Explore the fascinating culture, cuisine and natural heritage of Burma. A country filled with surprise and intrigue, shared by welcoming and friendly Burmese people. Begin your tour of Myanmar in the quiet and compared to its neighbouring countries, relatively undeveloped city of Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon. Explore the spectacular landmark of Shwedagon Pagoda and reclining Buddha of Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda. We also uncover the art, antiques and enthralling architecture Yangon is home to.
From Yangon we head up to Bagan to continue our tour of Myanmar. Bagan is a plain strewn with fascinating temples and pagodas. Begin at an elevated temple, enjoying its breathtaking views over Bagan before exploring others including the majestic Ananda. Meander through Nyaung Oo Market where villagers gather to sell their produce and wares before sitting down to a cup of sweet Burmese tea.
From Bagan it’s a short flight to Heho, set within the heart of the Shan State. We make our way to Nyaung Shwe at the northern end of Inle Lake and visit the local monasteries, nunneries and Museum of Shan Chiefs. We spend the next few nights on Inle Lake, exploring all it has to offer, ranging from a scenic winery to markets and the Pa-Oh Village of Indein where there is a chance to meet locals and observe their traditional lifestyles. We also wander through the beautiful Alaung Sitthou area.
From Inle Lake we fly back to Yangon and embark on a tour called ‘On The Blessings Trail’ that uncovers the various religions practiced in downtown Yangon. While walking through this lively section of town we’ll also stumble upon local markets selling everything from fresh produce to temple offerings to traditional medicine.
Burma for the Connoisseur
Burma for the Connoisseur Day 1 – Arrive Yangon
Upon arrival at Yangon International Airport you will be greeted by your guide and driver who will transfer you to your hotel for check-in.
Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is a relatively quiet and charming city with an impressive colonial and spiritual heritage. It’s a great starting point for a Myanmar holiday. After freshening up, set off for a tour of the city’s highlights. First visit Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, which is home to a 70 metre long reclining Buddha. Continue through the city, stopping as you wish to take photos.
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.
Burma for the Connoisseur Day 2 – Art, Antiques & Architecture (B)
We’ll start up in the area of Yangon known as ‘Golden Valley’ at New Treasure Gallery. This art gallery was established by Min Wai Aung, a Burmese artist famous for his paintings of monks. Then visit two antiques shops, Augustine’s and Madame Thair. Both shops are filled with curious and some real hidden gems from various periods of Burma’s history. The exuberant Madame Thair will be sure to entertain you with her charm and ‘everything is for sale’ pitch. Next it’s on to Dhamazedi Road where a row of small shop houses are packed full of antiques. Hidden among the dusty shelves are many treasures from the colonial era and before.
Return to downtown where you’ll venture on a tour of the city’s most historic buildings as well as hidden art galleries. Itinerary will vary based on your interest in art and architecture- but there are at least 2 galleries available to visit. Among the buildings visited will be the current and former train stations, former City Hall, Immigration Office, Courts and hidden examples of 1940s-era architecture.
Begin with a visit to River Gallery. This gallery, at the famous Strand Hotel, showcases the city’s widest range of contemporary art, representing more than 30 artists at any given time. Should you wish you can also enjoy a break at The Strand for their high tea service (surcharge will apply). The next visit will be to Lokanat Gallery, a non-profit gallery which features a small collection of traditional works as well as rotating exhibits of current Burmese artists. And finally, a long standing favourite, is Pansodan Arts to view works of art covering traditional period up to modern, abstract styles. The knowledgeable curator will show you upstairs to the store room where hundreds of paintings are tucked away, including war-time propaganda, neo-classical works created as European influences began to reach Burma and classic line drawings and photographs.
Overnight in Yangon.
Burma for the Connoisseur Day 3 – Yangon – Bagan – Temples(B)
This morning after an early breakfast, transfer to Yangon’s airport for the flight to Bagan. Upon arrival, begin sightseeing with a visit to an elevated temple with spectacular views over the surrounding plains. This is the perfect introduction to the grandeur and scope of Bagan’s architecture.
