Day 1 Departure from UK for those including the flight option. (Those obtaining their own flights will start the tour on day 2 in Yangon. )
Day 2 Arrival in Yangon (Rangoon), and check-in to a comfortable, downtown hotel close to the famous Scott Market. Time to relax before an afternoon walking orientation tour of the city followed by a scenic sunset boat cruise on the Rangoon River.
Day 3 Morning departure for a fascinating and unusual train journey on the Rangoon circular line. The (very) slow local train completes a loop through the suburbs and outlying villages providing an original and behind the scenes view of local life and Rangoon; – a great introduction to Burma. After lunch we’ll take a stroll through the picturesque Kandawgyi Lake Gardens before a sunset visit to the incredible Shwedagon Temple, Burma’s most sacred & certainly one it’s most awe inspiring sites.
Day 4 Morning flight to Mandalay and a visit to the nearby ancient city, and former 14th to 19th century capital, Ava (Inwa). Discover the ruined city, temples and villages by horse and cart before an afternoon visit to the prestigious Mahamuni Pay and sunset at the iconic U Bein Bridge – reputed to be the longest wooden bridge in the world.
Day 5 Day tour and scenic drive to the old British hill-station of Pyin U Lwin located on the edge of the Shan Plateau. The small town’s 1,200m altitude meant it was a popular and cool retreat for the former British colonists and many historic buildings remain as well as its famous botanical gardens. We’ll time our return journey for sunset (and sundowners), on the Mandalay riverside with spectacular views over the Irrawaddy River.
Day 6 Early morning departure by boat down the Irrawaddy to Bagan; bucolic river scenes, country views and a great way to arrive in the historic ancient city. Late afternoon orientation visit and sunset at the site of the ruined 11th to 13th century capital – still containing over 2,000 chedis, stupas, pagodas scattered across a riverside plain and certainly one of the most incredible sites of Southeast Asia!*
Day 7 Morning guided tour with the afternoon free to visit Bagan at your leisure. Armed with a map, hat and torch (to discover temples’ hidden stairways), roam the country lanes by bicycle, hire a pony and trap, visit the best known temples or find some hidden chedis of your own. Your guide will be on-hand to advise and recommend but we’d like to let you spend some time at this phenomenal site at your own leisure and pace.
Day 8 Departure by road, heading eastwards to the distant Shan Plateau. Our first stop will be Mount Popa; – one of the country’s most sacred sites located on the cone of an extinct volcano which rises dramatically and near vertically from the plains below. Local style lunch in the town of Meiktila before a scenic climb up the Plateau itself to our destination, the charming little town and old hill-station of Kalaw.
Day 9 Morning hike through the surrounding hills to visit one of the local Palaung hill-tribe villages; a scenic walk, mountain views, visit to the village and chance to meet some of it’s friendly inhabitants. Afternoon return to Kalaw and some time to wander around the small town, and perhaps explore the market or sit in a local tea shop and watch the world go by?
Day 10 Day trip through the picturesque countryside of the Shan Plateau taking in, firstly, one of the local farmers’ markets before heading to the town of Pindaya to visit the spectacular Shwe Umin cave temples. Lunch by the lake and a chance to check out the traditional umbrella making which Pindaya is famous for. In the afternoon we’ll continue our scenic route to Nyuangshwe – gateway town to the famous Inle Lake.
Day 11 Day boat trip around the picturesque lake including visits to a lakeside village market, a traditional hand rolling cheroot factory, a fascinating lotus weaving project and the highly unusual floating gardens.
Day 12 Morning departure across the lake and up river to the small lakeside village of In Dein from where we’ll hike through the picturesque landscape to visit the site of a ruined Shan city, known as the Shan Bagan, where myriad ruined stupas dot the lush vegetation. Return to Nyaung Shwe for lunch and an afternoon at leisure.
Day 13 Free morning at Lake Inle to do your own thing; cycle to the extraordinary Red Mountain Winery, check out the local market, visit a local village by canoe or just relax in a tea shop before an afternoon return flight to Yangon.
