Myanmar is Asia at its best. More than any other Asian country, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has preserved its cultures and traditions. Myanmar is a deeply religious Buddhist country and is well known by travelers for its abundance of sights and sounds, interesting cultures, diversity of nature and most of all for its charming and friendly people. A kind of magic shrouds the whole land with its tropical plains, theHimalayan Highlands, teak-filled jungle and the Ayeyarwady River.
Myanmar has three quite distinct seasons, although the effects of the monsoon vary in different parts of the country. The best time to visit Myanmar is the 'cool winter' season from November to February. At this time of the year the weather is very pleasant - not too hot in the day and not too cool at night. In the hills it can get quite chilly in the evenings. During March, April and May the temperatures rise and will often topping 100F/40C and it can be unpleasantly hot. The rainy season starts in May with almost daily monsoon rainfalls, mainly in the afternoons and evenings, until the rain tapers off in October.
An estimated 30 percent of the land is arable but only half of this is under cultivation. Nevertheless, agriculture is the most important sector of the economy in Myanmar - two-thirds of the employed population works in agriculture. Agriculture products are rice, maize, wheat, pulses, peanuts, sesame, sugar-cane, jute, tobacco and cotton.
The tribal communities of the Karen, Mon and different Tibeto-Burmese tribes, the most famous being the Pyu (who came from eastern Tibet) were probably the first inhabitants of the area which is now Myanmar.
In the 8th century the Pyu built a town named Pyay, which was said to be the biggest in the country. The ruins of Pyay are still visible today. After the decline of Pyay the capital shifted to Bagan. From the 11th to 13th centuries about 13,000 temples and pagodas were built. King Anawratha, the first Burmese king, ruled in Bagan from 1044 to 1077 and succeeded in establishing a strong and powerful kingdom. After defeating the Mon, he took Mon prisoners back to his capital and used their architectural abilities for further development of the city. He also adopted Theravada Buddhism from them and began to spread it in his kingdom.
In 1824, the first British-Burmese war started. In 1886, Myanmar finally lost its independence and became a province of British-India. It was centrally governed, and traditional Burmese culture was suppressed in many ways.
In the 20th century, opposition to the British occupying forces and the Karen, who supported them, grew. In 1936, after many years of opposition, elections were held and in 1937 Myanmar achieved self-government within the British Empire.
After the Second World War, the British left Myanmar, which had been proclaimed independent by the Japanese in 1943. In 1947, a new consitution was ratified and in 1948 the 'Union of Burma' was established.
|Day 2||Yangon - Bagan (Breakfast)|
|Day 3||Bagan (Breakfast)|
|Day 4||Bagan - Mandalay (Breakfast)|
|Day 5||Mandalay (Breakfast)|
|Day 6||Mandalay - Heho - Pindaya (Breakfast)|
|Day 7||Pindaya - Inle Lake (Breakfast)|
|Day 8||Inle Lake (Breakfast)|
|Day 9||Inle Lake - Heho - Yangon (Breakfast)|
|Day 10||Yangon (Breakfast)|
Arrival in Yangon
- Overnight in Yangon
Sightseeing in Yangon
Visit Shwedagon Pagoda
SHWEDAGON PAGODA: the highlight of any visit to Yangon, this pagoda dates back about 2500 years and was built to house eight sacred hairs of the Buddha. Its original shape has changed beyond all recognition over the centuries. Its bell-shaped superstructure, resting on a terraced base, is covered in about 60 tons of gold-leaf, which is continuously being replaced.
Visit Bogyoke Aung San (Scott) Market
BOGYOKE AUNG SAN MARKET: also known as Scott Market, this building contains over 2000 stalls and is the best place in Yangon to browse through the complete range of local handicrafts.
Visit Sule Pagoda
SULE PAGODA: this 48 meter high golden dome was used by the British as the nucleus of their grid pattern for the city when it was rebuilt in the 1880s. The pagoda's peculiarity is its octagonal-shaped stupa, which retains its shape as it tapers to the spire.
