Your legendary tour of Burma commences in Bagan. An area full of history, wonder and spellbinding architecture steeped in a colourful history. Visit the most famed temples and wonder through its quaint villages that are home to crumbling pagodas with delicate murals still covering the interior walls. Learn about the local practices by visiting workshops that produce two of Bagan’s most famous products, lacquer ware and wooden crafts. Take a horse-cart ride through the temple area for the perfect end to your first day.
Follow the well known tracks of King Anawrahta and his precious white elephant through Bagan as your Exo guide recounts the story and visits the temples the King himself stopped at on his journey. After exploring a number of stupas it’s off to the jetty on the Irrawaddy for a short cruise across the river followed by a jeep ride to the village of Tant Kyi Taung.
Continue your tour of Burma with a cruise upstream to Mandalay. Here we visit the former ancient capitals of Sagaing, Ava and Amarapura. Stand in awe at the 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries in Sagaing Hill, an area widely regarded as the religious centre of Burma. We then explore the surrounding countryside of Mandaly by bike or by car – whichever you prefer. There is then some personal time for each guest to wonder around Mandalay as they please.
Burma River Cruise – Day 1 – Bagan (departs Sunday/Wednesday only) (L)
Your guide and driver will greet you at your hotel to set off for a full day exploration of Bagan. This program includes a range of sites, providing a great overview of Bagan’s history, culture and local lifestyles.
The journey begins with a visit to Thagyar Pone Temple, a 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 visit 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 with lunch at Shwe Myanmar, a favourite among local visitors who come for the delicious curries. 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, 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. Return to your hotel.
Overnight in Bagan.
Burma River Cruise – Day 2 – Bagan (Monday/Thursday) (B,L)
Discover one of Bagan’s most famous legends as you follow in the tracks of King Anawrahta and his precious white elephant. The tale states that the King was given a replica of Lord Buddha’s tooth and he placed this on the sacred elephant’s back and set him free. The elephant stopped at four places around Bagan and later the King built stupas at each of these locations. Thus the local Burmese believe that by visiting all four of these places in one day your wish will be fulfilled.
Your Legendary Tour begins in the morning, with your guide and driver greeting you at the hotel. A stop will first be made at Nyaung U market, a colourful local market that is busy in the morning with vendors selling a range of products. Then visit Shwezigon Pagoda. Although this is one of Bagan’s most famous sites, few people realise the legend behind its creation. The centre piece of Shwezigon is its large golden bell-shaped pagoda situated upon three terraces. The lower-most terrace once featured wood carvings of nat spirits but these are now housed in a small hall within the temple grounds.
Continue on to Tu Yin Taung, a hilltop stupa in the eastern part of the main Archeological Park. As you approach the temple you will be greeted by 500 monk statues which line the road. The stupa’s elevated location offers fabulous views of the surrounding plains, a unique perspective of Bagan and its surroundings. The next stop is Lawka Nandar which is in New Bagan next to the Irrawaddy River. Lawka Nandar is a bulbous stupa with a cylindrical bell and three octagonal terraces as a base. The temple still functions as a place of everyday worship as it is home to a Buddha relic. We’ll make a stop at Nanduwan Restaurant for lunch before continuing on our Legendary Tour.
This afternoon we drive to the jetty where a private boat is waiting to transfer us across the river to Tant Kyi Taung, the last temple on our tour. From the boat, as you cruise across the Irrawaddy, you can see views of the temples in the distance. We travel by jeep (approximately 15 minutes) through the countryside to Tant Kyi Taung. This temple is unique in Bagan as it is thought that many centuries ago, Buddha stopped on the hill where the temple now stands. On the return drive to the jetty we can stop in Tant Kyi village for a short walk around.
Then it is time to return to Bagan, first crossing the river by boat and then continuing to your hotel by car.
Overnight in Bagan.
Burma River Cruise – Day 3 – Upstream North (Tuesday/Friday) (L,D)
Bagan – Cruising to Mandalay (Stop in a River Village)
This morning transfer to the jetty where the RV Paukan boat is waiting. Embarkation begins at 11.30 and after boarding, a welcome cocktail is served in the Saloon.
Upstream to Mandalay.
The boat casts off at 12.00 noon for the full day of cruising along the Irrawaddy River.
Lunch will be served at 13.00.
Late this afternoon stop at a typical river village.
Burma River Cruise – Day 4 – Cruise to Mandalay (Wednesday/Saturday) (B,L,D)
After breakfast, return to the base-camp by open-air truck and begin the return journey to Yangon. En route, stop in Bago, the capital of the 16th century Mon kingdom. We’ll have lunch in Bago.
