18-Day Myanmar Off the Beaten Track

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Tour type

Tour Level: High Level

Tour Comfort: Standard

Tour Period: 18 Days

Spanish, Russian, English, French, German    Yangon, Kyaikhtiyo (Golden Rock), Hpa An, Mawlamyine, Yangon, Heho, Kalaw, Loikaw, Inle Lake, Sittwe, Mrauk U, Yangon

tour highlights

  • Overland drive to Bago and exploring famous pagodas and surrounding areas
  • Drive to Golden Rock and get onto the summit either on foot or by a public truck
  • Drive to Hpa-An, capital of the Kayin State to explore the beautiful natural caves
  • Boat trip from Hpa-An to Mawlamyine and visit U Nar Auk Monastery
  • Visit the famous Death Railway to observe about the life of prisoners
  • Walking tour in downtown Yangon to discover colonial heritage buildings
  • Excursion to Elephant home in Kalaw and learn to help the retired elephants in their daily care
  • Inle lake sightseeing by long-tailed boat
  • Hiking tour to Padaung Villages and learn their traditional lifestyle
  • Visit Kakku pagodas complex
  • Sightseeing in Mrauk U and exploring Chin Tattoo Villages to see unique tattoo faces

tour details

After arrival at Yangon International Airport, you’ll immediately transfer to Bago and the Allied War Graves Cemetery near Htauk Kyant. Here you’ll also see the huge Shwe Thalyaung Reclining Buddha and the 1000 year-old Shwemawdaw Pagoda. As you continue on your tour, you’ll see such amazing sights as the Bayintnyi Caves, the Thanlwin River and the impressive Kyaikthanlan Pagoda. From here you’ll visit the seaside town of Kyaikkami before continuing to bustling Yangon. On day 8 you’ll arrive at the Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp, a truly amazing experience. Other tour highlights include the Padaung villages of Pan Pae, visiting Sittwe, exploring the 5-day rotating market and having the opportunity to visit the unique Chin ‘tattoo village’. You’ll conclude your tour in cosmopolitan Yangon.

Why choose this tour?

  • Exploring the untouched hidden gems of Myanmar to meet the colourful local tribes in the remote areas with their unique traditions and cultures
Arrive at Yangon International Airport. You will meet your tour guide after clearing immigration and customs control and transfer to hotel. From the airport drive to Bago (84 km, about 1'bd hours). En route, visit a tree shrine dedicated to legendary animist spirits known as 'nats', and a handicraft village that produces woven bamboo wares. Then, visit the Allied War Graves Cemetery near Htauk Kyant, the last resting place of over 6300 Allied soldiers and home to a memorial to 27,000 more.
Dinner at Royal Taste Restaurant
Accommodation at Han Thar Garden Resort (Deluxe Room) or similar, Bago.
This morning, Bago sightseeing which includes the 55-metre-long reclining Shwe Thalyaung Buddha image and Shwemawdaw Pagoda, which is over a thousand years old, with a tip that is even taller than that of Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda. Then, continue to Kin Pun (110 km, 3'bd hours), where after lunch you start in the trucks and on foot for Kyaikhtiyo (the 'Golden Rock'). On arrival, watch the beauty of a sunset at this important pilgrimage site. Lunch at local restaurant.
Accommodation at Mountain Top Hotel (Deluxe Room) or similar, near Kyaikhtiyo.

