Myanmar (Burma): Pagodas, Boats, Bikes, and Hikes

Trip Overview

Join us in Myanmar in January 2018 to celebrate the beginning of the year and step back in time. No longer "terra incognita", Myanmar (known as Burma until 1989) is now a vivid cultural study in Southeast Asian life as it existed 30-40 years ago. After decades of being off limits to most outside visitors, Myanmar has finally begun to shed its cloak of mystery and allow travelers to discover its ancient traditions, architectural and artistic treasures, and abundant natural beauty.

Surrounded by the hills and mountains that rise from the huge Irrawaddy Valley, Myanmar’s people, while still deeply impoverished, showcase a culture of hospitality and openness. Discover a land bejeweled with gilded pagodas and splendid Buddhist temples.

You begin your journey in Yangon. Located in the fertile delta region of central Myanmar, Yangon served as the capital of the country until 2006. With its wide streets, parks, and lakes, Yangon has the sleepy charm of a provincial town. The city's colonial core is well-preserved, and has the largest number of colonial- era buildings in the region.

Stately British colonial mansions stand beside glittering pagodas, including one of the most remarkable religious shrines in all of Asia – the magical Shwedagon Pagoda. Much of Yangon’s allure stems from its colorful street life: the food peddlers on the sidewalk, gems in the gem market, rickshaw drivers in striped longyis (sarongs) peddling lazily through tree-lined streets, and locals drinking endless cups of sweet, milky tea at roadside tea stalls. Shwedagon is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar. You’ll fall silent, spellbound, as red-robed monks light hundreds of oil candles in an ancient ritual that is believed to have been practiced by the Buddha himself.

We head next to Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State, located in the Karen Hills area near the state’s northern tip. The inhabitants are mostly the Kayah (Karenni) people. Women of the Kayan tribes identify themselves by their forms of dress and well known for wearing neck rings, brass coils that are placed around the neck. Visit Hawnan, Taung Kwe Zadi, and Mya Ka Latt Taung - twin hills each of which feature a pagoda on top.

You will also have a chance to explore the area surrounding Inle Lake, Myanmar's second largest lake, by bike and then paddle around exploring Inle Lake's shores by kayak. Inle Lake is home to silk and lotus weaving craft shops located on stilts on the lake. The people are known for their peculiar style of rowing: they stand on one leg and use the other leg to row.

We will enjoy majestic views of Natma Taung, or Mount Victoria, which at over 10,000 feet is one of the most prominent peaks of Southeast Asia. The Natma Taung National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, is known for its flora and plant life, which is highly diverse and provides insight to the biogeographical history of Asia. It is also an important site for wildlife conservation, containing many species of endangered birds, mammals, and reptiles.

You'll visit Bagan, once the capital of the Pagan Empire when more than 10,000 Buddhist temples were built. More than 2,200 local temples remain in the Bagan plains alone, all with unique designs and architectural characteristics. This is sure to be a highlight of this Myanmar adventure! Bagan is one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Asia often seen as even more fascinating than the temple complex at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

The villages surrounding Bagan also offer rich opportunities to soak up local rural life and to learn more about the daily activities of the Burmese people. And you’ll meet women who practice regional traditions important to the local economy and artisans practicing their crafts. Learn about the ways of a master weaver as she collects local plants from specially cultivated gardens, renders them into natural dyes, and creates textile masterpieces on handmade looms.

Join us in January for this new and culturally-rich AdventureWomen "Pagodas, Boats, Bikes, and Hikes" journey to Myanmar!

Main Attractions

  • Explore golden pagodas and ancient Buddhist temples while learning about Myanmar’s history and cultural traditions
  • Climb Nat Ma Taung, one of the most prominent and sacred peaks in Southeast Asia
  • Enjoy a cooking class from a local chef and savor traditional Burmese cuisine
  • Bike along scenic paths through rural villages and expansive rice fields
  • Meet women weavers and learn about their unique artistry

What You'll See and Do

  • Anthropology
  • Architecture
  • Ballooning
  • Bicycling
  • Birding
  • Buddhism
  • Canoe and Boat Travel
  • Cooking Class
  • Cultural Exploration
  • Handicrafts
  • Hiking
  • Historical Sites
  • Kayaking
  • Local Delicacies
  • National Parks
  • Photography
  • Sightseeing
  • Walking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Women-To-Women

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Myanmar (Burma): Pagodas, Boats, Bikes, and Hikes

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Sunday, January 21, 2018 - Arrive in Yangon

Located in the fertile delta region of central Myanmar, Yangon served as the capital of the country until 2006. With its wide streets, parks, and lakes, Yangon has the sleepy charm of a provincial town. Its colonial core is well-preserved, and has the largest number of colonial-era buildings in the region.

