10 Day Mysteries of Myanmar Tour

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1344
10 Days
Availability : Through Dec 31 , 2019
Yangon, Myanmar
Inle Lake To Yangon

After decades in the shadows, Myanmar is at last ready for its closeup. Step behind the curtain of this mysterious land and discover the ancient temples, remote villages, and iconic wonders few Westerners have ever witnessed.

We begin in Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the cultural, economic, and former political capital of Myanmar. As the country slowly opens itself up to the outside world, Yangon is in the midst of a profound transformation; on a privately guided walking tour through its streets en route to cocktails at a stylish Japanese restaurant, you’ll catch a glimpse of the city’s famous colonial architecture, much of which is being restored and reimagined for the future. Later, step inside Yangon’s most famous landmark, the golden-domed Shwedagon Pagoda, for a private tour that will introduce you to local beliefs that blend Buddhism with spiritualism. Nearby, you’ll be granted an audience with Princess Daw Dewi Thant Sin, a descendant of the last Burmese monarch who has dedicated her life to environmental causes.

Situated along the Irrawaddy River in the geographic heart of the country, Mandalay holds a special place in Myanmar’s political and spiritual history. First, explore the city’s monuments on a private tour that begins atop Mandalay Hill before visiting the monasteries of Atumashi Kyaung and ShweNan Daw Kyaung en route to the white marble Kuthodaw Pagoda. Later, take to the river itself for a relaxing cruise that delivers you to the former imperial capitals of Sagaing, Ava, and Amarapura, then spend time discussing Burmese literature with a respected local scholar.

When travelers speak of Myanmar’s famous temples, they’re often talking about Bagan. Inside the Bagan Archaeological Zone, you’ll explore the serene (and often empty) ruined shrines of Minnanthu on a private tour before returning to the Irrawaddy to take in a spectacular sunset (complete with cocktails and snacks) from the deck of a private boat. Later, head out into the Dry Zone aboard a jeep to meet the locals in the region’s remote villages before enjoying an afternoon on your own and preparing for your next stop: Kalaw.

Founded by British colonialists as a cool retreat from the sweltering lowland regions, Kalaw is a favorite spot for travelers in the know. Up here, you’ll spend a full day trekking the forests in the company of a private guide before visiting an elephant conservation station and stopping for a Nepalese-influenced lunch in a hilltop village.

Few places in the world exceed their reputations like Inle Lake, a massive and picturesque landscape of marshlands dotted with floating gardens, Buddhist temples, and traditional Shan villages on stilts. Your first glimpse of the region comes from the saddle of a bike courtesy of a privately guided bike ride from Aung Ban to Indein, the gateway to Inle Lake. Later, get out and explore the lake itself on a private tour aboard a motorized rice-carrier boat, from which you’ll no doubt spot fishers plying the waters in leg-rowing boats before visiting a cheroot factory and enjoying a traditional Intha lunch served on board in the middle of the lake.

Kensington Tours creates private trips from the world’s finest ingredients. Tailor-made with care by your personal Destination Expert, your personalized trip is always a one-of-a-kind experience made just for you. Expert local guidance and 24/7 service come standard.

 

 

WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  • Learn the secrets of the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda and chat about the environment with a genuine princess in Yangon.
  • Visit Mandalay’s temples and former imperial capitals on a private cruise along the Irrawaddy River.
  • Stand inside the serenely quiet ruins of Minnanthu in Old Bagan.
  • Bike out to Inle Lake for a private cruise of its stilt villages and floating gardens.
  • Stay at a handpicked selection of comfortable accommodations.

 

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About Kensington Tours

Kensington Tours specializes in custom tours to over 90 countries worldwide. Our tailor-made journeys are carefully crafted to deliver a personalized adventure like no other. We build in extraordinary, enriching experiences and put the best private guides at your service. We do all this with award-winning attention to detail and unbeatable value for your travel dollar.


Itinerary

DAY 1: YANGON

For your added comfort, your guide will be waiting for you outside the customs area with a sign with your name on it. Your guide will assist you to co-ordinate meeting up with your private driver and accompany you to your accommodation.

Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.

Yangon downtown is unique with much of its colonial-era architecture still standing. You find one of Asia’s most impressive collections of late nineteenth and early twentieth- century buildings, religious and secular. Starting after breakfast or lunch this walking tour will take you through downtown Yangon, focusing on its old colonial buildings. Your guide will walk you through the back streets in a relaxed tempo and explain you the history of each building some of them empty, some getting restored and some used for different purposes than when built. This walk along the streets of Yangon will at least architecturally take you a step back in time. After the tour you will have time to enjoy a drinks at Gekko, a cosy restaurant on Merchant Street in a historical building.

