Overview

A fascinating historical, culinary and cultural discovery around the golden lands of this far-flung country in which we will also explore some lesser known places in Myanmar. 

Itinerary at a glance

Day 1: Yangon Arrival 
Day 2: Yangon 
Day 3: Yangon – Bagan 
Day 4: Bagan 
Day 5: Bagan – Mandalay 
Day 6: Mandalay 
Day 7: Mandalay – Heho – Inle Lake 
Day 8: Inle Lake 
Day 9: Inle Lake 
Day 10: Inle Lake – Heho – Yangon 
Day 11: Yangon Departure
Arrival in Yangon – Culinary tour by Trishaw

Day 1 Arrival in Yangon – Culinary tour by Trishaw

Meals: tasting dinner | Accommodation: Shwe Yee Hotel, Deluxe room (Yangon)

We will be welcomed by our guide and driver at the International airport for our transfer to the hotel (check in time is 14:00 hours).

We’ll begin our culinary journey in Myanmar early this evening with a trishaw tour of local teashops and regional specialties. En route, we’ll also see many of the iconic landmarks of Yangon. We will get started at Lucky 7, a local teashop where one can enjoy Burmese tea and a nice introduction to the city’s traditional culture. The tradition of drinking strong tea with condensed milk and sugar was brought to Myanmar by the

British more than a century ago. However, people still drink green tea, which is complimentary in most of the local tea shops, to wash away the sweet flavour. The tea shop is popular with locals and serves a variety of traditional Burmese snacks and noodles, all of which can be sampled. 

From here, we will board an open-air trishaw and head to 999 Shan Noodle. On the way, we will pass by the Secretariat Building and St Mary’s Catholic Church, two grand colonial-era buildings with rich histories. At the restaurant, a famous staple of the largest ethnic tribe in Myanmar will be awaiting us: a sample of Shan noodles. 

Afterwards, we will head past Sule Pagoda (dating back over 2,000 years), City Hall, and Mahabandoola Park to Little India. During British rule, Yangon was populated with more Indians than Burmese. Many of their descendants still live here today. In Little India, we’ll stop off at a local restaurant to try some of the Indian-influenced snacks that are still popular with Burmese people today.

From Little India, we will get back on the trishaw for our last stop in Chinatown. It will be another chance for us to taste local and Chinese delicacies. We will venture through the stalls selling everything from flowers to seafood, spices to fresh tofu. Nearby is 19th Street, a popular place to have draught Myanmar Beer, together with vegetables and meat sa-tays (BBQ), in the evening. We will enjoy a beer and a light snack here and then we will be transferred to our hotel. 

Yangon: Circle Line – Local markets – Golden Pagoda

Day 2 Yangon: Circle Line – Local markets – Golden Pagoda

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner | Accommodation: Shwe Yee Hotel, Deluxe room (Yangon)

After breakfast, our guide will pick us up at the lobby to go to Yangon Central Railway where we will take a train ride on the Circle Line. Opened in 1961, the train carries an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people a day in a loop around the city. This is a unique, fun and very local experience. While waiting for the train, we can stroll around the interesting local market nearby to see the bustling local daily market scene. As the journey passes from station to station we will have a great opportunity to observe the life of Yangon suburbanites. After 45-60 minute ride, we will disembark to visit a local market filled with street vendors and piles of colorful items. After exploring the market and having met some curious and friendly locals, we will head back by taxi to Yangon and have Lunch at LinkAge Restaurant & Art. A training school where street and marginalised youth are trained to become cooks. It is a social project as well as a link to Forever Humanitarian & Development Projects, a volunteer group founded in 2010. 

After lunch we will visit the Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda and its magnificent reclining Buddha and also Karaweik Hall with the decorated “hamsa-bird-shaped” floating barge on Kandawgyi (Royal) Lake. Next we visit Bogyoke Market, where hundreds of gemstones, handicrafts, art, clothes and food stores are tucked in a maze of color. (Please note that the market is closed on Mondays and on public holidays).

