Your guide welcomes you on arrival in Yangon and you set out to explore the city. You start in the city centre and the 2,000-year-old Sule Paya stupa which has played a major part in the city's history and has a distinctive octagonal floor plan. Your tour also takes in Chauk That Gyi which contains an impressive reclining Buddha, and the gilded barge of Karaweik Hall on Kandawgyi Lake. Later you pay a visit to Bogyoke (also known as Scott's) Market, where you can browse among stalls selling a wide range of goods from jewellery to clothes and food to handicrafts. At the end of the day you arrive at the golden dome of Shwedagon pagoda, Yangon's best-known landmark, perched at the top of a hill. At the conclusion of the tour you return to the hotel.
In And Around Bagan
This morning you fly to Bagan to begin the next stage of your holiday. Immerse yourself in local life at the Nyuang U market, the largest in the region, where food, clothes, wood carvings and lacquer are are traded. Next you visit the rather more peaceful Shweizigon Paya, with its shining golden facade, which dates back to the 11th century. You then see two contrasting cave temples, both adorned with attractive frescoes, and Htilominlo temple to discover the mysteries of Burmese sand painting. Later at Ananda temple you can see the four standing Buddhas decorated in gold leaf, and you end the day at Shwesandaw pagoda, a favourite spot from which to watch the sunset over the Irrawaddy River.
Bagan Villages And Temples
Start the morning with a trip to Dhamayazeka Zedi to the south east of the town, from where you get a wonderful view of the entire plain of temples stretching out before you. From here you visit some of the more recent temples and the Payathonzu complex which consists of three temples linked by narrow, vaulted passageways. At Nanda Man Nya you can see some exquisite wall paintings. Towards dusk you can take a horse or bullock cart ride on the plains, stopping to capture a photograph of the sun silhouetting one of the many temples. Breakfast
Today there is the option to take a hot air balloon ride over Bagan. Viewing the ancient structures from the air is sure to be a highlight of your trip. Flights operate at sunrise and sunset from October to the end of March.
After breakfast you travel to the airport for the morning flight to Mandalay, the last royal capital of Burma. Having arrived you board a boat for a one-hour cruise along the Irrawaddy River to the town of Mingun. This is the site of a huge unfinished stupa called Mingun Pahtodawgyi, which was envisaged in 1790 as the largest stupa in the world but was critically damaged by an earthquake and now presents a dramatic sight with large cracks running down its length. While here you also see the bronze Mingun Bell, considered to be the largest working bell in the bell in the world, weighing 90 tonnes. Later you take the boat back to Mandalay and transfer to your hotel.
Ava, Sagaing And Amarapura
A day of history and scenery. Drive to Ava (also known as Inwa), which was the capital of the Shan and Burmese kingdoms from the 14th to the 19th century. You explore by horse and carriage and visit Bagaya monastery, built of teak and adorned with intricate carvings, which is over 300 years old and still in use today. Elsewhere parts of the old palace remain, including the watch tower, some 30 metres tall and partially damaged by an earthquake but still standing. Continuing your exploration you cross the river to Sagaing, another ancient capital, where numerous pagodas and monasteries are built among the hills. From the top you can look down over the gilded roofs to the Irrawaddy River. Next you travel to Amarapura, a centre of traditional textile production, and then on to Taungtaman Lake where you can see the famous and much photographed U Bein bridge, built of teak and at 1.2 km long said to the be longest such construction in the world. It is especially photogenic at sunset, as you find out for yourself today.
Start Of Trek
There's a change of pace today. You fly to Heho from where a opne-hour drive takes you to the starting point of your trek, La Maing. This village is located to the west of Kalaw, a former hill station. Your route takes you through villages inhabited by the Pa-O people, the second largest ethnic group in Shan state after the Shan themselves. During your trek you can observe the traditional dress and methods of cultivation. After almost three hours you reach Kone La village, your lunch stop, and later continue the trek through farmland and small villages where the Danu tribe live, finally arriving at Pat tu Pauk village where you spend the night in a local house and enjoy a dinner prepared by your cook. Total trekking time is around five and a half hours and distance covered about 18 km.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Trekking To Inle Lake
Enjoy breakfast at the village before setting off on foot once more. Within half an hour you arrive at Hti Thein, another Pa-O village, where you can again observe daily life in a rural setting. From here you walk through the hills passing various villages and farms and meeting local people. The total trekking time is around six hours and the route is around 20 km and ends at Indein on the western shore of Inle Lake. There are dozens of pagodas of all shapes and sizes here, some over 1,000 years old. From here you board a boat that takes you to your lakeside hotel.
Exploring Inle Lake
Inle Lake is known for its floating islands and gardens formed from the intertwining roots of water hyacinth plants and reeds, and on your tour this morning you see examples of these. You also witness the famous leg rowers, who balance on one leg at the back of their boat wrapping the other leg around an oar which they use to propel the boat. You also see houses built on stilts over the lake. At Phaungdaw Oo pagoda there is a collection of sacred Buddha images covered in gold leaf. Continuing, you reach a village where you can see cloth being woven in time-honoured fashion, and at Nampan you watch craftsmen roll and pack Burmese cheroots (cigars). At the end of the tour you return to the hotel at Inle Lake.
This morning you travel back to Heho for the flight east to Kyaing Tong near the Chinese and Thai borders. This region is home to several ethnic hill tribes such as the Wa, Shan, Akha and Lahu. Having landed you visit, time permitting, the former summer resort of Loimwe, a favourite of the British in colonial times where there are some elegant colonial houses and historic churches. You also spend time in the Wa village of Naung Cho, before arriving at your hotel in Kyaing Tong.
Market And Villages
This morning you take a walk round the main market in Kyaing Tong, a great place to witness people going about their daily lives. Later you drive 90 minutes or so north to an Akha village. This is the beginning of today's walk exploring the region and observing different ethnic groups who live in close proximity. You have lunch at the scenic Pin Tauk waterfall, and later drive back into town. En route you can stop at a Li-Shan village to sample some home brewed rice wine, much prized by the locals.
Fly To Yangon
After breakfast at the hotel you are transferred to the airport for the flight to Yangon. You are met and taken to your city hotel and the remainder of the day is free, so you can do some last minute sightseeing or souvenir shopping.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before being driven to Yangon airport in time to check in for your flight home.
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