Discover the best of Myanmar at a relaxed pace on this two-week itinerary. You'll start and end in Yangon, stopping along the way to wander through the ancient temples of Bagan, explore the former royal capital of Mandalay, and gaze upon the spectacular waters of Inle Lake. We've also included a few local neighborhoods and hidden corners not featured in most ordinary Myanmar journeys.

Highlights

  • Discover hidden temples as you cross the plains of Bagan by horse cart
  • Have your fortune told by an astrologer at sacred Shwedagon Pagoda
  • Sample tasty local delicacies at a popular Mandalay tea shop
  • Travel through the Shan State by a slow-moving scenic local train
  • Get an up-close look at Inle Lake's iconic stilted villages and floating gardens

Overview

Myanmar offers an intoxicating mix of heritage, culture and scenic beauty that is sure to captivate even the most worldly traveler. This two-week journey lets you embrace the wonders of Myanmar at a relaxed pace. Insightful tours with passionate local guides will introduce you to the country's rich history and bring you closer to the culture.

These excursions are balanced with free time for you to discover the rhythm of Myanmar on your own. This two-week 'basic' trip is perfect for solo holiday-goers on a budget or travelers who enjoy independent exploration but still want to gain an insiders' perspective. 

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Yangon!

Mingalarbar and welcome to Myanmar! After exiting customs at the Yangon International airport, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. There are no additional services included today, giving you time to relax and recover after your international flight. (note: no guide service today)

Day 2: Shwedagon Discovery Tour

Spend an insightful morning in and around Myanmar’s most holy site: Shwedagon Pagoda. More than just a monument, this fabulous ‘insiders’ excursion will teach you about the beliefs of the Myanmar people and put you in touch with the culture.

Make donations to monks, meet a fortune teller, and much more as you walk around the pagoda and its surrounding neighborhood.

After lunch, the afternoon is free to explore on your own or do some last-minute shopping for souvenirs.

Day 3: Fly to Mandalay (Free Day)

Awake early this morning and transfer to the Yangon airport for the domestic flight to Mandalay. Upon arrival, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. The remainder of today is free at your leisure to explore.

Day 4: Mandalay Tea Shops, Markets, Highlights and U Bein Bridge

Spend the morning exploring local life in Mandalay and its historic sites. We climb into a trishaw, a pedal-powered vehicle that was once the main means of transport in the city. You'll pass through leafy side streets to tea shops, stopping to experience this slice of authentic Mandalay life.

Then, you'll continue to a bustling morning market overflowing with fresh produce. Rub elbows with the locals as they bargain for fruits, vegetables, and spices before heading on to Kuthodaw Pagoda, a collection of engraved marble slabs referred to as the ‘world's biggest book’ and Shwe Nandaw Kyaung, the last remaining building of the Royal Palace.

Around midday, we'll take a break to escape the heat of the day and have lunch (own account). 

Later this afternoon we travel by car to some of Mandalay's famous artisans at work, making crafts from the royal era such as gold-leaf and woven tapestries. Then we head to Amarapura, a small town that served as the royal capital in the 18th and 19th centuries. We visit a silk dying workshop, a popular industry here, and the famous U Bein Bridge. This 1.2-kilometer structure is the world's longest teak bridge and spans the tranquil Thaung Tha Man Lake. Watch the sun set here then return to town. 

Day 5: Mandalay (Free Day)

Today is free to explore more of Mandalay on your own. There is an option for a boat trip to Mingun, a journey to Pyin Oo Lwin (a former British Hill Station) or a cooking class. Please ask for more details.

Day 6: Mandalay to Bagan by Bus or Boat

This morning you will be picked up* at your guesthouse by a shuttle bus and transferred to the bus station for the minibus to Bagan (19-seater minibus.). The journey will take around 4.5 hours including one stop on the way.

*NOTE: Bus schedules subject to change. Currently, there is a 8 AM and 10 AM bus. Pick up time is 1 hour prior.

Near to Bagan, the bus will stop so that you can purchase your entrance ticket for Bagan. The bus will drop you at your hotel and the afternoon is free for you to explore on your own.  (no guide service today)

NOTE: Depending on the time of year, a boat trip may be possible from Mandalay to Bagan. This takes around 10-12 hours and entails a surcharge. Please inquire if interested.

Day 7: Bagan by Horsecart and Car

Spend a full day with a local guide exploring the temple plains, stopping in at famous monuments and some lesser-known sites.

We will start with an introduction by horsecart, cutting through the smaller laneways at a slower pace. Seeing the temples and local farms from this point of view is truly an unforgettable experience. There are not enough words to describe the beauty of Bagan!

We continue by car the rest of the day, visiting a variety of temples along the way. If you wish, we can pop into a lacquerware workshop to see this labor-intensive craft being made by hand. This evening we head to a scenic spot to watch the sunset.  

Day 8: Bagan (Free Day)

Today is at your leisure to explore Bagan on your own. (no guide/car included)

Day 9: Bagan to Kalaw

This morning a shuttle bus will pick you up and transfer you to the bus station for the trip to Kalaw, a charming former British hill station town in the Shan hills. The bus is scheduled to leave at 8:30 AM and the journey will take around 6-7 hours — first through the dry zone, then climbing into the Shan hills.

You will need to take a short walk to your hotel when reaching Kalaw. The afternoon is free at your leisure to relax or explore on your own.

Day 10: Kalaw: A Day with the Elephants

After breakfast this morning, you'll drive through the Shan Hills to the Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp, a ‘retirement home’ for former logging elephants.

You will spend the day working with the mahouts (elephant caretakers), interacting with the elephants and learning more about these gentle giants. The elephants are not tamed like circus elephants. They are free to wander as they like but they love human company so you will likely get a lot of trunk-to-face time with them.

Aside from the elephants, the scenery at Green Hill Valley is simply stunning and there is plenty of time to just sit back and soak it all in. Return to Kalaw before sunset.

Day 11: Train Journey to Shwe Nyuang - Drive to Nyaung Shwe

There is no need to jump out of bed early this morning; we have no specific plans until leaving for our train around 10 AM. You can sleep in or join your guide for a walk through the town’s streets and market. 

We then board a slow-moving commuter train for a scenic trip to Shwe Nyaung. On board, mingle with locals and enjoy the passing sites of farms, hills, and small villages. A simple lunch snack will be served on the way and other snacks are available for purchase from the vendors who hop on and off the train as it ambles along.

Once reaching Shwe Nyaung, the vehicle will be waiting with the bags for the short drive to Nyaung Shwe- the gateway to Inle Lake. The guide will give a brief orientation tour as you drive in and then assist you with check in before an evening at leisure.

Day 12: Full day on Inle Lake

Join your local guide and take a short trishaw ride to the Nyaung Shwe jetty where we board a private, wooden motorboat for a full day excursion on Inle Lake. Explore villages built on stilts and floating gardens, getting a chance to learn about the life and culture of the lake’s residents. Stop in at workshops making incredible hand-woven silks and fabrics created from the fibers of the lotus flower.

We will also visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda where we can join local devotees as they come to pay homage to this sacred site. If time allows, there will also be a stop at Nge Phe Chaung, a wooden monastery with a remarkable collection of Buddha images. 

Day 13: Free morning in Nyaung Shwe; Fly Heho to Yangon

This morning is free at your leisure to explore Nyaung Shwe on your own.

Early this afternoon the driver will collect you and transfer you to the Heho airport for the flight to Yangon. Upon arrival, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in Yangon. 

Day 14: Yangon Departure

There are no services included on this day. Hotel checkout time is 12 noon.

Map

Map of Essential Myanmar - 2 Weeks
Map of Essential Myanmar - 2 Weeks