Highlights of Myanmar - 12 Days
- Explore vibrant Yangon and visit its unique Shwedagon pagoda
- Experience arts in Mandalay and visit U Bein — the world's longest teak bridge
- Visit magnificent Inle Lake and view the floating gardens
- Rest in the relaxing resort town of Kalaw in the Shan Hills
- Tour local handcraft workshops and peruse bustling city markets
|Day 1||Arrive in Yangon||Yangon|
|Day 2||Sightseeing in Yangon||Yangon|
|Day 3||Fly to Mandalay & sightseeing in Mandalay||Mandalay|
|Day 4||Sightseeing in Sagaing & Amarapura||Mandalay|
|Day 5||Mandalay - Bagan||Bagan|
|Day 6||Sightseeing in Bagan||Bagan|
|Day 7||Sightseeing in Bagan||Bagan|
|Day 8||Bagan to Kalaw by car||Kalaw|
|Day 9||Drive to Nyaung Shwe & sightseeing on Inle lake||Nyaung Shwe|
|Day 10||Sightseeing in Indein||Nyaung Shwe|
|Day 11||Fly to Yangon||Yangon|
|Day 12||Departure from Yangon|
Day 1: Arrive in Yangon
Mingalabar! Welcome to Myanmar! Your flight touches down in Yangon (also known as Rangoon), the former capital and Myanmar's largest city. You will be warmly welcomed and transferred to the hotel for check-in. After settling in, you will have a chance to explore this mesmerizing city. An important hub of commercial and tourist activity, Yangon serves as a gateway for Southeast Asia, blending commerce and religious legacy into a genuine and warm experience.
In the evening, take a tour of the downtown to see the heartbeat of this multi-cultural city. You will walk past grand offices and the Myanmar Port Authority, tour the 2,000-year-old Sule Pagoda, meander through the boisterous Indian and Chinese quarters, and browse the offerings at the Theingyi Zei market. Explore the alleyways crammed with food stalls and markets, selling everything from gold to books. Later, pay a visit to the many religious centers in the city, like the Moseh Yeshua Synagogue and the colorful Hindu Sri Kali Temple.
Day 2: Sightseeing in Yangon
In the morning after breakfast, head to the Pansodan Jetty to catch a local ferry across the Yangon River to Dhala, a charming riverside township. There is no direct bridge from Dhala to Yangon, so the ferry serves as the main form of transportation — and also as a thriving market! Buy snacks and goods from the locals trading at the jetty and on the boat. Today's visit is a highlight for photographers, with no shortage of colorful neighborhoods and vibrant scenery. Tour Dhala in a trishaw and visit the busy local market and Buddhist temples. Stop for some tea on the terrace over the jetty and enjoy the historic Yangon skyline before returning to Yangon around midday.
Pay a visit to Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda — home to a 240-foot-tall Buddha — and stop by Royal Lake in Kandawgyi Park to see Karaweik Hall, a reproduction of a royal barge. Enjoy a spectacular view of the Golden Shwedagon Pagoda across the water before paying a visit in person. Browse the shops at the base of the temple to find unique Buddhist wares — monk's robes, alms bowls, various offerings, and incense. Watch the magical sunset on the 300-foot-tall chedi, enclosed in over 40 tons of gold leaf. In the evening, visit Mahabandoola for a change of pace at the busy night market. Enjoy delicious street snacks and mingle with Yangonites as you soak up the nightlife.
Day 3: Mandalay
Today you will take a domestic flight to Mandalay. Once you arrive, the best way to explore is on foot! Walk up Mandalay Hill, which rises 790 feet above the surrounding city. Your reward at the top is a full panoramic view of the sprawling city and Mandalay Palace to the south, the pretty Shan Hills to the east, and the Irrawaddy River to the west.
Just south of the Mandalay Hills you will find the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, with its huge Buddha. The statue is carved from a single block of marble and took 10,000 men nearly two weeks to transport it to the pagoda. From there, head to Kuthodaw Pagoda, which boasts 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings and has earned the nickname "The World's Biggest Book." Don't forget to stop and see the remarkable woodcarvings of the Shwenandaw Monastery, also called the Golden Monastery.
Day 4: Sightseeing in Sagaing and Amarapura
Today you will cross the Irrawaddy River into Sagaing. Considered the spiritual hub of Myanmar, Sagaing Hill is home to 600 pagodas and monasteries, 3,000 monks, and nearly 100 meditation shrines. Visit several pagodas, including Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin and U Min Thone Sae before continuing to the local market, a site less frequently visited by travelers. Visit a small village famous for producing pottery before finding lunch in Sagaing.
