From the colonial streets of Yangon and the artisan districts of Mandalay, to the ancient capital of Bagan and the placid waters of Inle Lake, discover a land steeped in a rich cultural and natural heritage.
Myanmar Trip Overview
Myanmar is a mystical land, a country steeped in ancient traditions and full of mesmerizing landscapes. From its northern Himalayan border with Tibet, the thick teak clad hills of the Golden Triangle, along into the plains of Mandalay, and down into the Arrawaddy delta and hundreds of scattered, tropical islands of the Andaman sea, the visitor cannot fail to delight in the marvel that is Myanmar, and all the wonders it has to offer. The country is swathed in history and culture, overflowing with old-world charm and a way of life rapidly disappearing in the rest of the world today. Our Ancient Passages trip offers the traveler the opportunity to explore this colorful and diverse country, and discover its rich cultural heritage, while interacting with local villagers, monks, nuns, artisans, and traders along the way. You will undoubtedly leave feeling touched by the gracious hospitality of the people, and awed by the breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture that comprise Myanmar.
Myanmar Tour Itinerary At a Glance
DAY 1: Meet in Yangon, Myanmar and explore the colonial city, including Shwedagon Pagoda and Scott Market.
DAY 2: Take a mid-morning flight to Mandalay, the artistic and cultural center of Myanmar and explore the artisan districts and the picturesque U-Bein Bridge.
DAYS 3-4: Take a morning stroll up Mandalay Hill and visit the jade market; embark on a cruise down the Irraawady River. Enjoy excursions to ancient sites, and fishing and pottery villages.
DAYS 5-6: Conclude river cruise at the ancient capital of Bagan, home of thousands to 12th-century temples. Explore the markets and villages of Old Bagan by foot, bicycle, or horse and carriage (the choice is yours!). Take an optional sunrise hot air balloon ride over the ancient city.
DAYS 7-8: Transfer to Kalaw, a small hill station founded by the British as a summer retreat during colonial times. Embark on an excursion to Green Hill Valley, an elephant camp and re-forestation initiative. Mid-morning of Day 8 transfer to Inle lake, a hidden gem and idyllic retreat from the pace of modern-day life. Take an evening boat ride and soak in the general ambience of the lake.
DAYS 9-11: Venture by boat to some of the least explored areas of Inle Lake, dramatized by the green mountains of the Shan Plateau. Marvel at the iconic leg rowers, while meandering through the intricate passageways of floating gardens.
THE BOUNDLESS JOURNEYS ADVANTAGE
- A passion for travel. Simply put, we love to travel, and that is woven into every one of our journeys.
- Unique, award-winning itineraries. Our flexible, hand-crafted journeys have received accolades from the world’s most revered travel publications.
- Insider connections. There is simply no substitute for traveling with a knowledgeable insider.
- Small groups. We tread softly, and our average group size is just 6-8 guests.
- Flexibility to suit your travel style. We offer both small-group departures and Private Collection trips.
- Customer service that goes the extra mile. There is no request that is too big – or too small.
- Sustainability. We are committed to traveling responsibly.
Our tours often fill months in advance, and our maximum group size is smaller than most tour operators. It's very quick and easy to reserve a trip. Give us a call at 800-941-8010 or complete the online Reserve a Trip form. We will confirm your reservation with a $500 per person deposit, payable by check or credit card.
Trip Rating (1 Easiest - 5 Most Strenuous)
Traveling To and From
Most Convenient Airport for Arrival:
Yangon International Airport, Yangon, Myanmar (airport code RGN)
Meeting Time and Place:
Yangon International Airport, upon the arrival of your international flight by 12 noon on Day 1 of the tour.
