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Home > Suggested Myanmar Itineraries > Optimum Classical Journeys > OCJ12DPC

Optimum Classical Journeys

Tour Code: OCJ12DPC

12-Day 11-Night – OCJ12DPC
Yangon- Mandalay-Amarapura-Inwa-Sagaing-Mingun-Bagan-Mt Popa-Kalaw-Pindaya-Inle Lake

Itinerary Overview

Day Itinerary Transportation
1 Yangon – Arrival in the morning and sightseeing Car
2 Yangon – fly to Mandalay & full day exploration to three ancient cities before Mandalay period: Amarapura, Inwa and Sagaing Car / Flight / Boat /
horse cart
3 Mandalay – half day excursion boat trip to Mingun village and continue visit In-City highlights of Mandalay in the afternoon Car/Boat
4 Mandalay – express boat (or even s-l-o-w… boat) to Bagan Car / Boat
5 Bagan – full day exploration to the 11th century archaeological wonders Car
6 Bagan – full day exploration to the 11th century archaeological wonders Car
7 Bagan – road transfer to former British hill station Kalaw, via Mt Popa tour Car
8 Kalaw – full day trekking tour to Palaung & Danu hill tribe villages On foot
9 Kalaw – 2hrs drive to Pindaya and visit the caves – proceed to Inle Lake Car / Boat
10 Inle lake full day visit to see local 5-day market, floating villages, interesting pagodas, and impressive Inn Din ruins Boat
11 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
12 Yangon – free and easy visits, departure out in the late afternoon Car
Operating Period: Year-round (though less comfort to do Kalaw trek 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 – fly to Mandalay, full day tour of deserted cities around Mandalay: Amarapura, Inwa, & Sagaing
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 and proceed to Sagaing to see 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 Bagan – drive to Kalaw with tour of Mt Popa on the way
Have your breakfast at the hotel. Leave Bagan for Kalaw in the morning around 7:30am by car along the road across central Myanmar passing through typical Burmese villages & bigger towns, monasteries, pagodas, farms of toddy, corn, sesame, groundnuts etc. alongside the road, giving you an opportunity to have a deeper insight to the country you are visiting while visiting interesting “folk religion” or the Nat (Spirit) worshipping center at Mt Popa where the picturesque shrines sit atop the impressive rocky crag believed to be the neck of an extinct volcano last active 250000-yrs ago. Shortly after leaving Bagan, you’ll be visiting a toddy farmer’s house where you could observe how to retrieve sweet toddy juice from the tree and make widely eaten palm sugar ball (local version of chocolate). You can sip the sweet juice or naturally brewed the “folk beer” or liquor distilled from the sugar balls & fermented sticky rice. Then continue drive to Mt Popa and study the Myanmar Nat pantheon at the base before climbing up 777 steps towards the top monastic complex providing fresh air and breathtaking views of surrounding plains. Proceed to Kalaw, via a big town Meikhtila located on the main Yangon-Mandalay express road. The landscape starts to change soon after leaving Meikhtila as you turn east towards the Shan mountain range, the foothills of Himalayan range. You’ll be driving through villages which particularly related with the timber industry and forestry products. See changing of social/geographical-economic systems as you drive by the scenic river filled with various sizes of stones with different natural colors, or sometime through the woods densely forested with the most treasured teak & other hardwoods, and sometime driving alongside the deep gorge. Short stops en route to study the life-style of the local communities. The trip would take around 10-hours for 270km. You may take an evening stroll around the cozy old British Hill station to stretch out your legs after a considerably long drive.
8 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.
9 Kalaw – Drive to Pindaya and visit the famous caves, proceed to Inle Lake
Have your breakfast at the hotel. Visit the central market of Kalaw before leaving for Pindaya. Afterwards, about 2hr 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 driving back for a total of 3.5hr on the same road up to the Heho airport and drive further east and then south to Nyaungshwe, the gateway Town of Inle Lake, you will see one of parasol industries in Pindaya. Then, transfer to your lake hotel by the boat.
10 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.
11 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)
12 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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