Culinary Myanmar 9 Days
Day 1: Arrive Yangon (L)
Upon arrival, you will be greeted by your Exotissimo guide who will accompany you as you transfer to the hotel. After check in (early check in depend on room availability), you will visit city center and stop for a while to take photos near the Sule pagoda. Walk around the Mahabandoola Park to see the colonial courthouse and the city hall. From here we start a tour on foot around the colonial area with various historical buildings. Then you will have lunch a local teashop to enjoy Burmese tea and its traditional culture. The tradition of drinking strong tea with condensed milk and sugar was brought by British to Myanmar for more than a century ago. However, people still drink green tea, which is free flow and complementary in most of the local tea shops, to wash away the sweet flavour. You will visit to a popular tea shop which has a variety of Burmese traditional snacks and noodles. We’ll have tea and an assortment of snacks and noodles. Some of the famous dishes are: Mont Pyar Tha Let (rice pancake), Mont Leit Pyar (wanton-like parcels of bean and jaggery), Shwe Htamin (Golden sticky rice), Mohingar (rice noodle with fish soup- Myanmar’s ‘national’ dish) and Own Noe Khauk Swe (yellow noodle with chicken and coconut soup).
After your lunch you will visit to the Mawtin Jetty to see the busy riverside activities at Yangon River. There is a daily market here selling fruits, sweets and other foodstuffs. Then you will visit the late afternoon market at China Town, another chance to try local and Chinese delicacies. Venture through the stalls selling everything from flowers to seafood, spices to fresh tofu. Nearby is 19th Street, a popular place to have draught Myanmar Beer, together with vegetable and meat sa-tays (BBQ), in the evening. Enjoy a beer and a light snack here. Dinner this evening is at your leisure. You can stay in Chinatown or your guide can recommend another option.
Overnight in Yangon.
Day 2: Yangon - Bagan (B, L)
After breakfast at the hotel transfer to Yangon's Mingaladon Airport for the flight to Bagan (Nyaung Oo). Thousands of ancient stupas and temples in this area make Bagan, one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Asia. From the 11th till 13th century, when Bagan was the capital of Myanmar, the rulers constructed huge stupas and temples, many of which are still standing today on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Explore Bagan’s most important pagodas. You will begin with Shwezigon Pagoda, which is the prototype of the first Myanmar Stupa. Then visit to Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite jatakas murals paintings and the elegant Htilominlo Temple noted for its fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations. You will have your lunch at La Min Thit Burmese restaurant, which is a great place to try a local style curry lunch. There will be variety of Burmese dishes and they are filled whenever empty. Some restaurants even advertise as Myanmar Buffet, though clients are still served.
In the afternoon, visit Ananda, an architectural masterpiece of the early-style temple and Ananda Okkyaung is one of the few surviving brick monasteries from the early Bagan period. From Thatbyinnyu, the highest temple in Bagan at 61 meters, depart for a horse and carriage tour among the temples passing through the traditional village of Taungbi, Sulamani Temple and the massive Dhammayangyi Temple noted for its remarkable brickwork. Enjoy the sunset over the site from one of the open upper terraces of a temple. This evening is free at your leisure, however we suggest dinner at The Beach Bagan where you can sample Burmese cuisine served in traditional daung-laan style.
Overnight in Bagan.
Day 3: Bagan (B, L)
OPTION: from October to March, early morning hot-air balloon flights over the plain of Bagan and its 3000 sites. An unforgettable and unique experience!
After breakfast at the hotel, visit the colourful Nyaung Oo Market. Your guide will show you different kinds of herbs and vegetables which are used for Burmese cooking. Next we’ll visit a Pone Yay Gyi shop, Bagan’s most famous food treat. This black paste made from soy beans is popular with the local pilgrims who buy it in Bagan to give as a present for their family. You will be learn the steps for making this paste – watching every stage from the raw soya bean to the final black paste. A simple way of enjoy a Pone Yay Gyi dish is to mix this paste with onion slices, pounded dry shrimp and certain amount of peanut oil and salt- add slices of green chilli if you like it spicy. The smell of peanut oil and delicious-looking black paste will make your mouth water, and it is simply called Pone Yay Gyi Thoke or Pone Yay Gyi salad. Then you will also visit to another cottage industry where Pe Chaung, another local famous snack made from gram bean.
For lunch we head out of town to a palm garden and visit the family of toddy palm climber. It is a good opportunity for you to observe simple ways of life of toddy climbers and their daily routine in the palm garden. Watch as they collect the juice from the toddy fruit and process it into molasses, alcohol and other items. From August to February there are also other plantations (a variety of beans, peanuts, sesame and cotton) grown in the toddy garden. Enjoy your village local lunch, which is prepared by the family. In the afternoon, drive back to Bagan to visit to a lacquer ware house, and witness the skills of artists who amazingly draw decorative figures and patterns by free hand. Then you will drive to Irrawaddy River to have a boat ride along this famous river. From the water enjoy magnificent views of the temples and riverside villages as the sun begins to set.
Overnight in Bagan.
