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Myanmar - Land of thousand Pagodas

Myanmar is a magical country where fairy tale pagodas in cotton candy colors of pink and blue dot the landscape, people cover their face with white powder from the bark of a tree, and clouds and mist cast a romantic tropical haze over the country. You are on a journey to unravel the history of Myanmar, view its great temples and pagodas, and witness the Buddhist culture that remains at its heart despite many years of hardship. Discover the glory of ancient Pagan, a treasure house with its thousands of pagodas, the cultural richness of Mandalay and the beauty of the Shan States. At lovely Inle Lake overnight, where the Intha fisherman still row their boats with a unique one-legged style. During the journey, experience the colourful life of the country, attend a cultural performance, visit Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda, sail on the historical Irawaddy River and enjoy vestiges of the country’s colonial heritage.



Day 1 & 2 Los Angeles/Bangkok/Yangon

Day 3 Arrive Yangon (D)
Upon arrival, you will be met by your Guide who will accompany you to your hotel. Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is a relatively quiet and charming city. Its impressive colonial and spiritual heritage makes it one of the most fascinating cities in Southeast Asia. This afternoon, your journey begins with a visit around the city and its highlights. Stop at the National Museum where a tour of the priceless ancient artifacts, works of art and historic memorabilia will help you gain insight in to the country's history. Continue to Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, which houses a 230-feet reclining Buddha. Later visit Shwedagon Pagoda, the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar. The central stupa is 300 feet tall and gilded with gold leaf.

Day 4 Yangon - Kyaikhtiyo - Golden Rock (B, L, D)
Depart Yangon early morning for Kyaikhtiyo and the Golden Rock, arriving at Kyaikhtiyo base camp after about 5 hours. From here you need to hike the final distance up to Golden Rock in about one hour. The uphill trek is along a paved trekking path and offers great views of the surrounding area. A huge boulder covered by gold leaf and delicately balanced on the edge of a cliff, Golden Rock is one of Myanmar's main pilgrimage sites. The pagoda here is said to hold a hair of the Buddha.

Day 5 Kyaikhtiyo - Bago - Yangon (B, L, D)
After breakfast, return to the basecamp by open-air truck and begin the return journey to Yangon. En route, stop in Bago, the capital of the 6th century Mon kingdom. Your visit in Bago begins at Shwethalyaung Temple which houses a beautiful 180-feet long reclining Buddha. Continue to the Mon-style Shwemawdaw Pagoda, one of the most venerated in Myanmar and whose 380 feet spire is taller than the one at Shwedagon Pagoda. Before departing Bago, visit the well-restored former palace, Kambozathadi, which was the marvel of Asia when it was originally built in the 16th century.

Day 6 Yangon - Heho - Inle Lake (B, L, D)
This morning, you will transfer to the airport and catch a short flight from Yangon to Heho. Arriving in Heho, you will drive from the airport down the hill to Inle Lake. Upon reaching the edges of Inle Lake, board a private motorboat to head out to Inle Lake, one of Myanmar's most spectacular sights. Pass villages built on stilts over the lake, inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the leg-rowing fishermen and see their floating gardens built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles.

Day 7 Inle Lake - In Dein - Inle Lake (B, L, D)
In the morning visit the lake's morning market. The market rotates its location around the lake's villages in a 5 day rhythm and is visited by lake inhabitants and surrounding hill tribes who come to sell and trade their wares. From the middle of the lake, continue down a small canal leading to the Pa-oh village of In Dein. Explore the area on foot, strolling around the village, visiting a local school, and wander through the beautiful Alaung Sitthou area. Here you can climb the covered stairway to the top of a hill which is covered with picturesque ancient stupas and has magnificent views of the lake below.

Day 8 Inle Lake - Heho - Mandalay (B, L, D)
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and morning around the Inle Lake you will head back to Heho, where you will catch a flight to Mandalay. After relaxing and freshening up at your hotel, drive to Mandalay Hill to watch the sun set over the city and the Irrawaddy River.

