Day 1 Arrive Yangon
Arrive Yangon, meet your guide and head to your hotel.
Day 2 Bike the Dhammazedi Road | Sunset Shwedagon Pagoda
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
After breakfast meet your guide and drive towards Kyauk Tan (approx. 2 hours) where mountain bikes are waiting for a ride along the old Dhammazedi Road that was used by former Bago kings to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda. This approximately 18 miles (29 km) ride through the countryside is on a flat, partially unpaved with stops at beautiful monasteries and villages along they way. In Ohne Hne leave your bike behind and continue by car to Thakala where your host family is waiting to accompany you to their community, depending on the season and path conditions you'll either go by bike, boat, motorbike or on foot (45 min).
Htee Tan village is a traditional village showcasing typical life with a communal pond where water is collected during the raining season so the villagers have water to drink, wash, and cook during the dry season. There is a village school, a monastery that serves as a community center, there is no electricity, no running water or even wells. It is a quiet community where people have been living the same way for ages in good times and bad times. A family style lunch awaits, then followed by a stroll around the town. In the afternoon, continue by car towards Thongwa to visit the lively local market before crossing the river into downtown Yangon. Return to your hotel for a short rest before an evening tour of the illuminated Shwedagon Pagoda.
At sunset, 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. After the pagoda visit there will be local snacks to be tasted as well as a local draft beer or a fresh lime juice and walk through Yangon's very own Chinatown.
Day 3 Fly Bagan | Pagoda Bike and Picnic
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
This morning, fly to the ancient city of Bagan.
Meet your guide to explore the former 9th century capitals stunning landscape of ancient temple ruins by bike. Bagan is home to the largest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, and stupas, which seem to be spread out randomly 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.
After biking, head to the beautiful and often deserted area of Minnanthu. Visit this often forgotten part of Bagan spread out a blanket and a great picnic lunch in this historical setting after visiting ancient temples ruins in this area. You can explore the surrounding temples and village nearby.
Just before sunset, continue the tour by horse cart to Pyathagyi Pagoda for sunset with some refreshing drinks. Sunset at Bagan is a magical experience, best viewed from the top of a pagoda. Pyathagyi Pagoda provides panoramic views perfect for watching the sunset change colors on the thousands of pagodas peaking above the horizon.
Day 4 Fly Heho | Hill Tribe Village Trek
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
Arrive Heho this morning and transfer to Kalaw while passing through pine forests, orange and tea plantations, and small mountain towns.
The former British hill station of Kalaw still has the colonial atmosphere of the past with old villas, churches, and schools. It is a very diverse town, inhabited by Burmese, Nepali and Indian, as well as several hill tribes like the Padaung and the Pa O. Kalaw has become the perfect base camp for many treks throught the hill country in Myanmar.
After arriving Kalaw venture out in the hills to learn more about the lives of the hill tribes, like the Pa O and the Palaung who have been living here for centuries. Stop for a hearty but simple lunch in a local village along the way. Continue hiking through peaceful vistas of rolling hills and through welcoming villages with curious locals. Return to town in time for dinner on your own.
Total hiking: Approx. 6 hours (with stops at hill tribe villages)
Day 5 Elephant Conservation Project
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
After breakfast, drive to the Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp for a day of trekking, conservation projects, and hands-on elephant interactions.
The Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp, established by young tourism professionals from the area in an effort to protect the natural environment, elephants and traditions of local people living around Kalaw. A large part of their propert is a private protected forest where native vegetation can grow undisturbed, creating a natural habitat for animals that could otherwise be easily hunted down and killed. The project includes creating a natural environment for some Myanmar elephants who are retired from the lumber industry, so they may live out their days in a more native environment.
On arrival to the Camp explore the surround forests with your guide who specializes in elephant conservation. Along the hike, see the Camp's forest restoration project in action, as native orchids and butterflies return to the area. After a couple hours of hiking stop for a delicious 3-course lunch, with Nepalese influences typical for this region.
After lunch, walk down to the elephant's camp for a truly once in a lifetime experience. Meet the elephants and their mahouts (elephant keepers). Depending on the timing of the elephant's routine, you can help a mahout feed and wash his elephant. Learn about the different elephants and their habits, take some time to see their different personalities and appreciate their massive, yet graceful manner. Late afternoon is time to say goodbye to your new elephant friends, as they will spend the rest of the day and night in their forest protected by Green Hill Valley. Return to Kalaw for the evening.