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.
At midday, check in to your hotel and relax, escaping the midday heat. Lunch is on your own account, either at the hotel or at an outside restaurant.
No tour to Bagan would be complete without a visit to Ananda, one of the town’s most holy sites. In the early afternoon there are few tourists here, allowing plenty of time and space to enjoy exploring this important monument. Afterwards visit the neighboring Andana Ok Kyaung which has some of the country’s best mural paintings from the Ava-period.
The day ends at Sissa Nar Gyi Temple at the far south of Bagan. This unusual temple features a square base decorated with 39 elephants on each of the 4 sides.
Overnight in Bagan.
Burma for the Connoisseur Day 4 – Bagan – Villages & Crafts (B) (L)
After breakfast, visit the colourful Nyaung Oo Market where villagers gather every day to buy and sell their produce and other goods. Sit in a local tea shop and enjoy a cup of sweet Burmese tea or coffee while watching the activity on the street front. Continue through a local neighbourhood where a local shop makes pone yay (pea powder paste) and see how local plum jam is made and packed.
We then venture away from Bagan through the dry zone to a village famous for its palm products. Watch as the farmers climb the trees to collect the palm fruit and utilise traditional methods to make molasses, palm wine and other treats. Then join the villagers for lunch in the shade of the palm trees.
Upon returning to Bagan, 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.
Overnight in Bagan.
Burma for the Connoisseur Day 5 – Bagan – A Different Perspective (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)
Board a private river boat and set off upriver toward Kyauk Gu U Min. Throughout your Irrawaddy river cruise you will be treated to fabulous scenes of life on the water: fishermen, local ferry boats, riverside villages and views of the Bagan temples. You’ll stop at Sae Lan village and go ashore for a short walk. Sae Lan is typical of the riverside villages along the Irrawaddy. The friendly people work as farmers and fishermen, living a simple but happy life.
Continue by boat to Kyauk Gu U Min on the eastern side of the river where a five to ten minute walk takes us to the temple. After your exploration of Kyauk Gu U Min, you’ll return to the boat for a relaxing cruise back to Bagan (around 1 hour). Transfer back to your hotel upon reaching Bagan. Take a break to escape the heat of the midday sun.
Late this afternoon we’ll take a relaxing horsecart ride through the temple area, starting at the soaring Thetbyin Nyu and on to Sulamani, one of Bagan’s best decorated temples. Continue to the massive Dhammayangyi temple before finishing at North Guni Temple to watch the sun set over the plains.
Overnight in Bagan.
Burma for the Connoisseur Day 6 – Bagan – Heho – Wine Tasting – Inle Lake (B) (L)
This morning transfer to the Yangon airport for the flight to Heho, in the heart of the Shan State. From Heho it is a scenic one hour drive to Nyaung Shwe, a small town located at the northern end of Inle Lake.
Visit around the town by trishaw passing the local monasteries and nunneries and the ‘tomato house’, a large warehouse where the lake’s produce is collected and sorted for distribution up country. The final stop is the Museum of Shan Chiefs. The modest display includes some interesting old costumes and other relics from the sao pha (Shan rulers) of the past. (note: closed Mondays and Tuesdays)
At midday visit Viewpoint for lunch at what is widely considered one of the best Shan restaurants in Burma. Taste a variety of local, fresh dishes while looking out over the rice fields and lake.
Afterwards continue to Red Mountain Wine Estate, a joint venture with the Pa Oh people and a French winemaker. Take a tour of the grounds before sitting down to a wine tasting. The grapes yield several delicious wine varieties and the views over the lake are breathtaking.
Then transfer to your lakeside hotel for an evening at leisure.
Overnight at Inle Lake.
Burma for the Connoisseur Day 7 – Inle Lake – Tribes & Traditions (B)
Today begins with a visit to the morning market, which rotates locations on a 5-day basis. (note: there are no markets on full moon or dark moon days) This daily market attracts people from all over the lake’s shores who gather to buy and sell their wares- if you are lucky you may see Pa-Oh, Inthar and Shan people in their traditional outfits. Wander amid the stalls where your guide will explain the local produce and goods for sale.
