Depart the UK with international economy flight to Yangon. We can also arrange departures from your local airport at no extra cost.
Mingalabar and welcome to Myanmar! The former capital Yangon, also known as Rangoon, remains Myanmars largest city. Its colonial background and religious legacy make it one of the most mesmerising and genuine places in all of Southeast Asia. Upon arrival at the airport you will be warmly welcomed by your guide who will take you to your hotel for check in.
This evening you will be taken to Le Planteur, Yangon’s landmark restaurant, for an outstanding dinner. Located in a lush tropical garden close to Inya Lake, the gourmet restaurant, bistro and wine bar assure that Le Planteur satisfies the needs of every customer at the highest level.
This morning we visit Shwedagon Pagoda in the early morning when its gilded stupa is bathed in the day’s first light and few tourists are around. Witness local worshippers who come to start their day with prayer at the base of the 100-meter chedi which is literally enclosed in over 40 tons of gold leaf. Descend the eastern stairway to find a row of shops at the base of the temple selling various religious items. Here you will find monks robes, alms bowls, offerings, incense and other unique Buddhist objects. As you browse the stalls your guide will explain the use and rituals of Myanmar’s Buddhist people.
In the afternoon you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Heho. From Heho we have a scenic one-hour drive to Nyaung Shwe, gateway village to Inle Lake.
Then you will board a private InDevi Luxury motorboat and go to Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular and breathtaking sights. InDevi means goddess of the lake. The motorboats are one of a kind, much quieter than existing boats and none other like them, creating a truly memorable lake tour.
After breakfast you will pay a visit to the lake’s morning market, which is visited daily by the lake’s inhabitants as well as the surrounding natives who also come to sell and trade their wares.
Then enjoy a culinary experience not to be missed on Inle Lake! Have a mouth-watering typical Shan lunch on a rice carrier boat in the middle of beautiful surroundings of Inle Lake. The boat has been transformed into a fully equipped ephemeral restaurant. Relax and enjoy an exquisite lunch while exploring the life on the lake from your floating private restaurant. (Subject to weather conditions.)
Later a 1-hour boat ride down a small canal will take you to the Pa-Oh village of Indein, positioned on the western shores of Inle Lake. Take a leisurely stroll around the village before ascending to the top of a hill. Once you’ve arrived at the summit, you will be greeted buy an iconic Buddha image which sits enshrined among hundreds of stupa ruins and overgrown shrubbery. Here, from the peak, you will also be rewarded with mesmerising views of the placid surroundings. The Indein Pagoda complex is undoubtedly one of the most amazing sites around the shore of the lake and it consists of hundreds of small stupas which are overrun by moss and greenery.
On your boat ride back you will stop at the Inthar Heritage House to learn more about the history and culture of the lake’s indigenous people and enjoy a delicious coffee and cake. As an exciting day comes to close transfer back to your hotel for some well-deserved relaxation.
This morning begins with an excursion to experience the traditional agricultural methods of the Inle Lake area. Take a scenic walk through Thalae U, a typical lake-shore village, to enjoy the scenery and observe the traditional ways of life here. Continue to Alae Myaung village, where the residents rely upon the fertile soil to grow an abundance of vegetables which are then later sold and distributed throughout the Shan State. With the lake to the east and the hills to the west, the setting is one of the most picturesque in all of Myanmar. Join farmers in the fields to pick vegetables and learn more about the day-to-day activities of these communities.
After lunch in Nyaung Shwe you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Bagan. Welcome to Bagan, known to be one of the greatest architectural sites in Asia. When Bagan was the centre of Myanmar from the 11th to 13th centuries the monarchs built multitudes of massive stupas and pagodas, scores of which are still present on the shores of the Irrawaddy River. The majesty of Bagan with more than 2000 red brick temples on a plain of the size of Manhattan Island is one of the highlights sure to impress. Upon arrival at the airport you will be warmly welcomed and transferred to your hotel for check in.
