar, Shan State, Yangon Division

Tour Overview

If you are seeking a destination far from the fast-paced world, immerse yourself in the wonders of ancient Myanmar. Embark on an adventure that allows you to discover impressive sites and experience the true essence of this golden land, where history and unique culture still thrive. Delve into the diverse culture, breathtaking natural beauty, historical treasures, and warm hospitality of Burma as you explore the country’s genuine gems. From witnessing the poetic sunset over U Bein Bridge to marveling at the grandeur of the unfinished pagoda in Mingun, from exploring the powerful ancient kingdom of Bagan to being captivated by the astounding hillscapes of Kalaw, and not forgetting the visit to the sacred Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, this tour offers a blend of cultural immersion, historical exploration, and the chance to connect with nature. Each day presents a new and exciting adventure, providing invaluable experiences that will be cherished for a lifetime.

Travel itinerary

  • Day 01: Arrival in Yangon

    Begin your adventure in Yangon, where your experienced guide warmly welcomes you at Yangon International Airport. As you transfer to your hotel, take in the city’s vibrant atmosphere and indulge in an orientation tour. If time permits, immerse yourself in the lush tropical greenery, shady parks, and beautiful lakes that have earned Yangon the title of the ‘Garden City of the East.’ With a population of over five million, this city founded in 1755 by King Alaungpaya has a rich history waiting to be explored.

    Embark on a captivating journey through the heart of the city center, where pagodas, monuments, and colonial buildings merge harmoniously. Stroll through the streets and witness the architectural wonders that adorn Yangon’s skyline. Admire the City Hall’s multi-tiered towers, stroll by St. Mary’s Church, and take in the majestic Secretariat Building, also known as the Ministers’ Building. Immerse yourself in the bustling marketplaces that sell a plethora of delicious snacks, regional cuisine, and exotic fruits as you discover Yangon’s colorful street life. As you go, try some of the regional specialties to experience Myanmar’s flavors.

    Indulge in a moment of relaxation and refreshment at one of the local tea houses, where you can experience the unique tea culture that harkens back to the colonial era, a time when Myanmar was influenced by British rule. After a long journey, take some time to rest and recharge. Overnight in Yangon.

  • Day 02: Yangon – Mandalay

    After breakfast, check-out from your hotel, embark on a day trip to Mandalay, the former capital of Myanmar. As you delve into Yangon’s history, you’ll discover its intriguing transformation of power from Eastern to Western influences, evident in the city’s diverse landscape.

    During your exploration, make a photo stop at the Karaweik Royal Barge, an impressive concrete reproduction of a royal barge nestled at the eastern edge of a picturesque lake. Continue your journey to the Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda, where you’ll encounter a colossal reclining Buddha statue, an awe-inspiring sight measuring 217 feet in length—one of Myanmar’s largest.

    Return to the heart of Yangon’s city center, where a tapestry of pagodas, monuments, and colonial buildings awaits your discovery. Wander through the historic buildings, some of which are proudly listed on the Yangon City Heritage List. Admire the intricate design of City Hall, pass by the elegant St. Mary’s Church, and marvel at the grandeur of the Secretariat Building, a testament to Myanmar’s rich history.

    Next, immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the famous Bogyoke Market, also known as Scott Market. With hundreds of shops offering a diverse array of food, clothing, crafts, and precious stones, this market promises a memorable shopping experience. Take your time exploring its bustling lanes.

    In the afternoon, transfer to the domestic airport for your scheduled flight to Mandalay, a city steeped in history as Burma’s final royal capital before its annexation by the British Empire in 1885. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel, where you can unwind and prepare for a night of relaxation in Mandalay.

    Notice: Bogyoke Market (also known as Scott Market) remains closed every Monday and on public holidays.

  • Day 03: Mandalay – Mingun – Mandalay

    Fuel up with a hearty breakfast before embarking on a journey to explore the wonders of Mandalay. Begin your day by ascending Mandalay Hill, a majestic vantage point that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and the city’s beauty. Revel in the sights and sounds of Mandalay as you visit the iconic Mahamuni Pagoda, home to one of Myanmar’s most revered religious images. Admire the golden statues adorned with delicate gold leaf.

    Next, pay a visit to the Shwenandaw Monastery, the last original wooden structure of the Mandalay Royal Palace. This remarkable teak building, once a royal residence, has been transformed into a monastery. Continue your adventure with a visit to the Kuthodaw Pagoda, famous as the world’s largest book, composed of hundreds of stone slabs inscribed with Buddhist literature. Marvel at this impressive collection of wisdom.

    In the afternoon, return to your hotel for check-in and enjoy some leisure time. Later, head to the jetty and embark on a private boat trip to Mingun, a captivating village along the river. As you cruise along the Ayeyarwady River, soak in the picturesque scenery and witness the daily lives of the local people, as they navigate the river in small longtail boats, bamboo rafts, and ferries. Upon arrival in Mingun, explore its attractions, including the Mingun Bell, a remarkable uncracked bell weighing over 87 tons and standing at a towering height of more than 3.7 meters. Discover the beauty of the Hsinbyume Pagoda, a striking white-washed temple that resembles Mount Meru, and marvel at the grandeur of the mighty Mingun Pagoda, once intended to be the world’s largest.

    As the day draws to a close, sail back to Mandalay, savoring the enchanting sunset vistas over the scenic beauty of the Ayeyarwady River. Return to your hotel and enjoy a restful overnight stay in Mandalay.

  • Day 04: Mandalay – Sagaing – Amarapura – Mandalay

    Start your day with a delicious breakfast before venturing into the ancient Kingdom of Sagaing, a place of immense religious and monastic significance. Cross the bridge over the Ayeyarwady River and marvel at the sight of Sagaing Hill adorned with shimmering pagodas and monasteries, gleaming in white, silver, and gold along the riverside.

    At the summit of Sagaing Hill, be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views, offering a breathtaking glimpse of pagoda-decorated hills and the meandering Ayeyarwady River beyond. Explore the captivating Umin Thonze Pagoda, also known as the 30 Caves Pagoda, boasting 45 exquisite gilded Buddha images of varying sizes. The golden statues, set against a backdrop of turquoise-colored tiled mosaic halls, create an impressive spectacle. Take a moment to admire the stunning view of the lush green valley and the multitude of stupas that dot the landscape.

    Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting one of the monasteries, where you’ll witness the everyday life of Buddhist monks. Gain insight into the traditions and teachings of Buddhism, as it plays a significant role in the lives of Myanmar’s male population.

    Continue your journey to Amarapura, renowned for its textile industry. Witness the intricate art of fabric weaving at a cottage industry workshop, where skilled artisans produce traditional textiles. Conclude your day by visiting the iconic U Bein Bridge, a 200-year-old teak footbridge that stretches gracefully across the water. Take a leisurely stroll along the bridge and admire the captivating views of the surrounding farms and streams.

    Return to Mandalay and spend the evening at your leisure, indulging in relaxation and reflection. Enjoy a restful overnight stay in Mandalay.

  • Day 05: Mandalay – Bagan by Car

    Mandalay to Bagan – 179 km (Approx: 4 hrs via Myingyan)  

    Embark on an exciting road trip from Mandalay to Bagan, covering a distance of 179 kilometers. The approximately four-hour journey will take you through scenic landscapes, providing ample opportunities for rest stops and photo breaks. Along the way, pause at Myingyan, an authentic Burmese city nestled in the Ayeyarwady River valley. Discover the vibrant morning market, where locals engage in bustling trade, offering a colorful array of fruits, vegetables, rice, and handmade goods.

    Myingyan holds significance as a major center for local cotton trading and home cigar production, which is distributed throughout Myanmar. Gain insights into these traditional industries with a visit to a local cotton home business and witness the art of cigar production. Resume your drive to Bagan, pausing occasionally to stretch your legs and capture memorable photographs.