Day 14 Morning departure by local train for the ancient Mon capital of Pegu, now Bago. From here we’ll continue to Kyaiktiyo and the foot of the mountain; departure point for our Golden Rock visit. Yes, the gold leaf covered boulder balanced precariously on a mountain top, is spectacular for 10 minutes or so, but it’s the whole experience that’s so wonderful. Ride half way up the mountain on an open-topped truck crammed with locals before continuing on foot with the pilgrims for the rest of the way. Truly awesome views and overnight in a ridge-top hotel almost as absurdly situated as the rock itself. You’ll probably curse, scream, sweat, laugh, meet plenty of people and you certainly won’t forget it! (Note though, transport can be arranged for the less energetic!)
Day 15 Down the mountain and off south to Hpa-an Town – capital of Karen State. Stop off on route to visit some spectacular cave temples and hot springs with the afternoon to explore the bustling and friendly town itself before a sunset visit to a beautiful riverside pagoda.
Day 16 Hpa-an is surrounded by dramatic limestone karst scenery including the sacred Zwegabin Mountain – symbol of Karen State – and we’ll spend the day exploring the area’s caves, tunnels, temples and mountains by road, boat and on foot, as well as passing through some of the area’s traditional Karen villages.
Day 17 Early morning departure, again by boat, for a journey down the scenic Salween River to Moulmein, now Mawlamlyine, capital of Mon State with a stop at a riverside Karen fishing village on the way. Formerly home for several years to George Orwell and immortalized by Kipling, we reckon it's one of the country’s friendliest and most scenic towns. Visit the lively fruit and vegetable market before heading up for sunset at one of the hill-top pagodas overlooking the town and Gulf of Martaban.
Day 18 Off by local boat for a day trip trip to nearby Bilu Kyun, (‘Ogre Island’), where we’ll visit the very traditional Mon villages and discover some of the local handicrafts and cottage industries. They don’t see many tourists yet, but the villagers will be happy to show you how they make cane walking sticks, typical Burmese style bamboo hats, slate blackboards and even back-garden rubber band making! (Sounds odd but it is absolutely fascinating). Afternoon return to Moulmein for perhaps some sundowners at a waterfront café?
Day 19 We’ll begin with a visit to the town’s lively morning market before heading south to visit some of the region’s attractions: Kyauktalon Taung Pagoda perched Mount Popa style atop a sheer limestone outcrop, the incredible sight of the world’s largest reclining Buddha - Win Sein Taw Ya - a stop at Thanbyuzayat which was the terminus of the infamous WW2 ‘Death Railway’ from Kanchanaburi,. You can still see the old Japanese train plus the cemetery for the Allied POWs who lost their lives building the railway, while last but not least, we visit the iconic Kyaikkami Monastery located in the old colonial period town of Amherst and situated on a rock outcrop jutting into the sea. Continue to the charming little seaside town of Setse for our night's accommodation in beachfront chalets.
Day 20 A short drive south brings us to the delightful little town of Ye. Until late 2013 the town had been of limits to foreigners since independence in 1948 due to perceived security issues with Mon and Karen autonomists so, to say it’s off the beaten track, is an understatement. We’ll visit the spectacular temple site atop charmingly named Banana Mountain as well as taking in the rustic riverside market before continuing our journey to Dawei, former Tavoy, in the afternoon.
Day 21 Our day tour of Dawei starts out with another lively waterfront market before heading to the nearby Dawei Peninsula. There can’t be many so spectacular, yet so little developed, stretches of coast left in Southeast Asia so visit now and in 10 years time remember what its fishing villages, deserted bays and seaside pagodas used to look like!
Day 22 Next stop, after a morning drive, is the old colonial port of Mergui, now renamed Myeik. In the afternoon we’ll do a walking tour through streets barely changed in 70 years and take in sunset views of the bustling port from one of the hilltop pagodas.
Day 23 A fascinating day discovering - by road and by boat - some of the area’s traditional industries such as lobster and crab farming, bird’s nest processing, a traditional style shipyard and a visit to cashew plantation.
Day 24 For our final day in Myeik we’ll offer, weather permitting, an optional day cruise by boat through some of the myriad isles of the spectacular Mergui Archipelago. Swimming and snorkelling opportunities plus a picnic lunch on the beach and a chance to explore some islands on foot. An alternative day in Myeik allows you to explore the town’s ancient temples and windy lanes; mingle in some of the friendly tea-shops and stroll around a lily covered lake with perhaps an afternoon trip to visit the nearby ancient Mon ruins of Tanintharyi.
