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We had a great time.

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Myanmar temples
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Myanmar for the Connoisseur - 10 Days

This journey showcases some of the best Myanmar has to offer.

In Yangon, highlights include a pilgrimage to the Shwedagon Pagoda as well as opportunities to peruse art, antiques and the city's famous architecture.

Bagan can be experienced by balloon, bike or by horse cart, while Inle Lake offers a peaceful setting and opportunities to savoir delicious Shan cuisine and local wine.

Day 1 - Arrive Yangon

Upon arrival at Yangon International Airport guests will be greeted by a guide and driver and transferred to their hotel for check-in.

Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is a relatively quiet and charming city with an impressive colonial and spiritual heritage. It’s a great starting point for a Myanmar holiday.

After freshening up, guests set off for a tour of the city’s highlights. The first stop is at Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, which is home to a 70-meter-long reclining Buddha. Then continue through the city, stopping to take photos along the way. The next stop is the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar. Although the origins of the pagoda are unclear, local legend states that the original structure was built 2500 years ago then renovated several times before eventually taking its current shape in the 15th Century. The eight-sided central stupa is 99 meters tall and gilded with gold leaf. It is surrounded by 64 smaller stupas and the guide will show guests around this massive complex, explaining why the temple is so revered. Enjoy breathtaking views of the golden stupa from this vantage point.

Overnight in Yangon.

Distances and journey time: Yangon Airport to Yangon city centre (20 km): 30 – 60 mins

Day 2 - Yangon - Art, Antiques, Architecture (B)

The day starts in the area of Yangon known as ‘Golden Valley’, at New Treasure Gallery. This art gallery was established by Min Wai Aung, a Burmese artist famous for his paintings of monks. Then visit two antiques shops, Augustine’s and Madame Thair. Both shops are filled with an array of curios and some real hidden gems from Myanmar’s history. The exuberant Madame Thair will be sure to entertain guests with her charm and ‘everything is for sale’ pitch. Next it’s on to Dhamazedi Road where a row of small shop houses are packed full of antiques. Hidden among the dusty shelves are many treasures from the colonial era and before.

Return to downtown for a tour of the city’s most historic buildings and hidden art galleries. The itinerary will vary based on guests’ interest in art and architecture, but there are at least two galleries to visit, along with the current and former train stations, the former City Hall, Immigration Office, courts and hidden examples of 1940s architecture.

Begin with a visit to River Gallery. Located at the famous Strand Hotel, this gallery showcases the city’s widest range of contemporary art, representing more than 30 artists at any given time. Guests can also take high tea at The Strand if they so wish (surcharge will apply). The next visit will be to Lokanat Gallery, a non-profit gallery which features a small collection of traditional works as well as rotating exhibits of Burmese artists. And finally, Pansodan Arts provides a selection of artworks ranging from the traditional to modern, abstract styles. The knowledgeable curator will take guests upstairs to the store room where hundreds of paintings are tucked away, including war-time propaganda, neo-classical works created as European influences began to reach Myanmar, and classic line drawings and photographs.

Overnight in Yangon.

Day 3 - Yangon - Bagan - Temples (B)

This morning after an early breakfast, transfer to Yangon’s airport for the flight to Bagan. Upon arrival, begin sightseeing with a visit to an elevated temple which affords spectacular views over the surrounding plains. This is the perfect introduction to the grandeur and scope of Bagan’s architecture.

Afterwards the tour continues to Myinkaba Village and Gubyaukgyi Temple, which is noted for its beautiful murals and well-preserved plaster carvings. Nearby the smaller Manuha Temple and Nan Paya Temple feature Buddhist statues and nice stone work.

At midday, guests can check in to their hotel and relax, escaping the midday heat. Lunch is on guests’ own account, either at the hotel or at an outside restaurant.

No tour to Bagan would be complete without a visit to Ananda, one of the town’s holiest sites. In the early afternoon there are few tourists here, allowing plenty of time and space to explore this important monument. Afterwards visit the neighboring Andana Ok Kyaung, which has some of the country’s best mural paintings from the Ava period.

The day ends at Sissa Nar Gyi Temple at the far south of Bagan. This unusual temple features a square base decorated with 39 elephants on each of the four sides.

Overnight in Bagan.

Distances and journey time: Nyaung U Airport to Old Bagan (9 km): 20 mins Nyaung U Airport to New Bagan (12 km): 20 mins

Day 4 - Bagan - Villages & Crafts (B,L)

After breakfast, visit the colorful Nyaung Oo Market where villagers gather to buy and sell produce. Sit in a local tea shop and enjoy a cup of sweet Burmese tea or coffee while watching the activity on the street. Continue through a local neighborhood where a traditional shop makes pone yay (pea powder paste) and see how local plum jam is made and packed.

Guests will then venture away from Bagan through the dry zone to a village famous for its palm products. Watch as the farmers climb the trees to collect the palm fruit and utilize traditional methods to make molasses, palm wine and other treats.

Then join the villagers for lunch in the shade of the palm trees.

Upon returning to Bagan, guests will 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.

Overnight in Bagan.

Day 5 - Bagan - A Different Perspective (B)

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Balloon Experience Over Bagan - Start the morning with an incredible hot-air balloon flight over Bagan’s temple-studded plains. After enjoying an early morning tea, coffee and pastries while the balloon is inflated, guests climb aboard and rise gently above thousands of gilded stupas and temples, against the impressive backdrop of the Irrawaddy River. A truly unforgettable and unique experience. (Note: available only from late-October to late-March; all flights weather permitting).