Day 6 Pindaya Caves | Mountain Buddhas
Your guide will pick you up for the drive to Pindaya, famous for its limestone caves. Enjoy the drive north (approx. 90 mins) through rolling hills, mountain temples, fields of sunflowers, and people working in their wheatfields or driving oxcarts. In Pindaya, explore the limestone cave where over 8000 Buddha images have been placed throughout the past centuries. Visit a local handicraft shop where local families make colorful, hand painted parasols out of mulberry paper.
Continue the drive to Ywa Ngan (approx. 2 hours) and stop on the way to visit Maing Ma Yae' Mountain and climb up to see four standing Buddhas built into the mountain side, along with an amazing panoramic view of the Shan Plateau.
Overnight in Ywa Ngan at Shwe Gue Ku Hotel.
Day 7-8 Begin Ywarngan Trek | Village of Kyauk Gu Ti | Village Kyauk Nget
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
On Day 7, drive to the trailhead of Thein Gone (approx. 30 minutes) to begin your trek to the village of Kyauk Gu Ti. Two full days of trekking through the remote Shan State hill country. The predominate ethnic group in this area are the Danu people. Their name is derived from the term Donke which means ‘Brave Archers.’ Pass through villages that rarely, if ever, see foreigners and welcome you with smiling faces and curious stares. Meet the villagers and get to know town before sitting down for lunch. After lunch, venture out to explore the surrounding landscape with a hike nearby waterfalls and cave (approx 1.5hr).
Return to the village to get to know your family for the night and settle into your home stay.
Trekking Lengths - Approx 9 miles (15km) each day
Day 9 Hike Ye Win Cave | Return to Ywarngan | Drive Inle Lake
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
After breakfast at your home stay, take the narrow footpath along a stream below the mountain ridge to the unexplored Ye Win Cave. The nearby stream flows into the cave and disappears. No one has yet to find the end. If weather and stream conditions are right, you might be able to enter the cave to walk a bit deeper. Return to the village for lunch, then say good bye to your home stay family as you trek onward to the village Oak Twin (approx 1 hr).
Stop in Oak Twin for lunch and a chance to see the lovely old wooden monastery home to a few monks. Interestingly enough, one of the main crops in this area is coffee. Keep an eye out for some at the market. Continue on to Ywangan (approx. 1.5 hrs) where your trek ends, meet the driver and vehicle for you drive onward to Inle Lake. On the drive to the lake catch a glimpse of a life centered around 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.
Day 10 Bike & Paddle Inle Lake
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
After breakfast, head out by boat to the western bank of Inle Lake to the village of Indein, a typical lake-side town. 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 up the hill and weave your way through the pagodas to a great view of Inle Lake and the hills beyond. From there hop on bike and ride to Than Htaung village (approx. 1.5 hrs) to explore the village and chat with local monks. Continue by boat or bike (approx. 30 min - depending on water level) to Yay Mae Pin village where we visit an Areca or Betel Nut plantation. Chewing Betel Nut is a very popular habit throughout Asia, and especially in Myanmar, and is known for staining the users lips and teeth red. Continue by boat to the village of Khaung Dine for lunch in a local restaurant
After lunch, its back on the bike for the final stop at the bustling town of Nyaung Shwe on the north end of the lake. This afternoon continues with touring Inle Lake by kayak giving you a diferent perspective on the surrounding landscape. Weave through the silted villages and floating garden with the Shan mountains in the backdrop. Feel free to stop in a traditional Intha village to chat with locals, shop in markets, or simply take photos of this unique place. After a couple hours, the motor boat will return you to your hotel for an amazing view of the sunset.
Day 11 Continue exploring Inle Lake | Fly Yangon | Fly Home
Take a private motorboat around the lake to discover its natural beauty and explore the culture of the different people living on the water. Float through the floating gardens, witness the famous leg rowers in action while they fish, then stop for tea at a local family’s house. Stroll through a traditional market stalls for colourful weavings, silver jewery, and other handicrafts made by the people living nearby.
Enjoy a traditional Intha lunch with locals. After lunch visit a weaving factory, to see how the colorful fabrics sold in the markets are made from cotton, silk, and the rare lotus plant. Visit a local factory where they make cheroot (Burmese cigars) and the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, famous for a festival where the community rows a barge in the form of a Hintha bird.
In the late afternoon, transfer to airport and fly to Yangon. A guide and car will be available for the rest of the day till airport transfer for departure.