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Tour in Focus: Myanmar (Burma) – Road to Mandalay

Posted by Emma Burley 3rd July 2017
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Our Tour in Focus blogs take an in-depth look at our best and most popular trips, highlighting what makes them unique and answering anything you may like to know.

Often called the Land of Golden Pagodas, Myanmar offers colonial grandeur and timeless elegance. Our two week Road to Mandalay group tour captures the bustle of colourful Yangon and Mandalay, visits remote Shan villages, discovers the beauty of Lake Inle and explores an array of stunning temples and monuments along the way.

“Myanmar exceeded my expectations and there were many highlights and diverse experiences. Altogether this was an excellent insight to the lovely local people of this fascinating country which has been hidden for so many years” said Kay Leppard about the tour.

If there’s anything you’d still like to find out, please don’t hesitate to call the office for a chat or leave a question in the comments below.


What route does it take?

Yangon – Heho – Pindaya - Kalaw – Lake Inle – Mandalay – Monywa – Bagan - Kyun Thiri Island – Bagan – Yangon.

What's the number one highlight?


Visiting Bagan (above) is an absolute highlight of this trip – the sheer scale and number of temples as far as the eye can see is impossible to describe. With over 2200 temples in total it’s truly one of South East Asia’s most memorable views.

For WF traveller Pippa Solleveld there were multiple highlights:

”We covered a lot of ground, yet it still felt personal – the trip was one big highlight! Shwedagon Pagoda was a wonderfully vibrant and stimulating start to the tour and dawn at the U Bein bridge was magical…glorious pinks and oranges of sunrise with the sound of monks chanting and villagers chatting as they crossed the bridge. I also loved the numerous opportunities to walk through countryside, visit local villages and villagers and the train journey was a great opportunity to see countryside and folk going about daily business. Doesn't get much better than this!”

What does this tour do differently to everyone else?

In conjunction with our focus on responsible travel, on the third day of the trip we visit the Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp (above), which cares for elephants who are no longer fit to work. This new ethical addition to the itinerary offers the chance to witness the life of mahouts first hand and is a very moving encounter with these sensitive animals.

Who is the tour suitable for?

This is a perfect trip to Myanmar for first time visitors. If you’re interested in culture as well as striking scenery, this trip is the one for you. With the inclusion of a few days on Lake Inle (above) and the Kalaw trek through the beautiful Burmese countryside, this tour offers the perfect combination of Burma’s extensive natural and historical highlights.

What's the accommodation like?

The 14 day itinerary consists of a mix of modern and comfortable 3* and 4* hotels. In Lake Inle we stay in a stilted hotel on the lake (above) built in the local Shan style and boasting plenty of authentic Burmese character. Owned by a local lady whose family have lived on the lake for generations, the hotel even boasts one of the few swimming pools in the area.

How fit do I need to be? Is there much walking involved?

During our time in Kalaw (above) we enjoy a walk in the surrounding hills, which lasts approximately three hours and isn’t strenuous. When visiting the temples there is a reasonable amount of climbing up and down involved and the ground is often uneven, but none of them are particularly hard work. Overall this is a reasonably active trip, but doesn’t involve anything too taxing and there is always the choice to opt out if needed.

What's the food like?

Burmese food is a mix of Thai food crossed with Indian and Chinese cuisine, although it is usually less spicy than Thai dishes. It uses typical South East Asian seasonings, such as lemongrass and ginger. Burmese food is often seen as one of the biggest attractions for visitors, with Burmese curries and Khao suey (a noodle dish with curried beef or chicken and coconut milk) being particular highlights.

Do I need a visa?

A visa is required to visit Myanmar, but can be applied for online as an e-visa. The visa can be applied for just a few working days before travelling to the country and involves a quick and straightforward process. The e-visa applies to most nationalities, but we strongly recommend checking the visa requirements for your particular country well in advance.

Are there many long journeys involved?

Myanmar is a large country, but the itinerary on this trip doesn’t involve many long journeys. The roads are typically very poor, so we have alleviated the need for extensive uncomfortable drives by incorporating a number of internal flights. This comes with the added benefit that domestic flights in Myanmar are usually very reliable, so this is the quickest method of travelling between some destinations.

Is there much interaction with the locals?

The Burmese people are very friendly and enjoy speaking with visitors to their country and this trip has multiple opportunities to meet them. Our visit to the elephant camp offers a good chance to speak to the mahouts and there is plenty of time to interact with people at the temples, especially in Yangon and on Khun Thiri Island, where the locals are always very chatty!

Any hygiene issues?

This tour doesn't involve any hygiene concerns, beyond the usual considerations when travelling in South East Asia. We always provide bottled water to our travellers and eat in tried and tested restaurants.

Are there shopping opportunities?

Shopping in Myanmar is generally very good so make sure you leave some space in your luggage! The country is well known for a range of handicrafts and this tour incorporates visits to a number of local markets. Particular shopping highlights include Scott Market in Yangon, which is a great place for buying souvenirs before you head home, and the temples in Bagan. We also visit a silversmith and silk weaver on Lake Inle, which are great places to buy unique and locally produced souvenirs.

What our clients think:

Previous WF travellers had this to say about the tour:

“This was truly a trip of a lifetime and I am quite convinced that none of my future trips will be able to live up to this one. The sights were incredible (the Shwedagon Pagoda, cruise from Mandalay to Bagan, the temples of Bagan, Lake Inle) and the opportunities to interact with local people both in villages and on local transport (train to Hsipaw and local train in Yangon) were priceless and made a huge difference in allowing us to understand the country. Both the local and Wild Frontiers guides were amazing and also made a huge difference. Everything was simply perfect!”  Stephanie Scott

“The trip to Myanmar and the opportunity to experience such a wide range of experiences with like-minded people was a joy. Everything we did made me feel happy to be there, but the opportunity to meet local people was the best thing for me. This trip has shown me that with a company like Wild Frontiers it's possible to feel like an ethical traveller who can share experiences with local communities.”  Elizabeth Skelton

“Visiting Myanmar with Wild Frontiers gave us with an insight into the country, its people and their way of life that few other tour companies, if any, could provide in two weeks.”  Ken Norman

View our Myanmar (Burma): Road to Mandalay group tour

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