Day 1 – Fly USA to Yangon
Today you will begin your Swain Destinations customized itinerary. Please note, international air has not been included in this package price.
Day 2 – Welcome to Yangon, Myanmar
Welcome to Yangon, Mywanmar! Upon arrival, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel.
Formerly called Rangoon, Yangon is Myanmar's capital city. The city's foremost attraction is the Shwedagon Pagoda, set in a 14 acre plaza of shrines and temples. The 326 foot tall pagoda, which reportedly holds eight hairs from the Buddha, is topped by a spire covered with 5,000 diamonds. Shwedagon is, in some ways, as striking as the Taj Mahal. The spectacle, colors and wind chimes leave a visitor breathless.
Other points of interest in Yangon (pronounced yahn-koh) include the lively covered Bogyoke Aung San market (also known as Scott Market) and the Botataung Pagoda (with its maze of mirrored walls inside).Starting Accommodation:
Sule Shangri-La Hotel
Day 3 – Yangon City Tour
This morning you will be collected from the hotel for your full day tour. Yangon lies in the fertile delta of southern Myanmar, on the wide Yangon River. The city is filled with tree-shaded boulevards, while shimmering stupas float above the treetops.
Start the day at the Sule Pagoda, a gleaming octagonal pagoda that stands squarely at the centerpoint of the city. Afterwards, visit the National Museum to gain an insight into Myanmar. See the eight meter high Sihasana Lion Throne, used by the last Burmese king, and other fascinating artifacts from Burmese history and culture.
Enjoy a break at Bogyoke (Scott) Market, a pleasant covered market containing crafts from all corners of Myanmar, gems, fabrics and more. In the afternoon, visit some of the more well-known pagodas, including Botataung Pagoda, named after the 1,000 military leaders who escorted relics of the Buddha from Inda over 2,000 years ago.
Visit Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda, the reclining Buddha is almost as large as the enormous figure in Bago. It's housed in a large metal-roofed shed on Shwegondaing Lan, only short distance northeast beyond the Shwedagon Paya.
Finally, continue to the Shwedagon Pagoda, the highlight of any visit to Yangon. Towering over the city, this pagoda is the most sacred spot in the country, built to house eight hair relics of the Buddha. The Shwedagon and surrounding shrines are at their most beautiful during the sunset hour, as the golden stupa reflects the changing colors of twilight.Starting Accommodation:
Sule Shangri-La Hotel (B)
Day 4 – Yangon to Bagan
Today you will transfer to the airport for your onward flight to Bagan. Once you arrive you will embark on a full day tour exploring the city and its surrounds. Bagan Cultural Connection Tour
Today you will travel to meet inventive local communities, industrious craftswomen and young aspiring chefs. Set off to Thae Pyin Taw, a small village just outside Bagan. As you arrive into the village you will notice toddy trees lining the entrance. The locals collect toddy juice also known as sky beer and brown sugar called jaggery. The local women weave textiles on traditional looms using techniques that have changed little over the centuries. Chat with the villagers and if you have a chance watch them collecting the toddy juice. Your visit to their village contributes to the local community's sustainable development.
Next, sit down to a delicious lunch at Sanon Restaurant, established by the Myanmar Youth Development Institute in partnership with Friends International. The restaurant offers training for disadvantaged youths and prepares them for a career in the hospitality industry. After lunch, ride to Mboutik, a social enterprise that helps women by training them in weaving, sewing and crafting traditional Myanmar handicrafts. Enjoy some time to look through the beautiful, locally made products including clothes, jewelry and rattan goods. Any purchases will help to empower women and provide an income for their families. The final stop is at the Lawkananda Wildlife Sanctuary, hidden among the temples and pagodas of Bagan. Along with many animals and tropical plants, the sanctuary is also home to over 4,000 endangered Burmese Star Tortoises. End the day by witnessing a Bagan sunset. Enjoy a panoramic view of the sun setting over the plain of Bagan from one of the pagoda platforms.
Bagan Lodge Hotel (B, L)
Day 5 – Discover the Beauty of Bagan
Explore the vast and fascinating area of Bagan, and discover temples with unique stories, features and architecture. The spectacular plain of Bagan stretches away from the Ayeyarwaddy River and is dotted with over 2,000 temple structures dating back over 800 years. After breakfast the driver and guide will collect you from your hotel. Spend the day exploring the temples and hearing the fascinating history and stories behind these imposing structures.
Shwezigon Paya, a beautiful golden pagoda containing relics of Buddha, started by Anawrahta but not completed until the reign of Kyanzittha between 1086 and 1090. The pagoda's graceful bell shape served as a prototype for later stupas built throughout the country. Gubyaukhyi Temple at Wetkyi-Inn is an early 13th century temple with an Indian-style spire. The ceiling is covered with paintings depicting the previous life of Buddha. Ananda Pahto is one of the largest, most beautiful and best preserved of the Bagan temples. It was built around 1105 by King Kyanzittha who was inspired by Indian architecture. Gubyaukhyi Temple at Myinkaba, a 12th century Buddhist temple famous for its well-preserved frescoes, contains the oldest original paintings to be found in Bagan. Manuha Temple was built, according to inscriptions, by the captive Mon King Manuha in 1067. It contains three seated Buddha images along with an image of Buddha entering Nirvana. Shwesandaw Paya is a graceful white pyramid-style pagoda dating back to 1057. This 328-foot-high imposing structure is visible from far away rising from the plains of Bagan. Enjoy sunset at one of the sunset hills or from Bu Paya.Starting Accommodation:
Bagan Lodge Hotel (B)
Day 6 – Salay and Mount Popa Tour
Explore local life in this unspoiled Burmese town of Salay. Visit one of the oldest surviving wooden monasteries, Yoke Son Kyaung. The monastery features beautiful carvings of court life and scenes from the Ramayana. Stroll through the town and the market. Visit Mann Paya, located at the west of Payathonzu, a modern pagoda housing a 19.6 foot gold Buddha made of straw lacquer. As the story goes, the Buddha image was originally located near Monywa, and it was washed downstream during an 1888 monsoon all the way to Salay.
