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The Ancient Cities of Bagan and Mandalay, Magical Inle Lake


Long hidden from the outside world, Burma is a land of ancient history, deep cultural traditions, and extraordinary landscapes—it’s captivated us for years! Join us as we explore Yangon, where towering Shwedagon Pagoda glints in the sunlight, watch a sunset over a thousand splendid temples in Bagan, and journey along the peaceful waters of the great Irrawaddy River in Mandalay. In Shan country, we visit remote hilltribe villages and travel by boat to see bustling markets on the shores of crystalline Inle Lake. From one picturesque spot to another, linked by wonderful accommodations, excellent cuisine, and friendly, deeply spiritual people, this trip is as enchanting to the eyes as it is to the soul.

The superior quality of each and every part of this trip cannot be too highly praised! The marvelous stream of information kept us perfectly informed about each and every aspect of our voyage, what to expect and when and where. I found the pace just perfect.
— Sara Z. Alexandria, VA

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2

In Yangon, we join Buddhist pilgrims at the immense Shwedagon Pagoda, a golden, jewel-encrusted temple that Rudyard Kipling called a “beautiful, winking wonder that blazed in the sun.” We’ll also view the magnificent reclining Buddha at Kyaukhtatgyi and stroll alongside shoppers in the lively Bogyoke Market.

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Days 3-5

Once the capital of ancient kingdoms, Bagan is absolutely extraordinary—two thousand pagodas and temples rise majestically above emerald fields. At sunset, the views from atop the temples are absolutely entrancing. We’ll explore the best of them, then take a private boat up the Irrawaddy River to visit a remote village not frequented by other tour groups, which offers us a glimpse of rural Burmese life.

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Days 6-7

After “making merit” at the Maha Muni Pagoda, with its huge Buddha image covered with countless layers of gold leaf, we travel by horse-cart to the ruins of Ava, the ancient capital of Burma, and capture beautiful sunset photos at U Bein Bridge.

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Days 8-14
Hilltribe Country / Inle Lake

In Shan country, we walk village-to-village, often meeting hilltribe people on the trails as they go to their fields. At vast Inle Lake, famous for its leg-rowers, we explore lakeside communities by longboat, visit a hilltribe market, walk to caves filled with ancient Buddha images, and learn about Burma’s deep spiritual beliefs from the abbot of a Buddhist monastery. Depart on Day 14 via Yangon.

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Magical Shwedagon Pagoda, with its golden spires
Enjoy a sunset at Bagan, a majestic plain filled with thousands of ancient pagodas
Meet fascinating hilltribe people in traditional villages
Ethereal Inle Lake boasts stilt villages, floating gardens, and fascinating leg-rowers
Boat along the great Irrawaddy River
Enchanting accommodations include an atmospheric waterfront chalet


Length: 14 days
Cost From: $6195  
Arrive: Yangon, Burma
Depart: Yangon, Burma
Lodging: 13 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included except 3 dinners
Activity: Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

Cultural explorations, optional hikes of 2-4 hours