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 Bagan and Mandalay, Magical Inle Lake

Burma: Wonders of the Golden Land route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $6195  
Length: 14 days
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
2

Highlights

  • Magical Shwedagon Pagoda, with its golden spires
  • Enjoy a sunset at Bagan, a majestic valley 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


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 a land of ancient history, deep cultural traditions, and extraordinary landscapes. On our insider’s journey, you’ll explore Yangon, where towering Shwedagon Pagoda glints in the sun, watch the sun set over a thousand splendid temples in Bagan, and journey along the peaceful waters of the great Irrawaddy River in Mandalay. In Shan country, we hike to remote hilltribe villages and travel by boat to see bustling markets on the shores of crystalline Inle Lake. Along the way, our accommodations include an atmospheric waterfront chalet and a lovely hotel close to ancient pagodas and temples. Burma abounds with visual delights, but it’s the encounters with its friendly and deeply spiritual people that linger in your mind long after journey’s end.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Yangon

Our experiences in Yangon include joining Buddhist pilgrims at the immense, diamond-studded shrine of Shwedagon Pagoda, viewing the magnificent reclining Buddha at Kyaukthatgyi, and strolling alongside local shoppers in the lively Bogyoke Market.

Days 3-5
Bagan

Once the capital of ancient kingdoms, Bagan is absolutely extraordinary—two thousand pagodas and temples rise above emerald fields. We’ll explore the best of them, then take a private boat up the Irrawaddy River, hiking to the remote village of Tune Thiri.

Days 6-7
Mandalay

After “making merit” at the Maha Muni Pagoda, with its huge Buddha image covered with countless layers of gold leaf, we boat along the Irrawaddy to 14th century Sagaing, with its picturesque white hillside pagodas, and travel by horse-cart to the ruins of Ava, once the capital of Burma.

Days 8-14
Hilltribe Country / Inle Lake

On our hikes through hilltribe country, we’ll explore markets and visit villages renowned for their elaborate traditional dress. Explore vast Inle Lake by longboat and visit the famous long-neck Palaung tribe. Depart on Day 14 via Yangon.

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
Dec 22, 2014-Jan 4, 2015  Mathew Smith
2015
Feb 16-Mar 1, 2015  Mathew Smith
Nov 7-20, 2015  Andrew Forbes
Dec 19, 2015-Jan 1, 2016  Mathew Smith
2016
Jan 9-22, 2016  David Henley
Feb 6-19, 2016  Mathew Smith

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

Trip Cost

Prices valid through Spring 2015
$6195 (15-16 members)
$6495 (11-14 members)
$6795 (7-10 members)
Single supplement: $1580
Forced single supplement: $1580
Internal airfare: $850 (subject to change)
Holiday surcharge (December): $200
Optional balloon ride in Bagan: $350 (must be booked in advance, price subject to change)
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Bangkok Extension
   from: $645
Phuket Extension
   from: $795
Chiang Mai Extension
   from: $490
Temples of Angkor Extension
   from: $850

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% of trip cost
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
90-61 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
60 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Internal Airfare Payment, Change, and Cancellation Fee Schedule: In order to secure your seats on Internal Air flights, Wilderness Travel must request and confirm your tickets as soon as you sign up on the trip. Payment for Internal Air will be collected from each trip member at the time of reservation. Once issued, internal air tickets are subject to a $100 per person fee for any changes or cancellation until 60 days prior to the trip. Within 60 days of the trip, all tickets are non-refundable. The name on your tickets must match your passport exactly, and any name changes are subject to these same fees. We therefore request that you send us a scanned copy of your passport photo page immediately upon reserving your trip. Internal Air payments and cancellation fees are in addition to Trip Cost payments and cancellation fees as noted above.

*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 ...
Click here for full description and more photos

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 ...
Click here for full description and more photos

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 ...
Click here for full description and more photos

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).

Andrew Forbes

Departure Dates: November 7-20, 2015

Andrew Forbes, PhD, originally from Great Britain, taught Asian history at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland until 1990, when he moved to Southeast Asia to make writing a full-time career. He lives in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand with his wife and son, and writes travel books and political ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

David Henley

Departure Dates: January 9-22, 2016

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. In addition to trip leading and traveling throughout Southeast ...
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, December 19, 2015-January 1, 2016, February 6-19, 2016

Mathew Smith, a former language teacher from the UK, went to Thailand to teach in 1987 and fell in love with Southeast Asia. Fluent in Thai, Mathew is revered by trip members for his extraordinary knowledge of Southeast Asia’s politics, history, and culture, and also for his easygoing style ...
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