Exotic Myanmar (16n/17d)

The ruins at Indain lie just off of Inle Lake

The ruins at Indain lie just off of Inle Lake

Day 01:    Arrival Yangon sightseeing  
Meet at the airport upon arrival and transfer to the hotel. Check in at the hotel for one night and take time to freshen up. Afternoon sightseeing to Chaukhtatkyi pagoda; which is a colossal reclining Buddha, Botataung Pagoda; which is hollow and through which you can walk and see many ancient relics and artifacts, walk down the big Pansodan street with its large and impressive colonial era buildings and finally visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda; arguably the world’s most impressive golden stupa. Overnight at Kandawgyi Palace Hotel (Superior room)

Day 02:    Yangon – Bago – Kyeikhtiyo (Car)
Breakfast at the hotel before an early morning drive to Kyaiktiyo (about 5 hours), site of the famous ‘Golden Rock’. Enroute visit some interesting pagodas in Bago. Kyeikhtiyo pagoda is a large boulder that appears delicately balanced, supposedly by the assistance of a hair of the Buddha, on the edge of a cliff near the top of a mountain and it is one of the most revered Buddhist shrines. We can either go by foot or truck from the middle camp to the beginning of the trail where it is a 45 minute walk to the top. Enjoy Golden Rock sightseeing. Overnight at Mountain Top Hotel (Deluxe room)

Day 03:    Kytikhtiyo – Taungoo – Pho Kyar (Car)
Breakfast at the hotel. Viewing the morning sunrise at Kyaikhtiyo is a memorable sight. Descend the mountain to base camp and drive to Taungoo, Pho Kyar elephant camp which is foot-hill of Bago Yoma mountain ranges lies within the Saing Ya tropical reserved forests, 10 miles away from west of Chargaya near the Yoma crossing road. Chargaya, the main gate way is one the Yangon – Mandalay motorway, 204 miles away from Yangon. Arrives and leisure in the afternoon. Meals: Dinner will be served at the resort. Overnight at Pho Kyar Camp.

Day 04:    Pho Kyar Elephant Camp
Breakfast at the resort. Pho Kyar forest resort is recently emerged as the ideal eco-tourism spot being having a special privilege of occupying a prime location. A little forest bordering with a stream running in zig-zag way within the area and providing an abundance of water supply for local settlement and elephants bathing. Having a more than 150 years old teak and other commercial trees species within the camp is a credit for our clients. Enjoy elephant riding in the forest about an hour. In the evening trek to the elephant camp which is near Resort where you can meet (ooziest) elephant trainers and study their ways of life. Meals: Lunch and dinner will be served. Overnight at Pho Kyar Camp.

Day 05:    Pho Kyar – Mandalay (Car)
Morning breakfast and drive take you to Mandalay (appx. 6 hours). Arrives and afternoon at leisure at the hotel. Overnight at Mandalay City Hotel (Superior room)

Day 06:    Amarapura and Inwa sightseeing
Breakfast at the hotel. Travel to the former royal capital of Amarapura. The tour highlights Mahagandayon monastery which is a school for young monks, and we will visit the U Bein bridge as well. It is more than two centuries old and at 1.2 km is the longest teakwood span in the world. Visit Inwa, which was founded in 1364 and lasted nearly 400 years as a royal capital. Highlights include the ‘leaning tower of Ava’, Maha Aungmye Bonzan, a brick-and-stucco monastery; and the elegant teakwood monastery Bagaya Kyaung. Overnight at Mandalay City Hotel (Superior room)

Day 07:    Mingun and Mandalay sightseeing
We will go to Mandalay jetty where we take a short and pleasant ride upriver to Mingun, the site of what would have been the world’s largest zedi had not King Bodawpaya died in 1819 thus halting all further work. Later an earthquake in 1838 split the monument and reduced it to partial rubble. Nonetheless, it is still a very impressive sight as we approach from the river. Nearby we can also visit the Mingun Bell, moved from the zedi after the earthquake and now hung in a new shrine building. It is said to be the largest hanging uncracked bell in the world. Return to Mandalay. Afternoon visit to Mahamuni Pagoda, gold leaf hammering, Kuthodaw Pagoda, Shwenandaw Monastery and Mandalay Hill. Overnight at Mandalay City Hotel (Superior room)

Day 08:    Mandalay – Maymyo (Car)
Morning drive to Maymyo which is 42 miles away from Mandalay (about a one and a half hours drive) and was a former British Hill Station. The town was renamed Maymyo after British Colonel May who established the towns beautiful botanical garderns. Now officially renamed Pyin Oo Lwin, it is on the way to Lashio and to the Chinese border town of Muse. The sightseeing highlights in Pyin Oo Lwin include Purcell Tower, which was a present from Queen Victoria; the morning vegetable market; the Church of the Immaculate Conception; the Botanical Garden; Naung Kan Gyi Paya where you can see the panorama of the town; B.E waterfall and of course the many charming horse drawn carriages used as local ‘taxis’. Overnight Kandawygi Hill Resort (Superior room)

Day 09:    Maymyo – Gokhteik Train – Mandalay
Early morning breakfast and transfer to the station to take a train to Naung Pain Village station through famous Gokhteik Viaduct. Our car will follow and we may transfer back to it at any station where the train stops. (The train is most scenic for the early part of the trip). Drive to Mandalay and afternoon is free at leisure. Overnight at Mandalay City Hotel (Superior room)

Day 10:    Mandalay to Bagan (Boat)
Breakfast at the hotel.  Early morning departure from Mandalay Port for a fascinating journey on board the local Mandalay-Bagan ferryboat service.  You will travel along the fabled Ayeyarwady River enjoying the sights and sounds of the river life and just relaxing.   Arrive at Bagan and transfer to the hotel. We may do some sightseeing if we arrive in time. Overnight at Thiripyitsaya Sakura Hotel (Superior room) * Alternatively transfer to board Pandaw IFC, one night cruise to Bagan and continuous sightseeing on day 11. (Full board meals will be served on board).

