Upon arrival at the airport, meet with the guide and transfer to your hotel. Yangon downtown is unique with much of its colonial-era architecture still standing. You find one of Asia's most impressive collections of late nineteenth and early twentieth- century buildings, religious and secular. At the end of the day many Yangonites leave their office and on the way home, stop for some shopping, catch up with friends at a teashop, visit a pagoda or go to a beer station. This is exactly what you are going to do as well this evening. The highlight of the tour will be an evening visit to the illuminated Shwedagon pagoda a magic and mystical moment at a time it's not very busy on the main platform. After the pagoda visit there will be local snacks to be tasted as well as a local draft beer or a fresh lime juice. The tour includes drinks, a walk through the night market in downtown, tea and snacks as well as a tasty bowl of noodles shared with some locals. Overnight: Yangon, Clover Hotel City Centre or similar
After breakfast we transfer to the airport for a flight to Lashio then drive to Hsipaw. After checking in, your guide will take you on an introductory walk of approximately three hours around Hsipaw through a panoramic scenery of paddy fields and seasonal crops passing small creeks, Shan villages, local schools, the grave of the first prince of Hsipaw, a local nunnery as well as a timber monastery. Discover Shan life around Hsipaw and learn about many of the local industries like cheroot (cigar) rolling and bamboo weaving. Learn why each Shan village has a spirit house build at the entrance of the village. Overnight: Hipaw, Mr Charles Guesthouse or similar (basic facilities)
This morning we begin trekking past Tai (Shan) Villages with their vegetable crops and rice paddies. Visit a natural spring and enjoy lunch in a local house. After lunch and a rest we continue for about two hours through tea plantations. Meet villagers in the evening and learn about their way of life while enjoying dinner. Overnight: local house (basic facilities). You will need to carry your own overnight bag. Porters will carry food and supplies. Hike: approx 25kms / 5hrs
After local breakfast we start on the second day of this local adventure in the Palaung area of Northern Shan State. Today the walk is mostly flat or downhill in total about 5 hours walk. We take a different routing to go back to Hsipaw passing through some interesting villages. Arrive back in Hsipaw in the early afternoon, and spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Culinary highlight: Hsipaw - Northern Shan style food
This former royal town offers some of the best Shan style food including the famous Shan noodles, tofu salad and vegetable dishes. Enjoy a special meal, served for you in one of the local monasteries that was frequented by the royal family of this area. Overnight: Hsipaw, Mr Charles Guesthouse or similar (basic facilities) Hike: approx 25kms / 5hrs
This morning we will transfer to the railway station at Hispaw to join the train to Naung Cho at around 9.40 am. This is a wonderful train journey through the Shan mountains and scenery during which you will cross the mighty Gokteik Viaduct which was constructed in 1901 by the Pennsylvania Steel company and was once the second highest railway bridge in the world. The train will slowly move forward over the old railway lines passing small villages and towns.
The more remote areas of Mon State and Kayin State are undiscovered areas of Myanmar offering spectacular nature and intriguing tribal culture dating back for many, many centuries in the history of South East Asia. The Mon are believed to be one of the first civilisations in this part of the world. Although their kingdom was lost to the Bagan king in the 11th century, their rich culture can be still be seen in daily life with their specific sarongs, traditional food, language and musical instruments. The Kayin (also known as Karen) are one of the indigenous tribes of the jungle known for their traditional boxing skill and their state offers beautiful natural scenes with traditional villages and waterways surrounded by spectacular lime stone mountains. This is a tribe with a unique language and traditions, whose origins are still very much unknown to scientists until this day.
