Utilise Burma’s exciting and at times unusual transport types to explore its most famous towns and cities. Through a combination of walking, trains, horse-carts, bikes, boats, trishaw and planes, guests can visit learn about local cultures and beliefs in Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Pyin Oo Lwin and Inle Lake for a memorable 10 day discovery of the Golden Land.
Burma trains bikes & boats
Day 1 Arrive Yangon (D)
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, 3 hour walking tour will cover 4-5 kilometres in the central districts of downtown. Many of the buildings visited are on the Yangon City Heritage List, a list of 188 man-made structures mainly consisting of religious landmarks and colonial-era buildings.
Highlights include City Hall, the old railway station and the former Minister’s office where General Aung San was assassinated. Interspersed in the guided walk are various religious sites such as the St Mary’s Cathedral, built in 1899, and the Buddhist landmarks of Sule Paya and Botataung Pagoda.
By walking through the streets you’ll also have a chance to witness the lifestyles of the locals- from the busy bus and boat stations to the tea shops and hidden street markets. There are plenty of chances to interact with Yangon residents and learn more about the Burmese culture.
Before returning to the hotel you’ll stop for a cup of tea or coffee at Lat Ywae Sin, a favourite tea shop with the locals. Busy from morning until night, this shop roasts its own coffee and has unique wood carvings on its wall. If you are feeling hungry, they are famous for their semolina cake and also offer great noodle dishes (drinks only; food not included).
Welcome Dinner at the Hotel or Monsoon Restaurant.
Overnight in Yangon.
Burma trains bikes & boats Day 2 Yangon (Circle Train) (B)
This morning, after checking out from your hotel, 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, colourful 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 Yangon.
And then 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.
Enjoy lunch in town (own account; we recommend Feel Myamar, an excellent Burmese restaurant popular with the locals). If time allows, continue to Bogyoke Market, formerly known as Scott’s Market, 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).
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.
Burma trains bikes & boats Day 3 Yangon – Bagan (Horse-cart) (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 to an elevated temple from where you will have a panoramic view of the magnificent plains of Bagan. Continue to the colourful Nyaung Oo Market where every day the locals come to buy and sell fresh produce and other goods before visiting 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.
Burma trains bikes & boats Day 4 Bagan (Bike & Boat) (B)
After breakfast at the hotel, embark on a half day bike trip toward Kyauk Gu U Min. You’ll bike past the Nyaung U morning market where you can pop in to browse through the colourful stalls selling produce, meats and dry goods.
Continue by bike through back lanes, stopping as often as you like to take photos or visit with the locals.
You will then arrive at Kyauk Gu U Min, a beautiful temple with exquisite stone carvings depicting religious figures and flowers on the door. The temple itself is built against the side of cliff, so behind the main hall of the temple you can enter a cave. Inside the cave there are several small niches where individuals can practice meditation. Legend states that the cave was built during the 13th century for the locals to hide from the invading Mongols. After your exploration of Kyauk Gu U Min, you’ll return to the boat for a relaxing cruise back to Bagan (around 1 hour) from the eastern side of the river where a five to ten minute walk takes you to the jetty.
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.
Transfer back to your hotel upon reaching Bagan.
Overnight in Bagan.
Burma trains bikes & boats Day 5 Bagan – Mandalay – Pyin Oo Lwin (Horse & Cart) (B)
After breakfast at your hotel, transfer to Nyaung U Airport for the flight to Mandalay.
Upon arrival at Mandalay Airport, you will depart from Mandalay on a scenic two-hour drive to the former British hill station of Maymyo, now officially called Pyin Oo Lwin. The town is located on a plateau 1000m above sea level and renowned for its cooler temperatures and lush foliage. Many reminders of the colonial era are still present in Pyin Oo Lwin, including brick and timber houses with British names and the Botanical Gardens to the south of town.
This afternoon is free at your leisure for lunch and sightseeing. We suggest taking a traditional horse and carriage ride through the town to see the historical houses including Candacraig, built in 1905. Your horse and carriage will drop you off at the 175-hectare Botanical Gardens where you can take a relaxing walk though the beautifully-landscaped gardens. Or visit the local market in the centre of the town near the clock tower where a colourful array of items are for sale including locally-produced jams and fruit wines.
Overnight in Pyin Oo Lwin
Burma trains bikes & boats Day 6 Pyin Oo Lwin – Naung Pain Village – Mandalay (Train) (B,L)
It’s an early morning start today with your guide and driver picking you up at your hotel at 4.00. Transfer to Mahamuni Pagoda, Mandalay’s most important religious sites. The main Buddha image here is more than 3.5 metres high and is coated with golf leaf applied by the local pilgrims- in fact, so much gold leaf has been applied over the years that the image is now distorted and appears lumpy in texture. Every morning at 4.30 the monks and locals gather at Mahamuni to wash the statue’s face with scented water and clean his teeth with a soft brush. This bizarre yet beautiful ceremony is worth getting out of bed for!
