This 5-day Myanmar introduction showcases the best of the two cities plus ensures you forge a genuine connection with the people and culture. Whether as an introduction to Myanmar or as an add-on to a Yangon stopover, this trip is sure to satisfy the history-loving traveler.

Overview

Mandalay and Bagan are two of Myanmar's most mesmerizing heritage destinations. Located just a 4-hour drive apart, these two places combine into the perfect short holiday. Ancient history? Check. Rich cultural traditions? Check. Beautiful heritage monuments? Check!

Brief itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Mandalay arrival and Local night out Mandalay
Day 2 Mandalay countryside, nunnery lunch and highlights Mandalay
Day 3  U Bein Bridge & Inwa by bike; drive to Bagan Bagan
Day 4 Bagan's Temples, Villages, and Waterways Bagan
Day 5 Bagan sunrise and departure from Mandalay  

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Mandalay arrival and Local night out

Welcome to Myanmar! Upon landing at the Mandalay International Airport, your English-speaking guide and driver will be waiting to greet you and transfer you to your hotel.

Then it’s time to for a local night out. Travel by the illuminated palace and Mandalay Hill in time for sunset. Then, stop in at a Buddhist pagoda, joining worshipers who come to make offerings in return for good luck. Learn about Myanmar’s spiritual beliefs while enjoying this serene setting.

Next, continue to a popular restaurant for dinner, enjoying delicious food while rubbing elbows with the locals.

Day 2: Mandalay: City Tour, Nunnery Lunch and City Highlights

Start the morning at the local market, rubbing elbows with Mandalay residents who come to shop for their daily needs. See exotic fruits, fiery spices and more as you venture through the aisles. 


Then head out to the countryside, arriving at a Buddhist nunnery around 10.30. Learn about the activities of the nuns and the key role the play in Burmese society. Then sit down for a simple but delicious lunch prepared by the nuns, a meal that contributes to their social welfare programs.

Return to the hotel for a chance to freshen up then resume your Mandalay exploration. We head to a quiet corner of the city and explore a typical residential neighborhood on foot or by trishaw, a pedal-powered rickshaw.

After observing the scenes of life in the city, we continue to Shwenandaw Kyaung and Kuthodaw Pagoda. The former is a gorgeous teak building and the last remaining structure of the Royal Palace. The latter is dubbed ‘The World’s Biggest Book’, thanks to its 729 inscribed marble tablets. The remainder of the evening is free at leisure.

Day 3: Ancient Inwa by bike, U Bein Bridge and drive to Bagan

We pack our bags and check out this morning, driving out of the city to the town of Amarapura, stopping here to enjoy a cup of coffee while admiring U Bein Bridge. Spanning 1.2 kilometers, this is the world’s longest teak bridge and is steeped in history. Then hop on a bike and pedal through quiet lanes to discover weaving villages and rice paddies. After a short stretch of busier road pop out by the Dohkthawaddy River and take a ferry boat to the opposite side to Inwa. Also known as Ava, this town served as the royal capital numerous times between the 14th and 19th centuries. Pedal past crumbling ruins and through charming neighborhoods untouched by time.

Enjoy a picnic lunch in a quiet spot in the village then drive to Bagan, a 3-4 hour journey. We will reach Bagan in the early evening, perhaps in time to see the sunset.

Day 4: Bagan's Temples, Villages, and Waterways

Irrawaddy River boat
Enjoy a sunset trip by boat along the Irrawaddy River

Pagodas, pagodas, and more pagodas! Spend a full day visiting the temples of Bagan by bike, electric bike or car. Visit the main highlights as well as some hidden gems with a local expert.

There are also vibrant fresh markets, lacquer ware workshops and small villages to explore. The exact itinerary will depend on your personal interests and your guide will be sure to get you away from the tourist trail.

Around 4 PM, you'll be transferred to the Irrawaddy River for a private boat trip, enjoying local snacks and drinks on board as the sun sets.

Day 5: Bagan sunrise and departure from Mandalay

Start the morning with an unforgettable sunrise from one of Bagan's elevated pagoda platforms. This serene experience is the perfect lasting memory of your holiday in Myanmar. Depending on the time of year, there may be an option to catch a hot air balloon flight over the temples at sunrise.

Return to the hotel for breakfast, then transfer by private car from Bagan to the Mandalay airport in time for your international departure.

Map

Map of Highlights of Mandalay and Bagan - 5 Days
Map of Highlights of Mandalay and Bagan - 5 Days