Your visit in Bago begins at Shwethalyaung Temple which houses a beautiful 55 meter long reclining Buddha. Take a short visit to a nearby Mon neighbourhood, a charming, quiet area typical of many rural neighbourhoods in Burma. Continue to the Mon-style Shwemawdaw Pagoda, one of the most venerated in Burma and whose 114 meter spire is taller than the one at Shwedagon Pagoda. From here we take a 15 minute walk to nearby Hinthar Gone Pagoda. The walk passes by many monasteries and nunneries and is a great opportunity to see the simple, peaceful lives of the monks and nuns.
At Hinthar Gone Pagoda there is an extravagant nat shrine with dozens of statues and offerings. Depending on the day you may have the chance to witness a traditional nat dance. (Note: Schedule depends upon donor offering; can only be confirmed one day before arrival)
On the way back to Yangon if time allows, 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.
Burma River Cruise – Day 5 – Disembark Mandalay (Thursday/Sunday) (B,L)
Early this morning transfer to the Yangon Airport for the flight to Mandalay.
On the way in from the airport drive to the city of Ava 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, a typical Burmese monastery with two buildings- the one at the east is only for the Buddha and the western building is the place for the monks. 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. Continue toward town for lunch and to check in to your hotel.
This afternoon explore the surroundings of Mandalay Hill. Stop at Shwe Nan Daw Kyaung, Golden Palace Monastery, which is decorated with exquisite wood carvings. The walls are decorated with wooden figures such as nats (spirits), zawgyi (alchemist) and Hanuman (a mythological monkey). There are also, unusually, Christian angels there, but serving as a nat. Nat shines and nat figures are taking important roles in daily life of Burmese people and they can be found blended with the art of Buddhist figures. Then you will visit to Ku Tho Daw Monastery, which is also known as ‘the world’s largest book’ due to its 729 inscribed marble slabs. Each slab is housed by a small temple and it is amazing to see the whole complex.
Your final stop today is 63rd Street where, in the late afternoon, dozens of stalls set up on the street to serve snacks and offerings to the locals. Visit Maha Lawka Yan Hnain Aung Daw Mu Myat Swar Paya where you will witness Buddhist pilgrims grinding thanaka to scent water for washing the Buddha statues. There are also many other symbolic spiritual places at the temple, including a small pond with fish and turtles.
Overnight in Mandalay.
Burma River Cruise
Day 6 – Mandalay – Countryside Exploring & Craft – (Friday/Monday) (B)
This morning, explore the countryside of Mandalay by your choice of car or by bike.
Your guide and car will pick you up at the hotel and take you to the town of Paleik, 24 kilometres from Mandalay. Setting off from Mandalay, a scenic drive takes us through typical Burmese rural villages. We’ll reach Paleik after about 45 minutes and commence our visit at the famous ‘snake temple’. This temple features a statue of Buddha surrounded by snakes and the locals believe that this image brings good luck. Thus every day they gather the pythons, which live at the temple, to wash them in water. They also clean the Buddha image daily with water. After visiting this unusual site, continue with a short-sightseeing tour around the town which has Ava-style temples before returning to Mandalay. On the return drive we’ll visit nearby villages for a glimpse of life in rural Burma.
Set off this morning for a fabulous ride through the eastern outskirts of Mandalay. Your guide will meet you at the hotel with your bikes and, after adjusting your bikes and helmets, it’s time to start pedalling. The journey covers 20-30 kilometres (depending on start point and optional uphill climb) and is mostly on flat, sealed roads. We pass local markets, monasteries, schools and rural villages as we pedal along the shady roads. (Supplement will be charged for bike rental)
Reach your hotel at midday where it’s time to take a break for lunch and refresh.
This afternoon we’ll explore the craft-shops of Mandalay and the famous 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.
OPTION: Make your own marionette! Visit a local craft-shop, select the style and dress of your marionette and put together your unique souvenir. A perfect, personalised memory of Mandalay. 18.- per person
Return to your hotel late this afternoon.
Overnight in Mandalay.
Burma River Cruise – Day 7 – Mandalay Departure (Saturday/Tuesday) (B)
This morning is at leisure until transferring to the airport for your onward flight.
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:
6 night’s accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room or cabin
Private English speaking station guide in Bagan and Mandalay; Shore excursions with English-speaking ship manager or ship guide (shared)
Transfers and tours by private air-conditioned vehicles (except for shore excursions during the cruise)
Water and refreshing towel on touring days
Meals as mentioned in program
Entrance fees in Bagan Zone Fee, Mandalay Zone Fee and Sagaing Zone Fee
Our services do not include:
Meals other than mentioned
Bike Rental Charges
Drinks and personal expenses
Tips and porters
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.