Classical Myanmar

Myanmar

Culture | Christmas

Buddhist culture & rural village life

10 days £1,695 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

This tour takes in the country’s iconic sights – the ancient temples of Bagan, Buddhist culture in Mandalay, colonial architecture in Yangon and floating village life on Lake Inle. You will also spend a night in the pine-forested hill station of Kalaw, a former British summer retreat. With a plethora of cultural sights and a welcome as warm as you will experience anywhere, this trip is a must for anyone wanting an insight into life in Myanmar.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Dazzling Shwedagon Paya
  • Ancient temples and pagodas of Bagan
  • Boat ride on the Ayeyarwaddy river in Mandalay
  • Pine forests and hills of Kalaw
  • Floating villages on Lake Inle
  • Floating villages of Lake Inle
  • Heritage walking tour of Yangon

Places Visited

Yangon - Bagan - Mandalay - Kalaw - Inle Lake

What's Included

Airport pick-up & drop-off
Internal flights
Ground transport
Private boat on Lake Inle
Drivers and local guides
Accommodation (bed & breakfast)
Daily bottle of still mineral water
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Yangon

You will be greeted at the airport by your Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to the hotel. Your guide and driver will pick you up for afternoon sightseeing. First you will visit the colonial centre of Yangon, the British administrative centre when they ruled India. Afterwards, visit the dazzling Shwedagon Paya, perhaps the most impressive Buddhist pagoda in South East Asia. Return to hotel and spend the evening at your leisure. Overnight at Yuzana Garden Hotel.

Meal plan: n/a

There are many colonial buildings scattered around Yangon. The buildings are evidence of the history of British rule. Downtown Yangon is known for the highest number of colonial period buildings in Southeast Asia. The most iconic of these buildings include the former Secretariat buildings, the City Hall, the High Court, the Strand Hotel and the former Inland Water Transport building. 

The 2,500 year old Shwedagon Pagoda is the most impressive and sacred Buddhist pagoda for the people of Myanmar. Standing just under 110m, it can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. It is stunning with its gold plate coating that reflects the sun. The crown is tipped with 5,448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies. At the very top, the diamond tip is a 76 carat diamond. This was also the stage for a speech given by pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, in 1988.

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Day 2 : Bagan

Leave Yangon and travel to the ancient city of Bagan. Spend the afternoon exploring Bagan's beautiful temples. Evening at leisure.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Bagan is an ancient city located in central Myanmar and was the capital of the first Myanmar Empire. There were many monuments built in Bagan during this time but sadly were damaged by invaders and by the fleeing king who needed the materials for defence structures instead. The ruins today are a place of worship and, being one of the richest archaeological sites in South-east Asia, Bagan has been a popular tourist destination for almost a thousand years.

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Day 3 : Bagan

Spend the day exploring Bagan's myriad of sacred temples. In the afternoon we make a trip to a local village. Spend the evening watching the spectacular view of the setting sun over Bagan's temples as it has been witnessed by humans for over ten centuries. The rest of the evening is free.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Bagan’s Temples are steeped in historical myths and legends. The 11th century bell-shaped Shwezigon Pagoda is one of four monuments built to replicate the Sri Lankan Buddha tooth- marks found in the north of the city. Legend claims a visit to all four tooth replicas in a day brings prosperity and luck. The Ananda Temple is a stunning structure of the Mon architecture built around 1105 by King Kyanzittha, while the 12th century Dhammayangyi is the largest structure in Bagan, built by King Narathu in architectural style echoing that of the Ananda Temple. Lastly, the 12th century Thabbyinnyu Temple, whose name means "Omniscience of the Buddha", was built by King Alaungsithu and was one of the first double-storey temples.

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Day 4 : Mandalay

The day is spent flying to Mandalay (via Yangon) so feel free to enjoy the evening and get a feel for Mandalay.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Mandalay is a relatively young city, aged 150 years old. It was founded as the capital of the Burmese empire in 1861 and saw the last king of Burma before the British took over in 1885.

The Ayeyarwady River (or Irrawaddy River) is Myanmar’s largest river and most important commercial waterway, flowing from north to south through Burma. The river’s source is the basin of the N'mai and Mali rivers and it ends in the Andaman Sea. It is sometimes referred to as 'The Road to Mandalay', after Rudyard Kipling’s poem. 

