Fundamental Myanmar (12Days / 11Nights)

Day 1 : Arrive Mandalay and sightseeing

Meals : Non

Welcome by the representative from SOC Travel on arrival at Mandalay International airport.

Transfer to Mandalay city, the former royal capital founded in 1857 until British occupation in 1886. It is cultural and religious heart of Myanmar. It is also known as the city of many characters, quaint and romantic place of the glorious past as in Kipling’s Road to Mandalay poem and busy trading center of modern time as it is a flourishing trading center for upper Myanmar and border trade with China and India.

Check in at hotel. Start out with ShwenandawMonastery, the only apartment of the King which is survived from Second World War. It is renowned for fine carvings and scenes from the 10 great Jataka.

Next Kuthodaw pagoda, Known as the world’s largest book or heaviest book, made of 729 marble slabs, each of them is shaped like pages of book both front and back. Buddhist scriptures are recorded on the white marble slab.

End the day at Mandalay Hill. The holy hill, where the King founded the last golden city under the shadow of it, is the focal point of the city also. It is 954 feet high with over 1700 steps to the peak if one chooses to walk up. The view from the top is well worth.

Overnight at Hotel.

Day2 :Mandalay Full Day Sightseeing

Meals: Breakfast

This morning, start with Royal Palace which dominates the city with huge walls and the moat. It was built in 1857 by King Mindon, square in plan with over 1 mile on each side. It was conquered by the Brits and devastated during World War II. Exquisite teak buildings inside the palace were bombed and destroyed but the city wall and some bricks buildings remained. It was restored and rebuilt in its original plan in 1996.

Continue to Gold leave workshops which can be seen only in Mandalay. Pure 24 carat gold is beaten into thin sheets by hand with heavy hammer for several hours. At the final stage the gold is so thin that one ounce of gold can be beaten to cover an area of 100 square feet.

Visit Mahamuni pagoda, the most venerated pagoda in upper Myanmar. The image is 12 feet 7 inches high and it is cast of alloy but the bodyhas been lavishly gilded by pilgrims. Take a glimpse of six bronze statues originally from Cambodia; locals believe these figures have a power to heal their ailment by rubbing the corresponding part of the statue.

Mandalay is still center of arts and crafts and all guilds still bearing the same name as in olden days. Based on your interest, explore crafts centers such as

Marble quarter;.Locally produced marble is curved into any design and form, polished in this area.

Bronze casting( Area); Buddha images ,gongs and cymbals  being cast in Bronze by using lost wax method.

Tapestries: also known as Kalaga, still popular wall hanging, once it was special and important that only royalties could use embroidered clothing, all dresses and crowns were made in this quarter.

If time permits, visit ShweInbinMonastery, active monastery with exquisite wood curving.

End the day with a stroll at River Front.

Overnight at Hotel

Day 3 :Amarapura-Sagaing excursion

Meals: Breakfast

Today start with Zaygyo, the largest market in Mandalay for both retailing and wholesaling.Zaygyo means sweet market for the way the vendors treat their customers.

Continue to Amarapura which is also referred as the southern city. The former capital before King Mindon moved the capital to Mandalay.

Head towards Mahagandayonmonastery, one of the largest in the country, in time to witness over 1000 monks line up to have their last meal of the day.

Stop by at silk and cotton weaving place where hand woven intricate designs of fabrics are made. You will be amazed by the skills of weavers who can only finish 1 inch per day for 2 meter piece of longyi in a month.

Have lunch before going on to Sagaing. Sagaing Hill has many pagodas, monasteries, nunneries and meditation centers. It is an important religious center. The best views of Mandalay and Ayerwaddyriver can be seen from the SunOoponyashinPagoda, the most famous ancient pagodas on the hill.

Before returning to Mandalay, visit Silver ware workshop, where handmade embossed silver items are produced and Pottery huts producing drinking water pots and flower pots.

End the day with a stroll on a remarkable wooden U Bein bridge which has over 1000 post. It was built in 1783 and known as the longest teak span in the world. Sunset at U Beinbridge is remarkably beautiful.

Overnight at Hotel.

Day4 :Mandalay/Bagan

Meals: Breakfast

This morning, transfer to airport for your flight to Bagan; One of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. No other capital of Myanmar, either before or after has approached the magnificence of Bagan in the days of its greatness. Its ruins are still the most impressive, scattered in the plains of 16 square miles on the bank of Ayeyarwady River.

Bagan is a place where there is so much to see as the massive sights of thousands of different stupas and temples built between 11th -13th century.  There are too many to explore all but we will select the most astounding ones such as Shwezigon pagoda( mid 11th century),  the 13th century  Gubyaukgyitemple with mural paintings, Htilominlo temple with different architectural style, Anandatemple, the master piece of Bagan architecture.

At the end of the day, you can climb one of the temples to enjoy superb view of the landscape and the memorable sunset.

Overnight at Hotel.

Day5 :Bagan full day sightseeing

Meals: Breakfast

This morning, head towards Bagan’s hustle and bustle morning market to experience local ways of life.

Then continue to explore more of Bagan’s monuments. Each of them varies due to one’s aspiration and period. Each and every pagoda tells wonderful stories of its own and you will never tired of listening to all those.

This afternoon, visit Lacquer ware factory which is 1000 years old cottage industry still thriving today. Every process is done by hand. It is labor intensive and time consuming as it takes minimum 6 months to finish one piece. Bagan lacquer ware is known for intricate and exquisite workmanship.

