Discovery Myanmar (Yangon - Twante - Mandalay - Maymyo - Hsipaw - Lashio - Muse - Bhamaw - Mandalay - Thazi - Kalaw - Kyaingtong - Yangon)

Day 01 : Yangon (Arrival)

0900 hours Arrival at Yangon Airport. Transfer to hotel. Leisure at hotel for the rest of the day. Accommodation at the hotel, Yangon.

Day 02 : Twante - Rural Yangon

Breakfast. A morning trip to rural Yangon. Located on the other side of the Yangon River, Twante village has very much retained its original character. We will take to the jetty and take a local ferry across the river. Once across, a one-hour drive will take us to Twante. The road is extremely bumpy and you should be prepared for an uncomfortable yet very interesting ride, which provides a glimpse of life on and along the famous Twante Canal. After a visit to Shwesandaw Pagoda we can take a trishaw to the pottery area where a large part of the population in Twante is engaged in producing pottery. Walking through the many workshops where locals are busy molding pots, we will be able to observe this very traditional craft. Return to Yangon. This afternoon, visit Yangon's unique Glass Factory, which has changed very little over the years. See skilled craftsmen hand-blowing glass and creating original glassware which is sold to hotels and restaurants all over Myanmar. Also visit the antique shop of Madame Thair and Augustine (these are private collections and shops might be closed). Other stops can be made at the Green Elephant House, famous for specially designed lacquer ware and rattan, the Yangon Women Home, or J's Irrawaddy Dream, famous for Myanmar textiles. Enjoy the sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda, famous worldwide - its golden stupa is the 'heart' of Buddhism Myanmar. The Pagoda is believed to be 2,500 years old and the central stupa in surrounded by dozens of intricately decorated buildings and statues. There are always many Myanmar people praying and making offerings at Shwedagon, and it's a fascinating place to spend time watching the world go by. Overnight at the hotel, Yangon.

Day 03 : Yangon - Mandalay

After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Yangon Airport for departure from Yangon to Mandalay . Arrive Mandalay and transfer to hotel. Afternoon sightseeing includes a visit to Zegyo market and some of Mandalay's cottage industries, such as weaving and tapestry making, Burmese candy making, Bamboo fan making near Eindaw Yar pagoda. Overnight at the hotel, Mandalay.

Day 04 : Mandalay - Maymyo

After having breakfast at the hotel. Tour proceed to the hills from Mandalay for a full day visit of Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo), a former British Hill Station. The road winds steeply through flower, fruit and vegetable gardens. Visit Pwe Kauk Waterfall and enjoy the countryside. Drive through Maymyo on a horse drawn "stage coach", giving you the chance to admire the brick and timber houses, complete with English style gables, turrets and chimneys. 
Visit the tiny Forestry Museum (if open). In the afternoon, visit Peik Chin Myaung Waterfall and Caves, filled with Buddha images. The road from Maymyo is very bumpy. This is a popular attraction for Myanmar tourists. OR visit the National Kandawgyi Gardens, which were laid out by Sir Harcourt Butler, the former governor of Burma - flowerbeds are similar to those you would find in an English country garden! The garden is recently renovated and the name has changed to "Kandawgyi National Botanical Garden". Overnight at the hotel, Pyin Oo Lwin.

Day 05 : Maymyo - Hsipaw - Lashio

Breakfast. Early morning, transfer from your hotel to Pyin Oo Lwin railway station, where you board the train to Kyaukme for a journey of approximately 4.5 hours. The train leaves at 0830 hours. The train stops at many local stations and passes, very slowly, over the Goikteik Viaduct, built in 1903 across a 300 metre deep gorge. Arrival in Kyaukme at 1315 Hours. On arrival in Kyaukme a car and driver will be waiting for you. Drive to the village of Pan Paung where milk-strips are made according to a Shan recipe. Then continue to Hsipaw and visit the old Shan Prince House. Continue drive onward to Lashio. Arrive in Lashio late evening. Accommodation at Lashio Motel.

