Grand Journey into Myanmar
Yangon – Bagan – Mt. Popa – Salay – Mandalay – Ava – Mingun – Loikaw – Inle – Indein – MLM – Yangon (18 Days / 17 Nights)
Day 1: Yangon arrival
Welcome by the Marco Polo representative on arrival at Yangon international airport and transfer to the hotel. After a brief fresh up at hotel, begins the orientation tour of Yangon. Explore the commercial capital city Yangon, the biggest city in Myanmar with a population of 5 millions. Its tree lined wide avenues, its shady green parks, and the beautiful huge lakes give Yangon the reputation of one of the most charming and lively cities in Asia. The orientation tour of Yangon includes Sule Pagoda (landmark in city centre) –is unusual in that its octagonal shape extends right up to the bell and inverted bowl, the City Hall & Colonial buildings, Chaukhtatkyi Pagoda – which includes an enormous reclining Buddha, photo stop at Karaweik Hall & Royal Barge on the Kandawgyi Royal Lake. At sunset, visit the marvelous Shwedagon Pagoda, the glistening golden stupa that towers over the capital and one of the wonders of the world, is the spiritual centre of the country.
Day 2: Yangon / Bagan
Early morning you will be transferred to the airport for the flight to Bagan. Arrive Bagan, the Bagan Archaeological site is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia and it is the main tourist attraction in Myanmar and considered as one of Asia’s holiest cities along with Varanasi and Jerusalem by archaeologists, historians and photographers thanks to the greatest collection of Buddhist sculptures, lavishly decorated with mural paintings and plaster carvings from the 11th to 13th centuries.During its golden age in the 12th century, Bagan was known as “the city of four million pagodas”. While Kublai Khan and several massive earthquakes have reduced that inflated number drastically, what remains is quite incredible. Over the next day’s we’ll visit several small villages, the museum and the principal pagodas, including: Shwezigon Pagoda, the first monument built in Myanmar Style, the prototype for later pagodas is one of the oldest and loveliest temples and remains an important place of devotion for the Burmese; Ananda .Temple, the masterpiece of the early style temple architecture Built in 1066, the gilded and whitewashed .Ananda is among the most elegant temples, with delicate decorations in glazed tiles along its base and terraces; Gubyaukgyi Temple, displays a strong influence of Indian culture; Shwesandaw pagoda- displays a strong influence of Mon influence with a steep stairway directed to the terraces for a superb view from the upper level. Late this afternoon, climb on top of one of the tall temples and watch the sun drop into distant hills and experience peaceful, tranquil moment and indescribable magical power of Bagan.
Day 3: Bagan sightseeing
This morning after breakfast, visit Nyaung Oo Market, then proceeded to Sulamani temple, Shwegugyi Temple, and Minanthu village.Bagan is also famous as the centre of Myanmar’s thriving lacquer-ware industry. In the afternoon, the tour includes a stop at a local lacquer -ware workshop to watch the skilled artisans at work on the various stages over a period of six months.Then proceed to old Bagan for a pony cart tour among the temples; Tayokpye, Htilominlo and Thatbyinnyu Temple before sunset. Evening enjoy Bagan’s most popular sunset at Bu Paya overlooking view to Ayeyarwaddy River. Enjoy these magical moments.
Day 4: Bagan – Popa – Salay – Bagan
The Mt. Popa stands in a perpendicular rock formation with almost vertical sides. It is a legendary home of the “Nats” or spirits. The Mt. Popa area has also been designated as a National Park, one of the popular ecotourism destinations in Myanmar. Mt. Popa is located about 50 km southeast of Bagan ad 651 km north of Yangon. Mt. Popa hosts two major Natpwe (spirit festival), one in the May/June and other in November / December. Spirit possession and overall drunken ecstasy are still part of the celebration. Then proceed to Salay.
It is a small town about 15km south of Bagan down the Ayeyarwaddy River. U Pone Nya Musum, formerly the Yoke Sone Monastery, exhibits antique laquerwares, wooden relief and a large standing gilded Buddha image. The figures carved outside the front of the building are worth seeing. Another place worth visiting is Tha-ta- na Kyaung (Keyther monastery) w here Tipitaka texts are housed in a large red lacquered cabinet.
