local canoes and golden temple on the Irrawaddy River in Burma

Taking goods to market on the Irrawaddy

The rural rhythms of Burma create a dreamscape for travelers. Goods are still taken to market by boat, bullock carts and bicycles are more numerous than cars, and an ancient Buddhist culture thrives in gold-spired temples.

Photo by Alan Tobey

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Burma: Wonders of the Golden Land

The Ancient Cities of Mandalay and Bagan, Magical Inle Lake

Burma: Wonders of the Golden Land route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $5895  
Length: 14 days
Arrive: Yangon, Burma
Depart: Yangon, Burma
Lodging: 13 nights in hotels
Meals: All meals included except 3 dinners
Activity: Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Cultural explorations, optional hikes of 2-4 hours
2

Highlights

  • Magical Shwedagon Pagoda, with its golden spires inviting Buddhist pilgrims and monks to offer devotions
  • Bagan, a majestic valley filled with thousands of ancient pagodas
  • Meet fascinating hilltribe peoples in traditional villages
  • Ethereal Inle Lake, with its stilt villages, floating gardens, and fascinating leg-rowers
  • Boat along the great Irrawaddy River


We managed to pack in an enormous amount in the time we spent in Myanmar. It is one of the most interesting countries I have visited and the WT arrangements certainly allowed us to make the most of the opportunity.Philip M.—N Wales

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Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Long hidden from the outside world, Burma is “quite unlike any land you know about,” as Rudyard Kipling famously wrote. On this insider’s journey, we explore a corner of Asia little changed from the past as we visit nostalgic Yangon, where towering Shwedagon temple glints in the sun, watch a golden sunset over a thousand temples at Bagan, and journey by boat along the Irrawaddy River in Mandalay, the cultural heart of Burma. In Shan country, we visit remote hilltribe villages and explore the markets of beautiful Inle Lake. Burma abounds with visual delights, but it’s our encounters with its deeply spiritual people that linger in our mind long after journey’s end.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Yangon

Our explorations in Yangon include a walk along the waterfront, the lively Bogyoke Market, with its array of Burmese handicrafts, and a visit to Shwedagon, a golden, jewel-encrusted temple that Rudyard Kipling called a “beautiful, winking wonder that blazed in the sun.”

Days 3-5
Bagan

We enjoy two full days to explore remarkable Bagan, Burma’s first World Heritage Site, where 2,000 pagodas and temples are scattered across the countryside. At sunset, the views from atop the temples are absolutely entrancing. (An optional "Balloons Over Bagan" champagne flight is available.) Outside of Bagan, we take a private boat trip on the Irrawaddy River for a hike to a remote village that offers us a glimpse of rural Burmese life.

Days 6-7
Mandalay

We “make merit” at the Maha Muni Pagoda, with its huge Buddha image that devotees have covered with countless layers of gold leaf, then journey by local boat down the Irrawaddy River to visit 14th century Sagaing with its array of picturesque white hillside pagodas. Traveling by horse-cart to the ruins of Ava, we explore this Burmese capital from the 14th to the 19th centuries.

Days 8-14
Hilltribe Country / Inle Lake

Built around a small lake and dotted with aging Buddhist temples and crumbling British colonial architecture, Kyaing Tong is arguably the most scenic town in the Shan State. In the surrounding mountains are numerous hilltribe villages including those of the Akha, Lahu, Ann, Palaung, and Wa—all who still wear traditional dress, and we explore their villages and markets on foot along mountain trails. Flying to Heho, we drive to vast and beautiful Inle Lake, “mystical, magical, outrageously picturesque.” Exploring by longboat, we visit several fascinating lakeside villages, including that of the famous long-neck Padaung tribe, a subgroup of the Karen, best known for the women’s extensive brass neck rings. Fly to Yangon on Day 13 and depart on Day 14.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 2, or Easy to Moderate, according to our trip grading system. Although not physically demanding, the trip will yield greater rewards if you are in good physical condition and able to stay on your feet for 6-7 hours per day. There is much to see each day, and a fair amount of walking is necessary to take it all in.  Day 9 has a hike of 2 or more hours as we visit hilltribe people in their villages. The hike is optional but very rewarding.

All the hotels we use are privately owned and operated (not government-run). Our hotels in Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle Lake will be good to very good. We will have porters to carry our luggage in most places. However there may be times when we need to carry our own luggage, so luggage with rollers work best.

Our two nights in Kyaing Tong are one of the highlights of the trip—the hill people we see are some of the most fascinating anywhere in the world. That said, Kyaing Tong is not on the main tourist route and facilities for tourists are marginal. Our Kyaing Tong hotel is adequate but basic (hot water, electricity, private toilets, air conditioning, etc.). Electricity at the hotel is variable and may be turned off at times (if it is, it's usually from about 10:00 pm to 6:00 am), and there is no street lighting, so you will need a flashlight with extra batteries for Kyaing Tong.