Accommodation: Savoy (3.5*)Overlooking the spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda, The Savoy Hotel is ideally located in a picturesque area of Yangon and is easily accessible from popular regional attractions. The hotel is just a ten minutes’ drive from the city center and 20 minutes to the International Airport. Each guest room is comfortably furnished with colonial-style wooden fittings, traditional Myanmar antiques and beautifully appointed bathrooms. Dine at Kipling’s Restaurant where a splendid assortment of Asian flavors are served, or savor traditional Italian cuisines at Rossini. Sip a drink at the Captain’s Bar and enjoy refreshments and tea specialties at the Cafe Yangon. Spend a day absorbing the aromas, sights and sensations of a different world, at The Savoy Hotel.

 

DAY 2: YANGON

So what’s behind the golden facade of the Shwedagon Pagoda? Is it true that the pagoda is over 2500 years old and has more gold on the stupa than the bank of England does in its vaults? During this interactive half day tour you will be taken through the back door where you will be shown the full history of the pagoda, the daily life of all people living in the immediate surroundings of the pagoda and a deeper insight in the Buddhist religion and how the spiritual belief is mixed with the belief in nats – the Myanmar spirits. The tour includes a traditional Burmese breakfast, offerings to monks and the pagoda, and a Burmese lunch.

Tucked around the corner of the Shwedagon Pagoda gates lives the descendant of the last king of Myanmar. Visit the cozy home of a Burmese princess with your private guide and driver, in an intimate and memorable experience. Daw Dewi Thant Sin’s passion is in Myanmar’s environment and future. The activist, researcher, advisor, and publisher uses all her energy to fight for an environmentally conscious future for the next generations, no easy feat in a country where pro-environmental practices are merely guidelines rarely that are considered. Be inspired by her resilience and clever musings of modern-day Myanmar, and chat with her about the environmental concerns the country faces.

Accommodation: Savoy (3.5*)

DAY 3: YANGON – MANDALAY

Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.

Fly from Yangon to Mandalay. Flight time is approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes.

Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.

It’s not just the former capital cities around Mandalay that are interesting to visit. During this half day tour (morning or afternoon) you will take tour the most famous monuments of Mandalay starting with the top of Mandalay hill for a great view over the Mandalay fort. Continue to Atumashi and the Shwenandaw monasteries which are excellent examples of the architecture and crafts work of this region and end with a visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda with the white marble slabs. The rest of the day the car and guide are available for additional visits till 6 pm if wanted – a visit to Yankin Hill is suggested.

Accommodation: Hotel by the Red Canal (3.5*)An oasis by the landmark Red Canal in local folklore just minutes from the famed Atumashi Monastery, Kuthodaw Pagoda, and Mandalay Palace.and other attractions, The Hotel by the Red Canal is a convenient sanctuary, with its lush tropical greenery and calming water features, amidst the hustle and bustle of Myanmar’s cultural city. The customized guestrooms are categorized into 4 uniquely names and decked in the fineries and cultural adornments of the 4 major ethnic groups in Myanmar: Chin, Kachin, Rakhine and Shan. Hotel by the Red Canala full-service spa, a restaurant, and an outdoor pool. The guestrooms feature complimentary Wi-Fi and 24-hour room service, DVD players, and LED TVs.

 

DAY 4: MANDALAY

Board a relaxing boat cruise with your private guide in Mandalay and sail along the mighty Irrawaddy River, where former imperial capitals line the river banks. Feel the breeze of the river, and imagine how it must have been to arrive by boat at the court of Ava. The most interesting sites along the river from Mandalay to Bagan are clustered around the shorter portion of the river near Mandalay. Cruise downstream for approximately 2 hours to Sagaing, passing the temple-dotted hills. Stop to visit the Setkyar Thida nunnery. Continue by boat to Ava, where horsecarts will take you back in time for a visit through the former capital. The ancient ruins were majestic buildings during Ava’s 400 year period as the capital of Myanmar. Enjoy a simple local lunch in Ava, before continuing by private vehicle to Amarapura. The former capital of Amarapura is a very quiet village nowadays, populated by a community of traditional weavers. Visit one of the small weaving factories, where traditional looms are still commonly used on this ancient craft. End the day with a stroll over the 0.75 mile long U Bein Bridge, the world’s oldest teak bridge and formerly the longest. Return to your hotel in Mandalay by private vehicle.

During the era of British colonial rule, Myanmar was home to some of the best universities in Southeast Asia and boasted one of the highest literacy rates in the region. Decades of military rule dramatically deteriorated this academic prestige, and Mrs. Aphwar Nyein from Mandalay is a professor whose generation witnessed its sad decline. With your private guide and driver, visit with the gentle and active former university professor and learn about the decline of literacy and education in the country – an important lesson to take home about the value of formal schooling. The former professor still actively engages with younger teachers and students eager to learn about Myanmar’s education system, and she is excited to engage in an exchange of ideas and experiences with visitors.

