Mandalay and Beyond

10 Nights / 11 Days

Overview

Start your journey in Myanmar’s last royal capital, Mandalay, and travel all the way to the bustling city of Yangon. Begin by exploring Mandalay, then head to the charming hill town of Maymyo (PyinOo Lwin), once a favorite summer retreat for British governors. Continue your adventure to Hsipaw, crossing the historic Gokteik Viaduct along the way.Drive over the Ayeyarwaddy River to Monywa, where you can discover unique cave temples and experience the local culture in the quaint town of Pakoku. Next, immerse yourself in the beauty of Bagan, renowned for its stunning red-brick temples nestled in lush greenery. For an unforgettable experience, consider a balloon ride over Bagan’s temples at sunrise.End your journey in Yangon, a vibrant city rich in cultural heritage and history. Explore its lively streets, majestic pagodas, and learn about the fascinating past that shapes this dynamic city tod

Highlights

  • Hill station during Colonial time called May Myo
  • Train ride over GoteHtaik Viaduct
  • Mandalay with it’s beautiful wooden monasteries
  • Ava and it’s monastery with 267 teak pillars
  • Monywa with world biggest standing Buddha Statue
  • 492 Stand Stone cave temple of Pho Win Taung
  • Yangon with World famous Shwe Dagon Pagodas

Pyin Oo Lwin

Hsipaw

Mandalay

Monywa

Bagan

Yangon

Tour Route

1 Night

PyinOo Lwin

1 Night

2 Nights

Hsipaw

2 Nights

2 Nights

Mandalay

2 Nights

1 Night

Monywa

1 Night

3 Nights

Bagan

3 Nights

1 Night

Yangon

1 Night

Detailed Itinerary

Arrive Mandalay – PyinOo Lwin (Drive)

Upon arriving at Mandalay Airport, you’ll be greeted and driven to the charming hill town of PyinOo Lwin, a journey of approximately 1½ hours.

PyinOo Lwin, formerly known as Maymyo, was named after Colonel May, a British officer in the Bengal Infantry who was stationed here in 1887 to quell a rebellion following the annexation of Upper Myanmar to India. This hill station became a popular retreat during the British colonial era, and its charm still endures today with its many churches, colonial buildings featuring gables, turrets, and chimneys.

Take some time to visit the beautiful botanical garden, spanning 432 acres. It was established by Sir Harcourt Butler, a former Governor of Burma, and is dedicated to the conservation of diverse botanical species from around the world. Don’t miss the enchanting Maymyo market, brimming with colorful flowers and fresh vegetables.

You’ll spend the night at a comfortable hotel in PyinOo Lwin, soaking in the serene atmosphere of this historic town.

PyinOo Lwin – GoteHtaik – Hsipaw

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. After checking out, transfer to Nyaung Cho train station. At around 10:30 AM, take the train to Hsipaw via the Gokteik Viaduct. This train ride is quite entertaining as it stops at every small station, allowing people to load and unload their farm products. The highlight of the journey is crossing the historic Gokteik Viaduct, built in 1900 by the Pennsylvania Steel Co. Spanning the deep Gokteik gorge, it was once the second-highest railway bridge in the world and considered the greatest railway viaduct of its time. Arrive at Naung Pain station and drive to Hsipaw, which takes about an hour.

Arrive in Hsipaw around 2 PM. This town was an important center for the Shan Sawbwas (Shan Chieftains) who ruled Northern Shan State. Explore the town, including a visit to the old Sawbwa House if it is open, and enjoy the sunset from Sunset Hill.

Overnight stay at a hotel in Hsipaw.

Hsipaw

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. Later, meet your local guide and walk to the jetty on the bank of the Dok-Hta-Waddy River. Take a boat ride up the river and enjoy the beautiful scenery filled with mountains, valleys, and orchard plantations along the river for about an hour. Disembark from the boat and walk uphill for 30 minutes to visit a 150-year-old Shan Monastery. Along the way, you’ll see plantations of pineapple, papaya, and orange, which are widely grown in this area. A light Shan Noodle lunch will be served in one of the villages.