Next it’s time to head to the morning market in central Mandalay for a walking tour. Covering several city blocks the market is a hive of activity in the early morning hours with vendors selling mounds of fresh produce, meats, flowers and other items and shoppers arriving by trishaw or motorbike. You may even see monks and nuns walking through the market to collect alms or purchase items for the monastery. The setting is incredibly colourful and as you walk through the market you are likely to see things you have never seen before- from exotic fruits and spices to dried meats and prepared sweets.
Finally it’s time for breakfast! We’ll visit a local tea shop- a busy meeting place throughout the day and an integral part of Burmese life. Sip a hot cup of coffee or try the local tea, a strong brew mixed with sweetened condensed milk. You’ll sample a bowl of local noodles- Mandalay is famous for its mee shay (noodles with pork or chicken, bean sprouts, toasted chickpea flour, rice flour gel, soy sauce and various herbs) and nan gyi toke or mont di (rice noodle with a chicken curry- the difference is the size of the noodles). You can also have mohinga or Shan noodles if you wish other dishes such as curries, rice and chappati are also available.
Continue to Paleik after breakfast. Most travellers visit Paleik to see its famous snake temple but the real lure is its more than 300 temples. Built during the same period as Ava (14th century) the temples are abandoned, covered in ivy and connected by dirt paths. We’ll spend time walking amid the ruins, enjoying the blend of nature and man-made buildings as well as learning about the history of the area. There is a small village and two monasteries in the vicinity which we will walk through for a taste of local life.
Take a break at midday for lunch.
This afternoon, head to Taung Ta Man village. This quiet village is located across the lake from Amarapura. Walk through the village stopping at the local monastery and passing by the school and village, where, depending on the time of year you may see weaving of cloth or palm-leaf weaving.
Continue to U Bein Bridge for a walk across 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.
At the end of the bridge you will reach 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.
Relax and watch the sun set at U Bein then return to your hotel.
Overnight in Mandalay.
Burma trains bikes & boats Day 7 Mandalay – Mingun – Amarapura – Mandalay (Boat) (B,L)
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 to Amarapura. Visit will be to Bagaya Monastery, where you will find a collection of Buddha images from 16th to 20th centuries reflecting many different styles. It is also a good place to learn about mudras, the statue’s hand gestures which have different meanings. There is also a library with a collection of palm leaves etched with various sections of Tripidaka. Some of the oldest book date back to the early 18th century. Then visit Mahagandayon monastery, when over one-thousand monks reside.
Before departing Amarapura go 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 fabulous views of the surrounding farms and streams.
Return to your hotel.
Overnight in Mandalay.
Burma trains bikes & boats Day 8 Mandalay – Heho – Nyaung Shwe (Trishaw & Bike) (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.
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. Lunch at local restaurant in Nyaung Shwe (Own Account).
You’ll start on your bikes heading first to the west of the lake toward the village of Khaung Daing. We start by crossing over the town’s main canal to the rice paddies. From there we head south for around 8 kilometres to Khaung Daing. Take time to explore this village- known for its production of soya bean products- and then catch a local ferry boat across the lake to Maing Thauk Village. The relaxing boat trip takes around 20 minutes and is the perfect break from your biking.
From here turn north up the lakes eastern shores for around 10 kilometres to Red Mountain Estate. The ride is gorgeous, passing many local farms and villages as you pedal along quiet roads. Take a break to visit Red Mountain Winery, a collaboration between the Pa-Oh people and a French wine expert. Then descend to Nyaung Shwe, arriving in the late afternoon.
Overnight in Nyaung Shwe or on Inle Lake.
Burma trains bikes & boats Day 9 Nyaung Shwe – Inle Lake – In Dein (Boat) (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). Continue to 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.
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.
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.
Overnight in Nyaung Shwe or on Inle Lake.
Burma trains bikes & boats Day 10 Heho – Yangon Departure (Plane) (B)
This morning transfer to the Heho Airport for your flight to Yangon, transfer to the international airport for your onward flight. If you have time, we suggest joining one of our optional tours.
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.
Burma trains bikes & boats:
This tour operates daily as requested, private basis not join in, please inquire for pricing which varies depending on accommodation standards.
Our services include:
9 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
Horse cart tour in Bagan
Private local boat for Mingun excursion, Kyauk Gu U Min excursion in Bagan and for Inle Lake excursions
Porter fees at airports
Entrance fees for the visits mentioned in the program
Water and refreshing towel
Meals as mentioned in the program (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
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 Burma
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 however this can change)
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.