Arrive Yangon by international flight. After clearing immigration and customs formalities, you are met by a representative from First Tours India and transferred to The Strand Yangon. Built in 1901, this 3-storey Victorian-style hotel is considered one of Southeast Asia’s grand colonial hotels and still one of its most awe inspiring. Once patronized exclusively by ‘royalty, nobility and distinguished personages’, today this National Landmark in the heart of downtown Yangon confers a sense of its rich history to all who pass through its colonnaded exterior and enter the marble floor lobby, following in the footsteps of past guests, Somerset Maugham, George Orwell, Sir Noel Coward and Rudyard Kipling among them. Afternoon begin sightseeing tour of Yangon. Surrounded on three sides by water, Yangon has a unique charm with its old colonial buildings, tree lined streets, bustling markets and tranquil lakes. Drive around the Kandawgyi Park and pass through the Karaweik Royal Barge. Proceed to visit Chaukhtatgyi where a colossal reclining Buddha stretches more than 200 feet. At the heart of Yangon is the mighty Shwedagon Pagoda, always bustling with people who come to worship, picnic, read or simply quietly absorb the surroundings. One of the most magnificent monuments on earth, and said to date from the 11th century, the stupa is plated with more than 8,000 solid gold slabs and its tip is set with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and topaz. The Shwedagon is surrounded by more than 100 smaller stupas, pavilions and halls.
The Strand Yangon
After breakfast, transfer to Yangon airport in time for flight to Mandalay. Long regarded as the cultural and spiritual heart of Myanmar, Mandalay is the second largest city in Myanmar. Positioned on the banks of the mighty Ayeyarwady River, Mandalay lies within easy strolling distance of former colonial hill stations, ancient cities and other cultural attractions. Arrival Mandalay and drive to the 18th-century capital of Amarapura and visit U Bein Bridge-a long and rickety teak bridge that spans nearly 4,000 feet crossing Taungthaman Lake. You will also observe around a thousand monks having their main meal of the day at Mahagandayon Monastery. Visit to the Silk Weaving workshops. Continue to Maha Muni Paya, home to the image of the Maha Muni Buddha, an object of devotion for pilgrims around the world. Stop in at a gold-leaf workshop. After sightseeing check-in to Sedona Hotel Mandalay. Nestled on four acres of landscaped gardens, this hotel is ideally located in the heart of the city with wonderful views over the majestic Royal Palace and Mandalay Hill. In the afternoon admire the carvings of the Shwenandaw Monastery and see the 729 chiseled marble slabs of Kuthodaw Pagoda. Continue on to visit Kyaukdawgyi Pagoda - famous for the seated Buddha image carved out of a huge single block of marble. Statues of 80 Arahants (the Great Disciples of the Buddha) are assembled around the Image 20 on each side. Enjoy Sunset at Mandalay Hill which offers a panoramic view of the city. Rising over 774 feets, the hill's slopes are blanketed by covered stairways filed with small temples at regular intervals.
Sedona Hotel Mandalay
Set out on a boat trip up the Ayeyarwady River to Mingun village documenting life along the river's edge. Begin sightseeing tour of Mingun by ox-drawn cart to visit the 18th century Mingun Bell, the massive unfinished Mingun Pagoda and the Myatheindan Pagoda. Return to Mandalay for lunch. Afternoon transfer to jetty and take the local ferry to visit the ancient capital of Ava. Enjoy sightseeing tour of Ava by a horse-drawn cart visiting the Brick monastery, the 90 feet tall Nan Myint Tower and the teak Bagaya monastery.
Enjoy a boat cruise on Ayeyarwady River to Bagan. During the 11th and 12th centuries, more than 10,000 temples, stupas and monasteries were built on the Bagan plain. Today the remains of more than 2,200 of these structures from tiny stupas to towering temples still dot the landscape. Arrive Bagan and check-in to The Aureum Palace Hotel. Set within Bagan Archaeological Preservation Zone amongst the ancient temples of The Kingdom of Bagan, this expansive hotel set amidst 27 acres of tropical landscaped gardens offers the ultimate in relaxation for guests seeking a unique experience for the historical traveler.
The Aureum Palace Hotel
Explore the vibrant Nyaung U Market selling wood carvings, fabrics, longyis and rattan goods. Visit the gold leaf-gilded Shwezigon Pagoda, Bagan’s greatest reliquary. Continue to the Wetkyi-in Gubyaukgi-a 13th century 'cave temple' and Htilominlo Temple. In the afternoon visit Nanpaya Hindu temple in Myinkaba village; Manuha Pagoda; Myazedi Pagoda with inscriptions in four languages and Gubyaukgyi temple. See Myanmar's famous lacquer-ware being made in workshops. Enjoy Sunset at Shwesandaw Pagoda whose gold-clad stupa rises above Bagan's many spires.
Bagan / Heho / Pindaya / Inle Lake
After an early breakfast, transfer to the airport in time for flight to Heho. Arrive Heho and drive to Pindaya, famous for its limestone caves called Pindaya Caves where thousands of Buddha images have been consecrated for worship over the centuries. Then visit some local houses where families produce Shan Paper and Parasols. Afterwards drive down into the valley to Nyaungshwe on the edge of Inle Lake and board a teak riverboat which will take you to your resort. On arrival check-in to Inle Princess Resort which lies on the eastern bank of Inle Lake next to the Magyizin Village. The resort is surrounded by magnificent views of the blue mountain ranges and rice paddy fields.
Inle Princess Resort
This morning enjoy a boat cruise on Inle Lake. High hills flank the lake on both sides of the shore. The lakeside and islands are littered with villages on stilts inhabited mostly by the industrious Intha people. There are also over one hundred monasteries and a thousand pagodas scattered along the shoreline. Enjoy the gentle and melodic way of life on the lake with crystalline waters, lush green hills, deep, cloudless skies and a calming and serene lake inhabited by a jovial and welcoming people. Observe the lake's unique “Leg Rowers” – the Intha fishermen poling their skiffs with one leg. Later visit the Phaung-Daw-U Pagoda that enshrines five golden Buddha images carried back to Burma from the Malay Peninsula by the 12th century King Alaungsithu. The images were deposited in a cave near the lake, rediscovered only centuries later. Proceed to visit Nga Phe Kyaung, a wooden monastery perched over the water on stilts and teak planks. This monastery is also known for its resident cats that have been trained by monks to perform tricks. In the afternoon enjoy another cruise to the lakeside village of Indein.
Transfer to the airport in time for flight to Yangon. Arrive Yangon and transfer to The Strand Yangon. Afternoon explore World Peace Pagoda with its uniquely hollowed stupa; the Mahar Parsana Cave whose six entrances symbolize the Sixth Great Synod; Kyaukdawgyi Pagoda; White Elephant; National Museum royal artifacts (Closed on every Monday and Tuesday); Bogyoke Aung San (Scott) Market (closed on every Monday and Public Holidays); Botataung Pagoda - an unusual hollow stupa filled with hundreds of Buddha statues. The day ends with a stroll through the lively food and fruit markets of China Town.
The Strand Yangon
Today board your homebound flight with colorful memories that will add untold pleasure to last for a lifetime.