Join a Burmese tea party and visit an extinct temple-topped volcano dedicated to the legendary 'nat' spirits. During the journey you will stop at the small village of Shwe Hlaing to experience Burmese Tea at a local Toddy Palm hut. As you wander through the village you will see locals demonstrate how they climb the palm trees and how they use the sap to make palm sugar and fiery liquor. Continue to Mount Popa, an extinct sheer-sided volcano that rises out of the plain. Topped by golden stupas, it is a famous pilgrimage site for locals who come to worship at the Nat temples. Along the way enjoy the array of flora and fauna, and many species of birds and butterflies. Enjoy a photo stop while taking in the breathtaking views across the plains, valleys and distant mountains before starting the return journey to Bagan.Starting Accommodation:
Bagan Lodge Hotel (B)
Day 7 – Bagan to Mandalay
This morning you will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight to Mandalay. On arrival you will head on a tour of the area's surrounds. Amarapura, Ava & Sagaing
Today visit three former royal capitals, each with its own unique atmosphere. Drive to Amarapura and visit Mahagandayon monastery. Every day at mid-morning, monks and novices line up to receive their daily offering of alms and food from faithful Buddhists. Next, head to Sagaing, the spiritual center of Myanmar. Hundreds of stupas, monasteries, temples and nunneries can be found in Sagaing Hill, sometimes known as living Bagan. Thousands of monks and nuns retreat here for meditation and contemplation. Stop at some of the most famous temples, such as Sun U Ponya Shin Paya, U Min Thonsei Paya and Kaung Hmu Daw Paya.
Cross the river by ferry to Inwa - Ava, situated on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Enjoy a leisurely horse cart ride around the peaceful countryside. Along the way visit Bagaya Kyaung, a beautiful teak wood monastery. Stop and observe how local artisans make the famous alms bowls out of iron. Finally, return to Amarapura, to end the day at U Bein's bridge, a picturesque teak bridge which extends over half a mile across Taungthaman Lake. At dusk, the bridge teems with monks and local people as they stroll home or linger to enjoy the colors of the sunset.Starting Accommodation:
Mercure Mandalay Hill Resort (B)
Day 8 – Sightseeing Tour in Mandalay
The last capital of royal Burma, Mandalay is still one of the largest cities in Myanmar, and a cultural and spiritual center. Neighboring Sagaing is home to over sixty per cent of the country's monks, while the artisans of Mandalay continue to turn out the finest crafts in Myanmar. Begin the tour at Mahamuni Paya. The Mahamuni image enshrined here is perhaps the most venerated image in Myanmar, covered in over six inches of gold leaf. Worshippers flock daily to the shrine at 4:00am to observe the unique face-washing ceremony. You will then continue on to Shwenandaw Kyaung, or the Golden Teak Monastery. Built entirely of golden teak, this intricately carved wooden monastery was once part of the Mandalay Palace and used as private apartments by King Mindon and his chief queen. Next, visit Kyauktawgyi Paya, famous for its monumental seated Buddha, carved from a single block of marble. Visit Kuthodaw Paya, which is also known as "the world's biggest book". Around the central stupa are miniature pavilions, each housing a slab of marble numbering altogether 729. These slabs are inscribed with the entire Tripitkata, or Buddhist scriptures. The final stop is at Shwe Kyin Old Monastery located at the base of Mandalay Hill which was built during the period of King Mindon.
The day ends with a boat ride away along the Ayeyarwaddy River to the little town of Mingun, which boasts some of the most impressive pagodas in Myanmar. We'll be amazed by the ruins of the enormous Mingun Paya - never finished, its size would have dwarfed all contemporary pagodas. Equally as grand is the Mingun Bell, a 13-foot tall bronze bell weighing 90-tonnes.Starting Accommodation:
Mercure Mandalay Hill Resort (B)
Day 9 – Mandalay to Inle Lake
This morning you will be taken to the airport for your flight from Mandalay to Inle Lake, via Heho. Upon arrival you will embark on a tour of the surrounding area. Inle Lake Tour
Enjoy a boat ride on Inle Lake and discover its calm serenity, still waters and colorful brush strokes of floating vegetation and slow-moving fishing canoes. Rolling hills hug the lake on all sides, as the lake's shore and islands host 17 villages on stilts, mostly inhabited by the Intha people.
Enjoy the awe inspiring scenery and the skill of the local fishermen who make use of their legs in a unique rowing technique to glide themselves gracefully around the lake. Visit the enchanting floating gardens, a teeming market and an Intha village around the lake. The day also includes a visit to the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Inn Paw Khon Village - Lotus and silk weaving villages - and the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery.Starting Accommodation:
Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort (B)
Day 10 – Boat Excursion to Indein
Travel by boat to the western shore of the lake to a stairway leading to the hidden Indein Temple complex. Located on the shore of the lake, this site consists of hundreds of small stupas overgrown by moss and greens.Starting Accommodation:
This afternoon is at your leisure to enjoy your beautiful surroundings.
Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort (B)
Day 11 – Inle Lake to Yangon
This morning you will be transferred to Heho for your flight to Yangon where you will spend an overnight before your flight to the USA.Starting Accommodation:
Sule Shangri-La Hotel (B)
Day 12 – Fly Yangon to USA
Today concludes your Swain Destinations vacation to Myanmar. You will be transferred to the airport for your return flight to the USA. (B)