- Keep both kids and adults happy with a combination of well-planned activities
- Get up close to elephants at elephant conservation projects in Myanmar and Thailand
- Meet local families in Chiang Mai and learn about their lives
- Be amazed by the cultural riches of Yangon, Mandalay, and Inle Lake
- Relax on beaches and play in the sea at Koh Samui
|Day 1||Welcome to Yangon!||Yangon|
|Day 2||Yangon - Bagan||Bagan|
|Day 3||Salay - Tamarind Lake Village - Bagan||Bagan|
|Day 4||Bagan - Mandalay||Mandalay|
|Day 5||Mingun - Ava - Amarpura||Mandalay|
|Day 6||Mandalay - Heho - Pindaya - Kalaw||Kalaw|
|Day 7||Kalaw - Elephant Camp - Kalaw||Kalaw|
|Day 8||Kalaw - Inle Lake||Inle Lake|
|Day 9||Inle - Heho - Yangon||Yangon|
|Day 10||Yangon - Bangkok||Bangkok|
|Day 12||Bangkok - Chiang Mai||Chiang Mai|
|Day 13||Chiang Mai Local Family Visit||Chiang Mai|
|Day 14||Chiang Mai Tea Plantation & Elephant Rescue Park||Chiang Mai|
|Day 15||Chiang Mai - Koh Samui||Koh Samui|
|Day 16||Koh Nang Yuan Island Hopping||Koh Samui|
|Days 17-18||Koh Samui Free Time||Koh Samui|
|Day 19||Koh Samui - Bangkok and Depart|
Day 1: Welcome to Yangon!
Mingalabar and welcome to Myanmar! Upon arrival at the airport you will be welcomed and accompanied to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to spend at leisure.
The former capital Yangon, also known as Rangoon, remains Myanmar's largest city and continues to be the country's most important commercial hub, and gateway for most of its international visitors. Its colonial background and religious legacy make it one of the most mesmerizing places in all of Southeast Asia.
Day 2: Yangon - Bagan
Transfer to Yangon Airport and fly to Nyaung U (Bagan).
After arriving in Bagan, you'll first travel to a viewpoint, to get an overview of this amazing landscape of pagodas temples. From here, take a look around Ananda Temple, one of the most recognizable of Bagan’s temples. Your guide will endeavor to get you here before most other visitors, so you can enjoy the beautiful temple in relative tranquility. Admire a variety of architectural styles in the area, including some artistic wonders of the 9th to 14th centuries. Get a glimpse of rural life in Bagan, as you pass by several villages.
In the late afternoon, transfer to the jetty, where a private boat will be waiting for you. Sitting either in the shade or on the open deck, you’ll be treated to a peaceful view of the countryside while cruising down the Irrawaddy River. As the sun begins to sink slowly from view, you will disembark and drive back to your hotel.
Day 3: Salay - Tamarind Lake Village - Bagan
Start today with a journey to Salay, along the banks of the Irrawaddy River. First stop at Chauk, where you can check out its colorful market and experience the real countryside of Myanmar. Then head to Salay village, home to ancient monasteries still being used for regular worship. After visiting the main monastery, Yoke Sone Kyaung, drive to Tamarind Lake Village, a community project. Stop at a traditional house and have a village lunch made from fresh local products (own expense). Accompanied by villagers and your local guide, explore the village, and even hop on a bike or an oxcart tour.
Day 4: Bagan - Mandalay
In the morning, transfer to the airport in Bagan for your flight to Mandalay.
Start your tour of Mandalay at Mahamuni, the pagoda that houses one of the country’s most revered Buddha images. It's completely covered in gold leaf, which is applied every day by male devotees. After lunch, continue to Kuthodaw Pagoda, dubbed “the world’s biggest book” for its collection of 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings.
Directly south of Mandalay Hill stands Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, where you'll visit next. This is also known as the pagoda of the Great Marble Image. Visit Shwenandaw Monastery, the Golden Monastery, and the only remaining structure from the 19th-century Royal Palace.
A trishaw driver will be waiting to take you for a ride through the small backstreets of the city, to experience the pulse of bustling Mandalay. Make a few stops at some local shops, where your guide will encourage you try traditional snacks such as tea leaf salad, the famous Mohinga (fish soup and noodles, usually enjoyed at breakfast), samosas or fresh fruit. In this part of town, you can still visit family businesses and workshops.
Continue riding to Nan Shae Market, also called East Palace Market, where you'll rub shoulders with locals shopping for their daily produce. Tour the market with your guide before hopping back in the trishaw.
