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Temples in the jungle

Discover Myanmar

Example 13 Day Tour
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Discover the main highlights and some off the beaten path gems of Myanmar on this 13 day trip in Asia. Visit the sights in Yangon and Mandalay, cruise the waters of Inle Lake and wander through temples as you tour Bagan. Visit hill tribes in Shan State, learn gemology in Mogok, and ride the train over the Gokteik Viaduct. Enjoy the best of Myanmar in a short amount of time!

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Arrive Yangon
Day 2 : Shwedagon Pagoda | Fly Hsipaw | Free day
Day 3 : Palaung tribal villages | River Cruise
Day 4 : Train over Gokteik Viaduct to Pyin Oo Lwin
Day 5 : Gemology Class | Mogok Street Food
Day 6 : Visit Gem Market | Hike the Valley of Rubies
Day 7 : Kyaukmyaung | River Cruise to Mandalay
Day 8 : Bike Mandalay | Fly Bagan
Day 9 : Explore Pagodas of Bagan
Day 10 : Myinkaba Market | Bike Bagan
Day 11 : Fly Inle Lake | A Day on the Lake
Day 12 : Pa O for the Day
Day 13 : Fly Yangon | Fly home

Highlights

  • Visit one of the most important sights in Myanmar Shwedagon Pagoda
  • Discover off-the-beaten-path Myanmar's hill tribes and mountain temples
  • Bike & Cruise the monasteries and temples of Mandalay
  • Explore the ancient city of Bagan & its thousands of pagodas
  • Cruise beautiful Inle Lake & experience its diversity in cultures

Places Visited

Activities

Trip Type

  • Adventure Life Exclusive

Activity Level

Easy Active

Trip Snapshots

Temples in the jungle Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon House on Inle Lake Train on the Gokhteik viaduct Adventures in Myanmar Temple at Inle Lake Monks of Southeast Asia

Day 1 Arrive Yangon

Arrive Yangon, meet your guide and head to your hotel. 

Day 2 Shwedagon Pagoda | Fly Hsipaw | Free day

Enjoy a traditional Burmese breakfast and then visit one of the most important sights in Myanmar, Shwedagon Pagoda, which is said to enshrine strands of Buddha's hair along with some other holy relics. The evening light and illuminated golden facade offers a most picturesque view of this over 2000 year old pagoda.  Shwedagon Pagoda is covered with hundreds of gold plates and the top of the stupa is encrusted with over 400 diamonds.  Explore the hundreds of other colorful temples, stupas, and statues surrounding the base of the pagoda. 

Transfer to airport and fly to northern Myanmar, you will be met by our local representative and proceed to drive about 1.5 hours to Hsipaw. Free day with guide to explore Hsipaw. If timing is right you can visit the local market, explore Hsipaw's oldest neighborhood, Myauk Myo, with its delightful old teak monasteries and ancient brick stupas (pagodas), or hike up Sunset Hill, also know as Nine Buddha Hill for a lovely view of the valley.

Day 3 Palaung tribal villages | River Cruise

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
One of the most colourful tribes in Shan State are certainly the Palaung people, who are also famous for their high quality tea plantations. Take a local tuktuk to the trailhead, to start the hike which have you visiting 2 or 3 different villages and have a simple lunch in a local village on the way. Total walking time today is about approx. 5 hours through tea plantations, welcoming villages, colourful fields and forest – sometimes uphill, sometimes downhill. Enjoy this enchanting day in nature discovering some of the interesting tribes of this part in Myanmar.

Continue your tour of Shan State while cruising the Dokthawaddy River (also known as the Myitnge River) in direction of the Bawgyo Pagoda which is of great importance to the Shan people. On the Full Moon Day of Tabaung (Feburary/March), the final day of the Burmese calander, this pagoda can get very busy with pilgrims. From here we drive to a monastery built by one of the princes for the Hsipaw royal family where a traditional Shan lunch is served. 

Day 4 Train over Gokteik Viaduct to Pyin Oo Lwin

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
After breakfast, make your way to the Hsipaw train station for a mid-morning depature for Pyin Oo Lwin. Enjoy a wonderful train journey through the Shan mountains crossing the mighty Gokteik Viaduct which was constructed in 1901 by the Pennsylvania Steel company and was once the second highest railway bridge in the world. Through spectacular mountain scenery the train will slowly move forward over the old railway track, passing small villages and towns where local vendors will board the train to sell drinks and local snacks. Arrive at the Naung Cho station early in the afternoon then continue by private car to Pyin Oo Lwin (approx. 1 hour). Please note with such an historic railway like this one delays are not unusual. 

