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Beyond the classics: 7 unique adventures to take you deep into Burma’s hidden corners

Meet tattooed tribes and seafaring gypsies, wander through little-visited pagodas and cycle through timeless rural landscapes on these adventures through Burma’s remote and little-visited regions.

River scene at In Thein, Burma (Graeme Green)

1: Trek into the remote Chin Hills

Tattooed woman from the Chin tribe (Dreamstime)
Tattooed woman from the Chin tribe (Dreamstime)

Trek deep into Burma’s remote Chin Hills and encounter the mysterious, tattooed Chin people on this active 14-day tour with KE Adventure Travel

You’ll venture into an area of forested hills and lush valleys, only just opened up to outsiders. You will be welcomed into traditional Chin villages and witness first-hand their unique religious beliefs, gaining an understanding of the meaning behind their striking tattoos. This is a trip where you stay in the heart of the community, in monasteries and schools, and discover that the people you meet will be just as curious about you.

Who:  KE Adventure Travel

When: 5 Nov 2017

How long: 14 days

How much: £2,395 (exc. flights)

2: Experience a Chindwin River Expedition

Old river boat in Burma (Dreamstime)
Old river boat in Burma (Dreamstime)

Follow in the adventurous footsteps of enigmatic trader ‘Elephant Bill’ on this journey by river deep into the Upper Chindwin Valley with Wild Frontiers.

‘Elephant Bill’ (or James Howards Williams, as his mother knew him) arrived in 1920 to take up a post with the Bombay Burma Trading Company and immediately set about exploring parts of the country yet to be discovered. 

Starting at his old elephant camp at Mawlaik, you’ll take a 9-day river trip to the northern reaches of colonial Burma, a land of teak forests, lush jungle and remote riverside communities and, finally, the wild Upper Chindwin Valley.

Who: Wild Frontiers

When: 4 Nov 2017

How long: 15 days

How much: £4,695 (exc. flights)

3: Discover a Burma beyond the tourist trail

Fishermen on Inle Lake (Graeme Green

Visit the sights that Burma is famous for and discover some of its hidden gems on this extensive tour of the country with Undiscovered Destinations.

Yangon, Inle Lake, Mandalay and the vast plain of temples at Bagan will not disappoint, but it might be the moments in Burma’s lesser known corners that will linger longest in your memory. A visit to a Shah nunnery in Hsipaw, early morning on the Dokthawaddy River and lunch in a Palaung village, high in the mountains behind Kyaukme, are all elements of Burma that very few get to see.

Who: Undiscovered Destinations

When: 28 Oct & 18 Nov 2017

How long: 15 days

How much: £1,999 (exc. flights)

4: Explore the Mergui Archipelago

Rare Nicobar pigeon (Dreamstime)
Rare Nicobar pigeon (Dreamstime)

Discover a verdant corner of Burma, where nature abounds and life continues as it always has, on this 6-day tour of Burma’s untouched Mergui Archipelago with TravelLocal.

Made up of hundreds of islands off the far south coast of Burma, the Mergui Archipelago is home to the seafaring Moken people. You’ll encounter their traditional pursuits of harpoon fishing and diving for pearls, as well as snorkelling amongst tropical fish. There's also the chance to encounter rare wildlife, like the Nicobar pigeon, stroll on deserted beaches and cruise around the turquoise waters of this little-known paradise.

Who: TravelLocal

When: Flexible dates throughout 2017

How long: 6 days

How much: £1,730 (exc. flights)

5: Ride the Thai-Burma railway

Thai-Burma railway beside the River Kwai (Dreamstime)
Thai-Burma railway beside the River Kwai (Dreamstime)

Step back through history and pay your respects to the brave souls who perished here on this on special journey along the Thai-Burma Railway from Yangon to Bangkok with Peregrine.

Expert local guides on both sides of the border will lead you through the history of the Thai-Burma railway with great sensitivity and insight. You will visit historic cemeteries and memorials, as well as ride along a section of the track past the River Kwai. It is a sombre and moving experience, leavened with unforgettable beautiful lakes and waterfalls of the region, as well as some of the most striking and important temples in Asia.

Who: Peregrine

When: 2 Nov 2017

How long: 12 days

How much: £1,555

6: Cycle Burma’s backroads

Cyclists on the U Been teak bridge (Dreamstime)
Cyclists on the U Bein teak bridge (Dreamstime)

Uncover the true essence of Burma as you explore its provincial backroads on this 13-day cycling tour with Intrepid.

With its softly rolling terrain, quiet roads and idyllic rural countryside, Burma is the perfect place to get to know by bike. You’ll cycle through toddy forests to Mount Popa and alongside Lake Inle where fishermen work their trade with conical nets. Finally, the moment you’ve travelled the length of the country to experience: sunset amongst ancient temples of the vast plain of Bagan.

Who: Intrepid

When: 1, 22 Oct, 5, 19 Nov & 10, 24 Dec 2017

How long: 13 days

How much: £2,045 (exc. flights)

7: Experience the magic of Mrauk U

Young monks praying in Mrauk U (Dreamstime)
Young monks praying in Mrauk U (Dreamstime)

Explore one of Burma’s least-known but important archaeological sites on this 5-day adventure to Mrauk U with Travel The Unknown.

Surrounded by small villages, rice paddies and grazing cows in Western Burma, Mrauk U was the capital of the once-mighty Rakhine Kingdom. Made from stone, rather than brick, the dome-shaped pagodas here are unlike any other in the country. You’ll explore the site by foot and by bike, before taking a boat down the Lay Myo River to meet the tattooed tribes who live in the Chin Hills. Rich in history and tradition, it is a corner of Burma you will have to yourself.

Who: Travel The Unknown

When: Flexible dates throughout 2017

How long: 5 days

How much: From £1,095 (exc. flights)

Main image: River scene at In Thein, Burma (Graeme Green)

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