Treasures of the Golden Land

Explore rivers, ruins, markets, and friendly villages of Myanmar
Overview

overview

Explore the great monuments and tribal villages of Burma (Myanmar). Visit village markets, sacred caves, Inle Lake, Buddhist pilgrimage sites, and archaeological wonders in the company of our extraordinary Burmese guide. You will stay in delightful private hotels and guesthouses that offer honest glimpses of village life and insight into how Buddhist society helps people adapt to a harsh government. This is a perfect trip for experiencing the real Burma at a time of transition.

You may also end your Myanmar trip with a few days on the coastal beaches of the Bay of Bengal.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive Yangon
    City of Yangon

    Meet your guide at the airport in Yangon and transfer  to your hotel. Along the way, observe Yangon's colonial-style red-brick buildings. The cultural and spiritual heritage makes Yangon one of the most fascinating capitals of Southeast Asia.

    Meals
    None
    Lodging
    Kandawgyi Palace Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Markets, Reclining Buddha, and Shwedagon
    Enjoy a stroll through the local market

    Experience the wonder of sunrise over the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda where many local Buddhists come to worship each morning. Witness the colors transform on the 325 foot-high chedi which is literally enclosed in over 40 tons of gold leaf. Shwedagon is largely considered to be the most important religious site for the Burmese. Next turn down a hidden roadway to discover a busy market tucked amid a labyrinth of small alleys. Fresh produce, rice, noodles and a variety of dry goods are on sale in this atmospheric little market. Afterwards, visit Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda to see a 230 foot long reclining Buddha statue around the size of a blue whale. Continue uptown for a quick stop by the Royal Lake, located at Kandawgyi Park, which is very popular with local residents, especially in the early morning and around sunset. Catch a view of Karaweik Hall, a reproduction of a royal barge and enjoy a spectacular view of the Golden Shwedagon Pagoda. After stopping for lunch at a nice local restaurant, you’ll be taken downtown to begin your tour on Mahanbandola Road where the Immanuel Baptist Church, originally built in 1830, is located. Continue east passing a couple of alleyways crammed with food stalls and markets. Turn right onto Pansodan Street with its many stalls selling second-hand and photocopied books. You’ll pass the High Court Building, the grand Inland Water Transport offices and even grander Myanma Port Authority building until you reach the majestic Strand Hotel where you take a break and indulge in High Tea. Built in 1901, this British-era hotel became the center of expat life during the 1900s and High Tea has become a Yangon institution. You will then walk along Strand Road until you see the Customs House and the Law Court, an impressive-looking colonnaded building. Turn north onto boisterous Bank Street and up onto Sule Pagoda Road where you can consult one of the many fortune tellers who hang out under the trees. Make a photo stop at Sule Pagoda, downtown’s symbol whose construction dates back to over 2,000 years ago and have a glimpse of Independence Monument and Mahabandoola Garden. After a complete rotation seeing the twice rebuilt City Hall continue west down Mahanbandoola Road through the chaotic Indian and Chinese quarters. Explore the gold shops of Shwe Bontha Street and have a look from outside at the Moseh Yeshua Synagogue on 26th street. You’ll reach Theingyi Zei market, where you can see pickled-snakes. Exit onto Anawratha Road until you reach the Sri Kali temple, Yangon’s most colorful Hindu temples. Return to your hotel in Yangon.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Kandawgyi Palace Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Yangon
    Local mother and child

    Today you will have the opportunity to get a glimpse into the daily activities of the locals that make Yangon their home. Your guide will meet you at the hotel and transfer you to Yangon’s Central Station. Embark upon the local “Circular Train”, which runs from Yangon’s main railway station around various neighborhoods in town as well as the borders surrounding the city itself. This train travels at a deliberately slow pace, which provides you with time to really enjoy your surroundings and get a clear overview of the city (train ride is about 20-30 minutes. Please note that these trains are very simple, and are used by many locals during the day. Disembark at Kyee Myin Daine station, one of the most beautiful station buildings remaining in Yangon. From here you’ll take a short 10-minute walk through a local neighborhood. At this hour of the morning you will find a vibrant hive of activities with children heading off to school, folks grabbing a bowl of noodles on their way to work and nuns and monks collecting alms door to door. This middle-class neighborhood allows you to get a glimpse into the lives of the locals. Continue on to the Shan Road market where you will find interesting merchandise. Walk among the stalls filled with colourful fruits, green vegetables and fresh meat while chatting with friendly vendors. When you are finished you’ll return by car to the city via the main road. After a lunch break at a local restaurant, return to your hotel where the rest of the afternoon is free.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Kandawgyi Palace Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Heho/Drive to Inle Lake
    Sunset on Inle Lake

