Eleven to Twenty-one days in Burma. What could be more Grand?
Grand Burma is offered as a custom tour for people who want to see more of Myanmar than we offer in our "modular" travel packages. This program is 100% private. You may begin any day you like and make any change you like, whether it be adding more places to visit, or adding more or less time in the places already on the itinerary. Because this itinerary is complete flexible, we can not publish prices here. Costs ultimately depend on the number of people traveling together, the time of year and the kinds of hotels you prefer. We can offer practically any kind of hotel from moderately priced to extremely extravagant. If you like this tour, all you need to do is to contact us and our craftsmen will work with you to adapt it to your personal needs. Most people who choose this program want us to customize it in some way or another. You can eliminate stops, shorten or lengthen your stay in places, or even add places in Myanmar that are not shown here.
Day One: Arrive in Yangon and Go to Town
We meet you at the airport upon arrival and drive you to your hotel. If you arrive on a morning flight from Bangkok you have most of the day for sightseeing. (If you arrive in the evening we simply add a night and schedule your sightseeing for the following day.) Your itinerary includes Chaukhtatkyi, colossal reclining Buddha. You also visit the National Museum, Sule Pagoda, Scott Market, and Botataung Pagoda, which many ancient relics and artifacts.
You have plenty of hotel options in Yangon. We can offer everything form simple comfort to the opulence of the famous Strand Hotel, which is an experience worth splurging on.
Day Two: Off to Heho and Inle Lake
Drive you to the airport for an early morning flight to Heho, in Myanmar's Shan States.
From there you drive to magical Inle Lake, located about 1,000 meters above sea level. Highlights include the fisherman rowing in the one-legged style that is characteristic of Inle Lake boatmen, and gardens of grass and earth floating on the surface of this shallow lake, floating strips of ‘land' for growing vegetables. Another attraction besides the enjoyment of the scenery is a visit to the ‘jumping cats' monastery, Phaungdaw U Pagoda and silk weaving.
Day Three: The Pagodas of Indain
We continue our Inle Lake sightseeing with a visit to Indain and its enchanting 16th century pagodas. To reach Indain and the nearby village we will take a boat ride up a small scenic creek that runs into Inle lake.
Day Four: Untouristy Sagar and Thakong
Today we sail off the tourist radar to Sagar and Thakong, a rarely visited area south of Inle Lake. It takes approx 2 1/2 hours to reach Sagar, a 15th century flooded town with pagodas and stupas rising up out the hyacinths and lakeside. The boat ride is wonderful. You will explore a local market on the way as well as a Shan village where earthenware pottery is produced. At Kyainkhan (near Kyauktaing) visit a family that produces robes (Phongyi clothes) made from a fabric of lotus stems. Observe local methods of producing high degree alcohol fermented and extracted from bran rice. Enjoy the beautiful landscape, flowering trees and numerous settlements dotted on both sides of the canal.
Day Five: Mandalay, a Monastery, a Bridge and More
After breakfast visit more of the site around Inle or leisure at the hotel until transfer to Heho, for your flight to Mandalay.
The tour highlights Mahagandayon monastery which is a school for young monks, and we will visit the U Bein bridge as well. It is more than two centuries old and at 1.2 km is the longest teakwood span in the world. Visit Inwa, which was founded in 1364 and lasted nearly 400 years as a royal capital. Highlights include the ‘leaning tower of Ava', Maha Aungmye Bonzan, a brick-and-stucco monastery; and the elegant teakwood monastery Bagaya Kyaung.
Day Six: Mingun's Giant Bell
We will go to Mandalay jetty where we take a short and pleasant ride upriver to Mingun, the site of what would have been the world's largest zedi had not King Bodawpaya died in 1819 thus halting all further work. Later an earthquake in 1838 split the monument and reduced it to partial rubble. Nonetheless, it is still a very impressive sight as we approach from the river. Nearby we can also visit the Mingun Bell, moved from the zedi after the earthquake and now hung in a new shrine building. It is said to be the largest hanging uncracked bell in the world. Return to Mandalay. Afternoon visit to Mahamuni Pagoda, gold leaf hammering, Kuthodaw Pagoda, Shwenandaw Monastery and Mandalay Hill.
Day Seven: Cruise to Bagan
After breakfast transfer to Mandalay jetty to board the RV Paukan before noon. After lunch depart down river for Bagan. Absorb the countryside and local life of the river. Along the way the RV Pandaw will make two shore excursions. Meals: Lunch and dinner will be served on board. Stay overnight on board the RV Pandaw Cruise Boat (Upper Deck Cabin).
