South Burma (Myanmar) tour
Wonderful as the famous sites of Mandalay, Bagan and Lake Inle are there's a lot more to Burma as you'll discover on this 2-week off the beaten track tour to southern Burma
"Lookin’ Lazy at the Sea..."
“By the old Moulmein pagoda lookin’ lazy at the sea”; another Kipling quote for this off the beaten track South Burma (Myanmar) tour, following, with a few detours into the interior, the Indian Ocean and Andaman Sea coast from Rangoon (Yangon) all the way to the Mergui Archipelago in the far south of the country .
Our route takes in the well-preserved yet little-visited historic ports of Mawlamyine, Dawei and Myeik, better known as Moulmein, Tavoy and Mergui, as well as plenty of lesser-known destinations on the way.
Leaving Yangon we’ll travel by local train to the ancient Mon capital of Pegu, now Bago, and on to the stunning Golden Rock – one of the country’s most important pilgrimage sites. From here we’ll continue down the peninsula to the tiny capital of Karen State, Hpa-an, where the broad Salween River and dramatic karst scenery form a spectacular setting for this charming and picturesque town. The old colonial period towns of Moulmein (Mawlamyine) and Dawei are next on the itinerary before completing the tour in the delightful town of Mergui, now Myeik, with its myriad isles.
Definitely some of the most picturesque and friendliest of Burmese towns plus some of the country’s most spectacular scenery.
This 2-week southern itinerary can be booked as a stand-alone, off the beaten track tour or combined with our classic Discover Burma tour for a comprehensive look at the country’s famous sites and hidden secrets.
Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.
Day 1 - Yangon (Rangoon) - arrival and afternoon at leisure
Morning arrival in Yangon (Rangoon) and check-in to a comfortable, downtown hotel close to the famous Scott Market. Afternoon at leisure: check out some of the City’s decaying Victorian splendour, the National Museum or perhaps revisit the awesome Shwedagon Pagoda?
Airport transfers are included if you purchase the 'with flights' package.
Overnight: Yangon Transport: Walk, Meals: D,
Day 2 - The Golden Rock - local train to ancient Bago
Departure by local train for the ancient Mon capital of Pegu, now Bago and on to Kyaiktiyo, departure point for the Golden Rock. Yes, the gold leaf-covered boulder balanced precariously on a mountaintop is spectacular, but it’s the whole experience that’s so wonderful. Ride halfway up the mountain on an open-topped truck crammed with locals before continuing on foot with the pilgrims for the rest of the way. Awe-inspiring views and overnight in a ridge-top hotel almost as absurdly situated as the rock itself.
Transport to the summit can be arranged for the less energetic.
Overnight: Golden Rock Transport: Minibus, Train, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 3 - Hpa-an - dawn at the Rock and on to Karen State
Dawn at the Rock before heading 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 before a sunset visit to a beautiful riverside pagoda.
Overnight: Hpa-an Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 4 - Hpa-an - Zhwegabin sacred mountain
Set amid dramatic limestone karst scenery including the sacred Zwegabin Mountain, symbol of Karen State and we’ll spend the day exploring Hpa-an’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.
Overnight: Hpa-an Transport: Minibus, Boat, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 5 - Moulmein (Mawlamyine) - cruise down the Salween
Departure by boat, for a journey down the scenic Salween River to Moulmein, now Mawlamyine, capital of Mon State with a stop at a riverside Karen 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 a lively market before heading up for sunset at one of the hill-top pagodas overlooking the town and Gulf of Martaban.
Overnight: Moulmein Transport: Boat, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 6 - Moulmein (Mawlamyine) - Bilu Island tour
Off by local boat to nearby Bilu Kyun – ‘Ogre Island’ – where we’ll visit 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, Burmese style bamboo hats, slate blackboards and even back-garden rubber band making! (Sounds odd but it’s absolutely fascinating). Afternoon return to Moulmein for perhaps some sundowners at a waterfront café?
Overnight: Moulmein Transport: Boat, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 7 - Thanbyuzayat - Death Railway and Setse Beach
Visit the town’s lively morning market before heading south with stops at Kyauktalon Pagoda, perched atop a limestone pinnacle, the world’s largest reclining Buddha (Win Sein Taw Ya) and Thanbyuzayat – terminus of the infamous Japanese-built ‘Death Railway’ and WW2 cemetery. Last but not least, we visit the iconic Kyaikkami Monastery located in the old colonial town of Amherst, on a rock outcrop jutting into the sea. Continue to the charming little seaside town of Setse for our accommodation in beachfront chalets.