We will continue towards the Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the world's most spectacular religious monuments, rising majestically over Singuttara Hill to the city Yangon, casting its golden gleam over the low-lying capital. This 2,500-years old structure, which contains the relics of four Buddhas, is the guardian temple of Yangon and the most sacred site for the people of Myanmar. Start from the Eastern entrance of Shwedagon pagoda and walk through the small shops where monk accessories, Buddha statues, flowers etc. are sold. The entrance is always very busy with sellers and local pilgrims. We'll learn about the daily life of the local people who reside in the immediate surroundings and gain a deeper insight into the Buddhist religion as you provide offerings to the monks. Then, following the tradition, we will walk clockwise around the pagoda platform. During our visit to the pagoda, we will explore walkways and hidden gems that are unknown to most visitors. Stopping in one of the pavilions to pray, we might get a chance to meet a Buddhist monk and talk about Buddhism and meditation or simply contemplate. We will continue through the back door of Shwedagon Pagoda to discover its fascinating history and magnificent interior. If you feel like (and if time pertmits) we can also visit a local fortune-teller to learn about the ancient spiritual beliefs. 

For dinner, we will enjoy a variety of flavors from different regions of Myanmar at Taing Yin Thar (which means national), well-known for its delicious dishes from remote parts of the country like Rakhine, Kachin and Karen, as well as traditional Burmese food. 

Note: The train is fairly old and slow but it’s a fantastic way to experience local life.

Flight to Bagan – Temples Exploration

Day 3 Flight to Bagan – Temples Exploration

Meals: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: Thazin Garden Hotel, Deluxe room (Bagan)

 

After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Yangon Airport for our flight to Bagan (Nyaung Oo). Bagan is the largest and densest architectural Buddhist ensemble in the world. From the 11th to the 13th Century, when Bagan was the capital of Myanmar, rulers constructed around 13,000 huge stupas and temples on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, many of which are still standing today.

 

We will explore Bagan’s most iconic pagodas first, starting with the Shwezigon Pagoda, which was the prototype of Burmese stupas. Our journey will take us later to Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite jataka mural paintings, and the elegant Htilominlo Temple, which is noted for its fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations.Lunch will be served at a local village where our hosts will treat us with an authentic local cuisine in their traditional home. 

 

In the afternoon, we will visit Ananda Temple, an architectural masterpiece built in Bagan’s early-style, and Ananda Okkyaung, one of the few surviving brick monasteries from the early Bagan period.
After a visit to Thatbyinnyu, the highest temple in Bagan, we will get on our bikes (electric or standard ones) through this temple-studded landscape, passing the traditional village of Taungbi, Sulamani Temple and the massive Dhammayangyi Temple, which is noted for its remarkable brickwork.

 

Afterwards, we will settle down on the upper terrace of one of the temples to witness a memorable sunset before being transferred to our hotel and enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure. 
 

Cooking Class – Toddy Farm – Lacquerware House – Sunset Cruise

Day 4 Cooking Class – Toddy Farm – Lacquerware House – Sunset Cruise

Meals: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: Thazin Garden Hotel, Deluxe room (Bagan)

 

We will have this morning a cooking class at the Kuthodaw library run by the charismatic Ms May. She will welcome us in her small garden and typical Bagan house and introduce the ingredients that we will be using to prepare delicious Burmese recipes. Ms. May graduated in bio-gardening in Thailand and is an ardent promoter of pesticides and fertilizers free agriculture. 

 

The daytime course includes a visit to the market to shop for ingredients depending on our dietary style. After the cooking class, we will of course savor our creations. It's a great way to learn more about Burmese food, customs and culture, and May gives back to the community, with 20% of earnings going towards a town library.

 

After lunch, we will head to cottage where pe chaung, another locally famous snack, is made from gram beans. Then we will leave town to visit a palm garden to observe the simple way of life and the daily routines of a family of toddy climbers and learn how they collect juice from the toddy fruit and process it into molasses, alcohol and other items. From August to February there are also other plants (such as beans, peanuts, sesame and cotton) growing in the toddy garden. 

 

In the afternoon we will drive back to Bagan to visit a lacquer ware house, and witness the skills of artists who draw decorative figures and intricate patterns by hand. As the day comes to an end, we will head to the Irrawaddy River for a private boat ride along this famous river. Enjoy the magnificent views of the temples and riverside villages as the sun begins to set. 
 