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Day 5 : Mandalay

A full day sightseeing in Mandalay with exciting sites including Mahamuni temple, Mingun 'unfinished pagoda' and Mingun bell (the second largest ringing bell in the world). The day will draw to an end with a horse-cart ride to the village of Inwa. Evening free.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Mahamuni temple is an important site of pilgrimage and the shrine to the Mahamuni Buddha. According to traditional belief there are five images of the Buddha, of which the Mahamuni Buddha is the fifth. The Mahamuni Buddha image was created in 554 BC when the Buddha journeyed to the city of Arakan, and his teachings inspired King Sanda Thuriya and his wife to solicit an image of him. Legend has it that when the Buddha breathed upon the finished image it became the resemblance of the Mahamuni. This image is hugely respected in Myanmar and is considered a representation of the Buddha's life. 

Mandalay Palace was the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy, built between 1857 and 1859 to represent the establishment of the new royal capital city of Mandalay by King Mindon. Although the sovereignty didn’t last long, ending in 1885 during the Third Anglo-Burmese War, the palace stands as a representation of identity and sovereignty in the eyes of Burmese tradition. Unfortunately, much of the palace was destroyed during the Second World War, leaving only the royal mint and the watch tower standing. In the 1990s the palace was rebuilt using modern materials.

During the Second Myanmar Empire the Village of Inwa was known as the Kingdom of Inwa. Now it is a small town located south of Amarapura, but still holds many attractions. There is the lacquerware factory, Nanmyint Watch Tower, the Inwa Bridge which spans the Ayeyarwady River, Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery and Bagaya Monastery. 

Amarapura literally translates to ‘City of Immortality’ and is located on the left bank of the Irrawaddy River. It was claimed as the capital of Myanmar by King Bodawpaya in 1783 – intended to represent a fresh start for the people upon his accession to the throne. There are many workshops which make Longyis (traditional waist garments) using the loom. 

The Mingun Unfinished Pagoda was a huge project started by King Bodawpaya in 1790, of which he intended it to be the largest pagoda in the country. The pagoda was left at a third of the intended height when the king died in 1819, thus earning the title of Mingun Unfinished Pagoda. 

In 1810 the enormous Mingun Bell, that King Bodawpaya had requested to go with his gigantic soon to be finished pagoda, was built. Weighing 90 tons it is the second heaviest hung, uncracked, functioning bell in the world behind the Chinese bell of good luck which was recently cast in 2000. The bell is about four metres high and over five metres in diameter at the bottom. It can fit people standing inside and, if you desire, you can get someone to ring it so that you can hear it ring from the inside.

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Day 6 : Heho - Kalaw

With a morning flight to Heho, get to enjoy a visit local market (if coincides with market day) before a 3 hour and 30 minute drive to the ex-British hill-station of Kalaw, broken up with an opportunity to check out the Pindaya Caves en-route. In the afternoon take a relaxing stroll through the pine forests and admire the natural beauty of Kalaw.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Kalaw is a hill town in the Shan State of Myanmar. It is located in Kalaw Township in the Taunggyi District. The town was popular with the British during colonial rule and used as a British hill-station. The town offers some of the best trekking in Myanmar and is surrounded by a tranquil forest. It has a variety of cultures thanks to large populations of Nepalese Gurkhas, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims whose descendents came to Kalaw to build roads and railways during British colonial rule. It was also the main setting of the novel ‘The Art of Hearing Heartbeats’ by Jan-Philipp Sendker. 

The Pindaya Caves are a Buddhist pilgrimage site and tourist attraction found on the limestone ridge above the Pindaya Lake. The caves are a huge maze of tunnels and chambers steeped in local myths and legends. They hold an astonishing 8,000 images of Buddha and have been used as a site for meditation for many centuries. 