Make a visit to one of the typical villages near Bagan before sunset. Feel the hospitality of friendly villagers as you walk through their village.

Take a horse cart through nooks and alley of temples around sunset hour.

Overnight at Hotel.

Day6 :Popa Excursion

Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast, head to the center of important spiritual center, Mount Popa, means Flower Mountain in Sanskrit.

En route, visit Palm sugar production place. Observe how the sap is collected from the tall palm tree while enjoying tasty palm sugar candies, palm sugar beer or alcohol.

Visit the Popa Shrine, the plug of main Popa Mountain which is created by violent volcanic eruption way back in 442 BC. It is over 2400 feet above sea level and it has 777 steps to the top. Macaque monkey can be seen along the way to the top.

It is a national center for Nat( Spirits) worship and the dwelling place of the 7 spirits. Every king had to make pilgrimage here to consult the spirit before his reign could begin in the olden days. Even today Mount popa is considered a place of power for the mystical world of the Nats.

Return to Bagan and leisure evening of your own.

Overnight at Hotel.

Day7 :Bagan/Heho-Inle

Meals: Breakfast

Transfer to airport this morning for your flight to Heho, the gate way to Shan state. Drive 1 hr to NyaungShwe town at the edge of the lake. En route visit Shwe Yan Pyayteak monastery with unique oval shape windows. On arrival at NyaungShwe jetty, take the long tail boat to explore the lake. The rows of floating gardens, people rowing their boat by leg, the distinctive fishing method and settlements on stilts make the lake so unique and outrageously picturesque that the lake is known as paradise for photographers and alike.

Visit the most veneratedPhaungDaw OO pagoda housing five extraordinary Buddhas. The Buddhas have ben heavily gilded for good luck as an act of piety.

Continue to NgaPheChaung Monastery, the oldest wooden monastery with beautiful Shan style Buddhas. Boating through narrow canals along villages, wave back to kids and seniors as you pass by their homes on stilt, see people at work on their floating gardens and perhaps try to catch fish with their exotic fishing net.

If time permits one can visit weaving villages specializing Lotus fabric and silk, silver smith workshops, and cigar making place.

Overnight at Hotel.

Day 8 :Inle-Indein excursion

Meals: Breakfast

Today start with Inle’s market (if there is one) which is held once in every five day where Intha and Pa O from the hill come down to sell their produced.  It is a must stop to see such authentic and fascinating scene.

Afterwards continue onto Indein which is on the western bank of the lake. It is the scenic and exciting boat ride seeing bathing water buffalo, some being ridden by kids, and bamboo forest along the way. Indein is known as little Bagan with more than 1000 pagodas in one complex. If there is time, visit nearby village, encounter people over there who are friendly, a multitude of curious, smiling faces which make you feel at home.

Finally, boating back to your hotel.

Overnight at Hotel.

Day 9: Nampan trekking (OR)Sagar Excursion

Meals: Breakfast

NampanTrekking :Full day trek to Pa O villages at the eastern side of the lake. Some path uphill, some rocky but mostly even. Lunch is included at one of the village houses. (Note: August is raining season, good hiking shoes is advised as it can be slippery at times)

Sagar Excursion: two and a half hour by boat each way to southern end of the lake. One of the ancient Shan city. Another mini Bagan, especially beautiful during raining season known as pagoda in the water.

Return to hotel.

Overnight at Hotel

Day 10: Inle-Heho/Yangon sightseeing

Meals: Breakfast

This morning, drive back to Heho airport for your flight to Yangon. On arrival, transfer to your hotel and check in.

At sunset, visit magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda which is over 2600 years old,whose golden dome glistens from dawn to dusk. There are special places in the world where architecture, setting, scale and ambiance all come together. Shwedagon Pagoda is one of these unique experiences. You will be amazed by entering the walkway as the sun gets down. Every moment will be prized and gaining a great stunning experience in one’s life time.

Overnight at Hotel.

Day11: Yangon fulldaysightseeing

Meals: Breakfast

Today head out to explore the commercial capital Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar with a population of about 6 million.

The orientation tour of Yangon includes the photo stop at Sule Pagoda, quite unusual in that its octagonal shape extends right up to the bell and inverted bowl,the City Hall and a walk in downtown area which is one of the oldest sections in town. And one can enjoy the contrast between remains of colonial architecture and contemporary style. Later proceed to ChaukHtatGyi, known as one of the largest and lifelike reclining Buddhas. It is 70 meters long. One particular interest is the feet of the Buddha which are described with the 108 sacred symbols of an enlightened Buddha.

Continue onto BogyokeAung San market, constructed in 1926, is large and airy colonial building. It is also known as Scott market. Please do not miss out local BogyokeAung San market to do final purchase of some souvenir for your loved one at home.  The Market which has over 1000 stalls selling from clothing, cosmetics , jewelry , arts and crafts either old or new from all over Myanmar.(closes on Mondays and public holidays).

Evening stroll around bustling china town will give new experiences of trying local fruits, local eateries which include seasonal bugs, local beers and drinks. It is also a fun place for photo opportunities which has combination of ancient and modern architecture.

Royal lake is a good place to unwind and the best place to finish up touring around Yangon. Sunset over the lake and viewing the magnificent Shwedagon in a distance will remain etched in one’s mind.

Overnight at Hotel.

Day12: Yangon Departure

Meals: Breakfast

Today transfer to Yangon International airport for your return flight.