Return to the boat and continue your journey to the confluence of two rivers, where swimming is possible. Enjoy the view, take a dip in the cool water, and return to Hsipaw. On the way back, visit Shan villages with typical houses, charming gardens, and the railway connecting Lashio and Mandalay. Alternatively, boat trips can be arranged in the opposite direction to the river confluence.

Spend the afternoon at your leisure, exploring the small town on your own.

Overnight stay at a hotel in Hsipaw.

Hsipaw – Mandalay

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and check out. Later, drive back to Mandalay (approximately 126 miles, a 4½-hour drive) and check into your hotel in Mandalay.

This afternoon, continue your tour of Mandalay with a visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda, famous for its 729 marble stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures, earning it the title of the ‘World’s Biggest Book’. Next, visit Shwenandaw Monastery, the only remaining building from the 19th-century Royal Palace, renowned for its exquisite teak woodcarvings. As the sun begins to set, head to the top of Mandalay Hill to enjoy magnificent views of the city and the Irrawaddy River.

Overnight stay at the hotel in Mandalay.

Mandalay – Mingun (boat) – Mandalay

This morning, proceed to Mayan Chan jetty and board a local fishermen’s boat to Mingun, crossing the Ayeyarwady River. Observe the world’s largest ringing bell, cast by Bodawpaya in 1080, weighing 55,555 viss, which is equal to 90 tons. Visit the Mingun Pahtodawgyi, an enormous pile of bricks that remains from King Bodawpaya’s ambition to build the world’s largest Buddhist stupa. After visiting the beautiful Myatheindan Pagoda, return to Mandalay.

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. Later, visit Phayagyi to observe the most revered Mahamuni Image, brought by King Bodawpaya in 1784 from Rakhine. The 4-meter seated image is believed to have been cast in the 1st century AD, and over the years, offerings of gold leaf have made the figure 15 cm thicker with gold. After visiting stone carving, bronze casting, and silk weaving processes, continue to the ancient capital of Ava. Ava is located on an island reached by a local ferry, crossing the Myitnge River. Pass through the ancient city walls by horse cart and see the remains of the ancient city: the brick and stucco monastery Maha Aungmye Bonzan, the renovated Nanmyin Watch Tower, and the impressive wooden monastery Bagaya Kyaung, constructed with 267 teak pillars.

Enjoy a fantastic sunset view from the 200-year-old U Bein teak bridge, which spans Thaungthaman Lake from the time when Amarapura was the royal capital. Return to Mandalay for an overnight stay at the hotel.

Mandalay – Sagaing – Monywa (Drive)

Later, drive to the ancient capital of Amarapura, meaning “City of Immortality.” Visit Mahagandayon Monastery, home to several hundred Buddhist novices and monks, and observe the afternoon prayer time.

Next, proceed to Sagaing, a place covered with 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries. Sagaing Hill is widely regarded as the religious center of Myanmar and is home to 6,000 monks and nuns and 100 meditation centers. On your way, visit traditional bronze casting and silver smith workshops, for which Sagaing is famous. Sagaing became the capital of independent Shan around 1315 after the fall of Bagan. Visit Tilawkaguru Cave Temple, filled with impressive mural paintings dating back to 1672, Umin Thounzeh Cave Temple with a multitude of seated Buddha statues, and Kaung Hmu Daw Pagoda.

Continue driving to Monywa, and en route, visit Moe-Hyin Than-Boddhae, a Mt. Meru-type structure with 845 small stupas surrounding and rising up to the richly decorated central stupa. Inside the attached pahto, votive Buddhas of bone and other materials decorate every wall and archway halfway to the ceiling, and there are larger sitting and standing Buddhas in niches. See the world’s biggest standing Buddha statue (167m), the reclining Buddha (90m), and enjoy the sunset at Bodhi-Tathaung, a grove of banyan trees each with a Buddha at its foot. Check-in at the hotel.

In the evening, stroll around Shwe Si-Khone Pagoda and take a walk through the interesting local evening market of Monywa.

Overnight stay at the hotel in Monywa.

Monywa- Po Wing Taung – Pakokku (Drive) & Pakokku– Bagan (Boat)
(Drive from Western bank of AyeyarwaddyRiver )

Depart the hotel around 06:30 hrs and cross over Monywa Bridge to the western bank. Visit Po Win Taung and Shwe Ba Taung Pagoda cave complex, about 16 miles (26 km) west of Monywa. This complex of 492 cave temples is home to 2,588 Buddha statues and features beautiful 16th-century wall paintings in some caves.