    After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your domestic flight to Heho. From Heho, you will experience a lovely scenic one-hour drive (approx. 20 mi/1 hr) to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway village to Inle Lake. Along the way, you will have an opportunity to visit rural workshops that specialize in traditional Shan paper and unique handcrafted umbrellas. Also stop at the interesting 19th century Shweyanpyay Monastery, made from teak wood and painted red. This monastery is a fully functional school and home for young monks. It's unique oval windows and intricate wood carvings make it a fascinating place worth exploring. Continue the drive to the edge of the lake from where you board a boat for a one hour ride down a small canal to the Pa-Oh village of Indein, positioned on the western shores of Inle Lake. Take a leisurely stroll around the village before ascending to the top of a hill. Once you’ve arrived at the summit, you will be greeted buy an iconic Buddha image that sits enshrined among hundreds of stupa ruins and overgrown shrubbery. From the peak you will also be rewarded with mesmerizing views of the placid surroundings. The Indein Pagoda complex is undoubtedly one of the most amazing sites around the shore of the lake consisting of hundreds of small stupas, which are overrun by moss and greenery. On the boat ride to your hotel, time permitting, you'll stop at the Inthar Heritage House to learn more about the history and culture of the lake's indigenous people and enjoy a delicious coffee and cake (snack break not included in cost). Lunch will be at a local restaurant and dinner at the hotel restaurant. Overnight stay in Inle Lake.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Pristine Lotus or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Inle Lake Life on the Water
    Leg-rower on Inle Lake

    In the morning, board a wooden motorized boat and head out onto Inle Lake. Pay a visit to the lake’s morning market (the market is open every day apart from dark moon and full moon calendar days). The market’s location rotates between the lake’s villages in a 5 day schedule and is also visited daily by the lake’s inhabitants as well as the surrounding natives who also come to sell and trade their wares. Along the way you will pass several villages that are built on stilts over the lake, which are inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the daily activities of the local leg-rowing fishermen and see their "floating gardens", which are built up from strips of water hyacinth, earth and anchored to the bottom of the lake with bamboo poles. You will also visit Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, which houses loads of early Shan Buddha Images. In the past this temple was known for its "jumping cats" but these days there are only a few felines roaming around and none are jumping any more. Yet the Buddha images are still worth the visit. Proceed to the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main haven, which contains five sacred images of Buddha decorated in gold leaf. There are also many traditional crafts origininating on Inle Lake and, if you like, you can stop for a visit to one making incredible woven items from lotus silk, boat builders (depending on the time of year), a cigar making workshop, blacksmiths or even silver smiths. If time allows you will also pay a visit to the local silversmith and a pirogue workshop in the village of Nampan. The day will come to a close with a return trip by boat back to your hotel. Lunch at a local restaurant and Dinner at hotel restaurant. Overnight stay on Inle Lake.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Pristine Lotus or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: Flight to Bagan
    Local farmers in Bagan

    Breakfast will be served at your hotel before driving by a combination of boat and car to the Heho Airport (1-1.5 hr) for a short flight back to Bagan. Welcome to Bagan, known to be one of the greatest architectural sites in Asia. When Bagan was the center of Myanmar from the 11th to 13th centuries, the monarchs built multitudes of massive stupas and pagodas, scores of which are still present on the shores of the Irrawaddy River. The majesty of Bagan with more than 2,000 red brick temples on a plain of the size of Manhattan Island, is perhaps one of the highlights of your visit. Upon arrival at the airport you will be warmly welcomed and transferred to you hotel for check in. The balance of day is free at your leisure to simply relax or explore around at your own leisure. Lunch will be at a local restaurant.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Tharapar Gate Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Exploring Bagan
    Explore Bagan by horsecart

    Today will be an exciting day as you explore Bagan both by horse cart and private vehicle. In addition to seeing the splendid Bagan temples, this excursion will also introduce you to the Burmese culture and allow you to see traditional craftsmen at work. Your first stop will be at an elevated temple, which provides panoramic views of the Bagan plains. From this viewpoint, you will see the sheer number of temples as well as some of their distinctive styles that litter the plains. You then visit the Ananda Temple, one of the most exalted of Bagan’s temples. We will ensure that you arrive here before most of the other tourist arrive, enabling you to enjoy the splendor of the temple in relative tranquility. Continue to various other temples in the area to experience a variety of architectural styles as well as the artistic wonders from past centuries. As you explore the temples, you will also get a glimpse of rural Bagan life and see the farmers and their families going on about their daily business, mostly farming. Next, learn more about the local culture by visiting two workshops producing Bagan’s most famous products - lacquerware and wood crafts. Watch in amazement as the skilled craftsmen use traditional techniques passed down through generations to create beautiful items. Later this afternoon, visit Thatbyinnyu, the tallest temple in Bagan, the gigantic Dhammayangyi Temple, noted for its remarkable brickwork, and of course, Sulamani Temple. Take pleasure in an extraordinary sunset from the upper terrace of one of the surrounding temples. Return to your hotel where you have free time for dinner.

    OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS (Additional costs):

    Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Bagan: The morning will start off with an exciting hot-air balloon ride above the Bagan countryside. You will observe one-of-a-kind views when the sun begins to rise over the Irrawaddy River and various stupas in the region. You’re simply not going to find many other opportunities like this on Earth. (Only available from October/November through March.)

    Blessing Ceremony at a local monastery: Travel over dusty lanes and tree shaded roads past temples and monasteries to a small village. At one of the monasteries you will participate in a special traditional Buddhist ceremony. Around 10:30 am you will donate offerings of food to the monks. Afterwards you will receive a special blessing from the monks to ensure good luck and happiness.

    High Tea at a Temple Terrace: For a little quiet heaven among Bagan’s ruins, you'll hop aboard a horse cart and take a detour away from main tourist routes. During the ride on this country road, the only interfering traffic you will find might be herds of cows or goats. After a 45 minute ride, you will reach a secluded temple in the middle of shrub-land. Enter the temple and climb the stairs to an upper terrace where there awaits a private arrangement of afternoon high tea. Enjoy a selection of local sweets and seasonal fruits served in traditional lacquerware while comfortably lazing atop with a grand view of the sunset over the temples. Note: if taking this option, your temple visit for the day will be shortened.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Tharapar Gate Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Excursion to Mt. Popa and Local Villages
    Balloon over Bagan

    Today your guide will pick you up and take you to the vibrant Nyaung Oo Market where the locals come to trade fresh produce and other goods daily. You then head out on a 30 mile drive (approx. 1 ½ hrs) to Mount Popa, an extinct volcano that stands over 4,920 feet and offers stunning panoramic views. Popa today is one of the most popular pilgrimage spots in the country. People travel here from many miles away just to worship the diverse spirits known as “nats” that Buddhists believe reside here. There are 777 steps leading up to the place of pilgrimage on top of the precipitous Popa crest. Although the final climb to Popa’s summit is by no means mandatory, it is strongly recommended, as the views over the Myingyan Plain are truly magnificent. On the way back to Bagan, stop at a local village and witness how the local villagers make wine and molasses from the fruit of the palm tree. On arrival back in Bagan, spend the rest of the day free at your leisure. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Tharapar Gate Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Flight to Mandalay
    Life along the Irrawaddy River

    A short flight takes you to Mandalay, the second largest city in Myanmar. This ancient royal capital is often perceived and described in literature as "Asia at its most traditional, timeless and alluring", but those who go meet a booming and vibrant city. Despite its energy and thriving business, this is the cultural heart of Myanmar where music, dance and drama traditions are still alive. From the airport, it is a one hour drive to Mandalay city where you visit Mahamuni Pagoda, which houses one of the country's most honored Buddha images. The image is completely covered in gold leaves that are applied to the statue by male devotees on a daily basis. Next, visit Kuthodaw Pagoda, frequently dubbed as “The World’s Biggest Book” for its collection of 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. Continue on to Shwenandaw Monastery (Golden Monastery), the only standing structure from the 19th century Royal Palace. This impressive structure is celebrated for its remarkable woodcarvings. You'll end the day with a walk up to Mandalay Hill to enjoy a sunset and panoramic views of the Shan Hills, Mandalay Palace and Ayeyarwady River. Return to your hotel where you are free to have dinner at a nearby restaurant or hotel.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Mandalay Hill Resort or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: Ancient Cities
    U Bein Teak Bridge

    Spend the day exploring the ancient cities of Amarapura, Ava and Sagaing. You'll begin by crossing a bridge over the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing. With 600 ivory colored pagodas and monasteries, Sagaing Hill is generally seen as the spiritual hub of Myanmar and is home to around 3,000 monks and almost 100 meditation shrines. Visit the Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin, U Min Thone Sae and Shin Pin Nan Gyaing Pagodas. A highlight to your visit in Sagaing is the local market and a small pottery village known for its water pot-making abilities. You'll have the opportunity to observe them producing these pots using traditonal methods. Continue on to Ava, the capital of Burma from the 14th through the 18th centuries. To get here, you'll cross a small river by ferry then board a horse and carriage to the wooden Bagaya Monastery well known for its extraordinarily elaborate woodcarvings. Next you'll visit Nanmyint Watch Tower, also known as "the leaning tower of Ava" the only remaining structure left of the ancient palace and Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery. After lunch at a local restaurant, head out to Amarapura "City of Immortality", Myanmar's previous royal capital. Here you'll visit a silk weaving workshop known for their exquisite silkwares. Also visit Mahagandayon monastery, home to more than a thousand young monks and a center for monastic study and strict religious discipline. When the sun starts to set, you'll take a walk along the legendary U Bein Bridge, built in 1782 when Amarapura was the royal center of attention. It spans almost a mile across the shallow Taungthaman Lake and is thought to be the longest teakwood bridge in the world. Enjoy this very special atmosphere as the late afternoon sun casts long shadows and illuminates the local people heading home. As this stunning day comes to an end, head back to Mandalay for the night.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Mandalay Hill Resort or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: Mingun
    Curious boys

