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Home > Suggested Myanmar Itineraries > Optimum Classical Journeys > BOM15DPB

Best of Myanmar Tours


Tour Code: BOM15DPB

15-Day 14-Night – BOM15DPB
Yangon- Golden Rock--Mandalay-Monywa-Amarapura-Inwa-Sagaing-Mingun-Bagan -Pindaya-Kalaw-Katku-Inle Lake-Yangon

Itinerary Overview

Day Itinerary Transportation
1 Yangon – Arrival in the morning and sightseeing Car
2 Yangon – around 5-hrs drive to Golden Rock base camp with short visits en route (176km) – transfer to middle camp and begin 30-mins hike to the summit – visit of Golden Rock (Kyaikhtiyo) temple Car/ local pickup truck bus
3 Golden Rock – return to Yangon in the morning – visits in Bago on the way Car / local pickup truck bus
4 Yangon - fly to Mandalay and half day exploration to two ancient cities before Mandalay period: Amarapura & Inwa – then 2.5hrs drive to Monywa Car /Boat / horse cart / Flight
5 Monywa – visit Po Win Daung Caves, Thanboddhay Temple, & Bodhi Tataung before returning to Mandalay and visit some monuments of Sagaing Hills Car / Ferry boat / local jeep
6 Mandalay – half day excursion boat trip to Mingun village and continue visit In-City highlights of Mandalay in the afternoon Car/Boat
7 Mandalay – express boat (or even s-l-o-w… boat) to Bagan Car / Boat
8 Full day tour of Bagan, one of most interesting archaeological and historical sites of Aisa Car
9 Bagan – another full day visit to the remaining highlights of Bagan’s monuments Car
10 Bagan– fly to Heho in the morning – drive 3-hrs to Pindaya and tour of famous caves, study life and enjoy sceneries on the way – continue drive to old British hill resort town Kalaw by 2hrs drive Car / Flight / Boat
11 Kalaw – full day trekking tour to Palaung & Danu hill tribe villages On foot
12 Kalaw – drive 4-hrs to Katku via Southern Shan State capital Taunggyi to visit an amazing site – a forest of pagodas ruins – proceed to Inle Lake Car / Boat
13 Inle lake full day visit to see local 5-day market, floating villages, interesting pagodas, and impressive Inn Din ruins Boat
14 Inle Lake – optional 5-day market visit in the morning (or) fly back to Yangon in the morning and continue visit the remaining highlights in Yangon Car/Boat/Flight
15 Yangon – free and easy visits, departure out in the late afternoon Car
Operating Period: Year-round (though less comfort to do Golden Rock visit from June to September due to some rainfalls)

Detailed Program

Day Description
1 Arrival Yangon in the morning & sightseeing
Arrival Yangon in the morning welcomed by your guide from Santa Maria Tours and led to your hotel. Sightseeing in Yangon will be commenced after a brief rest at the hotel. You’ll be taken to the downtown sections to see the colonial buildings; the 'Botataung Hair Relic Pagoda' on the bank of Yangon River; the Sule Pagoda located at the heart of the city & the City Hall; and the Chauk-htat-gyi colossal reclining Buddha Image. In the afternoon, visit will be made to the World Famous Shwedagon Pagoda until sunset.
2 Yangon – drive to Golden Rock – tour Golden Rock in the afternoon
Have your breakfast at the hotel. At about 8:00am, drive directly to Golden Rock base camp (Kimpun camp) for around 4-hrs with short visits en route (Shwenyaungbin Nat Shrine, Htaukkyant WWII memorial graves, pottery village, Bago local market, fisherman village etc). Just north of Bago, turns off from main Yangon-Mandalay highway to the east taking the only accessible road to Kayin (Karen) State capital Hpa An and Mon State capital Mawlamyaing, the first British settlement in Myanmar. Before the road reaches up to Sittaung River Bridge, it parallels to a scenic small river filled with lives and passes through fisherman villages and rice fields that as far as your eyes can see. The road gets hilly and the terrains look different so as the vegetations as you entered into the land of Mon people just after crossing the Sittaung Bridge. At Kyaikhto, the road turns again to north off the main road, and after a short drive through the lush rubber forests, you will reach to Kimpum base camp, where you going to change into local public bus for a short 45-mins drive to the middle camp (Yathae Taung or Hermit Hill camp) along the winding steep road passing through dense tropical rainforests, gorges, and waterfalls. From the Hermit Hill camp, a strenuous 30-mins hike will begin all the way to the summit (from 600m to 1150m). If you hate of climbing, the sedan-chairs (palanquins) are readily available. After taking a short rest at the hotel near the summit, visit to Golden Rock temple, a magical site of perfectly balanced rock boulder topped by a sutpa containing hairs of Buddha. Enjoy stunning mountain sceneries and thrilling sunset view before start strolling around the platform and examine this awe-inspiring site. Stay overnight at the hotel near the summit.

