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Myanmar: Highlights (15 days) with Catherine Evans

Inle LakeEnjoy Myanmar - a land of great beauty, whose cultures retain traditions held for millennium. The trip includes highlights of Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake and a 1 night boutique cruise on the Ayeyarwaddy River.

Our Myanmar tour is a rare and unforgettable opportunity to experience a still-mysterious east. Rangoon, Mandalay, the Ayeyarwaddy River and Pagan are names steeped in legend. Men and women dressed in traditional sarongs and yellow-robed monks meet the eye on arrival. The most incredible memories are of the temples and pagodas including the first sighting of Shwedagon Pagoda whose pure gold spire towers above Rangoon encrusted with diamonds, emeralds and rubies.  Thanks to fellow traveller, Olga Kempo for allowing us to use these photos from her 2015 trip!


2017 Departure Dates & Cost

April 20 to May 4, 2017 (15 days)
Special group departure with Tours of Exploration owner Catherine Evans & local escort
Tour Cost: $ 3,390 USD from Yangon (based on twin share)

Single Supplement $ 1,375 USD / share request available
Includes domestic flights in Myanmar
Minimum group size 8 persons / maximum 14 (6 spaces remaining)

Tours of Exploration can assist with International air to join up with this trip, as well as pre or post tours.
Customized departures to Myanmar are available on a daily basis! Ask us for details. There are currently special rates on several airlines for flights to Yangon. 

Festival Dates for independent journeys:

January: Ananda Pagoda Festival (Bagan) or Naga New Year (Sagaing)
February: Mahamuni Pagoda Festival (Mandalay)
March: Shwe Dagon Pagoda Festival (Yangon) or Kakku Pagoda Festival (Inle)
April: Myanmar New Year Festival (Countrywide)
August: Taungpyone Festival
September: Manuha Pagoda Festival (Mandalay Region)
October: Tawthalin/Tadingyut or Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival (Mon State)


Itinerary
YANGON – INLE LAKE - MANDALAY - AYERWADDY CRUISE - BAGAN – YANGON

April 20: ARRIVE YANGON
Meet on arrival at Yangon International Airport and transfer to hotel. Accommodation at hotel, Yangon. Those wishing to may arrive 1 night early and have a longer rest before the trip begins.

April 21: YANGON – HEHO – INLE LAKE (B/D)
Transfer to Yangon Airport for domestic flight to Heho (approx.; 0800/0910 – direct). Transfer from Heho airport down into the valley to Nyaungshwe on the edge of Inle Lake and board your own local boat to take you to your hotel.

A short rest and then depart from your hotel to travel by long-tailed boat across the lake to Indaing, at the western end of Inle, for one of the most scenic trips on the Lake. Passing through the busy village of Ywama, the largest on the Lake, with many channels and tall teak houses on stilts; enter a long, often tree-lined canal, either side of which farmers cultivate their land against the backdrop of the Shan Hills. Disembark at the jetty and walk for 15 minutes through Indaing village to reach the 14th - 18th century pagoda ruins of Nyaung Ohak. Many pagodas here remain charmingly unrenovated, with plants and even small trees growing out of them, making the area very atmospheric. A covered walkway popular with souvenir stallholders leads up to Shwe Inn Thein Paya, a complex of weather-beaten 17th - 18th century zedi; some newly reconstructed. Returning to the river – optional walk along a lovely shady path for 30 minutes to the Intha village of Sema. We return to the the hotel by continuing downstream watching local life on the banks and birds in the trees. Welcome dinner. 3 nights accommodation at hotel in Inle Lake

April 22: INLE LAKE (B/L)
Explore a 5-day rotating market (if your visit coincides with the schedule) which offers an insight into the life of the ethnic Pa-O, Danu and Intha people who come to these markets to sell and buy goods. Enjoy a full day boat trip on Inle Lake - a photographer’s dream. Its calm waters are dotted with floating vegetation and fishing canoes, to which scenic hills provide the perfect backdrop. See the lake’s unique ‘leg rowers’ - Intha fishermen who row standing up with one leg wrapped around a single oar, leaving their hands free to manipulate the conical fishing net. Stop at Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the holiest religious site in southern Shan State. Visit a traditional silk-weaving workshop which uses wooden handlooms, and a blacksmith’s forge. Pass endless floating gardens, where Intha lake dwellers grow fruit and vegetables. Continue by boat to visit Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, one of the oldest on the lake, where you can see exquisite Buddha statues which are more than 200 years old. Return to your hotel by boat as the sun lowers and the light softens over the lake. Lunch is included at a local restaurant.

