Temples and Trails of Burma
Burma, Discovery, 14 days - from £1,995 (land only) - from €2,395 (land only) - from $3,290 (land only)
Day 1: Rendezvous at the group hotel in Yangon in the afternoon. A single airport transfer will be provided. KE group package services begin with dinner at the hotel, where the local guide will brief the group about the week ahead. There will be an early evening visit to the incredible Schwedagon Pagoda. Overnight in Yangon.
Day 2: We have a morning transfer to the airport to catch the 1-hour flight north to Heho, arriving at midday. We then make the short drive to our accommodation at Aye Tharyar, north of Inle Lake. We then explore Aye Tharyar Vineyard where there is a fine restaurant. After lunch we return to our hotel at Aye Tharyar.
Day 3: Today, we will visit the old colonial settlement of Taunggyi, which has pagodas and an interesting produce and gemstone market. Later we proceed to the 'stupa garden' at nearby Kakku. Sacred to the Pa-O people there are almost 2500 stupas from different eras and with differing architectural styles. Later, we drive to the west side of the lake to Khaung Daing Village, to our lakeside hotel.
Day 4: A day to explore Inle Lake by boat. There are floating gardens, villages built on piles and dozens of monasteries, such as Nga Phe Chaung, famous for its acrobatic cats. We can also visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the holiest site in Shan state. The people of the lake are the Inthas, notable for their distinctive foot-rowing technique. We spend a second night at our lakeside hotel.
Day 5: We drive up onto the Shan Plateau, to the village of Pindaya. This is a picturesque place amongst pretty farmed countryside, with buffalo carts and smiling Pa-O people in their black tunics and bright headscarves. We visit to Shew Oo Min Cave with its thousands of gilded Buddhas and see local artisans at work, including manufacturers of paper umbrellas. Overnight at a hotel in Pindaya.
Day 6: We make an early start and trek from our hotel through open forested country to the Danu village of Yasakyi, where we stop for lunch. This afternoon's walk then takes us to Taun Mying Gyi, home to Palaung people, where we stay in basic, sleeping bag accommodation in the monastery. A great opportunity to meet the monks and the local people. 7 hours walking.
Day 7: We leave the village and the cross open farmland to Kaung Soe Gone where we have lunch. The area is very fertile, with many farms and colourfully decorated bullock-carts and tribal people working in the fields. We pass several villages en route to our overnight accommodation at Mway Taw Monastery. 6 to 7 hours walking.
Day 8: The landscape changes again and is now drier with fewer trees and more open valleys. We pass through several villages, such as Oomin, where we take lunch at a village house. In the afternoon, we pass another cave shrine with many statues of Buddha. Overnight at the monastery at Myauk Ywar Taung which commands a fine view. 6 to 7 hours walking.
Day 9: After breakfast at the monastery, we walk along a series of scenic ridges and cross an intensively farmed area. We rendezvous with our transport after around 2 to 3 hours and drive to the airport at Heho. A short flight takes us to Mandalay, where we check in at our hotel and have the remainder of the day at leisure.
Day 10: Today, we take a boat trip across the Irrawaddy River to Mingun. Here, we can visit the unfinished temple of King Bodawpaya and stand beside the 90 tonne brass bell he had cast to adorn the temple. Returning to Mandaylay, we next visit nearby Amarapurna and take a sunset stroll across the 1200 metre-long teak bridge of U Bein to see the pagodas at Pathodawgyi. A second night in Mandalay.
Day 11: After an early start we head down to the riverfront to catch the express ferry that will take us down the Irrawaddy to Bagan. From the covered lounge or outside seating areas, it's great to watch the rural Burmese life pass by at a leisurely pace - the boat ride takes most of the day. On arrival, there may be time to enjoy a first sunset view of the temples before continuing to our hotel.
Day 12: A full day to explore some of the innumerable temples and pagodas at Bagan. With time to stroll amongst the stallholders at the riverside market at Nyaung U and to visit the gilded Shwezigon Pagoda, the exquisite murals of Ku Byauk Gyi and the 4 huge standing Buddha images of the Ananda Temple. Then, after checking out the best sunset views, we dine out and enjoy a traditional puppet show.
Day 13: We have almost another full day at Bagan, with time to explore most of the other magnificent monuments. We can also visit a traditional lacquer-ware workshop before transferring to Bagan Airport to catch the 1-hour flight back to Yangon. Dinner and overnight at the group hotel.
Day 14: We have the early morning free for final sightseeing and souvenir buying, before transferring to Yangon Airport to catch our homeward flight. KE group package services end on arrival at the airport.