Flight from Yangon to Bagan.
- Overnight in Bagan
Sightseeing in Bagan
Bagan is a spectacular plain stretching away from the Ayeyarwaddy River, dotted with thousands of 800-year old temple ruins. Although human habitation at Bagan dates back almost to the beginning of the Christian era, Bagan only entered its golden period with the conquest of Thaton in 1057 AD.
SHWEZIGON PAYA: King Anawrahta started the construction of the Schwezigon Pagoda to enshrine some relicts of Buddha. The construction was finished by his successor, King Kyansittha between 1086 and1090. Originally the Shwezigon Pagoda marked the northern end of the city of Bagan. The stupa's graceful bell shape became a prototype for virtually all later stupas over Myanmar. GUBYAUKHYI TEMPLE at Wetkyi-Inn: This Temple was built in the early 13th Century and repaired in 1468. The great colorful painting about the previous life of Buddha and the distinguished architecture make this temple an interesting site for a visit. This temple is not to be confounded with the Gubyaukgyi Temple in Myinkabe. ANANDA PAHTO: one of the finest, largest, best preserved and most revered of the Bagan temples. Thought to have been built around 1105 by King Kyanzittha, this perfectly proportioned temple heralds the stylistic end of the Early Bagan period and the beginning of the Middle period. GUBYAUKGYI TEMPLE at Myinkaba: Built in 1113 by Kyanzittha son Rajakumar, this temple is famous for its well-preserved Stuccos from the 12th century on the outside walls. The magnificent paintings date from the original construction of the temple and are considered to be the oldest original paintings in Bagan. MANUHA TEMPLE: The Manuha Temple was built in 1059 by King Manuha, the King of Thaton, who was brought captive to Bagan by King Anawrahta. It enshrines the unusual combination of 3 seated and one reclining image Buddha. It is said that this temple was built by Manuha to express his displeasure about his captivity in Bagan. SHWESANDAW PAYA: In 1057 King Anawrahta built this Pagoda following his conquest of Thaton. This is the first monument in Bagan, which features stairways leading up from the square bottom terraces to the round base of the Stupa.
LACQUERWARE WORKSHOP: the villages around Bagan are known for producing the finest lacquerware in Myanmar. Stop by one of the workshops and learn about the painstaking process of laquerware making and decoration.
Watch sunset over Bagan
Enjoy a panoramic view of the sun setting over the plain of Bagan from one of the pagoda platforms.
Overnight in Bagan
Flight from Bagan to Mandalay.
Sightseeing in Mandalay
The last capital of royal Burma, Mandalay is still one of the largest cities in Myanmar, and a cultural and spiritual center. Neighboring Sagaing is home to over sixty percent of the country's monks, while the artisans of Mandalay continue to turn out the finest crafts in Myanmar. In the morning, head to MAHAMUNI PAYA. The Mahamuni image enshrined here is perhaps the most venerated image in Myanmar, covered in over 15 cm of gold leaf. Worshippers flock daily to the shrine at four in the morning to observe the unique face-washing ceremony. Enroute to the pagoda, stop to observe the laborious process of GOLD-LEAF BEATING, where gold is painstakingly hammered into tissue-thin squares. Before breaking for lunch, visit a CRAFT WORKSHOP specializing in one of the arts for which the city is famous: bronze-casting, marble-carving, wood-carving, or puppetry. The afternoon's tour includes some of the city's most interesting temples and palaces. Begin at SHWENANDAW KYAUNG, or the Golden Teak Monastery. Built entirely of golden teak, this intricately carved wooden monastery was once part of the Mandalay Palace, used as private apartments by King Mindon and his chief queen. Continue to KYAUKTAWGYI PAYA, famous for its monumental seated Buddha, carved from a single block of marble. Continue to KUTHODAW PAYA, known also as "the world's biggest book". Around the central stupa are miniature pavilions, each housing a slab of marble Numbering altogether 729, these slabs are inscribed with the entire Tripitkata, or Buddhist scriptures. The final stop is at SHWE KYIN OLD MONASTERY, an old monastery at the base of Mandalay Hill which was built during the period of King Mindon.
