With its colorful cities, spectacular temples and tranquil places of refuge, Myanmar offers contrasts galore. These many facets complement each other perfectly, making the country - the largest in mainland Southeast Asia - ideal for exploration as a family unit. The action inevitably kicks off in Yangon, before proceeding on wards to the beautiful Inle Lake and the plains of Bagan.
Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Yangon lies in the fertile delta of southern Myanmar, on the wide Yangon River. The city is filled with shaded boulevards, while shimmering stupas float above the treetops. The city became the capital only in 1885, when the British completed their conquest of Upper Myanmar and Mandalay's brief period as capital of the last Burmese kingdom ended. Start the tour at the SULE PAGODA, a gleaming octagonal pagoda that stands squarely at the centerpoint of the city.
Afterwards, visit the NATIONAL MUSEUM to gain an insight into Myanmar. See the eight meter high Sihasana Lion Throne, used by the last Burmese king, and other fascinating artifacts from Burmese history and culture. Finally, continue to the SHWEDAGON PAGODA, the highlight of any visit to Yangon. Towering over the city, this pagoda is the most sacred spot in the country, built to house eight hair relics of the Buddha. The Shwedagon and surrounding shrines are at their most beautiful during the sunset hour, as the golden stupa reflects the changing colors of twilight.
Visit Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset. Overnight in Yangon.
Flight from Yangon to Bagan.
Bagan is a spectacular plain stretching away from the Ayeyarwaddy River, dotted with thousands of 800-year old temple ruins. Although human habitation at Bagan dates back almost to the beginning of the Christian era, Bagan only entered its golden period with the conquest of Thaton in 1057 AD. Shwezigon Paya: King Anawrahta started the construction of the Schwezigon Pagoda to enshrine some relicts of Buddha.
The construction was finished by his successor, King Kyansittha between 1086 and1090. Stop by one of the workshops and learn about the painstaking process of laquerware making and decoration.
Watch sunset over Bagan. Enjoy a panoramic view of the sun setting over the plain of Bagan from one of the pagoda platforms.Overnight in Bagan.
Flight from Bagan to Mandalay. Sightseeing in Amarapura and Mandalay
The last capital of royal Burma, Mandalay is still one of the largest cities in Myanmar, and a cultural and spiritual center. Neighboring Sagaing is home to over sixty percent of the country's monks, while the artisans of Mandalay continue to turn out the finest crafts in Myanmar. In the morning, head to Amarapura, also a former royal capital, and visit Mahagandayon Monastery; in the morning, monks and novices line up to receive their daily offering of alms and food from faithful Buddhists.
Pause to enjoy the atmosphere of U BEIN'S BRIDGE, a picturesque teak bridge which extends over one kilometer across Taungthaman Lake, and the highlight of any visit to Amarapura. From Amarapura, turn back to Mandalay itself, stopping first at MAHAMUNI PAYA. The Mahamuni image enshrined here is perhaps the most venerated image in Myanmar, covered in over 15 cm of gold leaf.
Worshippers flock daily to the shrine at four in the morning to observe the unique face-washing ceremony. Enroute to the pagoda, stop to observe the laborious process of gold-leaf beating, where gold is painstakingly hammered out into tissue-thin squares. Continue to Shwenandaw Kyaung, or the Golden Teak Monastery. Built entirely of golden teak, this intricately carved wooden monastery was once part of the Mandalay Palace, used as private apartments by King Mindon and his chief queen.
Afterwards visit Kyauktawgyi Paya, famous for its monumental seated Buddha, carved from a single block of marble, and the elegant Sandamuni Paya. The final stop is at Kuthodaw Paya, known also as "the world's biggest book". Around the central stupa are miniature pavilions, each housing a slab of marble. Numbering altogether 729, these slabs are inscribed with the entire Tripitkata, or Buddhist scriptures.Visit Mandalay Hill at sunset. Overnight in Mandalay.
Flight from Mandalay to Heho. By vehicle from Heho to Inle Lake and excursion by boat on Inle Lake
Inle Lake, located in Shan State, is beautiful, with very calm waters dotted with patches of floating vegetation and fishing canoes. High hills rim the lake on all sides. The lake's shore and islands bear 17 villages on stilts, mostly inhabited by the Intha people. Enjoy the spectacular scenery and observe the skilled fisherman using their leg-rowing technique to propel themselves around the lake.
Visit the floating gardens, a market and a Intha village around the lake (please note that no markets take place on full moon or new moon days). The day sightseeing also includes a visit to the Phaung Daw OO Pagoda, Inn Paw Khon Village (Lotus and silk weaving) and the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery. Overnight in Inle Lake.
Transfer by boat. By vehicle from Inle Lake to Heho. Flight from Heho to Yangon. Afternoon at leisure in Yangoon. Overnight in Yangon.
You have time at leisure, transfer to the airport for your flight to catch your connecting flight home.