Private Tour of Myanmar
Day 1 Depart Ireland
Day 2 Yangon Arrival
Mingalabar and welcome to Myanmar! The former capital Yangon, also known as Rangoon, remains Myanmar largest city and continues to be the country's the most important commercial hub and gateway for most of its international visitors. Its colonial background and religious legacy make it one of the most mesmerizing and genuine places in all of Southeast Asia. Upon arrival at the airport you will be warmly welcomed by your guide who will take you to your hotel for check in. Your room is available any time from 13.30. Early check in subject to availability.
The balance of the day is free at leisure to relax or discover Yangon on your own. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 3 Train Circular - Yangon Sightseeing (B)
On this particular morning, you will glimpse into the daily activities of Myanmar’s biggest city. The day will start off after you’ve been picked up from your hotel and moved over 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 minutes, please take note that the trains are very simple, and 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 neighbourhood. At this hour of the morning the neighbourhood is 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 neighbourhood is a good glimpse of true life in Yangon. Continue on to the Shan Road market; you will certainly find some interesting merchandise here. 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
Around 15.00, we’ll start things off in the afternoon with a trip to Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda to see a 70 meter long reclining Buddha statue around the size of a blue whale.
No Myanmar expedition can be considered truly great if it’s lacking a visit to the legendary Shwedagon Pagoda. Ready for an amazing experience? The visual delights present there alone, are worth the trip. Witness the colors transform on the 100-meter 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; most visitors report that the trip is extremely memorable and still etched into their minds.
After sunset head on to Chinatown for a change of scenery and check out the dragons and incense of the colorful Khen Hock Keong Chinese temple. Explore the vibrant street stalls where vendors sell all kinds of fruit, vegetables and other goods or simply just walk around and soak in the atmosphere of this little China in Yangon. Meals on your own. Overnight at hotel.
Day 4 Yangon – Heho – Inle Lake (B)
After enjoying your breakfast you will be transferred no guide to the airport for your domestic flight to Heho.
From Heho, you will experience a lovely scenic one-hour drive (32km – 1 hour) which leads to Nyaung Shwe, 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, be sure to stop in at the teak monastery of Shweyanpyay to witness the intricate wood carving artwork and craftsmanship of the monks there.
Upon reaching the edge of the lake, you will board a private motorboat and begin heading out onto Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular and breathtaking sights. Its calm waters are dotted with floating vegetation and fishing canoes, to which scenic hills provide the perfect backdrop. 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 originating on Inle Lake and, should you wish, we 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. The tour will come to a close with a return trip by boat back to your hotel. Check in your hotel. Overnight stay on Inle Lake.
Day 5. Main Thauk – Inle Lake (B, L) – Easy hiking
The tour will start at around 9am with a boat ride from your hotel to the village of Maing Tauk. After a look around the village you will be faced by a gentle climb (20-30 minutes) towards a truly inspirational Myanmar orphanage. Witness the great work that the local helpers around U Tet Tun and the headmaster have been doing there. You won’t be asked to give money but any small donation you can make towards its maintenance and running costs will be greatly welcomed. Continue walking (20 minutes) until you reach the Holy Retreat. Upon arrival you will immediately be struck by the peace and stillness surrounding the monastery and meditation centre. You’ll have enough time to explore the centre, watch the monks preparing their last meal of the day and find out more about their monastic life.
After a brief period of instruction in the art of meditation you will then have the chance to be left alone with your own thoughts in a private bamboo hut where you can allow the peace of meditation to wash through you. Resume trekking into the Shan Plateau until the village of Dalapin (1 hour). A further 30 minutes walking takes you to the village of King Tal. This relatively short hike may take slightly longer as your eyes will be drawn again and again to the stunning views of the dramatic Shan Mountain range. There will be plenty of time for you to explore the villages on the way that will seem to be virtually untouched by time. The locals go about their daily chores in much the same way as generations of forebears had done before them and as you move around the villages you cannot fail to notice the easy going nature of the locals. With a life lacking many of the facilities more urban communities take for granted, the people here lead a simple existence as they rely on being able to grow anything that they need to survive. The final leg of your trek will take you back to Main Thauk (1 hour). The scenery varies and passes through beautiful farmland and over rolling hills. Return by boat to your hotel and stretch your legs after a wonderful trekking day. Simple lunch at monastery or picnic lunch. Dinner on your own. Overnight stay on Inle Lake.