Day 06 : Lashio - Muse

After breakfast at the hotel. Sightseeing starts. Lashio is particularly beautiful from November to February, the cool months when the trees are in bloom. Early morning, visit the colorful local market where you can often see minority people selling their produce. Continue to Quan Yin San Chinese Temple, possibly the largest Chinese temple in Myanmar and always busy with Lashio's many Chinese residents. Visit Sasana 2500 Pagoda, which enjoys nice views over Lashio, and then Mansu Pagoda, said to be over 250 years old. Continue to Thiri Mingala Man Kyaung, a monastery, which people visit from far and wide to see a monk who is believed to be able to predict fortunes very accurately. Afternoon, drive on to Muse - a trip of about 6 hours. Overnight and pleasure at the hotel, Muse.

Day 07 : Muse - Bhamo

Visit the border city of Muse, a famous trading point between China and Myanmar. Late morning continue by car to Bhamo. Also here the road is bumpy and the trip will take about 5 to 6 hours. In the afternoon, visit the small city of Bhamo. (You are not allowed to cross the city borders). Also buy some food and drinks for during the ferry ride the coming 2 days. Overnight at the hotel, Bhamo.

Day 08 : (Bhamo towards Mandalay)

Breakfast on board. The boat will arrive in Mandalay harbour. The exact arrival time varies with the height of the river and it might be late afternoon when you arrive. Transfer from Mandalay Jetty to hotel. Hotel accommodation at Mandalay.

Day 09 : Mandalay

Breakfast on board. The boat will arrive in Mandalay harbour. The exact arrival time varies with the height of the river and it might be late afternoon when you arrive. Transfer from Mandalay Jetty to hotel. Hotel accommodation at Mandalay.

Day 010 : Mandalay - Ava - Sagaing - Mandalay

In the morning, after breakfast at the hotel, take the local ferry to visit Innwa (Ava), located on an island between the Ayeyarwady and the Myitnge Rivers. You will visit Innwa by horse cart and pass through the ancient city walls to visit a brick and stucco monastery called Maha Aungmye Bonzan (also known as Ok Kyaung). Continue to Nanmyin Watch Tower - the climb to the top offers lovely views over the river. See also the impressive wooden monastery of Bagaya Kyaung. Visit to some village homes to see local handicrafts, such as silk weaving, cane mats and alms bowls, if we have sufficient time. In the afternoon, visit picturesque Sagaing Hill, which is perhaps the living centre of Buddhist faith in Myanmar today. Hillsides are dotted with numerous pagodas and monasteries. Return to Amarapura via the Ava Bridge, built by British engineers. Walk over U-Bein Bridge, which is over a kilometer long and made entirely of teak. Return to Mandalay. Overnight at the hotel in Mandalay.

Day 011 : Mandalay - Thazi - Kalaw

0400 hours depart Mandalay for a drive to Thazi. Breakfast at Teashop. Arrive at Thazi train station where you will take the train to Kalaw. (0900/1410 hours, non air-conditioned and reclining seats only). The train is quite slow and not very comfortable, but it is the best way to experience the "real Myanmar". The train will drive across the Shan Plateau, through fields of mountain rice with stops at small stations, where sellers will come to the train and try to sell their goods. In the afternoon, arrive Kalaw and transfer to hotel.

Day 012 : Kalaw (Trekking)

Breakfast at the hotel. Tour proceed as a trekking around Kalaw. You can for example enjoy a walk through the hills, 2 hours (short way) or 4 hours, to a village of the Palaung tribe. At first a steep track leads down into a narrow valley where the Palaung cultivate cheroot leaves, tea, damsons and mangoes on the hillsides. The track crosses the valley floor before climbing very steeply again to the Palaung village of Pinnabin, which sits on top of a hill. The village has an interesting long house for eight families. Formerly animists, the Palaung people have mostly converted to Buddhism. Observe tribal village life and how the Palaung people dry cheroot in a specially designed oven.

Day 013 : Heho - Kyaing Tong (Kentung)

After breakfast at the hotel, visit to the local market and perhaps walking up the hill to see the old catholic church (if open). Then, drive to Heho Airport. Yangon Airways flight HK 727 from Heho to Kyaing Tong (1225/1425 - via Mandalay, Tachileik). Arrival late afternoon at Kyaing Tong Airport and transfer to hotel. A short drive through Kyaing Tong takes you to Lake Tong, the center of the city. The terrace at the boulevard around the lake is a good place to soak up the atmosphere of Kyaing Tong.

