London - In flight
Fly from London Heathrow or Gatwick Airport on a scheduled Emirates or Malaysia Airlines flight to Yangon via Dubai or Kuala Lumpur.
On arrival in Yangon, we transfer to our hotel for the next two nights, the Sedona Hotel Yangon (4T).
Today we explore Yangon, also known as Rangoon, on a walking tour. The city is noted for its abundance of British Raj-era architecture and one of the best preserved buildings from this period is the Strand Hotel, dating from 1901. Once declared ‘the finest hostelry east of Suez’, today, it is once again operating as a luxury hotel. We also visit the colourful neighbourhoods of Little India and Chinatown and Bogyoke Market, where there is time to browse through the dozens of stalls and shops selling handcrafts and souvenirs. After lunch we head to Kandawagyi Park, and the 99-metre high Shwedagon Pagoda, covered with gold and adorned with thousands of diamonds. The pagoda holds a number of sacred treasures, including strands of the Buddha’s hair. This evening we will have dinner at the House of Memories, an historic colonial era building.
Yangon - Mandalay
Early this morning we transfer to the airport for a flight to Mandalay, familiar, perhaps, from the eponymous Kipling poem. We check in at the Bagan King Hotel (3T). Our guided tour today begins with a visit to the Mahamuni Pagoda, which houses the most revered statue of the Buddha in Burma. According to legend, the statue, covered in a thick layer of gold leaf, is said to be one of only five likenesses of the Buddha made during his lifetime. We will also tour some traditional workshops, observing local artisans creating wood-carvings and embroidered tapestries. This afternoon, we will explore the area around Mandalay Hill, visiting the Shwe Nandaw Kyuang Monastery, notable for its intricately carved wood panelling, the Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda with its huge marble Buddha and the Kuthodaw Pagoda, home to ‘the world’s largest book’, a collection of more than 700 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings.
Sagaing - Ava - Amarapura
After breakfast, we head out to Sagaing, on the other side of the Irrawaddy River. This is regarded as the religious centre of Burma, and we visit some of the numerous monasteries and pagodas here including the golden Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin pagoda. We also take a look around Sagaing’s market, where stalls sell a variety of locally made pottery, silverwork and other traditional handcrafts. From here we continue south to Ava, also known as Inwa, an ancient capital of Burma, visiting the wooden Bagaya Monastery and exploring the ruins of Ava and surrounding countryside by horse and cart. We stop in Ava for lunch. On our way back to Mandalay we call in at a silk weaving workshop in the city of Amarapura before continuing to U Bein Bridge for a walk along this 200-year-old teak bridge, the longest of its type in the world at 1.2km.
Mandalay - Bagan
Early this morning, we transfer to the Mandalay jetty to take a leisurely cruise on the Irrawaddy towards Bagan. The vessel is privately chartered for our group and along the way we stop to explore a local village, and lunch is served on board, before we reach Bagan in the late afternoon. Our hotel for the next two nights is the Shwe Yee Pwint Hotel (3T); and we dine in a Bagan restaurant this evening.
Today’s journey begins with a visit to an elevated temple which offers spectacular views over the surrounding plains, before we continue to the 900-year old Ananda Temple, one of the most revered temples in Bagan, which houses four standing Buddha statues, covered in gold leaf. Later we visit the village of Myinkaba, known for its traditional lacquer workshops and the 12th century Gubyaukgyi Temple, adorned with well-preserved murals. Before lunch at a local restaurant, we enjoy a traditional Burmese tea party. The remainder of the day is free.
Bagan - Heho - Nyaung Shwe - Inle Lake
We transfer to the airport this morning for a flight to Heho and from there, a scenic one-hour drive leads to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway village to Inle Lake. On the way, we visit the wooden Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery, which features ornate carvings and a collection of Buddha images. We also stop in Nyaung Shwe for a short walk around town and lunch at a restaurant. In the afternoon we call at Red Mountain Estate Vineyards to sample the local wine and enjoy the spectacular views over Inle Lake before we cross the lake by motorboat to check in to our hotel, the Pristine Lotus Spa Resort (4T).
Inle Lake - Indein
We embark on a tour of Inle Lake today aboard our private motorboat, passing villages with stilted houses and floating gardens anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles. You will also see the leg‐rowing fishermen who steer their boats with incredible balance. In the village of Inpawkhone we will observe the traditional silk weaving techniques of the Inthar people and we also visit a cheroot factory where cigars are rolled by hand. Lunch today is in a local family’s workshop, where they will demonstrate how to create the delicious Inn Thar dishes that are popular throughout this region. Later we travel to Indein, on the south-western shore of the lake. Wander through the village and discover the beautiful temple complex in the Alaung Sitthou area, filled with picturesque stupas.
Inle Lake - Heho - Yangon
You are free to relax or make your own discoveries this morning before we transfer to Heho this afternoon for a flight to Yangon. Upon arrival in Yangon, we transfer to the Sedona Hotel Yangon (4T), where we will be staying for our final night in Burma. Dinner is included this evening at a fine-dining restaurant.
Yangon - In flight
After most of the day at leisure, we transfer to Yangon Airport for a scheduled Emirates or Malaysia Airlines flight to London via Dubai or Kuala Lumpur.
Day 12 London
Arrival at London Heathrow or Gatwick Airport.