Note: You are advised to only carry a light duffle bag or hand carry as your big luggage will stay in the car/bus at the base camp.
Departure from Kyaiktiyo and return to base camp and then departure from Kyaiktiyo for Hpa-an (115 km - 6 hours). En route, stop in Thaton, former capital of the Mon Kingdom. Lunch is served at a simple local restaurant en route.
Between Thaton and Hpa-An stop for a visit at the Bayintnyi Caves. Just about 30 minutes' drive outside Thaton lies this famous monastery known for its natural hot springs and a cave up in the rocks full of Buddha statues. The cave itself is not very big, but houses some interesting Buddha Statues. Nice view from the entrance over the plains full of paddy fields. Then, visit to Kawh Goon Cave. This cave is by far the most interesting. The entrance to the cave is covered with hundreds of small terracotta votive tablets which are plastered up to the ceiling - some are tiny, some are big.
Just outside Hpa-An lies the interesting Kyauktalat Monastery. This monastery is known for its shape and location on a tiny island (access via a bridge without reeling). Very peaceful atmosphere. Evening stroll along the Salween river in Hpa-An.
Accommodation at Hotel Zwekabin (Deluxe Room) or similar, Hpa-An.
This morning take the boat along the Thanlwin River to Mawlamyine. This is one the highlight of the trip: the tour takes 2 hours. Beautiful river scenery and hardly any other boats to be seen during the journey. Half way stop in the village of Kadow. This sleeping village offers great opportunities to discover simple village life: stroll through the narrow main lane of the village, talk and laugh with the people! Visit to the U Nar Aut Monastery which houses fantastic reliefs displaying the history of Buddhas life. Alternatively, you can hire motorbike taxis. Arrival in Mawlamyine, the capital of Mon State. Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon sightseeing in and around Mawlamyine. Visit the local Zegyi market in the morning before leaving Mawlamyine for a visit to the small town of Mudon (20 km - 1 hour). The area between Mawlamyine and Mudon is very fertile and well known for its rubber plantations and the numerous seasonal fruits grown here. A newly built huge reclining Buddha can be seen en route. Stop at Kyaukdalone, a Buddhist Stupa and a Hindu temple facing each other. After lunch, visit the Mon State National Museum where traditional music instruments, clothes and old Mon language scripts are displayed. Sightseeing continues with the Mahamuni Pagoda, Kyaikthanlan Pagoda (known as the Kipling Pagoda) and Seindon Mibaya Kyaung, where King Mindon's wife sought refuge. These religious buildings are all situated on a mountain range from where beautiful sunsets can be observed.
Accommodation at Royal Hinthar Hotel (Deluxe Room) or similar, Mawlamyine.
Depart Mawlamyine and drive south to Win Sein Toya, near Mudon, where the largest reclining Buddha in the world is under construction. Stop will be at Thanbyuzayat, formerly the western terminus of the infamous 'Death Railway' on which Allied Prisoners of War were forced to work by the Japanese military. An estimated 16000 Prisoners died, of which 3771 have graves in immaculately maintained Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery. Continue driving to Kyaikkami, a small seaside resort known as Amherst during the British era. You will visit Ye-le Pagoda, which is perched over the sea and reached by a two level 'bridge' (the lower level is submerged at high tide). This shrine is said to house a Buddha image which floated on a raft from Sri Lanka and landed at this spot near Kyaikkami. Look out for the shrine built in the shape of a boat. Lunch at local restaurant on Setse Beach.
In the afternoon, return to Mawlamyine and visit the small museum (if open) and the local market. We will make photo stops at some interesting old colonial-style houses, a mosque and churches.
Accommodation at Royal Hinthar Hotel (Deluxe Room) or similar, Mawlamyine.
Optional train from Mawlamyine to Yangon: You have the possibility to return by train from Mawlamyine to Yangon. The train departs at 08.30 hrs and arrives Yangon at 18.00 hrs (approx). Train journeys have to be considered as 'adventurous' as the wagons have little comfort. The trail is bumpy and the train runs at slow speed. Some wagons have air-condition, but not all.
Full day drive back to Yangon. (approx 6 - 7 hours). Lunch at local restaurant.
Upon arrival in Yangon, transfer to hotel.
Accommodation at Ibis Style Yangon Stadium Hotel (Superior Room) or similar, Yangon.
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 and enjoy well-deserved refreshment. Lunch at Local Restaurant. Transfer back to your hotel.
Accommodation at Ibis Style Yangon Stadium Hotel (Superior Room) or similar, Yangon.
In the morning, transfer to the airport for your domestic flight to Heho. You are picked up from the airport at Heho and driven via Kalaw and on through the hills to Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp in Magwe (approximately 2-2'bd hours). Receive a welcome from the team with refreshment and a briefing about the project. A short walk brings you to the river, where you can join in feeding and bathing the elephants - they love the water and being scrubbed and washed clean! You are also welcome to join in the camp's forest conservation programme by planting a teak tree here.
Enjoy lunch at the Lodge, with a view of the valley and the opportunity to see butterflies, birds and orchids. In the afternoon, drive back to Kalaw, formerly a British hill station (approximately one hour). Visit the tiny railway station, the market and drive along the leafy lanes of British-era bungalows, red brick and half-timbered.
Accommodation at Royal Kalaw Hill Hotel (Deluxe Room) or similar, Kalaw.
Today there is a full day drive to Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State. On your way through scenic countryside, you'll enjoy a midday lunch at the Green Tea Forest Restaurant in Pinlong. The owner is a known photographer who has a wonderful exhibition of his work in the restaurant. Late afternoon arrival in Loikaw. The town is in the Karen Hills, near the State's northern tip, just above an embayment on the Pilu River. The inhabitants are mostly Kayah (also known as Karen).
Accommodation at Keinnara Loikaw ex. Kayah Resort (Deluxe Room) or similar, Loikaw.
Spend the day exploring Loikaw and the surrounding area. This quiet city has a charming morning market which should not be missed. Another attraction is the Kayah State Cultural Museum which displays bronze drums used in wedding and funeral occasions, traditional dress, silverware and musical instruments of the Kayah people. In the centre of town there is an impressive rock on which stands the Thirimingala Pagoda (Taung Kwe Zedi). The climb up (over various steep steps) is worthwhile, for a great view over the city and the nearby hills. Picnic lunch is included.
