Burma – Myanmar cycling holiday Overview
Tour Difficulty: 6/10
Avg. Daily Distance: 80 km (50 miles)
Off Road Cycling: 5%
Maximum Altitude: 1,450 meters
Burma has long held a fascination to the outside world. The new itinerary from Ngang Schwe to Yangon is a journey of huge contrasts, as we travel from Inle Lake in the North to Bagan then to Ngapali Beach on the Bay of Bengal, before ending our holiday in Yangon.
This is definitely a tour for the adventurous cyclist including rough terrain and some long cycling days. At Inle Lake we encounter Hill Tribes and fishing communities in rural inland landscapes of tremendous natural beauty, experiencing traditional life in Burma. Cycling on we take in the pagodas and stupas of Bagan, dating back to the 11th Century this is one of World’s most significant historic and religious sites. As we head on to the west we will encounter a coast line of unspoiled white sands framed with coconut tree palms, opening onto the cobalt blue sea of the Bay of Bengal. Saving the best until last we face the ultimate challenge of the tour with an extreme cycling challenge on rough terrain over the mountain top before heading downhill to Yangon.
Cycle Burma 14 days will leave you with lasting memories of Burma’s culture, rural landscapes and intriguing cities.
Why is now a good time to visit? In the past, the Burmese opposition (the National League for Democracy, or NLD) argued that travel to Burma was an endorsement of the military regime as money from tourism went to the government. There’s evidence that some tourism complexes were built with forced labour, and that villages were cleared to make way for luxury hotels. Aung San Su Kyi has now indicated that responsible travel can help to change Burma. Burma Campaign UK has also revised its position on travel to Burma. Burmese people invariably welcome visitors. through ethical tourism it is possible to ensure the money we spend helps local people.
Day 1) Cycle Burma 14 days Sunday: Arrive Yangon
Arrive into Yangon. You will be met and transferred to your hotel in Yangon. For those who arrive early in the day there will be a walking tour of Yangon, Burma’s largest city and the former capital. This will include a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the most spectacular religious monuments in South East Asia and the oldest historical pagoda in Burma and the world. Its imposing form dominates the city skyline. In the evening, there will be a group meeting with the guide.
Day 2) Cycle Burma 14 days Monday: Yangon – Nyang Shwe.
We board a morning flight to Heho then drive from here to Nyang Shwe. Located on the bank of Inle Lake, Nyang Shwe is the trading hub for all villagers living around the lake and in the Shan mountains. Local hill tribes include the Intha and Pao people. Street traders sell cigars, local crafts and food. This afternoon we have time for an afternoon ride on the western side of the lake along the water’s edge. We then take a boat trip across the lake and cycle back to our hotel on the east side. Later we have the option to explore the lake further by boat, seeing the floating gardens, pagodas and the main produce market.
Cycle distance: 28km
Day 3) Cycle Burma 14 days Tuesday: Nyang Shwe – Pindaya
Today we start out on sealed roads and soon begin a sustained 6-7km climb. After 27km we turn off onto a secluded unsurfaced road that takes us to Pindaya. This is a very picturesque and relaxing ride, and most of the route apart from a stretch of 7km is surfaced. You can expect to get into Pindaya a little after lunch. It’s a beautiful place to stay and you have the opportunity to visit the Pindaya Caves featuring over 8000 Buddha images. They are one of the town’s main attractions although we will see few tourists as the town is visited mainly by Burmese pilgrims. Many legends are told about the caves including a tale of seven princesses bathing in a lake who were captured by a giant spider and trapped in the cave to be rescued by Prince Kummabhaya of Yawnghwe.
Accommodation: Guest House
Cycle distance: 85km
Day 4) Cycle Burma 14 days Wednesday: Pindaya – Ywar Ngan
We ride towards Mandalay today, first on quiet back roads, then on the main road which is main only by name, not by nature. We will encounter very little traffic here due to the road being unsuitable for large vehicles who take an alternate route. The riding is fairly up and down, with nothing too challenging in the way of climbs.