The cruise schedule Mandalay to Bagan:
If you are doing this itinerary in reverse here is the schedule from Bagan to Mandalay:
All meals and shore excursions are included. We also offer other cruise operators with longer itineraries.
Day Eight: Bagan - Markets and Pagodas
Morning breakfast on board and disembark Pandaw in Bagan. After check in at the hotel we are off on our sightseeing tour of one of Asia's most popular archeological destinations. Highlights include visits to Nyaung Oo Market; and many of Bagan's distinctive pagodas such as Shwezigon, a prototype of later Myanmar stupas; Wetkyi-in- Gubyaukgyi, a 13th century ‘cave temple with interesting fine frescoes; Ananda Pagoda, one of the finest, largest and best preserved in Old Bagan; and next to it Ananda Ok Kyaung, one of the few surviving brick monastery buildings from the Early Bagan period. We return to the hotel for a rest before our afternoon visit to a lacquer-ware factory. We will also visit Dhammayangyi Pahto, a massive later period temple with the finest brickwork in Bagan. Then as the sun goes down we will be at one of the ideal viewing sites selected by our tour guide.
Day Nine: Start with a Balloon Ride
Optional before breakfast: Take a hot air balloon rice over Bagan's monuments in the early morning light. Watch the balloons being inflated first. We use baloons that carry an average of eight passengers. This is an unforgettable trip if you are a photographer.
The sightseeing highlights include visits to more of Bagan's impressive pagodas such as Nagayon, an elegant and well preserved temple containing many Buddhas, the main one which is twice life size and shelters under the hood of a huge serpent; Abeyadana Pahto, of which the primary interest is the fine frescos; Nanpaya, probably Bagan's first gu-style shrine; Gubyankgyi, in the old Bagan village of Myinkaba, is an early period temple with well preserved paintings inside; and Mingalazedi, the very last of the Late period monuments built before the kingdom's decline.
Day Ten: Kyaiktiyo and the Golden Rock
Transfer to the airport for an early flight to Yangon, and drive from there to Kyaiktiyo (about 5 hours). En route, visit a tree shrine dedicated to legendary animist spirits known as "Nats", then, continue to Kin Pun "base camp" and onward to Kyaiktiyo (the "Golden Rock").
The Golden Rock is a large boulder, covered entirely with gold leaf, that appears delicately balanced, supposedly by the assistance of a hair of the Buddha, on the edge of a cliff near the top of a mountain and it is one of the most revered Buddhist shrines.
A staging point is reached by a steep, rough 11-km dirt road in an open truck, which can be very crowded. (Your guide can arrange a private truck at additional cost if you like.) From the end of the road it is a four km walk to the rock. This usually takes 45 minutes to an hour. (There are porters available available to carry you in a sedan chair for about $10.) Enjoy Golden Rock sightseeing and a spectacular sunset. Overnight.
Day Eleven: A Sunrise and a stop at Bago
Early Risers: A great opportunity to see the sunrise! Return to Yangon with a stop along the way to see the temple complex in Bago.
Your visit to Bago includes Shwemawdaw Pagoda, which is over a thousand years old. The 55-meter-long reclining Shwe Thalyaung Buddha image, one of the country's most revered objects. Visit Maha Kalayani Sima ordination hall and Mahazedi ("Great Stupa"), offering panoramic views. Then, continue drive to Yangon, with a brief stop at Kyaik Pun Pagoda, famous for its four giant Buddha figures.
You can spend the night in Yangon or return to Bangkok on an evening flight.
Want even more of Myanmar? Here is an add-on to a magnificent, yet practically undiscovered side of myanmar:
Day Twelve: Sittwe
We take you to Yangon airport for a flight to Sittwe via Thandwe. Transfer from Sittwe Airport to your hotel. Arrive in Sittwe in early afternoon. Sittwe, known to the Bengalis as 'Akyab', is in Rakhine State and used to be a busy trading port. Sittwe was founded by the British in 1826 and is situated at the mouth of the rivers Kaladan and Lomro near the border with Bangladesh. Due to its history as a major town during the time of the Raj, many people who came here to work came from India - to this day approximately 25% of the people are Muslim of Indian origin. Visit the local market where all kinds of fish and seafood are on sale. Stop at a Buddhist Museum in the grounds of a monastery and see the interesting collection of Rakhine-style Buddha images, silver coins from the Mrauk U era and engraved astrological charts. Visit a pagoda and make photo stops at one or more of the mosques, evidence of the large Muslim community in Sittwe. At sunset, drive out along Strand Road past fishing boats to The Point, at the mouth of the Kaladan River. There are some interesting shell and sandstone rock formations, as well as fabulous views over a black sand beach stretching for miles towards Bangladesh along the edge of the Bay of Bengal. In the evening, go for a walk in downtown Sittwe where local people sit on the pavements outside their homes enjoying the cool evening air.