Golden Rock – Return to Yangon with optional visit in 9th century Mon Kingdome Bago
Have your breakfast at the hotel. It will take around 3-hours to Bago, an old Mon and Burmese capital and the site of world’s tallest stupa Shwemawdaw soaring at 114m.

You will have two options:

  1. Visit in Bago to see attractive Bago open market, one-thousand-years old Shwethalung Buddha image, towering Shwemawdaw pagoda, King Bayintnaung’s 15th century Kanbawzathadi Palace, and chic Kyaikpun Buddhas. You will arrive to Yangon in the late afternoon
  2. Drive direct back to Yangon (you may visit the local market in Bago) and continue visit the Yangon’s biggest Bo Gyoke market and other minor pagodas

Yangon - fly to Mandalay, visit deserted cities of Amarapura & Inwa – continue to Monywa
Have breakfast at the hotel and transfer to Yangon airport at about 5:15am. Then, 1hr 20min flight to Mandalay, and upon arrival Mandalay airport, drives to directly to Amarapura. If time permissible, visit to a typical Burmese village on the way to Amarapura, in time to visit Mahagandayon Monastery with over 1000 Buddhist monks while they queue for their last meal of the day at 10:15am. You will also see one of traditional Burmese silk weaving looms that have been the major production center in Amarapura for more than 150-yrs. Afterwards, drive to Inwa ferry port, where you’ll take a short ferry ride across “Small River” and take a horse cart ride along bumpy jolting trail passing scenic farms dotted with pagoda ruins and typical Burmese villages. In Inwa, you will see an old huge wooden monastery, the site of the Inwa Palace and the leaning tower of Inwa, and the beautiful masonry monastery of Queen Maenu. Return to your car on the other side of the river and take around 2.5hrs (114km) drive to Monywa, a sizeable town on the bank of Chindwin River, northwest of Mandalay, passing through typical Burmese villages, pagodas and monasteries dotted along the road into the semi-desert land. Overnight in Monywa.