    Arrive in Bagan and check into your hotel, where you will spend a comfortable overnight stay.

  • Day 06: Bagan Exploration

    Start your morning with a delightful breakfast at the hotel, then set off to discover the enchanting wonders of Bagan. Begin your exploration by immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Nyaung-U morning market, where locals gather to buy and sell an array of goods, including fresh produce, handmade furnishings, and traditional clothing.

    Your next stop is the magnificent Shwezigon Pagoda, a splendid golden structure built in the 11th century by King Anawrahta. This bell-shaped pagoda served as a prototype for later pagodas in Myanmar and remains an important pilgrimage site. Take a moment to soak in the serenity and majestic aura emanating from this revered shrine.

    Continue your journey to Htilominlo, the last temple constructed in the Bamar architectural style. Admire the old murals and friezes that grace its walls. Then, explore the grandeur of the Damayangyi Pagoda, an immense temple resembling the layout of the Ananda Temple but on a much larger scale. This architectural masterpiece was built by King Narathu in 1160.

    As the day progresses, capture stunning panoramic views of the Bagan temple site, creating lasting memories and breathtaking photographs. Afterward, return to your hotel for a relaxing break.

    Bagan is renowned for its exquisite handicrafts, particularly lacquerware. Visit the village of Myinkaba, known for its longstanding tradition of lacquerware production. Witness the intricate process involved in creating these beautiful pieces of art.

    Embark on a captivating horse cart ride through the Archaeological Zone of Old Bagan, marveling at the majestic temples that dot the landscape. Finally, reach the sunset hillock, where you can witness a spectacular sunset casting its golden hues over the ancient temples and pagodas.

    Conclude your day by visiting the remarkable Ananda Temple, an architectural gem and one of the largest and best-preserved temples in Bagan. Built in 1091 by King Kyansittha, this temple symbolizes the boundless wisdom of the Buddha.

    After an eventful day of exploration, return to your hotel for a comfortable overnight stay in Bagan.

  • Day 07: Bagan Village Sightseeing

    Fuel up with a hearty breakfast at the hotel, preparing for a day of immersive village sightseeing in Bagan. Begin by visiting a small complex comprising Payathonzu, Lemyentha, and Nandamannya Temples. From these vantage points, admire breathtaking views of the surrounding plains, which showcase the grandeur and scale of Bagan’s architectural wonders. Take a leisurely stroll around these temple complexes, capturing stunning photographs along the way.

    Continue your leisurely drive to a local village, where you will have the opportunity to experience the authentic daily life of Bagan’s inhabitants. Embark on a walking tour, delving into the traditions, customs, and culture of the local community.

    Afterward, visit a local family business that specializes in producing traditional handmade cotton products. Witness the intricate process of weaving cotton, an art form that has been passed down through generations.

    Next, journey to another village renowned for its pottery production. Gain insights into the traditional techniques used by local artisans as they shape clay into beautiful pottery items. Witness their skill and dexterity as they create unique pieces of art.

    As the day progresses, savor a delicious lunch at a local restaurant, where you can sample authentic Burmese cuisine and flavors.

    In the afternoon, continue your village exploration by visiting a charming village situated amidst picturesque landscapes. Engage with the locals, observe their daily activities, and learn about their customs and traditions. Immerse yourself in the warmth and hospitality of the villagers as you interact with them.

    As the day comes to a close, return to your hotel and enjoy a leisurely evening at your own pace. Relax and reflect on the beautiful memories created during your time in Bagan. Overnight stay in Bagan.

  • Day 08: Bagan – Heho – Pindaya

    After an early breakfast, you will proceed to Nyaung-U (Bagan) airport for your flight to Heho. The flight duration is approximately 45 minutes. Upon arrival in Heho, you will drive to Pindaya, which is located 65 kilometers away. The drive will take you through the hills and across the Shan Plateau, offering scenic views of mountain rice fields.