Accommodation: Hotel by the Red Canal (3.5*)

DAY 5: MANDALAY – BAGAN

Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.

Fly from Mandalay to Bagan. Flight time is approximately 30 minutes.

Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.

Minnanthu is probably the most favorite temple area amongst frequent Bagan visitors and you know why? It’s quiet, it’s a beautiful area, and the temples here are often completely deserted. Your guide will bring you by car to this forgotten part of Bagan and will spread out a blanket and serve you a great picnic lunch in this historical setting before or after visiting 2 or 3 ancient temples ruins in this area.

Stay at least 2 nights in Bagan, one to see the sun go down from the top of an ancient temple, the other one to take a boat ride on the mighty Irrawaddy River and have some sundowners on a sandbank in the middle of the river (if the river is not too high). A private boat tour on the river during sunset time will hopefully show you a spectacular sunset while your guide will be serving drinks and some snacks.

Accommodation: Heritage Bagan (4*)The Heritage Bagan Hotel heralds a new dynasty in hospitality, inviting their guests into their warm embrace and providing service with a passionate and gracious heart. The sprawling hotel is made up of 12 buildings styled after the ancient Buddhist temples that dot the landscape of the ancient city of Bagan. Each building symbolizes the 12 Dynasties of Myanmar. The hotel has around-the-clock security and 24-hour room service, along with laundry service and bicycle rentals available. There are 2 ATMs on the hotel premises for added comfort, and a doctor-on-call. The Heritage Bagan features a rejuvenating spa, gym, and fitness center. The hotel features a refreshing swimming pool and outdoor jacuzzi to relax in after a day of exploring the temples, 2 bars and a restaurant on site.

 

DAY 6: BAGAN

One of the many highlights when visiting Myanmar is taking a hot air balloon ride. In the early morning, before sunrise, you will be picked up at your hotel and driven to the launch site for a spectacular hot air balloon ride over the temple zone in Bagan. The mostly British balloon pilots are operating each balloon under the highest UK safety standards and the views you will get are breathtakingly spectacular. After floating in the air and following the wind you will land safely and be welcomed back on the ground by a smiling crew serving cold champagne before taking you back to your hotel.

Bagan is best known for the sprawling plain dotted with over 2,000 temples, but the villages in the surrounding dry zone are equally fascinating to explore, and the villagers make captivating photography subjects. With your private guide and driver, head out of Bagan by 4×4 Jeep into the neighboring dry zone to explore the simplicity of village life in its purest form – a veritable journey back in time. Pass by local women carrying firewood and wares for the local market as communities go about their daily activities. Start with a visit to Nyaung Gyi village to see a blacksmith workshop that still operates in the traditional way. Continue to Se Ywa village to visit several local workshops, including plum purifying, cooking oil production, and a wooden slipper maker. Products are still carefully crafted by hand using traditional methods rather than importing factory produced options. Next, visit Taung Kong village, where the majority of people are farmers but pottery is still an important livelihood. Drive back to Bagan through the dry zone and stop for lunch at a local restaurant along the way.

This afternoon, enjoy time at leisure to explore at your own pace, or relax at your hotel.

DAY 7: BAGAN – INLE LAKE – KALAW

Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.

Fly from Bagan to Inle Lake. Flight time is approximately 40 minutes.

Transfer from Inle Lake to Kalaw with a private vehicle, driver, and English speaking guide. The transfer is approximately 2 hours.

Your guides specializing in Elephant conservation will take you for a rewarding day in the forest surrounding Kalaw encountering elephants, their mahouts and people living in the surrounding. Young tourism professionals originating from Kalaw decided to set-up a project in Kalaw that is focused on protecting the nature, elephants and traditions of local people living in an area close to Kalaw. In a big part of this private protected forest the nature can grow undisturbed creating a natural habitat for animals that could otherwise be easily hunted down and killed. The project includes creating a natural environment for some Myanmar elephants from this part of the world and helping the local population to grow out of the vicious circle of poverty through education and micro finance. Depending on your arrival time and how long you want to walk through the forest (walks from 30 minutes up to 4 to 5 hours are possible – simply let your guide know what you prefer) you will find yourself in the natural surroundings of Asian jungle. A delicious lunch with local specialities (often from Nepalese origin) will be served in a traditional village, in the jungle or in the camp. After lunch it is time to help the mahout washing and feeding the elephant. Walk back in the afternoon to the main road and continue by car back to Kalaw town.