Day 014 : Kyaing Tong & surroundings

Breakfast. A full day in the countryside. Start with a visit to the Kat Tauk area and visit an Akha village. The Akha originate from Yunnan in southern China and live in south-east Shan State, on the borderlands of China, Laos and Thailand. Many Akha are found near Kyaing Tong where they live in the high mountains, cultivating maize, tobacco and sugar cane. The Akha are famous for their women's striking headdresses, which resemble heavy silver helmets. They consist of rows of heavy silver baubles, interspersed with beads, which are sewn on a bamboo cap. Akha embroidery is extremely intricate and includes panels of diamond and geometric shapes. The path leads through the village and, although initially steep, changes into a nice walk in the hills (total 1 hours walk).
Pass through an Ann village The Ann people live their life in relative isolation in quite simple circumstances. Most wear their traditional black costume and paint their teeth black. Continue to another Akha village, where every housewife still wears traditional clothing. Visit one of the typical Akha houses. From here, it is possible to descend a steep path to Pin Tauk Waterfall (approx. 10 minutes - also called the "young men's route") or enjoy a leisurely walk down the hill (approx. 30 minutes). Return down hill and drive to the Pin Tauk Lahu village. The village is picturesque but few people wear traditional dress. Drive again in the direction of Kyaing Tong and stop on the way to see the traditional production of Shan Rice wine (if in season). Continue to visit Wan Pauk Palaung village that is traditional but very poor. The Palaung originate from Mon-Khmer stock. They mainly live in the mountains of northern Shan State and are famous for cultivating tea. Most Palaung are Buddhist. The dress is one of the most colorful of all the hill tribes. Ladies wear dark jackets over dark red and black striped longyis, with heavy silver torques and lacquered waistbands. Also visit a Shan village. The Shan are believed to originate from the Tai peoples and have descended from Yunnan (China) to the area now known as Shan State (North East Myanmar, along the Thai border). Other groups descended into the Menam Valley and are now referred to as Thai or Siamese. Even today, the Shan and Thai languages are very similar. Return to Kyaing Tong.

Day 015 : Kyaing Tong & surroundings

Breakfast. An active day in the hills. The Akha are the largest minority in the Kyaing Tong area and surely the most colourful. Today's trip starts with a drive outside of Kyaing Tong in the direction of Tachilek (approx. 1 hour). Then drive high into the hills, to the top of Hokyin Mountain. On this mountain are 4 Akha villages, one Buddhist, one Animist, one Catholic and one Christian. Between every village is a valley and the path leads down ( approx. 10 minutes) and approx. 15 minutes up the hill. See the animist shrine at the entry of the village. Also see the production of Akha spirit made from corn. The Akha are very hospitable and enjoy welcoming you to their house for a chat around the stove. After the 4th village, you can return by car, or enjoy another walk down the hill for approx. 1 hour. The path leads through farms with beautiful views of the surrounding hills. Return in the direction of Kyaing Tong and visit a Wa village, where you can still see handmade guns. Return to Kyaing Tong and visit U Mulein Da's unique Shan lacquerware shop. This lacquerware is distinctively different from Bagan lacquerware; it is not engraved, but the reliefs are glued on. Drive to the top of Lone Tree Hill for views over surrounding countryside and Kyaing Tong. Return to hotel.

Day 016 : Kyaing Tong - Yangon

Breakfast. A morning to enjoy Kyaing Tong Market - a fascinating place to soak up some local atmosphere. Many minority people come into town to shop and most wear traditional dress. Of specific interest are the silver shops where a wide variety of silver coins are sold, the "Akha" shops where the Akha women buy the decoration for their headdresses and the various shops with tea and tobacco. Other stops can be made at Wat In - a Khun-style temple and the more "Myanmar" style Maha-Myat Muni temple. Also visit a pottery village and the blacksmith shop. Return at hotel and check out. Transfer from hotel to airport. Yangon Airways flight HK 728 from Kyaing Tong to Yangon (1510/1825 via Heho, Mandalay). Arrive at Yangon Airport and transfer to hotel. Accommodation at Savoy Hotel, Yangon. (Deluxe room) Breakfast.

Day 017 : Yangon (Departure)

After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Yangon Airport for your departure flight.