Day 1: Mandalay
On arrival you’ll be transferred to Mandalay city. On the way, stop for many interesting visits including Mahamuni Temple, one of the three holiest places in Myanmar, with a huge bronze Buddha image covered in thick layers of gold. It is always crowded with pious devotees from all over the country.
Mandalay is a center of arts and crafts. Today you will visit a gold leaf making workshop, where 24K gold is transformed into super thin gold leaves using only precise hammer blows, a technique which even hi-tech equipment cannot replicate. Use the rest of your day visiting shops where puppets and Kalaga (tapestries) are made or head to other handicraft places such as wood carving and bronze casting workshops.
At sunset time, a short car ride will take you to the top of Yankin Hill. Crowned with a quiet monastery.The location offers fantastic views of Mandalay, fields and farmland surrounding the city. A very mystical moment.
Day2: Mandalay and the Old Capitals
The day begins with a breezy 45 minutes boat ride. 11 Km up river from Mandalay on the Western bank of Ayeyarwaddy River, visit Mingun Paya, a huge unfinished pagoda and its gigantic 90 ton bell- the largest uncracked bell in the world. Then, to the beautiful Mya Thein Tan Pagoda, in perfect harmony with the surrounding nature. Proceed to Sagaing to visit Kaungmudaw Pagoda. A quick visit to the silver craftsmen in Ywataung Village, see monasteries and nunneries where monks and nuns study and practice Buddhist meditation.
At sunset, visit the most picturesque U Bein Bridge on Taungthaman Lake, a half-mile long teak span also known as the longest teak bridge in the world. Finish the tour with an exclusive small boat ride with cocktails and snacks on board.
DAY 3: CRUISE from Mandalay to Bagan aboard ROAD TO MANDALAY cruiseship
Board your luxury cruise ship at Myin Mu, a typical riverside town just 30 miles south of Mandalay. Enjoy a day of luxury, making the most of the luxurious onboard facilities. Relax by the pool or opt for an indulgent treatment in the spa before lunch on the Observation Deck. A selection of activities is available throughout the day. Sit-in on a fascinating talk from our onboard doctor, get your fortune told by our astrologer, or learn how to tie a traditional longyi. Afternoon tea is served local-style in our ‘Burmese Tea Shop’ experience. In the evening, dress in your longyi for a fun-filled cocktail party followed by a delicious dinner.
Overnight on Board
Day 4 – CRUISING
Find inner peace with an early-morning yoga or meditation session on deck before the ship arrives in Bagan. A choice of tours is available today. The “Introduction to Bagan” excursion takes in the temples and history. “A Day in the Life” examines local culture, food and markets, while “Bagan by Bicycle” is the ideal choice for those looking for something more active. You may wish to visit Belmond’s free clinic near the jetty in Old Bagan, where doctors will be busy examining local patients. Lunch is served on board the ship. In the afternoon, visit one of Bagan’s most magnificent temples, Ananda. Explore a rarely-visited temple by torchlight before witnessing the sunset across the plain. Dine under the stars at the Road to Mandalay Grill on the Observation Deck, before enjoying a classical marionette performance.
Overnight on board
Day 5: Bagan
Early risers can choose to set off on a hot-air balloon flight above the pagodas (supplement applies). Watching the sun rise over the glimmering temples is one of Bagan’s most spellbinding experiences.
An early-bird breakfast is served before you disembark from Belmond Road to Mandalay.
The greatest collection of Buddhist sculptures and murals from the 11th to 13th centuries and one of Asia’s holiest cities along with Varanasi and Jerusalem. Bagan was founded by the 11th century king Anawrahta with construction continuing for two and a half centuries, cementing the city as the nerve centerof ancient Burmese culture. Bagan was eventually sacked in 1287 by Mongol armies under Kublai Khan who destroyed hundreds of monuments. Still dotted with over 4000 temples, the ruins of Bagan cover an area of 16 square miles in the semi-desert region of central Myanmar.
Day 6: Bagan
This morning, we propose a very karmic experience. You will visit a Monastery where you will have the privilege of offering lunch to the monks. Lunch donation is a common practice for Myanmar Buddhists and follows a somehow established protocol. In this classical monastery, your private donation will introduce you to the orderly way of life of Buddhist monks. You will be taken to the most interesting temples with various aspects and the most distinct architectural styles. Visiting temple after temple will never seem boring as each is unique with its own style. A few of the most remarkable temples are Shwezigon pagoda, Gubyaukgyi, Htilominlo and Sulamani temples. Some of these temples are lavishly decorated with mural paintings and plaster carvings which have lasted for over 900 years.
Before sunset, embark a small boat and travel to an isolated sand bank in the middle of the Ayeyarwaddy river for a magical dinner. An unexpected and very private spread is awaiting you. The table is set beautifully, your personal waiters ready to serve drinks and a delicious dinner in harmony with nature. The only witnesses to your feast are a few fishermen who silently paddle their way home and the shore birds that continue their normal life, undisturbed.