Expected arrival time in Naung Cho is around 14:00 but be warned: be delays on an historic railway like this one are not unusual. On arrival at Naung Cho, your transport will be waiting to bring you to Mandalay by private vehicle. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore the city. Overnight: Mandalay, Yadanarpon Dynasty Hotel or similar
After an early breakfast, enjoy a visit to U Bein Bridge and Shwenandaw Monastery in Mandalay before making the journey west Bagan by road (approx 5 hours). Arriving in Bagan, check in to your hotel and begin your exploration of the Bagan Archaeological Zone. A memorable tour by horse cart, with an experienced guide through Bagan will show you the best known temples of the area. From the hotel, the guide plans his way to some of the other amazing temples that have been here for hundreds of years. Places like the Dhammayangyi and Thatbyinnyu will certainly impress you. We continue the tour by horse cart to Pyathagyi pagoda for sunset with some refreshing drinks served! Oh we forgot to mention the best part of this tour; whenever you see a temple you like, just ask you guide to stop to have a look at it simply pick your own favourite temple. Overnight: Bagan, Bawga Theiddhi Hotel or similar
Enjoy a hearty breakfast at the hotel before you start biking (mountain bikes) at 08:30 through the small lanes (unpaved) and visit some less visited temples on the way. During this full day tour on a bike, your guide will show you some of the most spectacular sceneries of ancient temples and the best of all is that you can stop any time, any minute to make some beautiful pictures. Arrive around noon at a monastery where a picnic lunch has been prepared for you. Continue by bicycle back to the hotel visiting some more temples.
Culinary highlight: Bagan curries from the dry zone served at a monastery.
The dry zone (as the area around Bagan is called) is not known for its fertile lands as the main crops grown are rice, peanuts, sesame seeds and tamarind. The food created from it is delicious though and we will serve you some beautiful food in a traditional monastery.
Overnight: Bagan, Bawga Theiddhi Hotel or similar
Transfer to the airport for the flight to Heho. Upon arrival at Heho airport, meet with the guide and transfer to Inle Lake.
A Day on the Lake! Full day
Inle Lake in southern Shan State is a vast natural lake surrounded by traditional Shan villages. On the lake itself the Intha people have been living for many centuries in villages built entirely on stilts. Today you ride a private motorboat around the lake. Discover its natural beauty, visit the floating gardens, see some of the famous leg rowers, and have a cup of tea at a local family's house. On and around the lake, traditional markets are held in different villages according to a 5-day rotating schedule. Today we take you to visit one of these colourful markets frequented by Shan and Pa O people.
Culinary highlight: Inle Lake area Intha food in the middle of the lake.
While the Shan and the Pa O people live around the lake, the Intha people traditionally live ON the lake, literally in houses built on stilts on the lake. A home-cooked Intha style lunch including noodles, salads, soup and exotic looking food wrapped in banana leaves is prepared for you in a pop-up restaurant created to support the Intha community.
We certainly also visit a local cheroot factory (where the Burmese cigars are made), floating tomato gardens, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda and if wanted, we visit a weaving factory.
Overnight: Inle Lake, Paramount Inle Resort or similar
After breakfast at the hotel you will be transfered to the Heho airport for a flight to Yangon. Here you will meet with your guide and transfer to Kyaiktiyo.
The more remote areas of Mon State and Kayin State are undiscovered areas of Myanmar offering spectacular nature and intriguing tribal culture dating back for many, many centuries in the history of South East Asia. The Mon are believed to be one of the first civilisations in this part of the world. Although their kingdom was lost to the Bagan king in the 11th century, their rich culture can be still be seen in daily life with their specific sarongs, traditional food, language and music instruments. The Kayin (also known as Karen) are one of the indigenous tribes of the jungle known for their traditional boxing skill and their state offers beautiful natural scenes with traditional villages and waterways surrounded by spectacular lime stone mountains. A tribe with its separate language and traditions, whose origins are still very much unknown to scientists until this day.
Visit (if wanted) the war cemetery in Taukkyan where thousands of prisoners of war who worked on the death railway in Kayin and Mon State are commemorated.
We continue to Bago (about a 1.5 hour drive from Yangon) which used to be the capital of Myanmar under King Bayinnaung until 1819. Here, visit the Kha Khat Wain monastery one of the biggest in the country.
A further 2 hours will see us arrive in Kyaiktiyo.
Overnight: Kyaiktiyo, Golden Sunrise Hotel or similar
Breakfast at the hotel and then early morning visit to the Golden Rock.
