Visit imperial Mandalay,
bucolic Inle Lake,
ancient Bagan, Yangon.
view tour two itinerary
When booking international flights for Tour 1, ensure your travel agent flies you into Mandalay (MDY), but out of Yangon. Tour 2 flies in and out of Yangon (RGN) solely.
B = Breakfast
L = Lunch
D = Dinner
S = Snack
Tour begins in Mandalay, ending in Rangoon/Yangon.
Visiting imperial Mandalay, bucolic Inle Lake, ancient Bagan, Yangon.
Tour 1: Day 1 Sunday July 2
Welcome to Myanmar, a land of mythical proportions. We meet in Mandalay, the country’s former royal capital until British annexation in the 1880s. Depending on flight arrival times, we will organise an optional Sunday group dinner.
Mandalay is a showcase for Myanmar arts and architecture of the 19th century, including the remains of the old royal palace wall. The city is situated in the centre of the country, 425 miles/668 km due north of Yangon. Today it is both a busy commercial centre and the region’s repository of ancient culture, specializing in traditional crafts like gold leaf, woodcarvings, silverware, kalaga tapestries and silk weaving.
Tour 1: Day 2 Monday July 3
Daily hotel breakfast is included on all tour dates. On our first morning, we normally schedule a group table to introduce each other, but on all subsequent mornings feel free to either eat on your own, or join Robert & Morrison anytime..
Our first stop, a second – and quick — breakfast stopover for the city’s best rice noodle salad, or Nangyi Monti. Watch the dish being prepared in the kitchen, then savour at the table. It’s all so delicious.
Continue to the ancient capitals of Sagaing and Amarapura. Sagaing is considered the spiritual heart of Myanmar, and is famous for hundreds of white, silver, gold pagodas and monasteries dotting its hilly landscape, plus renowned for its quality silver crafts, with shops for you to browse in. An early vegetarian lunch at a nunnery, then travel up Sagaing Hill for a spectacular view of the region. In the vista you will see the large dome of Kaung Mu Daw pagoda, which is little visited by tour groups. Dating to 1636 under King Thalun and his son Ngadakadayaka, legend has it that its rotund hemispherical shape is modeled after the perfect breasts of the king’s favorite wine. Onto Amrapura, the textile centre of Myanmar where the locals weave an exquisite (and time consuming ) fabric called acheck. Finish at U Bein bridge, before sunset — at 1.2 km/3/4 mi long, it is the world’s longest teak structure. (Pedestrian traffic only.) Monks here will likely ask you for help with their English conversation.
After a long day of sightseeing, this evening is free. Or join us at for nearby Marionette theatre, just behind our hotel. B/L
Optional Marionette Theatre
Join us at the Youq-the Pwe puppet theatre, considered the finest in the country. This is also the best place to buy local puppets, and they are surprisingly affordable, and make great gifts. Please advise and we will make your reservations.
Tour 1: Day 3 Tuesday July 4
- Mandalay Primer
- Local Crafts
- Cooking class dinner
Markets are the soul of a country, and this morning we head to the biggest of them all, Zeigyo, where we’ll pig out on Mandalay’s famed sweets. But first, a second breakfast to taste the region’s signature dish, Ono Kyauk Shwe, a rich chicken and coconut milk cum noodle curry. We’ll have to hurry because the city’s best sells out by 9 am daily; here, we will also compare with the fish curry Mohinga, arguably Myanmar’s national dish. View the thousand year traditions of hand-hammering gold leaf.
(view Morrisons video)
Mandalay is also renowned for its tea house culture We’ll give you a translated menu to order your favorite style tea in Burmese. (Basically, it comes white and sweet, or milk and sweeter, or milk and very sweet.) If you are still hungry, we’ll order Toshwe crepe and fritters to snack on as well.
Then onto local crafts including sewing of the magnificent quilted tapestries known as kalaga, puppet making and cast bronze.. Also visit Mahamuni Pagoda, considered the country’s second most sacred image, after Shwedagon in Yangon. You will be impressed with the local crafts and hand-forged Buddhas, both inside the temple, and on outlying streets. But especially remarkable is the thick layers of pure gold leaf that is applied to the statue by devotees. (Women are not allowed on the upper platform.)
In the evening a cooking demonstration and dinner of Burmese delicacies at a nearby restaurant.
Tour 1: Day 4 Wednesday July 5
This morning, drive to Bagan. Our first stop is Myingyan with a tea shop break and snack. There is a mummified monk in the town’s main pagoda. Pass scenic farming villages along the way, plus an interesting bridge with a shared lane for cars AND trains. Then onwards to Pakokku, a thriving village that best exemplifies traditional Myanmar life. The town is known both for its agriculture (sesame, peanuts, jaggery) as well as traditional anyar saung cotton blankets, longyi sarongs, and thanaka – the latter whose bark locals apply on their face for both beauty and skin care. After markets, continue to Kyauk Gu U Min where we catch a boat to Bagan (about 1 hour cruise). This is an exciting first sight of ancient Bagan, viewing many ancient temples along the eastern flank of the mighty Irrawaddy River at sunset. Hotel check in, and remaining evening free.
Tour 1: Day 5 Thursday July
Bagan is a truly mesmerizing destination, and the favorite of many a seasoned traveler. Renowned as the city of four million pagodas before its sacking by the Mongols in1287, this is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia. Today there are more than 2,000 pagodas, temples and monaster
ies set over 40 sq km/32 sq miles — most built during the Bagan Dynasty, founded by King Anawrahta in 1044.
