13-Day Myanmar on a Shoestring Tour

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Tour type

Tour Level: Relaxed / Easy

Tour Comfort: Superior

Tour Period: 13 Days

tour highlights

  • Yangon with its colonial 'British' influence and the world-famous Shwedagon temple
  • Crossing Yangon river by local ferry to enjoy the views of local rural life
  • Visit local villages and monastic school by trishaw
  • Take a circle train ride around Yangon
  • Exploring various markets in town
  • Take a bicycle ride on sandy track to observe local life through famous Bagan temples
  • Explore Kalaw and hiking to an ethnic Danu village through pine forest and vegetables fields
  • Travel by 'slow train' to Shwe Nyaung
  • Cycling through rural areas in Mandalay and visit U Bein Bridge at sunset

tour details

A visit to Myanmar is to experience the South-East Asia of twenty years ago, full of rarely seen sights and generations of stories just waiting to be told. The tour will begin with the very first stop, Yangon and pass many other attractive sites of the country like Bagan – the plain of temples and stupas, Kalaw for hiking over the Shan Hills is the most rewarding experience to get to know the locals and their way of life, Inle Lake – the most famous lake of Myanmar, and numerous Buddhist temple and unique Buddha images, then continue to Mandalay, the city of the last Myanmar Kings. We are sure that you will have the most memorable tour.