Accommodation: Royal Kalaw Hills Resort (4*)The Royal Kalaw Hills Resort is set in a unique 19th-century mansion located at the base of the Kalaw Hills. The main building was originally constructed in 1898 and recently restored to its original glory. The 14 room boutique hotel offers a graceful and elegant retreat to enjoy the mountain views from every room of the resort. Each room offers an open fireplace and is adorned with a mix of antique and modern furniture. The hotel is a convenient base to explore Kalaw’s neighboring hillside villages, located only 45 minutes from Heho airport and 90 minutes from Inle Lake. All day dining is available serving Myanmar, Shan, Chinese and European dishes. The hotel features free WiFi internet access in all areas of the property, and on-site health spa, jacuzzi, and sauna.

 

DAY 8: KALAW – INLE LAKE

Probably the best way to arrive in Inle Lake! Meet your private guide and driver at your hotel in Kalaw, and drive approximately 45 minutes to Aung Ban, the starting point of your bike ride. Hop on your mountain bike for the 4-5 hour cycling trip to Indein. The ride is mostly off-road and technically easy, with most of the roads flat or downhill – although the first hour some parts of the ride will face a slight incline. Bike through numerous Pa O villages that see few foreign visitors is a great experience through a scenic part of the country. Stop on the way to enjoy the fantastic views over the lake and the Shan countryside. Lunch is included in a local village. Visit the temple ruins in Indein, then continue to your hotel by private motorboat where your luggage is already delivered to your room.

NOTE: The last part of the biking trip is quite fast downhill and you will be urged to go down very slowly and use your brakes or to walk downhill. 

Accommodation: Sanctum Inle Resort (5*)At the Sanctum Inle Resort, arches and cloisters reference the monastic life, opening the doors on a more contemplative experience of travel. The hotel is located Maing Thauk Village, half of which is set on dry land while the other half sits on stilts over the water. The nearest airport is Heho, which is served by flights from Yangon, Nyaung-u, Mandalay, Tachilek and Keng Tung. From Heho, you will drive through quaint villages and scenic hills before reaching Nyaung Shwe. From Nyaung Shwe, you may continue by land or by boat to Maing Thauk Village, where Sanctum Inle Resort is located. With a design that celebrates the fundamentals, that merges the spiritual and the secular, the past and the present, East and West, the hotel is a gateway to one of the Asia’s most fascinating locales. Stay in one of four classes of rooms and suites, eat from menus that span Eurasia and explore the wonders of Inle.

 

DAY 9: INLE LAKE

Inle Lake in southern Shan State is a vast natural lake surrounded by traditional Shan villages. On the lake itself the Intha people have been living for many centuries in village built entirely on stilts on the lake. Today you will take you by private motorboat around the lake to discover the natural beauty of the lake, visit the floating gardens, see some of the famous leg rowers and have some tea at a local family’s house. On and around the lake traditional markets are held in different villages according to a 5-day rotating schedule and today you will take you to visit a colourful market frequented by Shan and PaO people living nearby. You will certainly also visit a local house where cheroot (the Burmese cigars are made), floating tomato gardens, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, an Intha house where a traditional Intha lunch is served and if wanted you will be able to visit a weaving factory.

DAY 10: INLE LAKE – YANGON

Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.

Fly from Inle Lake to Yangon. Flight time is approximately 1 hour.

Enjoy the usage of a private vehicle with English speaking driver and guide at leisure for a half day in Yangon.

Accommodation: Depart (Int`l Airport) (standard)Depart from International Airport. End of itinerary.


Pricing Terms and Conditions

Please visit our website for full terms and conditions.

  • Your deposit is due immediately on booking (30% of program price, minimum $350). The balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
  • Cancellations of confirmed bookings 90 days or more prior to departure will receive full refund minus a $350 (per person) administrative fee and any non-refundable paid fees (e.g. non-refundable airfare, cruise or hotel deposits). 60-89 days will be subject to loss of 30% of program price. 30-59 days will be subject to loss of 50% of program price. 29 days or less will be subject to loss of 100% of program price.
  • Tour quotes do not include airfare to/from the trip start point unless noted on the itinerary
  • Cost increases in currency exchange, government fees, taxes, surcharges or hotel/lodge tariff increases between quote date and start date are payable by the client.
  • Availability cannot be guaranteed until booked. We will exercise best efforts to book hotels per the itinerary, however, in busy seasons and with client bookings made within 90 days of tour date we may be forced to offer substitutes.
  • Payment of the program price constitutes your acceptance of the terms and conditions set out at www.kensingtontours.com/terms-and-conditions
  • Living Standards and practices at destination may differ from those in North America with respect to provisions of utilities, services and accommodation.
* USD per person, double occupancy. Custom designed personal tour. Prices subject to change.


 

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