Discover Burma (Myanmar)
Our 2-week classic Burma tour takes in the spectacular architecture of bustling Rangoon; the sights of Mandalay, temples of Bagan, stunning Lake Inle and much, much more...
"Quite unlike any land you know about..." (Kipling)
“Quite unlike any land you know about…” is how Rudyard Kipling described the country and as our classic, Discover Burma (Myanmar) tour, will show you the, same is probably very true today.
Discover the famous sites, including breathtaking Shwedagon Pagoda as well as the lesser-seen backstreets and bustling local markets amid the atmospheric, crumbling, Victorian splendour of Rangoon. (Now Yangon, the city is acknowledged to possess the best stock of British colonial architecture in Asia). We’ll visit evocative Mandalay, take a boat down the Irrawaddy River to explore some of the 2,000 ancient temples of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Bagan, discover old colonial-period hill stations barely changed in a hundred years, take a 2-day boat tour around awe-inspiring Lake Inle and meet some of the myriad traditional hill-tribes of the picturesque Shan Plateau.
On our Burma (Myanmar) tour we’ll explore this amazing country by local train, stagecoach, horse and cart and Irrawaddy boat as well as by bus and on foot, with the emphasis, as usual, on combining both famous sites and lesser-known ones to allow you to discover the real local culture, history, authentic food, bustling markets and stunning landscapes.
This highly varied and truly fabulous country makes for an unforgettable trip – Southeast Asia as it used to be!
Our classic Burma tour explores the sites of the country’s central region while for those with a few more days to spare we offer extensions to Kengtung and the farthest reaches of Shan State to meet some of Southeast Asia’s least-known and most traditional hill-tribe minorities or the opportunity to join the pilgrims at the surreal Golden Rock – one of the country’s most sacred sites. For some quality beach time after your tour, we also propose stays at either celebrated Ngapali or the spectacular but lesser-known Ngwe Saung in the Irrawaddy Delta.
Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.
Day 1 - Yangon (Rangoon) - walking tour and sunset cruise
Arrival in Yangon and check-in to a downtown hotel close to the famous Scott Market. Afternoon, walking, heritage tour of the city’s spectacular, albeit crumbling Victoriana as well as a peek at the enterprising Alley Gardens urban renewal project. A scenic sunset boat cruise on the Rangoon River and local-style welcome dinner complete the day.
Overnight: Yangon Transport: Boat, Walk, Meals: D,
Day 2 - Yangon (Rangoon) - local train and Shwedagon
Departure for a fascinating and unusual train journey on the Rangoon circular line. The (very) slow, local train loops through the suburbs and outlying villages providing an original and behind the scenes view of local life; 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, one of Burma’s most sacred and awe-inspiring sites.
Overnight: Yangon Transport: Minibus, Train, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 3 - Mandalay - ancient cities
Early 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 Paya and sunset at the iconic U Bein Bridge – reputed to be the longest teak bridge in the world.
Overnight: Mandalay Transport: Minibus, Plane, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 4 - Pyin U Lwin - hill station tour
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 over the Irrawaddy River.
Overnight: Mandalay Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 5 - Mandalay to Bagan - Irrawaddy Cruise
Departure by boat down the Irrawaddy to Bagan; bucolic country views, river scenes and a great way to arrive in the historic ancient city. Late afternoon orientation visit and sunset at the site of the 11th to 13th-century capital – still housing over 2,000 chedis, stupas, pagodas and certainly one of the most incredible sites of Southeast Asia!
During dry season low water levels may prevent boat travel all the way to Bagan in which case we travel overland with a stop at Monywa instead.
Overnight: Bagan Transport: Boat, Meals: B, D,
Day 6 - Bagan - temple tour
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.
Overnight: Bagan Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B,
Day 7 - Bagan to Shan State - overland via Mt Popa
Departure by road 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 before a scenic climb up the Plateau itself to our destination, the charming little old hill-station of Kalaw.
Overnight: Kalaw Transport: Minibus, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 8 - Kalaw - hill walk and tea plantations
Morning hike through the surrounding hills to visit one of the local Palaung hill-tribe villages; a scenic walk, mountain views, visit the village and chance to meet some of its 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?
Overnight: Kalaw Transport: Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 9 - Kalaw to Lake Inle - across the Shan Plateau
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 Nyaung Shwe – the gateway town to the famous Inle Lake.
Overnight: Nyaung Shwe, (Inle) Transport: Minibus, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 10 - Lake Inle - villages and local market
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.
Overnight: Nyaung Shwe, (Inle) Transport: Boat, Meals: B, L,
Day 11 - lake Inle - boat journey to In Dein
Morning departure across the lake and upriver 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.
Overnight: Nyaung Shwe, (Inle) Transport: Boat, Meals: B, L,
Day 12 - Lake Inle - at leisure and return to Yangon
Free morning at Lake Inle to do your own thing; cycle to the surprisingly good 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.
Overnight: Yangon Transport: Minibus, Plane, Meals: B, D,
Day 13 - Yangon - free morning and departure
Free morning to perhaps do some last-minute shopping or souvenir hunting at the famous Scott Market and a late afternoon departure.
Extra nights in Yangon before or after your tour are available on request.
Airport transfers are included if you purchase the 'with flights' package. If you purchased your own flights, airport transfers can be arranged.
Overnight: Departure Meals: B,
The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.
Just a few of the tour highlights...
Sunsets, sunrises, spectacular landscapes, local markets, colonial architecture, ancient temples, traditional hill-tribes and of course plenty of friendly locals and wonderful Burmese curries!