Day 9 Mandalay - Amarapura - Ava - Sagaing - Mandalay (B, L, D)
Begin your morning attending a special ceremony in Amarapura. Witness the alms collection at Mahagandayon monastery, when over one-thousand monks gather to collect their daily meal from the local Buddhists. After this beautiful spectacle, continue to a nearby silk weaving workshop which produces exquisite handmade products. Continue to Ava, the capital from 14th to 18th centuries. Later cross the bridge over the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing. Covered with 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries, Sagaing Hill is widely regarded as the religious center of Myanmar and is home to 3,000 monks and 100 meditation centers. As the sun begins to set, walk along U Bein Bridge for fabulous views. This 200 year-old bridge is constructed entirely from teak and spans over 1.5 miles in length.

Day 10 Mandalay - Mingun - Mandalay (B, L, D)
After breakfast, board a private local boat for a 1-hr cruise on the Irrawaddy River to Mingun. Visit the main sites of Mingun beginning with the famous Mingun Pahtodawqyi. This huge brick structure was left unfinished after an astrologer predicted the King would die should the temple be completed. Continue your visit at the beautiful white Hsinbyume Pagoda whose distinctive style is meant to resemble the mythical Mount Meru. Returning to Mandalay visit Mahamuni Pagoda, home to one of the country's most revered Buddha images which, over the years, has been covered with gold leaf giving it an almost 'lumpy' texture.

Day 11 Mandalay - Monywa - Powintaung - Monywa (B, L, D)
This morning, depart Mandalay for a 3-hour drive to Monywa, a typical Burmese town on the banks of the Chindwin River. On the way, visit Thanboddhay Pagoda, a huge Buddhist temple covered with more than 500,000 Buddha images. In the afternoon, cross the Chindwin River by ferry and proceed to Po Win Taung by local open-air jeeps. This extraordinary complex consists of 947 sandstone caves dug out of the hills and contains what is considered by archaeologists to be the richest collection of mural paintings and Buddhist statues in Southeast Asia.

Day 12 Monywa - Pakkoku - Bagan (B, L, D)
Depart Monywa after breakfast and travel along the quiet eastern river bank. Stop at Ma U Ma Le village for an opportunity to learn more about the lifestyle and culture of the countryside residents. Later you board a local boat in Pakkoku for a leisurely, two hour cruise downriver to Bagan.

Day 13 Bagan (B, L, D)
If Ankor Wat amazes the visitor with its size, Pagan will stun with the extent of its building. Although in its heyday, from about the 11th to 13th century, Pagan must have had thousands of temples, even today the remains of about 5000 temples dot an area of 16 square miles along the east bank of the Irawaddy. Your journey begins with a visit to the golden stupa of Shwezigon Pagoda for an introduction in to Bagan's rich history. This afternoon begin with a visit to Ananda Temple, an architectural masterpiece and one of Bagan's most beautiful temples. Neighboring Ananda Okkyaung is one of the few surviving brick monasteries from the early Bagan period and is filled with intricate paintings.

Day 14 Bagan - Yangon (B, L, D)
After breakfast, drive to Ngat Pyit Taung Monastery and explore the temple's caves to observe about local tradition and spiritual beliefs of the Burmese. Then, visit the Monastic Primary School where you can visit with the local children who are studying their lessons. Although friendly and welcoming, the children come from a very underprivileged area and a small donation of cash or school supplies will ensure a brighter future for these students. Later catch a flight to Yangon.

Day 15 Yangon / Bangkok / Los Angeles (B)

Trip date:
November 4 - 18, 2016

Trip cost:
including flights $ 6,260 per person
excluding flights $ 4,560 per person

Included in trip price:
Flights, tour coordinator/guide, accommodation on full meal basis, Monument admission fee, ground transportation, internal flights

Excluded in trip price:
Insurance, visa, additional programs, gratuities

Los Angeles/Bangkok/Yangon

Our Hotels (or similar):
Yangon: Chatrium *****
Kyaikhtiyo: Golden Rock
Inle Lake: Treasure Resort ****
Mandalay: Mandalay Hill Resort *****
Monywa: Win Unity
Bagan: Tharabar Gate ****