(6 Days 5 Nights)
Day 1: Yangon/Kyaikhtiyo (private car)
Pick up at your hotel and drive 5 hours to Kyaikhtiyo. On the way, stop for a visit at the Htaukkyant War Cemetery of WWII where 22 000 Allied soldiers are laid to rest. Proceed to Bago. At the heart of the Second Empire of Myanmar Kingdom, the city reached its zenith during the 16th century. It was the Mon capital and you can find many Mon people still living there. In Myanmar, Mon people are considered to be the most artistic and beautiful people and here you will observe their fine work and physical beauty with your own eyes. Visit Bago’s highlights: the Shwemawdaw, Shwetharlyaung and the Four faces Pagodas. Then proceed to Kyaikhtiyo. The Golden Rock pagoda, in a spectacular location, is perched atop a huge, seemingly precarious boulder on the edge of a cliff. The boulder itself is said to be floating miraculously in the air, carrying the tiny pagoda with a holy Buddha relic in it. The Golden Rock summit is reached from the Kimpun base camp where you will be taken by a public truck/bus up the mountain.
Overnight at Mountain Top Hotel
Day 2 Kyaikhtiyo – Hpa An (private car)
Descend by truck back to the base camp, and depart for Hpa-An, the unpretentious capital of Karen State. The Hpa-An area has a unique geology. Small limestone mountains and caves dot the landscape and create an eerie atmosphere. It is famous among Burmese for the Buddhist village at Thamanya Monastery where the highly respected abbott U Winaya passed away several years ago.
Mt Zwegabin, situated 11 Km south of Hpa –An, is both a tall and a sacred mountain. At 722m high, the summit allows a panoramic view of the surrounding country side (climb is optional/minimum 3 hours).
On arrival in Hpa-An, make a stop at Lake Kantharyar for a picturesque photo-op over the distant Zwekabin Mountain, Kayin State’s major landmark. Visit the Kaw Gon cave with a myriad of small Buddha images covering the walls.
At sunset, a short car ride will take you to the famous Kyauk Ka Lat Pagoda, another example of the extraordinary geological fantasia that abound in this region.
Day 3 Hpa An Sighseeing
This morning, visit the celebrated Sadang Cave, a large underground cave with a long passageway which ends up as a secondary exit onto a scenic lake. Take a short canoe ride back to the main entrance. After lunch at the lovely Lat Ka Na village, continue with the visit of another pleasant complex of caves at Kaw Ka Thaung.
On the way back, photo stop at the Lumbini garden and see the 1000 of not quite identical Buddha statues set as a nice garden.
Towards the end of the day, enjoy a sunset cruise on the Than Lwin river. At dusk, see gazillions of fruit bats fly out of a cave and fill the sky while hawks soar high and hunt for dinner. Very impressive !
Day 4 Hpa An – Mawlamyine (private car)
Drive to Mawlamyine, after lunch, start the city tour. First Seindon Mibaya Kyaung, a monastery where King Mindon’s queen sought refuge, and magnificent views of all the city. Continue with a drive past rubber plantations on the way to Win Sein Dawya, half an hour out of Mawlamyine and see the gigantic Reclining Buddha image and pagodas complex.
Option : take a river boat to Mawlamyine
Morning at leisure and after lunch, take a boat journey to Mawlamyine. Transfer to the jetty and embark on a journey down the Thanlwin River towards Mawlamyine. The trip will take around 4 hours, through some beautiful karst scenery and rustic riverside village life.
Day 5 Mawlamyine sightseeing and Bilu Island
After breakfast, set out to explore the region in style. You will take a trishaw ride through this once thriving port city and colonial post. Stop at the Zyegyi market before heading out to Bilu Island and discover the serene scenery of paddy fields and quaint villages. Visit small wood workshops, where typical Myanmar walking sticks and wooden pens are produced.
Enjoy a picnic lunch en-route before returning to Mawlamyine for a visit to Mahamuni Pagoda, one of the major temples in Myanmar and the first Baptist church. In the late afternoon enjoy the sunset from Kyaikthanlan Pagoda, which is also known as the Kipling Pagoda due to the gleaming spire that was eulogized by Rudyard Kipling.
Day 6 Mawlamyine – Yangon (private car)
In the morning, drive back to Yangon and on the way visit historic Thaton. Way before the rise of Bagan, Thaton was an important center for the Mon Kingdom that stretched from the Ayeyarwady river delta to Thailand and possibly as far east as Cambodia. Little of ancient Thaton is visible as a modern town has been built over the old site. Arrive back to Yangon early afternoon and return to your Yangon hotel.