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Myanmar (Burma): The Road To Mandalay

Group Tour

14 Days From A$5,966

Overview

An enigmatic land of golden pagodas and mist-shrouded jungle, Burma was once described by Rudyard Kipling as a place ‘quite unlike any...you know about’.

Isolated for years by the outside world, it remains an enigma to many. But those that enter will discover a timeless land of colonial elegance and Buddhist tradition that has changed little over the intervening years. Across the plains of Bagan we can gaze across a seemingly endless sea of temples and pagodas, whilst amongst ...

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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

13 x Breakfasts
13 x Lunches
11 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

On this tour we will use a train, coaster buses, boats and domestic flights.

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

A carbon-offsetting contribution to Eco Act for all bookings

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary

ACCOMMODATION

As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip. On this particular trip we will be in comfortable hotels throughout. Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Low / Moderate

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-5hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

MODERATE/HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-6 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

VERY HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 4-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Myanmar (Burma): The Road To Mandalay
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: IN YANGON

DAY 1: IN YANGON

The tour begins at lunchtime today at our hotel in central Yangon. This afternoon we will pay a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda, whose famous golden stupa dominates the city’s skyline. The most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, Shwedagon is estimated to be over 2,500 years old. Believed to hold the relics of past Buddhas, the pagoda is a popular shrine for local pilgrims, making it a fascinating spot at which to enjoy the setting of the late afternoon sun.

Chinatown Hotel or similar
Lunch, Dinner

DAY 2: YANGON - HEHO - PINDAYA - KALAW

DAY 2: YANGON - HEHO - PINDAYA - KALAW

We take a morning flight to Heho from where we’ll cross the Shan Plateau to Pindaya. Our journey takes us up into the hills and past a network of paddy fields as we make our way into the heartland of the Taung Yoe people. Our destination is the magnificent complex of limestone caves that occupy the ridge overlooking Pindaya Lake. The Pindaya Caves are home to thousands of Buddha images, made from alabaster, teak, marble, lacquer and even cement, which have been placed here over the centuries to create a labyrinth through the hills. We will have a chance to explore something of this fascinating setting, even taking the time to visit some local houses to watch traditional Shan paper making, before we then continue on to the nearby old hill station of Kalaw.

Kalaw Heritage Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: KALAW

DAY 3: KALAW

A short drive today will bring us to the Green Hill Valley elephant sanctuary, the primary focus of which is to provide care for elephants that are no longer fit to work. After a welcome briefing we'll take a short walk to see the elephants and see the life of the mahouts with their families. Watching feeding and bathing time offers a great insight into these intelligent and sensitive creatures, and you can choose to help with washing the elephants if you wish. There will also be time to explore some of the surrounding forest area with opportunities to see butterflies, birds and orchids in the conservation area. This afternoon we will return to Kalaw with time to explore the local market.

Kalaw Heritage Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: KALAW - INLE LAKE

DAY 4: KALAW - INLE LAKE

This morning affords us the opportunity to take a relatively easy but rewarding walk in the hills around Kalaw. We'll start by walking down to Hlwan Zedi, from where we'll follow a trail through pine forest and past orange farms. We'll continue on to the village at Pein Ne Bin, where we can experience a little of the life of the Silver Palaung: watching some traditional hand weaving and enjoying the panoramic views from the village's hilltop pagoda. Returning to town, this afternoon we will then take a classic train ride to Heho from where we'll transfer to Nyaung Shwe, our gateway onto the tranquil waters of Inle Lake. From here we will take a boat ride to reach our accommodation for the next three nights.

Shwe Inn Tha Floating Resort or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: INLE LAKE

DAY 5: INLE LAKE

The second largest lake in the country and one of its highest, Lake Inle covers some 116 square kilometres of the picturesque Shan Hills. Home to a number of ethnic minorities, including Intha, Shan, Taungyo and Danu, the lake provides us with a wonderfully scenic backdrop to all our activities. We will be transported around for the next two days in small traditional open narrow boats, enjoying the calm waters and floating gardens of the lake, formed from a combination of silt and weed, which over time forms a thick layer of rich humus upon which gardens of fruit and vegetables can be grown and tended. The Inthas tend these gardens from long, banana-shaped boats, the same boats that they use to fish the waters of the lake for Inle carp. The locals have a somewhat distinctive way of rowing these sturdy craft, standing at the stern of the boat and wrapping a leg around the oar. It is a posture that affords them an unrestricted view across the floating reeds and leaves them two free hands with which to handle their nets. We will also visit the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, site of the holiest shrine in southern Shan. We then proceed to In Paw Khone to observe some unique lotus fibre weaving and visit a local silversmith.