Day 4: Bagan - Mandalay (B, L)
After breakfast at the hotel transfer to Nyaung Oo Airport for the flight to Mandalay, Myanmar’s cultural capital. On arrival, a sightseeing tour starts with the Mahamuni Pagoda, famous for its venerable statue of Buddha covered with gold leaf. Mandalay has also long been known as a centre of skilled craftsmanship and in former times supplied the Royal courts. A tour of traditional workshops includes crafts such as marble masonry, Kalaga tapestry and gold leaf making. Take a break from sightseeing to discover another uniquely Burmese culinary treat: Le Phet Thoke. Eaten as snack, as a desert or even together with rice for a meal Le Phet Thoke, is a local salad made from fermented tea leaves. The tea is first pounded in a motor together with garlic, green chilli, salt and a bit of lime juice for sour and spicy taste. Then it is sealed in a glass bottle and left to preserve for months. The salad consists of taking this preserved tea and adding beans (like gram and luk luk), roasted small peanuts and sesame. Occasionally other ingredients such as dried shrimp, sliced cabbages, tomatoes, green chilli and garlic are added and this style is called A Phoe Gyi Thoke, or ‘Grand Pa’s delight’.
For lunch we will stop at Min Thiha tea shop, which is a popular tea house in Mandalay serving two of the city’s most famous dishes: Mandalay Monte and Khotaung Monte. Tea houses in Mandalay are always full with local people, it is a place not only for having tea, but also for socializing as well as doing business. For example, a car or real estate broker will sit at the tea shop for whole day long in hopes of finding potential new customers. Enjoy this typical Mandalay atmosphere while you are having lunch. In the afternoon, visit the Kuthodaw Pagoda with its 729 marble stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures (known as the world’s biggest book) and Shwenandaw Monastery, noted for its exquisite woodcarving. Enjoy the sunset from Mandalay Hill to end the day. This evening is free at your leisure. We recommend going for a stroll through the night market where local barbeques and salad makers sell their treats to the shoppers. Nearby is the famous ‘chapatti corner’ where tourists and locals gather for Indian delights such as mutton curry, biriyani and, of course, chapattis.
Overnight in Mandalay.
Day 5: Mandalay – Heho – Inle Lake (B, L)
This morning, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Heho. From Heho a 1-hour scenic drive leads to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway village to Inle Lake. Start with a visit to the Nyaung Shwe morning market where locals gather every morning to buy and sell fresh produce from the lake and its surroundings. Continue by local trishaw down to the bustling canal which is a hive of activity in the morning as boats from the lake come in to unload tomatoes and other vegetables for distribution to the markets around the country. Watch as baskets laden with produce are transferred from boats to trucks and bikes. Hop back on the trishaw and wind through quiet streets. Make a stop at the ‘tomato house’, a warehouse-like structure where the tomatoes are sorted and priced for sale. Then continue past some of the many monasteries and nunneries in the town, stopping for photos as you go. Continue to the jetty and 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. The main agricultural product grown in the floating gardens is tomatoes and your first stop will be a visit to a tomato garden to meet with the farmers. Observe their daily life and learn their technique of plants growing on floating islands. After that, proceed to a traditional Inthar House at Tharlay village where you will spend time preparing the dishes with the family. It’s a unique chance to spend time with the locals and learn about their cuisine and culture. Together you’ll prepare local delights including Inle Style Tomato Salad and other Inthar dishes. Then your lunch will be served on a low table and enjoy your lunch sitting on the floor the local way.
This afternoon, 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.
Overnight in Inle Lake.
Day 6: Inle Lake – Heho - Yangon (B, L)
After breakfast, visit the daily market on the lake, which rotates in a 5-day rhythm around villages on the lake itself and on the shores of the lake. From the market, we continue by boat to Khaung Daing village on the northwest coast of the lake. This village is famous for its traditional Shan tofu - fried tofu crackers and folded, triangular tofu treats. We’ll be able to watch (and perhaps participate!) as they sift the soy beans, boil them, mash them into balls then form tofu cakes to dry in the sun. This is a fabulous taste of local life on Inle Lake. Proceed to Nyaung Shwe and visit Red Mountain Estate Vineyards and Winery, which is located at the north eastern part of Inle Lake. Enjoy magnificent view of Inle Lake and its stilt villages while you taste Red Mountain Estate wines. You will also observe the grape varieties grown in the estate. Drive back to Nyaung Shwe where you will have lunch at View Point Restaurant which features some of the best Shan food in the country. Shan food is the best known of the Myanmar regional cuisines and at Viewpoint you will delve into authentic Shan tastes while in the Shan State.
After lunch, you will visit 150 years old Shwe Yan Pyay monastery with its unusual oval shaped windows. Near by Shwe Yan Pyay pagoda has a cave like corridor, which is decorated with impressive glass mosaic. Transfer to Heho airport for your flight back to Yangon.
Overnight in Yangon.
Day 7: Yangon (B, L)
This morning, you will start with a visit to a local market with an experienced chef. Here you will learn about the various spices, vegetables and other ingredients used in Burmese cuisine and select and buy the necessary items for your personal cooking lesson. Return to Monsoon Restaurant where your qualified chef will guide you through the preparation of several popular Myanmar dishes. Then enjoy your own prepared delicious Burmese meal.
This afternoon, have a bit of a rest at your hotel and then continue with a visit to Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, which houses a 70-meter reclining Buddha. Late this afternoon, visit 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 before transferring back to your hotel. From Shwedagon continue Kandawgyi Park, which is busy in the evening with locals who come to enjoy the fresh air and dine at the many restaurants in the park. At the weekends there are often local bands playing. You will have good photos of illuminated Karaweik Royal Barge, Shwedagon Pagoda and surrounding lake. Take a stroll around the park and if you wish stay for dinner at one of the Thai, Burmese or Chinese restaurants here or take a short drive to Le Planteur or The Strand Grill, two top restaurants in Yangon. (Client’s account)
Overnight in Yangon.
Day 8: Yangon Departure (B)
Today is free at leisure to explore on your own. Then, you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight.
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