Day 6. Serene Sunrise on Inle Lake – Heho – Mandalay (B)
Awake early this morning and travel in the pre-dawn light out on to Inle Lake. In a scenic spot, the boat driver will turn off the engine and a mug of hot tea or coffee will be served while enjoying the sunrise over the lake. At this time of day you will be privilege to have the lake almost free of tourists, with local fishermen and market vendors being the main people out at this hour. Continue through a local village to see the morning activities of the lake’s residents as they prepare for their day and then return to your hotel for breakfast then free time to relax at your hotel.
(note: temperatures may be very cold from October – March. A blanket will be provided however we recommend dressing appropriately)
Around midday you’ll be transferred to Heho airport (32km – 1 hour) for a short flight to Mandalay.
Welcome to Mandalay! Mandalay, the second largest city of Myanmar and one of the ancient royal capitals 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 located on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. However, despite the energy and thriving business it's where the cultural heart of Myanmar lies and tradition of music, dance and drama are still alive.
Upon arrival at Mandalay airport you’ll be transferred to your hotel (app. 1 hour) and spend the rest of the evening at leisure. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 7. Mandalay-Sagaing-Amarapura-Mandalay (B, L) – Lunch at nunnery
Option: WASHING OF THE BUDDHA’S FACE (EARLY MORNING)
Get up very early this morning (4 am) and transfer to the Mahamuni Pagoda to witness the ritualistic washing of the Buddha's face. This ritual commences every morning at 4 am or 4.30 am when monks wash the face and brush the teeth of the Buddha image. It’s performed for over an hour by a senior monk dressed in monastic attire, assisted by several lay helpers, dressed in white and wearing formal headdress.
The day will begin with an expedition to investigate the previous capitals of Amarapura, Ava and Sagaing. Cross the bridge over the Irrawaddy River in to Sagaing. With 600 ivory colored pagodas and monasteries, Sagaing Hill is generally seen as the spiritual hub of Myanmar and claims residence to around 3,000 monks and nearly 100 meditation shrines. You’ll visit pagodas such as Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin, U Min Thone Sae and Shin Pin Nan Gyaing. Continue to Sagaings local market, a less visited tourist site. We’ll head over to a small pottery village which is recognized for manufacturing ubiquitous water pots to observe the tradesmen here applying their traditional methods for producing their goods. Next it’s on to Ava which was the standing capital from the 14th through the 18th centuries. Cross the small river by ferry and travel in a traditional horse and carriage to the wooden Bagaya Monastery renowned for its extraordinarily elaborate woodcarvings. Be sure to check out the Nanmyint Watch Tower - also called “the leaning tower of Ava“ - which is what’s left from the remnants of the ancient palace and Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery. Enjoy your lunch at nunnery in Sagaing.
The afternoon’s activities will kick off with a visit to Amarapura, Myanmar’s penultimate royal capital. Amarapura means “City of Immortality”, though its period as capital was relatively brief. First you’ll stop at a silk weaving workshop known for their exquisite merchandise. Continue to Mahagandayon monastery, home to more than a thousand young monks and renowned as a centre for monastic study and strict religious discipline. Once the sun starts to set, you’ll want to stroll along the legendary U Bein Bridge, which was built in 1782 when Amarapura was the Royal center of attention. It spans 1.2 km across the shallow Taungthaman Lake and is said to be the longest teakwood bridge worldwide. Enjoy sunset boat trip and this very special atmosphere as the late afternoon sun casts long shadows and illuminates the local people heading home. As a stunning day comes to an end head back to Mandalay for the night. Dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Mandalay.
Day 8. Mandalay half day sightseeing (B)
Morning is free at leisure to further discover Mandalay on your own.