Flight to Mandalay – Traditional Workshops – Tea House – Monastery – Mandalay Hill

Day 5 Flight to Mandalay – Traditional Workshops – Tea House – Monastery – Mandalay Hill

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

After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Nyaung Oo Airport for the flight to Mandalay, Myanmar’s cultural capital.
Upon arrival, we will start our exploration with the Mahamuni Pagoda, famous for its venerable statue of Buddha covered with gold leaves. Mandalay has long been known as a centre of skilled craftsmanship and, in former times, the city supplied the royal courts with all their goods. We will gain some insight about this heritage through a tour of traditional workshops, including marble masonry, Kalaga tapestry and gold leaf making.

Afterwards, we will discover another Burmese culinary treat: le phet thoke. Eaten as snack, dessert, or even as a meal with rice, le phet thoke is a local salad made from fermented tea leaves.

For lunch, we will stop at a popular tea house in Mandalay that serves two of the city’s most famous dishes: Mandalay monte and khotaung monte. Tea houses in Mandalay are always full of local people, serving not only as a place for having tea, but also as a hub for socializing and doing business. Enjoy this typical Mandalay atmosphere and  a delicious traditional lunch.  

In the afternoon, visit the Kuthodaw Pagoda with its 729 marble stone slabs containing Buddhist scriptures (known as the world’s biggest book) and Shwenandaw Monastery, noted for its exquisite woodcarving. Afterwards, head to the top of Mandalay Hill, the highest point in the city, for spectacular panoramic views during sunset - amazing photo opportunities.

Mandalay - Ava (Inwa) – Sagaing – Amarapura – Ubein Bridge

Day 6 Mandalay - Ava (Inwa) – Sagaing – Amarapura – Ubein Bridge

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

From Mandalay, we will drive towards the former royal capital of Ava located on an island between the Ayeyarwady and the Myitnge Rivers. A local ferry will bring us to the island where we will start our exploration by bike (no cars are allowed here). Pass through the ancient city walls to visit the brick and stucco monastery of Maha Aungmye Bonzan (also known as Ok Kyaung) before continuing to the impressive wooden monastery of Bagaya Kyaung. If time permits, visit some village homes to see local handicrafts such as silk weaving, cane mats and alms bowls. We will have lunch at a local restaurant.

In the afternoon, we will visit the picturesque Sagaing, perhaps the living centre of Buddhist faith in Myanmar today. The hills here are impressively dotted with numerous pagodas and monasteries. Afterwards we will continue to Amarapura to visit to Shan Kalay Kyun Village, located south west of Mandalay on an island. Walking around the village, we can observe the famers and fishermen's way of life, the seasonal farming plots where they grow peanuts, corn, water melon, cucumber and many other vegetables. 

We will take a sunset stroll along the U Bein Bridge, believed to be the longest teak bridge in the world. Whilst the bridge has been repaired from time to time, the pillars are still original. After relaxing in the last light of the day, drive back to Mandalay and enjoy a nice dinner at Daung Lann Gyi Restaurant.

Flight to Heho – Local Market – Trishaw ride – Red Mountain Estate Vineyards – Inle Lake cruise

Day 7 Flight to Heho – Local Market – Trishaw ride – Red Mountain Estate Vineyards – Inle Lake cruise

Meals: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: Mount Inle Hotel, Superior room (Nyaung Shwe)

We will be transferred in the morning to the airport for the flight to Heho. From Heho, a one-hour scenic drive leads to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway to Inle Lake. We will get started by a visit to Nyaung Shwe morning market where the locals gather to buy and sell fresh produce from the lake and its surroundings.

We will get on a local trishaw down to the bustling canal, which is a hive of activity in the morning as boats from the lake come to unload tomatoes and other vegetables for distribution to markets around the country. We will also wind through quiet streets and make a stop at the ‘Tomato House’, a warehouse-like structure where tomatoes are sorted and priced for sale. Then we will pass by some of the towns, monasteries and nunneries, stopping for photos along our way.

Lunch is served at View Point, specialized in creative Shan tapas and considered one of the best dining venues in the Inle region. Afterwards we will go to Red Mountain Estate Vineyards and Winery, which is located at the northeastern part of Inle Lake. Here, guests can enjoy magnificent views of the Lake and its stilted villages while tasting some of Myanmar’s premiere wines and observing the Old World grape varieties grown in the estate.