Most Convenient Airport for Departure:
Yangon International Airport, Yangon, Myanmar (airport code RGN)
Departure Time and Place:
Following lunch on the final day of your tour you will be transferred to Yangon International Airport.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Typical Trip Rating
Boundless Journeys’ trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Myanmar: Ancient Passages is rated 1+, easy with some moderate options on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The walks on this trip are day walks with some vehicle support. Much of the walking will be on flat terrain, in and around villages, towns and temples, 1-4 hours per day, broken up by rest and meals.
Preparing for this Trip
It is very important that you realistically assess your physical condition with regard to the demands of this trip. The more well-prepared you are for the activities on this trip, the more you will enjoy yourself! Please engage in moderate aerobic activities (walking, jogging, cycling) for at least 30-45 minutes several times a week for 4-6 weeks before the trip. Consult your doctor before undertaking any new fitness program.
During our trip, you will likely experience a range of weather conditions, as various locations fall within different climatic zones. While in Yangon we experience the hottest temperatures and during the spring it can be hazy in the mornings and evenings. Mandalay and Bagan are both quite hot and dry during the fall and spring months, and Inle Lake and Kalaw will be quite a bit cooler as you will be higher in elevation.
The following are average temperatures in Yangon:
October: High 88°F to Low 77°F
November: High 89°F to Low 73°F
February: High 94°F to Low 67°F
March: High 97°F to Low 71°F
The following are average temperatures in Mandalay and Bagan:
October: High 89°F to Low 75°F
November: High 85°F to Low 68°F
February: High 88°F to Low 60°F
March: High 96°F to Low 68°F
The following are average temperatures in Heho (Inle and Kalaw):
October: High 75°F to Low 61°F
November: High 74°F to Low 52°F
February: High 76°F to Low 47°F
March: High 81°F to Low 52°F
You can obtain more detailed weather information at www.weatherbase.com.
When to Go
The cooler dry season lasts from October to early March. In October and November, you'll be arriving just after the rainy season, having the benefit of being there for the newly greened trees and rice paddies, as well as the much clearer air quality that can be expected at this time of year. The hot and dry summer begins in mid-March and lasts through most of May. The rainy season begins in June and lasts through most of September. However, it is possible to have some rain at any time of year.
When to Reserve
It is important to reserve your trip early, as Myanmar is an up and coming destination and facilities in Myanmar are in high demand. Hotels tend to fill up six months to a year in advance, and therefore to secure the appropriate accommodations, we highly reccomend at least six months advance booking.
Myanmar Tour Accommodations
Overview: Our boutique, 5-star hotels are well-located, authentic and embody the rich heritage of Myanmar. Two nights will be on a deluxe cruise boat along the Irrawaddy River. All with private baths and all the necessary amenities.
Night 1: The Strand Hotel
For a night you may feel like the nobility that once frequented this grand, Victorian-style colonial building built in 1901. Centrally located in the heart of downtown Yangon, the Strand features high ceilings, a marble floor lobby, and the rooms are tastefully decorated with Burmese textile, handicrafts and teakwood floors.
Night 2: Rupar Mandalar
A retreat from the bustling center of Mandalay city, Rupar Mandalar is a gracious boutique hotel, blending traditional décor and a touch of elegance, with all of the necessary modern amenities, including a swimming pool and landscaped gardens.
Nights 3 & 4: RV Paukan
Boutique cruise boat, Irrawaddy River
The Paukan cruise boats of the Ayravata cruise company are boutique hotels on the water, full of character and charm. The original one was built in Scotland, infusing an old-world ambience with traditional Myanmar architectural style and motifs. There is sundeck and bar, as well as a full-service restaurant featuring authentic Burmese cuisine.
Nights 5 & 6: Tharabar Gate Hotel
Old Bagan, Myanmar
This resort is situated at Tharabar Gate, the main entrance to the Old City of Bagan and within walking distance of the ancient pagodas and temples that comprise the archeological site. The rooms are decorated in traditional Burmese style, and the grounds have beautifully landscaped gardens. It is a welcome retreat with a fabulous spa and all of the necessary modern amenities.