Arrive at Yangon Airport and transfer to hotel. Hotel standard check-in time is 2 pm.
In the afternoon, pick up at your hotel and drive to the famous Strand Road to visit the bustling Yangon harbour, where ferries leave for Pathein in the Delta and upcountry towns along the Ayeyarwady River. It is a hive of activity here, with street vendors, trishaws, ferry passengers, and porters loading huge sacks of rice. Cross the road into Chinatown and walk along narrow streets lined with old wooden shuttered houses and shop fronts. Weave through 17th to 21st Streets stopping to see Chinese medicine shops, a Chinese temple and the colourful vegetable, fruit, fish and meat market, busy with local people bargaining and trading. On 26th Street you pass the old Moseah Yeshua Synagogue before joining Mahabandoola Street and entering the Indian Quarter. Small side roads such as Kong Zay Din Street are full of shops selling Indian spices and cooking ingredients. Turn right into Shwe Bontha Street, perhaps the most photogenic of all streets, with leafy sidewalks, pavement tea shops and magnificent colonial buildings. Here is where all the gold merchants buy and sell gold in a local version of a stock exchange ('shwe' means gold). Turn left into Merchant Street, where we enter the colonial-historical district. Yangon is widely known for having the most extensive assortment of urban colonial architecture in Southeast Asia. Many of these magnificent buildings were constructed in the early years of the 20th century. Some are in a state of disrepair, but that is also part of their charm, while others are coming alive again with renovation. The city centre is laid out in a grid pattern with Sule Pagoda as its central reference point, which you glimpse while walking through Mahabandoola Garden, along with City Hall and what was once largest department store in Asia. Stroll by the impressive High Court building into Pansodan Street for the homeward leg of your journey. Passing stalls selling second-hand and photocopied books and the Myanmar Port Authority building, you arrive at the Strand Hotel, itself a stunning colonial building, to conclude your walk. Transfer back to your hotel.
Accommodation at Best Western China Town (Deluxe Room) or similar, Yangon
Pick up at your hotel and drive to the jetty. Take a local ferry across the Yangon River to Dala (a 10 minute ride). Upon arrival a trishaw driver takes you through local villages and plantations to a monastic school (not possible in Summer holidays March to May), where you can meet the children and teachers - the children always enjoy seeing and interacting with foreign visitors. This is real local rural life, not to be compared with the busy streets of nearby Yangon. Return by local ferry.
In the afternoon, explore the lively streets where uncountable street vendors and tea shops fill the pavements, and pass by imposing colonial buildings constructed in the early years of the 20th century. From Yangon's Central Station take a 30-45 minute train ride on the Circle Line. Opened in 1961, the train carries an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people a day around the city. This is life the way the locals live it, and it's a great way to participate very naturally. In the late afternoon, stop alongside Kandawgyi (Royal) Lake to take photographs over the lake towards Shwedagon. Enjoy the sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda, famous worldwide - its golden stupa is the 'heart' of Buddhist Myanmar. The pagoda is believed to be 2,500 years old and the central stupa is surrounded by dozens of intricately decorated buildings and statues. It is always full of people praying and making offerings, and is a fascinating place to spend time watching the world go by.
Accommodation at Best Western China Town (Deluxe Room) or similar, Yangon
Full day at leisure.
Accommodation at Best Western China Town (Deluxe Room) or similar, Yangon
This morning the tour focuses on different types of markets, where you will see local people bargaining and trading in a bustling atmosphere. While Bogyoke (Scott) Market is a must for almost all tourists, other markets are usually overlooked, and the Indian market or the vegetable and fruit market still carry on much as they have always done, providing you with a fascinating insight into the country. Stop at Bogyoke (Scott) Market (closed on Mondays and Public Holidays) to see Myanmar's wide range of handicrafts and souvenirs.
In the afternoon your car and the Diethelm Travel guide are at your disposal allowing you to pursue individual interests until you transfer to Aung Mingalar Bus Station and take a night bus from Yangon to Bagan (approx. 2000/0530). Overnight on bus.
Early morning @ 0530, pick up at Bagan Shwe Pyi High Way Bus Terminal and transfer to a local tea shop for breakfast. After breakfast, transfer to hotel. Hotel standard check-in time is 1400. Balance day at leisure.
Accommodation at Shwe Yee Pwint Hotel (Bagan Room) or similar, Bagan.
Half-day cycling on a paved road and half-day on a sandy track
Transfer to the tour starting point near Ananda Temple. Begin your cycle ride on a sandy track near Ananda Temple ('bd Km). Your first stop is at Dhammayangyi ('bc Km), a massive temple dating from 1170 which is visible for kilometres around. This imposing structure is famous for its interlocking mortarless brickwork. Continue cross country to Dhammayazaka (2 Km) where you may choose to ascend the temple for a panoramic view. Rejoin a paved road, turn left, and if you wish, pause for refreshment at a restaurant ('bd Km). Stop at Phwa Saw, a quintessentially Myanmar village of rattan houses, busy with bullock carts, zebu cattle and local craft industries. Proceed to Minnanthu monastic complex and village ('bd Km). Here your ride offers uninterrupted views (no pylons) of Bagan's awesome monuments, acacia, toddy palm trees and wandering goats. Rejoin the paved road, turning left onto the main airport road towards the temple of Shwezigon (3'bd Km).
Afternoon stop at nearby Wetkyi-Inn village before heading back past such highlights as the temple of Htilominlo. At the stunning and important Ananda Temple (1 Km) you meet tarmac again, and from here return to your hotel.
Accommodation at Shwe Yee Pwint Hotel (Bagan Room) or similar, Bagan
Transfer to Bagan Shwe Pyi High Way Bus Terminal and take a day bus from Bagan to Kalaw (approx. 0800/1500). Arrival in Kalaw, transfer to hotel. Balance day at leisure.
Accommodation at Kalaw Heritage Hotel (Garden View Tudor Room) or similar, Kalaw.
Start walking from Kalaw about 3'bd hours to Myinmahti village, mostly inhabited by the ethnic Danu minority. The route takes you first through the pine forest, which opens out after to 1 hour to potato farms, mountain rice paddies and huge vegetable plantations. In this traditional rural environment farmers still work with oxen and buffalo rather than machines. Enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
Continue to the Myinmahti limestone cave (312 metres deep from entrance to exit). This natural cave has existed for thousands of years, and there are many small caves on either side of the entrance and exit. The main cavern contains numerous pagodas and statues, brought here over the last 2300 years since the reign of King Thiri Dhamar Asawka. Their artistic details are intricate and unique. According to the archaeological research, some of the statues were built earlier than 17 AD or 18 AD. At the entrance to the cave, there are many stalactites where cool water is dripping steadily. At the end of your visit you meet your car here, and return by road to your hotel.
Balance day at leisure.
Accommodation at Kalaw Heritage Hotel (Garden View Tudor Room) or similar, Kalaw.
After breakfast enjoy strolling through Kalaw, visiting the local market, the tiny railway station and perhaps walking up the hill to see the old Catholic church (if open).
Transfer to Kalaw Station for a 09:00hours departure on the 'slow train' from Kalaw to Shwe Nyaung, a wonderfully scenic trip across the forested slopes of the Shan Hills and pretty patchwork fields. The train is picturesque and simple - your open window carriage is of wooden-slatted benches shared with villagers laden with fruit and vegetables to sell. At country stops vendors of snacks and drinks ply their goods through the open windows. (Please note that the train can frequently be delayed, so consider this a local adventure! In case of cancellation you may travel by car instead.) Arrival at Shwe Nyaung, transfer by car to Nyaungshwe on the edge of Inle Lake and transfer to your hotel.
Accommodation at Thanakha Inle Hotel (Deluxe Room) or similar, Nyaung Shwe.
This morning, travel by long-tailed boat across the lake to Indaing, 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; enter a long, often tree-lined canal, either side of which farmers cultivate their land against the backdrop of the Shan Hills. Disembark at the jetty and walk for 15 minutes through Indaing village to reach the 14th - 18th century pagoda ruins of Nyaung Ohak. Many pagodas here remain charmingly unrenovated, with plants and even small trees growing out of them, making the area very atmospheric. A covered walkway popular with souvenir stallholders leads up to Shwe Inn Thein Paya, a complex of weather-beaten 17th - 18th century zedi; some newly reconstructed. Returning to the river we walk along a lovely shady path for 30 minutes to the Intha village of Sema, from where you continue downstream by boat past Yethar village, watching local life on the banks and birds in the trees until rejoining the lake near Phaung Daw Oo Paya.
In the afternoon, enjoy the boat trip on Inle Lake - a photographer's dream. Its calm waters are dotted with floating vegetation and fishing canoes, to which scenic hills provide the perfect backdrop. See the lake's unique 'leg rowers' - Intha fishermen who row standing up with one leg wrapped around a single oar, leaving their hands free to manipulate the conical fishing net. Stop at Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the holiest religious site in southern Shan State. Pass endless floating gardens, where Intha lake dwellers grow fruit and vegetables. Continue by boat to visit Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, one of the oldest on the lake, where you can see exquisite Buddha statues which are more than 200 years old. Transfer back to Nyaung Shwe.
Accommodation at Thanakha Inle Hotel (Deluxe Room) or similar, Nyaung Shwe.
Day at leisure.
In the evening, transfer to Nyaung Shwe Bus Station and take a night bus from Nyaung Shwe to Mandalay (approx. 2000/0530). Overnight on bus.
Early morning @ 0530, pick up at Kywel Sel Kan Bus station and transfer to a local tea shop for breakfast. After breakfast, visit Mahamuni Pagoda, home to a spectacular Buddha image covered with thick layers of gold leaves. Stop at local workshops to see Kalaga tapestries being made, gold leaf being beaten into paper-thin pieces. From here, we go to Kuthodaw Pagoda, where the Theravada Buddhist scriptures are inscribed on 729 marble slabs, giving rise to its nickname 'the world's largest book'. Next visit beautiful teak-carved Shwenandaw Monastery, the only Royal Palace building to survive World War II bombing.

