The Magic of Myanmar
The magic of Myanmar is not to be understated, now the curtain on this once forbidden destination has been lifted and revealed to the world the sight of ancient temples, deep jungles, serene lakes, and robed monks wandering the hills. From soaring above the sights in hot air balloons, to seeing temples laced in diamonds and gold, gazing in awe at monasteries perched atop volcanoes, and soaking up the pure untouched feeling that floats through Myanmar – this will be your greatest adventure.
Golden Wonders + Ancient Slumbers
Welcome to Myanmar – even for those who have trodden familiar trails across South East Asia, Myanmar remains a mystery. A land of Kipling’s golden wonders and ancient slumbers. This is a place of royal pagodas, misty hills, and sacred stupas. After touching down in Yangon Airport, take a transfer and step into a colonial dream at The Strand Yangon.
Walking into the lobby of this national landmark is like stepping into a colonial dream with its preserved architecture of soaring ceilings, grand structural pillars, marble floors, teak wood panelling and rattan furnishing. You are right in the heart of the action in downtown Yangon on a thoroughfare just off the Yangon River where the street culture of the city is on your doorstep.
This landmark hotel sits right in the heart of things. Natural light filters through floor to ceiling windows reflecting large suites inspirationally styled with your butler there to pander to your every need. Spend the rest of your day at leisure; relax by the pool with a Strand Sour at the hotel pool, enjoy a wellness ritual at the spa, or head out to discover the contemporary changes that have seeped into the temple laden city of Yangon.
Diamond Pagodas + Reclining Buddhas
Start with a visit to the Chauk Htat Gyi Pagaoda with its breathtaking reclining buddha, drive along the Royal Lake for majestic views across to the Shwedagon Pagoda, admire the colonial style buildings in the bustling downtown district, and see the golden chedi with its whispers of former glory. All this before the clock strikes noon.
This afternoon you can swing by the National Museum to admire and pick from a plethora of local handicrafts. As the sun starts to set across The Golden Land, soak up a sublime sunset over the glittering Shwedagon Pagoda. With 25000 years of history etched into its intricate buildings, locals will gather with offerings in their hands.
Treasured Temples + Trishaws
After breakfast prepare for a full day experience in the ancient capital of Bago. The remains of the palace, the temples stuffed with treasure, the bright and zesty marketplace and the highly relaxed buddha statues reclining beneath the sun are all remnants of Bago’s former hazy hay days. A trishaw is the best way to explore – putting you right in the heart of the action; surrounded by the color and chaos, wild wafting scents, and local cries.
Kublai Khan + Storybook Lands
After a leisurely breakfast, transfer to Yangon Airport for your connecting flight to Bagan. World famous in recent years; Bagan looks like a scene plucked straight from the pages of the National Geographic. Visions of the mystical temples scattered across the golden landscape – beneath a blood red sky have made this place a world wonder in the eyes of many starry-eyed travelers. Stories of Kublai Khan, red robed monks, and floating hot air balloons weave together a wonderful scene.
Check into the Arueum Palace Hotel Resort Bagan and be a part of the majestic ambience staying at one of Myanmar’s most ancient kingdoms inspired by images of scattered temples, pagodas and crumbling ruins whilst relaxing in surroundings adorned by local artefacts. The resort has been designed to make the most of those awe-inspiring sunsets that make Myanmar such a coveted spiritual destination. Enjoy a day of mediation, visit the spa, or simply rest easy beside the delicious looking pool.
Golden Gods Beneath the Sun
Explore the wonder and beauty of Bagan with a full day tour of this holy place. The wide open plain that shimmers beside the winding river is dotted with thousands of 800-year old temples, rising out of the landscape like golden gods beneath the sun. The Shwezigon Pagoda is the first on your list; its golden bell has become a symbol on which many of Myanmar’s glinting stupas. Next, head to the 13th century Gubyauk Gyi Temple with its bright frescoes depicting the life of the Buddha before moving on to the Ananda Pahto; hailed as being the most beautiful of all temples in Bagan.
In the heat of the afternoon, explore the fables of the Manuha Temple, which tells the tale of the capture of King Manuha. Afterwards, leave the temples behind and head to the lacquerware villages of Bagan. These villages are famed for producing stunning pieces; a rare glimpse into the workshops gifts you the chance to admire the painstaking process. Finish the day with one last bountiful temple – the Shwe Sandaw Pagoda with its stairways leading to the base of the stupa from which you can witness the falling light of sunset in a highly spiritual setting.
Monasteries + Mountains
Leave the pagoda strewn landscape of Bagan behind and head out to Mount Popa. The spiraling volcano is a formidable vision – soaring over 1500mt high. The most impressive feature of this natural sight- is the vision of the Popa Taungkalat Monastery sitting at the top of a sheer rocky outcrop. 777 steps will take you up the sacred spot – hailed as also being the home of Myanmar’s 37 most important spirits.
On your journey curious macaques follow you chattering, and the panorama’s spill out serenely before your very eyes. Take lunch at the Mountain Resort barely able to tear your gaze away from the majestic sights before returning down the mountain.
This afternoon, Salay is calling – where you can wander the 154 teak posts that make up the oldest surviving wooden monastery. The Yokesone Monastery seems to have been carved from dreams and dates all the way back to 1882. Onto the brick shrines and faded murals of the Bagan period at Payathonzu before finishing at Man Paya to admire the blissed out lacquered buddhas.