You will be picked up at the Yangon International Airport and transferred to your hotel, where you can relax until dinner. Late this afternoon, meet your group, your AdventureWomen Associate, and your guide in the hotel lounge. Your guide and Associate will give you a trip briefing so you know what to expect along the way! Enjoy a welcome dinner this evening and get to know your fellow travelers.
Dinner

Overnight: Kandawgyi Palace Hotel
http://www.kandawgyipalace-hotel.com/

The Kandawgyi Palace Hotel, situated on the shores of the Kandawgyi Lake, is within walking distance of the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. It is a majestic hotel, with traditional golden teak architecture, and is set amongst tropical gardens. It is a peaceful sanctuary close to the heart of Yangon.

Day 2

Monday, January 22, 2018 - Yangon

Stately British colonial mansions stand beside glittering pagodas, including one of the most remarkable religious shrines in all of Asia – the magical Shwedagon Pagoda. Much of Yangon’s allure stems from its colorful street life: the food peddlers on the sidewalk, gems in the gem market, rickshaw drivers in striped longyis (sarongs) peddling lazily through tree-lined streets, and locals drinking endless cups of sweet, milky tea at roadside tea stalls.

Start your tour of Yangon this morning. You will visit the Sule Pagoda, a stupa in the heart of downtown. According to legend, it was built more than 2,500 years ago, in the time of the Buddha. The Pagoda has served as a rallying point during past political upheavals. Stop at City Hall to see an example of Burmese architecture, and continue on to the High Court and the former Burma Railways Company headquarters. Learn about the unique history of the area along the way.

Enjoy a delicious lunch at the Yangon Bake House. The restaurant is a social enterprise dedicated to working with disadvantaged women, providing them the skills they need to earn a livelihood, and then helping to place them in culinary jobs. After lunch, stop at the Bogyoke Market, where you can find everything from lacquerware to shoulder bags to puppets to jewelry.

Stop at Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar. Partake in an ancient ritual practiced since the time of Buddha. Watch the red-robed monks chant ancient Pali scriptures as 1,500 oil candles are lit around the pagoda. Enjoy dinner on your own.
Breakfast, Lunch

Overnight: Kandawgyi Palace Hotel

Day 3

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - Yangon to Loikaw

Fly from Yangon to Loikaw this morning. Loikaw is the capital of Kayah State, located in the Karen Hills area near the state’s northern tip. The inhabitants are mostly the Kayah (Karenni) people. Due to conflict with the military regime in Myanmar, many Kayan tribes fled to the Thai border area in the late 1980s and early 1990s, where they continue to live with an uncertain legal status. Women of the Kayan tribes identify themselves by their forms of dress and well known for wearing neck rings, brass coils that are placed around the neck.

Once you arrive, enjoy a tour of the Natural Dye Weaving Center with the master weaver to discover the art of natural dyeing. You will learn about the natural colors of the traditional Kayah longyi, and you will experience and try each step of the dyeing process. Have lunch at the Potepa Yone monastery.

Spend the afternoon at nearby pagodas. Visit Hawnan, Taung Kwe Zadi, and Mya Ka Latt Taung - twin hills which each have a pagoda on top. These pagodas are more than 100 years old and are some of the most iconic temples in the area. Enjoy a magical sunset view from Mya Ka Latt Taung Zedi. Enjoy dinner at the hotel this evening.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Kayah Resort
http://www.kayahresort.com/

Kayah Resort is a wonderful base from which to explore this vibrant area. The rooms are comfortable and the hotel has a stunning outdoor pool, which is the perfect place to relax at the end of an active day.

Day 4

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - Loikaw

Set off for Pemsong Village today where you will learn more about the Kayan people. Begin your visit to Pemsong Village by visiting a local home where you will enjoy a hot drink and a local snack. After learning about the local family, begin your hike to Pan Pet. Climb for about 30 to 40 minutes to a ridgeline and enjoy a three-hour trek with stunning views. Your guides will teach you about the traditional edible and medicinal plants along the way. Arrive at the original settlement of Pan Pet, perched on a mountaintop. Pan Pet was one of the first Kayan settlements of Kayah state. Enjoy a boxed lunch along the way in the jungle.

