Day 1 - Yangon

After arriving at Yangon International Airport and transferring to our hotel, we get acquainted and unwind over lunch. We then set out on foot and walk through local markets and communities to the base of Shwedagon Pagoda. From here where we walk to the summit passing many smaller but no less beautiful Pagodas. It is from here that we enjoy the sunset. Rudyard Kipling called Shwedagon “a Golden mystery…a beautiful twinkling wonder.” The 2,500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda is said to be the world’s richest golden stupa, or Buddhist spiritual monument. Also considered the most sacred of all Buddhist sites in Myanmar, the golden dome rises 323 feet above its base and is covered with 60 tons of pure gold. As the last rays of the setting sun cast a brilliant light on the domes [which are encrusted with gems] we observe local pilgrims and monks offering their devotions.

Day 2 - Yangon

First stop today after a relaxing breakfast will be the Gem museum, which will give you a fascinating insight into all the stones, and minerals that are found in Myanmar. Within the museum complex, there are then some one hundred stalls that are selling rough, loose and set stones. By wandering around, you will get a good idea of the prices. Everyone expects you to bargain and the stallholders will enjoy the process. It is all conducted in a very good-natured way. Lunch will be at a local restaurant followed by a visit to Scott’s market that is located in a vast old colonial warehouse and is home to many stalls selling every item imaginable from household goods, tribal pieces, artwork, jewellery [expensive] and much more. There is also a fascinating local gem market, which we will visit. This is where brokers sell loose stones brought down from the mining areas. From the market we will walk past the old colonial centre with its magnificent buildings including Sule Pagoda to the Strand Hotel for a drink at the long bar before returning to the hotel.

Day 3 - Yangon - MyitKyiNa

In the morning, we transfer to the airport for the flight to Mandalay where we connect with a flight to Myitkyina. We drive for 15 minutes to the Jade market, which is also the centre for trading the famous Kachin Amber. We spend time here learning and dealing with the traders. Foreigners are unusual here since there has only been a central market for one year. The traders are friendly and enjoy explaining why they have the best. We then transfer for a further 10 minutes to the hotel. Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant.

Day 4 - Myitkyina - Mandalay

After breakfast, we have time to explore the town before heading back to the Jade and Amber market. After an early lunch we take a flight back to Mandalay. We then drive to Ava Bridge from where we take a two-hour private boat ride back to Mandalay on the amazing Irrawaddy River. On the way we will see many of the classic trading boats plying their wares along the river. We then check into the hotel. This will be followed by a visit to one of the famous Puppet shows.

Day 5 - Mandalay - Mogok

For those wishing, there is a visit to the Jade market where the small and large traders set up stalls with rough and cut and set Jade. This market is a real maze and is certainly the oldest in Myanmar. For those not wishing to do this, you can visit Mandalay Hill which you can either drive or walk up. There are memorials to the hard fighting that took place during the Second World War. There are magnificent views of Mandalay from the summit. Time permitting, this will be followed by a visit to Mandalay fort where the re built Palace stands. Regrouped, we drive for 5 hours to Mogok, which only recently opened to foreigners. We will stop at a local restaurant for lunch. On arrival we check into the Golden Butterfly Hotel. The view from the hotel looks over the Mogok valley and is stunning. In the evening we will meet our host who will assist us over the next 2 days. He is an expert in coloured gems having lived and worked in Mogok all his life. 90% of the population of Mogok are in someway involved in the gem trade. He will speak to us about the history of the valley.