Board a private river boat and set off upriver toward Kyauk Gu U Min. Throughout this Irrawaddy cruise guests will be treated to fabulous scenes of life on the water: fishermen, local ferry boats, riverside villages and views of the Bagan temples. The boat will stop at Sae Lan village, allowing guests to go ashore for a short walk. Sae Lan is typical of the riverside villages along the Irrawaddy, where the friendly local people live simple and happy lives as farmers and fishermen.

Continue by boat to Kyauk Gu U Min on the eastern side of the river and take a short walk to the temple. After exploring Kyauk Gu U Min, guests return to the boat for a relaxing cruise back to Bagan (around one hour).

Upon reaching Bagan, guests will transfer back to their hotel.Late this afternoon the exploration of Bagan continues by another mode of transport: horse and cart. This relaxing ride passes 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.

Overnight in Bagan.

Day 6 - Bagan - Heho - Wine Tasting - Inle Lake (B,L)

This morning transfer to the Nyaung U Airport for the flight to Heho, in the heart of the Shan State. From Heho it is a scenic one-hour drive to Nyaung Shwe, a small town located at the northern end of Inle Lake.

Guests will eplore the town by trishaw, passing local monasteries, nunneries and the ‘tomato house’, a large warehouse where the lake’s produce is collected and sorted for distribution up-country. The final stop is the Museum of Shan Chiefs. The modest display includes some interesting old costumes and other relics from the sao pha (Shan rulers) of the past. (note: closed Mondays and Tuesdays)

At midday visit a viewpoint for lunch. Dining at what is widely considered one of the best Shan restaurants in Myanmar, guests will taste a variety of local, fresh dishes while looking out over the rice fields and lake.

Afterwards continue to Red Mountain Wine Estate, a joint venture with the Pa Oh people and a French winemaker. Take a tour of the grounds before sitting down to a wine tasting. The grapes yield several delicious wine varieties and the views over the lake are breathtaking.

Then transfer to the lakeside hotel for an evening at leisure.

Overnight at Inle Lake.

Distances and journey time: Heho Airport to Nyaung Shwe (28 km): 45 mins Nyaung Shwe Jetty to Hotel on Inle Lake (10 – 20 km): 30 – 60 mins

Day 7 - Inle Lake - Tribes and Traditions (B)

Today begins with a visit to the morning market, which rotates locations on a five-day basis. (note: there are no markets on full moon or dark moon days) This daily market attracts people from all over the lake’s shores who gather to buy and sell their wares. If guests are lucky they may see Pa-Oh, Inthar and Shan people in their traditional outfits. Wander through the stalls while the guide explains the local produce and goods for sale.

Proceed to the village of Inpawkhone to observe the traditional silk weaving techniques of the Inthar people. Inpawkhone is also known for its method of weaving from the stems of lotus flowers, a time consuming process that results in high quality materials that have become famous throughout the country. Guests also visit a cheroot factory where local Burmese cigars are rolled by hand, followed by traditional silversmiths and blacksmiths which use ancient techniques to create their wares.

Stop at Inthar Heritage House to learn more about the history and culture of the lake’s indigenous people. Guests will enjoy lunch here or at one of the other restaurants in the area (own account).

In the afternoon the tour continues by boat to Indein, on the southwest shores of the lake. The boat will travel down a small canal leading to the Pa-oh village of Indein, which guests can explore on foot, strolling around the village and stopping to chat to the locals and observe their traditional lifestyles. Then wander through the beautiful Alaung Sitthou area, which is filled with picturesque stupas and offers magnificent views of the lake.

Return to the hotel late this afternoon.

Overnight at Inle Lake.

Day 8 - Inle Lake - Culinary Exploration (B,L)

This day of culinary exploration starts with a visit to Khaung Dine village on the the western shores of Inle Lake. Take a walk through this village to see the production of various soya dishes, including tofu, fried soya crackers and soya bean paste - a fascinating insight into the traditional cottage industries of the lake.

Continue to a stilted house on the lake where guests will have the unique opportunity to cook with a local Inthar family. Assisting in the kitchen, guests will learn how to cook an array of delicious, traditional dishes such as stuffed Inle fish and tomato salad. Then sit on the floor, local-style, in the dining room of the house and enjoy the freshly prepared lunch.

Travel back to the hotel for a relaxing afternoon on the lake.

Overnight at Inle Lake.

Day 9 - Inle Lake - Heho - Yangon - Spiritual (B)

This morning fly back to Yangon, arriving around midday. Guests will check in to their hotel and enjoy lunch at a restaurant of their choosing.

After lunch transfer to the start point for the ‘On The Blessings Trail’ walking tour through the streets of downtown Yangon. Although Myanmar is predominately Buddhist, several forms of religion are practiced in the country, most of which were introduced by immigrant populations. Exploring the diverse religions in downtown Yangon provides insight into the rich tapestry of cultures in Myanmar and unveils a side of the city rarely explored by tourists.

The tour starts at Kheng Hock Keong Temple, Chinatown’s largest temple, and continues with a stroll through the western part of downtown. Along the way guests will visit mosques, churches, Hindu temples and even a synagogue before finishing at Sule Paya. The guide will explain the rich diversity of the religions in Yangon and teach guests about offerings and blessings in each place of worship. Beyond the major regions, guests will also discover local Burmese traditions such as ancestor worship, nat worship, astrology and even the lottery!

While walking through this lively section of town, guests will also stumble upon local markets selling everything from fresh produce to temple offerings and traditional medicine. Sit and enjoy tea on a leafy sidestreet, sampling traditional snacks and meet friendly locals.

As the sun begins to set on Sule Pagoda, transfer back to the hotel or to dinner.

Overnight in Yangon.

Day 10 - Yangon Depart (B)

Today is free at leisure until the time comes for guests to transfer to the airport for their international flight.

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