Visit Kan Khon Na Sint and Htee Pwint Lake this afternoon. According to legend, it is the birthplace of Dwe Mae Naw, a mythical half-human, half-bird creature. Dwe Mae Naw and her sisters live in Silver Cloud Land. Locals believe that the seven angel sisters often visit Kan Kohn Na Sint to play in the water.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Kayah Resort

Day 5

Thursday, January 25, 2018 - Loikaw to Inle Lake

Inle Lake is Myanmar’s second largest lake, measuring about 43 square miles. At an elevation of just under 3,000 feet, the lake is one of the highest in the country, with a cool climate and exceptional flora and fauna. The 200-odd villages on or around the lake are home to an estimated 70,000 people.

Drive about four hours to Inle Lake where you will begin your visit. See floating gardens and villages on your way to Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda, the oldest pagoda on the lake. The pagoda houses five completely gilded Buddha images. Explore Heya Ywama Village and its traditional handicraft workshops. You’ll see traditional silk weaving on wooden hand looms and visit a local blacksmith.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, and then continue your journey around the lake. See how cheroot (untapered, cylindrical cigars) are made, and visit a goldsmith and silversmith. Enjoy dinner at your hotel this evening.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Inle Resort and Spa
http://inleresort.com/

Magnificently located on the shores of Inle Lake, this unique Boutique Eco-Resort & Spa is one of the finest resorts in the area. The resort was designed with the unique flair of traditional architecture and is fully committed to responsible tourism practices to protect the cultural and environmental integrity of the area around Inle Lake.

Day 6

Friday, January 26, 2018 - Inle Lake

Inle Lake is home to silk and lotus weaving craft shops located on stilts on the lake. The people who live around this serene 13 mile-long lake are known for their peculiar style of rowing: they stand on one leg and use the other leg to row.

After an early morning bike fitting and safety briefing, bike out of town on a paved road before starting on the narrow trails that make up most of today’s riding surface. These paths are not technically difficult, but you do need to be confident on your bike. You will see different small industries along the way, including molasses production, rice harvesting and milling, rice cracker production, tofu making, a baker, and a rice alcohol distillery.

Stop mid-morning at a local restuarant for a snack - it has great Shan food and drinks! Take a short boat ride (with your bikes!) to start a countryside bike tour through local villages and rice fields.

After lunch, swap your bike for a kayak. Explore the beautiful shoreline of Inle Lake by kayak this afternoon. You may want a change of clothes for the drive back to the hotel. Relax and enjoy dinner at the hotel this evening.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Inle Resort and Spa

Day 7

Saturday, January 27, 2018 - Inle Lake to Bagan

Spend most of the day exploring the local wildlife and culture around Inle Lake before flying to Bagan. Visit the Inle sanctuary area to learn about local birds. You might see rare species such as Jerdon’s Bushchat, Sarus Crane, Collared Myna, Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamphen, Clamorous Reed Warbler, and many more. Altogether 225 woodland birds and 90 wetland birds have been spotted here.

Late this morning, take a cooking class. Learn how to make a traditional meal at Inthar Heritage House, using seasonal fruits and vegetables from the traditional organic garden project. The house was inspired by the culture of Inthar art and traditions.

Fly to Bagan this afternoon and settle into your hotel.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Aureum Palace Bagan
http://www.aureumpalacehotel.com/

The Aureum Palace is set within the Bagan Archaeological Preservation Zone, amongst the ancient temples of the Kingdom of Bagan. The 27 acres of landscaped tropical gardens offer a unique place to relax after exploring the nearby temples. Antiques, artifacts, and local arts adorn the property, complementing the majestic setting.

Day 8

Sunday, January 28, 2018 - Bagan to Kanpetlat

Kanpetlat is a jumping off point for Natma Taung National Park. In British colonial times it was used as the region’s administration headquarters. Stroll around the Chauk market this morning. This is an excellent place to see where locals shop on a daily basis. Cross the Ayeyarwaddy River and continue your drive to Kanpetlat. The drive will take most of the day. Enjoy a delicious lunch at a local restaurant along the way.

Enjoy the rest of the day at your hotel. This is a wonderful place to relax.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Pine Wood Villa Resort

Your stay at Pine Wood Villa Resort will be relaxing. This property is elegantly furnished and boasts a welcoming atmosphere and excellent service.

Day 9

Monday, January 29, 2018 - Natma Taung

Natma Taung, or Mount Victoria, at over 10,000 feet is one of the most prominent peaks of Southeast Asia. The National Park is known for its plant life, which is highly diverse and provides insight to the biogeographical history of Asia. It is also an important site for wildlife conservation, containing multiple threatened birds, mammals, and reptiles.

Drive about two hours to the National Park, where you will begin your climb of Mount Victoria. This easy hike will take about two or three hours. Enjoy lunch on the mountaintop and take in the spectacular views before beginning your descent.