Day 25 Return flight to Rangoon connecting to an evening departure.
Day 26 Arrive home.
Notes: This tour is offered with or without a return flight from London. Persons not wishing to take up the flight option should join the tour in Yangon on day 2 of the itinerary & depart in Yangon on day 25.
*(During dry season low water levels may prevent boat travel all the way to Bagan in which case we will organise a shorter boat trip from Mandalay with flight instead.)
Please note these are photos of sample hotels and resorts; accommodation options may vary and are subject to availability
Spectacular night time view of the incredible Shwedagon Pagoda from the rooftop bar of the centrally located Asia Plaza Hotel, Rangoon.
The very aptly named Mountain Top Hotel is almost as precariously perched as the nearby Golden Rock itself. Extraordinary views, great location and good service!
New on Hpa-an’s hotel scene the well-designed, comfortable Gabbana was a great find with ideal location between the town’s scenic lake and the old town. Walking distance of all the town’s sites; an added bonus is that it possesses the best coffee shop in Hpa-an!
Cinderella Hotel. Not only our favourite hotel in Moulmein but one of our favourites anywhere in Burma! Central location, comfy rooms, helpful and friendly service and it’s even got workable Wi-Fi which you can’t say for every hotel in the country!
The delightful, and perfectly situated, Paradise Hotel has a great seafront location on Setse Beach. There’s not much choice at this fledgling, and very much local style, sea-side resort so fortunately it’s a good one!
The view across central Dawei from the roof-top cafe at the well appointed and comfortable Golden Guesthouse. A central location in the small town makes a great base for exploring Dawei’s quite lanes lined with fantastic colonial period architecture.
Port views are subject to availability of course but you’re guaranteed a great view either of the busy waterfront or across the historic old town from their well appointed rooms or their spectacular rooftop cafe. Perfect spot for breakfast or a end of day sundowner!
Sunset view of Irrawaddy River from the ‘sky bar’ at the newly opened and fantastically situated Aerawaddy Hotel, Mandalay
Welcome pool at steamy Bagan where our choice is the comfortable Bawga Theiddhi Resort in New Bagan Town.
The very friendly, cosy Dream Villa near the market in the small Shan Town of Kalaw.
One of our favourites in the Inle Lake ‘gateway town’ of Nyaungshwe is the friendly, comfortable chalet style Paradise Hotel.
The chalet style accommodation at Thande Beach Resort – one of our Burma beach extension options.
The excellent Myanmar Treasure Resort lying on Ngwe Saung Beach on Burma’s Bay of Bengal Coast is our recommendation for a beach extension from Rangoon. Right by the spectacular beach but also only a short walk to Ngwe Saung Village so very convenient for shops, cafes and restaurants.
"A great 3 weeks but very differently split between the first week which was south from Rangoon and the last 2 which were north. Both excellent and very different. The overall tour was great and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Wi's contribution to the tour was priceless, would be happy to go on any tour with her anywhere, and her hints & tips from a photographical perspective were great. Please thank everyone involved for a great trip."
Paul & Sibylle Faulkner - Nov 2014
"It was a lovely tour with something new every day. Wi was fun as our leader and quietly conscientious and efficient. We would definitely want her to be our tour leader again! Food, on the whole, was better than we were expecting with only one disappointing meal which was in Mandalay – a Chinese meal which was bland and uninteresting. Wi and the Guides on the whole chose very well for us. Accommodation was variable, which was to be expected, but rooms were always clean and comfortable.
Christine and Graham Rose - Nov 2014
"We had a wonderful holiday and have many happy memories."
Kate - Feb 2014
Please find below a list of suggested extensions for this tour. For reservations please use the tour booking form on the same page
Head through the picturesque Irrawaddy Delta to Burma’s bay of Bengal Coast for this superb beach stay at Ngwe Saung, or ‘Silver Beach’. Some 9 more..
Due to the very recent opening of certain Burmese land border crossing points we’re very excited to able to offer this new extension to discover more..
As you can imagine with Burma a trip to the beach is much more than just deckchairs and options, other than lying by the pool more..