This morning is at leisure. Should you wish, take a short excursion to a local village area of Bagan. Take a brief stroll past the farms, houses and monastery to learn more about daily life in Bagan.
In the afternoon you will visit Ananda Temple, one of the most sublime temples in the region. Even from the distance you can recognize it by its gilded dome. From here you will journey on horse cart for an excursion that passes Thatbyinnyu, the tallest temple in Bagan, gigantic Dhammayangyi Temple noted for its remarkable brickwork, and of course, Sulamani Temple.
Prepare yourselves for an incredible dinner experience that you will never forget. Board a local boat that will take you to a mid-river sandbank where a private gala-style dinner will be served under a starry open sky, surrounded by Bagan’s resplendent temples mirrored on the leisurely river. Look forward to exquisite local dishes in a stunning surrounding. A Myanmar harp player will enhance the romantic atmosphere.
After breakfast at your hotel, your guide and driver will pick you up to start your Bagan excursion. It’s off to the vibrant Nyaung Oo Market, where the locals come to trade fresh produce and other goods daily. From here you will have a look around the Old Bagan starting with a visit of the renowned Shwezigon Pagoda, constructed by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century as a religious memorial. Travel over dusty lanes and tree shaded roads past temples and monasteries to a small village. At one of the monasteries you will participate in a special traditional Buddhist ceremony. Around 10.30 you will donate offerings of food to the monks. Afterwards you will receive a special blessing from the monks to ensure good luck and happiness.
The experience of a traditional Burmese afternoon tea in the tranquil grounds of a Buddhist monastery is not to be missed. Local delicacies – both sweet and savoury – are served with a choice of beverage under shady trees in a quiet village near Bagan. This uniquely Burmese experience is a delightful haven from a hectic schedule of touring and sightseeing. When you reach the monastery you will be taken to your al fresco tea room, set idyllically under the welcome and natural shade of trees. Here you will find your table, generously laid with a wide variety of traditional Burmese snacks, tea and coffee. You will be introduced to the monks and the lay assistants (Katpiya) and gain firsthand experience of their tranquil lifestyle, both religious and secular. After tea, you can choose to return to your hotel or perhaps take the opportunity to watch the sun go down over the plains of Bagan.
Following breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Mandalay. Welcome to Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city and former royal residence, a booming and vibrant city on the banks of the Irrawaddy River.
Upon arrival you will be transferred (1 hour) to Mandalay city and your orientation tour of Mandalay will kick off with a walk up to Mandalay Hill, rising 240 meter above the city. At the top the reward is a full panoramic view, the hazy blue outline of the Shan Hills to the east, the Mandalay Palace (and the city sprawl) to the south and the Irrawaddy River to the west. Directly south of Mandalay Hill stands the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, known as the pagoda of the Great Marble Image. Admire the huge Buddha, carved from a single block of marble. It’s said that the colossal marble block took 10,000 men almost two weeks to transport it from the riverside to its current location. Proceed to Kuthodaw Pagoda, frequently dubbed as “The World’s Biggest Book” for its collection of 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. Then it’s off to the Shwenandaw Monastery, the Golden Monastery which is the only enduring structure from the Royal Palace of the 19th century. This impressive structure is celebrated for its remarkable woodcarvings. Take a break at midday and then proceed to your hotel to check in.
The afternoon’s activities will begin with a visit to Amarapura, Myanmar’s penultimate royal capital. Amarapura means ‘City of Immortality’, though its period as capital was relatively brief. First you’ll stop at a silk weaving workshop known for their exquisite merchandise. Continue to Mahagandayon monastery, home to more than a thousand young monks and renowned as a centre for monastic study and strict religious discipline. Once the sun starts to set, you’ll want to stroll along the legendary U Bein Bridge, which was built in 1782 when Amarapura was the Royal centre of attention. It spans 1.2 km across the shallow Taungthaman Lake and is said to be the longest teak-wood bridge worldwide. Enjoy this very special atmosphere as the late afternoon sun casts long shadows and illuminates the local people heading home. As a stunning day comes to an end head back to Mandalay for the night.
