Classic Culture Myanmar 8 Days
Day 1: Arrive Yangon
Upon arrival, you will be greeted by your Exotissimo Guide who will accompany you as you transfer to the hotel. Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is a relatively quiet and charming city. Its impressive colonial and spiritual heritage makes it one of the most fascinating cities in Southeast Asia.
After lunch we’ll visit Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, home to a 70-meter long reclining Buddha. A visit to Kyaukhtatgyi provides a great overview of Buddhism with murals depicting the life of Buddha, the feet of the statue carved with traditional symbols and often many locals gathering to pay homage and pray. Continue to a local tea shop for a chance to experience an integral part of Burmese life: drinking tea! Select from an array of snacks and enjoy a coffee or tea as you sit amid businessmen, friends and families who gather at the tea shop to socialize or conduct business. Next your guided tour goes to Kandawgyi Park, one of central Yangon’s greenest spots. Here you will see the glittering Karaweik barge, a replica of the royal barge, and the vast lake with views of Shwedagon in the background. Depending on the day of your visit Kandawgyi may be busy with local families who come here on the weekend to relax in the fresh air. From here, continue to Shwedagon Pagoda the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar. Although the origins of the pagoda are unclear, the local legend states that the original structure was built 2500 years ago then renovated several times until taking its current shape in the 15th century. The 8-sided central stupa is 99 meters tall and gilded with gold leaf and is surrounded by 64 smaller stupas and your guide will show you around the massive complex, explaining why this temple is so revered. Enjoy breathtaking views of the golden stupa from this vantage point.
Overnight in Yangon.
Day 2: Yangon – Bagan (B)
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for the flight to Bagan (Nyaung Oo). From the 11th to 13th centuries, when Bagan was the capital of Myanmar, the rulers constructed thousands of huge stupas and temples many of which are still standing today on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. On arrival, your journey begins with a visit an elevated temple from where you will have a panoramic view of the magnificent plains of Bagan. Continue with a visit to the golden stupa of Shwezigon Pagoda for an introduction in to Bagan’s rich history. Then, visit to nearby Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite jataka mural paintings and the elegant Htilominlo Temple noted for its fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations.
This afternoon begin with a visit to a traditional lacquer ware workshop where you can observe the production of one of Myanmar’s best-known handicrafts. Continue to Ananda Temple, an architectural masterpiece and one of Bagan’s most beautiful temples. Built in the early Mon-style, Ananda contains two unique Buddha images whose expressions seem to change depending on the distance from which the statue is viewed. From here, travel by horse cart for a tour passing Thatbyinnyu, the highest temple in Bagan, massive Dhammayangyi Temple, noted for its remarkable brickwork, and Sulamani Temple. Enjoy an unforgettable sunset over the plains from the upper terrace of one of the temples.
Overnight in Bagan.
Day 3: Bagan (B)
OPTION: Start your morning with a hot-air balloon flight over the plains of Bagan. Enjoy the fabulous views as the sun rises over the stupas and Irrawaddy River. This is truly an unforgettable and unique experience! (Note: available only from October to March)
After breakfast, visit the colorful Nyaung Oo Market where villagers gather every day to buy and sell their produce and other goods. Continue to Myinkaba village and take a short walking tour to explore the temples of Manuha and Nan Paya. Explore more temples in the area, visit more craft shops or return to your hotel for a break to relax from the midday heat. This afternoon, continue to the rural village of Minnanthu, one of Bagan’s least visited areas. Here you will explore temples such as Payathonzu, Lemyentha and Nandamannya before heading to the riverside pier. Board a local boat for a slow cruise down the Irrawaddy River. As you cruise the waters, observe the lifestyle of the fishermen and riverside villagers as well as enjoying the unique perspective of Bagan’s temples. Return to your hotel this evening.
Overnight in Bagan.
Day 4: Bagan - Mandalay (B)
Early this morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Mandalay. Upon arrival, begin your sightseeing tour of Mandalay with a visit to Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda is home to one of the country’s most revered Buddha images which, over the years, have been covered with gold leaf giving it an almost ‘lumpy’ texture. Mandalay is well known for its skilled craftsmen and as you tour traditional workshops, you will learn more about the city’s cottage industries. Observe the production of wood carvings, kalaga tapestries, and gold-leaf where the techniques remained unchanged from those used centuries ago to craft items for the Royal Court.
OPTION: Make your own marionette! Visit a local craftshop, choose your marionette’s design (clothes, face, body) and make your own unique souvenir. The entire process takes around 1 hour and is suitable for adults and children.
