Get ready to skim over jade lakes, amble on horse carriage through golden plains, and hustle through city streets in a rickshaw as you delve into one of the most astonishing countries in all of Asia.
Our very best of Burma tour takes you on a journey from Irrawaddy villages to Buddhist shrines, with diversions away from the main sites and into the heart of the country. Admire architectural marvels, discover different cultures, and learn the secrets behind local arts and crafts on a journey to see the very best Burma has to offer.
Your voyage embarks from Yangon, where you’ll wander among the city’s diverse population as you gaze at golden pagodas and stately monuments. Venturing beyond Yangon’s urban borders, you’ll travel to the Golden Rock, one of the holiest sites in Burma, and Bago, an ancient Mon capital for your first taste of rural Burmese lifestyles.
Flying north, touch down at Inle Lake, where you’ll stroll among weaving workshops and hill-tribe markets. Witness the incredible leg-rowing Inthar fishermen, one of many ‘uniquely Burmese’ things you will see on your Burma tour. From there, you’ll head to Mandalay, a regal Burmese city and the gateway to the evocative former royal capitals.
You’ll then travel overland to Bagan, veering off the tourist trail and transferring by jeep and boat through Monywa and Pakokku. Along the way you’ll see sites such as the Thanboddhay Pagoda and the labyrinthine-like sandstone caves of Po Win Taung. You’ll discover the peaceful rhythm of Burmese village life as you continue south along the Irrawaddy River by boat, stopping at hidden temples on the way to Bagan.
Spend two full days in Bagan, where the country’s history is reflected in the temple construction. Along with exploring the pagoda you’re Burma tour includes ample opportunities to wander amid the villages and crafts workshops of this tranquil town.
Returning to Yangon, your Burma holiday concludes yet should you wish to delve deeper into the local culture and history we offer several excursions to suit your tastes.
Best of Burma – Day 1 – Arrive Yangon
Upon arrival, you will be greeted by your 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 socialise 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 Burma. 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.
Best of Burma – Day 2 – Yangon – Kyaikhtiyo – Golden Rock (B)
Depart Yangon early this morning for a journey by road to Kyaikhtiyo and the Golden Rock. Late morning, arrive at Kyaikhtiyo base camp (approximately 5 hrs). Travel by local, open-air truck along a winding road (45 minutes) where you be dropped off at the junction camp to travel the final distance to Golden Rock on foot. The uphill trek is along a paved trekking path and offers great views of the surrounding area. For an easier alternative, four porters can carry you uphill in a specially-made sedan chair allowing you to enjoy the views without all of the hard work! (extra cost not included)
After about one hour of trekking, reach the Golden Rock. A huge boulder covered by gold leaf and delicately balanced on the edge of a cliff, Golden Rock is one of Myanmar’s main pilgrimage sites. The pagoda here is said to hold a hair of the Buddha and Buddhist from across the country come here to pay homage.
Overnight near Golden Rock.
Best of Burma – Day 3 – Kyaikhtiyo – Bago – Yangon (B)
This morning there is the option to visit the Golden Rock again to see the rising sun casting its rays upon the rock. Starting from the pre-dawn hour, local pilgrims gather by the rock to make offerings in the solitude of the morning. Return down to base camp by the same route on foot and by open-air truck. Then drive to Bago, the former capital of the Mon kingdom.
Your visit in Bago begins at the local market for a short walk among the colourful stalls selling flowers, produce and spices. Then we visit Shwethalyaung Temple which houses a beautiful 55-meter long reclining Buddha, and to the Mon-style Shwemawdaw Pagoda. Shwemawdaw is one of the most venerated in Burma and whose 114 meter spire is taller than the one at Shwedagon Pagoda. Also visit a local Mon village nearby for a short walk through this quiet, typical rural village. The area was once famous for its weaving but these days only a few looms remain.
On the way back to Yangon, stop at the Allied War Cemetery near Htaukkyan. This beautiful, peaceful cemetery is the final resting place for over 27,000 Allied soldiers.