Day 5: Bagan / Mandalay
This morning after breakfast, you will be transferred to Nyaung Oo airport for the flight to Mandalay, the second largest city boasting its rich cultural heritage, represents a Buddhist city of conservative culture and traditional art. Mandalay was the last capital (1860–1885) of the last independent Burmese Kingdom before annexation by the British after the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885. On the way to Mandalay city you may wander through Paleik, an unspoiled site that’s home to hundreds of temples and pagodas. Famous Mahagandayon monastery at Amarapura, may be the largest Buddhist University in the country where you can witness thousands of monks studying together. In the late afternoon, visit Golden Palace Monastery, the most well known wooden monastery in the country, famous for its intricate carvings. It is the only original building from Mandalay Palace having miraculously survived the bombings of WWII. Kuthodaw Pagoda known as the biggest book in the world with hundreds of marble slabs inscribed with the entire Buddhist Canon. Enjoy the sunset from Mandalay Hill and enjoy the panoramic view of the plain.
Day 6: Mandalay – Ava – Sagaing – Mandalay
After breakfast, visit to Ava, after the fall of Bagan, Inwa was the capital of Myanmar Kingdom for 400 years from 1364 until the shift was made to Amarapura in 1841. Places of interest are Nanmyint- where 27m high masonry is, Maha Aungmye Bonzan and Bagaya Kyaung where one can witness the art and architecture of Myanmar. Then proceed to Sagaing.
Sagaing is famous for Buddhism in Myanmar. It is the capital of Sagaing Division and has numerous meditation centres on the hill. Once an ancient capital, Sagaing lies 21 km a little south of Mandalay, beside the Ayeyarwaddy River. The Sagaing Hills are dotted with Pagodas and there are over 500 monasteries, a retreat for some 6000 monks and nuns. Monywa, Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, Kaung Hmudaw Pagoda and Ywahtaung Village are places worth visiting. Near Sagaing is a village named Ywahtaung which is the center of silversmith craftsmen. They are well-known for their engraving of beautiful figures and scenes and for their silversmith skills. Sagiang with its hills and pagodas is well-worth visiting to see both the beauty of nature and human religious endeavors. In the evening, drive back to Mandalay.
Day 7: Mandalay ~ Mingun ~ Mandalay
This morning after breakfast, we embark on a journey to Mingun. Mingun is a village on the western bank of the river Ayeyawaddy, approximately 7 miles north of Mandalay. It is reached by ferryboats across the river and takes 1 hour for up-river and 40 minutes for down-river. It is famous for many Buddhist shrines, monasteries, meditation centre and monuments of historical and cultural importance. Highlights in Mingun are Pa Hto Daw Gyi (The world’s largest unfinished pagoda), the Great Mingun Bell and Mya Thein Dan Pagoda. Then drive back to Mandalay. At sunset, visit the most picturesque U Bein Bridge on Taungthaman Lake, a half-mile long teak span also known as the longest teak bridge in the world.
Day 8: Mandalay / Heho – Loikaw
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to airport for flight to Heho, upon arrival at Heho airport, drive to Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State, is bisected by the Belu Stream that flows from Inle Lake, and by that route it enjoys trade with the Shan State. Loikaw is surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges, lakes and waterfalls, where locals believe that the Keinara half-human half-bird creatures live. The Keinara, representing eternal fidelity, is the State symbol. The town is pleasant and in the suburbs are large wooden houses set in lush, green compounds. Balu Chaung is scenic beauty of Kayah State, which has a generally hilly topography.
Day 9: Loikaw sightseeing
After breakfast at the hotel, we visit to Umbrella pond it is situated in Demosoe, Ngwe Taung Dam, Moe Byal Dam, Kyat Cave and visit around villages where who lives Padaung tribes known as Griffins Women. Then drive back to Loikaw.
Day 10: Loikaw – Phekhone ~ Inle
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Phekon by car. Arrival at Phekon jetty and private boat trip to Inle lake. In the afternoon, check in hotel at Inle Lake. Half day sightseeing in Inle Lake includes: Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda; the most famous pagoda of the Shan State, Nga Phe Chaung Monastery, etc. Enjoy sunset and leisure at Inle Lake.