- Rangoon: explore the crumbling, moss-coated Victorian splendour and hectic, yet vibrant, street-life of this fascinating old port city
- Sunset at Mandalay's iconic and picturesque U Bein Bridge - the world's longest teak bridge
- Discover the World Heritage site of Bagan where thousands of ancient temples rise from a mountain-ringed plain
- A dusk visit to the breathtaking, Shwedagon Pagoda. Incredible sights and sounds at Burma's most sacred temple
- Depart Mandalay at sunrise for a leisurely cruise down the mighty Irrawaddy River to Bagan
- 2 days 'messing around in boats' on the stunning Lake Inle; local markets, lakeside villages, floating gardens
Air Departures (UK)
- 19 December 20 2,600 GBP
- 16 January 21 2,350 GBP
- 13 February 21 2,350 GBP
- 13 March 21 2,300 GBP
- 14 May 21 2,300 GBP
- 19 June 21 2,300 GBP
- 17 July 21 2,500 GBP
- 21 August 21 2,300 GBP
- 18 September 21 2,300 GBP
- 16 October 21 2,350 GBP
- 6 November 21 2,350 GBP
- 4 December 21 2,600 GBP
- 20 December 20 1,775 GBP
- 17 January 21 1,725 GBP
- 14 February 21 1,725 GBP
- 14 March 21 1,675 GBP
- 15 May 21 1,675 GBP
- 20 June 21 1,675 GBP
- 18 July 21 1,675 GBP
- 22 August 21 1,675 GBP
- 19 September 21 1,675 GBP
- 17 October 21 1,725 GBP
- 7 November 21 1,725 GBP
- 5 December 21 1,775 GBP
Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed
*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Yangon (Rangoon)
*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.
We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...
Asia Plaza Hotel Yangon view
- Great central location near Scott Market
- Rooftop bar with 360 degree views
- Friendly, helpful staff
Ayarwaddy River View Hotel Mandalay view
- Great waterfront location in downtown Mandalay
- Sunset views over the Irrawaddy River from the 'Skybar'
- Friendly staff, comfortable and well-appointed rooms
Bagan Umbra Hotel view
- Delightful garden setting with temple views
- Swimming pool & poolside restaurant
- Quiet location in Nyaung U Town
Bawga Theiddhi Hotel Bagan view
- Welcome large pool in steamy Bagan
- Quiet location in New Bagan Village
- Friendly staff, well-appointed rooms and poolside bar
Paradise Hotel Inle Lake view
- Our favourite in Nyaung Shwe, gateway town for Lake Inle
- Chalet styel rooms with balconies and cane chairs
- Garden setting and convenient location
Dream Mountain Resort Kalaw view
- Pine decor amid the pine forest
- Garden setting on a hillside overlooking Kalaw Town
- Friendly staff, great rooms - our fave in Kalaw
*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.
Visa Info & Notes
Visas: Visas are required for all nationalities other than those of Asean member states and they are not available on arrival at either international airports or land crossings. The choice for Myanmar/Burmese visas then is between applying in advance for a visa at a Burmese embassy or consulate or applying online for an e-visa. The relatively recently introduced e-visa facility replaces visas on arrival and seems to work very efficiently.
In either case, your passport has to have a minimum of 6 months validity from the date of arrival and at least 1 blank page in your passport. Note, even equipped with a valid visa, airlines will generally not let you board flights for Burma (Myanmar) without proof of onward travel. (This is an airline regulation even if it’s not generally applied by Burmese immigration.)
The e-visa system is slightly different than for instance Cambodia since, if your application is successful, you will receive an approval letter which is handed to immigration officials on arrival in exchange for an entry stamp. (There is no cut-out visa.) An online tourist visa application costs $50, is valid for 28 day’s travel and takes up to 3 working days to process. (There is no additional charge at the border.) Express 1 or 2-day visa applications are available for an additional cost. These approval letters are valid at any international airport and at the Myawaddy, Kawthaung and Tachileik border crossings. This is the official visa application site.
A standard tourist visa, also valid for 28 days, costs approximately $40, or the equivalent of in the currency of the country where you’re applying. Processing varies from embassy to embassy with some offering a next day collection, (for a supplementary fee) while others taking up to 5 working days.
Your solution then depends on where you’re applying from and if you do happen to have a Burmese embassy at the end of your road so much the better but otherwise we can’t see any reasons for not taking advantage of the efficient e-visa scheme which we reckon is well worth the extra few dollars. We’ve received these in the past on the same day as application though, as we said, they do ask to allow up to 3 working days. If you’re planning on departing from a land crossing such as Tachileik for our Shan State tour, please ask us for a covering letter explaining that which you can show to airlines/immigration in the event they do ask for an onward flight ticket.
Meals: breakfasts are usually buffet-style with lunch and dinners based on local food. Lunches on the road are typically simpler dishes such as variations on noodles or fried rice while your tour-leader will generally order more elaborate-style dinners consisting of a selection of local fare.
Dishes are only mildly spicy and both vegetarians and vegans are very easily catered for. For any other likes and dislikes please remind your tour-leader at the start of the tour. A number of meals are not included, which allows you to ‘do your own thing’ or take a break if you’re feeling ‘riced out’.
Burmese culinary influences correspond to its geographical location and mixed population so include Chinese, Indian and Thai as well as a host of minority dishes such as those of the Shan, Karen or Mon.
Accommodation: all choices fall into the comfortable 3* range and are en-suite and air-conditioned. We have posted a selection of sample accommodation on the lefthand hotel tab but please note that as we try and avoid the larger hotels, availability, in high season particularly, means we use several options in each destination.
Activities: note that no activities are compulsory and that any offered can be tailored for various fitness levels or alternatives suggested.
Further info: detailed descriptions and photos can be found on the corresponding page of our travel blog
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