13 days from £2195pp plus international flights.
Burma is a country that exerts a strong influence over those that visit. The rich mix of history, culture and scenery coupled with the mystery of a land emerging from a long isolation from the rest of the world is truly intriguing. On this holiday you visit the main sights such as Mandalay, Yangon, Bagan and Inle Lake, as well as others off the beaten track: have lunch in a local village, watch craftsmen demonstrate skills largely unchanged for centuries and walk among hundreds of pagodas undisturbed by crowds of tourists.
We use domestic flights to reduce travelling time, allowing you to visit otherwise hard to reach locations, and when travelling by road you'll have the benefit of a private air-conditioned vehcile. Knowledgeable guides bring each site vividly to life, giving you insights into eras gone by when mighty kingdoms held sway over large tracts of land, and you'll see the palaces and pagodas that stand as testament to their former glory and wealth. It's not all about the past though. You spend time in villages near Bagan, Inle Lake and Mrauk U to witness daily life and learn about the different ethnic groups that co-exist in present day Burma.
In a shade under 2 weeks you will experience a whole new world and will, almost certainly, fall under the spell that Burma casts over those fortunate enough to travel there.
Your flight arrives into Mandalay, Burma's second largest city and last royal capital. A representative is at the airport to meet you and take you to your hotel where you can rest after your journey. Depending on your arrival time you may want to head out to see some of the sights, or might prefer to take it easy at the hotel, looking forward to what the next two weeks will bring.
Today is your introduction to the rich history and culture of Burma and starts with a one hour cruise on the Irrawaddy River to the town of Mingun. Even from a distance you can see the massive form of Mingun Pahto, a huge pagoda built at the end of the 18th century and damaged by an earthquake some 50 years later that has left dramatic cracks in the stone. You also visit the Mingun Bell, of a similarly enromous scale, and reputed to be the largest working bell in the world. You take the boat back to Mandalay and visit Ava, an historical Shan and Burmese capital, seeing the Bagya teak monastery and Namyin watchtower, also known as the 'leaning tower of Ava'. From here you travel to Amarapura, a well known textile centre, and on to U Bein bridge, an elegant teak structure spanning 1.2kms across Taungtaman Lake. Watch the sunset here, eiither on dry land or from the water, before returning to your hotel in Mandalay. Breakfast
This morning you have a tour of the main sights of Mandalay. These include Mahamuni pagoda, one of the most revered Buddhist sites in the country, and its centrepeice the Mahamuni Buddha which is covered in several tons of gold leaf and wears a crown decorated with diamonds and rubies. You also see the golden palace monastery, also known as Shwenandaw, that used to be part of the royal palace and is a fine example of 19th century woodwork, and Kuthodaw pagoda, where Buddha's teachings are inscribed on stone tablets forming the world's largest book measured by surface area. At the end of this tour you transfer to the airport for the flight to Bagan, where you are taken to your hotel. Breakfast
After breakfast your first visit is to Shwezigon Paya, a beautiful gilded stupa said to contain a holy tooth relic of the Buddha and whose location is reputed to have been chosen by a white elephant. Next you tour 2 cave temples of Kyansitha Umin and Gubyaukgyi, both with lovely painted frescoes. At Htilominlo temple you learn how sand paintings are made, and then travel to the impressive Ananda temple. one of the best preserved of Bagan's holy buildings and notable for the 4 standing buddhas positioned in each corner of the temple. The tour continues to the largest of the temples in the complex, Dhamayangyi, and concludes at Shwesandaw pagoda, dating back to 1057, where you watch the sunset over the Irrawaddy River. Breakfast
Myingaba village just south of Bagan is known for the production of lacquerware, and today you have a ringside seast as you watch the skilled work that goes into creating it, before touring some neartby temples, one of which has some of Bagan's best preserved wall paintings. You then head to Dhamayazeka pagoda in the southeast with its unusual pentagonal layout, from where you have panoramic views over the Bagan temple plains. There are some interesting wood and bamboo houses here, too. In the afternoon you tour some temples that represent a later phase in Bagan's history incluing Nanda Man Nya which contains some fine frescoes, before returning to your hotel. Breakfast
Time for a change of scene, as you board a flight bound for Heho in the Shan hills. From here you are driven to a local workshop where Shan paper and parasols are made in the traditional manner. Continuing the journey you travel down into the valley with views of rice paddies and the Shan Hills, and on to your hotel near Inle Lake. Having checked in and been shown to you room, you set off by boat to the pagodas of Indein. These vary considerably in size and shape and some are over 1,000 years old. Later you have a demonstation of weaving at a local village, learning how the lovely linen and silk fabrics are created, all done by hand. Breakfast