Night 7: Amara Mountain Resort
This is an intimate resort, with only ten rooms that are individually decorated in a fusion of Asian and European styles, and is situated in the unique and refreshing hill-station of Kalaw.
Nights 8, 9, & 10: Inle Princess Resort
Inle Lake, Myanmar
Inle Princess Resort is situated on the northeastern side of Inle Lake next to Magyizin Village in a tranquil setting. It is decorated in the traditional Shan and Intha style and equipped with a bar, restaurant, and verandah to enjoy an evening cocktail while overlooking the lake and mountains beyond. At Inle Princess, you are graced with excellent hospitality, while having the opportunity to slow down.
Myanmar Trip Itinerary
Arrival in Yangon, Myanmar; Walking tour of city and visit to Schwedagon Pagoda
Walking – easy, 1-2 hours.
Transfer to Mandalay; Visit Amarapura and U-Bien Bridge; Watch artisans at work
Walking – easy, 1-2 hours.
Mandalay Hill; Visit the vegetable and jade markets; Embark on Irrawaddy River cruise
Walking – easy, 1 – 2 hours.
Crusing – 2 – 3 hours.
Irrawaddy River Cruise
Crusing – 5 – 6 hours.
By mid-morning we explore Saiging, a magnificent complex of pagodas scattered throughout the hillsides. Climbing one of these sacred hills we are rewarded with views of the surrounding countryside and Irrawady river valley. Upon our return, we visit a nunnery, providing us with insight into the nuns daily lives.
During our midday cruise, we enjoy lunch and time for rest and relaxation on the sundeck. In the late afternoon, we arrive at Yandabo, a pottery village specializing in pot making, a trade passed down through the generations. We see the entire village working together as we wander the pathways connecting their households, and observe the various steps in the process of pot-making. We conclude the excursion with a visit to the local school.
Morning cruise and then disembark at Bagan; Walking tour of temples
Walking – easy, 1 – 2 hours.
Crusing – 2 – 3 hours.
Following lunch at a local restaurant, and an afternoon rest, we venture out from our hotel to explore the dirt paths that interconnect the maze of temples comprising Old Bagan (there is the option to either walk or go by horse and carriage). One of the highlights is Ananda Temple, built in 1090 AD, and the best-preserved temple in Bagan. Four golden Buddha statues mark each entrance facing each of the four directions, and the interior walls are decorated with frescoes depicting Burmese life from the 11th to the 13th centuries.
Optional sunrise hot air balloon ride; Visit to Nyaung U Market and lacquerware workshop
Walking – easy, 1 – 2 hours.
Transfer to Kalaw, hill station; Excursion to Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp
Walking – moderate, 2–3 hours on dirt trails.
Driving –2-2.5 hours.
Just outside of Kalaw, we lace up our walking shoes and prepare for a unique excursion to Green Hill Valley, an elephant camp and reforestation initiative. Our walk is led by a local trekking guide, beginning at a hamlet of the Palaung tribe, and takes us by some farmers’ fields, and then mostly downhill through a forested landscape. After about an hour and a half of hiking, we are met by our elephants and companions for the day as we approach the 150-acre private preserve focused on protecting the local ecology, elephants, and traditions of the indigenous people.
We learn about the Mahouts trade of elephant-caretaking passed down through the generations, as we bathe the elephants in water holes and take a turn at feeding and riding the elephants. Our lunch is prepared in a traditional style by the camp staff, and we enjoy our meal as we overlook the surrounding preserve and village below.
After lunch, we can plant a tree from the elephant camps’ nursery to make our small contribution to the initiative of reforestation in the area. If the local school is in session, and time allows, we may visit with the students, before making our way back to Kalaw. This school was funded and built by the founders of the elephant camp as a way for them to give back to the local community.
Morning Kalaw exploration; Transfer to Inle Lake and afternoon boat excursion
Walking – easy, 1 hour.