Day 6 - Mogok

After breakfast we drive into the town of Mogok [15 minutes] and visit one of the small morning gem market. There are many small stalls selling loose stones as well as traders who will approach you. Prices are always negotiable and the dealers are only too happy to speak with foreigners since so few have been to Mogok. From here we will visit two different types of Ruby mines. The first is a well mine called Linyaung and the second is an open mine called Shondbanlay. It is at this mine that you can sift through the gravel in search of small gems that are virtually free. The local pickers will also offer their takings for a very reasonable price. After lunch at a local restaurant, we will spend a few hours at the open-air bourse where hundreds of sellers gather to sell their stones direct from the mines. We will establish ourselves at several tables and wait for the dealers to approach us. Countless different types will be on display all at reasonable prices especially after some hard bargaining. In the late afternoon, we will visit a local cutting and polishing shop following which we will drive to a viewpoint called the Ruby Pagoda that overlooks the whole valley.

Day 7 - Mogok

Today our first visit is to another morning market in the area where Rubies were first discovered in the Mogok valley. Again it is small and friendly and we will establish ourselves in a local teashop where dealers can visit us or you can walk around outside to meet the. We then drive for ten minutes to the valley where Rubies were first mined and where they continue to be. We visit a mine where we can watch the sorting process. From here we drive to one of the first tunnel mines called Mogok Pride. This is still being worked and you can walk for 300m into the tunnel. From this point, the mine becomes inaccessible for westerners. Back in Mogok for lunch there is then the option to return to the central Bourse for more trading or we can take a walk around one of the older villages and take tea in a local’s house who has been involved in mining for many years. He has an interesting collection of sample rocks. Sunset will be at another Pagoda called Chanthargyi or the rich Pagoda. This is second only to Shwedagon in terms of wealth. The Pagoda is full of gems, which are on display that mine owners have donated.

Day 8 - Mogok - May Myo

After breakfast we leave Mogok on a different road and drive for 4 hours to the old British hill station of Maymyo. On arrival we check into the hotel and have lunch. In the afternoon we visit some of the beautiful old colonial buildings and the famous Botanical gardens that have an amazing array flowers and plants. The British established the gardens in the 19th century.

Day 9 - Mandalay - Yangon

In the morning we will visit the centre of this town with its famous clock tower before proceeding by road for 2 hours to Mandalay airport. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. From Mandalay we fly to Yangon.

Day 10 - Departure

Depart to the International airport for your onward journey.

 

 

Classic Extensions

Day 1 - Mandalay - Bagan

After breakfast, we fly to Bagan (a short 20 minute flight) considered one of the greatest sights of Asia! Located on the lush delta plain, Bagan was once a great royal city with over 13,000 temples. Although the majority of the temples have been destroyed, ancient temples still dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. Hundreds of temples and pagodas, from simple to magnificent, spread over 40 square kilometers.

We start our exploration of Bagan by visiting the small 13th-century Gubyaukgi Stupa, which is known for its fine frescoes. We then stop at the Ananda Temple, one of the largest, best reserved, and most revered temples in Bagan. We also visit a local lacquer ware workshop, where we watch men and women ply their craft using traditional methods.

Midday we check into our hotel and enjoy lunch by the pool, before venturing out again for our afternoon walk. We start at the Shwesansaw Paya. We then zig zag our way along quiet trails, visiting the Dammayangyi Pahto and Sulamani Pagoda. Along the way, we are likely to see cows drinking at watering holes and farmers harvesting sesame seeds. We end our walk by climbing to the top of the Pyathada Pagoda for stirring sunset views.

Day 2 - Bagan

Guests who book the balloon flight are picked up early in the morning to enjoy a spectacular sunrise over Bagan and the Ayeyarwaddy River. Gentle winds not exceeding 15 miles per hour guide the balloon, allowing passengers a serene, bird’s-eye view of ancient temples drifting by. On average the flight lasts between 45 minutes to 1 hour.

We reunite at the hotel for breakfast before embarking on a walk through the Paya-thone-zu group of temples (a short ride to the east of our hotel). Midday we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant situated on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River before a visit to the archaeological museum, home to a collection of world-class Buddha images from the Bagan region.

After our visit to the museum, we start our hike through Old Bagan, walking by the oldest stupa and the tallest temple. We admire frescos at the Thamya Temple and climb to the top of the Swegugyi Temple. Our walk concludes at Bagan’s ninth-century gateway, which is guarded by brother and sister spirits

Late afternoon we take a short ride to the jetty and set out for a sunset cruise on the lower Ayarwaddy River Before returning to our hotel for dinner.