Shwe Inn Tha Floating Resort or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: INLE LAKE

DAY 6: INLE LAKE

After breakfast we will visit a local market offering another aspect of the colour and spectacle of life on the lake. We will then continue up a beautiful canal to the small village of Indein, located on the lake’s western shore. Passing by the monastery of Phe Chaung, our boat turns into a narrow creek, taking us past a patchwork of rural farmland and ancient ruined pagodas. After a chance to take a short walk around the Pa-O village, we return to the main tributary and the expansive waters of Lake Inle. After lunch we’ll take a gentle row through a stilted village to learn a little more about the Intha and their ways, and if time permits, take a short walk beside the lake before returning to our hotel for the night.

Shwe Inn Tha Floating Resort or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: INLE LAKE - KAKKU - HEHO - MANDALAY

DAY 7: INLE LAKE - KAKKU - HEHO - MANDALAY

A 2-hour drive from Inle Lake takes us to Kakku to visit some newly discovered stupas. There are nearly 2500 Buddhist stupas here lying in parallel rows in an area of about one square kilometre in deepest Pa-O territory. It is a truly remarkable place in a great state of preservation that sees relatively few visitors. Later we’ll drive to Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State, and on to Heho for a short flight to Mandalay. Set on the eastern banks of the Irrawaddy River, the city is considered the cultural heart of the country and an important centre for Buddhist learning and Burmese culture.

Mandalay Hill Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: MANDALAY

DAY 8: MANDALAY

We will begin today with a visit to the gilded majesty of the Kuthodaw Pagoda at the foot of Mandalay Hill. It is here that we will find the ‘world’s largest book’, made up of a series of marble slabs, each inscribed on both sides with pages of text from the Tipitaki; the standard collection of scriptures of the Theravada Buddhist faith. What makes this book so unique is that each slab is housed in one of 729 stone stupas located in the grounds of the pagoda. From here we move on to the intricate teak carvings of the Shwenandaw Monastery, the last major structure still remaining of the original wooden Royal Palace. Later this morning we’ll head out of Mandalay to Ava, the country’s former capital, which for nearly 500 years lay at the heart of Burmese power and culture. Ava was founded by King Thamdominbya in 1364 on an artificial island at the confluence of the Irrawaddy and Myitnge Rivers. We board a local ferry to cross the river to Ava, where we will take a relaxing horse cart ride around the sights of the old city. There may also be the opportunity to walk among the rice fields to visit the Buddhist Maha Aungmyae Bonzan Monastery, built in 1818 by the wife of King Bodawpaya. After lunch we will re-join our bus and drive to another former royal capital, Amarapura where we visit the 140-year-old teak-stilted U Bein Bridge, which spans Lake Thaungthaman. We’ll enjoy the sunset from small boats on the lake, before heading back to central Mandalay.

Mandalay Hill or similar
Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 9: MANDALAY - MONYWA

DAY 9: MANDALAY - MONYWA

This morning we visit Sagaing, the last of Mandalay’s ancient capitals and one of the most important religious and monastic centres in the country. The hillsides that lead up from the river are crowded with numerous monasteries and pagodas and we will visit a few, taking in the U Min Thoneze Pagoda (Thirty Caves) and the central pagoda of Soon U Pon Nya Shinwill. Leaving Mandalay behind we make a stop at the Kuang Madaw, the largest dome in Myanmar, dating from the 17th Century and inspired by the Great Stupa in Sri Lanka, before departing for the Chindwin Valley. Travelling through an interesting rural area, en route we will visit the second tallest and second longest reclining Buddhas in the world. They are both within the monastery that contains the most Buddhas globally - 582,363 to be exact! We will also stop to admire the nearby Boditahtaung Pagoda, with its immense garden of over a thousand sitting Buddhas, before arriving in Monywa on the eastern bank of the Chindwin River.

Win Unity Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: MONYWA - BAGAN*

DAY 10: MONYWA - BAGAN*

After breakfast we will spend some time in Monywa’s bustling market, where Indian goods transported down the Chindwin River are traded. Later we’ll drive to Pakkoku, stopping at various rural homes on the way, from where we will take a private boat to Bagan. The journey takes around three hours and we’re sure it will make another highlight of the trip as the riverside temples hove into view. Covering some 41 square kilometres, the ruins at Bagan are one of Asia’s most spectacular sacred sites, considered on a par with the magnificent Angkor temples of Cambodia. Once the capital of the First Burmese Empire, Bagan’s golden period spanned the years between the 11th and 13th centuries, when its vast plains lay scattered with over 13 thousand temples, pagodas and religious structures. Time, earthquakes, Mongol armies and the inundation of the River Irrawaddy have ravaged much of the original city, but there are still over 2200 structures remaining, presenting visitors with one of the most unforgettable views anywhere in Southeast Asia. In Bagan: If you are interested in taking a sunrise balloon flight over the temples of Bagan, we recommend booking in advance. Please contact us to enquire as soon as possible after booking the tour, since this is a very popular activity with limited availability.

