Best of Myanmar 9-Day Experience
Old-world mystique cascades across temple plains. You don’t just glimpse the past. You can feel it. You can live it. You can be submerged in an ancient culture and the highlights of Myanmar.
Journey to the country’s spiritual heart and enjoy extraordinary travel moments in a mostly unknown destination. This nine-day experience is a great example of where you can travel and what you can do, when you finally experience the wonder of Myanmar.
Day 1 - Yangon
Stay & Enjoy Afternoon Tea at The Strand, Yangon
The Strand was one of the three great hotels of British colonial Asia. It was where Orwell, Prince Edward and other notable travelers would stay during their travels. After a long period of decline it underwent a huge renovation and has reopened to acclaim. Modern appointments have been added yet the hotel continues to feel like a masterpiece from 1901. Spend the night and stay for afternoon tea, the perfect way to escape Yangon’s mid-afternoon heat and recreate a bygone era.
Day 2 - Yangon
Behind Closed Doors Tour of Old Yangon
Central Yangon resembles something from a century ago. The name has changed from Rangoon to Yangon, yet the buildings remain the same and a sense of old-world grandeur lives on. You will have exclusive access to heritage buildings that are normally closed to visitors. Historic townhouses are crumbling slowly yet the slow decay only adds to the charm. For Yangon is no longer a colonial enclave, but the quintessence of modern Myanmar life. Atmospheric street life dazzles, with stalls and food carts spilling their wares beneath ornate balconies. Scents from India and China mingle with dreams of afternoon high tea. It’s the country in a nutshell, a vibrant mix of everything, seemingly frozen in the late 19th century. Religious icons also impress and you watch how sunset bounces off the golden leaf of Shwedagon Pagoda, the country’s modern ode to Buddhism.
Days 3 & 4 - Bagan
Bagan History Tour
Scorched sandstone greets you in Bagan, a plateau of Buddhist peaks rising above the southern banks of the Irrawaddy. Thousands of pagodas and shrines spill out in every direction. At first it’s baffling, such religious abundance punctuated by the odd lonely palm. Even after a full day exploring you will struggle to make sense of Bagan’s scale, how so many exquisite structures have been isolated by time. There are literally thousands and visiting them all would take the best part of a year. It’s destinations like Bagan that illustrate the importance of a good local guide. You will sidestep the tour buses and explore the most famous pagodas when they are quiet. Meeting monks you will savour the spirituality that permeates through walls. Fables and fictions accompany each structure, sometimes told through the monks you meet. Most of the pagodas don’t have names, only numbers, yet their craftsmanship is masterful. And as sunset arrives you will not stand on a famous “sunset” temple. You will be virtually alone on a 12th century masterpiece with an incredible view over the dusty plains.
Hot Air Balloon Above Bagan
Bagan is like a kaleidoscope from a hot air balloon. Ruby as the sun pierces the horizon. Deep ochre to vibrant orange as sandstone emerges from the shadows. Colours of cinnamon and yellow as morning firmly arrives. A hot air balloon above Bagan is perhaps Myanmar’s most iconic experience, an insight into the archaeological site’s scale and surreal splendor. You will soar above hundreds of temples and pagodas. They aren’t museum pieces but living places of worship. From the air you watch bare-footed monks crossing the plains, along with the Irrawaddy River meandering onward. While this is a famous thing to do, it is an extraordinary travel moment. Even now, few people make it to this remarkable place.
Days 5 & 6 - To Mandalay by Irrawaddy River
Multi-Day Cruise Bagan to Mandalay
The great Irrawaddy River is Myanmar’s lifeblood, traveling through the past and into the present. It connects villages of tradition, cities of grandeur, and remarkable Buddhist treasures. Travel slowly and you are immersed in it all, aboard a legendary colonial steamer that will take two days to connect Mandalay with Bagan. Children break from their ebullient splashing to wave from the banks. Oxen wade across, just horns and eyes above the water. Narrowboats are framed against scorched red banks. Old pagodas stand above it all. The 1947 Pandaw is the river’s most timeless vessel, an opulent steamer that complements the atmosphere of a forbidden and forgotten time. Spend two nights on board, with land excursions to walk around local villages and a lovely solitude throughout.
Days 7 & 8 - Mandalay & the Old Capitals
Mandalay History Tour
Mandalay is a legendary destination for those who love the history of travel. Explore the dusty city with a local guide and you will find much to cherish. As you explore the old city you may be whispering the lines from Kipling’s poem: “for the wind is in the palm trees and the temple bells they say...come you back to Mandalay.” Gold leaf shimmers on pagodas across the city, intricate wooden carvings hide inside monasteries, dust swirls amongst villages and the bells speak with their chimes.
Myanmar Royal Capitals Horse & Carriage Tour
Travel to the imperial capitals dotted around Mandalay. Explore Inwa to the sound of hoofs, with a horse-drawn chariot taking you to wooden monasteries, leaning towers, ancient palace walls and majestic banyan trees. Now cross the wooden slats of U Bein bridge on a visit to Amarapura, where more gracious fables come from the annals of history. Return to Mandalay and you’ll join novice monks on the mountain above Mandalay city, watching the sunset as they seek to practice their English.
Colonial History Tour of Pyin Oo Lwin
Ascend from the heat of the Mandalay plains to this hill station from yesteryear, where grand mansions have retained their elegance, even though the town has been renamed from Maymyo to as Pyin Oo Lwin. This is a place to relax and uncover another side to Myanmar’s history, one of sweeping botanical gardens and clock towers from Rupyard Kipling’s fiction. Go slow. Relax. Find a sprawling mansion with the atmosphere of colonial times. Experience afternoon tea and gracious wooden balconies. You’ll explore on a horse-drawn carriage and meet colorful locals, who are remarkably open in telling their story of Myanmar’s recent history.