We start at glorious Ananda tmple, the area’s most formidable, and arguably the finest example of Bagan architecture. Continue viewing temples until lunch, finishing at massive Shwezigon pagoda — considered a prototype of all future such pagodas/stupas. (Although markets customarily close on Full Moon days, if we are in luck there will be a festival market at Shwezigon today.) Continue onto the rarely visited Thet Kya Muni, a terraced temple north along the river, that can be clearly viewed from a plane.
Remaining afternoon free until we regroup for a Daung-Lann dinner at the town’s best puppet theatre. Locals eat without cutlery from exquisitely large individual circular lacquer ware platters, so this is your chance to go native. Plus they say food tastes better this way!
Tour 1: Day 6 Friday July 7
Bagan is not only famous for the profusion of ancient temples, but also for its time honored arts. Watch the intricate production of quality lacquer ware, which often takes 9 months of painstaking coating, drying, sanding and re-coating – typically up to 12 laers. Some of the finest pieces are flexible, and woven around bamboo with twisted horse hair.
Lunch is a typical Myanmar assar-asa spread in our favourite Bagan eatery, and one we personally discovered years ago. (We now consider ourselves friends of the family, and often host cooking demonstrations here. Hosts Ma La Thenghi and Oo Pa Lah will treat us royally, dishing up some of the country’s best fare in a humble setting. Before departing, staff will give us lessons in tanakha powder make-up, the tree bark paste locals spread on their face. You will find it surprisingly cooling. Visit the teak monastery of Nat Taung Kyaung, with its jatakas (stories of Lord Buddha) and Ramayana tales described in carved wooden sculptures. There’s no better way to experience the grandeur of Bagan, than a sunset ride amongst the temples on horse cart. We’ve booked one per couple (or one per solo traveller), and you’re free to stop and take pictures at your leisure, returning the hotel in a couple of hours.
Tour 1: Day 7, Saturday July 8
This morning we fly to Shan State and Inle Lake, a vast, yet relatively shallow waterway, 22 km long and 10km wide, renowned for its Intha and Pa Oo tribes settling the area. Along its shores lie some of the country’s most fascinating destinations.
Early lunch on arrival: a bowl of the local specialty, s
mple yet satisfying bowls of Shan noodles, or Shan Khao Shwe. The restaurant setting near the airport is a story in itself, with local villages clamoring to give you cheap hand, shoulder and leg massage while you are eating! And a word of advice: Saying no graciously is much harder than saying yes. It’s all part of the fun, so enjoy!
Drive through the picturesque hills of Shan State, to Nyaungshwe, gateway to Inle Lake. The Museum of Shan Chiefs’/Sao Pa teak and brick building is the country’s finest remaining example of a Shan palace, and the Shwe Yan Pyay and Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung monasteries an example of the intricate wooden carved buildings of yore. The oldest and most important temple in Nyaungshwe is the unique step spired stupa of Yadana Man Aung Pagoda, this pagoda is worth visiting. as it was the most outstanding pagoda in Nyaungshwe. IInside the pagoda is like a museum containing vintage clocks, ceramics, carvings and other items collected by the monks over the years. The pagoda was built in 1866. Time permitting, we’ll also visit Red Hill Winery, producers of arguably Myanmar’s best wines. Remaining afternoon free.
Dinner is a fine example of Nouvelle Shan, a contemporary degustation of local specialties served on massive “boats.” The wine list is definitely worth exploring, and even better, management is generously offering us special “take away” prices for bottles consumed in your room, or during onward travels (but not in the restaurant).
Tour 1: Day 8 Sunday July 9
- Inle Floating Market 5 day market
- Lake sites.
- Lunch on water.
- Dinner free
Shan state is Myanmar’s largest, and agriculturally the country’s wealthiest. It’s prime tourist attraction is Inle Lake, a vast, yet relatively shallow waterway, 22 km long and 10 km wide. Like South America’s Lake Titicaca, villagers here gather rushes to create floating islands.
Every five days villages rotate with hosting regional markets, and we will strive to include at least one of the markets during your visit to the Inle region. At the time of printing, we still await confirmation of the 2017 regional market calendar.
These colorful markets feature regional foods and crafts, with locals wearing colorful garb while buying provisions for home. Phawng Daw Too is the holiest shrine on Inle Lake, where five Buddha images have been so excessively gilded that they look like balls of solid gold. Also visit the silk weaving village of Inn Paww Khone, and particularly the time consuming (and very expensive) weaving of lotus fiber. Visit a local cheroot factory where you can purchase huge cigars incongruously smoked by the region’s elderly women. Boat to Indein temple complex, walking along its corridors flanked by giant columns and trinket shops lining the way. The series of summit temples have been left in natural state (although on our last visit, much vegetation clearing) and the view is splendid.
We’ve left the evening free for you at leisure: perhaps get a massage and choose local eats on your own. B/L
Tour 1: Day 9 Monday July 10
After breakfast, fly back to Yangon. Enroute from Yangon airport we’ll stop at one of the city’s busiest tea house for billowy puffed poori fried dough balls and a simple potato curry, plus tea. Remaining afternoon free to discover Yangon on your own (catch a taxi to Shwedagon, or shop at Scotts Market), then re-group for tonight’s gala dinner at the city’s premier locale.
Tour 1: Day 10 Tuesday 11 July
Tour 1 Upcountry finishes today
Tour 2 Rangoon/Yangon begins
Breakfast at leisure, then transfers to airport included today. Note: your rooms are confirmed until 12 noon, and surcharges may apply for later check out. You can securely leave your bags at hotel storage for later departure times. For those continuing with us on Tour 2, meet us tonight for drinks and introductions.