Palaces + Tea Houses
Today you head to the airport for your flight to Mandalay. The relatively new city on the scene of Myanmar hasn’t had it easy – especially after the falling bombs of World War II that wiped out the original palace. Still, the slopes are rich with pagodas, gold workshops and markets adorn the town, and friendly locals are keen to lean over and start a conversation in the numerous tea houses.
Check into the Mercure Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel, Mandalay, offering all the comfort and class you need in an urban environment Panoramic pagoda and Royal Palace views are there for you to enjoy as you take the time to explore Mandalay, evocatively named, it is in the old-style elegance of the past, that remains in its shrines, monasteries and traditional craft workshops that has the most appeal. With the day your own you can visit the restored palaces, see the world’s largest book also known as the Kuthodaw Pagoda with its 700 plus slabs of inscribed marble.
Perfect Pilgrimages + Swish Silks
If you decided to rest easy yesterday fear not, today a full day tour of Mandalay. Starting at the Mahamuni Paya you can witness one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage places in Myanmar. The temple house plays home to great gold leaf enshrined image of the buddha. The grounds are always flocked with faithful devotees, and the stories painted inside the courtyard tell the soap opera story of how it was seized by the army in 1784 and dragged all the way back to Mandalay.
Afterwards take a trip to Amarapura; the City of Immortality. The royal capital is a vision of wide roads and tightly wound alleys, all sitting serenely on the lake. Visit the Mahagandayon Monastery where the thousand monks fast after midday. Duck into a silk weaving shop and see the illustrious swathes of material and their fine craftmanship that make this place so famed for its elegant textiles.
British Colonial Playgrounds
Leave the heat of the city behind as you take a full day to breathe in the cool kiss of mountain air and the dramatic scenery that can be soaked up from the Pyin-oo-lin Station. Founded by the British in 1896 and a favored place for holiday play – this became the summer capital of colonialization. Now, famed for its sweet sticky jams and delicious jeweled like fruits – the area is a Garden of Eden in Myanmar. Spend the day exploring the winding roads that pass gardens and orchards laden with bountiful edible things, wild flowers, and fragrant delights.
The Cultural Circuit
Today is all about ancient secrets as you visit three of the most important cities on the cultural circuit of Myanmar. First – Amarapura and the Bagaya Monastery to pore over manuscripts penned onto exotic palm leaves, to marvel at ornate woodcarvings, and to sing the praises of teak posts.
Then onto Sagaing, the epicenter of Buddhism where gongs boom out in a call to prayer across the landscape – coming from a plethora of pretty temples and monasteries that carry the sweet scent of incense. Finally, to the U-Bein Bridge where a kilometer of carved teak spans the misty Taugthaman Lake – the perfect spot for watching the sunset drizzle the sky with rose gold.
Whimsical Wishes on Inle Lake
Good things come to those who wait – Inle Lake is perhaps one of the most longed for destinations on the list of Myanmar. Today, you will take a flight from Mandalay to Heho Airport- to spend two glorious nights on the soft serenity of Inle Lake. The lake is as large as the sea, fringed by whispering marshes, stilt houses, drifting gardens, temples and ethnic minorities.
Check into the Aureum Palace Hotel and Resort, where you will sleep and dream in a stunning villa complete with private terrace, darling daybed, whimsical four poster bed, and old world round wooden bathtubs. From this very special place you can learn all about the Sons of the Lake, snap sublime otherworldly shots of the famed foot paddlers, rent a bicycle to explore the jade rice fields, and drift seamlessly and silently in a hot air balloon.
Floating Markets + Acrobatic Cats
After a dreamy night in your private villa, enjoying sundowners, Jacuzzi soaks, and fresh culinary delights beside the lake – today you can explore more of this waterside haven. Hop into a wooden boat and set sail along the lake shores to visit the Hpaung Daw U Pagoda. On market days the waters will teem with floating stalls selling glistening pearly fish and an array of fresh vegetables.
Next, head to the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery – standing on wooden stilts and home to more than just a dazzling collection of Buddhas. Famed for its team of acrobatic cats who the monks have trained to leap through hoops – it really is a fascinating place on so many levels. After watching the circus skilled cats, head back on the boat and fill your senses with awe as you visit the ringing silversmith shop, floating plantation, and weaving factory. As you return across the lake you can glimpse the nimble rowers who paddle their boats using their lower bodies.
Perfect Play in Yangon
After breakfast, head to the airport for your return flight to Yangon. Checking back into the familiar comfort of the Melia Yangon Hotel you have the rest of the day to play at your own leisure. Perhaps a trip to the connecting Myanmar Plaza Shopping Mall to stock up on last minute gift purchases.
Farewell to Myanmar
After breakfast its already time to start missing the mystical lands of Myanmar as you make your way to the airport for your onward journey.
13 nights' accommodation, meals as specified by travel agent, private transfers, Venture Far Experiences (Yangon City Tour, Full Day Bago Experience, Bagan City Tour, Tour to Mt Popa + Salay, Full Day Mandalay City Tour, Private Pyin-Oo-Lwin HIll Station Experience, Amarapura Ava + Saga Experience, Inle Lake Half Day Tour), internal economy flights Yangon to Bagan, Bagan to Mandalay, Mandalay to Heho, Heho to Yangon.
Be enchanted by scenes of shimmering rice paddies, emerald green seas + limestone mountains that are a backdrop for romantic images of gilded temples, colonial architecture + saffron robed monks where a lasting impression will be the people + their stories.
Indulge in local cuisines, take temple trails through ancient kingdoms, wander lantern lit lanes in old merchant towns + slow down the pace cruising down the rivers of the Mekong or Ayeyarwady, where time seems to have stood still.
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