5 Monywa – Po Win Daung Caves visit – return to Mandalay with Sagaing Hills visit
Have your breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the jetty and take ferry across the Chindwin River and an hour local jeep ride along the narrow hilly road 25km west of Monywa to visit Po Win Daung Caves, where nearly 500 cave-temples are built inside the limestone cliffs between 14th and 18th centuries. Most of over 2500 Buddha images are carved out from the living rock and cave ceiling and walls are filled with bright murals dated to Inwa period. After a round walking tour of Po Win Daung Caves, return to Monywa to visit the magnificent and unique Thanboddhay temple. This brightly painted temple has enchanting atmosphere and some 582,373 Buddha images can be seen inside the nooks and the archways. Then, visit to Bodhi Tataung (1000 Buddhas), 4km to the east from Thanboddhay, to see one of Myanmar’s biggest reclining Buddha image (92km) and the world’s tallest outdoor standing Buddha (132m) before heading back to Mandalay. In Sagaing, visits will be made to unusually shaped Kaungmudaw Paya, the silversmith of Ywahtaung village producing impressive Burmese traditional silverwares, and some pagodas of Sagaing hills. Lastly, enjoy watching an unforgettable sunset view at centuries-old U Bein Bridge, known as the world’s longest span built by the teak wood. Proceed to Mandalay for overnight stop.
6 Mandalay – Mingun half-day tour by boat, and continue visit In-City highlights of Mandalay
Have your breakfast at the hotel before transfer to the jetty at about 8:00am. Then take a private boat on the legendary Ayarwaddy River for around 1-hr and visit some amazing monuments of 18th & 19th centuries, such as the huge unfinished Mingun Paya, the world biggest working Mingun Bell dedicated to the gigantic Mingun paya now known as the world’s biggest pile of bricks! Finally to the beautifully proportioned Myatheindan (Sinbyume) pagoda built to depict the heaven of Buddhist cosmology. Return to Mandalay about lunch time and continue visit the In-City highlights of Mandalay: the Mahamuni temple, the most important religious site of all upper Myanmar, the intricate wood-carved Golden Palace monastery: the world biggest stone books: the huge Kyaukdawgyi Marble image carved-out from a single block of stone: if there’s time, optional visit can be made to King Mindon's Myanansankyaw Palace site of Kaunbaung dynasty: Wind up the tour by visiting Mandalay Hill pagoda where you can enjoy the panoramic view to the city, palace & surrounding area atop from it just before sunset.
7 Mandalay – express boat to Bagan on legendary Ayerwaddy River
Have your early breakfast at the hotel and transfer to Mandalay jetty at about 6:15am. Embark your express boat (Shwe Keinnary or Malikha – please see the difference in River Transport Chapter) at about 6:30am and leave Royal Mandalay for Ancient Bagan at 7:00am. The duration of this boat trip will vary depending on the water level – approx. 8 to 9-hrs from June to November and 10 to 12hrs from December to March. Shortly after leaving Mandalay, the boat will pass Sagaing, a religious sanctuary, studded with numerous glittering stupas, monasteries, & nunneries, and the historic Ava Bridge built by the British in 1934. Then, the boat will pass by the island of Inwa, an ancient capital of Burmese, Shan, & the Mons, with it towering Palace Watch tower, and the remarkable yellowish Maenu brick monastery. You will see interesting activities of the local people on this life-line of Myanmar…fishing boats, river sand miners, river villages, cargo boats carrying pottery to rice and cans of edible oil, teakwood barges, and occasional bamboo rafts. The boat will stop at two bigger river towns of Myinmu and Pakkoku where you can observe village people come to sell their regional goods and various seasonal fruits. As you approach the land 11th ~ 13th century’s ancient temples, the riverbanks become higher and you will notice the hills on both banks. Then you’ll see a few of small Bagan era stupas and temples before the bright golden dome of Shwezigon pagoda and a series of towering temple pinnacles here and there dotted along the eastern bank of the river. Welcome to Bagan! You’ll be disembarked at a jetty located closed to the old city and transferred to the hotel. After a brief rest (depending on the time of your visit) at the hotel, you’ll be taken on to a temple rooftop to enjoy breathtakingly beautiful Bagan sunset.
8 Bagan full day exploration
Have your breakfast at the hotel. Your first visit will be made to Nyaung Oo Market, a place where you can observe various staffs used for Burmese kitchen, seasonal fruits and fresh vegetables to bamboo baskets, Thanaka wood and souvenirs . Then, commence your great exploration of Bagan archaeological zone by visiting Shwezigon pagoda, a must for everyone visiting Bagan. Today’s temple highlights will be included of Kyansitther cave, Htilominlo & Anandan temples before taking a short afternoon break. In the afternoon, you will see a lacquer industry, where you may study steps of making unique Bagan style lacquerware and see impressive finished products. Afterwards, you will see a few more temples of Myinkabar village area such as Manuhar, NanPaya, Gubyaukgyi and Abyeyadanar temples. Depending on the time of visit, you could see a few more or less but Santa Maria’s driver & guide will always on hand to fulfill clients’ satisfaction. Then enjoy watching the stunning scenery of the breathtakingly impressive Bagan's sunset over the legendary Ayeyarwaddy River as an aesthetic joy while in Bagan.
