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
with Roger Williams
Repertory Trip: Next Offered November 3-30, 2014

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $11,995  
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.

Departure Notes

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

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  It will be several years before this journey is offered again. Now is the time to go!

Adventure awaits on the legendary Burma Road! Join veteran Asia Trip Leader Roger Williams for a memorable journey from Kunming, China, to Rangoon (Yangon), 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 two fascinating countries and cultures. Along the way, we explore the Old Town of Dali with a Bai elder, 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, and finish in nostalgic Rangoon, with its magnificent gold-spired Shwedagon temple bustling with monks and pilgrims. This promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience of Asia!

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 / 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


Departures & Leaders

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered only every two to five years. This journey will not be offered again for several years. Now is the Time to Go!

Nov 3-30, 2014  Roger Williams

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014
$11995 (12-15 members)
$12995 (10-11 members)
$13995 (7-9 members)
Single supplement: $2875
Forced single supplement: $2675
Internal airfare: $590 (subject to change)
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations as noted
  • All meals included
  • Drinking water provided everywhere
  • Airport transfers as noted
  • Land transportation in air-conditioned buses
  • Entrance fees and service charges
  • Baggage handling

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare; transfers for independent arrival or departure; international airport departure taxes; hotels en route and any hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors; any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure; optional tipping or gratuities to trip leader, and local guide and drivers; medical immunizations, travel insurance, passport and visa fees; items of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, telephone, etc.)

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $250 per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

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

Roger Williams

Roger Williams has led Wilderness Travel trips for over 25 years. He is a Tibetologist who lived in Nepal for eight years, studying Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist iconographics, Himalayan languages, and woodblock art. He lived in Kyoto for two years studying Japanese woodblock art, Japanese language, and Shingon Shu, an esoteric sect of Japanese Buddhism. Roger has led many trips for us through India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, along the Silk Road, in Southeast Asia, to Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Iran, Mongolia, and into remote corners of the Russian Far East. Since 2002, Roger has been working as a technical advisor with USAID consulting in tourism development projects in Mongolia, Armenia and Croatia. In July, 2010, he returned from his third The Great Game journey, a special WT Expedition that included visits to the Wakhan Valley as well as Mazar i-Sharif and Balk (formally Bactria) in northern Afghanistan. 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.

Upcoming Trips:

Trans-Caucasus Adventure, September 6-30, 2014
Land of the Golden Fleece, September 30-October 9, 2014
The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon, November 3-30, 2014
Journey to the Heart of China, April 5-30, 2015
Adventures in Shangri-La, June 3-24, 2015
Journey to the Roof of the World, June 24-July 4, 2015
Central Asia Explorer, August 24-September 15, 2015
Iran: The Land of Cyrus the Great, September 15-28, 2015
China's Wild Southwest, October 13-November 4, 2015

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