Overnight: Inle Lake
Day 11: Inle ~ Indein ~ Inle
This morning, you will be transferred to Indein village. Indein Temple is a complex which travelers express as Mini- Angkor. After a short distance walk through the bamboo forest , the exciting vie Indein Temple complex is situated in the western shore of the lake and most of the internal wall of the ruins of 1054 shrines make you say “wow”. In the afternoon, visit Impawkhone silk weaving village, a blacksmith, Cheroot making and surrounding villages. Return to the hotel in the evening.
Overnight: Inle Lake
Day 12: Inle – Heho / Yangon
Breakfast at the Hotel; enjoy the beauty of the Lake until the time to transfer back to Heho airport for your flight to Yangon. Arrive Yangon; visit to one of Yangon’s fabulous bazaars- an endless jumble of colour, clamour, heady aromas and contraband goods. The Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott) has an enormous array of consumer goods. This will be a wonderful opportunity to pick up some handicrafts and transfer to hotel.
Day 13: Yangon – Mawlamyaing
After breakfast at the hotel, an excursion trip to Mawlamyaing via Bago. On the way, tour stops at the Allied War Cemetery at Htaukkyant for picture taking and proceed to Bago to observe the daily life of thousand of Buddhist Monks at Kyatkhawyne Monastery during their lunch time. Continue south through Thaton, the former capital of the Mon Kingdom and an early centre of learning . (Old Thaton has long since disappeared but there are several interesting sights in and around the present –day city ) . Visit Shwe Zayan Pagoda .Directly drive and lunch at local restaurant on the way to destination, check-in and dinner at the hotel.
Day 14: Mawlamyaing sightseeing
After breakfast at the hotel , first visit to Mawlamyaing Central market . Mawlamyaing has wonderful prawns and other seafood .The fishermen tie up their boats and unload their catch directly onto the stalls. Another large section of the market is given over to fresh flowers and vegetables . Lunch at local restaurant . After a rest at the hotel , an evening stroll on the Strand is an exercise in nostalgia . This is a 19th –century promenade along the waterfront , probably constructed during Mawlamyaing ‘s British period between the first and second Anglo – Burmese Wars . It is lined with a few of the remaining rather smart stucco houses . Watch the sun go down and the world pass by .
Day 15: Mawlamyaing ~ Shampoo Island ~ Blue Island
After breakfast at the hotel, first visit to Gaungsay Kyun (shampoo Island) by boat . It was water from this island that was used for the ceremonial hair –washing of the king during the Buddhist New Year celebrations . The island sits at the confluence of five rivers . On it there is a monastery surrounded by stupas and an enormous statue of the Buddha looking back across the water to Mawlamyine and the Kyaikthanlan Pagoda .As you approach the Gaung Se Kyun its thin , white stupas sparkle against the green trees and the island seems to hover just above the water , giving rise to the belief that it was suspended from the heavens by a silken thread and that its surrounding water was sacred. Then we will visit Bilu Kyun (Ogre Island ) in a private boat a 25 minute ride or there is a daily ferry – another excellent way to sample local life . There are some 64 villages on the island all with their small pagodas and little home industries to visit . The mode of transport around the island is a pony cart or fine old wooden buses . There are plenty of good tea shops where the visitor can sample a Mon dish or two before re-boarding the ferry back to the mainland , so a leisurely day trip.
Day 16: Mawlamyaing – Setse
After breakfast , Visit Setse Beach , for a refreshing swim in the clear waters of the Gulf of Mattama (formely Martaban). There are miles and miles of white sand this beach was once a favourite playground of colonialists .Today it is popular with local residents as well as the occasional fisherman or coral diver .As this beach is south of the Ayeyarwady Delta the sea water here is brown, so not so inviting for a swim. lunch at local restaurant on the beach. Return to Mawlamyaing; a picturesque old colonial town once an important teak port and sightseeing includes the Mahamuni & Mon Cultural Museum.
Day 17: Mawlamyaing – Hpa an (via) – Yangon
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to go back to Yangon via Hpa-an; the capital city of Kayin State and visit includes Bayin Nyi Cave, Kawtgoon Cave (natural lime stone) and Kyauk Ka Lamtt on the way. Arrive Yangon.
Day 18: Yangon departure
Breakfast at the Hotel, enjoy a leisurely morning. You will be transferred back to the airport in time for your flight back home.