Next, drive about 45 minutes towards the Padaung villages of Pan Pae. Padaung women, sometimes known as 'giraffe women' or 'long-necked women', traditionally wear a great many brass rings around their necks and ankles, starting from the age of six or seven, and added each year. The original purpose was to repel prospective kidnappers. Today only elderly women still wear these rings, as the younger generation no longer follows the tradition.
From the road an easy 45-minute walk on a track brings you to the first village where you'll see Padaung women. Visit the Taungdaing Standing Posts at Chikel village, which celebrate ancient fertility rituals. You can also continue another 45 minutes on foot to the next village, depending on the time available and your interest. Return to the car (1'bd hours) and drive back to Loikaw for the evening.
Accommodation at Keinnara Loikaw ex. Kayah Resort (Deluxe Room) or similar, Loikaw.
This morning you can visit one of Loikaw's weaving centres, where beautiful Kayah longyi patterns are made. Mid-morning you'll travel 30 minutes by road for Phekhone, where you board a boat for the village of Sagar, in the southern part of Inle Lake, a journey of about 1'bd hours through a beautiful landscape. This route is not often taken by travellers and is unspoiled. Lunch at the Little Lodge in Samkar.
This pretty village is known for its wheelwrights, and this afternoon you'll visit a workshop and see how wagon wheels are made. Stroll through the village, observing daily life, and meeting friendly locals of the Pa-O, Shan and Intha ethnic groups. Visit Tha Gaung Relic Pagoda, where numerous stupas make an impressive sight, and see other ancient religious monuments.
Accommodation at A Little Lodge in Smakar (Sagar House), Sagar.
If it coincides with your visit you will explore one of the 5-day rotating markets in the area - a fascinating insight into the life-style of the ethnic Pa-O, Danu and Intha people who visit these markets to buy and sell. During today's excursion by boat on Inle Lake we see the famous leg rowers and the typical floating gardens where fruit and vegetables are grown, and learn about local methods of fishing and village life. A highlight may be a visit to the traditional village of Paukpar, with neat rows of bamboo houses. If possible we will stop and visit a family for Shan tea. Lunch at Mr Toe Restaurant.
In the afternoon we visit 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 to visit Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries on the lake, where you can see exquisite Buddha statues which are more than 200 years old. Return to your hotel by boat as the sun lowers and the light softens over the lake.
Accommodation at Nyaung Shwe City Hotel (Deluxe Room) or similar, Nyaung Shwe.
Pick-up from your hotel and travel by boat to Nyaung Shwe, from where you drive up through pine-clad hills to Taunggyi (about 1 hour, 31 km), the capital of southern Shan State and a former British hill station. Visit the local market where ethnic minority people sell their produce, and a cheroot maker's where skilled young women can make hundreds of cheroots in a day. Lunch at Hlaing Khone Restaurant. Approximately 2 hours' drive from Taunggyi in countryside inhabited by the Pa-O people lie the 'lost' ruins of Kakku, a pagoda encircled by dozens of small stupas. Little is known about the origins of this unusual place - the Pa-O believe that the original pagoda dates back some 2,000 years. Wander through the stupas which are decorated with fine stucco work and Buddha images - some in good repair, others not. Visit a Pa-O village and a large monastery on the way back to Taunggyi. Continue from here to Nyaung Shwe.
Accommodation at Nyaung Shwe City Hotel (Deluxe Room) or similar, Nyaung Shwe.
In the morning, transfer by boat from your hotel at Inle Lake to Heho airport for your flight to Yangon. Transit to your onward flight to Sittwe. Transfer from Sittwe airport to the boat jetty where you board your private boat to sail up on the Kaledan River to Mrauk U, a journey of 4 to 5 hours. Lunch on the boat. Arrive Mrauk U in the evening and transfer to your hotel.
Accommodation at Mrauk U Hotel (Deluxe Room) or similar, Mrauk U.
Mrauk U (once known as Myo Haung) was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Arakan (now Rakhine State) 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, and as a result it was coveted by many surrounding kingdoms. Mrauk U declined after two disastrous earthquakes in 1761 and 1762, and in 1784 the Arakanese kingdom was taken over by the Burmese King Bodawpaya. In the wake of the first Anglo-Burmese war in 1826, and the subsequent founding of Sittwe by the British as an administrative centre, Mrauk Oo's oblivion became complete. Today there are few visible remains of its greatness, but Mrauk U has charm, with significant ruins, local markets, wooden houses and friendly people. Some of the 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. Then visit Mrauk Oo's main market and Koe Thaung Pagoda, the largest in Mrauk U, where a large octagonal tower covers a rock cave tunnel holding some 90,000 Buddha images. Lunch at Royal City Guest House.
Afterward, continue visit the famous Shittaung Pagoda, perhaps the best preserved. It is home to some 80,000 Buddha images. 33 smaller ones, rising from platform to platform, flank the large central stupa, and are similar in style to Indonesia's Borobudur. Inside the pagoda it is fascinating to wander through the interior passages admiring reliefs and Buddha images in niches. Visit Andaw Pagoda, an octagonal monument 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 Haridaung Pagoda hill.
Accommodation at Mrauk U Hotel (Deluxe Room) or similar, Mrauk U.
Proceed to Lay Myo river bank, where you take a boat to the Chin area of Rakhine State (approximately 2 hours 30 minutes) and visit three Chin 'tattoo' villages, where you will see women with traditional Chin facial tattoos. Visit a weaving project to see examples of beautiful Chin textile patterns. Packed lunch at the village. Return by boat to Mrauk U.
Accommodation at Mrauk U Hotel (Deluxe Room) or similar, Mrauk U.
Transfer to jetty for departure by private boat (from 4 to 5 hours) back to Sittwe. The journey on the Kaladan River takes place through changing scenery downriver towards the sea surrounding Sittwe. Lunch on boat. Upon arrival, visit the fish market and Cultural Museum (if open). Transfer to Sittwe airport for your flight to Yangon. Transfer to hotel.
Accommodation at Ibis Style Yangon Stadium Hotel (Superior Room) or similar, Yangon.
Time at leisure until departure to the airport for your international flight.