Finish your hike around 3:00pm and head back to your hotel for the afternoon and evening.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight:Pine Wood Villa Resort

Day 10

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 - Kanpetlat to Bagan

Drive back to Bagan today, passing typical villages along the way. Enjoy another delicious local lunch. Bagan was the capital of the Pagan Empire from the 9th to 13th century. This empire was the first kingdom that unified the regions that would become Myanmar. During the kingdom’s height, more than 10,000 Buddhist temples were built. More than 2,200 remain in the Bagan plains alone, all with unique design characteristics. This is sure to be a highlight of this adventure!

This evening, take in the sunset from one of the local temples. This is a view you won’t forget! Enjoy dinner at Nandar Restaurant. Experience a traditional puppet show during the meal!
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Aureum Palace Bagan

Day 11

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - Bagan

This ancient city, situated in central Myanmar on the plains next to the Ayeyarwaddy River, is dotted with thousands of stupas and temples from different eras. It is one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Asia. The villages surrounding Bagan are great to soak up local rural life and to learn more about the daily activities of the Burmese people.

This morning you can join an optional hot air balloon ride to see the temples of Bagan from the air. (Additional cost: $350. Please contact us for advance reservations). The aerial view of the pagodas is stunning.

Take a morning bike tour of the area. Visit the local Nyaung U market, where you will see locals from the surounding villages trading and bartering for products such as vegetables, beans, and other household utensils.

Continue on to visit Schwezigone Pagoda, built in the early 11th century, Ku Byauk Gyi, a temple with exceptional mural paintings, Htilominlo Temple, famous for its unique fresco work, and Ananda Temple, which boasts four standing Buddha images and a huge teak door.

Enjoy lunch at the Green Elephant Restaurant and explore the area by horse cart. End your day by taking in a stunning sunset from a boat on the Irrawaddy River.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Aureum Palace Bagan

Day 12

Thursday, February 1, 2018 - Bagan to Yangon and Depart

Begin your journey home today via Yangon, the former capital and commercial hub of Myanmar. Bid farewell to your AdventureWomen friends you have met along the way!

Fly from Bagan to Yangon and connect with your flight home from Yangon International Airport.
Breakfast

 

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Myanmar (Burma): Pagodas, Boats, Bikes, and Hikes

Traveling to Myanmar



Traveling to Myanmar

Arrive: Arrive at Yangon International Airport (RGN) on January 21, 2018 by mid-afternoon.

Depart: Depart Yangon on February 1, 2018 after 1:00pm.

We are happy to help you make your flight and travel arrangements. Please contact us at:

(800) 804-8686 or (617) 544-9393
email: info@adventurewomen.com

If you’d like to do anything prior to or following the AdventureWomen trip, we’d be delighted to help you arrange any trip extensions you’re interested in.

Note: The recent trend in travel is for travelers to finalize their plans much closer to departure time than was customary in the past. While we try to be as flexible as possible booking last-minute registrants, we must release hotel rooms two to three months prior to departure! Please keep this in mind when making your travel plans.

Passports and Visas

Citizens of the United States must have a passport valid for six months beyond your travel dates and a minimum of six blank facing pages. If you do not have a passport, please apply now!

You must apply for a tourist visa to Myanmar. You should apply for an e-Visa no earlier than three months prior to your trip by visiting https://evisa.moip.gov.mm/HowToApply.aspx  Once your e-Visa is approved, you will receive a letter by email, which you must print and bring with you in order to enter the country.

The e-visa is only available for travelers flying into specific airports, including Yangon International Airport. If you enter Myanmar another way, you may be required to apply for a physical visa.

Health Considerations

We rate this trip as moderate. You should be able to bike two to five miles, kayak for two to three hours, and bike for the majority of a day. We have a partnership with FitForTrips, a company that will design an individualized fitness plan for you to ensure that you are prepared for the trip. Visit https://fitfortrips.com/partners/adventure-women/ for more information.

Make an appointment with a travel clinic. There are no immunization requirements for travel to Myanmar, however your local travel clinic may have recommendations for you based on your age, health, and past vaccination history.

For more health information, go to www.cdc.gov/travel and navigate to the page about Myanmar (Burma).

Money

The Myanmar currency is the Kyat (pronounced "chat"), and the official rate is approximately US$1 = MMK 1050. You will be required to change dollars to kyat at international airports and authorized currency exchanges only.

In Yangon we advise to change money at the PCL Currency Exchange on the Anawathra Road Yangon. Your guide can advise you further should you need more information on arrival. USD notes must be new notes issued after 2007 and must be unmarked and untorn. Old USD notes are not accepted.

Credit cards are not widely accepted beyond large hotels. Where they are accepted, there can be surcharges from 3-7% to use them.