Day Thirteen: Sail to Mrauk U
This morning, transfer to the jetty where you board your private boat to sail up the river to Mrauk U.. Lunch is included. The journey on the Kaladan River takes from 4 to 6 hours (depending on boat and river conditions) to >Mrauk U. The journey on the Kaladan River, through changing scenery, upriver towards the hill surrounding Mrauk U.
Upon arrival in Mrauk U, transfer to your hotel for check-in. Enjoy a first sightseeing tour through Mrauk U. Visit most famous Shittaung Pagoda, perhaps the best preserved Pagoda, and home to some 80,000 holy Buddha images. 33 smaller ones, rising from platform to platform, similar in style to Indonesia's Borobudur, flank the large central stupa. Inside the Pagoda is like a maze and it's fascinating to wander through the interior passages, admiring reliefs and Buddha images in niches. Visit Andaw Pagoda, an eight sided monument which is smaller than Shittaung but with a similar linear layout. Opposite Shittaung, visit Dukkanthein "ordination hall", a construction of laterite and sandstone bricks that resembles a huge bunker from the outside. Enjoy sunset at Harre Taund Pagoda hill. Overnight at Mrauk UPrincess Hotel (Village House)
Day Fourteen: A 15th Century Kingdom
Mrauk U (once known as Myo Haung) was Rakhine's capital in the 15th century, when it enjoyed great wealth and was an important commercial port. A visitor described it as one of the richest cities in Asia. Being a great trading centre, it was coveted by many surrounding kingdoms including the Bengalis, the Moguls and the Burmese. The end came about after two disastrous earthquakes in 1761 and 1762, and the takeover of Rakhine by the Burmese King Bodawpaya in 1784. In the wake of the first Anglo-Burman war in 1826, and the subsequent founding of Sittwe by the British as an administrative centre, Mrauk U fell into oblivion. Little remains of this wealth but Mrauk U has great charm with its many local markets, solid wooden houses, canals, hills and friendly people. Some of the ancient pagodas and ruins can be visited on foot from the town, whilst others require a bullock cart or vehicle. Visit Laungbankpyauk Pagoda, locally known as "plate pagoda" because a wall at the front is embedded with plate-like tiles in bright colours.
In the afternoon, visit Mahabandola Monastery (which is in fact like a Museum) to set ancient bronze Buddha images with inscriptions and an interesting collection of Rakhine-style Buddha images. Then see some of the temples of Mrauk U, which nestle amongst hills, streams and leafy trees. Stroll through the streets of Mrauk U. Late afternoon, go to Shwetaung from where there is a good view over Mrauk U.
Day Fifteen: The Main Market and a Tattoo Village
After breakfast you visit Mrauk U's Main Market and Koe Thaung Temple. Continue to Lay Myo river bank. Proceed by boat to Chin area (approx. 2h30 boat ride) where you visit 3 Chin Tattoo villages by boat and on foot. Visit a waving project at the Chin village. The villagers? life a very basic life style. The ladies are very proud of their tattooed faces and their beautiful weaving designs. Packed lunch is included.
Return back by boat (approximately two and a half hours) to Mrauk U.
Day Sixteen: A Fish Market and an Airport
After an early breakfast at hotel. Transfer to jetty for departure by private boat (from 4 to 6 hours) back to Sittwe. The journey on the Kaladan River, through changing scenery, downriver towards the sea and Island, surrounding Sittwe. Lunch is included. Upon arrival, transfer to Fish market, Cultural Museum. Transfer to Sittwe airport for domestic flight to Yangon via Thandwe.
You can overnight in Yangon, or you can return to Bangkok on a late afternoon or evening flight.
Not enough of Myanmar yet? How about three or four days on pristine Ngapali Beach?