Later we will head to the jetty and board a private motorboat for a cruise on Inle Lake. Passing through floating villages built on stilts over the lake, inhabited by 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.

Cooking Class – Traditional Handicrafts – Khaung Daing Village

Day 8 Cooking Class – Traditional Handicrafts – Khaung Daing Village

Meals: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: Mount Inle Hotel, Superior room (Nyaung Shwe)

 

The Shan cuisine is famous for its refined taste and the possibility to prepare amazing dishes with just a few local ingredients. After breakfast, we will be picked up by tuk tuk or boat (depending on where we are staying) by Mr. Min or Mrs. Min, the chef for our cooking class this morning. First, we will visit the Mingalar market or five-days market, where our chef will explain us how to shop, and also about the ingredients being purchased. Then, we will drive for about 15-20 to a stunning, beautiful “hidden” place on the lake. 
After a cup of tea you’ll will start with the cooking class and learn how to prepare 8-10 special Shan dishes that we will enjoy for lunch. We will also get a very nice recipe to take home and impress family and friends with our new cooking skills. 

 

After lunch, we can go on a short canoe trip around the area to see some of the floating gardens and villages.
Afterwards, we hop back on our boat and visit the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, home to five gold leaf-covered Buddha figures, and the holiest religious site in southern Shan State. We also visit the boat construction workshop at Nampan village and stop to see some traditional handicrafts - silk weaving on wooden handlooms in Inpawkhon village, a cheroot-maker's workshop and a blacksmith's forge. Continue by boat boat to Khaung Daing Village on the northwest shore of the lake. This village is famous for its traditional Shan tofu - fried tofu crackers and folded, triangular tofu treats. We will be able to observe and even participate in the process of sifting soy beans, boiling them, mashing them into balls and then forming tofu cakes to dry in the sun.

 

After a fabulous day tasting the local life on Inle Lake, we will return to our hotel by boat as the sun starts setting down and the light softens over the lake.
 

Inle - Indein – Pagoda ruins of Nyaung Ohak – Lunch at hidden Intha Village

Day 9 Inle - Indein – Pagoda ruins of Nyaung Ohak – Lunch at hidden Intha Village

Meals: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: Mount Inle Hotel, Superior room (Nyaung Shwe)

 

We will travel this morning by long-tailed boat across the lake to Indein, at the western end of Inle, for one of the most scenic trips on the Lake. Passing through the busy village of Ywama, the largest on the Lake, with many channels and tall teak houses on stilts. We will disembark at a jetty and walk for 15 minutes through Indein village to reach the 14th - 18th century pagoda ruins of Nyaung Ohak. Many pagodas here remain charmingly unrestored, with plants and even small trees growing out of them, making the area very atmospheric. When returning to the river we will have the possibility of walking along a lovely shady path for 30 minutes to the Intha village of Sema. From there we will continue by boat downstream Yethar village, watching local life on the banks and birds in the trees until rejoining the Lake near Phaung Daw Oo Paya.

 

For lunch, we will be hosted by the house owners of a hidden Intha Village House and enjoy a traditional home-made meal before being transferred back to our hotel to enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure. 
 

Inle Lake – Heho – Yangon

Day 10 Inle Lake – Heho – Yangon

Meals: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: Shwe Yee Hotel, Deluxe room (Yangon)

 

We will be transferred to Heho airport for our flight back to Yangon.  On arrival, we will be received by our guide at the airport to get started with our half day tour by enjoying a lunch at Sharky’s restaurant, a local entrepreneur who is growing organic vegetables and producing locally made “French” cheese, ham and other delicious food. 

 

After our journey around Myanmar, we will deserve to enjoy an 1-hour foot massage provided by very special people who are trained by a local charity organization. 
Then we will go shopping. Whether it is a longyi (local sarong), an umbrella, old books, gold leaves or even a trishaw (bicycle taxi) or a contemporary painting, just let your guide know about your preferences, he will know where to find it! 
 

Day 11 Yangon - Departure

Meals: breakfast | Accommodation: not included
 

Depending on our flight, we may have free time before being transferred to the airport. 

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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