9 Bagan full day exploration
Have your breakfast at the hotel. Today, a deeper insight to the remaining highlights of Bagan’s temples and pagodas. It is highly recommended to take a short bicycle ride in the morning or late afternoon horse cart tour along the trails dotted with 800-years old temple ruins. This can be arranged on the spot or with a short notice. You will see some beautiful temples inside walled old city, such as the Library, Shwegugyi & Thatbyinnyu temples, Natlyaung Kyaung, and Pahtotharmyar before taking a short afternoon break. In the afternoon, continue visit the monuments around Minanthu village including Dhamayangyi, Sulamani, Payathonzu, and Damayazika. Depending on the time of your visit or your interest, a village tour can be made. Enjoy your last memorable Bagan’s sunset from a temple top.
10 Bagan – morning flight to Heho, Pindaya caves visit – proceed to Kalaw, old British Hill Resort
Have breakfast at the hotel and transfer to Bagan airport at about 7:15am. Then, 45minutes flight to Heho by one private airline. Afterwards, about 2.5hr drive to Pindaya, a small town of Danu, Taungyo and Bamar lies in one valley of Shan Hills. The road to Pindaya is renowned for its scenic beauties: the landscapes, colorful vegetations, and tribes working in the farms, whole lots of village life to see en route …and its quite refreshing with cool & fresh air of all seasons. In Pindaya, you will see a 200-million years old natural limestone caves, filled with over 8,000 of ancient Buddha images in different style and materials. Before heading back towards the junction town of Aungban and turn west to former British Hill Resort Kalaw, you will see one of parasol industries in Pindaya. Then, transfer to your lake hotel by the boat. The drive to Kalaw will takes around 2-hrs. You may take an evening stroll around the cozy old British Hill station to stretch out your legs after a considerably long drive.
11 Kalaw - full day trekking tour to Palaung and Danu tribal villages
Have your breakfast at the hotel. A full day trekking tour (or a half-day trek depending on your strength and determination) to the nearby hill tribe villages, where you could stretch your legs, fill your lungs with fresh air and go closer with the nature while walking through pine clad hill tops, orange farms, fields of raps, tea plantations, or the rice growing valleys . You will mainly see the Palaung tribe from Mon-Khmer stock, renowned for their tealeaf industry, and their eye-catching red & blue strips costume and the beautiful bonnet. Visit some village houses, chat with the locals, and enjoy great views of Shan range. You will have your picnic lunch at a suitable spot, whether in the woods or on top of a hill with stunning views. Return to Kalaw in the afternoon and continue visit a Shan monastery with over hundred-year old huge lacquer image.
12 Kalaw – drive to Katku (Kakku) and tour – proceed to Inle Lake
Have your breakfast at the hotel and then visit to Kalaw central market where you can find local produces and if lucky enough, you’ll see visiting Palaung people. Then drive to Taunggyi (70km – 2hrs), the capital of Southern Shan State, a former British Hill station founded by Sir George Scott also known by his nom de plume Shwe Yoe. Taunggyi sits on top of a hill of 1,430m (4,690) feet above sea level, it provides a cool break from the heat of the plains. Visit will be made to its bustling central marketplace. Then, drive towards the south on a narrow hilly road for around 2-hrs (38km) passing some breathtaking views of mountains & valleys inhabited with Pa O where they grow garlic, wheat, onions, sesames, Chive, and potatoes. Visit to Kakku pagoda complex, covered with an awe-inspiring cluster of 7000 stupas. Then return to Taunggyi, with a short visit to a local Pa O village on the way. It will takes around 1.5 hr from Taunggyi to Nyaungshwe, the gateway town of Inle lake and then boat transfer to your hotel on the lake.
13 Inle Lake full day visits
Have your breakfast. Full day tour on the outrageously beautiful lake by private boat to see a colorful 5-day market where the hill tribes come to exchange their goods with the lake people, the Jumping Cats (Nga Phe Kyaung) monastery, region’s most revered Paundaung Pagoda, traditional silk weaving looms at Inn Paw Khon village, the silversmith village, and the impressive ruins of Inn Dein village. While on the boat tour, you will also observe the unique lifestyle of Inn Thar people… the leg rowers, floating gardens, fishermen with strange fishing gears etc. Hotels can be chosen from the ones on the lake or on the land in the town Nyaungswe depending on your taste.
14 Inle Lake – morning flight back to Yangon and departure in the evening
Have breakfast at the hotel. You will have two options:
  1. Fly back to Yangon in the morning and continue visit the remaining highlights of Yangon including Bogyoke Aung San market, some minor pagodas, art galleries, and museums etc. (people who will leave Yangon in the morning on the 12th day might consider this option)
  2. Visit another interesting 5-day market in the morning before transfer to Heho airport and fly back to Yangon in the afternoon (people who’re leaving Yangon in late afternoon might consider this option)
15 Yangon – free and easy visits before departure out
Have you breakfast at the hotel. Depending on the time of your departure flight from Yangon, you can visit some remaining highlights or stroll around the bustling city center on your own (or) transfer to Yangon Intl’ airport in the morning.

End of the tour

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