One of the most important pilgrimage sites for Myanmar Buddhist and maybe one of the strangest (or unbelievable) sites for foreign tourist: the Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo Pagoda). A big rock with a small pagoda built on top of it, is balancing on the edge of a mountain and looks as if it could tumble into the ravine below at any moment (luckily some hairs of Buddha precisely placed in the pagoda prevent the rock from falling). The site can be reached after a short walk (1.5 hours) or a long walk (about 7 hours) and apparently taking the long route for 3 times in a lifetime will bring good luck. Surrounding the Golden Rock are numerous local teashops, rest places and monasteries as well as local souvenir shops (many of them offering traditional Myanmar medicine made off indigenous animals found by Kayin hunters living in the jungle in this region).
After the Golden Rock, we start the journey to Mawlamyine 2 hours away. On arrival in the colonial city Mawlamyine we visit a local house where a home cooked lunch of Mon specialities is served.
Driving through Mon State towards Mawlamyine we pass the area which supposed to be the seat of the last capital of the Mon kingdom: the city called Suvannabhumi. Burmese archaeologists have recently started the search again for the exact location of this ancient city. We also pass the ancient city Thaton which is famous for its durian and betel nut (as is the whole of Mon state)
Culinary highlight: Mawlamyine home cooked Mon food at a local house
We bring you to the home of a local Mon family who has prepared an excellent lunch with fish and vegetables for you. The Mon culture which was once one of the first civilisations in SE Asia is slowly fading, some traditional Mon dishes should be shared with the rest of the world and there is no better way than tasting these in the home of a Mon family.
In the afternoon we visit the Mon Museum which has some interesting displays to show the rich Mon culture. We walk around the area with impressive buildings from the colonial times when writers like Orwell and Kipling where living in this city and visit the first Baptist church.
We continue to visit the nearby village of Hpa Ouk which is famous for its weaving of the traditional Mon style sarongs for men and women. The cotton is coming for the middle of the country while all kind of herbal plants are used to dye the fabrics in the typical colours for the Mon national dress.
Overnight: Mawlamyine, Cinderella Hotel or similar
Breakfast this morning is at the hotel and then we visit the Seindon Mibaya Monastery. The last king of Myanmar, came to power by killing many of the rival heirs to the throne at the end of the 19th century. Queen Seindon escaped and moved to what was called Moulmein in that period and became a Buddhist nun till her death (her tomb is in the compound in one of the nunneries). She built the Seindon Mibaya Monastery in Mawlamyine. Continue to the Ni Paya with views over the city and river before heading to the jetty to board a private boat that will bring us to Hpa An (approx one hour). After arriving at a small jetty in U Na Auk village we take a tuk-tuk to visit the amazing carvings and decorations or the temples and ordination hall donated to the village by Mr Na Auk, a well know Mon trader. We re-board the boat to journey along the Thanlwin River with spectacular sights on Zwekabin and other limestone mountains rising from the rice fields. Lunch will be served on board the boat. Our trip continues to Pa Lin village where we stop for a walk around this local community with Kayin, Shan, Mon, Bamar and PaO people. We should arrive around 17:00 into Hpa An and transfer by car to the hotel.
Overnight: Hpa An, Zwekabin Hotel or similar
In the morning you will enjoy a trip through tranquil rural scenery on a kayak while a Kayin man is peddling from the charming village of Lakkana till Muku village. On the way you will see rice fields, Limestone Mountains in the distance and tranquil traditional Kayin villages. We stop for fresh fruit served in one of the wooden Kayin houses in a local village and arrive after about 2 hours at our end destination.
Attention: as the creeks in this rural part are quite shallow we used small kayaks to travel around which means that you could get wet slippers, shorts and a t-shirt are recommended
A local lunch is served:
Culinary hightlight: Hpa An typical Kayin soup in a traditional village
Ask anybody in Myanmar about the typical food of the Kayin and they will say it's the soup. During a walk through the Kayin community we will make sure you will taste their traditional food during lunch.
We return to the hotel for a shower and continue to Kawgun cave on the way to Yangon. The artwork of clay Buddha statues dates back from the 7th century, the period of the Mon kingdom.
We continue driving back to Yangon in about 4,5 hours leaving 2 very interesting states in Myanmar behind us. Arrival in Yangon around dinner time.
Overnight: Yangon, Clover City Centre Hotel or similar
This morning you'll have breakfast at the hotel and some time at leisure before transferring to the airport for your flight, where your trip concludes.