It's easy to enjoy a superbly varied holiday to Myanmar as the traditional highlights fit together perfectly. This well pace itinerary is ideal for the first time visitor.
Starting in evocative Mandalay you travel overland with your private guide to the temple strewn plains that surround Bagan, travel by private longtailed boat across Inle Lake and finish off in frenetic Yangon. Alternatively use this suggested itinerary as the base from which to add other parts of this beautiful country or beyond.
Day 1: Depart on your choice of overnight flights to Mandalay
Day 2: On arrival private transfer to your choice of hotel for 2 nights in Mandalay
Day 3: Private guided city tour of Mandalay
Day 4: Private guided day tour to Bagan via Amarapura, a former capital. 4 nights Bagan
Day 5: Full day private guided tour of Bagan’s incredible collection of ancient pagodas
Day 6: Day to relax, add a tour or rent electric bikes to explore the sandy paths & pagodas
Day 7: Private full day to Mount Popa, walk along the “Mother Hill” and visit toddy palm farm
Day 8: Fly to Heho and private longtail boat to Inle Lake hotel for 2 nights
Day 9: Full day private guided longtail boat tour of Inle Lake highlights
Day 10: Visit Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung monastery. Fly to Yangon for 2 nights.
Day 11: Private guided city tour including evening at Shwedagon Pagoda
Day 12: Private transfer to airport in time for your flight home.
Day 13: Arrive home
Day 1: UK Airport / Mandalay
Depart on a choice of overnight flights to Mandalay. There are no direct flights and so there is the chance to perhaps break your journey in Bangkok, Singapore or Dubai.
Day 2: Arrive Mandalay
On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred to the city centre where you check in to your choice of hotel for 2 nights.
The rest of the day’s free to recover from the journey and explore the city under your own steam.
Day 3: Mandalay (B) - Private City Tour
This morning your guide will collect you for a full tour of the city. Mandalay was the last of the royal cities and is encompassed by smaller capital cities dotted around its edges. The centre piece of the city is the reconstructed palace that’s surrounded by a large moat. Visit Mahamuni Pagoda with its statues created in Buddha’s true likeness. Lunch will be in a local restaurant at own expense. You then visit a marble stone carving and an artisanal gold leaf workshop. See the largest book in the world at Kuthodaw Pagoda, where stories are etched on 79 stone tablets. End the day watching the sunset from high up on Mandalay Hill.
Day 4: Mandalay (B) to Bagan by car with Amarapura Visit
After breakfast your guide will collect you for the 5 hour drive to Bagan with a lunch stop along the way (own expense). 11 kilometres south of Mandalay you’ll find Amarapura, one of Myanmar’s former capitals. It was built by King Bodawpaya in 1783 and served as the centre of power until 1857, when the capital moved to Mandalay. One of the main highlights will be the Mahagandayon Monastery that was founded in around 1914 and is one of the largest teaching monasteries in Myanmar; home to up to 2000 monks at any given time. The other will be the nearby U Bein Bridge, the world’s longest teakwood bridge. The bridge was made from wood salvaged from the city’s dismantled teak palace when the capital moved to Mandalay and remains a central part of the community with hundreds of locals and saffron-robed monks walking their bicycles home along it and fishermen going about their daily work in its shadow. From here continue on to Bagan for 4 nights at your choice of hotel.
Day 5: Bagan (B) - Private Guided Pagoda Tour
Bagan in is one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites, a sight to rival Angkor Wat. The setting is sublime, a verdant 26 square-mile plain, part-covered by palm and tamarind, caught in a bend of the Irrawaddy and framed by the hazy silver-grey of distant mountains. Today you will enjoy a tour of some of a selection of the 3,000 plus monuments and take a horse and cart to watch the sunset over this wondrous landscape from the Shwesandaw Pagoda. Lunch will be in a local restaurant at your own expense.
Day 6: Bagan (B) - Free Day
Today has been left free but extra tours can be added locally if interested, but we would recommend that you rent an electric bike and explore the myriad sandy tracks that cover the plain and wind past the pagodas and go through the villages. It’s a very popular thing to do and yesterday’s tour will have given you a good orientation of the area. Alternatively a choice of day tours can be suggested.
Day 7: Bagan (B) - Private guided tour to Mount Popa
This morning your guide will collect you for a day tour to Mt Popa, strikingly perched on the top of an extinct volcano and the highest landmark in the central zone of Myanmar. On arrival climb the 777 steps to reach the mountain top Taungkalat monastery where powerful nats (Burmese spirits) are said to live. From here you can enjoy a panoramic view of Bagan and the surrounding countryside. Watch out for the macaques that live here and are protected, as they may steal hats, sun glasses etc.
Lunch (own expense) will be at the stunningly located Popa Mountain Resort and then your guide will take you on an hour’s walk along Taung Ma Gyi (Burmese for ‘Mother Hill’). The plunging valleys around the peak are dramatic and on a clear day you can enjoy views stretching past Bagan and the Irrawaddy River. On your way up you’ll also find the best views of Popa Taungkalat Monastery, as well as an impressive array of flora and fauna, including many different species of birds and butterflies in a striking array of colours and sizes.