    As you drive, you will pass by colorful landscapes covered with potato farms, ginger fields, wheat fields, orange orchards, cabbage fields, peas plantations, cauliflower farms, carrot fields, and more. You will also pass through villages inhabited by the Pa-O tribes. The journey to Pindaya takes about an hour and offers a glimpse into the rural life and natural beauty of the region.

    Pindaya is a peaceful town inhabited by the Danu tribes. It is located 48 kilometers north of Kalaw. The town is famous for the Pindaya Cave, which houses countless Buddha images of different sizes. Upon arrival in Pindaya, you will visit local families who specialize in making bamboo parasols, handmade paper, bamboo hats, and clay toys. You will have the opportunity to observe the traditional craftsmanship and interact with the artisans.

    The highlight of the day is the visit to the Pindaya Cave, a limestone ridge overlooking a picturesque lake. The cave is known for its thousands of Buddha images that have been placed there by pilgrims over many centuries. The cave is home to more than 8,000 Buddha images, and exploring its chambers will be a rewarding experience. Although the road to Pindaya can be bumpy, the sight of the cave and its treasures will make the journey worthwhile.

    Afterward, you will visit local houses where Shan paper and umbrellas are produced. You can witness the process of making these traditional crafts and learn about their significance in the local culture. Take a leisurely stroll underneath the old Banyan Trees, some of which are said to be over 200 years old. Enjoy the fresh air and take memorable photos of this charming town.

    You will spend the night in Pindaya.

  • Day 09: Pindaya – Nyaung Shwe Jetty – Inle Lake

    After breakfast at the hotel, you will visit the local morning market, immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and observing the daily trade of the Pa-O, Danu, and Intha people.

    Next, you will proceed to a cooking class in one of the local villages. On the way, you will have the opportunity to visit surrounding villages and witness local activities and handicrafts. The cooking class will take place in a local house with its own small farm. The instructor will explain the ingredients and guide you through the process of preparing traditional dishes. You will participate in the activities and enjoy a delicious lunch that you cooked yourself. 

    After the cooking class, you will drive to the Nyaung Shwe jetty, the gateway to Inle Lake.The estimated duration of the drive is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. Along the way, you will stop at a local family-run workshop to observe the traditional process of paper-making used in the production of Shan parasols. You will also visit the beautiful red-painted teak building known as “Shwe Yan Pyay,” which dates back to the 19th century.

    Upon arrival at the Nyaung Shwe jetty, you will embark on a local boat trip on Inle Lake. The lake is known for its natural beauty and unique leg-rowing fisherman. You will have the opportunity to witness their fishing techniques and marvel at the picturesque hills that provide a stunning backdrop to the lake.

    After the boat trip, you will be transferred to your hotel in Inle Lake, where you will spend the night.

  • Day 10: Inle Lake

    After breakfast, you will embark on another boat trip on Inle Lake. This day will be dedicated to exploring the lake and its surroundings. You will have the chance to witness the fascinating “leg-rowers,” Intha fishermen who stand on one leg while rowing with the other, allowing their hands to be free for fishing.

    Your first stop will be at the village of Khaung Daing, where you will have the opportunity to walk around and learn about the Shan traditional snacks. You can also taste these local delicacies, including tofu made from yellow chickpeas, which is a popular ingredient in the local cuisine. Additionally, you will have the chance to enjoy green tea and a variety of other local snacks.

    Continuing the exploration, you will visit the magnificent Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the holiest religious site in southern Shan State. This revered pagoda houses several Buddha statues that have been covered in gold leaf by devotees.

    Next, you will visit a traditional boat-building workshop, where you can observe the intricate craftsmanship involved in building the longboats used on Inle Lake. These boats, made from local teak, take approximately four weeks to construct. You will also have the opportunity to see silk weaving on wooden handlooms and witness the unique process of creating fabrics from the fibers of the lotus flower.

    In the late afternoon, you will have the chance to explore the surroundings of Inle Lake by kayaking. This self-guided kayaking experience will allow you to appreciate the natural beauty of the lake, observe birds, witness the local way of life, and visit the floating farms of the Inthar people. The final stop of the kayaking adventure will be at a beautiful monastery.

