Experience this 10 days spiritual Myanmar for a real feel for the magic of the country and its people, beginning in the shimmering city of Yangon, and then onto Mandalay, where local crafts, ancient cities and the world’s largest book await you. The extraordinary caves near Monywa are a sight to behold, bettered only by the dazzling array of stupas and dramatic scenery at the ancient Burmese capital of Bagan. The unique leg rowers and floating gardens of Inle Lake will delight you before returning to Yangon with a bagful of memories.
- Wander the streets of Yangon and visit local pagodas in Mandalay to see how spirituality is entwined in daily life
- Travel to the sacred Golden Rock, meditate with monks, explore ancient pagodas to learn about Myanmar’s Buddhist culture
- Visit Mount Popa, the mythological home of the nats, and learn about this form of spirit worship that is unique to Myanmar
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10 DAYS SPIRITUAL MYANMAR Itinerary
Upon arrival, meet with the guide and transfer to the hotel. After freshening up, head into the downtown area of Yangon to explore its diverse range of architecture, ethnicities and religions. Start with a wander around Chinatown to check out the unique vibes of this ethnic enclave. Take note of the close vicinity in which one can find mosques, synagogues and Hindu Temples in this multi-cultural area. Continue to Sule Paya, a golden stupa built to enshrine a hair of the Buddha. For those looking to try something different and unique, there is an option to meet with a palm reader near Sule as for some insight into the future (own account). Many Burmese consult with palm readers or astrologists on a regular basis and especially before a big event such as a wedding, examinations or prior to the birth of a baby. Wrap up the day tour with a visit some of the city’s iconic colonial-era buildings such as the Post Office and Strand Hotel.
After breakfast, start the day with a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar’s most revered Buddhist monument. The morning hours see many local pilgrims and monks coming to pray and make offerings. Although the origins of the pagoda are unclear, local legend states that the original structure was built 2500 years ago and was renovated several times before taking its current shape in the 15th century. The 8-sided central stupa is 99 meters tall and gilded with gold leaf and is surrounded by 64 smaller stupas. Follow the guide around this massive complex and learn why the temple is so revered by locals. Next, visit the market at the bottom of the temple which sells a range of Buddhist goods, including monks robes, alms bowls and other specialty items. Continue with a visit to Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, home to a 70-metre long reclining Buddha. This pagoda offers visitors great insight Burmese Buddhism, with murals depicting the life of Buddha and a great many locals who gather to pay homage and pray. Next, visit Ahlein Ngar Sint. This temple is unusual in that it was founded by a monk that believed in supernatural phenomenon and its resident monks follow the same set of beliefs. The body of the founder is preserved in a glass case and, rather strangely, his hair and nails continue to grow. Around midday, stop and take a break for lunch. Feel Myanmar is a typical Burmese-style restaurant popular with the locals that is highly recommended (own account). In the afternoon, transfer to Mahasi Monastery, one of Yangon’s most renowned places for meditation training. Mahasi is renowned as an ‘Educational Spa’ throughout Myanmar, and many pilgrims come here to learn, study, and practice Vipassana Meditation. Mahasi usually requires a minimum of one week of study for the local yogis. However, they have granted special permission to our clients for one day programs. First, meet with the venerable monk who will discuss the importance of meditation in the life of the Burmese Buddhists (in English). A meditation teacher (monk) will then teach techniques and methods that have been used for centuries. After an hour of instruction and discussion, put the head to the Meditation Hall and practice the new-found skills while slipping away into a deep meditative state of relaxation in the peaceful setting of Mahasi. After a transformative experience, transfer back to the hotel.
