Explore the sublime beauty of Burma, a legendary realm of golden pagodas, nat spirits, ancient monasteries, and a warm and welcoming people. This one-time port of call for Kipling, Orwell, and Somerset Maugham has recently opened up to the outside world and is full of wonders, from the revered Shwedagon Pagoda in nostalgic Yangon (formerly Rangoon) to the astonishing ancient city of Bagan, “land of 2,000 temples.” This Private Journey includes Yangon, where towering Shwedagon glints in the sun, a golden sunset over the soaring temples of Bagan, a journey by boat along the Irrawaddy River in Mandalay, the cultural heart of Burma, and the markets and hill tribes of beautiful Inle Lake in the highlands. Burma abounds with visual delights, but it’s your encounters with its deeply spiritual people that may linger in your mind long after journey’s end.
Our guide was excellent: prepared, informed, attentive to our needs and comfort, and very easy to be with. I especially appreciated his flexibility and ability to adapt the itinerary to the needs of the moment and of the group.
— Molly M., Boise, ID
Yangon, Burma / Shwedagon Pagoda / Kandawgyi Lake
With its wide streets, parks, and lakes, Yangon has the sleepy charm of a provincial town. Crumbling British colonial mansions stand beside glittering pagodas, including one of the most remarkable religious shrines in all of Asia—the magical Shwedagon Pagoda. Much of Yangon’s allure stems from its colorful street life: sidewalk vendors, rickshaw drivers in striped longyis (sarongs), and people drinking endless cups of sweet, milky tea at roadside tea stalls. Explorations include magical Shwedagon Pagoda, whose enormous golden stupa dominates the city’s skyline, Kandawgyi Lake, the venerable Sule Pagoda, over 2,500 years old, and Chaukhtatkyi, known for its huge Reclining Buddha.
This ancient city in central Burma is reminiscent of other great ancient cities, such as of Angkor in Cambodia. It was the capital of several ancient Burmese kingdoms and more than 2,000 glorious pagodas still stand in isolation in the Bagan Valley. Visits include the monumental Dhammayangyi Pagoda and Mount Popa, considered the sacred home of the spirits. Watching a sunset from atop one of the temples is one of Bagan’s sublime experiences.
Mandalay / Amarapura / U Bein Bridge
Mandalay’s attractions include the Kuthodaw Pagoda, built in 1857 and home to “the world’s largest book,” some 700 inscribed stone tablets. You will also visit the temples at Amarapura, Shwenandaw Monastery, and enjoy a sunset walk on the UBein Bridge, the longest teak bridge in the world, and Mandalay Hill, home to many shrines.
Inle Lake / Floating Gardens / Kalaw
Vast Inle Lake is famous for its unique leg-rowers, who have perfected a style of rowing standing on one leg that requires remarkable balance. Enjoy a boat trip on the lake to visit the fascinating “floating” gardens and market, and head out to visit the town of Kalaw, a former British hill station at 5,000 feet that still retains is colonial architecture.
Red Mountain Estate Vineyard / Yangon / Depart
Head to Red Mountain Estate Vineyard, located on the side of Inle Lake, in the southern Shan State. Red Mountain Estate produces some of the best wines of the country using locally grown grapes—all of the 400,000 vines have been imported from France and Spain. Enjoy a tasting of several varieties of wine with some snacks while taking in the beautiful view from the top of the hill. After your flight back to Yangon, enjoy your final evening at leisure. Depart on Day 11.