Accommodation: Guest House
Cycle distance: 82km
Day 5) Cycle Burma 14 days Wednesday: Ywar Ngan – Kyaukse
We proceed to Kyaukse through forested areas with rice fields, banana and coconut trees. Our route includes over 500m of uphill cycling but also a mighty 1,737 downhill. As we reach the 43km mark leaving the mountains behind our descent ends and we really begin to feel the heat. Kyaukse is a small peaceful town 25 miles (40 km) south of Mandalay located on the Zawgyi River, although it is in Burma’s dry zone. The Kyaukse area is known for its turmeric, mango and onions. You can walk out to visit the town pagoda and enjoy a lovely view of the area.
Accommdation: Guest House
Cycle distance: 91km
Day 6) Cycle Burma 14 days Thursday: Kyaukse to Myingyan
Leaving Kyaukse behind we head for Myingyan, cycling on through remote traditional Burma. Along the way, we pass through many villages and have unparalleled opportunities to observe traditional lifestyles of the rural Burmese. We can stop to meet friendly locals. Farmers here grow crops such as peanuts, sesame and peas, there are many Toddy Palm trees. The route is flat, but we will need stamina to contend with the heat. Myingyan lies in the valley of the Ayeyarwady River, to the south of Mandalay, on the east bank of the river.
Accommodation: Guest House
Cycle distance: 101km
Day 7) Cycle Burma 14 days Friday: Myingyan – Mount Popa
Today we continue through the rural landscape cycling past fields of millet, sesame, cotton, maize, rice and a great variety of peas and beans. We head south east towards Mt Popa.
Accommodation: Guest House
Cycle distance: approx 80km
Day 8) Cycle Burma 14 days Saturday: Mount Popa to Bagan
We start the day with a visit to Mount Popa, a 1518 – meter-high volcanic mountain with stunning views of the surrounding area. Popa Taungkalat monastery is perched on the top of the volcano and reputedly home to 37 Mahagrini Nats (spirits). At the foot of the mountain you will find a shrine to the spirits. A climb of 777 steps to the top of Popa is well worth the effort for the awe inspiring panoramic views. As we ascend we will pass pilgrims, souvenir shops and Mt Popa Monkeys.
Back on the bikes we set off for Bagan. We pass through villages where the locals produce a range of products using the juices of the Toddy palm trees, including sweet molasses and wine. As we pass by we see the farmers in action as they climb the trees to collect the juice. Traditional farming methods are practised here and Oxen are still used to help grind corn and rice. We approach Bagan, built on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River with temples dotted all along the water front.
Cycle distance: 52km
Day 9) Cycle Burma 14 days Monday: Bagan Rest Day
We begin with an early morning guided ride (on local bikes) to visit the local Pagodas before the heat of the day sets in. You are free this afternoon. There are options to take a ballon ride over Bagan, visit: Nyaung Oo Market, and the Shwezigon Pagoda which many later Burma’s Stupas were modelled on. You can join an organised tour of some of the major temples in the Bagan area or just relax by the pool in the hotel. This evening you will enjoy the sunset over Bagan’s imposing ancient monuments
Cycle distance: 26km
Day 10) Cycle Burma 14 days Tuesday: Bagan to Ngapali Beach or Bagan to Yangon
Today we take a flight south to the beautiful Ngapali Beach which is a short distance from Thandwe in Rakhine State. Ngapali beach is Burma’s most popular and well known stretch of sand. With the deep blue waters of the Bengal sea, white sands and beautiful palm trees you really will feel you’ve arrived in paradise. The remote tranquil surroundings offer a variety of activities. You can take a boat trip fishing or snorkelling. Alternatively you can stroll around the surrounding villages, visiting traditional markets or ride along the entire stretch of sand, experiencing the local way of life. This evening we can watch a beautiful sunset whilst sipping a cocktail on the sands before dinner. There is a wonderful variety of local fresh fish and seafood of offer in the restaurants.