U BEIN SUNSET RIDE
Starts between 12.00-13.00 and ends around 18.30//19.30 (depending on the season//sunset time)
You are picked up from your hotel and driven south from Mandalay. The city gives way to country, where thanks to ancient canals, inhabitants can still sustain an agricultural livelihood. From the starting point begin a leisurely ride through farmland and villages where locals respond to a friendly wave or greeting. Along the way we stop in the little-known birth place U Bein, after whom the famous bridge is named, and learn about a Muslim community that has lived here for the last two hundred years or more.
We explore shady paths on the former royal island capital of Innwa (Ava) and finish our ride in Amarapura at U Bein Bridge, which at over a kilometre in span is believed to be the longest teak bridge in the world. It was reportedly built by local headman U Bein of teak salvaged from the former royal palace after the capital moved to Mandalay in 1859. 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, arriving around 19:00 - 19:30 hours.
Accommodation at Eastern Palace Hotel (Deluxe Room) or similar, Mandalay
Transfer to Mandalay International Airport for departure.

includes

Our tour prices are included of:

  • All sightseeing tour and transfer services with private air-conditioned car/coach as detailed in our itinerary
  • Local express bus, boat and train tickets
  • All entrance fees for the places as mentioned in the programme
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary (B=Breakfast)
  • Transfers and tours with English-speaking locally-stationed guides
  • Boat trips as specified
  • Service charges and room tax
  • Accommodation at hotels as above mentioned or similar
  • Filtered drinking water and wet towels during the tour

excludes

Not included are:

  • Domestic airfare
  • Myanmar visa fee
  • Surcharges for throughout guides (English and other languages)
  • Porter fees and tips for baggage handling
  • Personal expenditure, such as drinks, souvenirs, laundry, camera fees, communications, postage, gratuities etc.
  • Meals and services other than mentioned in the programme
  • Drinks with meals
  • Compulsory gala dinners during festive seasons and peak season surcharges which will be advised at the time of booking
    (Peak season in general is between 15 December to 15 January and 13
  • 17 April
  • Early check-in and late check-out at hotels, if not mentioned in the programme
  • Travel insurance (cover against all cancellation costs, medical expenses, including repatriation, in the event of accident or illness)

notes

Notes:

  • Hotel prices for packages are quoted bases on hotels as mentioned below. Higher or lower categories can be requested and the price will be adjusted. The hotels featured in the package tour are subject to availabilities at the time of booking.
  • Meals at respective hotels are also included in the hotel prices if the itineraries mention lunch or dinner at hotel.
  • Additional charges during Christmas, New Year and the Water festival period may apply.
  • Supplements for compulsory Gala Dinners will be advised at the time of booking.
  • All hotels have special booking and deposit conditions and will be indicated at the time of booking. Nonrefundable deposits may be required.
  • Domestic airfares are quoted separately and subject to change in case of increases imposed by the airlines (ie. taxes, fuel costs, etc.).
  • There are 8 different airlines operating on the domestic route in Myanmar. Each company has slight different airfares and this pricelist is based on average airfare. Diethelm Travel will book the most convenient and direct routing. The final price can be confirmed once the tickets are booked and issued depending on available booking class and seat availability.


Tour code: MMR13MST
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