Afternoon free to explore Pyin Oo Lwin, a former British military outpost, which boasts some beautiful 1920s Colonial archeticute and the expansive National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens.

Day 5 Gemology Class | Mogok Street Food

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning, take a scenic drive through the mountains (approx. 4 hours) with some great views over the Myanmar countryside on the way to the town of Mogok. Stop along the way for a simple, but hearty lunch of Shan noodles which is typical for this region. 

Since ancient times the city of Mogok, has been famous for gemstones, in particular rubies and sapphires. Myanmar is know for being one of the finest sources for red rubies, and Mogok is known as the Valley of Rubies. There are imposters out there, so head to a gemstone training course. In about 1.5 hour you learn the basics in order to recognize a ruby from a sapphire or spinel from topaz or aquamarine. Feel the stones and guess how much carat each stone. An interesting first step in gemology to get to know the 4 “C’s”: color, carat, clarity and cut.

Mogok is also famous for its excellent food! This evening, head to a night market for an excellent opportunity to taste locally prepared food. Together with your guide you will try steamed mustard leaves, mushrooms, vegetables, mohinga, noodles, “husband and wife” quail eggs and many of the local fried snacks. You simply move from one stall to the other to finish your dinner. 
 

Day 6 Visit Gem Market | Hike the Valley of Rubies

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
With your recent knowledge of gemology, head to the gemstone market to test your skills. 

After shopping or merely window-shopping, a day hiking in the natural beauty of this area is a much deserved reward. There are several routes in the area for either a 3 or 6 hour hike. Both hiking routes will give you a chance to visit local tribal villages of Palaung, Lisu, Shan and Gurkha, beautiful mountain scenery, tea plantations, and small rivers. This area hasn’t seen many tourists, so in many villages you will be one of the first foreigners people encounter.

Note: If you decide to do the shorter trekking (partly by car / partly walking) we will take you in the afternoon to visit a local gem stone mine.

Day 7 Kyaukmyaung | River Cruise to Mandalay

This morning, depart Mogok and drive southwest to Kyaukmyaung (approx 4 hours), a local village on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River famous for its pottery. Traditionally potters make huge pots which are distributed all around the country for storage of drinking water. Stop to see the potters working at hand-turned or foot-turned wheels. You are also likely to see the kilns, drying yards and piles of rough clay being chopped, ready for throwing. Continue on to Thaungbyone, a quite village famous for the yearly Nat Pwe (spirit festival) in August and traditional music.

From here, board a private boat to cruise downstream on the Ayeyarwaddy River. Sit back and relax while watching river life go by. This is part of the river which is relatively quiet, no tourists boats and few cargo boats on this stretch. Keep and eye out for the almost extinct Irrawaddy Dolphin, which is known to live in this area. After about an hour we will arrive to the town of Mingun. Here visit the Mingun Pagoda, which would have been the world’s biggest stupa had it been finished. Construction started in 1790, but stopped when King Bodawpaya died in 1819, leaving only the bottom third complete. The result is still a huge structure – a roughly 240ft cube on a 460ft lower terrace. Visit the next in King Bodawpaya's massive constructions, the Mingin Bell.  In 1808, the King commissioned a bronze bell weighing almost 100 tons. On to Mandalay for the evening.

Day 8 Bike Mandalay | Fly Bagan

Today, explore Mandalay by bike, passing through fresh markets, lively neighbourhoods and head north east of the city. In just a short pedal you'll find yourself in the true countryside, where farmers tend to their fields and villagers go about the daily rituals that have remained unchanged for decades, if not longer. Water buffalo lazily roll in the mud, goats nibble at the foliage, and friendly locals wave from all directions. Along the way make some interesting stops, first at a fresh market to learn about the different produce on sale, continue on to see bamboo weaving which is used to construct everything from roofs and walls to fans. Stop for a walk through a typical central Myanmar village and learn about their way of life and their different crops. On the way back to town, stop at a tea shop for some delicious snacks and tea. Return to Mandalay for lunch on your own and relax before your last afternoon flight on to Bagan.

Arrive to the ancient city of Bagan: this evening is free to rest and relax on your own, but your guide can help you arrange dinner plans.
 

Day 9 Explore Pagodas of Bagan

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
Start today in a new city ready to explore the 26-sq. miles of the Archeological Zone of the former 9th century capital, also known as Old Bagan, which is home to the largest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagaodas, and stupas. You'll have the chance  to see the best known temples, but also the rarely visited of the area too. Climb to the top of a pagoda to get an impressive view over the archeological complex with thousands of pagodas built during the 9th through 13th centuries. Not only is the view amazing, but this allows you to plan your day by pointing out the temples you want to visit. Places like the Ananda, Dhammayangyi, Sulamani, and Thatbyinnyu will certainly impress you. Lunch will be taken at a local restaurant.

