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Myanmar Explorer - 15 Days/14 Nights

Yangon - Kyaikhtiyo - Bago - Mandalay – Monywa - Bagan – Kalaw – Inle Lake

This itinerary is designed for those who have a bit more time to get off the beaten path and experience rarely visited parts of Myanmar. You'll not only see the most famous sights in Yangon, Bagan, and Mandalay but also visit the famous Golden Rock Pagoda, ancient capitals, small villages and the largest reclining Buddha image in Burma. You'll trek near the old British hill station of Kalaw to visit an elephant camp, and have enough time to really explore Inle Lake.

Privately-Guided! Whether you are a single person, a couple, or a group, you'll have your own guide and driver for all airport pickups, dropoffs, and daily excursions, but the rest of your time is free to explore!

Choose your own dates! This is not a fixed-departure-date tour. Just let us know the dates that work best for you and we will arrange everything.
Customizable! Need more time? Less time? Want to see or do something that isn't included? Just let us know, and we will arrange it for you.

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Trip Highlights

  • Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon
  • The "Golden Rock"
  • Buddhist caves in Monywa
  • Boat cruise to temple-studded Bagan
  • Trekking to elephant conservation project in Kalaw
  • Home hosted lunch at "Pagoda Forest" near Inle Lake


Day 1: Yangon
Arrive at Yangon International Airport where you will be welcomed by our representative and transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Yangon.

Day 2: Yangon
Today, explore colonial downtown to observe its fabulous mix of architecture and harbor area on foot. Starting first at the Sule Pagoda, flanked by a Muslim Mosque and a church on the other end. See several British colonial era buildings as you stroll over to the historic Strand Hotel where you will take a break with a local beer at the famous bar once frequented by famous writers like Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kiping.

Then proceed to a lively local market in Insein Township at the north of Yangon where vendors gather daily to sell a wide range of items, both food and dry goods. Enjoy exploring the market and meeting the friendly locals before returning to Yangon by a circular train. Late afternoon, enjoy sunset views at the world famous Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred temple in Myanmar and believed to be at least 2,500 years old. Overnight in Yangon. (Breakfast)

Day 3: Yangon to Kyaikhtiyo
Early this morning, you will drive through a delta area en route to the Sittaung River and Kyaikhto Township. Arrive mid-morning at the base camp Kimpun, then transfer by 40 minutes in a small open truck to a bus junction. From here, you will hike an hour up to the summit where your hotel is located. Along the steps you will see vendors selling traditional medicated roots, spices, and refreshments. Take a rest after you check in at your hotel, the Golden Rock Shrine is just a short stroll away. Enjoy sunset from this beautiful site with breathtaking views and fresh mountain air. Overnight in Kyaikhtiyo. (Breakfast)
Day 4: Kyaikhtiyo to Bago to Yangon
In the morning, depart for Yangon, stopping over in Bago, an ancient capital of Mon Kings, for lunch. After lunch visit the Shwetharlyaung Buddha Image, the oldest reclining Buddha in Myanmar, and a World War II Memorial - a reminder of the strategic importance of Burma during that time.  Overnight in Yangon. (Breakfast)

Day 5: Yangon to Mandalay
Transfer to the airport for your morning flight to Mandalay. On arrival, you will be welcomed by your guide. Depending on the time available, you'll visit various sights of Mandalay including the temple ruins of Paleik. The snake temple in Paleik is known for the three pythons sleeping at the Buddha statue, which is seldom visited by tourists. After, visit Amarapura, the 18th century capital of Myanmar. Visit the Mahagandayon monastery complex with thousands of monks and a small weaving factory. Late afternoon, enjoy sunset views over the famed U-Bein Bridge, a 158 year old teak wood bridge - the longest teak bridge in the world. Overnight in Mandalay. (Breakfast)

Day 6: Mandalay
After breakfast, explore typical local life in this bustling city by a local rickshaw. Starting first from ''Khaing Tan'' market, one of the largest here in Mandalay city. Near the market, visit an area where people are making robes and other accessories for monks in Mandalay and throughout the country. Then, continue to an old monastery, Shwe In Bin, donated by U Set Shwin, a Chinese merchant in 1895. Take a break at a local tea shop and sample some local snacks. Continue by rickshaw to other residential areas where you can see how local people make a living. Then head over to the famous Mahamuni shrine where many pilgrims pay homage to a bronze Buddha statue cast in first century. If you are interested, you can continue to the artful quarters of Mandalay where you can see traditional handicraft skills in stone carving and bronze casting.