Depart Yangon early in the morning for a journey by road to Kyaikhtiyo and the Golden Rock.The drive to Kyaikhtiyo Base Camp takes around 5 hours. Upon arrival, head to a local restaurant for lunch (own account). After lunch, travel by local, open-air truck along a winding road (45 minutes) and be dropped off at the top, just a few minutes away from the Golden Rock. This huge boulder is covered by gold-leaf and delicately balanced on the edge of a cliff and considered to be one of Myanmar’s most holy pilgrimage sites. The pagoda here is said to hold a hair of the Buddha, and Buddhists from across the country come to pay homage to it.
After breakfast, return to the basecamp by open-air truck and begin the return journey back to Yangon. En route, stop to explore the mysterious 16th-century capital of the Mon-Kingdom. First, visit Shwethalyaung Temple for a look at the beautiful 55-meter long reclining Buddha. Then, visit a nearby Mon neighbourhood to experience the unique and quiet charm of rural Myanmar. Continue to the Mon-style Shwemawdaw Pagoda, one of the most venerated religious structures in Myanmar. Its 114-meter tall spire is even taller than the one at Shwedagon Pagoda. From here, take a 15-minute walk to nearby Hinthar Gone Pagoda. The walk passes by many monasteries and nunneries, providing a great opportunity to see the simple, peaceful lives of monks and nuns in this area. At Hinthar Gone Pagoda there is an extravagant nat shrine with dozens of statues and offerings. Depending on the day, it may also be possible to witness a traditional nat dance. (Note: Schedule depends upon donor offering; can only be confirmed one day before arrival). Next, visit Bago’s strangest, and some would say creepiest, sight. Nearby Kanbawzathadi Palace, the Snake Monastery is an important pilgrimage site where visitors come to see the 9-meter long, and reportedly century old, Burmese Python. The monastery is devoted to a Buddhist abbot who is believed to have been reborn as a python. On the way back to Yangon, stop at the Allied War Cemetery near Htaukkyan. This beautiful, peaceful cemetery is the final resting place for over 27,000 Allied soldiers
Early in the morning, transfer to the Yangon Airport for a flight to Mandalay. On the way into Mandalay from the airport, before heading to the hotel, drive to the city of Ava where a short ferry ride heads across the river where a horse and carriage are waiting. Visit the old wooden Bagaya Monastery, a typical Burmese monastery with two buildings -one for the Buddha and another for the monks living there. There are many small villages located amid Ava’s ruins. While exploring the area by horse and cart, get an up-close glimpse of local life in the Burmese countryside. Continue towards Mandalay for lunch (own account) and check into the hotel for a quick refresh. Later in the afternoon, head out to explore the surroundings of Mandalay Hill. Stop at Shwe Nan Daw Kyaung, the Golden Palace Monastery, which is decorated with exquisite wood carvings. The walls are decorated with wooden figures such as nats (spirits), zawgyi (alchemist) and Hanuman (a mythological monkey). There are also strange Christian angels there, which are worshipped by locals as nats. Nat shrines and nat figures take on important roles in the daily lives of Burmese people, and can be found blended in with the art of Buddhist figures. Then, visit Ku Tho Daw Monastery, which is most well-known for housing ‘the world’s largest book’ and its 729 inscribed marble slabs. Each slab is housed by a small temple, making for a surprisingly impressive complex. The day’s final stop is 63rd Street where, in the late afternoon, dozens of stalls set up on the street to serve snacks and other offerings to the locals. Visit the impressively named Maha Lawka Yan Hnain Aung Daw Mu Myat Swar Paya to witness Buddhist pilgrims grinding thanaka, which is used to scent water that’s used for washing Buddha statues. There are also many other symbolic spiritual places at the temple, including a small pond with fish and turtles.
