Photo by Gary James

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The Arc of the Sacred Symposium: Burma, the Golden Land

Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake
with WT Trip Leader David Henley

The Arc of the Sacred Symposium: Burma, the Golden Land route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $7995  
Length: 14 days
Arrive: Yangon, Burma
Depart: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Lodging: 13 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 2 dinners
Activity: Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Cultural explorations, walking tours


  • Four-day symposium at Angkor, one of the world’s most phenomenal artistic achievements, featuring five of the world’s top experts in classical Asian art and archaeology, architectural conservation, and Hindu and Buddhist cultures
  • 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
  • Ethereal Inle Lake, with its stilt villages, floating gardens, and fascinating leg-rowers

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.

This itinerary is part of the Arc of the Sacred Symposium & Tour Program, an extraordinary four-day symposium in Siem Reap, Cambodia, that explores the remarkable spiritual synchronicity that exists across Asian cultures.

The tour described on this page is one of six special journeys which are being offered in conjunction with the symposium. For information on the other symposium tours, click on these links: Temples & Treasures of Cambodia, Ancient Cities & Monuments of the Deccan Plateau, Buddhist & Hindu Kingdoms, Sacred Sites of Java & Bali, and Indochine.

Burma is startling in its quiet beauty, with dazzling green rice terraces, saffron-robed monks, and gold-spired pagodas glinting in the sun. On this insider’s journey, we visit nostalgic Yangon, with its magnificent Shwedagon temple bustling with pilgrims, and Mandalay, the cultural heart of Burma, where we journey by boat along the Irrawaddy River, and watch a golden sunset over a thousand temples at Bagan. In the heart of Shan country, we explore the suspended stilt villages and colorful daily 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

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

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

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 dating from the 14th to the 19th centuries.

Days 8-10
Hilltribe Country / Inle Lake

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. We also visit a hilltribe market, a bustling affair with fruits and vegetables, blacksmiths, food stalls, gambling Burmese-style, and much more, contingent on the rotating 5-day Inle Lake market schedule. Return to Yangon on Day 10.

Days 11-14
The Arc of the Sacred Symposium

Fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Presentations, excursions, and other activities with our guest speakers at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort. Depart on Day 17.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

The Arc of the Sacred Brochure

Download The Arc of the Sacred brochure, featuring a symposium at Angkor Wat with journeys from Nepal to Indonesia. Or request a print copy to be sent by mail.

Optional Extensions

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

What the Trip is Like

The trip is Level 1+, or Easiest. It is a cultural adventure, and for the most part, physical activity is light. There will be extensive walking both during the symposium and during the tour, some of it up or down hill, some over uneven footing, and we will spend some time clambering around temple structures. We encourage you to get in shape for the trip because travel to remote places does require some physical stamina. Although this is not a difficult trip, please remember that travel in Asia can be an adventure. The essential requirements are flexibility, a sense of humor, curiosity, enthusiasm about new peoples and places, and an openness to the unexpected.

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.

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, flights may be re-scheduled or re-routed without 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



Future dates have not been set for this itinerary. Please contact us if you would like to be notified of trip dates once they are available.

Program Cost

Prices are for 2015
$7995 (15-16 members)
$8595 (11-14 members)
$9295 (8-10 members)
Single supplement: $1690
Internal airfare: $1010 (subject to change)
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Bangkok Extension
   from: $645
Phuket Extension
   from: $795
Chiang Mai Extension
   from: $490
Laos: Luang Prabang Extension
   from: $860

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: $1000
180 days prior to departure: 25% 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: $500 per person
270-181 days prior to departure: $1000 per person
180-91 days prior to departure: 100% of trip cost
90 days or less: 100% of trip cost

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

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Program of presentations by Guest Speakers and symposium excursions
  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Deluxe accommodations based on double occupancy, including three nights at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort during the symposium, and deluxe hotels in Burma
  • Welcome and farewell dinners
  • All meals included except 1 lunch and 2 dinners
  • Sightseeing and activities as noted
  • Airport transfers on scheduled arrival and departure dates
  • Land transportation in air-conditioned buses
  • Entrance fees and service charges
  • Bottled water included with all meals; sodas and soft drinks also included with meals during tour
  • Baggage handling; gratuities to hotel and restaurant staff

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare from US to Siem Reap, Cambodia, and from Yangon (Rangoon), Burma, to US; transfers for independent arrival or departure; any meals not specified after each itinerary day; 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.)

Kandawgyi Palace Hotel

Kandawgyi Palace Hotel

Days 1 to 2 (2 nights),
Day 10 (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

Inle Princess Resort

Inle Princess Resort

Days 8 to 9 (2 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

Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort

Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort

Days 11 to 13 (3 nights), Siem Reap, Cambodia

Set among lovely gardens and ponds, the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort will feel like an oasis of serenity after a full day exploring the temples ...
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.

Optional Extensions

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


Laos: Luang Prabang Extension

Gilded Temples and Traditional Buddhist Culture of Laos

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 2


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