    After breakfast, drive down to Mandalay jetty and board a private boat for a relaxed one hour ride on the Irrawaddy River to Mingun. Experience the sights and sounds of Mingun starting with the celebrated Mingun Paya, which would have been the world’s largest if construction wasn't halted after a fortune-teller predicted King Bodawpaya's death upon completion. An earthquake hit the monument in the 1800’s, split the monument and reduced it to partial rubble. From the flat top you have a fine view of the Hsinbyume Paya, Mingun village and the river. Continue on to the gorgeous alabaster Hsinbyume Pagoda, an unusual stupa thought to be built in the same manner as the Sulamani Paya which, according to the Buddhist plan of the cosmos, stands atop Mount Meru, the mountain that stands at the center of the universe. You then visit the Mingun Bell, possibly the worlds largest hung, uncracked bell still in use today. The bell weighs about 90 tons. Before returning to Mandalay by boat there’ll be enough time to explore the small neighborhoods throughout Mingun and mingle with the locals and perhaps purchase some of the local unique arts and crafts. Lunch will be served on the boat while cruising back to Mandalay. On arrival back in Mandalay, the rest of the day will be free to explore on your own.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Mandalay Hill Resort or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 12: Mandalay/Onward

    The morning will be spent doing some last-minute sightseeing or shopping before you are transferred to the airport for your flight onward.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    None
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Nov 11-22, 2014
Jan 6-17, 2015
Nov 10-21, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$3,450
- $3,850
Group size 5+ cost: $3450 Group size 2-4: $3695 Plus local flights: $425(estimated)
Single Supplement:
$1200
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
12 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
3
Charming 4 star boutique hotels
Group Size:
2-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
1
Charming 4 star boutique hotels

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Bangkok Hospitality

Duration: 3 days

If you are passing through Bangkok and want more than a transit stop, ask for our three day/two night Bangkok Hospitality Extension. We meet you at the airport and transfer you to an attractive centrally located hotel. This extension also includes y... read more

Phuket

Duration: 4 days

Phuket is the largest of Thailand's islands. It is incredibly varied with rocky beaches, long broad sandy beaches, forested hills, and clear waters great for snorkeling and relaxing. There is no better way to end a trip!

Angkor Wat 3-Day Odyssey

Duration: 3 days

This excursion focuses on the amazing ruins of Angkor in Siem Reap. Angkor Wat, a spectacular architectural legacy of a period of bizarre regimes, is the most famous and confusing of the ruins in southeast Asia. This makes a perfect extension to any ... read more

Angkor Wat 5-Day Odyssey

Duration: 5 days

This excursion takes you to Siem Reap where you explore the magnificent Angkor sites followed by a ride on the Tonle Sap to see the local fishing villages. Then a short flight to Phnom Penh where you visit interesting museums, including Toul Sleng, a... read more

Balloons Over Bagan

Duration: 1 days

Now visitors to Myanmar can view what Marco Polo described as ‘one of the finest sights in the world’ from the unique and enchanting platform of a hot air balloon basket. The magic of Bagan has inspired visitors to Myanmar for centuries. One of... read more

Bangkok Exploration

Duration: 1 days

Accompanied by your personal guide you will meet exotic, ancient, enigmatic Bangkok head-on. After completing this multi-transport, mobile cultural immersion seminar, you should be able to go anywhere in Bangkok by train, ferry, sky-train, taxi or tu... read more

River Kwai & Erawan National Park

Duration: 4 days

This extension gives you a mixed variety of history and nature. You begin by exploring along the River Kwai stopping at important historical sites. You then travel to Erawan National Park, a unique and rugged landscape of high elevation plateau and s... read more

Ko Samui

Duration: 4 days

Relax and explore the beautiful island of Ko Samui. A perfect extension to any Asia tour.

Ngapali Beach

Duration: 5 days

Myanmar, in addition to its fantastic culture, also offers beautiful beaches that are great for relaxation and sunbathing. This beach extension takes you to the lovely Sandoway Resort on Ngapali Beach located on the Bay of Bengal. This is an isolated... read more

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