In the aarly evening, continue the tour by horse cart to Pyathadar (Pyathatgyi) Pagoda for sunset with some refreshing drinks served. Pyathadar Temple is an exceptional example of the Bagan pagodas and it is one of the last ones built during this great dynasty. Return to your hotel for the evening.

Day 10 Myinkaba Market | Bike Bagan

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
Life outside of the archeological zone moves at a different pace, like in the busy market in Myinkaba, the town just south of Old Bagan. Each morning is a very lively affair as people from all around town come to buy their vegetables, herbs and meat and other ingredients for dinner. Your assignment, should you chose to accept it, is to go and buy and taste 3 different kind snacks typical for the region. Myinkaba is also a great place to view the extensive process of making lacquerware, which have been made by local families for generations. We continue to Taungbi village where we visit the old wooden monastery built for royalty and temples that are true hidden gems.

In the afternoon hop on a bike to explore Bagan's stunning landscape of ancient temple ruins that seem to be spread around randomly in between toddy palms and bamboo huts. Take your time to get to know some of the most spectacular sceneries of ancient temples and with the freedom of the bike you can stop any time to take a photo or just relax.

Day 11 Fly Inle Lake | A Day on the Lake

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
Take a morning flight to Inle Lake. On the drive from the airport you can get a better understanfing of how people live in conjunction with this beautiful highland lake is located in the heart of the Shan Plateau at 3000 feet (900m). The lake is inhabited by many different ethnic groups, the predominate being the Intha, known for leg rowing their boats while fishing.

After arriving at your hotel, head out on Inle Lake by boat to the town of Indein, a small village on the western bank of the lake. On a hill next to town is a cluster of hundreds of ancient stupas overgrown with trees and bushes, making it look like a “pagoda forest”. Hike thie quiet hill weaving through the pagodas to a great view of Inle Lake and the hills beyond. After your hike enjoy a home-made cooked lunch is served in a local house.

Board a canoe and paddle to the village of Nampan, a traditional Inle Lake village, with its wooden houses all built on stilts. Navigate your way through the canals and under bridges connecting neighborhoods to see hand-made cheroot (traditional local cigar) factories and the oldest pagoda on the lake, the Alodaw Pauk Pagoda, with its large gem-encrusted golden shrine.

Just to the north of Nampan, explore floating gardens where the Intha people grow a variety of vegetables and flowers, both for their own consumption and to export around Myanmar. This method of agriculture is another unique aspect of life on the lake, as the villagers harness nature to develop these gardens over many generations. Return to your hotel to watch the sunset on the lake.

Day 12 Pa O for the Day

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
One of the distinctive hill tribes from Shan State are the Pa O who are known for their navy blue clothes and colourful red or orange turban, as well as their good farming and trading skills. We start with a short horse cart ride from the hotel and begin with a 2.5 hours walk (a bit uphill) to arrive in a Pa O village where you have time to talk with the monks, visit a local school and even try on the Pa O's traditional dress. Continue about 30 minutes (mainly flat) and arrive in a village where a traditional Pa O lunch is served with dishes like ginger soup, pumpkin leaf salad and sukini leaf salad. You'll have time to relax, chat with the locals, and prepare for the afternoon walk which is about 2.5 hour with stunning views on the lake and plantations with crops like ginger, garlic and turmeric. Just before boarding the boat to bring you back to the hotel we stop for a last beautiful view over the lake as a reward for having passed the Pa O experience. 

Day 13 Fly Yangon | Fly home

  • 1 Breakfast
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight back to Yangon. A car and guide will be available for additional visits until your departure flight.

 

Ayarwaddy River View

Bagan Lodge

Golden Butterfly Hotel

Hotel Pyin Oo Lwin

Mr. Charles River View Lodge

Novotel Inle Lake Myat Min

The Loft

Per person starting at
$1,995

Notes

$640 - $1,085 single supplement

Upgrades available - Please Inquire!

Included

  • 12 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 1 Dinner
  • 12 Nights Accommodations
    • 12 Nights Hotel
  • 12 Days Private Guide Service
  • Both International Arrival and Departure Transfers are included.
  • Park Entrance Fee

Excluded

  • Internal Flights
    • $195 Flight Yangon to Lashio
    • $70 Flight Mandalay to Bagan
    • $100 Flight Bagan to Inle Lake
    • $140 Flight Inle Lake to Yangon
    • Flight cost is subject to change
  • International Flights
  • Tourist Visa
    • US Citizens must obtain a visa

Recommended Budgeting

  • $200 Meals not Included
  • $80 Optional Excursions
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Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.

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