Showcase Myanmar’s rich heritage, world-wonder sights and fascinating culture on this fortnight-long itinerary that spans a hand-picked collection of unique experiences. Make your introductions in Yangon, where guided tours and a Circle Train trip will guide you between giant golden pagodas and colonial hangovers before you fly north to Inle Lake. Here, a handcrafted resort will be your jetty to explore shimmering waters, host to floating villages and watched over by ancient pagodas. Then it's on to Mandalay where you’ll explore its royal capital surrounds before your luxury cruise brings you down the Irrawaddy’s fabled waters to Bagan. A highlight to any trip east, you’ll push through verdant plains to summit some of its thousand-strong cast of temples, stupas and pagodas, some of which date back to the 10th century. You’ll also have the rare opportunity to head off the beaten track on a jeep excursion that calls into remote villages and craft workshops.
Day 1: UK/Yangon
Depart the UK on an overnight flight, arriving in Yangon the following day.
Day 2: Yangon
Arriving into Myanmar’s largest city, you'll be met and transferred to your hotel. Later, your driver and guide will bring you into the city centre for its myriad architectural and historical treasures. Start at the colonial post office before walking to Sule Paya, a giant golden pagoda that marks the city centre. Along the way, you’ll pass the Strand Hotel and its stonework detailing, the verdant Mahabandoola Garden and the impressive Independence Monument. You’ll then finish with Little India and Chinatown’s colourful cacophony of restaurants, temples and markets.
Day 3: Yangon
Your full-day city tour will begin with Shwedagon Pagoda. If Sule Paya is impressive, this is doubly so, rising almost 100 metres above the city and entirely resplendent in nearly 30 tons of gold leaf. After taking in the city views, move on to visit Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda and its giant reclining Buddha. Here, you’ll gain an insight into the nation’s religion – Theravada Buddhism – before continuing on to a more recognisable part of life, the humble Burmese tea stop. You’re next leg will then see you to the National Museum whose artefacts span 19th century kingly dynasties, archaeological treasures and artistry from throughout the country’s rich history. Before a visit to some of the city’s famous, highly-energised markets, you’ll stop for a breather at Kandawagyi Park and on a Circle Train tour of the city’s lesser-visited suburbs.
Day 4: Pindaya/Inle Lake
Board a flight to Heho where a scenic drive through the mountain fields of the Shan Plateau will bring you to the magnificent Pindaya Caves. Home to thousands of Buddha images, labyrinthine chambers are carved out of a limestone ridge, overlooking a picturesque lake. You’ll also have a chance to learn about the local paper crafts with a house visit before you move on to the century-old Sing-gaung Monastery. Finish the day by driving to Nyaungshwe – Inle Lake’s largest village and the former capital of the Shan kings – where you’ll board a boat to transfer to your waterside accommodation.
Day 5: Inle Lake
Your next full day tour will take you – via boat cruises and lakeside drives – to wooden monasteries, complete with intricate Buddha carvings, and across the lake itself. Here, a private motorboat will bring you alongside the Inthar people that punt using their legs to reach fishing spots, floating gardens and stilted villages. You’ll also stop off at PhaungDaw Oo Pagoda, the lake's main sanctuary, which contains five sacred Buddha images and the royal barges used during the pagoda's annual festival. Compare it to the more humble beauty of the local crafts on offer at your next stop – a lotus flower weaving workshop and a cheroot factory where cigars are still hand rolled.
Day 6: Inle Lake
Wake early for a morning market visit where you’ll see the Pa-oh, Inthar and Shan peoples – sometimes in traditional dress – congregate on the lakeshores. From here, journey by canal on to Indein where you’ll have some time to explore on foot, visit a local school and walk among Alaung Sitthou, a stunning collection of ancient stupas. From here, summit a short staircase to views out over the town to the lake beyond. Should time allow, stop at Inthar Heritage House to learn more about the history and culture of the lake's indigenous people and enjoy a coffee and cake snack.
Day 7: Inle Lake/Mandalay
Transfer back to Heho to fly north to Mandalay where you’ll start with Mahamuni Pagoda, home to one of the country’s most revered Buddha images. In deference, devotees have kept adding gold leaf to it, giving the image an almost lumpy texture. However, the city is better known for its more skilled craftsmen who you’ll meet on a tour of the city’s cottage industries. Watch as wood carvings, tapestry weavings and gold leaf work results in intricately detailed pieces. You’ll then move on to the quieter canalside district where monasteries rub shoulders with tranquil colonial gardens. Prime among the sights is Kuthodaw Pagoda, whose 729 marble stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures have earned it the title, 'World's Biggest Book'. Then, continue to Shwenandaw Monastery, the only remaining building from the 19th century Royal Palace. Summit Mandalay Hill for a sunset view over the city.
Stay: Hilton Mandalay (Superior)
Day 8: Mandalay/Sagaing/Amarapura
Perhaps start with a steaming hot noodle soup from your morning market visit before moving out to Sagaing. Here, 600 pagodas and monasteries are home to some 3,000 monks and 100 meditation centres, making its gold-pockmarked hills the country’s religious heart. On your way back towards town, stop at Amarapura where you’ll visit a traditional village and its palm leaf weaving industry along with U Bein Bridge. Dating back some 200 years and spanning nearly two kilometres, it’s the world’s longest teak bridge.
Stay: Hilton Mandalay (Superior)
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This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
Sign up to our weekly Trip Finder email and get a selection of the best trips to feed your Wanderlust