Day 11:    Bagan sightseeing
After breakfast at the hotel, we are off on our sightseeing tour of one of Asia’s most popular archeological destinations. Highlights include visits to Nyaung Oo Market; and many of Bagan’s distinctive pagodas such as Shwezigon, a prototype of later Myanmar stupas; Wetkyi-in- Gubyaukgyi, a 13th century ‘cave temple with interesting fine frescoes; Ananda Pagoda, one of the finest, largest and best preserved in Old Bagan; and next to it Ananda Ok Kyaung, one of the few surviving brick monastery buildings from the Early Bagan period. We return to the hotel for a rest before our afternoon visit to a lacquerware factory. We will also visit Dhammayangyi Pahto, a massive later period temple with the finest brickwork in Bagan. Then as the sun goes down we will be at one of the ideal viewing sites selected by our tour guide. Overnight at Thiripyitsaya Sakura Hotel (Superior room)

Day 13:    Mt. Popa and Bagan sightseeing
Morning drive to Mt.Popa which rose from the ground in a massive earthquake in 442 BC. Mt. Popa is famous as the abode of the Nats (Spirit Gods) and for its panoramic view of the local tropical region. On the way back to Bagan we visit a toddy palm juice production plant. Our afternoon sightseeing includes Nagayon, an elegant and well preserved temple containing many Buddhas, the main one which is twice life size and shelters under the hood of a huge serpent; Abeyadana Pahto, of which the primary interest is the fine frescos; Gubyankgyi, in the old Bagan village of Myinkaba, is an early period temple with well preserved paintings inside; and Mingalazedi, the very last of the Late period monuments built before the kingdom’s decline. As the day wanes we will be at Bupaya, a Pyu-style stupa which is located right on the banks of the Ayeyawady river and from where we commence a scenic boat ride to the mid-river where we can see the Shwezigon,  a prototype of later Myanmar stupas, then come back to Ayeyar jetty to disembark. Overnight at Thiripyitsaya Sakura Hotel (Superior room)

Day 13:    Nyaung U/ Heho (Flight), Pindaya – Kalaw
Pindaya is noted for its extensive limestone caves filled with Buddha images.  Driving there we will be passing through the PaO and Danu villages of Pwehla and Ji Chanzi and endless fields of dry cultivated mountain rice and potato. Inside the Pindaya Caves are nearly 8,000 Buddha images that have been placed there over the centuries as a form of merit making. Made of various materials and of different sizes, the statues are situated in every nook and cranny throughout the many cave chambers. Drive to Kalaw which is situated 70 km west of Taunggyi; the capital of Shan state and about 50 km from Pindaya caves. Kalaw sits high on the western edge of the Shan Plateau and was a popular hill station in the British times. It is still a peaceful and quiet place with an atmosphere remnant of colonial era. Overnight at Amara Resort (Deluxe room)

Day 14:    Kalaw trekking – Inle (Car)
Today’s trekking takes us to visit a village of the Palaung people (about 2-3 hours one way). The trail takes you through mountains with the view of tea plantations along sides of the hills and vegetables gardens with   villager’s houses located all along the ravines. It may be a difficult trip for older people but it is fascinating trekking with mountains, villages and of course with the people. Today we are driving to unique and magical Inle Lake, located about 1000 meters above sea level and 22 km long by 11 km wide. Overnight at Thiripyitsaya Sakura Hotel (Superior room)

Day 15:    Inle – Indain sightseeing
Highlights include the fisherman rowing in the one-legged style that is characteristic of Inle Lake boatmen, and gardens of grass and earth floating on the surface of this shallow lake, floating strips of ‘land’ for growing vegetables. Another attraction besides the enjoyment of the scenery is a visit to the ‘jumping cats’ monastery, Phaungdaw U Pagoda and silk weaving. We continue our Inle Lake sightseeing with a visit to Indain and its enchanting 16th century pagodas. To reach Indain and the nearby village we will take a boat ride up a small scenic creek that runs into Inle lake. Overnight at Golden Island Cottages (Standard room)

Day 16:    Heho/ Yangon (Flight), Yangon sightseeing
Transfer to the airport to fly to Yangon. Arrives and transfer to the hotel. Afternoon have a short visit in China town before going to famous Scott Market; a sprawling 75 year old complex noted for its variety of handicrafts and other items which provide an excellent opportunity for a shopping spree.Overnight at Kandawgyi Palace Hotel (Superior room)

Day 17:    Departure transfer
Free at leisure departure transfer to the airport.

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