Upon arrival in Yangon, you will be greeted by your guide and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon, enjoy a private tour and drive through downtown to explore the city centre and its fabulous mix of architecture and culture. The streets are filled with historical buildings, many of which have a faded colonial charm not seen elsewhere in Asia. Visit Mahabondoola Garden and the famous Chaukhtatgyi Temple, home to a 70-meter long reclining Buddha whose feet are carved with traditional symbols, and observe the locals praying and paying homage. Then enjoy the scenic Kandawgyi Royal Lake and take photos by the stunning floating Karaweik Royal Barge. End the day by observing local pilgrims and monks offering devotions at dusk and enjoy the magnificent sunset view at Shwedagon Pagoda. Overnight in Yangon.
Transfer to the airport for a morning flight to Bagan. Visit a busy local market to gain an insight into the bustling local atmosphere in Bagan. Spend the day by exploring the architectural masterpieces of this ancient town and by visiting a diverse selection of the most important pagodas and temples. Visit Shwezigon Pagoda which is built over a thousand years ago by King Anawratha as a religious shrine. Then visit the famous Ananda Temple, an architectural masterpiece and Bagan’s most outstanding temple. Visit another historical pagoda, Htilominlo Pagoda before transfer to the hotel for check-in. In the afternoon, visit Lacquerware workshop to get to learn more about the techniques of creating artistic lacquer items perfected and passed down through generations. Then visit Manuha Temple and transfer to Shwesandaw Pagoda for a marvelous sunset view. Enjoy a breathtaking sunset and a panoramic view from the top of the pagoda over the magnificent plains of Bagan. Overnight in Bagan.
Optional activity (available from 1 October to 31 March): Drift over thousands of pagodas in the ancient city of Bagan for a truly unique sunrise hot air ballooning experience. The experience begins with a 5AM pick up from your hotel and transfer to a departure point. While sipping coffee/tea and having a croissant, observe how the crew inflates the giant balloons. Enjoy a magical 45-minute ride over one of the world’s most highly acclaimed ballooning spots. Upon landing, you will be served with sparkling wine and fresh fruits before a transfer back to your hotel at 8.30AM for breakfast.
After breakfast, visit villages around Bagan to explore the real way of life for most Burmese people. Walk around villages and learn more about local customs and culture and observe the villagers in their daily routine. Then proceed with a visit to the famous Damayazika and Damayangyi Pagodas. In the afternoon, take a horse cart ride among the ancient temples and pagodas and explore areas where cars are unable to enter. Wrap up the day with a transfer to the jetty for a sunset cruise along Irrawaddy river on a wooden private boat. Overnight in Bagan.
Transfer to the airport for a morning flight to Mandalay. Begin your sightseeing tour of Mandalay with a visit to Amarapura and walk along U Bein Bridge, the longest and oldest teakwood bridge in the world. The 200 year-old bridge rests on over a thousand wooden piles which stand above 6 m high of the waterline in the dry season, but are almost completely submerged during the monsoons. Then visit Mahagandayon Monastery to observe hundreds of barefoot monks collecting alms and having their last meal of the day at 11AM. Then transfer to the hotel for a check-in. In the afternoon, visit Mahamuni Temple, home to the country’s most revered Buddha image, covered daily by worshippers with multiple layers of gold leaves. Then visit Shwenandaw Monastery, the sole remnant of 19th century Golden Palace and Kuthodaw Pagoda, known as the World’s Biggest Book due to its 729 text-inscribed marble slabs of Buddhist scripture, each housed in its own small stupa. Wrap the day with a magnificent panoramic view of the city from the top of Mandalay Hill. Overnight in Mandalay.
Optional add-on activity (available from 1 November to 15 March): Experience a balloon flight over Mandalay. As your hot-air balloon ascents above the Mandalay Hill, the first site to welcome you is 729 white marble slab pagodas housing the world’s biggest book. Enjoy the city and its highlights such as the Irrawaddy river and U Bein Bridge in Amarapura a few hundred feet from the ground.
After breakfast transfer to a jetty and board a private boat to Mingun. After a 45 minute journey along Irrawaddy river, climb the monumental yet uncompleted Mingun Temple, commissioned in 1790 to house a tooth of the Buddha. Then visit Mingun Bell, the largest bronze bell in the world which weighs over 90 tons and Hsinbyume Pagoda, a whitewashed temple built to resemble Mount Meru. In the afternoon, transfer to Ava, the capital from 14th to 18th centuries. After a short ferry ride across a river, take a ride around ancient Ava by a horse cart and visit the impressive old teakwood Bagaya Monastery and the ruins of the Fort and Royal Palace. Then drive to Sagaing, another former capital dotted with hundreds of white-painted pagodas and monasteries and home to 3000 monks. Visit the Kaunghmudaw Pagoda roofed by a huge golden dome and enjoy a stunning sunset view from the Sagaing Hill. Overnight in Mandalay.
Transfer to the airport for a morning flight to Inle Lake (Heho). Drive to Nyaung Shwe, a vibrant town which is a gateway to Inle Lake. From there take a full-day tour by private boat to explore the marvelous Inle Lake. Along the way, observe leg-rowing fishermen, villages of Intha tribe built on stilts on the lake and floating gardens built up from the strips of water hyacinth anchored to the bottom with bamboo pools. Visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the holiest religious site in southern Shan State, which contains five sacred Buddha images covered in gold leaf. Explore numerous local crafts by visiting a weaving village, a local blacksmith and a cheroot factory. Visit Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, also called jumping cat monastery with a unique Buddha statue. Overnight in Inle Lake.
Begin your day with a visit to the lake’s morning market which rotates its location around the lake’s villages every five days. You will encounter hill tribes people dressed in colorful, traditional outfits who come to sell and trade their wares. Then continue sightseeing in Inle Lake, maneuvering by boat through long, scenic channels. You will visit the fascinating village of Indein with its complex ancient shrines and stupas and climb colonnades of stairways filled with numerous shop stalls to the top of the hill from where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the Indein hills and the Inle Lake. In the afternoon transfer to the airport for your flight to Yangon. Overnight in Yangon.
After breakfast, enjoy a drive through the city and observe the influences of other cultures in the region. Intersperse in the tour are various religious sites such as the St Mary's Cathedral built in 1899, and the Buddhist landmarks of Sule Paya and the over 100 year old beautiful Rangoon Synagogue. In there you will have the opportunity to meet with the Trustee of the Synagogue to learn the Jewish history in the Pagoda Land. Then enjoy a visit to sprawling 75-year-old Scott Market. At the market you will find a whole variety of interesting Burmese souvenirs, from lacquerware to gems & jewelry – bargain at the stores to fully experience the Burmese market atmosphere! Then transfer to airport for the international flight departure.