Mingalabar and welcome to Myanmar! The former capital Yangon, also known as Rangoon, remains Myanmar largest city and continues to be the country's the most important commercial hub and gateway for most of its international visitors. Its colonial background and religious legacy make it one of the most mesmerizing and genuine places in all of Southeast Asia. You will be met by your guide and driver then you will be transferred to the hotel for check in. The room will be at disposal from 13:30 on. Afternoon is free (no guide no car). Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2 - Yangon City Tour (B)
From your hotel it's off to the Pansodan Jetty to get on a local, two-deck ferry in order to cross the Yangon River to Dhala, a charming low-lying township. Since Dhala does not have a direct bridge to Yangon, the ferry is the main mode of commuting and thus the area around the jetty- and the boat itself!- is an extremely vibrant market where many locals come to do their trading and sell snacks and other items to the ferry passengers. Upon disembark the boat in Dhala you will travel by trishaw throughout the town, which includes a visit to the colourful local market, Buddhist temples and rural neighbourhoods with plenty of opportunities to interact with the local residents. This trip is an absolute pleasure for people that like to take lots of photos, it is chock-full of beautiful scenery and amazing splendour. Have a drink on the terrace of the local tea shop at the jetty and watch the action while you take in the historical skyline of Yangon which has not changed in decades. Return to Yangon by boat around midday. We'll start things off in the afternoon with a trip to Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda to see a 70 meter long reclining Buddha statue around the size of a blue whale. Most countries and cultures have examples of what might be termed "quintessentially".... and the drinking of tea can certainly be describes as "quintessentially Burmese". To share in this staple of Myanmar living, a visit to a local tea shop is a must. Here, in addition to the obvious 'cuppa', you will also find a wide choice of delicious morsels to sample while you soak up the atmosphere and observe the locals as they use the drinking of tea as a backdrop to both social and professional conversations. No Myanmar expedition can be considered truly great if it's lacking a visit to the legendary Shwedagon Pagoda. Ready for an amazing experience? The visual delights present there alone, are worth the trip. Begin at the eastern entrance to find a row of shops at the base of the temple selling various religious items. Here you will find monks robes, alms bowls, offerings, incense and other unique Buddhist objects. As your browse the stalls your guide will explain the use and rituals of Myanmar's Buddhist people. Then continue up the stairs to the main platform. Witness the colors transform on the 100-meter chedi which is literally enclosed in over 40 tons of gold leaf. Shwedagon is largely considered to be the most important religious site for the Burmese; most visitors report that the trip is extremely memorable and still etched into their minds. Return to your hotel for a relaxing evening. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 3 - Yangon - Heho - Taunngyi - Balloon Festival (B)
After enjoying your breakfast you will be transferred without guide to the airport for your domestic flight to Heho. Upon arrival at the Heho airport, you will meet your local guide then transfer to Taunggyi. Check in the hotel room and join the balloon festival here. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 4 - Taunngyi - Inle Lake sightseeing (B)
After breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to Inle lake. Upon reaching the edge of the lake, you will board a private motorboat and begin heading out onto Inle Lake,one of Myanmar's most spectacular and breathtaking sights. Its calm waters are dotted with floating vegetation and fishing canoes, to which scenic hills provide the perfect backdrop. Along the way you will pass several villages that are built on stilts overthe lake, which are inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the daily activities of the local leg-rowing fishermen and see their 'floating gardens', which are built up from strips of water hyacinth, earth and anchored to the bottom of the lake with bamboo poles. You will also visit Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, which houses loads of early Shan Buddha Images. This particular monastery is famous for its unique 'jumping cats' which have been trained to jump through hoops in mid air. Proceed to the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake's main haven, which contains five sacred images of Buddha decorated in gold leaf. Don't miss to explore the local crafts of Inle Lake with a stop at the weaving village of Inpawkhone, renowned for its weaving from the stems of lotus flowers, and a cheroot factory, where traditional Burmese cigars are handmade. If time allows you will also pay a visit to the local silversmith and a pirogue workshop in the village of Nampan. The day will come to a close with a return trip by boat back to your hotel. Meals on your own. Overnight at Inle Lake.
Day 5 - Inle Lake - Indein Sightseeing (B)
After breakfast you'll pay a visit to the lake's morning market (the market is open every day apart from dark moon and full moon calendar days). The market's location rotates between the lake's villages in a 5 day schedule and is also visited daily by the lake's inhabitants as well as the surrounding natives who also come to sell and trade their wares. A 1-hour boat ride down a small canal will take you to the Pa-Oh village of Indein, positioned on the western shores of Inle Lake. Take a leisurely stroll around the village before ascending the moss-covered stairway to the top of a hill. Once you've arrived at the summit, you will be greeted buy an iconic Buddha image which sits enshrined among hundreds of stupa ruins and overgrown shrubbery. Here, from the peak, you will also be rewarded with mesmerizing views of the placid surroundings. The Indein Pagoda complex is undoubtedly one of the most amazing sites around the shore of the lake and it consists of hundreds of small stupas which are overrun by moss and greenery. Then it's time to embark on a 45 minutes trek to Sae Ma village. Along the way, you'll enjoy the natural beauty and panoramic vistas of the area while basking under the shade of the bamboo grooves in the area. Upon arrival at the village, observe the daily lifestyles of the rural inhabitants. On your boat ride back, should time allow, you'll stop at the Inthar Heritage House to learn more about the history and culture of the lake's indigenous people and enjoy a delicious coffee and cake (snack break not included). As an exciting day comes to close transfer back to your hotel for some well deserved relaxation. Meals on your own. Overnight at Inle.
Day 6 - Inle Lake Free Day (B) - No guide, No vehicle
Today is free at your leisure to relax at the hotel or discover the lake on your own. Meals on your own. Overnight at Inle.
After breakfat at the hotel, you will be transferred without guide to the airport to fly Heho- Bagan. upon arrival, meet your guide and discover the best of Bagan today! Not simply a chance to see the splendid Bagan temples, this excursion also introduces you to the Burmese culture, allows you to see traditional craftsmen at work and takes you up the mighty Irrawaddy River to a decidedly unusual 'cave' temple! Your fist port of call is an elevated temple with its panoramic views of the Bagan plains. This viewpoint will give you a taste of the sheer number of temples as well as some of their distinctive styles. From here you will have a look around the Ananda Temple - one of the most exalted of Bagan's temples. We will ensure that our tour reaches this point before the majority of tourist arrive, enabling you to enjoy the splendor of the temple in relative tranquility. Continue to various other temples dotted around the temple plains to experience a variety of architectural styles in the area as well as the artistic wonder of the 9-14th centuries. Traveling amid the temples you will get a taste of rural Bagan life in this 'living museum' setting where farmers and families work amongst the monuments. In the afternoon, join a river cruise to see the sunset - a perfect end to a busy day of sightseeing in Bagan! Lunch and Dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Bagan.
Day 8 - Bagan Hot-air Balloon - Bagan Sightseeing (B)
OPTIONAL: HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE OVER BAGAN
(Valid from 1st Oct to 31st Mar - Maximum weight is 280lbs/person)
In the early morning around 5.am, our Balloons over Bagan bus will pick you up at the hotel transfer you to the launch site. As the pilots prepare the balloons for flight, tea and coffee will be served to help you wake up. Then climb into the basket for a remarkable flight. The balloon soars above the temple plains providing birds-eye views of the temples, villages and farms, th Irrawaddy River and distant hills. You'll fly for around 45-60 minutes (depending upon wind conditions) and then touch-down in a field where a champagne toast and light breakfast is served. Return to your hotel by bus. (Total experience is approximately 2.5-3 hours)
It's off to the vibrant Nyaung Oo Market, where the locals come to trade fresh produce and other goods daily. From here you will have a look around the Old Bagan starting with a visit of the renowned Shwezigon Pagoda, constructed by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century as a religious memorial.Travel over dusty lanes and tree shaded roads past temples and monasteries to temples and monasteries to a small village.Explore the village on foot, getting a glimpse of local lifestyles of Bagan's residents. Continue to more lesser-known monuments, selected based on your interest, in the area for the remainder of the morning. If you wish, a short walk can be arranged through a series of smaller monuments which allows for a unique perspective of Bagan. This particular afternoon will begin with a trip to a traditional lacquer workshop. Here you can watch the manufacture of one of Myanmar's most popular handicrafts. Afterwards you'll continue to Ananda Temple, which is considered to be an architectural work of art and is certainly one of Bagan's most gorgeous temples. Constructed in an earlier 'Mon' style, Ananda houses two distinctive Buddha images. Their expressions also appear to transform, according to the space from which the statue is seen. From here you will journey for an excursion that passes Thatbyinnyu, the tallest temple in Bagan, gigantic Dhammayangyi Temple noted for its remarkable brickwork, and of course, Sulamani Temple. Take pleasure in an extraordinary sunset from the upper terrace of one of the surrounding temples. Lunch and Dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Bagan.
Day 9 - Bagan - Yangon (B)
After breakfast at the hotel, free time until transfer without guide to the airport to fly Bagan - Yangon. Upon arrival at Yangon airport, you will be met by your guide to transfer to the hotel for check in. The rest of the day is free at your leisure. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 10 - Yangon Departure (B)
Breakfast at the hotel, In the good time transfer with guide to your departure flight, Meals on your own.
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