Suggested Gratuities:

  • Head Guide: $5 per day
  • Driver: $3 per day
  • Local Guides/Boat Drivers: $3-5 per boat
  • Hotel Staff: $1-2 per day
  • Porters: $1-2 per service
  • Restaurants: 5% of the total bill

How To Register

Call the AdventureWomen office at (800) 804-8686 to determine space availability and register for this trip. We can complete your registration, including taking your credit card deposit over the phone. As a courtesy, we can hold your space for five days while you are making personal and travel arrangements.

If you prefer, you can register online by clicking "Sign Up for this Trip" on the trip page.

Please be sure to read the AdventureWomen policies before registering!

Forms and Final Payment

Once you book, you will need to fill out and return to AdventureWomen:

  • Information Form
  • Booking Conditions Form
  • Copy of Flight Information
  • Copy of Issuing Page of Passport (photo page)

Final payment is due to AdventureWomen in a cash form (check, money order, or wire transfer) on or before October 23, 2017.

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Myanmar (Burma): Pagodas, Boats, Bikes, and Hikes

Included

  • All hotel accommodations throughout the trip
  • All meals as listed in the itinerary
  • All ground transportation
  • Entrance fees
  • Fully-guided sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary
  • Complimentary drinking water
  • English-speaking guides throughout the trip
  • One AdventureWomen Associate

Not Included

  • International airfare to and from Myanmar
  • Domestic airfare
  • Optional hot air balloon flight
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Fees for passport, visa, or immunizations
  • Cost of hospitalization or evacuation
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Myanmar (Burma): Pagodas, Boats, Bikes, and Hikes

What to Bring

This is one of the cooler times to visit Myanmar, with temperatures ranging from the 60s to the 90s. This is the drier season, but don’t be surprised by a stray shower!

Myanmar is a conservative Buddhist culture and improper dress can be offensive and inappropriate. Shorts, short skirts, or revealing clothing are not suitable, especially when visiting temples or any religious site. You will want sensible comfortable walking shoes, which can be easily removed when required. Sandals, thongs, or flip-flops are very convenient footwear, especially for visiting temples where shoes must be removed prior to entering.

Clothing and Gear:

  • 2-3 short-sleeve shirts
  • 2-3 long-sleeve shirts
  • 1 pair of knee-length shorts
  • 2-3 pairs of pants. Convertible, light-weight zip-off pairs are convenient
  • 1-2 sets of nicer, casual clothes for evening meals
  • 5 pairs underwear (synthetics are easier to wash/dry)
  • 2-3 bras/sports bras
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 fleece sweater or jacket
  • 1 Gore-Tex rain jacket and/or poncho to protect daypack and camera gear from rain
  • Hat for sun protection
  • Sleepwear
  • 5-6 pairs of socks
  • Comfortable, lightweight walking shoes. Must be comfortable all day
  • Sandals for visiting temples

AdventureWomen Essentials:

  • Travel documents (passport, airline tickets, money)
  • 2-3 spare passport photos (in case of lost passport)
  • Write down/print out travel insurance number
  • Locks for your suitcase/duffel bag
  • Travel alarm clock with spare batteries
  • Headlamp or small flashlight with spare batteries
  • Binoculars (8x40/42 models are excellent choices; center focus models are easiest)
  • Digital camera, memory cards, battery charger
  • Power adapters
  • Sunglasses, case, and strap
  • Spare glasses, contact lenses, cleaner, saline, etc.
  • Money belt or neck pouch
  • Your AdventureWomen insulated bottle (good for hot or cold drinks!)
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Hand wipes/hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Soap, shampoo, and conditioner
  • Small packet of tissues
  • Tampons and panty liners (avoid plastic applicators)
  • Earplugs: We recommend Mack’s Pillow Soft White Moldable Silicone Snore Proof Earplugs. Available at most drugstores or at www.earplugstore.com
  • Assortment of stuff sacks and Ziploc bags
  • 1-2 bandanas/Buff
  • Reading material/journal and pens

Personal First Aid Kit:

  • Prescription medicine you usually take (in original containers)
  • Personal epi pen (if you need one, don’t forget to pack it!)
  • Bandages, Gauze, Ace bandage, blister prevention
  • Antiseptic wipes/spray
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Cotton-tipped applicators
  • Oral rehydration tablets/packets
  • Antidiarrheal medication
  • Mild laxative
  • Antacid
  • Cold remedies
  • Ibuprofen/acetaminophen
  • Eye drops
  • Tweezers, scissors (travel size), safety pins
  • If you prefer to buy a complete kit, we recommend the Smart Travel first aid kit.

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.