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12D/11N - Experiencing Myanmar
Yangon, Bagan, Mount Popa, Salay, Irrawaddy Cruise, Mandalay, Kalaw, Inle Lake
Unforgettable: Experience the many fascinating sides of Burma on this 12 day program. Yangon, also known as Rangoon, is a city of shaded boulevards and colonial buildings. Of great importance here is the Shwedagon Pagoda, the country's most impressive and sacred Buddhist site; the stupa is plated with thousand upon thousands of solid gold bars, and the top encrusted with precious diamonds, sapphires, rubies and golden bells. Bagan's spectacular plain stretches away from the Irrawaddy River, and is dotted with thousands of 800-year old temple ruins. After visiting some of the temples, watching the sun set over this amazing plain is truly beautiful. The Irrawaddy River is Burma's largest river, and included is a two nights upstream cruise to Mandalay aboard a luxury river steamer. Mandalay, the second largest city and last royal capital, is a major economic and educational center, as well as a cultural and spiritual center. Neighboring Sagaing is home to over sixty percent of the country's monks, and Mandalay artisans continue to turn out the finest crafts. In the Shan State visit Kalaw, a popular hill station in British colonial days; and Inle Lake, it's wonderful floating gardens, stilted fishing villages, and Intha fishermen rowing their boats with one leg are a must-see. The program concludes with a final night in Yangon.
Private tour itinerary:
Day 1: Yangon Arrival
Arrive at Yangon International Airport, and begin the day with a walking tour of the city. The starting point is Maha Bandoola Street, alive with fresh markets selling produce and flowers. There is a chance here to watch the making of flat rice noodles and rice flour pancakes. Pass through the Indian Quarter and by the Jewish Synagogue, to famous Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott's Market), particularly known for it's shops selling antiques and handicrafts. From here continue by trishaw, passing colonial style municipal and government offices before ending with a drink at the historic Strand Hotel. In the afternoon see the National Museum, containing an expansive collection of Burmese art, and the Shwedagon Pagoda, certainly the highlight of any visit to Yangon; it's magnificent golden stupa is truly a sight to behold.

Day 02: Yangon - Bagan
Fly to Bagan, a former capital of ancient kingdoms, situated on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Bagan's spectacular plain, stretching for miles, is covered with thousands of temple ruins dating back to the 11th century. Visit some of the most important sites; Gubyaukgyi Temple, Ananda Temple, Manuha Temple, and Shwesandaw Pagoda. The villages around Bagan are known for producing the country's finest lacquerware, and we'll visit one of the workshops to learn about the laborious process required in it's making and decoration. Finish the day with a relaxing panoramic sunset view over Bagan's plain from one of the pagoda platforms. (breakfast).

Day 03: Mount Popa - Salay - Bagan
Embark on an excursion to visit Mount Popa and Salay. Mount Popa is located about 30 miles southeast of Bagan, and as you make your approach the scene of the glittering monastery atop Taung Kalat summit looks right out of a fairy tale. Visitors can ascend the spiraling staircase to the reach the monastery and temple complex, and then enjoy a panoramic view of the region. Continue to Salay, a religous center and home of the famous writer and poet Salay U Ponya. The most famous site in town is Yoke Son Kyaung, the oldest surviving wooden monastery with beautiful carvings of 19th century court life, antique religious objects, and tales of the Ramayana. (breakfast).

Day 04: Irrawaddy Cruise
Transfer to the jetty to board your Ayravata Cruise ship. Sail in style aboard a luxury "boutique" steamer from Bagan to Mandalay. After check-in today, enjoy a welcome cocktail before casting off and traveling upstream. Lunch follows, and in the afternoon visit a typical river village. (breakfast, lunch, dinner).

Day 05: Irrawaddy Cruise
Continue steaming up the Irrawaddy River, enjoying the river scenery passing pagodas, villages, and jungle. Stops will be made at the villages of Shwe Pyi Thar and Yandabo, which specialize in pottery making. While onboard, relax on the sundeck or observation deck, enjoy drinks at the bar, and see life unfold along the riverbanks as you make your way towards Mandalay. (breakfast, lunch, dinner).

Day 06: Mandalay
Enjoy the sunrise, and later this morning arrive in Mandalay and disembark. Proceed with a tour of three former royal capitals; Amarapura to visit Mahagandayon Monastery, Sagaing, the spiritual center of Burma with hundreds of stupas, monasteries, temples and nunneries, and Inwa, on the banks of the Irrawaddy where you can enjoy a leisurely horsecart ride around the peaceful countryside. Finish back in Amarapura and U Bein's Bridge, a picturesque teak bridge that teems with monks and locals making their way home as the sun sets at dusk. (breakfast).

Day 07: Mandalay
Tour Mandalay today, visiting Mahamuni Pagoda, housing the highly venerated image of Mahamumi; Shwenandaw Kyaung Temple, a wonderful example of Burmese teak architecture and one of Mandalay's most historic buildings; and Kuthodaw Pagoda, known as the "world's largest book" for the 729 marble slabs surrounding the central stupa on which the entire Tripitaka is inscribed. Visits today also include a puppetry workshop, and art form in Burma, and a wood-carving workshop, to see the ancient tradition of teak-carving by local artisans. (breakfast).

Day 08: Heho - Kalaw
Fly to Heho, and proceed by road to Kalaw, a popular hill station in British days. HIghlights of today's tour include Thein Taung Paya, a temple perched on the hill overlooking the Thazi-Taunggyi Road; Aung Chang Tha Zedi, with it's glittering stupa covered in gold-colored mosaics; and some trekking on the nearby plateau, inhabited by Palaung and Pao tribes. (breakfast).

Day 09: Inle Lake
Depart by road for Inle Lake, located in the Shan State. The lake's shore and islands bear 17 villages on stilts, mostly inhabited by Intha people. It is fascinating to watch the skilled fishermen using their unique leg-rowing techniques to maneuver their boat through the lake's reeds and floating plants. Visit the floating gardens, an Intha village around the lake, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, and the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery. (breakfast).

Day 10: Inle Lake
Travel by boat to the lake's western shore for a visit to hidden Indein Temple. The temple consists of hundreds of small stupas overgrown by moss and weeds. Continue to the village of Sae Ma, stopping to explore the village and see the local school. In the afternoon meet the people in the villages on the lake and pay a visit to one of the monasteries. (breakfast).

Day 11: Heho - Yangon
Return to Heho and fly to Yangon. The balance of the day is free to explore Yangon on your own. (breakfast).

Day 12: Depart Yangon
Following breakfast at hotel. Free time at leisure. Transfer to Yangon International Airport. (breakfast).

Meals: breakfast daily (11), two lunches, and two dinners.

Our deluxe Burma (Myanmar) tours are carefully designed to provide a unique experience in the destination, promote cultural understanding and exchange, flow smoothly from place to place, allow time for relaxation and exploration on your own, provide maximum value, and very importantly to be enjoyable. The itinerary can be modified to suit your tastes, time frame, budget, and special interests.
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