Visit Mandalay Hill at sunset
MANDALAY HILL: an easy climb up the sheltered steps bring one to a panoramic view over the palace, Mandalay and the paya-studded countryside. The famous hermit monk, U Khanti, is credited with inspiring the construction of many of the buildings on and around the hill in the years after the founding of the city.
Overnight in Mandalay
Excursion to Amarapura, Sagaing, and Inwa (Ava)
This day tour visits three former royal capitals, each with its own unique atmosphere. In the morning, drive to AMARAPURA, and visit MAHAGANDAYON MONASTERY; every day at mid-morning, monks and novices line up to receive their daily offering of alms and food from faithful Buddhists. Next, head to SAGAING, the spiritual center of Myanmar. Hundreds of stupas, monasteries, temples and nunneries are to be found in Sagaing Hill, sometimes known as a living Bagan. Thousands of monks and nuns retreat here for meditation and contemplation. Stop at some of the most famous temples, such as SUN U PONYA SHIN PAYA, U MIN THONSEI PAYA and KAUNG HMU DAW PAYA. Cross the river by ferry to INWA (AVA), situated on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Once a royal capital, Inwa (Ava) is now a quiet rural oasis. Enjoy a leisurely HORSECART RIDE around the peaceful countryside, briefly visiting BAGAYA KYAUNG, a beautiful teak wood monastery, MAHA AUNGMYAY BONZAN KYAUNG, and NAN MYINT TOWER. On the way, stop and observe how local artisans make the famous alms bowls out of iron. Finally, return to AMARAPURA, to end the day at U BEIN'S BRIDGE, a picturesque teak bridge which extends over one kilometer across Taungthaman Lake. At dusk, the bridge teems with monks and local people as they stroll home or linger to enjoy the colors of the sunset.
Overnight in Mandalay
Flight from Mandalay to Heho.
By vehicle from Heho to Pindaya
Visit the Pindaya Caves
PINDAYA CAVES: these caves are ensconced in a limestone ridge overlooking the lake. Inside the cavern
there are more than 8000 Buddha images - made from alabaster, teak, marble, brick, lacquer and
cement - and are arranged in such a way as to form a labyrinth throughout the various cave chambers.
SHWE U MIN PAYA: this is a cluster of low stupas just below the ridge near the Pindaya Caves. Beginning on the full moon of Tabaung (February/March), Pindaya hosts a colourful pagoda festival at Shwe U Min.
- Overnight in Pindaya
By vehicle from Pindaya to Inle Lake
Transfer by boat
Excursion by boat on Inle Lake to Indein
Travel by boat to the western shore of the lake to a stairway leading to the hidden INDEIN temple complex. Located on the shore of the lake, this site consists of hundreds of small stupas overgrown by moss and greens.
- Overnight in Inle Lake
Excursion by boat on Inle Lake
INLE LAKE: Inle Lake, located in Shan State, is beautiful, with very calm waters dotted with patches of floating vegetation and fishing canoes. High hills rim the lake on all sides. The lake's shore and islands bear 17 villages on stilts, mostly inhabited by the Intha people. Enjoy the spectacular scenery and observe the skilled fisherman using their leg-rowing technique to propel themselves around the lake. Visit the floating gardens, a market and a Intha village around the lake. The day sightseeing also includes a visit to the PHAUNG DAW OO PAGODA, INN PAW KHON VILLAGE (Lotus and silk weaving) and the NGA PHE KYAUNG MONASTERY.
Overnight in Inle Lake
Transfer by boat
By vehicle from Inle Lake to Heho
Flight from Heho to Yangon.
- Overnight in Yangon
End of Services
Single supplement will be charged starting from 2 person up for each person occupying a single room.