Overnight: Setse Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 8 - Dawei - south to Ye and Dawei
A short drive south brings us to the delightful little town of Ye. Until late 2013 the town had been off 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 in the afternoon to Dawei, formerly Tavoy.
Overnight: Dawei Transport: Minibus, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 9 - Dawei - the coast
Our day tour of Dawei starts out with another lively waterfront market before heading to the nearby Dawei Peninsula. There can’t be many stretches of coast left in Southeast Asia as spectacular, but yet so little developed. Now is the time to visit, as in 10 years time it’s fishing villages, deserted bays and seaside pagodas may well be a distant memory.
Overnight: Dawei Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 10 - Myeik - the old colonial port
After a morning drive, the next stop 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.
Overnight: Myeik Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 11 - Myeik - tour of the surrounding area
A fascinating day discovering, by road and by boat, some of the area’s traditional industries such as lobster and soft-shelled crab farming, edible bird’s nest collection, a traditional-style shipyard and a visit to a cashew processing factory.
Overnight: Myeik Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 12 - Myeik - Mergui boat trip or explore the town
For our final day in Myeik we’ll offer an optional day cruise by boat through some of the myriad isles of the spectacular Mergui Archipelago (weather permitting). Activities include swimming and snorkelling, 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.
Overnight: Myeik Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, D,
Day 13 - Yangon - morning at leisure and return to Yangon
Morning at leisure and return flight to Yangon with a late afternoon departure.
Airport transfers are included if you purchase the ‘with flights’ package. If you purchased your own flights, airport transfers can be arranged.
Extra accommodation in Yangon after your tour or an extension to a beach resort are available on request.
Overnight: Departure Transport: Plane, Walk, Meals: B,
The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.
Just a few of the many highlights
Sunrise at the Golden Rock; sacred Zhwegabin Mountain, boat down the Salween River, the old colonial ports of Moulmein, Tavoy and Mergui are just a few of this fascinating tour's varied highlights
- Rangoon: check out some more crumbling Victoriana, re-visit awesome Shwedagon or haggle in the markets
- Scenic Hpa-an Town - capital of Karen State - nestled between the river and dramatic limestone rock formations
- Tour of the old port of Myeik with an opportunity for a day boat cruise through the neighbouring Mergui Archipelago
- Join the Buddhist pilgrims on their way to the astonishing Golden Rock with an overnight stay on the summit
- The fantastic colonial buildings of Dawei, former Tavoy, plus a tour of its stunning and untouched, coastal scenery
- Lashings of authentic local cuisine, tea shops, beer stations and oodles of very friendly locals!
Air Departures (UK)
- 6 November 18 2,900 GBP
- 16 January 19 2,900 GBP
- 2 March 19 2,900 GBP
- 7 November 18 2,000 GBP
- 17 January 19 2,000 GBP
- 3 March 19 2,000 GBP
Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed
*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Yangon
*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
Mountain Top Hotel, Kyaikto, (Golden Rock) view
- On the mt summit, a short walk from the Rock itself
- Wait 'til you see the views!
- Almost as precariously perched as the nearby Golden Rock
Cinderella Hotel, Moulmein/Mawlamyine view
- Our favourite hotel in Moulmein, (Mawlamyine)
- Decent Wi-Fi, great little restaurant and comfy rooms
- Central but quiet location
21 Paradise Hotel, Setse Beach view
- Odd name but a delightful spot
- Beachside resort facing the Andaman Sea
- Well-appointed, comfortable rooms in a garden setting
Golden Guest Hotel, Dawei view
- All round views from the roof-top cafe
- Newly decorated, well-appointed rooms
- Convenient central location in Dawei Town
Hotel Grand Jade, Myeik view
- The rooftop cafe's perfect for breakfast or sundowners!
- Central location in Myeik Town
- Friendly, helpful staff and maybe the best Wi-Fi in town
*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.
Visa Info & Notes
Burma (Myanmar): You will need to get a visa before you travel. E-visas are now available for many countries https://evisa.moip.gov.mm. Alternatively, you need to apply at your nearest Burmese Embassy or Consulate. A visa is valid for 3 months from the date of issue so we recommend applying for one about 2-3 months before your return date.
Note: You are applying as a foreign independent traveller NOT a package tour group. The hotel for visa purposes is the Asia Plaza Hotel, Rangoon c/o Tour Mandalay (our ground handler). You should not require any other details.
Passport validity: Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Burma. You may be refused entry if your passport is damaged or in poor condition.
Holidays should never end, stay a little longer. These extensions go well with this tour...
Here is what out guest have to say about their experience on this tour...