For those who can spend a bit more time in this
beautiful country, we travel to the town of Kyaiktiyo to visit
one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Myanmar, the Kyaukthanban,
a goldleaf-covered boulder, balancing on the edge of a cliff at
the top of Mount Kyaikto.
1st Day: We arrive in Yangon (Rangoon) and transfer to our
hotel. In the afternoon we tour the sights of the city—the
Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred religious monument in Myanmar;
the enormous reclining Buddha at Chauktatgyi; the National Museum;
and Kandagye Lake. Yangon is a montage of Buddhist culture mixed
with British colonialism.
2nd Day: In the morning, we fly to Bagan, where we spend
the next two nights. Bagan is one of the most spectacular sights
in Southeast Asia. Stretching back from the Ayeyarwady River, thousands
of stupas and temples, some over 800 years old, cover an area of
over 15 square miles. We visit many of these magnificent structures,
some with wonderful murals, and then enjoy the sunset over a breathtaking
vista from atop one of the ancient temples.
3rd Day: After breakfast, we drive to Mt. Popa, an extinct
volcano. Located on an outcropping of the volcano, is an impressive
shrine dedicated to animist spirits known as “nats.” We
climb the 777 steps to the shrine, looking at the small shops and
shrines on the way up, and feeding the monkeys that play on the
stairs. In the afternoon, we return to Bagan to visit the Archaeological
Museum before watching the sun set over the Ayeyarwady River. (See Ayerawaddy Cruise Option.)
4th Day: In the morning, we fly to Mandalay, our home base
for the next two nights. Then we drive to Amarapura, the “City
of Immortality,” a former Myanmar capital. Here we visit
the Mahagandayon Monastery, where a thousand monks take their last
meal of the day at 10 a.m. in total silence, and U Bein’s
wooden bridge. Built of teak, the 3/4-mile-long bridge is still
in use after 200 years. After lunch, we return to Mandalay to visit
the old palace grounds, the Kuthodaw Pagoda, known as the world’s
largest book for its 729 marble slabs inscribed with the Buddha’s
Doctrine, the Golden Palace Monastery, noted for its exquisite
wood carving, and other Buddhist shrines, before watching the sun
set over the panoramic view from Mandalay Hill.
5th Day: Today, we travel up the Ayerawaddy River by boat,
to the town of Mingun, where King Bodawpaya used thousands of slaves
in an attempt to build the world’s largest stupa. Here we
also see the world’s largest ringing bell, and the Myateintan
Pagoda. After lunch, we drive to Ava, a discarded 14th-century
Myanmar capital, then on to the town of Sagaing, where we visit
the Kaunghmudaw Pagoda, an enormous solid dome-shape stupa, and
Sagaing Hill, a Buddhist retreat.
6th Day: In the morning we fly to the town of Heho, then
drive through the countryside of Shan State to beautiful Inle Lake,
where we spend the next two nights at a hotel built right in the
lake on stilts. Enroute, we stop at the Pindaya Caves, a labyrinth
of limestone caverns into which have been placed 8000 Buddha images
donated throughout the centuries by Buddhist followers from many
nations. We also visit local artisans who handcraft paper and umbrellas.
7th Day: Traveling in a small boat, we discover the many
unique sights of the lake—the famous Intha leg-rowing fishermen
who stand in the stern of their boat on one leg and use their other
leg to maneuver a long oar; the floating farms, where local farmers
grow flowers, vegetables and fruit; the monasteries, including
the Nge Pha Khaung monastery, known as the “Jumping Cat Monastery” for
its trained cats; and the many small factories on stilts, where
local craftsmen weave silk, produce silver and iron ware, and roll
the local cheroots.
8th Day: In the morning, we drive back to Heho, then fly
to Yangon and continue our tour of the capital city, visiting its
colonial downtown and famous markets—the Bogyoke Aung San
Market (Scott Market), which has the largest selection of Burmese
handicrafts found anywhere, including precious gems by the thousands,
and the Theingye Zei market, where locals shop for medicinal herbs
and animal parts, and almost everything else.
9th Day: We drive to the town of Kyaiktiyo, where we stay
at a mountain lodge reached only by traveling up a winding one-lane
mountain road on the back of a truck. Here we hike up to one of
the most sacred Buddhist sites in Myanmar, the Kyaukthanban, a
goldleaf-covered boulder, balancing on the edge of a cliff at the
top of Mount Kyaikto. Along the path are the stalls of vendors
selling various herbs and animals used by indigenous doctors.
10th Day: In the morning, we return to Yangon, to spend
our final night in Myanmar. Enroute we visit the city of Bago,
founded as the sixth-century Mon capital after two Mon princes
saw a female swan standing on the back of a male swan on an island
in a huge lake. Here we visit the Shwemawdaw Pagoda (Great Golden
God temple), built 1000 years ago to enshrine two hairs of the
Buddha, the ruins of the ancient palace, and other sights of this
11th Day: We depart from Yangon International Airport, sorry
to leave this friendly country, but taking with us the photographs
and memories of a fabulous journey.
What’s included: These trips are escorted by an experienced
English-speaking Myanmar guide and include all airfare within Myanmar,
transfers, transportation, tours, accommodations and meals.