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Mandalay 3 nights
Mount Popa 1 night
Bagan 2 nights
Pindaya 1 night
Kalaw 1 night
Inle Lake 3 nights
Yangon 1 night
Day 1: Fly to Mandalay.
Day 2 Mandalay: On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. This afternoon see the Royal Palace, Shwenandaw Monastery and Kuthodaw Pagoda, known as the world’s largest book as surrounding the pagoda are 729 shrines each containing an inscribed marble slab. Continue to Mandalay Hill for panoramic city views, especially at sunset.
Day 3 Mandalay: Begin with an hour long boat ride along the Irawaddy River to Mingun. On arrival visit the Mingun Pagoda, the Mingun bell and finally Mya Thein Tan Pagoda, regarded as the Taj Mahal of Myanmar. Return by boat to Mandalay and continue to the ancient city of Amarapura to see the Bagaya Monastery, Kyauktawgyi Pagoda and a silk weaving workshop. Proceed to the U Bein Bridge to watch the sunset before returning to Mandalay.
Day 4 Mandalay: Travel to picturesque Sagaing Hills, a retreat for Buddhist devotees with numerous pagodas and monasteries. Stop at some of the most famous temples, such as Tupayon Paya and Hsinmyashin Paya (the Pagoda of many Elephants). Continue to the former royal capital of Inwa (Ava), now a quiet rural oasis on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Board a horse-drawn carriage for a leisurely ride around the peaceful countryside, briefly visiting Bagaya Kyaung, a beautiful teak wood monastery, Maha Agungmyay Bonzan Kyaung and Nan Myint Tower. On the way watch local artisans make their alms bowls out of iron.
Day 5 Mandalay/Mount Popa: Transfer to the airport and fly to Bagan. On arrival, visit The Nyaung U Market which provides great photo opportunities and the chance to mingle with local people. Proceed to Schwezigon Pagoda, a prototype of later Myanmar stupa; Wetkyi-in Gubyaukkyi Temple; and Tharabar Gate. Drive to Mount Popa, an extinct volcano, upon which the sacred Popa Taungkalat Monastery is dramatically perched. It’s an energetic climb of 777 steps to the summit but you’re rewarded with stunning views over the region.
Day 6 Mount Popa/Bagan: Drive to Salay and visit Yokeson Monastery which is fabulously decorated with religious woodcarvings. Drive to Bagan and after an insight into the lacquerware industry visit Manuha Temple, home to gigantic Buddha images. Continue to Nanpaya, an early-style temple with fine stone carvings and this evening visit the Ananda Temple, thought to have been built around 1105 by King Kyanzittha.
Day 7 Bagan: Visit Minnanthu village for a glimpse of typical Myanmar village life. This afternoon sightseeing in Bagan includes a variety of temples and pagodas such as Shwe Gukyi Temple, “Thatbyinnyu”, Dhammayangyi, and Sulamuni Temple where you can see fine frescos from the 18th century.
Day 8 Bagan/Pindaya: Transfer to the airport for a flight to Heho. On arrival drive to Pindaya and visit Pindaya caves, well-known for the thousands of Buddha images housed inside. Later, visit a local family that makes colourful handmade paper umbrellas and gifts.
Day 9 Pindaya/Kalaw: Drive to the old hill station of Kalaw, which enjoys a refreshing climate and scenic views, from which you’ll trek to the surrounding Palaung Hills to visit local hill tribe villages.
Day 10 Kalaw/Inle Lake: Tour a local market in Kalaw before travelling to Nyaung Shwe, home to Inle Lake. En route visit a vineyard and winery and sample some of the wine.
Day 11 Inle Lake: Morning cruise on the lake to observe the Intha fishermen that row with one leg and use the often photographed conical fishing nets. Visit a traditional lotus and silk weaving village, the cheroot Burmese mild cigar cottage industry, silversmith village and learn about traditional boat making. Continue to Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery and Phaung Daw Oo Monastery.
Day 12 Inle Lake: Travel by boat to the western shore of the lake to a stairway and walk to the hidden Indein temple complex. Located on the shore of the lake, this site consists of hundreds of small stupas overgrown by moss and greens. Continue on foot past rice fields to the village of Sae Ma, stopping to explore the village. In the afternoon meet the village locals on the lake and travel to one of the monasteries to observe the monastic activities.
Day 13 Inle/Yangon: Transfer to Heho airport for a flight to Yangon. On arrival visit Chaukhtatkyi Pagoda home to a colossal reclining Buddha before a brief stop at the Sule Pagoda. This evening proceed to the Chinatown area and Bogyoke Market which is housed in a beautiful colonial building and has more than 2000 shops selling all kinds of products. Finally, head to Shwedagon Pagoda, the most well-known in Yangon, which is completely covered in gold.
Day 14 Yangon: Today’s sightseeing in Yangon includes visits to Botataung Pagoda, a famous landmark on Yangon’s waterfront, Pansodan Jetty and the wonderful Strand Hotel which opened in 1901. En route to the airport visit Kaba Aye (World Peace) Pagoda and Mahapasana Gua (Great Cave). Your tour concludes with a transfer to the airport for your onward journey.
Optional beach extension: Alternatively, why not extend your stay with time to relax at beautiful Ngapali beach, which is just 50 minutes flight from Yangon.
12 nights privately escorted tour by air-conditioned car from £2699pp
08444 937 531