Bagan Thande Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: BAGAN

DAY 11: BAGAN

This morning we begin our exploration of the magnificent temple complexes of Bagan at the famed golden stupa of Shwezigon Pagoda, arriving early to observe local villagers making their daily offerings. We’ll admire the 12th century frescos that adorn the cave temple of King Kyansittha before visiting the temples of Htilominio and Ananda, the latter of which is considered a masterpiece of Mon design. Late afternoon sees us enjoying a horse cart ride through the Tharaba Gateway, through crop fields and villages, passing the 12th century Thatbyinnyu Temple (at 61 metres, the tallest in the city), before ending the day watching a golden sunset from the hills surrounding the Bagan temples.

Bagan Thande Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: BAGAN - KYUN THIRI ISLAND - BAGAN

DAY 12: BAGAN - KYUN THIRI ISLAND - BAGAN

After breakfast we take a boat across the Irrawaddy to the island of Kyun Thiri where we will enjoy a visit to the local monastery. We will then spend the rest of the morning with the people of the island, learning about their unique agricultural way of life. Later this afternoon we will make our final return to the temples of Bagan, exploring the lovely stucco-work of the Gubyaukgyi Temple in Myinkaba village, before paying a visit to the Mon-style Hindu temple of Nanpaya. Said to have been built by the captive Mon king, Manuha, the temple contains some particularly fine carvings of Brahma. We will also take in the four Buddha images in the Manuha Pagoda, before moving on to the Myazedi stupa, Myanmar’s very own ‘Rosetta Stone’. A four-sided pillar, the stupa’s inscription, written in four different languages (Pyu, Mon, Old Burmese and Pali), has allowed archaeologists to decipher the written Pyu language.

Bagan Thande Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 13: BAGAN - YANGON

DAY 13: BAGAN - YANGON

We plan to take a mid-morning flight to Yangon, allowing plenty of time this afternoon to discover Yangon’s high concentration of colonial architecture with a stroll around the bustling streets of downtown, wandering down Pansodan Street, admiring the faded Victorian architecture of the former High Court and General Telegraph Office. We’ll head for Nanthida Jetty, from where the ferries leave for the Delta region and the upcountry towns that lie along the Irrawaddy River. Close by is the colonial elegance of the Strand Hotel, one of the most famous hotels in Myanmar during the days of British rule. This evening we will go out to enjoy our final dinner together.

Chinatown Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 14: TOUR ENDS IN YANGON

DAY 14: TOUR ENDS IN YANGON

This morning provides an opportunity for personal exploration and perhaps a chance to visit the famous Scott Market for some last minute souvenir shopping. Those on the suggested group flights will be transferred to the airport this afternoon.

Breakfast

ACCOMMODATION USED ON THIS TOUR

Superior

Superior

Accommodation displayed here should be taken as a guide only. *Please refer to the Detailed Itinerary of your individual departure for more information.

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. For more information, please see our responsible travel page.

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
TG 911 London Heathrow (LHR) 11:50 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) 06:15
TG 2303 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) 07:50 Yangon Airport (RGN) 08:45
TG 306 Yangon Airport (RGN) 19:50 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) 21:45
TG 910 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) 00:15 London Heathrow (LHR) 06:20

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact our recommended visa agency, Travcour www.travcour.com 

For this tour UK passport holders currently require a visa for Myanmar (Burma).

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements. 

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.
 

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Below is just a small sample of what you could do. Please contact the office for more details and to discuss your individual requirements.

Mawlamyaing & Kyaikhtiyo (the Golden Rock)

Why not take a train ride to visit the place where the British first landed for a taste of Old Burma? You can also join the pilgrims as they visit the gravity-defying Golden Rock (5 night package).

Ngapali Beach

After your tour, why not relax on an idyllic white sand beach for a few days in Ngapali? We have a variety of beachfront hotels available for you to choose from.

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Key Information

CLIMATE

It is possible to visit Myanmar year-round but the most popular time for visiting is in winter (from November to March), when it rains least and isn't too hot. The southwest monsoon starts between mid-May and mid-June, and brings frequent rains until October. In winter, one can expect temperatures of around 30 degrees during this tour, but it will be cooler in Kalaw and on Lake Inle.

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

Anyone in a reasonable state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour, as many of the activities are optional. However, please note that you will get the most out of the tour if you are able to participate in the short trek around the hill villages of Kalaw and negotiate the numerous, often uneven, steps involved in visiting the temples at Bagan. On Lake Inle you will spend a few hours sitting in wooden motorised canoes whilst travelling to your accommodation, as well as to and from the sights.

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation, but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.

On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour.

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.
 

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. If you choose to purchase the Wild Frontiers bespoke policy through Travel & General (currently available to UK residents only) then please note for this trip the minimum required level of cover will be the Standard policy. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £200 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking.

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 11172 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

INSPIRATION

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