shwedagon pagoda rangoon yangon burma myanmar

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

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The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon

Breathtaking Landscapes, Golden Temples & Overland Adventure
Repertory Trip: No Future Dates Set

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
Length: 28 days
Arrive: Kunming,China
Depart: Rangoon, Burma
Lodging: 27 nights in hotels, inns, guest houses
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Walking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 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.

Repertory Trip

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

Days 1-4
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.

Days 5-7
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.

Days 8-10
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.

Days 11-13
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.

Days 14-16

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.

Days 17-18

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.

Days 19-24
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.

Days 25-28
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.

Explanation of Trip Levels

Arrival & Departure Information

You are responsible for your own transportation to the arrival and from the departure cities listed below. For more detailed information, including transfers, please download the Detailed Itinerary.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.

2016 Departures

Meeting Place:
Date: Day 1

Suggested Arrival Airport:

Kunming,China (airport code KMG)
Rangoon, Burma
Date: Day 28

Suggested Airport for Departure:

Rangoon, Burma (airport code RGN)

Roger Williams

In 1986, Roger Williams led his first Wilderness Travel trip. Nearly 30 years later, he shows no sign of stopping, with added trips filling up quicker than the one before. If it isn’t the surplus of knowledge Roger brings when he leads a trip that makes it so unique, including his cultural insight to places like Nepal (where he spent eight years studying Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist iconographics, Himalayan languages, and woodblock art) and Japan (where he spent another two years studying Japanese woodblock art, Japanese language, and Shingon Shu, an esoteric sect of Japanese Buddhism), then it may be his awareness for cultural preservation that keep clients coming back. In July 2014, he returned from The Great Game journey, a special Wilderness Travel Expedition that included visits to the Wakhan Valley as well as Mazar i-Sharif and Balk (formally Bactria) in northern Afghanistan. Roger has also been working as a technical advisor with USAID consulting in tourism development projects in Mongolia, Armenia, and Croatia. When not leading trips, Roger is the director of Snow Lion Graphics/SLG Books in Berkeley, California, a publishing house specializing in books and calendars relating to Asian cultures. “There should be a rating higher than excellent for Roger,” one client wrote after her Central Asia Explorer trip with Roger. “His knowledge, energy, planning, and attentiveness are superlative.”

Upcoming Trips:

China's Wild Southwest, October 13-November 4, 2015
India's Malabar Coast, January 27-February 20, 2016
Iran: In the Footsteps of Kings, March 10-April 2, 2016
Iran: In the Footsteps of Kings, April 7-30, 2016
Trans-Caucasus Adventure, May 20-June 13, 2016
Nagorno-Karabakh: Land of the Black Garden, June 13-22, 2016
The Great Game, August 20-September 14, 2016
Wonders of Nepal: Festival of Lights, October 18-November 1, 2016
Eastern Bhutan and India's Wild Northeast Frontier, November 21-December 17, 2016

Client Testimonials:

Tibet is a place like no other on the planet! Roger’s language skills and knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism opened many doors. Connie D., Alamo CA
Heart of Tibet
Exceedingly knowledgeable, very caring. Priscilla and Franklin O., Malvern PA
Mystical Bhutan
Roger knows how to run a trip. He’s very organized and clearly communicates the daily plan. Also, he's a lot of fun and I was impressed with his expertise on Buddhist iconography. Fran M., Mill Valley, CA
Hidden Himalayas
Roger is remarkable. This trip showed him at his best. We could never have traveled across the roof of the world without his preparation and energy. Thanks for a grand experience! Ruth and Frank H., Edmonds WA
In the Footsteps of the Great Game
Roger takes good care of his travelers and we learned a lot about the people, their culture, and history. His love for this part of the world is infectious. Ruth G., Del Mar CA
In the Footsteps of the Great Game
Roger is great! Hard working, knowledgeable, personable. He really makes a difference. Bill R., Walnut Creek, CA
Passage to India
I can understand why Roger has such a big following. He worked all the time to make the trip the best it could be. Marsha S., New York, NY
The Great Game
Roger is clearly a well-seasoned professional. He is passionate about India and it shows everyday, whether it is interacting with the locals or talking about the iconographics and sites. Grace L., Boston, MA
Passage to India
Exceptional dedication, passion, and professionalism. Roger has the right personality and attitude for this. Jonathan T., Boston, MA
Passage to India
Roger is a wealth of knowledge and very well traveled. He takes his duties as trip leader extremely seriously and goes out of his way to please each client. Terri H., Berkeley, CA
Armenia and Beyond
Roger provided a unique and enjoyable travel experience. His knowledge and familiarity with the sites visited and enthusiasm for these countries and peoples made this a great travel experience. Judy A., Davis, CA
The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon
Roger's extensive travel experience and knowledge of Asian culture and Buddhism greatly enhanced the trip. And all the planning he did before and during the trip ensured an excellent itinerary and made everything run smoothly. Nancy R., Walnut Creek, CA
Tribal China
There should be a rating higher than excellent for Roger. His knowledge, energy, planning, and attentiveness are superlative. Debra B., Jackson, WY
Central Asia Explorer
Roger is the best tour leader with lots of experiece and profound knowledge of the subject area. Kudos to him and WT. Tan Kiet T., Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tribal China
Roger has tremendous skills as a trip leader. He has a real gift with people and his relationship with local guides enriches the areas we visit. Joan L., Baltimore, MD
Journey to the Heart of China
Roger is simply a brilliant organizer and always finds the very best services available. He also brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to anything Asian. Elizabeth M., Providence, RI
The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon
I'm struck again with the magnitude of the incredible adventure you led us on. I have pretty much traveled the world since that trip, with adventures galore...but nothing has, or ever will, compare to it. Aleen S., Cedar Mountain, NC
The Great Silk Road
Roger is an exceptional trip leader with an historian's grasp of the influences shaping this part of the world. Kathe W., Pittsburgh, PA
The Best of Southeast Asia
Roger was nothing short of outstanding as a trip leader...managing people as well as logistics of a 25+ day intensive trip. He has a clear desire to share his knowledge, interest, and excitement about Southeast Asia. We've had a lot of good Trip Leaders and I'd rate Roger as #1 on my list. Greg W., Pittsburgh, PA
The Best of Southeast Asia
Roger was well organized, with careful planning and terrific knowledge of the culture and religion. His interaction with the group was unlike anything we have experienced on prior trips. He is a real treasure for WT, one of your best. Donald H., Farmington, CT
The Best of Southeast Asia
Roger is a flexible leader who listens to his travelers and absolutely cannot do enough for people. He looked after us well and programmed as much variety into the trip as possible. Mary R., New York, NY
Trans-Caucasus Adventure
Roger is amazing! His knowledge of the history and culture of the area is extensive and he can recall all sorts of information on any number of subjects. His enthusiasm, kindness, and energy never wane. Jane F., Naples, FL
The Great Game
Roger is a lot of fun, as well as being extremely knowledgeable! He goes out of his way to make the trip interesting and comfortable for those traveling with him. Catherine H., Cambridge, MA
Journey to the Heart of China