Later in the afternoon, take a boat excursion to Mingun village on the banks of the Ayarwaddy River. Visit the Mingun Pagoda with its big crack caused by an earthquake and the world’s largest ringing bronze bell. Return to Mandalay on a one-hour boat ride while drinks and snacks are being served. Overnight in Mandalay. (Breakfast)

Day 7: Mandalay to Monywa
This morning, check-out from your hotel and visit Sagaing, covered with 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries. Sagaing hill is widely regarded as the religious center of Myanmar and is home to about 6,000 monks and nuns with 100 meditation centers. After lunch at a local restaurant, drive about 3 hours to Monywa, a small town along the banks of the Chindwin River.  Overnight in Monywa. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 8: Monywa
This morning, drive about an hour to Powin Taung crossing Chindwin River. Stop along the way to admire the stone-cut pavilions of Shwe Ba Taung, resembling a mini “Petra of Jordan”. Then continue to the “Hill of the Alchemists”, Powin Taung Hill boasts several Buddhist cave sites from as early as the 16th century. Numerous Buddha images were carved along the stone walls of these caves, creating a gallery of different images. Throughout the centuries, mural paintings were added, creating what some archaeologists call the richest mural painting collection in Southeast Asia.

Return back to Monywa and afternoon, visit the Thanbodday Zedi temple complex which is beautifully decorated with the most beautiful stucco work and the Boditataung Pagoda, both known for their extensive Buddha statuary. Then continue to Alantayar Pagoda, sight of the largest reclining Buddha image in all of South East Asia, over 600 feet in length. Overnight in Monywa. (Breakfast)

Day 9: Monywa to Bagan

This morning depart for Pakkoku, one of the more famous towns in Central Myanmar. En route, visit Mau Ale Village to observe the workshops of local incense makers and bamboo scale producers. After arriving in Pakkoku, visit a workshop of local blanket weavers (hand-woven!).

Afternoon, visit one of the Pagoda sites to observe an excellent and artistic arch-pediment which was made of five blocks of teak and inscribed with nine Buddhist stories. From here, visit an ancient pagoda built in the 3rd Century B.C where you can have a great view of the river. Continue driving about 1.5hours to your hotel in Bagan. (Breakfast)

Day 10: Bagan
An optional hot-air balloon ride at dawn is available, but pre-booking is required (does not operate between April 1st and October 15th). Enjoy breathtaking views of the temple-studded landscape of Bagan, which was once the capital of several kingdoms in Central Myanmar. The dry, arid conditions have uniquely preserved more than 3000 stupas and temples built here between the 11th and 13th centuries.

Spend the day exploring Bagan and see the ancient temples that Bagan is renowned for including famous temples like the Ananda, Dhammayangyi, Sulamani, and Thatbyinnyu. Afternoon, visit the world’s only Thanakha (traditional Myanmar make up) museum, learn how this powder/paste was made and why they are so much in to part of the daily life for Myanmar people. Later, a lacquer-ware workshop and learn about the long and arduous process of making bowls and trays that often take months to complete. Overnight in Bagan. (Breakfast)

Day 11: Bagan
This morning, drive about 30min to the outskirts and visit Zee Oh village. Meet local friendly local villagers and see their daily life and farming activities. See a huge Tamarind tree with 9 large overhanging branches touching the ground which are supported by concrete pillars. Also, an old sacred forest called Zi Oh Thit Hla, known as the Ingyin nature reserve, which mainly produce Petrified Wood (Fossil Wood). Another uniqueness of this village is an iron mountain which believed to have piled up during the construction of the ancient capital in Bagan about 800-1000 years ago.