This afternoon, continue your tour of Mandalay with a visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda, whose 729 marble stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures have earned it the title ‘World’s Biggest Book’. Continue to Shwenandaw Monastery, the only remaining building from the 19th century Royal Palace. This grand teak building is known for its exquisite woodcarving. Head to the top of Mandalay Hill as the sun begins to set to enjoy magnificent views of the city and Irrawaddy River.
Overnight in Mandalay.
Day 5: Mandalay – Amarapura – Ava – Sagaing - Mandalay (B, L)
OPTION: Wake up early this morning (around 0400) and catch a local taxi to Mahamuni Pagoda. Every morning before dawn, the monks wash the face of the ‘lumpy’ Buddha image with special fragrant water and brush its teeth. The ritual takes around one hour and is a unique insight into Buddhism. Return to your hotel around 0730 for breakfast.
After breakfast at the hotel, depart for an excursion around Mandalay to explore the former capitals of Ava, Sagaing and Amarapura. This morning, cross a bridge over the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing. Covered with 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries, Sagaing Hill is widely regarded as the religious center of Myanmar. It is home to 3,000 monks and 100 meditation centers and you will visit pagodas such as Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin and U Min Thone Sae. We’ll also visit Sagaing’s local market, a typical Burmese market that few tourists visit. Here you will find a range of items for sale including locally made pottery, silver and other handicrafts. We will also stop at a small pottery village to see the process of making the ubiquitous water pots found throughout Myanmar. Then continue south of the city to Ava, the capital from 14th to 18th centuries, where a short ferry ride will take us across the river to where our horse and carriage are waiting. Visit the old wooden Bagaya Monastery and the remains of the Royal Palace and Fort. There are many small villages located amid Ava’s ruins and as you travel by horse and cart you’ll get a glimpse of local life in the Burmese countryside. We’ll stop for lunch in Ava before returning to our car. Return toward the city and stop at Amarapura, a former capital whose name means ‘City of Immortality’. First visit a silk weaving workshop which produces exquisite handmade products and then visit Mahagandayon monastery, when over one-thousand monks reside. After touring this tranquil site, continue to U Bein Bridge for a walk along this 200 year-old teak bridge. The bridge was constructed of 984 teak posts that were once part of the deserted Inwa Palace and it is 1.2 kilometers in length making it the world’s longest teak span. Enjoy a stroll along the bridge and the fabulous views of the surrounding farms and streams.
Overnight in Mandalay.
Day 6: Mandalay – Heho – Inle Lake (B)
After breakfast, transfer to Mandalay Airport for a flight to Heho. From Heho, a scenic one-hour drive leads to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway village to Inle Lake. Along the way, stop at the wooden Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery which features beautiful carvings and a collection of Buddha images. We will also stop in Nyaung Shwe for a short walk around town and visit to the colorful market if it is being held that day. Upon reaching the edges of Inle Lake, board a private motorboat to head out to Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular sights. Pass villages built on stilts over the lake, inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the leg-rowing fishermen and see their floating gardens built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles. Visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main sanctuary, which contains five sacred Buddha images covered in gold leaf. Explore the local crafts of Inle Lake with a stop at the weaving village of Inpawkhone and a cheroot factory, where the typical Burmese cigars are made by hand. If time permits, there may be time to enjoy a short walk through one of the lakeside villages.
Overnight on Inle Lake.
Day 7: In Dien – Inle Lake – Heho – Yangon (B)
After breakfast, visit the lake’s morning market. The market rotates its location around the lake’s villages in a 5 day rhythm and is visited by lake inhabitants and surrounding hill tribes who come to sell and trade their wares. (Note: market is daily except on dark moon day and full moon day). From the middle of the lake, continue down a small canal leading to the Pa-oh village of In Dein. Explore the area on foot, strolling around the village, visiting a local school, and wander through the beautiful Alaung Sitthou area. Alaung Sitthou is filled with picturesque ancient stupas and has magnificent views of the lake below. After today’s tour, drive to the Heho Airport for the flight to Yangon and upon arrival, transfer to the hotel.
Overnight in Yangon.
Day 8: Depart Yangon (B)
Depending on flight time, there is an option to take a ride on Yangon’s Circle Train in the morning.
This morning transfer to Yangon Railways station to take a unique ride on the city’s circular train ride through the outskirts of town (20-30 minutes ride). This slowly traveling train gives you unique opportunity to observe the lively, colorful lifestyle of the local people. Disembark at the Kyi Myin Daing market where you can peruse the various stalls and interact with the friendly vendors before transferring back to Yagnon.
This afternoon, visit Bogyoke Market, formerly known as Scott’s Market, where you can browse through the wide selection of Myanmar handicrafts and other goods before transferring to Yangon International Airport for your onward flight. (Note: Market is closed on Mondays and public holidays)
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