This 10-day luxury itinerary showcases Myanmar’s complex history, touring important and iconic sites such as the temples and stupas of Bagan, the colonial buildings of Yangon, and the stilt-house villages of Inle Lake. Accompanied by expert guides and translators, you’ll gain insight into the tapestry of ethnic cultures that form modern-day Myanmar and see some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery. Visits to different ethnic communities and private time with local families, artists and scholars are part of this enlightening journey.
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Your 10-day luxury itinerary begins in the capital, Yangon. Here you’ll enjoy a tour of the city’s grand colonial architecture via “Elephant Coach” - a restored antique Chevrolet bus. These Elephant Coaches are unique to Yangon and feature teak interiors decked out with Shan textiles and elaborate woodwork. Your guide for this tour is an award-winning architect and history scholar. You’ll stop at Bogyoke Aung Sun markets today where you’ll find local tea, silk, and rattan products, and in the afternoon enjoy sunset over Shwedagon Pagoda’s beautiful golden spires. Recommended hotels in Yangon are the Governor’s Residence and The Strand, both luxurious colonial properties.
Enjoy more of Yangon’s fascinating cultural heritage today with a tour of its contemporary art galleries. On this tour, you’ll visit the studio of one of Myanmar’s emerging artists, with the possibility of chatting with him about his work and the political ramifications of his work within the country. For lunch, you will dine with monks - a unique experience offered to few travelers. In the evening, set sail on a relaxing sunset cruise on the Yangon River, enjoying stunning views as the sun sinks beneath the horizon. Return to your luxury Yangon hotel tonight.
You’ll travel to the old capital of Bagan today, with its countless gold spires rising above the tree line. Bagan has an intriguing history, and here you’ll see it unravelled in its architecture - sites such as Ananda Temple, Shwezigon Pagoda, and the Minnanthu village temples. Ananda Temple was built nearly a thousand years ago and features a spectacular gold spire and four standing Buddha statues. Shwezigon Pagoda was constructed for Theravada Buddhism, with its immense circular gold-leafed stupa, one of Bagan’s most compelling and iconic sights. After this fascinating tour through the old city, check into your hotel in Bagan - we recommend the Aureum Palace Hotel.
Get up early today for a sunrise hot-air balloon ride, available in peak season from October to April. This unforgettable experience allows you to appreciate the true extent of Bagan’s beauty, its thousands of temples and its serene countryside. Today you’ll also climb the 777 stairs to the top of volcanic Mt. Popa, where you’ll discover monasteries, shrines and gold stupas at its peak. For dinner, take a private cruise on the Irrawaddy, glimpsing village life on the riverbanks. Return to your hotel in Bagan for the night.
Today you’ll travel to Mandalay to explore the city’s historic highlights. Start with the Mahamuni Paya and see the famed Buddha, covered in gold leaf by pilgrims every day. You can also visit the beautiful Shwenandaw Kyaung teak monastery, built entirely of teak wood and featuring intricately-carved depictions of the life of the Buddha. Enjoy lunch at a casual local Mandalay restaurant and settle into a hotel by the Red Canal. For dinner, you can relax in your hotel, or try out authentic local cuisine at the Green Elephant restaurant, which offers Burmese and Shan cuisine, as well as Thai and Chinese dishes. We recommend both the Hotel Red Canal and the Mandalay Hill Resort while staying in Mandalay.
Start your day with a visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda, one of Mandalay’s most striking locations. This 19th-century complex is home to the “world’s largest book”, comprising 729 white marble tablets engraved with Buddhist scriptures. The tablets are arranged in groups, each crowned by a white stupa, making for a remarkable sight. Today you can also stroll across U Bein’s Bridge, the world’s longest teak bridge at three-quarters of a mile long. Return to your hotel in Mandalay tonight.
Travel to the peaceful Inle Lake today - another must-see location in Myanmar. This is the site of floating farms and stilt-house villages where more than 70,000 people of different ethnicities call home. Get a feel for river life with a visit to the floating markets, then enjoy a unique Myanmar experience - a visit to a local vineyard. Here, you can enjoy a picnic and wine-tasting surrounded by beautiful countryside. Next up, you’ll visit the village of Indain on the west side of the lake, where you’ll see the crumbling remnants of 12th-century stupas, some overgrown with vines, others containing Buddha statues. Check into a traditional-style Inle resort tonight - we recommend Aureum Inle Resort and Spa and Inle Princess Resort, both beautiful properties located on the lakefront.