Overnight in Yangon.
Best of Burma – Day 4 – Yangon – Heho – Inle Lake (B)
After early breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for the 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.
Upon reaching the edges of Inle Lake, board a private motorboat to head out to Inle Lake, one of Burma’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.
OPTION: Prepare your lunch with a local family! This cooking course is a fun and interesting way to learn about the traditional flavours and preparation techniques of Burmese Cuisine. Join a local Inthar family in their kitchen to cook local dishes then sit on the floor at a round table and dine in the local way. 40 USD Per Person
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.
Best of Burma – Day 5 – Inle Lake – In Dein – Inle Lake (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. Here you can climb the covered stairway to the top of a hill which is covered with picturesque ancient stupas and has magnificent views of the lake below.
After enjoying your visit to In Dein, return to your boat. Continue along the lake for additional sightseeing before returning to your hotel this afternoon.
Overnight Inle Lake.
Best of Burma – Day 6 – Inle Lake – Heho – Mandalay (B)
Enjoy breakfast and a leisurely morning at your hotel.
OPTION: Biking and Wine Tasting- Bike from Nyaung Shwe to Red Mountain Estate, a winery tucked in the Shan Hills. The ride takes you along quiet, flat roads (around 5-10km depending on hotel location) past farms and villages. Reach the winery and enjoy a tour followed by an optional wine tasting. Return by bike to your hotel or meet your car for the airport transfer. (Note: Maximum 10 persons due to bike availability)
Around midday transfer to Heho Airport for the 1.5 hour flight to Mandalay. Upon arrival, your car and guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel (approximately 1 hour drive).
Overnight in Mandalay.
Best of Burma – Day 7 – Mandalay – Sagaing – Ava – Amarapura – Mandalay (B)
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 centre of Burma. It is home to 3,000 monks and 100 meditation centres 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 Burma.
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.
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 kilometres 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.
Return to Mandalay late this afternoon.
Overnight in Mandalay.
Best of Burma – Day 8 – Mandalay – Mingun – Mandalay (B)
After breakfast, transfer to the Mandalay jetty and board a private local boat for a 1-hr cruise on the Irrawaddy River to Mingun.
Visit the main sites of Mingun beginning with the famous Mingun Pahtodawqyi. This huge brick structure was left unfinished after an astrologer predicted the King’s would die should the temple be completed. In the 1800s, an earthquake left several large cracks in the structure. Continue your visit at the beautiful white Hsinbyume Pagoda whose distinctive style is meant to resemble the mythical Mount Meru. Then, see the Mingun Bell which weighs 90 tons and is considered the world’s largest un-cracked ringing bell. Return to Mandalay by boat, enjoying lunch on board as you make your way back to the city.
Next visit Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda is home to one of the country’s most revered Buddha images which, over the years, has 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! Join the local craftsmen at their workshop and create your own, unique puppet. A hands-on way to learn about the local culture and create a memorable, personalised souvenir! 18 USD per person
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.
If you wish, head to the top of Mandalay Hill to watch the sunset.
Overnight in Mandalay.
Best of Burma – Day 9 – Mandalay – Monywa (B)
This morning, depart Mandalay for a 3-hour drive to Monywa, a typical Burmese town on the banks of the Chindwin River. We will make a few stops along the way to stretch our legs and take photos. We’ll reach Monywa at midday and check into the hotel. Take time to freshen up before starting your sightseeing around Monywa. (lunch will be at the hotel or in town) (client’s account)
This afternoon begin with a visit to Thanboddhay Pagoda, a huge Buddhist temple covered with more than 500,000 Buddha images. Also stop at Boditahtaung Pagoda which houses the largest reclining Buddha image in Burma, at 100m long and 27m high. Nearby is the largest standing Buddha in the world, Laykyun Setkyar, at 423 feet in height.
Having explored the sites and sceneries of Monywa we then head to the banks of the river to watch the sun set.
Return to your hotel this evening.
Overnight in Monywa.