You start the morning with another boat trip, this time travelling for two to three hours to the southern part of Inle Lake to reach Nampan village. In this area there are populations of different ethnic groups: Pa-O, Inthar, Shan and Paduang, whose lives are still relatively untouched by the outside world and modern developments. Walking through villages you can get a feel for life in this remote location, where livelihoods rely on the production of goods such as pottery, woven cloth, bambooware, as well as the cultivation of sugar cane and fishing. Your day continues with visits to the ruins at Sagar and Thar Kong, both good examples of the Shan style of architecture. Later you board the boat for the journey back to your hotel. Breakfast
After breakfast you have a boat and road transfer to Heho airport for the flight east to Sittwe. From here you have a drive to Mrauk U, an historic site and former capital city. If time permits you stop off at Mahamuni pagoda with its famous golden Buddha. On arrival in Mrauk U you check in to your hotel. Breakfast
Today you set off for Wethali, about 11kms north of Mrauk U. The Wethali kingdom was founded in AD 327 and lasted about 400 years. Today you can see the impressive walls of the main palace, and the 'Wethali Great Image', a 5 metre high sitting Buddha, said to be carved from a single block of stone. On return to Mrauk U you visit several prominent pagodas and temples including the massive Koethaung temple, and ending at Harritaung pagoda at the top of a hill where you should get great views of the sunset. Breakfast, lunch
An excitng day begins with a half hour drive to Nam Kyar village, where you board a boat for the two and and a half hour trip to the Chin villages. Sit back and enjoy the ride along the Lay Myo River. On arrival you see the distinctive bamboo houses of the Chin people. Another notable feature of this tribe is that many of the older women have tattoed faces. These tattoes were an old tribal tradition, done to mark out the Chin females and prevent men from other tribes taking them as wives. The practice is no longer performed, hence it is only the older women who bear these marks. Your visit includes lunch, and later you return by boat and car to Mrauk U. Breakfast, lunch
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel before checking out and taking a boat back to Sittwe. Lunch is included on board. From here you fly to Yangon and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day has been left free so you can relax after a busy few days, or opt for some shopping or sightseeing as you wish. Breakfast, lunch
Today you have a guided tour of Yangon. This starts in the colonial city and Sule pagoda, notable for its octaginal design and 44 metre tower topped by a traditonal hti, a many-tiered ornament. The pagoda was built over 2,000 years ago and is now surrounded by modern buildings. Chauk Htat Gyi pagoda has a splendid reclining Buddha, and at Kandawgyi Lake you can see Karaweik Hall, a gleaming golden barge designed to resemble the karaweik, a mythological Burmese bird. From here you take a look round Bogyoke Market (also known as Scotts Market), where there are stalls selling all manner of goods including clothes, jewellery, food, art and craftwork. The tour culminates in a visit to Yangon's iconic Shwedagon pagoda located at the top of a hill and standing 99 metres high, dominating the city skyline. The golden dome is topped by stupa covered in precious stones, a suitably splendid finale to your holiday. Breakfast
After breakfast it's time to pack you bags and transfer to the airport in time to check in for your flight home. Breakfast
Guide price from (pp sharing): £2195 (ex. international flights)
12 nights twin share accommodation, domestic flights as specified, private transfers and tours in an air conditioned vehicle as per the itinerary, boat trips in Mingun, Ava and Inle Lake, private boat trip from Mrauk U to Sittwe, to entrance fees to sites included in the iitinerary, services of an English speaking guide (one in each region), meals as specified, 2 bottles of water and 2 refreshing towels per person per day, luggage handling fees at airports
International flights and taxes, visa, travel insurance, meals not specified, drinks, early check-in or late check-out, tips, items of a personal nature
Getting there: This holiday begins in Mandalay and ends in Yangon. Return flight from the UK cost from around £800 depending on season and availability. We usually book these flights for you.
Departure dates: This is a tailor made itinerary that can begin on the day of your choice, subject to availability.
A hotel in Old Bagan, built for the Prince of Wales in 1922 and now welcoming guests from all round the world.
A contempory resort on the banks of Inle Lake, with lovely villas and cottages set in gardens, and a high quality spa.
A small hotel set in pretty gardens a stone's throw from the royal palace in Mandalay
A modern, 65-room hotel in central Yangon offering comfortable, en-suite accommodation.
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Find the best time to visit Burma
Time: GMT + 6hrs 30mins
Flight time: There are no direct flights from the UK to Yangon (Rangoon). The flight time is at least 14 hours.
Language: The official language is Myanmar (Burmese). English is widely spoken in major tourist destinations.
Visas: At least 6 months from the end of your trip, and with plenty of room for entry and exit stamps. A visa is required for British travellers and most nationalities.
Health: Yellow fever vaccination is compulsory. Recommended vaccinations include diptheria, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, tetanus, cholera & typhoid. Malaria prophylactics recommended for some parts of Burma.