Our day will begin with a visit to Mandalay’s vibrant morning market. The market is a hive of activity in the morning with vendors selling mainly fresh produce and meat but there is an array of other goods including spices, local ‘slippers’ and Buddhist donation items. You’ll be amazed at the colours and sounds as deals are made. Should you wish to buy some fruits or household items your guide can assist and advise on a monastery or nunnery in today’s touring at which to donate.
After this invigorating start to the day continue across the Irrawaddy River in to Sagaing. With 600 ivory coloured pagodas and monasteries, Sagaing Hill is generally seen as the spiritual hub of Myanmar and claims residence to around 3,000 monks and nearly 100 meditation shrines. You’ll visit pagodas such as Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin, U Min Thone Sae and Shin Pin Nan Gyaing. Continue to Sagaing’s local market, a less visited tourist site. We’ll head over to a small pottery village which is recognised for manufacturing ubiquitous water pots to observe the tradesmen here applying their traditional methods for producing their goods. A break at midday will be taken in Sagaing or nearby.
Return back to the eastern side of the river in the afternoon, making a stop in Kan Daw village en route. Here you will see a small village where all of the families produce longyis and other textiles. Although no longer made 100% by hand, the production is still fascinating and is a unique photo opportunity in contrast with the delicate weaving in Inle Lake. Tea and a light snack will be served in the family home before returning to your vehicle. This afternoon is at your leisure
Breakfast will be served at your hotel before we transfer to Mandalay Airport for your flight back to Yangon. You will be taken downtown and start your tour on Mahanbandola Road where the Immanuel Baptist Church, originally built in 1830, is located. Continue east passing a couple of alleyways crammed with food stalls and markets. Turn right onto Pansodan Street with its many stalls selling second-hand and photocopied books. You’ll pass the High Court Building, the grand Inland Water Transport offices and even grander Myanma Port Authority building until you reach Strand Road. Your next stop will be outside of the majestic Strand Hotel and walk along Strand Road until you’ll see the Customs House and the Law Court, an impressive-looking colonnaded building. Turn north onto boisterous Bank Street and up onto Sule Pagoda Road, where you can consult one of the many fortune tellers who hang out under the trees. Be sure to make a photo stop at Sule Pagoda, downtown’s symbol whose construction dates back to over 2,000 years ago and have a glimpse of Independence Monument and Mahabandoola Garden. After a complete rotation seeing the twice rebuilt City Hall continue west down Mahanbandoola Road through the chaotic Indian and Chinese quarters. Explore the gold shops of Shwe Bontha Street and have a look from outside at the Moseh Yeshua Synagogue on 26th street. You’ll reach Theingyi Zei market, where you can engage in a little pickled-snake hunting. Exit onto Anawratha Road until you reach into the Sri Kali temple, Yangon’s most colourful Hindu temples.
After a short break your journey continues downtown to the delightful Bogyoke (or Scott) market to stroll through the stalls filled with handicrafts and do your last minute shopping (the market is closed on Monday and during the holidays).
Unfortunately, it is already time to say goodbye to one of the most impressive and enchanting countries in the world. Transfer to Yangon International Airport and check-in for your international economy flight to the UK.
Arrival back in UK.
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We used Emperor for a group trip to India. they were fantastic with their choice of hotels (some truly incredible) their tour guide, the whole programme and their choice of airlines for the trip. We made things quite tough for them with different members of the group travelling for different periods and arriving in and out of different airports. We specifically had some issues with one of the airlines on the return leg of our trip, through no fault of Emperor, but they did their utmost to put things right and made the journey home as pleasant as possible by meeting the cost of a lounge at the airport for us do to the shortcomings of one of the airlines checking in procedures. The pre holiday package of information was very comprehensive and we were presented with very durable luggage tags. We would have no hesitation in recommending Richard and his team in tailoring a package for a trip to India. We had an amazing culturally stimulating trip and will certainly go back to India in the future.