April 23: INLE LAKE (B/L)
Travel by boat via Nampan to Sagar (approximately 2½ to 3 hours) and Thakong, a rarely visited area south of Inle Lake. Explore one of the 5-day rotating market (if your visit coincides with the schedule) and Kyauktaing, a Shan village where earthenware pottery is produced. At nearby Kyainkhan visit a family who produce monk’s robes made of fabric woven from thousands of lotus stems. In Thakong, observe local methods of producing alcohol fermented and extracted from bran rice. The day offers an insight into the unspoiled culture and traditional life-style of the ethnic Pa-O and Intha inhabitants around Sagar. Enjoy the beautiful landscape, trees and numerous settlements dotted on both sides of the canal. Late afternoon return to Inle Lake. Lunch is included at a small lodge in Samkar village.

April 24: INLE LAKE - HEHO - OVERLAND DRIVE TO MANDALAY (APPROX. 10 HOURS) (B/L)
This morning, drive to Mandalay. Road to Mandalay scenery is interesting - endless paddy fields in the morning and rolling hills in the afternoon, as the road climbs into the mountains of southern Shan State. (approx.; 10 hrs). Transfer to hotel. Lunch is included at a local restaurant. 3 nights accommodation in Mandalay.

April 25: FULL DAY MANDALAY CITY TOUR (B/L)
Enjoy a comprehensive tour of Mandalay, a highlight of which is the Mahamuni Pagoda, home to a spectacular Buddha image covered with thick layers of gold leaves. Near the river lies visit Shwe-im-bin, a wooden monastery over 100 years old which is known for its lovely carving. Stop at local workshops to see kalaga tapestries being made, gold leaf being beaten into paper-thin pieces, and Burmese sweets being made. Mid-afternoon, visit Kuthodaw Pagoda, where the Theravada Buddhist scriptures are inscribed on 729 marble slabs, giving rise to its nickname ‘the world’s largest book’. Next visit beautiful teak-carved Shwenandaw Monastery, the only Royal Palace building to survive World War II bombing. At Kyaukdawgyi Pagoda you’ll see a large Buddha statue carved out of a single block of local marble. Atop Mandalay Hill lie glittering glass-studded temple walls which reflect the evening glow as you watch the sunset. Afterwards, visit Shwe Kyin Monastery to observe student monks start their evening prayers. Lunch is included at a local restaurant.

April 26: MANDALAY – PYIN OO LWIN (MAYMYO) - MANDALAY (B/L)
Drive up into the hills from Mandalay (80 Km, about 2 hours) for a full day visit of Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo), a former British hill station. Visit the local market and drive through the charming town in a horse-drawn ‘stage coach’, giving you the chance to admire the red brick and half-timbered houses, complete with English-style gables, turrets and chimneys. In the afternoon, visit the National Botanical Kandawgyi Gardens, which were laid out by Sir Harcourt Butler, a former Governor of Burma – the flower beds are similar to those you would find in an English country garden! Enjoy the local birds. Return n to Mandalay in the early evening. Lunch is included in a local restaurant.

April 27: MANDALAY (SAGAING) - YANDABO (RV PAUKAN – join in) (B/L/D)
Transfer to Jetty for the embarkation. The embarkation time is at 10:00 hrs at Htone Bo jetty. Welcome cocktail in the Saloon. The cast off time is at 10:30 hrs. Lunch will be served at 13:00. Cruise all day. In the late afternoon we stop at Yandabo, a village specialize in Pot-Making, where the peace treaty of the First Anglo-Burmese war was signed on Feb 24, 1826. Overnight near the confluence of Ayeyarwaddy River and Chindwin River.