Proceed to the village of Inpawkhone to observe the traditional silk weaving techniques of Inthar people. Inpawkhone is also known for its weaving from the stems of lotus flowers, a time consuming process that results in high quality materials famous throughout the country. We also visit a cheroot factory where local Burmese cigars are rolled by hand.
Also visit silversmiths and blacksmiths, using ancient techniques to create their wares.
We’ll stop at Inthar Heritage House to learn more about the history and culture of the lake’s indigenous people. Enjoy lunch here or one of the other restaurants in the area (own account).
This afternoon we will travel to Indein, on the southwestern shores of the lake. The boat will travel down a small canal leading to the Pa-oh village of Indein. Explore the area on foot, strolling around the village, stopping to chat to the locals and observe their traditional lifestyles. Then wander through the beautiful Alaung Sitthou area, filled with picturesque stupas and has magnificent views of the lake.
Return to your hotel late this afternoon.
Overnight at Inle Lake.
Burma for the Connoisseur Day 8 – Culinary Exploration (B) (L)
We’ll start our culinary exploration of Inle Lake with a visit to Khaung Dine village on the lake’s western shores. Take a walk through this village to see the production of various soya dishes- including tofu, fried soya crackers and soya bean paste. A fascinating look at the traditional cottage industries of the lake.
Continue to a stilted house on the lake where you will have the unique opportunity to cook with a local Inthar family. Assist in the kitchen as you cook an array of delicious, traditional dishes such as stuffed Inle fish and tomato salad. Then sit on the floor, local-style, in the dining room of the house and enjoy your freshly prepared lunch.
Then travel back to your hotel, enjoying a relaxing afternoon on the lake.
Overnight at Inle Lake.
Burma for the Connoisseur Day 9 – Ine Lake – Heho – Yango – Spiritual (B)
This morning fly back to Yangon, arriving around midday. Check in to your hotel (subject to availability) and enjoy lunch at a restaurant of your choosing.
After lunch transfer to the start point for your ‘On The Blessings Trail’ walking tour through the downtown streets. Although Myanmar is predominately Buddhist, there are several forms of religion practiced in the country most of which were introduced by immigrant populations. Exploring the diverse religions in downtown Yangon provides insight into the rich tapestry of cultures in Burma and unveils a side of the city rarely explored by tourists.
We start at Kheng Hock Keong Temple, Chinatown’s largest temple, and continue walking our way through western downtown. Along the way we will visit mosques, churches, Hindu temples and even a synagogue before finishing at Sule Paya. Your guide will explain the rich diversity of the religions in Yangon and teach you about offerings and blessings in each place of worship. Beyond the major regions, you’ll also discover local Burmese traditions such as ancestor worship, Nat worship, astrology and even the lottery!
While walking through this lively section of town we’ll also stumble upon local markets selling everything from fresh produce to temple offerings to traditional medicine. We’ll sit and enjoy tea on a leafy sidestreet, sampling local snacks and meet friendly locals.
As the sun begins to set on Sule Pagoda, transfer back to your hotel or to dinner.
Overnight in Yangon. After breakfast at hotel, transfer to Mandalay International Airport for your onward flight.
Burma for the Connoisseur Day 10 – Yangon Depart (B)
Today is free at your leisure until transferring to the airport for your international flight.
Burma for the Connoisseur
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:
Accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room with daily breakfast
Meals as indicated in the program (B = breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
Entrance fee for the visit mentioned in the program
All transfers and excursions with private air-conditioned vehicles
Private boats for excursions to Kyauk Gu U Min and on Inle Lake
Wine tasting at Red Mountain Estate
English-speaking station guides
Water and refreshing towels
Our services do not include:
Other meals not indicated in the program (B = breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
Entrance fees for the sites not mentioned in the program
International flights to/from Yangon
International Airport departure Tax
Tips & porters at the hotels
Drinks and Personal expenses
Any other items not mentioned in the included services
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.