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!
|Day 1||Mandalay arrival and Local night out||Mandalay|
|Day 2||Mandalay countryside, nunnery lunch and city tour||Mandalay|
|Day 3||Ancient Inwa by bike, U Bein Bridge and drive to Bagan||Bagan|
|Day 4||Bagan's Temples, Villages, and Waterways||Bagan|
|Day 5||Bagan sunrise and departure from Mandalay|
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 open-air truck around the Palace moat, listening to Burmese music and stopping for photos of the illuminated palace and Mandalay Hill. 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 U Bein Bridge
We hop on bikes or on the backs of motorbikes this morning and head to the countryside where rice paddies and villages await. We’ll stop often to chat with the locals and take photos.
Around 10:30 AM, we will reach a Buddhist nunnery where we can 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 quiet back lanes of Inwa where our bikes await. Also known as Ava, this town served as the royal capital numerous times between the 14th and 19th centuries. We pedal past crumbling ruins and through charming neighborhoods untouched by time.
From the dirt trails and small roads, we pop out by the Dohkthawaddy River and take a ferry boat to the opposite side where our car awaits. We drive to the town of Amarapura, stopping here to enjoy a snack while admiring U Bein Bridge. Spanning 1.2 kilometers, this is the world’s longest teak bridge and is steeped in history.
Then we drive to Bagan, passing through small villages and farmland. We will reach Bagan in the early evening, perhaps in time to see the sunset.
Day 4: Bagan's Temples, Villages, and Waterways
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.