After breakfast in the morning, meet with the guide and driver and head to Sagaing, a 45-minute drive. Located just across the Irrawaddy River, Sagaing is considered by many to be the Buddhist centre of Myanmar. Drive up Sagaing Hill to Umin Thonzeh, a long hallway built alongside a hill with thirty recessed entrances giving it the appearance of being filled with caves. Inside the building are 45 Buddha images, one for each of the 45 years that Gotama Buddha was enlightened as a Buddha. Then proceed to Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda and enjoy wonderful panoramic view of Sagaing Hill and its hundreds of stupas. Be sure to check out the ceiling at Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin for a look at the incredible 16-scene dream sequence of Kawthala King. Finally, continue to Kaung Mu Daw, an unusual hemispherical dome stupa that’s 46 metres in height. At the bottom of the dome are 120 niches, each with its own guardian nat. Return to the bottom of the hills and visit a local nunnery. Here, learn about the unique lifestyle that Burmese nuns have while observing some of their daily activities and learning about their beliefs. Next, head back to Mandalay for a visit to the famed Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda is home to one of the country’s most revered Buddha images which, over the years, has been covered with metres of gold leaf, giving it a distinct ‘lumpy’ texture. Because of its importance in the lives of local Buddhists, Mahamuni Pagoda is a fantastic place to witness the living culture of the area. Afterwards, begin a tour of traditional craftsmen workshops and learn about the city’s booming cottage industry. Also, get a look at the production of wood carvings, kalaga tapestries, and gold-leaf where the techniques remained unchanged from those used centuries ago to craft items for the Royal Court. The final stop of the day is in yet another nearby ancient capital, Amarapura. Here, visit Bagaya Monastery and find a collection of Buddha images made between the 16th and 20th centuries, each reflecting a different period style. While here, learn about mudras -symbolic hand gestures used in Buddha images which have unique meanings. There is also a library with a collection of palm leaves etched with various sections of Tripitaka or Buddhist scripture. Before departing Amarapura, head to U Bein Bridge for an unforgettable walk along this 200 year-old teak wood bridge. The bridge was constructed from 984 teak wood posts that were once part of the deserted Inwa Palace. At 1.2 kilometers in length, it is the world’s longest teak span. The real reason U Bien Bridge has become so iconic among travellers, though, is because of the legendary sunsets that occur there. As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, the entire area is bathed in golden light to create an absolutely unforgettable experience.
After breakfast at the hotel, begin the scenic drive to Mount Popa and Bagan. Along the way, visit local villages and learn about the unique cultures, traditions, and lifestyles found in Myanmar’s rural areas. Arrive at Paleik after about 45 minutes and pay a visit to the famous ‘snake temple’. This temple features a statue of Buddha surrounded by snakes. The locals believe that this image brings good luck. Thus, every day they gather pythons, which live at the temple, and wash them in water. They also clean the Buddha image daily with water. After visiting this unusual site, continue with a short-sightseeing tour around the town, which has Ava-style temples, before returning to Mandalay. Continue the drive to Mount Popa and stop along the way for lunch (own account) in Meiktila. Later in the afternoon, arrive at Mount Popa, an extinct volcano standing 1,518 metres high. Mount Popa has played an important role in Burmese culture, religion and history since earliest times. Its shrine is dedicated to the worship of the 37 Nats, the Burmese ancient animist spirits. *** Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Flight: Imagine floating over thousand year old pagodas and the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River, as the sun rises slowly from the horizon over the misty fields and temples. The magic of Bagan has inspired visitors to Myanmar for centuries. One of the most remarkable sights in Asia, where ancient temples dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. The flight duration is approx. 45min to 1hr depending on wind and air currents and other local factors. Balloons team will pick you up from the hotel and transfer to the launch site. After briefing session, set off for the spectacular flight. Upon landing enjoy glass of champagne and light snack prior transfer back to your hotel.