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Day 7 : Lake Inle

There is a 1 hour 15 minute drive to Lake Inle in the morning where, upon arrival, a private boat will be waiting to take you on a tour around lake. Silk-weaving and traditional cigarette making workshops on the water will be some of the exciting sites that the lake has on and around it. Evening free.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Inle Lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar. The 70,000 people of Inle Lake, the Intha, live in four cities around the lake and in small villages along the lake's shores, and on the lake itself, building their houses on stilts and travelling across the lake using their unique style of leg-rowing. The locals bind together water hyacinth to cultivate floating gardens that drift around the waters. The lake is also home to over twenty species of snail and nine species of fish not found anywhere else in the world. 

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Day 8 : Lake Inle

Full day sightseeing on Lake Inle including a visit to the Indein village and where the mysterious temple ruins lay. Get to indulge yourself in other sites such as the Monastery of Jumping Cats and Inle's floating villages. Evening free.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Shwe Indein Pagoda - Indein is a small village on the western bank of Inle Lake. Within the village there is a Buddha image enshrined in a whitewashed stupa found at the top of a hill, with collections of over 1,600 ancient stupas (dome shaped Buddha shrines) around the hill. The stupas are different ages, some are ruins whilst others look only days old. There are theories into the history of the Shwe Indein Pagoda but lacking evidence, the past of the Shwe Indein Pagoda is a mystery. Experts believe that the pagoda was built during the 17th and 18th centuries .

Other must-see parts of Lake Inle are the floating villages and markets. Around 80,000 people live on the lake in "floating" villages which are collections of houses built on stilts and organised into rows of neighbourhoods. These are home to people from the Intha Tribe but many local tribes come down from the surrounding mountains for the market which also takes place on the lake.

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Day 9 : Lake Inle - Yangon

The morning is free to continue exploration of Lake Inle. There will be an optional market visit if it is market day before spending the afternoon flying back to Yangon. Evening free.

Meal plan: Breakfast

There are many colonial buildings scattered around Yangon. The buildings are evidence of the history of British rule. Downtown Yangon is known for the highest number of colonial period buildings in Southeast Asia. The most iconic of these buildings include the former Secretariat buildings, the City Hall, the High Court, the Strand Hotel and the former Inland Water Transport building. 

Read more
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Day 10 : Yangon

You will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation Title

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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East Hotel

Located in the business district of Yangon, close to the city's main shopping and commercial area, this boutique hotel has 45 individually designed guest rooms - many of which offer views of the nearby pagodas. Each room has wireless internet access, a flat screen television, and tea and coffee facilities. The hotel also has its own restaurant, the Amber Cafe.

Visit hotel's site
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Thazin Garden Hotel

Rooms at the Thazin Garden Hotel are well-appointed and come with a telephone, mini bar, television and Wi-Fi connection. The hotel is surrounded by gardens and is well located for visits to the Dhammayangyi Temple and Shwezigon Pagoda.

Visit hotel's site
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​​Ayarwaddy River View Hotel

​Ayarwaddy River View Hotel is situated by the river and has fantastic views of the sunset. The hotel provides comfortable accommodation in central Mandalay with 50 guestrooms each having a private bathroom, TV, mini bar and air conditioning. The hotel has an open roof terrace restaurant with views over the river.

Visit hotel's site
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Kalaw Heritage Hotel

Kalaw Heritage Hotel is in a good location to explore the surrounding cultural sights of Kalaw. The ensuite bedrooms are equipped with modern facilities to provide a comfortable stay to guests. The on-site restaurant serves a fusion of local and international dishes. The Kalaw Heritage Hotel also boasts a tennis court and beautiful garden, from where guests can enjoy views across the surrounding mountains. 

Visit hotel's site
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Paramount Inle

This magnificent property is built on stilts and stands in the heart of Inle Lake. Its architecture takes its inspiration from the people of Inle. Although surrounded by water, there is a green tropical garden to explore. There are two restaurants, the Sky Lounge Restaurant, which is famous for a range of exquisite traditional Inthar dishes, and the floating garden which is an attractive place to relax.

Visit hotel's site
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Reviews

This was our second tailormade trip with Travel the Unknown and we loved our first time travel in Myanmar (Burma). The amazing attractions together with the wonderful and friendly people of Myanmar and the delightful, adaptable guides made it a trip we will never forget.

Rainer & Shanti Huebner , Tailormade Myanmar
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