Accommodation: Guest House
Day 11) Cycle Burma 14 days Wednesday: Ngapali Beach to Kanthaya
Today we are re-united with our bikes which will have travelled by road from Bagan. We cycle 65 miles today south along the Bay of Bengal to Kanthaya beach (Pleasant Beach) enjoying unspoiled natural surroundings along this lovely coastline. We pass villages of traditional thatched huts and timber houses with woven mat walls. There is only one hotel at Kanthaya, you can look out at the sea view with birds fishing boats and beautiful sandy beach, enjoying the sea breeze. You might want to take a stroll this evening in the hills behind the beach where the reservoir is a habitat for local wildlife.
Accommodation: Guest house
Cycling distance: 118km
Day 12) Cycle Burma 14 days Thursday: Kanthaya Beach – Ngathainggyaung
We begin the day with a long uphill cycle setting out along the coast between the sea and the ridge of the hills.This is the ultimate challenge of the tour as the terrain is extremely challenging. We come to the coastal fishing village Gwa and then, up over the mountain top we enjoy an afternoon of downhill riding for 47 miles towards the small town of Ngathainggyaung.
Cycle distance: 86km
Day 13) Cycle Burma 14 days Friday: Ngathainggyaung – Yangon
Our final day is a short day on the bikes of 42km as we head for Yangon. We before lunch. This afternoon we have time for a walking tour of Little India and Chinatown.
Cycle distance: 34km
Day 14) Cycle Burma 14 days Saturday: Yangon
Departure day sadly say farewell to Burma. You will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.
Cycle Burma 14 days Prices and Inclusions:
Cycling support and grading
There will be rest stops every 20-35 km depending on the terrain; you will have access to your luggage, and the opportunity to have drinks/snacks.
Not all countries of the world have the same transport facilities and regulations as those of the EU, North America and Australasia. In all destinations we ensure that transport meets the standard of local regulations; you must be prepared for this to be of a different standard than that you may be accustomed to.
You should be used to regular aerobic exercise including biking, although you do not need to be an athlete. It pays to spend some time before the trip getting into the best shape possible. This will ensure you get the most from your holiday. We can send you specific training tips on request.
Suitability for the Burma tour:
This trip is classified road and graded 6/10. Cycling up to 6-7 hours per day, on mainly tarmac roads with some long climbs and an average of around 800m ascent per day, with no altitude issues. You do not need to be a highly experienced cyclist but you do need to be in good physical shape, participating in a few cardiovascular work-outs per week. If you have any queries about the difficulty of the trip please do not hesitate to call us.
Average daily distance: 70km (46 miles)
No. of days cycling: 11
Vehicle support: 95%
Terrain: Our itinerary follows a mixture of back routes and a few main roads, Burma has noticeably less heavy traffic than other Asian countries. The terrain is mountainous and there are a few tough climbs and some long stretches of downhill cycling.
Equipment and bike stuff
The Burma tour is suitable for mountian bikes with front suspension or strong touring bikes. Our leaders carry a good tool kit and will help to fix any bike problems. However, we cannot guarantee to be equipped for all repairs, so you must ensure that your bike is in good working order before the tour. If you are not the most mechanically minded we suggest that you get your bike looked at by a professional bike mechanic. In particular we would suggest looking and adjusting all wheel spokes, greasing all your bearings, checking your brakes/gears cable, tighten all nuts and bolts, check chain, quick release clamps, tires and put in new inner tubes and check wheel rims are not worn. In addition to making sure the bike is well serviced you sould ride with as much care and attention as possible.
We would also advise you to bring the following tools: multi-tool, tyre levers, pump, 2 spare inner tube, spare spokes of the correct length to fit your wheels – check with a bike shop, brake pads, a few spare links for your chain, if applicable, spares for any unique or high-tech items on your bike, e.g. fluid and bleed kit for hydraulic brakes.
For this tour we have Trek 4300 bikes in a range of sizes. They are mostly new for this season and all are well maintained bikes with Shimano components and suspension forks. Spare parts (tubes, tyre, chains etc.) are included in the price of the bike rental and will be carried in the support vehicle with a tool kit and track pump. . The bikes are equipped with flat pedals. Those who prefer to use spd or clip-in pedals, are welcome to bring these with you, along with your own cycling shoes and cleats. You are also welcome to bring your own saddle. The guide will carry some spares and tools for fixing punctures etc. but we suggest bringing a couple of spare inner tubes (26 x 1.75), a pump and a puncture repair kit. If you are able to do a simple repair yourself this will avoid the need to wait for assistance should the team or support vehicle be any distance away. Helmets are not included in the bike hire, you will need to bring your own helmet.