A Note on Travel in Burma
Travelers on our journeys to Burma have returned with glowing reports about the trip as well as the warmth and friendliness of the people and the natural beauty of the country.  However, please note that in Burma, you must be prepared for the possibility of changes or adjustments in the planned itinerary. For example, the government can suddenly close a hiking trail without prior notice. Weather conditions and other factors beyond our control can result in last-minute schedule changes on internal flights. A spirit of adventure, flexibility, and an ability to adapt to new situations are essential for travel in Burma.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2014
Nov 10-23, 2014  David Henley
Dec 22, 2014-Jan 4, 2015  Mathew Smith
2015
Feb 16-Mar 1, 2015  Mathew Smith

Special The Arc of the Sacred Symposium departure!
Jan 12-28, 2015

Trip Cost

Prices valid through Spring 2014
$5895 (15-16 members)
$6195 (10-14 members)
$6595 (7-9 members)
Single supplement: $1425
Forced single supplement: $1425
Internal airfare: $850 (subject to change)
Optional balloon ride in Bagan: $350 (must be booked in advance, price subject to change)
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Bangkok Extension
   from: $595
Phuket Extension
   from: $795
Chiang Mai Extension
   from: $425
Temples of Angkor Extension
   from: $775

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Deluxe accommodations in top quality hotels: Kandawgyi Palace (Yangon); Thande (Bagan); Mandalay Hill Resort (Mandalay); Princess (Kyaing Tong); Inle Princess Resort (Inle Lake)
  • Welcome and farewell dinners
  • All meals included except 3 dinners
  • Airport transfers for all passengers
  • Land transportation in air-conditioned buses
  • Entrance fees and service charges
  • Bottled water supplied everywhere; coffee, tea, sodas, soft drinks, and water included with meals
  • Baggage handling; gratuities to hotel and restaurant staff

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare from US to Yangon (Rangoon) and from Yangon to US; transfers for independent arrival or departure; any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure; international airport departure taxes; optional "Balloons over Bagan" flight; hotels en route and any hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors; optional tipping or gratuities to trip leader, and local Burmese guide and drivers; medical immunizations, travel insurance, passport and visa fees; items of a personal nature (beverages other than bottled water, tea, coffee, and sodas with meals), laundry, telephone, internet, etc.)

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: $500
150 days prior to departure: 50%
90 days prior to departure: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $250 per person
61-120 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
60 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Kandawgyi Palace Hotel

Kandawgyi Palace Hotel

Days 1 to 2 (2 nights),
Day 13 (1 night), Yangon, Burma

Originally opened in 1934 as the Rangoon Rowing Club, the Kandawgyi Palace is set along the lotus-covered waters of Royal Lake, not far from ...
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Thande Hotel

Thande Hotel

Days 3 to 5 (3 nights), Bagan, Burma

With a riverside location on the Irrawaddy, the Thande has a tranquil setting among tropical trees and manicured lawns. The main building, built in ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel

Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel

Days 6 to 7 (2 nights), Mandalay, Burma

Set at the base of Mandalay Hill, this hotel has great views of Mandalay and the Irrawaddy River, comfortable rooms, a lovely pool and garden, three ...
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Princess Hotel

Days 8 to 9 (2 nights), Kyaing Tong, Burma

The town of Kyaing Tong is off the beaten path and there is a limited choice of accommodations. We stay at the Princess Hotel, which, while very basic, has clean rooms, a friendly staff, and the best location in town.

Inle Princess Resort

Inle Princess Resort

Days 10 to 12 (3 nights), Inle Lake, Burma

Arriving at the Inle Princess Resort by boat is the perfect introduction to this secluded, atmospheric retreat. Its setting is exquisite—right ...
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Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions options:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

David Henley

Departure Dates: November 10-23, 2014

David Henley was born and raised in England, where he studied as a commercial photographer before embarking on an extended adventure throughout Asia. He eventually settled in Chiang Mai, where he has been living for over 25 years, and he is married with two children. David’s passion remains ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Mathew Smith

Departure Dates: December 22, 2014-January 4, 2015, February 16-March 1, 2015

Mathew Smith, a former language teacher from the UK, went to Thailand to teach in 1987, fell in love with Southeast Asia, and met his future wife. He now lives in Chiang Mai with his wife and daughter. Fluent in Thai, Mathew is loved by trip members for his extraordinary knowledge of Southeast ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

Cambodia

angkor wat cambodia temples

Temples of Angkor Extension

Exploring the Glories of a Bygone Khmer Civilization

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 2

Thailand

wat arun bangkok thailand

Bangkok Extension

Discover the Beautiful Cultural Monuments of Bangkok

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1

Chiang Mai Extension

Explore the Wonders of Northern Thailand

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 2

Phuket Extension

Explore a Jewel Set in the Andaman Sea

Cultural Adventures, Sea Kayaking
4 days  -  Level 2

Client Comments

We managed to pack in an enormous amount in the time we spent in Myanmar. It is one of the most interesting countries I have visited and the WT arrangements certainly allowed us to make the most of the opportunity. Philip M., N Wales I really enjoyed this trip and would recommend it highly to other people. Jamey H., ­Newton Center, MA I wish I could go back to see more! Inle Lake was fantastic. Dianne L., Fairfax Station, VA This trip kept us busy the entire time! There were so many wonderful things to see and do. Jane F., Naples, FL Our second trip and not our last. We'd been waiting for years to visit Myanmar and would not have done it any other way. Paul G., Seattle, WA
It was just a really delightful trip. We saw so many different things that it made my mind boggle. Nina Z., Newdigate, England The trip was busy, fun, and interesting. Max was a real positive in terms of making it fun. Barbara M., Weston, MA As usual, Wilderness provides outstanding guides, great places to stay, and a very complete itinerary. I feel like I truly saw and experienced Myanmar. Thank you! Vivian L., Alameda, CA A wonderful trip with great guides, itineraries, hotels, and transportation. It was one of my favorites of my 10 Wilderness trips. Julia D., San Carlos, CA We've been raving about this trip to everyone since we got home! Onnolee T., Portola Valley, CA