On the way back to the hotel break the journey with a stop at a local toddy palm farm. This day will also show you more of the Burmese countryside as you get to see a little more of rural life and villages along the way. Back the hotel late afternoon.
Day 8: Fly Bagan (B) to Inle Lake
Early morning airport transfer and short flight to Heho Airport. Flying in Myanmar is part of the adventure as outside Yangon the airports are still very simple and the service is more like a bus service with coloured stickers denoting which flight you’re on. The flights will be by prop-plane.
On arrival your private guide will drive you to Inle Lake where you board a private longtail boat that will take you on an atmospheric ride to your hotel. After 20 minutes the channel starts to open up and you get a sense of lake’s size and introduction to what life here is like, before docking at your choice of hotel for 2 nights. The rest of the afternoon is free.
Day 9: Inle Lake (B) - Full Day Private Guide Day Tour of Inle Lake
This morning your guide will collect you for a day exploring the lake by private longtailed boat. As you enter the lake keep your eye out for the iconic one-legged rowing style used by local fisherman and the many small floating gardens filled with vegetables and plants. The lake is also home to many species of bird that use the area as a breeding ground or a stop on their migration routes.
The morning starts with a visit to one of the local markets. It’s held daily but the location of the event rotates through five different sites around the lake area, thus each of them host a roaming market every fifth day. This is a great way of getting to understand tribal life and your guide will talk you through the wares on offer. The rest of the morning will be spent exploring local cottage industries that dot the area including craftsman at work building wooden boats, workers hand rolling Burmese cigars and silk and lotus weaving on traditional looms. The latter is used especially for ceremonial dress as the lotus is a divine symbol of their Buddhist faith. At an appropriate time lunch will be in a local restaurant at own expense.
This afternoon you’ll visit the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda that was believed to have be built by King Alaungsithu of Bagan, who reigned from 1112-1167AD, one of the longest rulers of Bagan Dynasty. The centre shrine in the main hall houses five small golden Buddha images that have been covered with so much gold leaf that it’s impossible to see their original structure. Back at the hotel late afternoon.
Day 10: Fly Inle Lake (B) / Yangon
Early morning your guide will pick you up for the 45 minute transfer by longtailed boat to the northern edge of the lake where the car will be waiting to take you to the airport.
On the way (time permitting) you’ll make a short stop at Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung, a two hundred year old Shan style teak monastery. At first glance it may appear to be a slightly tumbledown structure but it’s a working monastery that’s worth exploring and great for photos. Across from the stilted ordination hall you’ll find a white building whose brick and stucco corridors contain thousands of small Buddha images and beautiful floor tiles.
On arrival at the airport check-in and take the short flight to Yangon. On arrival met and transferred to your choice of beach hotel for 2 nights (or more).
Day 11: Yangon (B) - Private Guided City Tour
After breakfast your private guide will collect you for a tour of the city. Although the city is no longer the official capital of the country it’s the most dynamic and forward facing city in the country. There are many cultural and historical highlights to be found in between the hustle and bustle of city life here. Visit Botahtaung Pagoda, the colossal reclining Buddha Chaukhtatkyi and Kandawgyi Lake. Lunch will be in a local restaurant at own expense. Walk through old streets lined with colonial buildings and do some shopping at Scott Market. In the evening take in the spectacular view of Shwedagon Pagoda all lit up. This is the most important Buddhist site in the country and is said to hold strands of Buddha’s hair and other relics. The spire reaches up to 99m and is encrusted with diamonds and covered by gold plate. Join the hundreds of locals who pray here as the sun sets and you get an indication of how Buddhism is the keystone of Burmese life.
Day 12: Yangon (B) / UK Airport
Day free until your airport transfer a flight home. Arrive back in UK the following morning.
Each featured itinerary is really a starting point from which to create your ideal holiday.
We can include as much or as little as you like, mix and match hotels, excursions and experiences, add extra nights and change the destinations you'd like to visit.
The common thread is that each is a privately guided holiday, allowing you to travel where and when you want, with your own private transport and dedicated guide.
- Return scheduled international flights (optional if you would like to arrange your own)
- English speaking, local guide & driver
- Choice of hotel accommodation
- Transport in private air-conditioned vehicles
- Domestic flights detailed in itinerary
- Admission fees to all attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals as detailed (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Entry visas (if applicable)
- Optional Tours / Excursions
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Personal expenses
- Tips for Guides / Drivers (discretionary)
- Travel insurance
- Any camera or video fees charged at sites
The hotels below are there as examples, designed to act as a starting point from which to create your holiday. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and when we quote we will include other suggestions so we get to understand your likes and dislikes. Quite often clients mix and match hotel categories throughout their holiday.
Hotels in Mandalay
Choose from a wide range hotels in Myanmar's cultural capital
Hotels in Bagan
Often at the top of a visitors’ wish list, Bagan’s 2,500 stupas and temples won’t disappoint
Hotels in Kalaw
Former British Hill station set amongst beautiful mountain scenery
Hotels on Inle Lake
Explore by private longtail boat and discover a water world dotted with stilted houses, floating gardens and ancient pagodas & temples
Hotels in Yangon
Perhaps more famous to us as “Rangoon”, Yangon is Myanmar’s largest city