Baggage allowances and your bike
Your bike must be carried as a part of your luggage allowance and to this end we do ask you to make every effort to keep your total check-in baggage to an absolute minimum. The baggage allowance for most airlines for an economy-class ticket is 20kg per person; although a degree of flexibility is usually extended to groups and the check in staff may accept up to 26kg per person without imposing excess baggage charges.
Your bike (in its cardboard box) will weigh 15 to 18kg. So, that means you will have a small allowance for clothing etc. You should carry small heavy items in your day pack / pannier which you can take onto the plane as hand luggage.
Your hand luggage is not included as a part of your overall allowance, as it is not weighed. Please inform your airline that you will be taking your bike on the flight, and attempt to make every effort to secure from the airline an additional baggage allowance – but this is not always granted. Although we cannot guarantee that there will not be excess baggage charges, this is something, which very rarely happens.
In terms of clothing this is a general guide as to what to take. It is entirely flexible and should be tailored to your specific needs: sunglasses, lightweight trekking boots/shoes — cycling footwear, lightweight socks (3 pairs) –, underwear (4 pairs) — lightweight trekking shorts, padded cycling shorts (2 pairs) – shorts, T-shirts (2) — lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, fleece jacket/pullover, biking jacket — waterproof (breathable fabric), fingerless biking gloves — headlamp – & spare bulbs/batteries, spare laces – sunglasses, toiletries — basic first aid kit, towel (small) — small padlock, 2 large plastic bags (for keeping items dry in your bag), sun cream, lip balm. If you have any questions about this list please feel free to contact us.
What to take
A detailed list of what to bring will be provided on booking. First aid – On all our tours the guides carry a medical kit. However you are recommend to bring your own first aid supplies which should include: a broad spectrum anti-biotic, antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, a cold medication, diarrhoea treatment, pain killers, plasters, insect repellent and re-hydration salts.
What’s included and what’s not
All accommodation will be in hotels or guest houses. We choose accommodation on the basis of comfort rather than luxury. Our prices are based on sharing a twin room; single rooms are available at extra cost.
Most of the food is provided on the tour, we provide most meals (see trip notes for details) along with snacks and mineral water during cycling days. All transportation and local guides within Burma are included. International flights are not included in the tour costs.
Spending money depends on your taste for souvenirs, drinks etc. We estimate that $400 will be more than enough to cover the 14 day tour. You can expect to pay around $5 – $18 for a 3 course meal in a restaurant.
Tipping is an accepted part of everyday life, and although it is always at your discretion, you will be expected to tip to reward good service. $40 for the guide and team at the end of the tour is recommended.
Myanmar has a fertile climate and growing conditions all year round. Rice is the staple food here, and Myanmar used to be the World’s biggest rice exporter. Meat or fish, soup, salad and vegetables are all cooked in their own ways, with additional relishes.
It is customary for dishes to be are laid out on the table and served together so that diners can make their own choices and combinations. It is common for meat or fish to be cooked in oil, seasoned with pounded onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chilli and spices, and then simmered. The most typical condiment is a kind of relish made from preserved fish or prawn, served with chilli powder. Some typical Maynmar dishes are: Mohi nga , or rice noodle served with fish soup, is the favourite Myanmar dish mostly enjoyed at breakfast or on special occasions. Laphet or pickled tea leaves with a dash of oil and served with sesame seeds, fried garlic and roasted peanuts, is another popular snack typical of Myanmar
Prices vary due to currency fluctuations, please ask for best rates and departure dates
Inclusions: As per day by day itinerary
Cycle Burma 14 days optional extras
Single supplement: Please ask for single supplement
Bike Hire from Local: Please ask for bikes available and prices
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