Driving – 1.5 hours.
Our first introduction to the lake is a visit to Sae Ma Village. Here we have the opportunity to interact with Shan villagers and visit the primary school, before enjoying a home-made lunch served in a local house. We receive a basic cooking demonstration to learn about the some of the secrets involved in traditional Burmese cooking. Afterwards, we can paddle our own canoe through some of the smaller passageways of Sae Ma village. We visit the intricate mosaic of floating vegetable gardens, learning the unique way in which the Intha people grow their food hydroponically. Eventually, we make our way across the lake to the eastern shore where our hotel is located, a tranquil setting for the next three nights.
Inle Lake Exploration to Inthein pagodas; Hiking to Kya Ton village
Walking – Moderate, 3 hours on foot paths and trails.
Morning hike to Forest Monastary; Afternoon wine tasting at a local vineyard
Walking – Easy, 1-2 hours on dirt roads.
Morning transfer to Yangon; City excursion and handicrafts shopping; International departure
This morning we depart Inle Lake and take an early morning flight back to Yangon. If time allows, we may visit some final sights or perhaps do some last-minute shopping at one of the lively city markets selling handicrafts made from throughout Myanmar. Our final lunch is at a local restaurant where they grow organic vegetables and produce their own artisan cheese. After lunch, we return to the airport for our international departures.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary to take advantage of weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these should the need arise.
- Oct 06–16, 2014
2014 Land Cost
$5995 per person
Single Supplements: (Free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.)
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement may be charged to participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. We have made every effort to eliminate or greatly reduce this cost for most of our scheduled small-group departures; however, these savings are limited to two single supplements per departure. Therefore, the first two single participants to reserve will receive the savings. This is not applicable to our Private Collection journeys.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 90 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary).* Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This does not apply to cruises in the Galapagos Islands. Please see these trip pages for more details.
Yangon to Mandalay; Bagan to Heho; Heho to Yangon
- Expert English-speaking guide throughout (our guide will not accompany us on the cruise)
- All accommodations, including two nights on a deluxe small-ship cruise
- Private, air-conditioned ground transportation
- All meals except for 3 dinners
- Entry fees
- All activities as noted in the itinerary
- All tips except for the lead guide and cruise staff
Please complete the following information to request a reservation. A trip deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your reservation (payable by check or major credit card). Once we receive your request we will contact you within one business day to confirm availability and answer any questions you may have.
About our guides
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work – the mark of a truly great leader – our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own.
Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
Ohnmar Htun: Ohnmar was born in a small village on tranquil Inle Lake, located in Shan state, a beautiful mountainous region in Eastern Myanmar. She is a part of a big Intha family, which is the main tribe that comprises Shan state. Upon completing her university degree, she decided it was time to learn more about the world, and that there was no better way than through becoming a guide. Ohnmar now lives in Yangon with her husband and son. She is eager to show visitors her native country, and is extremely knowledgeable and proficient in Enlgish, as well as a very personable and fun travelling companion.
Picture Yourself Here:
Exploring the artisan districts of Mandalay, the cultural center of Myanmar
Cruising the Irrawaddy River for two nights on a deluxe, small-ship cruise
Discovering 11th and 12th-century temples in the ancient capital of Bagan
Slowing down on Inle Lake, known for leg rowers, floating gardens, and silk weaving
- Oct 06–16, 2014
You may also be interested in:
Prefer a private departure?
Myanmar: Private Journey
Please call for details or contact the Myanmar destination manager.
Latest Blog Posts About Myanmar
"We are home safe and sound. We continue to bathe in the rich memories of the trip and want to thank you, Karen and all of your people who helped make it such an enjoyable, flawless trip. It certainly did exceed our expectations and we could not be more satisfied with your efforts and those of the wonderful people at Wilderness Safaris. It was truly a lifetime experience we will treasure always. "
- Howard Fosler, Botswana Private Adventure