Shwedagon Pagoda, Rangoon, Burma
As we stroll around Shwedagon Pagoda, the full magic, enchantment, and serenity of Burma comes to life.
Photo by Alan Tobey
Trip Details at-a-Glance
|Lodging:||27 nights in hotels, inns, guest houses|
|Meals:||All meals included|
|Activity:||Walking, Cultural Adventures|
Overland cultural adventure with optional hikes
- Dali and Kunming, with their medieval centers
- Maymyo, a classic British hill station
- Bagan, a majestic valley filled with thousands of ancient pagodas
- Rangoon’s amazing Shwedagon Pagoda, bustling with Buddhist pilgrims
- Traditional hill tribe cultures of Yunnan and northern Burma
You couldn't ask for a more interesting trip combining beauty, rich cultural interest, and fascinating ancient as well as modern history.Elizabeth M.—Providence, RI
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.
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.
This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years. Future dates have not been set for this trip, but you can see the “Itinerary at a Glance” and the “Full Detailed Itinerary” below (there may be small changes to the itinerary for the future departures, and prices will be finalized closer to departure). Contact us to receive early notification of the trip dates. These special trips fill very quickly once the exact dates are set!
Adventure awaits on the legendary Burma Road! Join Asia Trip Leader Roger Williams for a memorable journey from Kunming, China, to Yangon (formerly Rangoon), Burma, by way of dazzling green rice terraces, deep river gorges, hilltribe villages, colonial hill stations, and layers of history on one of the most famous mountain roads in the world. With the opening of long-forbidden northern Burma, we are thrilled to offer this overland journey linking these two fascinating countries and cultures.
The Burma Road was just a foot trail during the days of the Southern Silk Route, when pony caravans made their arduous journey from Burma’s green hills to the snowy highlands of Tibet. The route cuts across the steep grain of the lower Himalayas as well as the tremendous gorges of the Mekong and Salween rivers and meanders in hairpin turns through breathtaking subtropical mountains. During World War II, when Burma was a British colony, the British used the Burma Road as a supply route to China until the Japanese captured it in 1942, cutting off the sole lifeline for the struggling armies of General Chiang Kai-shek. Supplies for the Chinese forces were then flown by volunteer American pilots—the Flying Tigers—on dangerous missions “over the hump” of Himalayan peaks in northern Burma and southern Yunnan. The Allies reclaimed the Burma Road in 1945.
As we make our way across this historic road through a green tapestry of mountains and rivers, we walk the narrow lanes of the Old Town of Dali, explore by horse-drawn carriage in the old British hill station of Maymyo, boat to ancient shrines along the Irrawaddy, watch a golden sunset over a thousand temples on the great plain of Bagan, explore hilltribe villages, and finish our journey in nostalgic Yangon, with its magnificent gold-spired Shwedagon temple bustling with monks and pilgrims. Join us for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with one of our most experienced Trip Leaders!
Itinerary at a Glance
For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary
Kunming, China / Dali
We explore Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, set at an altitude of 6,000 feet, and visit to the famed rock pinnacles of the Stone Forest. Flying to beautiful Dali, we explore its picturesque Old Town. Today it is the center of the Bai, a Tibeto-Burmese people, and we enjoy dinner with a local Bai family. We also visit the walled city of Weishan, once a stop on the ancient Tea Horse Road.
Burma Road / Tengchong / Heshun
Heading south on the Burma Road, we pass through a lush landscape of forests, farmlands, and Dai villages. In Tengchong, once an important stop on the Southern Silk Route, we visit the local market and the preserved village of Heshun.
Burma Road / Mangshi / Ruili
A journey along the Burma Road bring us to the town of Mangshi, also known as Luxi City. En route, we visit a Qing Dynasty residence known as the Xuanfu Chieftain Office, first built in 1851. We explore around Mangshi, the county seat of Luxi County, with a leisurely stroll through the local market and a visit to some of its gold-spired Buddhist temples. Our overland drive conintues to Ruili, a bustling trading center on the border with Burma.
Muse, Burma / Lashio / Hsipaw / Maymyo
We get an early start for our border crossing, meeting with our Burmese guide at Muse, the first Burmese town over the border, set on the banks of the Shweli River. We then set out on a drive to Lashio, capital of Burma’s Northern Shan State, with its market full of local hill tribe people. We continue to the friendly town of Hsipaw, also a great place to meet hill tribe peoples. We visit two of Hsipaw’s temples, the Ko Myo Shin and Pa Le Yin (The Altar of Spiritual Being), then walk through farms to small Shan villages along the banks of the Dohtawaddy River. After a visit to Hsipaw’s “candlelight” Shan market, named for its early morning start, we drive through the scenic hills of Shan State to the old town of Pyin Oo Lwin, known as Maymyo during British times.
In Mandalay, Burma’s cultural capital, we walk up Mandalay Hill for sunset views, explore the Mahamuni Pagoda, with its huge Buddha image that devotees have covered with countless layers of gold leaf, ferry to the ruins of Ava, the Burmese capital from the 14th to the 19th centuries, and visit Amarapura, the old capital of Burma prior to Mandalay.
We have two days to explore remarkable Bagan (formerly Pagan), Burma’s first World Heritage Site, where 2,000 pagodas and temples are scattered across 24 square miles of countryside. Built in the 11th century and overrun just 200 years later by Kublai Khan, Bagan is one of the most extraordinary sights in Burma if not in all of Southeast Asia. At sunset, the views from atop the temples are ethereal.
Pindaya Caves / Kalaw / Tauggyi / Inle Lake
Flying to Heho, we head to Pindaya, with its ancient Buddhist caves, and explore villages around the old hill town of Kalaw. In the town of Taunggyi, we visit the market, a bustling gathering place for mingling with locals as well as many hilltribe people, and at magical Inle Lake, we visit floating markets and silk-weaving villages from our lakeside hotel. A day hike brings us through subtropical hills to a traditional Pa-O village.
Old Rangoon and Shwedagon
In Rangoon, we mingle with Buddhist pilgrims at Shwedagon, Kipling’s “winking wonder,” the largest Buddhist temple of its kind in the world, a magical sight in the early morning light and at twilight. We also visit the eight-sided Sule Pagoda, the Bogyoke Market, and stroll along the bustling waterfront of the Rangoon River. Depart on Day 28.
For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary
What the Trip is Like
This trip is Level 2, easy to moderate, according to our trip grading system. It is an overland cultural adventure, and for the most part, physical activity is light (all hiking is optional) but we still encourage participants to get in shape for the trip because travel to remote places does require some physical stamina. There will be long driving days on the journey. Please note that you will be visiting areas where tourism has been relatively limited. We ask that you make a special effort to bring flexibility and a spirit of adventure to this unique journey.
Arrival & Departure InformationYou are responsible for your own transportation arriving to Kunming,China and departing from Rangoon, Burma. For more detailed information, including transfers, please download the Detailed Itinerary.
Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip and have reviewed your proposed air schedule with our office. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.
Date: Day 1
Suggested Arrival Airport:
Kunming,China (airport code KMG)
Date: Day 28
Suggested Airport for Departure:
Rangoon, Burma (airport code RGN)