Day 3 - Bagan - Inle Lake

After breakfast, we fly to Heho (approximate 30 minute flight) which is our gateway to Inle Lake. Known as the most beautiful lake in Myanmar, Inle Lake’s calm waters are surrounded by high hills and dotted with floating gardens and stilted villages. From Heho we take a car for a stunning drive (approximately 1 hour drive) which winds though heavily forested hills where we see a variety of trees including banyan, jacaranda, acacia, and rubber trees. Monasteries, stupa, and small lakes dot the hills. We descend to the flat plateau where most of the county's rice is grown along with a variety of fruits and vegetables and sugarcane. We stop at a local hotel for lunch before proceeding to a small jetty where we pick up our private boat for a 30-minute ride to our hotel, located on the shores of the lake. En route we may pass local Intha fishermen, known as “leg rowers” and famous for propelling flat-bottomed boats by standing on one leg and wrapping the other around the oar. After checking in at our beautiful lakeside hotel, we set off for a for a boat ride on the lake.

Day 4 - Inle Lake

After breakfast we set off by boat to the village of MaingThauk (a 20-minute trip) where we walk to the Forest Monastery along a trail shaded with tamarind trees, passing mango and sugarcane plantations. As we ascend into the jungle (approximate 750 ft. ascent), our trail saddles a deep gorge with a stream running below. Bird calls punctuate our journey, and we may spot monkeys swinging in the trees. We arrive at the Monastery in time to see the Buddhist monks gathering for their mid-morning lunch. Further along the trail from the monastery is a stupa, where we enjoy stunning views of Inle Lake and the surrounding hills. On the way back from the monastery, we have a chance to visit the village of MaingThouk, including an orphanage for pre-schoolers and a sugarcane farm where fudge and syrup are produced. We board our long tail boats for the 45-minute crossing to the southern end of the lake. The journey takes us through floating gardens of multi-coloured lotus flowers and hyacinths. The lake is also home to abundant waterfowl, including egrets and cormorants. We eat lunch at a local restaurant perched on tall stilts offering excellent lake views. After lunch, we board our boats for a leisurely return trip through the villages and vegetable gardens. We stop to learn about some of the traditional cottage industries, including lotus flower weaving, pottery, cigar making, and blacksmithing .We then enjoy the sunset as we return to the hotel by boat.

Day 5 - Inle Lake - Yangon

Transfer by boat and plane to Heho airport and fly back to Yangon for departure.

 

 

Ngapali Beach

Day 1. Ngapali Beach

Transfer to the airport and fly to Ngapali Beach, where we drive for 20 minutes to the hotel. Free afternoon to relax on the beach. [As with most flights you could fly via Yangon or Bagan but the plane only stops for 10 minute] The pristine beach of Ngapali stretches for 2-miles. Palm trees fringe clear, azure waters. Sea, sand and sun are the only distractions. No buildings are taller than palm-tree level and loud jet skis, souvenir vendors, and beachside bars are blissfully absent.Opportunities abound to engage with the uniquely charming local culture. Watch fishermen drawing their nets and women carrying baskets of fish to the resort, or simply make the acquaintance of people renowned for their friendliness. Outstanding seafood, a fabulous swimming and snorkeling beach, and a laid-back atmosphere make this an idyllic destination for capping off an unforgettable Myanmar adventure.

Day 2. Ngapali Beach

Four your own expense: Today you can relax, collect shells, stroll to the nearby fishing village, go for a bicycle ride, or take a half-day boat trip for snorkeling.

Day 3. Ngapali Beach - Yangon

Enjoy another relaxing morning on the beach before taking a late morning flight back to Yangon for departure.

*** N.B: Itineraries can be adjusted and updated in accordance with guests’ special requests.