Best of Burma – Day 10 – Monywa – Po Win Taung – Pakkoku – Bagan (B)
Depart Monywa after breakfast proceed to Po Win Taung (approximately 1 hour drive). This extraordinary complex consists of 947 sandstone caves dug out of the hills and contains what is considered by archaeologists to be the richest collection of mural paintings and Buddhist statues in Southeast Asia.
After visiting Po Win Taung, continue a few hundred meters away to Shwe Ba Taung. Spend time exploring this interesting site where monasteries and temples are carved out rocky narrow cliffs.
We then continue down the ‘road less traveled’ for another 90 minutes, passing traditional villages where you may see farmers climbing palm trees to extract juice from which they will produce palm tree sugar. Stop at Kyet Su Kin village for an opportunity to learn more about the lifestyle and culture of the countryside residents. Then, resume your journey to Pakokku (1 hour), arriving in time for lunch at a local restaurant (client’s account).
Proceed to the jetty and board a private local boat in Pakkoku for a leisurely, two hour cruise downriver to Bagan. Upon reaching the shores of Bagan, transfer to the hotel.
Overnight in Bagan.
Best of Burma – Day 11 – Bagan (B)
Today’s excursion visits a range of sites, providing a great overview of Bagan’s history, culture and lifestyles. The journey begins at an elevated temple with spectacular views over the surrounding plains. This is the perfect introduction to the grandeur and scope of Bagan’s architecture. Next continue to Ananda Temple, one of the most revered temples in Bagan and which is quiet in the morning, before all the tour buses arrive.
Afterwards we will go to Myinkaba Village and Gubyaukgyi Temple which is noted for its beautiful mural paintings on its inner walls and well-preserved plaster carvings on its exterior. Nearby is Manuha Temple and Nan Paya Temple, two smaller temples with nice Buddha statues and stone work.
Then get to learn more about the local culture with a visit to two workshops producing Bagan’s most famous products: lacquer ware and wood crafts. Watch as the skilled craftsmen use techniques passed down through generations to create beautiful items.
Take a break for lunch and return to your hotel for a short rest, escaping the extreme heat of the midday sun. Late this afternoon we’ll take a relaxing horse-cart ride through the temple area, passing many monuments, fields and houses. Stop at an elevated temple and climb atop to watch the sun set over the plains. Return to your hotel.
Overnight in Bagan.
Best of Burma – Day 12 – Bagan (B,L)
Today we offer three excursions from which to choose depending on your interest.
Swe Daw La Su Legendary Tour: Discover one of Bagan’s most famous legends as you follow in the tracks of King Anawrahta and his precious white elephant. By boat, car and jeep visit four auspicious sites and travel amid rural villages bringing the legend to reality while getting a chance to see Burmese local life.
Excursion to Mount Popa & Salay: Take a break from temple touring in Bagan to visit Mount Popa and Salay. Start with a drive to Chauk to visit the fabulous morning market, filled with locals buying and selling their goods. Continue on to the village of Salay, an important Buddhist centre, and visit its famed wooden monastery with intricate carvings. Turn east and head through the countryside to Mount Popa, an extinct volcano which is believed to be home to the ‘nats’, ancient Burmese animist spirits. Climb to the top for stunning views of the surrounding countryside before descending down to Bagan. (Note: Salay monastery museum closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and public holidays)
Biking + Community Tour: Experience rural Myanmar, its culture and traditions, by bike. Wind your way through the temples and villages, stopping to enjoy tea and chat with the locals. After lunch in a local curry house, continue to Nyaung U. Join the locals at a tea shop, see the production of Bagan specialties (such as pea paste powder and plum jam) and watch craftsmen at work.
Overnight in Bagan.
Best of Burma – Day 13 – Bagan – Yangon (B)
This morning transfer to the Nyaung U Airport for your flight to Yangon. Upon arrival your guide and driver will greet you and transfer to your hotel for check in.
