Frozen in time, the colourful streets of what was once the capital of Myanmar provide a captivating introduction to a land that has remained unchanged and almost inaccessible to visitors for decades. On arrival at Yangon International Airport, you'll be transferred to your hotel. Later, meet your fellow adventurers and Travel Director for a Welcome Reception drink with local appetisers.
Explore the remnants of British colonial rule as you embark on a walking tour of Yangon. At its centre lies the City Hall and the beautiful colonial heritage building that once housed the Immigration Department. View the High Court and the red brick General Post Office before continuing to the luxurious Strand Hotel, built in 1901, for a well earned refreshment. After a lunch of Mohinga – a fish broth with noodles served with various accompaniments – you’ll visit a local monastic school. Then head to nearby Ngar Htat Gyi Pagoda with its huge sitting Buddha. Return to your hotel later and relax before this evening’s special visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda. During this MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience, you'll take part in an oil lamp lighting ceremony before enjoying the sunset over the glistening pagoda.
This morning, fly to Heho, the gateway to Inle Lake and on arrival, head to Nyaungshwe. Board your private longtail boat bound for Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the holiest religious site in the area and home to five gold-leaf covered Buddha figures. Following lunch at a local restaurant, you'll 'Dive Into Culture' with a visit to a boat construction workshop. Admire the local handicrafts of the area next with visits to several workshops where you'll witness first-hand the traditional methods of weaving silk, making cheroots and talented smiths forging metal at a blacksmiths' forge. Your final stop today is Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries on the lake. Take a quiet moment to contemplate this wooden spiritual centre, sharing its tranquility with the resident cats and centuries-old Buddha statues. As the sun sets over another glorious day on the lake, return to your hotel, slicing through the calm waters and admiring the changing light.
'Dive Into Culture' with a visit to a local market offering insights into the life of the ethnic Pa-O, Danu and Intha people who visit the market to buy and sell goods. There are more cultural experiences to enjoy. Embark on a scenic boat ride to the northern part of Inle Lake for a hands-on cooking class with a 'Local Specialist' in a traditional stilt house. Here you'll learn how to prepare a range of traditional dishes which you'll enjoy with your fellow travellers for lunch. Later return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure. Keep an eye out for the lake's characteristic leg rowers, the Intha fishermen. See how they row standing up with one leg wrapped around a single oar, leaving their hands free to manipulate the conical fishing net.
This morning, transfer to Heho Airport for the short local flight to the exotic city of Mandalay. Your first stop today is a visit to Mahamuni Pagoda, one of the holiest sites in all of Myanmar. Here you'll observe local devotees applying gold leaf to the already thick layers of gold adorning the spectacular Buddha image. Next, stop at local workshops to see ornate Kalaga tapestries being embroidered and gold leaf being beaten into paper-thin pieces by a Local Specialist. Afterwards, visit Shwe Kyin Monastery and enjoy lunch alongside the student monks who live there; a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience. Enjoy lunch alongside the student monks who live there, then cross the Ayeyarwady River to Amarapura. Visit the impressive wooden Bagaya Monastery, with its superb collection of Buddha statues. Then, take a sunset stroll on the U Bein Bridge, believed to be the longest teak bridge in the world.
Enjoy some free time this morning to uncover the splendours of Mandalay on your terms. This afternoon, board your own private boat and cruise up the Ayeyarwady River to Mingun, in the heart of Myanmar. This is a rare opportunity to witness local life along the river first-hand. Watch the small longtail boats, bamboo rafts and ferries going up and down the river and admire the beautiful golden stupas that emerge from the dense river-front forest along the river's banks. On arrival, you'll visit the Mingun Bell which, at 87 tonnes, it's the world's largest ringing bronze bell. Continue to Hsinbyume Paya, which rises in seven terraces representing the seven mountain ranges around Mt. Meru. See the unfinished but mighty Mingun Pagoda, which was built to be the world's largest but never completed due to local superstition. Later, cruise downriver back to Mandalay, where this evening you'll 'Connect With Locals' and join a local family for an exclusive 'Be My Guest' dinner in their home.
This morning, drive to Pakkoku, an unspoilt village famous for its tobacco trade. The village also brims with small family-run businesses producing a variety of goods, such as traditional Burmese slippers, checked cotton blankets, paper mâché animals and dolls and wood carvings. After lunch in a local restaurant, ''Dive Into Culture' with a visit to a small market selling Thanaka, a traditional yellowish-white cosmetic made from ground bark. The locals apply this mixture to their faces and arms to protect their skins from the harsh sun. Later, take a private boat and cruise down the Ayeyarwady River to Bagan as the sun sets over the numerous pagodas, which dot the landscape.
After a visit to a local market this morning, you'll head to the golden Shwezigon Pagoda, built by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century. See the 13th century frescoes adorning the corridors and walls of the Gubyaukgyi Temple before heading to the Ananda Temple, a whitewashed masterpiece of Mon architecture with four standing Buddhas. Learn from a 'Local Specialist' how lacquerware is produced in one of Bagan's famous workshops. Then, enjoy a relaxing afternoon or choose one of our Optional Experiences to see more of Bagan. Dinner this evening is at your hotel.
This morning, proceed to Bagan Airport for your return flight to Yangon. You'll have some leisure time at your hotel, before taking a stroll around Bogyoke Aung San Market to buy some last-minute souvenirs. The market was named in honour of Myanmar's national leader, who was assassinated in 1947. However, many people still refer to it as Scott's Market, its original name. On your last evening in Myanmar, you'll want to celebrate special memories and new friends at a rousing Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.
Say a fond farewell to Myanmar as your adventure comes to an end. After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight.