This trip is designed for families looking for an active vacation focused on local experiences. You will also have passionate local guides along the way, stay in kid-friendly hotels and travel at a pace that is suitable for the younger family members to ensure your family has the trip of a lifetime. Each day can also be customized based on what everyone prefers and is most interested in along the way.
|Welcome to Yangon!
|Yangon - Shwedagon and Downtown discovery
|Fly to Heho, drive to Pindaya and Kalaw
|Full day trek around Kalaw
|A day with the Elephants in Kalaw
|Scenic train ride and drive to Inle Lake
|Inle Lake - Full day Boat Trip
|Fly to Bagan - Introduction to historic Bagan
|Bagan Temples & Villages with Sunset Cruise
|Bagan home cooking class - Drive to Mandalay
|Mandalay - Mingun by Boat- City Trishaw Tour
|Mandalay - Amarapura (U Bein Bridge) - Departure
Day 1: Welcome to Yangon!
Welcome to Myanmar! Upon landing at the Yangon International Airport, your English-speaking guide and driver will be waiting to greet you and transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free at leisure to recover from your international flight.
Day 2: Yangon - Shwedagon and Downtown discovery
Along with a local guide, spend an insightful morning in and around Myanmar’s most holy site: Shwedagon Pagoda. More than just a monument, this ‘insiders’ tour will teach you about the beliefs of the Myanmar people and put you in touch with the culture. If you like, you can make donations to local monks, meet a fortune teller, and much more as you walk around the pagoda and its surrounding neighborhood.
After lunch, continue to explore the former capital. No other city in Southeast Asia has such a rich blend of heritage, culture, and charm as Yangon. You'll explore the diversity of downtown with its colonial buildings, leafy side streets and bustling street markets.
Day 3: Fly to Heho, drive to Pindaya and Kalaw
It’s an early start this morning for a domestic flight to Heho. You will depart the dry zone and fly east to the Shan Hills, one of the most scenic parts of Myanmar. Upon landing, your Shan local guide will be waiting to escort you to the car. We opt for a secondary road for the drive into Pindaya, stopping often for photos of the patchwork-quilt style farms and, if lucky, the hill tribe farmers in their traditional dress.
Pindaya is a charming town inhabited by the Danu, Pa Oh and Shan ethnic groups. We will enjoy lunch before heading to the Pindaya Caves. These ancient limestone caverns are filled with thousands of Buddha statues and since most tourists go in the morning, we are likely to be the only ones there. Then we continue another 1.5 hours to the town of Kalaw where we will stay for the next few nights.
Day 4: Full day trek around Kalaw
We lace up our hiking boots today (runners are ok!) and head to the hills. If you have enjoyed your market visits thus far (and we bet you will!), then we can stop in the Kalaw market on the way to the trekking start point. We then spend a full day walking through the Shan Highlands.
There is no rush — we will stop often to chat to the locals and take photos. A simple but filling lunch will be served in a village or scenic spot. We descend down into Kalaw in the afternoon where the rest of the day is at leisure to relax or explore the town.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: A day with the Elephants in Kalaw
After breakfast this morning, 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 6: Scenic train ride and drive to Inle Lake
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. So enjoy a lie in or take 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 7: Inle Lake- Full day Boat Trip
Take a short trishaw ride or walk 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 8: Fly to Bagan - Introduction to historic Bagan
Return to Heho around midday for a flight to Bagan. Upon landing, meet with your Bagan guide and set off for a short introduction tour of Bagan. Climb to the top of an elevated location for views over the temple plains, seeing thousands of religious monuments in all directions.
After checking in and relaxing, head to an 11th-century riverside pagoda where Buddhists come to pay homage in the late afternoon. Enjoy the serene setting and mingle with locals as the sun sets.
Day 9: Bagan Temples & Villages with Sunset Cruise
Pagodas, pagodas, pagodas! Spend this morning visiting the temples of Bagan by bike or car (both are available at your wish). Visit the main highlights as well as some hidden gems with a local expert. There are also lacquer ware workshops and small villages to explore.
Late this afternoon we head to the banks of the Irrawaddy River for a private sunset cruise with cocktails (for adults!) and local snacks. Enjoy watching scenes of life on the river and seeing the sun dip low in the sky.
Day 10: Bagan home cooking class - Drive to Mandalay
We start the morning with a cooking class with a dear friend of ours. Ma May Thu Phyo will take you shopping for ingredients at the market then invite you into your home for a fun culinary adventure. After feasting on your dishes at lunch, we hop in the car for the drive to Mandalay.
The journey will take around 4 hours, passing through rural farming communities and Myanmar’s ‘dry zone’. Upon reaching Mandalay, check into your hotel and relax.
Day 11: Mandalay - Mingun by Boat- City Trishaw Tour
We start with a short drive to the riverside where a private boat is waiting. (Note: we suggest leaving the hotel early this morning — around 7:30 am — to reach Mingun before the ‘tourist’ boats arrive!) Cruise up the Irrawaddy River to the town of Mingun where we will go ashore to see the fabulous monuments built here in the early 19th century.
There is the massive brick Mingun Paya, the world’s largest uncracked ringing bell, and a stunning white pagoda. Cross back over the river in time for a late lunch (own account) and a rest at the hotel.
Late this afternoon we take a local trishaw for a tour through a residential neighborhood. We will then arrive at 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.
Day 12: Mandalay - Amarapura (U Bein Bridge) - Departure
We pack our bags and check out of the hotel then drive to Amarapura, a small town that served as the royal capital in the 18th and 19th centuries. We visit the famous U Bein Bridge, the world’s longest teak bridge, for photos and a chance to mingle with the locals.
Then it’s on to the international airport for your departure flight.