After freshening up, venture downtown to explore the city centre and its fabulous mix of architecture and sites. The streets are filled with historical buildings many of which have a faded colonial charm not seen elsewhere in Asia. You’ll start at the post office – a lovely historic building- and walk to Sule Paya in the middle of downtown, passing by Strand Hotel, Mahabandoola Garden and Independence Monument along the way. Then visit Little India and Chinatown, a colorful cacophony of restaurants, temples and markets. Reach Bogyoke Market, formerly known as Scott’s Market, where there is time to browse through the dozens of stalls and shops. This is Yangon’s best market for handicrafts and other goods. (Note: Market is closed on Mondays and public holidays).
Overnight in Yangon.
Best of Burma – Day 14 – Depart Yangon (B)
Today is at your leisure until transferring to the airport for your onward flight. If you have time, we suggest joining one of our optional tours.
Circle Train: You will transfer to Yangon Railway station to take local circular train journey to the outskirts of town (20-30 minutes ride). The slowly traveling train gives you a unique opportunity to observe the lively and colourful life of the rural Burmese people. Disembark to visit Kyi Myin Daing market where a variety of street vendors sell colourful wares. Enjoy exploring the market and meeting the friendly locals before returning by road to Yangon.
Blessings Trail: Discover the rich mixture of cultures and religions in Yangon with this half day walking tour. Visit Hindu Temples, Synagogues, Churches and Mosques as well as unique Burmese spiritual places including nat shrines and fortune tellers. Along the way we’ll also explore markets, tea shops and other lively local sites in the busy downtown area.
Yangon for Foodies: Get a taste for Burmese food and culture with our half day guided ‘Yangon for Foodies’ tour. Visit some of the city’s best fresh markets, sample tasty treats, sip a cuppa with the locals in a tea shop and enjoy a traditional curry lunch. From the sweet (fried donuts) to the strange (fermented tea leaf salad), you’ll get to try it all! (Lunch included)
Pilgrimage Tour: Trace the path of a Yangon legend that stretches back 2000 years on our guided pilgrimage tour. Visit three stupas where many years ago sacred Buddha relics, brought from India, were enshrined by two merchant brothers. Join local pilgrims on this fascinating spiritual journey. (Note: although this program visits Shwedagon Pagoda again, we will visit it in the morning when the activities and atmosphere is very different to seeing it in the evening)
Art Gallery Tour: Explore traditional and modern Burmese art with a guided tour of Yangon’s art scene. Visit a selection of local galleries displaying paintings, sculptures and photographs from famous art pioneers and emerging young artists. Enjoy a cocktail at House of Memories restaurant, a historic building once used as a headquarters for the country’s independence movement and containing many remnants of this era including General Aung San’s typewriter.
Rates vary frequently. Please contact us to get the best possible price based upon your travel period and specific touring needs, private basis not join in, please inquire for pricing which varies depending on accommodation standards.
Our services include:
13 night’s accommodation in a shared twin room or shared double room with daily breakfast
English-speaking guide station guides (1 guide per location)
All transfers and excursions with private air-conditioned vehicles with drivers except in Kyaikhtiyo (transfers by open non-air-conditioned vehicles)
Horse-cart tour in Ava & Bagan
Private local boat for Mingun excursion, from Pakkoku to Bagan and for Inle Lake excursions
Choice of excursions on day 12
Porter fees at airports
Entrance fees for the visits mentioned in the program
Meals as mentioned in the program (B = breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
Water and refreshing towel
Our services do not include:
International ticket to/from Yangon
Domestic flights (rate: please refer to our flight tariffs)
Meals other than mentioned (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
Visa arrangements for Myanmar
Fuel Surcharge for domestic flights
Visits not mentioned in the program
Drinks and personal expenses
Tips and porters at the hotels
International departure Airport Tax Yangon (USD 10/pax at present)
Any other items not mentioned
Creating Unique Touring Experiences
All the touring itineraries on this website have been carefully crafted by our in-country management teams and represent a series of experiences we can certainly recommend. However, we understand that every travel experience should be as unique and individual as each traveler. Our consultants are waiting to hear from you so that we can tailor or custom design a Burma tour to your individual specifications.