After this unique dinner experience, return to your luxury hotel for a night cap and sweet dreams.
Day 7: Bagan to Inle Lake
Private transfer to Nyaung Oo airport for your flight to Heho, the airport serving the Shan State. Upon arrival in Heho, the elevation is over 3000 feet. You will notice how much cooler the air is compared to other areas you visited. Nights and early mornings can be quite cold. Then take about one hour drive through the scenic countryside of the Shan Hills, and have the opportunity to stop on the way at the Shan handmade paper umbrella factory and the Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery before arriving to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway city to Inle Lake, where you’ll be chauffeured via long tail boat.
After check-in and a quick refreshment at your resort, start sightseeing with your private long tail boat. Visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda which is the most revered religious site in the area & see several workshops including a silk and lotus weaving center (costly but very unique weavings), blacksmith workshops and a cheroot (the Burmese cigars) rolling workshops. You will also marvel at the unique leg-rowing of the Inthas and their unique fishing method, the floating gardens where Intha people grow tomatoes, flower, and a variety of vegetables. Back to your hotel, you may want to have a dip in the pool before setting out for a special dinner in a wine cellar.
Your dinner will be served in a traditional wine cellar, surrounded by possibly the largest wine collection in Myanmar. Delicious food in a rich and exclusive setting, accompanied by a good wine of your choice..
Day 8: Inle Lake and Indein
Today’s full day sightseeing begins with the market, which is held once every five days. It is the best opportunity to see hill tribes people coming down to sell their products and to buy their provisions. Then take the boat to a beautiful ruined temple site called Indein through a small river, one of the many tributary creeks feeding Inle Lake. Along the drive, you will catch the sight of water buffaloes being washed by their owners in the river. Arrive in Indein village and start walking to the ruin site from 16th and 17th centuries. The walk (easy) will take approximately one hour depending on your physical condition and how many times you stop for a photo. These Shan style temples were covered in vegetation till the site opened in the year 2000. After seeing Indein temple complex, a pleasant walk through a bamboo forest back to your boat. Lunch at a typical restaurant on the lake and return to your resort for a bit of pampering, a visit to the spa or lounge around the pool with the view of the surrounding mountains.
Tonight, a special dinner will be served in the garden. A nice table set close to the shore of the lake, waiters in their fine livery will serve a feast for the epicurean. After dinner, you will be able to participate in a very lovely Burmese tradition. Special candles, encased in a floating receptacle are blessed, as the flame is a representation of the Lord Buddha’s Enlightenment and Wisdom, and endowed with a personal wish before being gently deposited on the water to float away. A truly beautiful and spiritual experience to finish your day.
Of all of the places you visit in Myanmar, Inle Lake will be the one you remember most fondly. The friendly hill tribe people, ancient pagodas, colorful festivals and natural beauty will give you a lifetime of memories.
Day 9: Inle Lake to Yangon
Private transfer to Heho airport by car and flight to Yangon. Upon arrival, get on the Elephant Coach. Experience this unique style of travel in Myanmar with a lavishly restored antique post-Colonial Chevrolet passenger bus. You will experience an amazing way to visit the classic sights of Yangon and will discover the heritage of mystic Myanmar, its beautiful people and its rich history in the luxurious comfort of this handcrafted masterpiece. Yangon’s tree lined wide avenues, shady green parks and beautiful lakes give Yangon the reputation of one of the most charming and lively cities in Asia.
The orientation tour of Yangon includes Sule Pagoda, City Hall and the colonial buildings, Chaukhtatkyi Pagoda – which includes an enormous reclining Buddha. A photo stop at Karaweik Hall and Royal Barge on the Kandawgyi Royal Lake.
For sunset, you will visit the Shwedagon Pagoda and its glittering stupa dominating the landscape of Yangon. Here, in the most sacred place in Myanmar, you are invited to participate in a special event: an oil lamp ceremony organized for you and only for you. This mystic ceremony is a perfect chance to learn more about the Buddhist culture, so central in Myanmar’s daily life. More than 1,000 oil lamps are lined up to be lit. Both visually and spiritually stunning, this is an event that will stay in your memory for ever.
After sunset and the views of Shwedagon all illuminated, you are invited to a farewell dinner at the famous Le Planteur restaurant. With it’s prime location on Inya Lake, not far from Aung San Suu Kyi’s house, and the elegant atmosphere of a continental restaurant, you are sitting at one of the best tables in Yangon. Fine wines of the world will accompany your delicious and very special last meal in Myanmar.
Day 10: Shopping in Yangon with a gem/antique specialist
Today, do some last minute shopping at the Bogyoke Aung San Market (previously called Scotts Market) (closed on Mondays) where you will find the largest collections of handicrafts from all over Myanmar and some very nice antique pieces. A wonderful opportunity to pick up some souvenirs for all those back home who could not see the wonders of your journey. For those who like precious gems and noble stones, it is good to remember that jade and rubies are abundant in Myanmar and a visit to specialized stores with a certified gemologist can help you find a real high value jewel, not a fake that are also abundant.