You’ll begin your day with a hike to the village of Pa-O, where traditional farming methods are still used to cultivate tobacco and mustard. In Pa-O, you can visit the local markets to observe village life and find out from the locals what it’s like to live so remotely. Today you’ll also have the unique opportunity to join a cooking class in an Inthar stilt house, cooking - and eating - authentic Myanmar dishes, and afterwards visit Phaung Daw U Pagoda, located on the lake. Phaung Daw U Pagoda is one of three main shrines in the country, housing Buddha statues from the 12th century. This evening, return to your resort on Inle Lake.
Today you’ll get a private tour of the grand Inthar Heritage House - a stilt house sporting traditional architecture in the silk-weaving village of Inn Paw Khon. The most famous residents at Inthar Heritage House are its purebred Burmese cats, reintroduced to the country in a preservation program aiming to restore the breed as a national treasure. After touring the house, you’ll enjoy lunch with a local family in a floating village, using your private guide as an interpreter to learn more about life on the river. Return to your lakeside resort for the night.
Return to Yangon today where you’ll start off with a kickboxing lesson. Different from Muay Thai due to its lack of boxing gloves, the sport dates back to the 15th century. You can find out more about it when you take the kickboxing students at the gym out to lunch. Next, head to Shwe Phone Pint fortune-telling pagoda where more than 30 different vendors ply this ancient trade. Afterwards, head to Ta Yoke Tan - Chinatown - where you can pick up local snacks, fresh fruits and some mementos of your journey before heading back to your hotel for the final night of the trip.
Located in a lotus garden not far from the Shwedagon Pagoda is The Governor's Residence. Once a governor's mansion, it has since been converted in to a 49-room hotel, a 30-minute drive from Yangon airport (RGN). Located in the hotel are two restaurants; the Mandalay Restaurant serves Asian and European cuisine and the Mindon Lounge is a comfortable spot to sit indoors overlooking the garden, or outdoors, and enjoy a refreshment. While there is a swimming pool and massage treatments are offered, there is no spa. The Governor’s Residence has a fitness center and WiFi is available anywhere on hotel grounds, in addition to having a business center for Internet and email access.
This elegant 32-room colonial palace, built at the height of the British rule in Burma, is reminiscent of the romantic era of Graham Greene and W. Somerset Maugham. It remains an oasis of tranquility in an ever-changing and bustling Rangoon. The Strand was previously part of the Aman group, and is still of Aman caliber in its splendid suites, delicious food and superb service. It is now a part of the GHM Group, which is an Aman affiliate. The hotel offers two dining options, The Strand Café, which features Burmese cuisine, and The Strand Grill, which is said to be one of Yangon’s finest dining venues. A business center is available for Internet and email access with professional secretarial services. The hotel has The Strand Boutique for shopping and The Strand Spa Suite for spa treatments. The hotel is a 30-minute drive from Yangon International Airport (RGN).
Set back in 27 acres of lush, tropical gardens, The Aureum Palace Hotel is a tranquil retreat in the heart of Bagan. Spacious villas lace the resort’s expansive gardens and are lavishly appointed with hand-crafted teak furnishings, antiques and local artifacts. Dining options are extensive. For traditional Myanmar and Thai cuisine, visit The Shan, or for Italian cuisine and wines, dine at Casa D’Enzo. Casual cocktails and lighter fare are available at the resort’s many outdoor patios and cafes and poolside dining is available throughout the day. The Spa at the Aureum Palace offers aromatherapy treatments and massage by appointment. There is a swimming pool and fitness center, as well as a business center for Internet access.
Being a boutique property this hotel prides itself on its high standards of Myanmar grace and hospitality. The hotel is a celebration of all things Myanmar, featuring teak furniture, fixtures and fittings made from rattan, mother-of-pearl and Myanmar marble. Each room bears the name of a Myanmar ethnic group, the design and decoration of each room reflects their respective cultural heritage. Chin and Shan suites feature a terrace overlooking the pool and gardens. The Rakhine suites are spacious and ideal for the business traveler. An outdoor shower with a slate wall of cascading water is the highlight of the honeymooner Kachin suites. Onsite dining includes the Spice Garden an elegant restaurant serving Myanmar, Northern and Southern Indian cuisines. Step into the stylish spa for beauty and health treatments. The spa’s interior is inspired by traditional construction methods of rural villages in Myanmar. The building remains at a comfortable temperature, even in summer with walls plastered with natural mud mixed with rice husks and straw. Running water features, rattan fixtures and terracotta tiles combine to give this retreat a rustic and earthy feel.
Opened in 2010, the Aureum Inle Resort & Spa is perched on the edge of Inle Lake with villas surrounding its banks. Each of the 66 units comes with separate sleeping and living areas, satellite television, private balconies and outdoor terraces. Dine at either one of the hotel’s restaurants (both indoor and outdoor options are available). Other on-site facilities include a spa and beauty parlor, a swimming pool and a boutique shop. Water sport activities are also available through the hotel.