customise the tour

  • Extend your stay and take a break at beautiful Ngapali beach
  • Take a cable ride from Yathetaung to earn a panoramic view of hazy mountain ranges
  • Opportunity to shop souvenirs at local markets and workshops
  • Unlimited photo opportunities throughout the trip


  • All sightseeing tour and transfer services with private air conditioned car/coach as detailed in our itinerary
  • Join-in transfer on open truck from the base camp to the upper camp
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All entrance fees for the places as mentioned in the programme
  • Transfers and tours with English-speaking locally-stationed guides
  • Boat service from Hpa-An to Mawlamyine
  • Boat on Lake Inle and in Rakhine State
  • Service charges, room tax and baggage handling
  • Accommodation at hotels as above mentioned or similar
  • Filtered drinking water and wet towels during the tour


  • Domestic airfare (Yangon-Heho-Yangon-Sittwe-Yangon)
  • Myanmar visa fee
  • Train tickets
  • Surcharges for throughout guides (English and other languages)
  • The use of a sedan chair to go up or down the mountain
  • 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)


  • Hotel prices for packages are quoted bases on hotels as mentioned or similar. 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 Festive Season: 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.

    Important Notes for Mrauk U:
  • A trip to Mrauk U must be regarded as soft adventure tour: Electricity gets cut off at night and hotels do not always run their generators (cost saving); although we try our utmost to get the latest cars, it does happen that old models are used with sometimes no air conditioning. Itineraries may have to be changed on the spot because of weather, transportation problems, etc.
  • Please note that Mrauk U is located in an area bordering hilly and forested land. Therefore, it is recommended to bring enough insect repellent and to wear comfortable clothing (preferably cotton) covering arms and legs, mainly around dawn and dusk. Even at night it is better to put on night attire covering exposed body parts as much as possible.
  • The reward for accepting the above inconveniences is that few foreigners currently visit Mrauk U
  • the most important cultural and archaeological site in Myanmar besides Bagan.
  • Travel to Rakhine State is recommended only during the dry season from November to April
  • this area is known for heavy monsoon storms from May to October.
Tour code: PKMCOBTB

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