Day 5: Mingun - Ava - Amarpura
By boat, cross the Irrawaddy River to Mingun, known for the celebrated Mingun Paya. The construction of this enormous brick building was halted after a fortune teller predicted the king’s death upon its completion.
Next, journey to the Mingun Bell, which weighs 90 tons and is claimed to be the world’s largest uncracked bell still capable of ringing. Continue to the alabaster Hsinbyume Pagoda, an unusual stupa that's supposedly a representation of the Sulamani Paya, which according to the Buddhist plan of the cosmos, stands atop sacred Mount Meru. After this, take the boat back to Mandalay.
Next, visit Ava, the capital from the 14th to 18th centuries. Cross the small river by ferry and then travel in a traditional horse cart to the wooden Bagaya Monastery, renowned for its extraordinarily elaborate woodcarvings. Be sure to also visit the Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery and the Nanmyint Watch Tower (also called the Leaning Tower of Ava), which is all that is left from the remnants of the ancient palace.
Once the sun starts to set, stroll along the legendary U Bein Bridge, built in 1782 when Amarapura was the royal center of attention. The bridge spans the shallow Taungthaman Lake, and is said to be the longest teak-wood bridge in the world. Enjoy the atmosphere as the late afternoon sun casts long shadows and illuminates the landscape. After soaking in the views, travel back to Mandalay.
Day 6: Mandalay - Heho - Pindaya - Kalaw
Transfer to Mandalay Airport and fly to Heho.
Upon arrival in Heho, drive to Pindaya, a quiet ethnic Danu town on the banks of serene Lake Botoloke. Travel along a winding road through mountain ranges, which is one of the most scenic in the area. You will first visit the colorful local market and a small shop that makes Burmese tea leaf salad made with leaves from plantations in the area. Then head to the famous Pindaya Caves, a unique site that's more than 200 million years old and filled with thousands of golden Buddha statues.
After a delicious Danu lunch, continue to Kalaw. En route it may be possible to stop at the Aung Ban wholesale market, where garlic, chili, cabbages, and other local produce is gathered for distribution throughout the country. Founded as a hill station by British civil servants fleeing the heat of the plains, Kalaw still feels like a holiday resort, with clean air, a calm atmosphere, and leafy streets.
After checking in to your hotel, take a short orientation walk through the town, stopping to admire the colonial-era buildings, historic train station, and numerous monasteries.
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.
Day 7: Kalaw - Elephant Camp - Kalaw
After breakfast, drive to Magwe Village, about 45 minutes from Kalaw. This village is home to the Green Hill Valley Elephant Project, the aim of which is to protect local ecology, elephants, and customs. The project has adopted seven elephants from logging camps, which could no longer look after them. They give the animals a home, medical care, and other support.
Take a short walk to the river, where the elephants may be bathing or foraging for food. Encountering these animals in their natural environment is truly special. Enjoy a lunch of locally-grown produce, then visit the re-forestation project where you can get your hands dirty and plant a sapling, if you wish.
Day 8: Kalaw - Inle Lake
After breakfast, drive to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway village to Inle Lake. Along the way, visit rural workshops that specialize in traditional Shan paper and unique handcrafted umbrellas. Also take time to stop at the teak monastery of Shweyanpyay, to check out the intricate wood carving artwork and craftsmanship of the monks there.
Finally, reach Nyaung Shwe jetty, where your traditional long-tail boat is awaiting you. Cruise on the canal that leads to the open lake. The quiet waters of Inle Lake are dotted with floating gardens, leg-rowing fishermen, and stilt houses. The surrounding mountains contrast with the impressive lake and form the perfect backdrop for beautiful photos.
Stop at Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, worth a visit for its beautiful collection of Buddha images. You will then discover the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main haven, which contains five sacred images of Buddha decorated in gold leaf. There are also many traditional crafts originating on Inle Lake. If you like, visit workshops specializing in items woven from lotus silk, boat building, cigars, and metalwork. Once your tour has finished, take a return boat trip back to your hotel.
Day 9: Inle - Heho - Yangon
Enjoy your last boat ride from your hotel on the lake to Nyaung Shwe. From Nyaung Shwe, drive to Heho Airport (1 hour) to catch your domestic flight to Yangon.
Day 10: Yangon - Bangkok
Today, you'll say goodbye to Myanmar but hello to Thailand! Drive to Yangon International Airport and catch a flight to Bangkok.
Bangkok is one of Southeast Asia’s most vibrant capital cities. Known in Thai as the city of angels, Bangkok is a city of history and spirituality, where ancient Thai temples rise magnificently from the riverbanks, colorful palaces glisten spectacularly in the sunlight, and a snaking river audaciously wind its way through the heart of the city.