    After a day of exploration, you will be transferred back to your hotel in Inle Lake for overnight accommodation.

  • Day 11: Inle Lake – Indein – Inle Lake

    After breakfast, you will visit the local market, which rotates its location around the lake villages in a 5-day rhythm. This market offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the Pa-O, Danu, and Intha people who come to buy and sell goods.

    Next, you will take a long-tailed boat across the lake to Indein, located at the western end of Inle Lake. This boat journey is one of the most scenic trips on the lake. Upon disembarking at the jetty, you will walk through Indein village for a few minutes to reach the pagoda ruins of Nyaung Oak. These pagodas, dating back to the 14th to 18th centuries, are partially submerged for part of the year when the water level rises. You can explore the complex of weather-beaten zedis (stupas), some of which have been newly reconstructed.

    Returning to Inle Lake, you will have the opportunity to visit a cheroot maker’s workshop, where Burmese cigars are made by hand. You will also pass by a traditional blacksmith’s forge, where you can witness the age-old craft of metalworking.

    Once back at the hotel, you will have leisure time for the rest of the evening. You can enjoy watching the sunset over the postcard-worthy views of the lake. Overnight accommodation will be provided in Inle Lake.

  • Day 12: Inle Lake – Sagar (Samkar) – Inle Lake

    After breakfast, begin a memorable journey to the beautiful region of Sagar (Samkar). The boat journey will take approximately 2.5 hours and will offer you the opportunity to pass through local villages and witness the daily life of the people. Along the way, you will see rice noodles drying in the sun and cotton being hung out to dry.

    During the journey to Sagar, you will make a stop to visit a traditional silk-weaving workshop, where you can observe the skilled weavers creating fabrics using lotus flower fibers.

    Upon arrival in Sagar, you will explore the sunken ancient stupas. This collection of 108 stupas dates back to the 16th to 17th centuries and is partially submerged when the water level rises. You will also have the opportunity to experience local life, including visits to monasteries in the village.

    You will also have the chance to tour the village on the shore, inhabited by the Pa-O people who are easily recognized by their unique headdresses\ resembling towels worn on their heads. The village is relatively quiet and peaceful, with fewer tourists compared to other areas.

    Afterward, you will return to Inle Lake and visit a cheroot maker’s workshop and a traditional blacksmith’s forge.

    Transfer back to your hotel and enjoy the sunset view. Overnight accommodation will be provided in Inle Lake.

  • Day 13: Inle Lake – Nyaung Shwe Jetty – Heho – Yangon

    After breakfast, you will transfer to Heho airport to catch a flight back to Yangon, which will take approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

    Upon arrival in Yangon, you will visit the Chauk Htat Gyi or Reclining Buddha statue. This statue depicts the Buddha in a reclining position, with the right arm supporting the head, symbolizing rest.

    Next, you will proceed to the Bogyoke Market, also known as Scotts Market. This bustling marketplace is a popular shopping destination for residents and tourists alike, offering a wide range of handicrafts, paintings, textiles, gems, and jewelry.

    In the evening, you will conclude your trip to Myanmar with a visit to the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. This pagoda, believed to be over 2,600 years old, is the largest pagoda in the world. It stands on a hill, overlooking the city, and is a significant pilgrimage site in Buddhism. Here, you can observe the Myanmar people’s practice of offering water, flowers, and candlelights to the Buddha in various animal-shaped posts based on the day of their birth.

    After enjoying the breathtaking sunset view with the Shwedagon Pagoda as the backdrop, you will be driven back to your hotel in Yangon for overnight accommodation.

    Note: The Bogyoke Market (Scott Market) is closed every Monday and on holidays.

  • Day 14: Yangon Departure

    After breakfast at the hotel, you will have some free time at your leisure until your departure time. You will then be transferred to Yangon International Airport for your onward journey and your 14-day itinerary in Myanmar will come to an end.

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