After sightseeing, drive to Pakokku. If time permits, visit the 200-year-old Pakhangyi wooden monastery. This well-known building was constructed by King Mindon in 1886 and built in the shape of a royal residence, featuring four large halls: the Shrine hall, the Sanu hall, the main hall, and the Bawga hall. The magnificent monastery, made of wood and supported by 254 huge wooden pillars, is now in a state of disrepair, with some halls undergoing repair works.

Explore the town before embarking on a boat journey on the Ayeyarwaddy River to Bagan. This downriver trip takes about 3 hours (depending on river conditions, it might take longer). You will arrive in Bagan after sunset. Upon arrival in Bagan, transfer to your hotel.

Overnight stay at the hotel in Bagan.

Bagan

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel.

Bagan, located on the eastern banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River, is home to the largest collection of Buddhist temples, pagodas, and stupas, many dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Today, explore the area by Bagan’s traditional transport, “horsecarts.” Start from Nyaung U Market and visit Shwezigon Pagoda, built by King Anawrahta but not completed until the reign of Kyansitthar. Discover Kyansitthar U Min, with its long, dimly lit corridors decorated with frescoes (bring torchlights), and Htilominlo Temple, a 150 ft high temple adorned with fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations at its base. Explore Payaagone and Taungbi villages.

In the afternoon, visit Ananda Temple, considered the most beautiful temple with its four standing Buddhas facing the cardinal directions. Learn about the history of Lord Buddha and admire the temple’s exterior, decorated with terracotta warriors in green glaze plaques. Visit a lacquerware home industry and stroll around the village of Myinkaba. Stop by Manuha Temple, dedicated to the captive king of Thaton, and finish the day with a visit to Pyattadagyi Temple for a panoramic view of the city.

Overnight stay at the hotel in Bagan.

Bagan – Salay – Bagan

Optional: This morning, enjoy a balloon ride over Bagan. Between 05:30 and 06:00 AM, a bus from the Balloon Flight Operator will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the launch site. The exact time will be provided the evening before your flight. The balloon flight lasts 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the wind. You will be returned to your hotel around 08:30 AM after a light breakfast.

Breakfast at the hotel.

Later, your guide will pick you up from the hotel for a drive to Salay, a small town on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River. Salay is the birthplace of the famous 18th-century playwright and poet U Ponnya. The town boasts a beautiful old teak monastery known as Yoke Sone Kyaung, or the “Decorated” monastery, carved with scenes from the Jataka tales, stories of the Buddha’s life. This monastery is a treasure trove of excellent craftsmanship.

Visit the famous Shin Bin Sar Kyo temple, where a delegation from the court of Bagan welcomed the Three Canons of Buddhist Texts upon King Anawratha’s return after conquering Thaton. This small temple is notable for its mural paintings from three different periods. Another interesting site is a lacquered Buddha statue, which drifted along the river around 1890 A.D. and was taken to the temple. Return to Bagan in the afternoon.

Overnight stay at the hotel in Bagan.

Bagan – Yangon (By Flight)

Breakfast at the Hotel and Check Out

Later, you will be transferred to Bagan Airport to board your flight to Yangon. Upon arrival at Yangon Airport, you will be met and transferred to your pre-booked hotel.

In the afternoon, visit the Chaukhtatgyi Reclining Buddha Image, a striking and immense statue. Then, make a short stop at the Royal Lake, where you can admire the view of the Karaweik Hall overlooking this scenic lake.

Enjoy time at the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, renowned worldwide for its golden stupa, which is the ‘heart’ of Buddhist Myanmar. Believed to be 2,500 years old, the central stupa is surrounded by dozens of intricately decorated buildings and statues. The pagoda is always bustling with Myanmar people praying and making offerings, making it a fascinating place to spend time and watch the world go by.

Overnight stay at the hotel in Yangon.

Leave Yangon

Today, you will be transferred to Yangon Airport to board your flight back home. Safe travels!

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Tour interested in: Myanmar Old Bagan

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