Though long isolated from the Western world, where it lost out in technological progress and modernization, Burma has gained much by the preservation of its unique culture and identity. Today, change is underway, with all that it entails. And should the discovery of this country lose its character going back in time, it nonetheless remains a fabulous adventure. For all its wonders remain intact: as in the temples of Bagan, the fabulous pagodas in Yangon and Mandalay, monasteries and main centers of Buddhism, which still retain their authentic spirituality, the landscapes of breathtaking beauty of the Irrawaddy and the Inle Lake, the cultural richness of its ethnic minorities, and the still unspoilt beaches of the Andaman sea.
Arrive at Yangon, once known as Rangoon. Meet the guide and transfer to hotel. Early visits to the colonial district and the Chaukhtatgyi temple which houses a colossal reclining Buddha 70m long, and the great Bogyoke Market (Former Scott Market: open daily until 17h and closed on Mondays, holidays and full moon).Continue on to Kandawgyi Park and the famous Shwedagon pagoda, one of the most beautiful temples in Asia, famous for its 100m stupa covered in gold.
Flight to Mandalay and then immediate departure to Sagaing by crossing the metal bridge at Ava. City tour, royal capital from 1315 to 1364. Stop at U Ponnya Soon Shin Pagoda which offers a panoramic view from the hill. Back to Mandalay and crossing over by local ferry via a branch of the river that allows access to Awa Island. Visit the ruins of the Royal Palace, the watchtower and the beautiful Bagaya-Okkyaung Monastery made out of teak casks, then on to Amarapura, Royal capital from 1782 to 1857, located 12 km south of Mandalay. Visit the collection of Buddhas in Bagaya Monastery, then you will take part in the daily service serving meals to a 1000 monks from Mahagandayon, one of the most important in the country.
Walk on the U Bein Bridge built entirely of teak in 1782, using wood from the old palaces in Ava. 1km long, it crosses the Thaungthaman lake and it is the longest teak bridge in the world.
Trip to Mingun, a few kilometers upstream from Mandalay, on the opposite bank of the Irrawaddy. Last Burmese capital before the arrival of the English, who then made Rangoon the first city in the country. Mandalay remains the center of Burmese culture. Visit Mahamuni Pagoda, famous for its statue of Buddha, venerated, and become deformed by the thickness of the gold leaf that has been laid daily for centuries by many pilgrims. Then to Kuthawdaw pagoda. Discover the craft workshops which made the reputation of the city and who supplied the royal court: sculptors in wood and marble, puppet manufacturers and drummers in gold leaf. Sunset view from Mandalay Hill where you will have an exceptional view over the entire Irrawaddy valley.
Transfer to Sagaing dock and boarding around 10am for a cruise to Bagan, with overnight stay on board. You will slowly go down the Ayeyarwaddy River, surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the Burmese countryside, with its pagodas and villages. During the afternoon a stop in Yandabo, a town specializing in pottery, where the peace treaty was signed in 1826 that ended the First Anglo-Burmese War. By late afternoon the boat drops anchor at Shwe Nann Tint village for the night.
Lunch and dinner on board.
Arrive around 9 am, landing and early visits. Founded in 849 by the gathering of 19 villages, it is the former capital of the kingdom of Pagan, destroyed by the Mongols in 1287. Hundreds of pagodas and stupas of stuccoed brick extend to the horizon over the plain on the east bank of the Irrawaddy. The city once had 13,000 pagodas dating back to the second century AD, many of which were built of bricks covered with plaster and painted. Earthquakes and the river have destroyed more than 10,000 as well as all civilian constructions, which were made of wood. Tour the heart of Old Bagan, a remnant of the golden age of Burmese architecture. This archaeological site has more than 2500 temples still standing, some dating back to the eleventh century and not less than 2 000 more or less in ruin. Visit, among others, the famous Ananda temple and that of Thatbyinnyu which is 67 meters in hight and dominates all others. In the late afternoon see the beautiful sunset at Shwesandaw pagoda (or another pagoda, depending on the sun).
Dinner with puppet show.
In the morning a visit to the colorful and lively market of Nyaung Or. Then a walk in the village of Myinkaba that takes you to the Manuha and Nanpaya temples. Visit the Shwezigon Pagoda, the most revered of Bagan, with its magnificent golden stupa. Visit the Kyansitha Umin, the temple of Gyu Byauk Kyi in the village of Wetkyi whose walls are decorated with paintings relating the stories of previous Jakatas or Buddha’s lives. In the afternoon, a visit to the lacquer factories in New Bagan and possibly the archaeological museum. Horse-drawn carriage ride in the direction of Mingalazedi Temple and sunset view from the top terrace.
Transfer to Nyaung Ou airport and flight to Heho. Continue by road to Nyaung Shwe on the shores of Inle Lake (30 km). Boat and car rides around the lake to discover the villages of the Intha tribe and their wonderful floating gardens. These fishermen are famous for their unique style of rowing, standing on their boat with one leg while holding in their hands their wicker fish trap and harpoon. Visit the great Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda home to five golden statues dating from the twelfth century, and the Phye Nga Chaung monastery, or Jumping Cats, named after the cats in which the monks train them to jump through rings: difficult business, knowing the independent minds of small cats. Along the way you will also have the opportunity to see local craft workshops (silk and silver).
Lunch at the restaurant and dinner at the hotel.
Possible market visit, meeting place for mountain minorities dressed in their finest traditional costumes who come to sell their fruit and vegetables. The market for five days is held alternately from one village to another according to the Myanmar lunar calendar. Excursion to a Pa Oh village on the western shore of the lake, not far from which is the site of Indein: a set of XVI century stupas on the top of a hill with a magnificent view over the lake. Crossing the village and its market then a walk to Alaung Sitthou monastery, reached along a long covered colonnade guarded by hundreds of pagodons. Nice view of the lake from the monastery. Walk through the bamboo forest, and a visit to a cigar “cheroot” factory and a boat building workshop.
Lunch at the restaurant and dinner at the hotel.
The tour ends around the lake then back to Heho and flight to Yangon. Checking into the hotel. Depending on the time available and personal desires, you can enjoy the rest of the day in shopping, resting at the hotel or taking an optional tour.
Transfer to the airport in time for the departure flight.
End of services.
Direct flight to Thandwe and then by road to the Ngapali beach. Booking into the resort.