Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, breakfasts and some casual lunches while touring. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.
A journey in itself, the Buddhist religion has fascinated religious and nonreligious minds for decades. Buddhism in the Myanmar region (formerly Burma) is said to date as far back as the earliest centuries of the Common Era. In present day, the sacred sites throughout the country inspire amazement in any traveler lucky enough to visit them. Experience the heart of both Buddhism and Myanmar’s enriching heritage on this 12-day expedition across the country, whether you are witnessing a breathtaking sunset at the golden Shwedagon Pagoda, marveling over the carvings decorating the walls of the Kawgun Cave, or discovering enlightened Buddhist meditation practices at the Pha Auk Forest Monastery.
Upon arrival in Yangon, take the rest of the day to refresh at either the refined Strand Hotel, a major Colonial landmark in the city, or revel in luxury at the stunning Belmond Governor’s Residence; both offer guests a five-star experience. If you like, spend the evening exploring downtown Yangon’s dynamic streets, Myanmar’s most adventurous metropolis, for a whirlwind introduction to the country.
In the morning, embark on a one-hour flight to Sittwe. From there, a scenic boat ride organized by the Mrauk U Princess Resort will ferry you upriver to its picturesque hotel location, nestled within mangroves and serene lotus ponds. In the afternoon, visit the vaulted stone passageways of the Koe Thaung temple, a Mrauk U favorite. Literally translated to “shrines of the 90,000 images of Buddha”, this temple provides a reverent experience for the religious and nonreligious alike.
Begin your first full day in Mrauk U with an early start at the Shittaung Temple, or “Temple of Victory”, built in 1535. Known for the bell-shaped stupas that define it, this temple houses hundreds of different Buddha images and fascinating obelisks. Afterwards, expeditions to the the Andaw Thein Pagoda - meaning “Tooth Shrine” - situated just behind Shittaung, and the Laymetnha Pagoda will follow. If time permits, tours of the City Palace Ruins and Archaeology Museum will also be undertaken.
Take the resort boat back downriver to Sittwe, where you will return to Yangon via the one-hour flight. In the afternoon, enjoy spectacular views from the Shwe Phone Pwint Pagoda, where you can engage in a fun bout of fortune telling before heading over to the gilded, golden stupa of Shwedagon Pagoda - one of Myanmar’s most sacred Buddhist sites - just in time to witness a sweeping sunset.
Start the day with a stroll through the 2000+ shops of the vast Bogyoke Aung San Market - where you will find all the souvenirs you will ever need - before visiting a local nunnery for a fresh glimpse into another aspect of Myanmar’s religious culture. Lunch will be enjoyed with the monks at the Bayathokehti Sarthintike Monastery, after which you’ll have the opportunity to experience the downtown Botataung Pagoda and admire the 65-metre-long reclining Buddha the Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda is famous for.
Settle in for a comfortable, five-and-a-half hour drive to Mawlamyine. Along the way, towards Bago, you’ll experience a blessing ritual at Shwe Nyaung Bin Nat Shrine, where roses and thapye are tied to the car’s grill, after which thanaka-scented water is sprinkled onto the hood three times. Later you can enjoy the sight of another expansive reclining Buddha at Shwe Thar Laung, discover more Buddhist monuments at Maha Kalyani Sima, marvel over the towering, 114-metre Shwemawdaw Paya, and gaze up at the four back-to-back Buddha images at Kyaik Pun Paya.
Begin the day by exploring and learning the history of Colonial architecture, before continuing on to the Queen Sein Don Monastery, a Buddhist community that was once the residence of the beloved Queen Sein Don. Afterwards, you’ll visit Mawlamyine’s Mahamuni Pagoda - a replica of Manadalay’s - and then bask in the panoramic view of the city presented by the Kyaikthanlan Pagoda, before concluding the day at the Ahtet Lan Ma Zay Gyi Street wet market, where you may find it a challenge to identify the fascinating fruits, vegetables and flowers on display there.
Commence your second full day in Mawlamyine with a visit to the town of Mudon. A trip to the picturesque Pha Auk Forest Monastery will follow, which is known for its meditative Buddhist traditions of tranquility and insight. Afterwards, at the Win Sein Taw Ya, you’ll stand in awe of the Giant Buddha of Mudon - the largest reclining Buddha in the world. Round off the day with a full immersion into Mon culture and heritage at the Mon Museum.
A return road trip from Mawlamyine to Yangon via Hpa-an will include stops at the village of Kaw Nhat for a glimpse of the monastery there, as well as a highly anticipated visit to the mesmerizing Kyauk Kalat Pagoda - a limestone pinnacle surrounded by lake and paddy fields. In addition, enjoy a tour of the Kawgun Cave - the tiny clay buddhas and carvings covering its walls are a celebration of seventh-century art - before a stop at the pilgrimage site of Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, which is characterized by its perch atop a granite boulder.
Following an 80-minute flight to Bagan in the morning, discover the Manuha Temple before exploring the Ananda Temple, Bagan’s best known and widely considered most beautiful temple, and learn the intriguing history and legends surrounding the Nanpaya Temple afterwards. Finish the day with a spectacular sunset at the gold-plated Shwezigon Pagoda, one of Bagan’s oldest landmarks.
Start your last full day in Myanmar with a much-coveted, and truly unparalleled, early morning hot air balloon ride. Follow up this adventure with a visit to the local Nyaung-U Market, before continuing to the Shwesandaw Temple. Next, visit the Sulamani Temple, which boasts of beautiful terraces designed pyramid effect-style. Afterwards you’ll explore the Indian-influenced Gubyaukgyi cave temple, and local villages of Phwar Saw and Myinkaba. In the evening, savor a private temple dinner.