In the afternoon, cross back to the eastern side of the river and pay a visit to the Kan Daw village on the way, known for its textiles. From here, drive to Amarapura, which means "City of Immortality," and is Myanmar's penultimate royal capital. Tour the Mahagandayon monastery, which is renowned as a center of monastic study and strict religious discipline, and houses over 1,000 young monks. The incredible U Bein Bridge is just a short walk from here, and a must-see on this trip. Built in 1782 when Amarapura was the center of commerce, the longest teakwood bridge in the world spans three-quarters of a mile across the shallow Taungthama Lake.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Drive from Mandalay to Bagan
Today you will drive from Mandalay to Bagan, a leisurely four-hour trip along a charming rural road. As you drive along the road you will see agricultural fields of millet, sesame, corn, cottonseed, and rice, which are plentiful in the region. Stop in the beautiful village of Myingyan for lunch before getting back on the road.
Later in the drive, stop at the tiny village of Shwe Pyi Tha, a traditional agricultural village where you can meet some of the locals and learn about their daily lives. Once you arrive in Bagan, the rest of the day is yours to relax and unwind after a long trip.
Day 6: Sightseeing in Bagan
Today is your chance to discover incredible Bagan! You will see the exquisite temples, experience Burmese culture, and explore unique "cave" temples on the Irrawaddy River. Arrive early at the viewpoint to avoid the crowds. From here, you can see the Ananda Temple — one of Bagan's most famous — and the field and pagodas that make up the rest of Bagan.
Visit the many other temples which dot the plains to experience the variety of architecture and artistry of the 9th -14th centuries. This is a living museum — farmers and families work among these monuments, mingling with the visitors. Later in the afternoon, take a private cruise down the Irrawaddy River on a wooden riverboat, and enjoy the sunset and spectacular views.
Day 7: Sightseeing in Bagan
Start today's morning off with an incredible hot air balloon ride above the Bagan countryside. Be the first to see the sunrise over the Irrawaddy River and many stupas in the area. (Keep in mind that this option is only available during the winter months.) After returning to the hotel for breakfast, head to the Shwezigon Pagoda to start your day's excursion. Constructed by King Anawrahta at the beginning of the 11th century, this pagoda is a spectacular example of the architectural style of the time.
Take a drive to a small village to immerse yourself in the local lifestyle before continuing on to lesser-known monuments for the second half of the morning. Later, experience the countryside by horse-drawn cart as you pass by the impressive Thatbyinnyu and Dhammayangyi temples, extraordinary in both their size and remarkable brickwork. End the evening with a view of the sunset from one of the upper terraces of the local temples.
Day 8: Drive from Bagan to Kalaw
Today you will leave Bagan and travel to Kalaw, a six-hour trip through winding roads. On the drive, you will cross the Shan Hills, which will give you an inside look at rural Burmese life. Arrive in Kalaw in the afternoon with enough time to explore this small, charming city. Historically, Kalaw was used as a resort by colonial British officers to escape the heat of the plains. These days, the village is a resort for travelers, with clean air, beautiful scenery, and mellow hiking trails.
Day 9: Nyaung Shwe & Inle lake
From Kalaw, you will drive to the small town of Nyaung Shwe, a scenic hour-long trip. You will pass several rural workshops along the way, where you can stop to learn about traditional Shan paper and unique umbrella handicraft. Nyaung Shwe serves as the gateway to Inle Lake, one of the most incredible and breathtaking sights in Myanmar. Take some time to explore its narrow streets, tea houses, temples, and monasteries. Afterward, head out on the lake on a private motorboat to see the local "floating" villages, which are built on stilts over the lake and are home to the local Intha people. View the incredible floating gardens, built with lengths of water hyacinth and anchored into the floor of the lake with bamboo poles.
Stop to visit the Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, where you can see many early images of Shan Buddha. Continue to the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda to see the five holy images of Buddha adorned with gold leaf. Inle Lake is home to many traditional crafts — visit a lotus silk weaver, boat builder, blacksmith, silversmith, or a cigar-making workshop to learn about traditional craft methods.
Day 10: Sightseeing in Indein
After breakfast this morning, visit the lake's morning market, which travels between the lake's villages on a five-day rotation schedule. Locals and residents of surrounding villages come to this market to sell and trade their wares, and this is a great opportunity to peruse and buy souvenirs.
From here, a one-hour boat ride will bring you to the Pa-Oh village of Indein, located on the western shores of Inle Lake. Explore the village before climbing the nearby hill, where you will be met with an iconic image of Buddha. Surrounded by stupa ruins and overgrown with vegetation, this is an excellent place to enjoy the surrounding views. One of the most spectacular sites on the lake, the Indein Pagoda is a collection of hundreds of small stupas, and a must-see on this trip.
On the boat ride back, pay a visit to the Inthar Heritage House for a coffee break, and learn about the culture and history of Inle Lake's indigenous people.
Day 11: Return to Yangon
From your hotel, catch a boat ride to Nyaung Shwe, and transfer to the airport for your one-hour domestic flight to Yangon. Once in Yangon, the rest of the day is yours — explore more of Yangon, find last-minute souvenirs, or simply relax before your flight home tomorrow.
Day 12: Departure
Say farewell to Myanmar as your time here comes to an end. Head to Yangon Internation Airport for your connecting flight home and have a safe trip!