April 28: DISEMBARKATION BAGAN (B)
Early morning, around 06:00hrs we proceed downriver to Bagan. After breakfast (if time permits) we visit another typical river village. Enjoy the sunrise near Bagan. Passengers disembark at Bagan Aye Yar jetty by 09:00 hrs. Transfer to hotel. (International check in time is at 1400 hrs). We can store our luggage and take an orientation tour of the area. Balance of the day at leisure. Optional tours can be arranged locally. 3 nights accommodation, Bagan

April 29: BAGAN (B/L)
Pick up from the hotel from where you start your tour to the busy local market, continuing with visits to a diverse selection of the most important pagodas and temples in Bagan. These include the Shwezigon Pagoda, a huge gilded temple built by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century and Gubyaukgyi (Wetkyi-Inn), a 13th century temple with exquisite murals of the ‘Jataka Tales’ (scenes from the life of the Buddha). Continue to the eminent Ananda Temple; one of the finest and largest pagodas, with a 51-metre (170-foot) shimmering gold tip plus four huge standing-Buddha images and numerous seated figures arranged around the interior gallery. Later, visit a lacquer craftsman’s workshop in nearby Myingaba village. Sightseeing continues with visits to Manuha Temple, built in Mon style in 1059; Nanpaya Temple, a unique sandstone monument that is said to have been the palace of King Manuha; and Gubyaukgyi (Myingaba) under the protection of UNESCO because of its ancient mural paintings. Observe a sunset in the vicinity of Bagan’s ancient monuments. Lunch is included at a local restaurant.

April 30: BAGAN (B/L)
This morning visit Tayokepyay Temple, Phaya Thone Zu and Nandamanya Temples (noted for exquisite 13th century murals) and Kyat Kan Cave monastery, a famous meditation center in Bagan. Visit farming villages around Bagan. In the afternoon visit Lawkananda Paya, a cylindrical shape Pyu style from the 11th century. Then, visit East & West Phet leik which is believed to be built in 11th century with 550 Jataka Terra-cotta plaques. Continue to Seinyet Ama another temple from the 11th century. There are frescoes of 550 Jatakas and floral designs on the interior wall. Beside of the Seinyet Ama you can see Seinyet Nyima Stupa which was built in 11th century with tree terraces at the base in beautiful Bagan style. After that visit to Soemingyi Monastery which was built in 12th century, a good example to see how the monks used to live and study Buddhist Scriptures. For those interested a sunset river cruise (optional – no additional cost). Lunch is included at a local restaurant.

Mandalay

May 1: BAGAN (B)
Day at leisure. Local tours can be added.

May 2: BAGAN - YANGON (B/D)
Transfer to Bagan airport for your flight to Yangon. Upon arrival Yangon, transfer to hotel. (Room might not be ready for check-in; international check-in time is 14:00 hours). 2 nights accommodation at hotel, Yangon. Some leisure time. In the late afternoon enjoy a visit to Shwedagon Pagoda, famous worldwide - its golden stupa is the ‘heart’ of Buddhist Myanmar. The Pagoda is believed to be 2,500 years old and the central stupa in surrounded by dozens of intricately decorated buildings and statues. Dinner at the hotel.

May 3: YANGON (B/D)
Start your sightseeing with a drive to the famous Strand Road and visit the bustling Yangon harbour, where ferries leave for Pathein in the Delta and upcountry towns along the Ayeyarwady River. Visit Botathaung Pagoda, close to Yangon River and said to contain Buddha relics. You then drive through the colonial-historical district, Chinatown, and the Indian quarter. Make a photo stop at the gilded Sule Pagoda, dating back over 2,000 years, and a landmark in central Yangon.In the afternoon, visit to Bogyoke (Scott) Market (closed on Mondays and Public Holidays) gives you the opportunity to see Myanmar’s wide range of handicrafts and souvenirs. It is always full of people praying and making offerings, and is a fascinating place to spend time watching the world go by. Return to the hotel for our farewell dinner.

May 4: YANGON (B)
Transfer to Yangon International airport for departure.