In the afternoon, start your sightseeing with Kuthodaw Pagoda, frequently dubbed as “The World’s Biggest Book” for its collection of 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. Directly south of Mandalay Hill stands the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, known as the pagoda of the Great Marble Image. Admire the huge Buddha, carved from a single block of marble. It’s said that the colossal marble block took 10,000 men almost two weeks to transport from the riverside to its current location. Then it’s off to the Shwenandaw Monastery, the Golden Monastery which is the only enduring structure from the Royal Palace of the 19th century. This impressive structure is celebrated for its remarkable woodcarvings. Enjoy the fabulous sunset at Yankin Hill. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 9. Mandalay – Paleik – Popa - Bagan (B) (250 km – 7 ½ hours)
After an early breakfast, a scenic drive by road through several typical Burmese villages will take you to Mount Popa, an inactive volcano with mind-blowing views. People travel here from many miles away just to worship the diverse spirits known as “nats”. Don’t miss out on the stop in Paleik, 24 kilometers from Mandalay. The temple at Paleik has a statue of Buddha surrounded by snakes and is inhabited by a number of pythons. Believing that the statue,and indeed the snakes, bring good luck, the villagers round up the pythons and wash them and the Buddha statue daily. After visiting this unusual site you’ll continue your drive to Popa with a stop in Meiktila for a break. 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 compulsory, it is strongly recommended, as the views over the Myingyan Plain are truly magnificent. Continue your drive to Bagan. You should be back in Bagan just in time to catch the sunset from atop a temple positioned adjacent to the renowned Ayeyarwaddy River as well as all the glorious pagodas. If time permits make also sure to stop in a local village and witness how people make wine and molasses from the fruit of the palm tree. Lunch and Dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Bagan.
Day 10 - Bagan (B)
Discover the best of Bagan today! Not simply a chance to see the splendid Bagan temples, this excursion also introduces you to the Burmese culture, allows you to see traditional craftsmen at work and takes you up the mighty Irrawaddy River to a decidedly unusual ‘cave’ temple! Your fist port of call is an elevated temple with its panoramic views of the Bagan plains.This viewpoint will give you a taste of the sheer number of temples as well as some of their distinctive styles. From here you will have a look around the Ananda Temple – one of the most exalted of Bagan’s temples. We will ensure that our tour reaches this point before the majority of tourist arrive, enabling you to enjoy the splendor of the temple in relative tranquility. Continue to various other temples dotted around the temple plains to experience a variety of
In the afternoon, visit some more interesting temples in Bagan before drive to the jetty where a private wooden river boat awaits you. Sitting either under the shade or on the open-deck you’ll be treated to fabulous views as you cruise down the Irrawaddy River. You’ll cruise past several small villages, fishermen, local boats and of course many of the ubiquitous Myanmar Buddhist temples. The views of Bagan from the river are particularly spectacular and offer a different perspective from the land based tours. As the sun begins to sink slowly from view, you will prepare to disembark before being driven back, greatly relaxed, to your hotel for the evening. The perfect end to a busy day of sightseeing in Bagan! Lunch and Dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Bagan.
Day 11 Bagan (B) – High tea at private terrace temple
After breakfast at your hotel, your guide and driver will pick you up to start your Bagan excursion. It’s off to the vibrant Nyaung Oo Market, where the locals come to trade fresh
produce and other goods daily. From here you will have a look around the Old Bagan starting with a visit of the renowned Shwezigon Pagoda, constructed by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century as a religious memorial. Travel over dusty lanes and tree shaded roads past temples and monasteries to a small village. Explore the village on foot, getting a glimpse of local lifestyles of Bagan’s residents. Continue to more lesser-known monuments, selected based on your interest, in the area for the remainder of the morning. If you wish, a short walk can be arranged through a series of smaller monuments which allows for a unique perspective of Bagan.
In the afternoon, visit some more interesting temples in Bagan until the late afternoon; it’s time to search for a little quiet haven among the Bagan’s ruins. Jump on an oxcart or 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 maybe herds of cows or goats. After 45 minutes ride, you will reach a secluded temple in the middle of shrub-land. Enter the temple and climb the stairs to an upper terrace, there awaits a private arrangement of your afternoon high tea. Enjoy a selection of local sweets and seasonal fruits served in traditional lacquer wares while comfortably lazing atop with the grand view of sunset over the temples. Head back to your hotel in the late afternoon. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 12 Bagan – Yangon (B)
After a leisurely breakfast you’ll be transferred without guide to the airport for a domestic flight back to Yangon. Your room in Bagan is at your disposal until noon time only. Upon arrival in Yangon you’ll be transferred without guide to your hotel. Meals on your own. Overnight stay in Yangon.
Day 13 Yangon - Departure (B) – No guide
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel. If time permits, don’t forget to check out the sprawling mess of Bogyoke Market, where you can glance through the extensive collection of Myanmar crafts and merchandise (the market is usually closed on Mondays as well as public holidays). Depending on your international flight schedule it's time to bid farewell from this mystic country. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to do as you please until your departure flight.
Day 14 Arrive Ireland