Return back to Bagan around noon time and you can ask your guide for additional sights to see or relax in your hotel. Late afternoon, take a relaxing boat ride for 2 hours and enjoy beautiful sunset views over the Ayeyarwady River. Overnight in Bagan. (Breakfast)

Day 12: Bagan to Heho to Kalaw
In the morning, take a flight to Heho. Upon arrival, drive another two hours to Kalaw, at 4,300 ft. (1,440 m) above sea level. Kalaw was once a favorite hill station for British administrative officials and a summer resort for their family during the hot season. A peaceful town surrounded by pine forests, it is home to the Palaung, Pa-O, Taung-Yo, and Dha Nu hill tribes of the Shan ethnic group. In Kalaw, do a short trek of an hour and visit an elephant conservation project where you'll have an opportunity to bathe and feed the elephants, followed by a local lunch freshly prepared at the camp. After return back to your hotel by car and rest of the evening is free for you to stroll around the small town. Overnight in Kalaw. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 13: Kalaw to Inle Lake
After breakfast, visit Kalaw market. See a variety of vendors selling beautiful flowers, indoor plants, fresh vegetables and medicinal herbs. Afterwards, drive about 2 hours to Nyaung Shwe, the biggest city on Inle Lake. The Intha people have been living for many centuries in villages built entirely on stilts over the lake. Today you will travel by private motorboat around the lake to visit their floating gardens and see the famous leg rowers. Stop by a local cheroot factory where Burmese cigars are made, floating tomato gardens, a weaving factory and the famous Nga Phe Chaung Monastery. After, continue by motorboat on the lake to your hotel. Overnight in Inle Lake. (Breakfast)

Day 14: Inle Lake
Inle Lake in southern Shan State is a vast natural lake surrounded by traditional Shan villages. On and around the lake, traditional markets are held in different villages according to a five-day rotating schedule. This morning, cruise by local motorboat to visit a colorful market frequented by Shan and Pa O people living nearby.

Then continue to pass a small creek in the western part of the lake to Indein village. Visit a complex of about 1,000 stupas of varying sizes built between the 17th and 18th centuries. Embark on a short trek to Nay Daw village (3 miles, about 1 hour) and visit the Pa O tribal residents. Visit the local farmlands and a bamboo forest. Trek about a mile (about 30min) back to Indein village, enjoy very scenic countryside views along the way. From here, transfer back to your hotel by motorboat. Rest of the afternoon is free for you to relax at your resort and enjoy lake views from your room. Overnight in Inle Lake. (Breakfast)

Day 15: Inle to Yangon
Transfer to the airport for your short flight to Yangon and connect with your international flight. (Breakfast)

Inclusions and Exclusions

Package Rates Include

  • Private airport transfers
  • Daily accommodation with breakfast
  • Private vehicle transportation for all excursions per itinerary
  • Meals as listed in above itinerary
  • Services of a local, English-speaking guide for all visits and excursions
  • All tours and activities mentioned in the itinerary, including entrance fees
  • Internal flights from Yangon to Mandalay, Bagan to Heho and Heho to Yangon

Rates Do Not Include

  • International airfare
  • Myanmar visa application fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Optional hot air balloon ride in Bagan

To Book This Tour

Please call us toll free at 1-877-362-2793 and let us know that you are interested in this tour. To prepare a proposal, we'll ask questions about how many people are traveling, your preferred travel dates, standard and types of accommodation, and any special interests that we may be able to accommodate.

Once we have finalized a customized price quote for you, your agent will inform you a per-person non-refundable deposit to initiate reservations (typically 20% of tour cost). Final payment is due 75 days prior to departure.

If your reservation is made less than 75 days prior to departure, the non-refundable deposit will allow us to initiate reservations. Full payment will be due immediately upon confirmation of all hotels and transportation services. If the services quoted cannot be confirmed, alternate accommodation or transportation will be arranged and the price will be adjusted accordingly.

Payments can be made by personal check, bank wire transfer, or credit card. Upon receipt of your deposit, we will initiate your reservations and send you a statement showing your payment. Approximately 2 weeks prior to your departure, we will send you a final confirmation containing your itinerary and detailed information on the logistics of your trip.
Please review our complete terms and conditions:
Booking Terms and Conditions

Cancellation/Refund Policies

- Cancel more than 60 days prior to departure - forfeit your deposit.
- Cancel between 30 and 60 days prior to departure - forfeit 50% of the tour cost.
- Cancel less than 30 days prior to departure - NO REFUND of tour cost.
- Cancellations must be made in writing and sent via mail, fax, or email to Red Lantern Journeys.
- Refunds will be processed within 30 days of receipt of your written request.
- No refunds are available for unused services or tours during your trip.

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