Charismatic Shan State & Mandalay

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Overview

Green rolling hills beyond, deep valleys below, monasteries above. An invitation to experience how in here everything seems slower, more relaxed, simpler, and a proof that the natural beauty of the Shan State is not only limited to the splendid Inle Lake.

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Mandalay – Pyin Oo Lwin 

Day 2: Pyin Oo Lwin – Hsipaw   

Day 3: Hsipaw 

Day 4: Hsipaw – Mandalay 

Day 5: Mandalay 

Mandalay – Pyin Oo Lwin

Day 1 Mandalay – Pyin Oo Lwin

Meals: not included | Accommodation:  Hotel Aster, Superior room (Pyin Oo Lwin)

We will leave our hotel in Mandalay in the morning for a scenic two-hour drive to the former British hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin (also known as Maymyo), located on a plateau 1,000m above sea-level. Many reminders of the colonial era are still present in Pyin Oo Lwin, including brick and timber houses. Pyin Oo Lwin is home to many ethnic tribes as well as a large numbers of Nepalese and Hindu settlers who migrated during the British occupation to take advantage of the pleasant climate.

Upon our arrival, we will get on a tuk-tuk and visit the Botanical Gardens, 432 acres of leafy gardens home to a diverse mix of botanical species, founded by Sir Harcourt Butler, former Governor of Burma. We will continue with the local market to see the multicolored flowers and vegetables on sale.

Pyin Oo Lwin – Naung Paing by train and drive to Hsipaw

Day 2 Pyin Oo Lwin – Naung Paing by train and drive to Hsipaw

Meals: breakfast | Accommodation: Tai House, Superior room (Hsipaw)

We will leave in the morning to the quaint railway station of Nawngkhio where we will board the morning train towards Lashio at 08.30. This train used to be an infamous black-market train which, in the past, transported goods to and from China. We will be travelling through charming scenery and crossing the famous 700m long Gokteik Bridge, built in 1900 by the American Pennsylvania Steel Co. The scenic highlight of the day, as the bridge spans a 300m deep gorge with breath-taking views. 

After crossing the bridge the train will stop at a small station where our car will be waiting for our 2-hour drive to Hsipaw Town, the heart of one of Myanmar’s oldest Shan kingdoms. En route we will stop at a cottage industry workshop before reaching Hsipaw in late afternoon.


 

Dokthawaddy River trip

Day 3 Dokthawaddy River trip

Meals: breakfast | Accommodation:  Tai House, Superior room (Hsipaw)

Tip! Wake up early this morning and walk through the ‘candlelight market’. This busy morning market is filled with people from the nearby villages- including Shan and Palaung hill tribes- who gather in the predawn hours to trade their wares and products. The market usually lasts from 3.30 until around 6 AM- thus, the stalls are illuminated by candlelight! If you wish, try a bowl of local Shan noodles here before returning to the hotel.

After breakfast, we will set off for a boat journey along the Dokehtawaddy River. It’s a 15 minute walk to the river jetty where we will board on our private longtail boat. We will cruise upstream for around 30 minutes to a fruit plantation where we’ll disembark for a walk through the plantation, village and then up to a 150-year old monastery (approx. 40 minutes’ walk). After visiting the monastery, we will return to our boat till we reach a hill tribe village where we will have lunch, stroll around and meet some locals to learn about their culture, traditions and lifestyles. 

We will be back in Hsipaw by mid-afternoon, enjoying the rest of the day at leisure.  We recommend you to enjoy the sunset views over the river from one of the many hilltop temples.
 

Hsipaw – Mandalay

Day 4 Hsipaw – Mandalay

Meals: breakfast | Accommodation: The Home Hotel, Superior room (Mandalay)
 

This morning after breakfast at the hotel, we will drive back to Mandalay. The drive will take us around 6-7 hours along a sealed road in good condition, including some interesting stops en route. Upon reaching Mandalay we will be dropped off at the hotel enjoying the rest of the day at leisure.

MANDALAY – AVA – SAGAING – AMARAPURA

Day 5 MANDALAY – AVA – SAGAING – AMARAPURA

Meals: breakfast | Accommodation: The Home Hotel, Superior room (Mandalay)

This morning we will take the local ferry to the former capital of Inwa (Ava), located on an island between the Ayeyarwaddy and the Myitnge Rivers, 21km south of Mandalay. We will go through the ancient city walls and start our exploration by bike with the Maha Aungmye Bonzan – a brick and stucco monastery and to climb up the top of Nanmyint Watchtower, overlooking the river.

Then we will continue to the impressive wooden monastery of Bagaya Kyaung, former "monastic college" for the royals and if we count on enough time, we will visit some local handicraft workshops of silk weaving, mats and alms bowls.
After Ava, we will continue to Sagaing Hill, which is perhaps the living center of Buddhist faith in Myanmar today. Hillsides are beautifully dotted with numerous pagodas and monasteries. 

Before sunset time and after having visited the Kaunghmudaw Pagoda, with its huge egg-shaped dome in Ceylonese style, we will drive to the temples and small pagodas of the former ancient capital of Amapura (whose name in Sanskrit can be translated as “Beautiful town”). Once there, we won’t miss the opportunity to walk over the world´s longest teakwood bridge, the picturesque U-Bein.
We will leave afterwards to the airport for our ongoing flight. 

PRICE

*This is sample itinerary with no selection of accommodation and/or domestic air tickets. Please contact our travel consultant at info@handspan.com to tailor this itinerary to your personal specifications.
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