You'll be met the airport and transferred to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, exploring some of Bangkok's attractions if you wish.
Day 11: Bangkok
If you are ready for something new and you want to discover more about bustling Bangkok, this day will show the city through the local perspective.
Participate in a thematic race against the time, competing against opponents and facing unexpected challenges. This is an entertaining way to learn about Thailand. You will discover many things that you would never even know existed and learn new skills practiced daily by the locals. Family fun at its most energetic.
Day 12: Bangkok - Chiang Mai
In the morning, transfer to the airport for a domestic flight to Chiang Mai. Upon arrival you'll be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel. Enjoy free time at your leisure.
In the evening, have the opportunity to dine on Northern Thai dishes, accompanied by traditional dance and music. While many believe this Khantoke dinner accompanied by music and dance was invented for tourists, it actually dates back many centuries. Nowadays, Kantoke dinners are still organized for big parties and special events, and there are a couple of places in Chiang Mai that put on daily shows to promote the history and culture of the ancient Northern Kingdom of Lanna. Sit at comfortable cushions on the floor.
Day 13: Chiang Mai Local Family Visit & Elephant Parade
Today you will spend time with a local Lanna family. Lanna is the name of the former Northern Thai kingdom, and your hosts still incorporate ancient traditions into their daily life. They will explain their culture and customs with you, and you'll be encouraged to ask questions about their traditions, architecture, handicrafts, herbs, food, and more. After exploring the traditional houses and the vast gardens, you'll cook up a delicious meal over a charcoal fire.
In the afternoon, visit the Elephant Parade, a social enterprise that combines art with business and elephant conservation. The Elephant Parade has been working with various international designers, celebrities and brands to raise awareness by creating customized art pieces that are periodically displayed in mobile exhibitions. You will learn all about the history of the project and how it works. You'll also get the chance to paint your very own, unique miniature elephant statue.
Day 14: Chiang Mai Tea Plantation & Elephant Rescue Park
Upon arrival at the tea plantation, you will be greeted by a local tea expert who will explain to you the different processes and methods used to cultivate young tea plants. The resident picker will lead you to the tea bushes, where you will be instructed how to pick tea leaves. At the roasting station, you will be offered a demonstration of the art of processing tea by hand from kneading to roasting. When the roasting is done, enjoy a cup of tea grown and plucked on the plantation itself, accompanied by a delicious Thai snack.
In the afternoon, visit the Elephant Rescue Park, in the lush countryside surrounding Chiang Mai. This institution rescues elephants in distress that have been exploited or injured. You won't be riding the elephants as that has been prohibited by the camp, but you will be offered the opportunity to interact with these incredible animals. Escort them into the green hills before heading downhill for their favorite game: a bath in the river.
Day 15: Chiang Mai - Koh Samui
Transfer to Chiang Mai Airport for your flight to Koh Samui. Upon arrival at Samui Airport, be met and transferred to your hotel. Enjoy free time for the rest of the day.
Day 16: Koh Nang Yuan Island Hopping
Head out early today for an island-hopping adventure. Take a speed boat to Koh Nang Yuan, a group of three islands. The pretty little islands are interconnected by a long sandy beach. Upon arrival, you can climb up the mountain to the viewpoint of Nang Yuan, or just swim, relax, and sunbathe.
After lunch, hop back on board your boat to visit beautiful snorkeling points around Koh Tao. Explore the beauty of the underwater world, with its colorful marine life among coral.
Days 17-18: Koh Samui Free Time
These days are yours to spend as you wish. You can either relax at the hotel or at the beach, or add an optional activity to your itinerary. Some options include:
- Half-day tour around Samui Island: Explore the highlights of Samui, including the Big Buddha Temple atop a hill, the strange natural formation of Grandma and Grandpa Rock, the Chinese-style Guan Yu Koh Samui Shrine, Na Muang 1 Waterfall, and shopping at Nathon town, the capital of Koh Samui.
- Day tour to Angthong Marine Park by boat: This group of islands is north-west of Koh Samui, and getting there takes about one hour by speedboat. Be enchanted by green isles, clear blue lagoons, sink holes, mysterious caves, mangrove forests, and strange rock formations. Snorkel and sightsee around the marine park, relax on the beach, hike up to a viewpoint, and enjoy a buffet lunch.
Day 19: Koh Samui - Bangkok and Depart
Transfer to Samui Airport for your outbound flight back to Bangkok, where you will then connect to another flight home, or stay another day in Bangkok to depart the next day.