After a leisurely breakfast, transfer down to the base of Mount Popa. Its shrine is dedicated to the worship of the 37 nats, or ancient Burmese animist spirits. Learn about these nats and nat worship while climbing stairs to the top with the local guide. The view of Myingyan Plain from the top of the volcanic peak is impressive (and the climb is optional!). Next, begin a one-hour drive to Bagan. Along the way, stop in a local village where the people use the fruit of palm trees to make wine and molasses. Witness the incredible production process before arriving in Bagan. Enjoy a tasty lunch (own account) at a local restaurant then check into the hotel and take time to relax and freshen up. Later in the afternoon, embark on a horse cart ride through the plains of Bagan for a first look at some of the thousands of stupas found in the area. Continue to an elevated viewpoint to watch an unforgettable sunset over the plains before returning to the hotel. Wrap up the day with a walk to the top of one of these stupas for a spectacular view of the surrounding area at sunset.
Today, visit a range of sites to gain a better understanding of Bagan’s unique history, culture and the lifestyles of locals living in the area. The journey begins with a visit to another elevated viewpoint temple to enjoy with spectacular views over the surrounding plains in the morning light. This is the perfect introduction to the grandeur and scope of Bagan’s architecture. Next, continue to Ananda Temple, one of the most revered temples in Bagan. Arrive early enough to enjoy this fantastic site in peace, well before all of the tour buses arrive. Afterwards, head to Myinkaba Village and visit Gubyaukgyi Temple which is noted for the beautiful mural paintings of its inner walls and well-preserved plaster carvings on its exterior. Nearby are Manuha and Nanpaya Temples. Although relatively small in size, they house impressive Buddha statues and stone work. Then, learn more about local culture with a visit to two workshops producing some of Bagan’s most famous products: lacquerware and woodcrafts. Watch as skilled craftsmen use techniques passed down through generations to create beautiful local goods. Take a break with lunch and return to the hotel for a short rest, escaping the extreme heat of the midday sun. Later in the afternoon, head to the Irrawaddy River, board a private riverboat, and set off upriver toward Kyauk Gu U Min. Throughout your Irrawaddy River cruise you will be treated to fabulous scenes of life on the water: fishermen, local ferry boats, riverside villages and views of the Bagan temples. Arrive Kyauk Gu U Min on the eastern side of the river and take a five-to-ten minute walk to the amazing temple here. Take time to admire the exquisite stone carvings depicting religious figures and flowers on the door. The temple itself is built against the side of cliff. After passing through the temple, head to a cave entrance just behind the main wall. Inside the cave there are several small niches where individuals can practice meditation. Legend states that the cave was built during the 13th century when locals used it to hide from invading Mongols. After exploring Kyauk Gu U Min, return to the boat for a relaxing cruise back to Bagan (around 1 hour). Upon arrival, transfer back to the hotel for a well-earned evening of relaxation or head out to do some last-minute souvenir shopping
- 09 nights shared Accommodation in twin/double room with daily breakfast at the below indicated room types (see hotel category list below) (check in and check out around noontime)
- All transfers and transportation with air-con vehicles (types of vehicles depending on the number of pax)
- Local English/ Spainish speaking station guides (ENGLISH speaking throughout guide from 9 pax onwards)
- All entrance fees as program
- Meals (B/L/D) (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner) as indicated in the program (Local food):
- Daily breakfasts at hotels
- 02 bottles of mineral water per person per day on bus on days of transfer and sightseeing only
- Added value from 16 Paying Pax up: 1 Tour Leader Free Of Charge based on twin-sharing room (exclusive of airfares and other surcharges)
- Airfares (international and domestic)
- Meals (other than mentioned in the program) and Drinks
- Visa to Myanmar
- Early check in or late check out
- Optional excursions and activities
- Additional transfer required due to any emergency situation
- Items of a personal nature (Phone calls, laundry, beverages…)
- Peak season surcharges if any
- All not mentioned above
Bago – 50 miles northeast of Yangon on the old highway to Mandalay – was once the capital of southern Myanmar
Yangon is located at about 30 km from the sea in the fertile delta of southern Myanmar, on the banks of the Yangon River. The city is practically a jungle. Yangon is Myanmar’s largest city, with beautiful colonial style buildings and colorful markets in the street.
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