Myanmar and Laos
It doesn’t matter whether this is your first or 51st visit to Myanmar: you won’t fail to notice the energy, hope and possibilities for the future that hang in the air. Exiles are returning, joining others in rising to the challenge of bringing their country into the 21st century at the same time as preserving the best of the past. Myanmar has many problems to fix but its people remain as stoic and charming as ever. Slow down, sit, listen and connect with them – it’s the best way to appreciate what’s truly golden about this land. (source: Lonely Planet: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/myanmar-burma)
Laos retains many of the traditions that have disappeared in a frenzy of development elsewhere in the region. It’s hard to believe somnolent Vientiane is an Asian capital, and there’s a timeless quality to rural life, where stilt houses and paddy fields look like they are straight out of a movie set. Magical Luang Prabang bears witness to hundreds of saffron-robed monks gliding through the streets every morning in a call to alms, one of the region’s iconic images. Intrepid travellers will discover a country untainted by mass tourism and Asia in slow motion – this is Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), or ‘please don’t rush’ as the locals like to joke. (source: Lonely Planet: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/laos)
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Day 01 – Yangon – Arrival
Arrival into Yangon and after clearing airport formalities, meet your local guide and transfer to hotel. Balance of day free to get caught up with jet lag or relax.
Day 02 – Yangon Tour (B)
This morning’s city tour includes: Kandawagyi Royal Park where you can see the glittering Karaweik barge, a replica of the royal barge; Chaukhtatkyi Pagoda, housing the fourth largest colossal reclining Buddha; Bogyoke Aung San Museum which was established in 1962. 15 years after the assassination of Bogyoke, a term used for General. The museum was the home of the General before he was assassinated, and is the father of Aung San Su Kyi who led the National League for Democracy (NLD) to a majority win in Myanmar’s first openly contested election in 25 years in November 2015 and now her position is A State Counsellor for the new government. In the late afternoon, visit with photo stop at the heart of Yangon: Sule Pagoda, Maha Bandoola Park with Independence Monument, City Hall, High Court and many colonial style buildings then start walking along the street Pansodan, in which you will find the beautiful buildings of Post office, the Senate, the beautiful colonial buildings as the House of the Culture. Enjoy the sunset at the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda located on top of Singuttara Hill, where many locals and Buddhists come to worship. Shwedagon Pagoda is thought to have been built between the 6th and 10th centuries; however it has been rebuilt many times. It is here that eight strands of Buddha’s hair are said to be kept. The pagoda is covered in gold and contains diamonds, rubies and emeralds.
Day 03 – Yangon – Bagan (B)
Morning transfer to airport for flight to Bagan. Welcome to the Ancient City Bagan! After hotel check in, sightseeing tour with a visit start to Nyaung U local market & Myinkabar colorful market where you can observe the ways of local people and road side sellers; then the golden pagoda of Shwezigon pagoda, which is Pagan’s most important reliquary shrine with images of 37 “Nats” housed in a small hall. See 12th century frescoes adorning the corridors of Kyansitta “Cave” temple. Continue to Gubyaukgyi, another “cave” temple with fine frescoes of “jataka tales”. Next stop is Htilominlo, the last Bamar style temple built in Bagan, with old murals and friezes. Pass through Tharaba Gateway into Old Bagan.
In the afternoon, visit Manuha Temple with gigantic Buddha images, a captive king’s impression of life in prison; Nanpaya, an early-style temple with the finest stone carvings, Ananda temple, a whitewashed masterpiece of Mon architecture with four standing Buddhas, and the adjacent brick monastery from the early Bagan era with well-preserved murals. Making a photo stop at the tallest temple measuring 61 meters Thatbuinnyu known as “: temple of omniscience” and dating from 1091, Dhamayangyi, a massive-looking temple dating from end of 12th century which is famous for its interlocking mortar less brickwork, Mingalarzedi, the last of the large pagodas built in the 13th century, representing the pinnacle of Bamar pagoda architecture. (Bagan with the advent of the 11th century and till the end of the 13th century, kings, generals and dignitaries spared no effort to have brick put upon brick, to build temples and pagodas one after the other with the solitary aim of favourably influencing their re-incarnation. It is believed as many as 12,000 temples and stupas once stood in the area; however, invasions, war and natural disasters have reduced most of these to rubble. Despite this, Bagan is home to more than 2,200 standing ancient temples today and as such, is Myanmar’s greatest architectural site. As there are more than 2000 temples & stupas. Indeed it is difficult to cover all temples within limited time. Therefore we have carefully selected only some major temples for you in order to avoid hectic tourism.)
Day 04 – Bagan (B)
Day free to explore Bagan on your own.
Day 05 – Bagan – Mandalay (B)
Morning transfer to airport for flight to Mandalay. Welcome to the Royal City of Mandalay! Upon arrival, meet our local guide then transfer to the hotel for check in. Then visit the ancient city of Amarapura meaning the ‘City of Immortality’. Make a visit Mahar Myat Muni Buddha Image the most ancient Buddha image castled in bronze in Myanmar and head your way to the handicraft workshops such as bronze sculpture, marble works, and tapestry making, Mahagandaryone Monastery the largest teaching monastery in Myanmar. Each day at around 10:30 close to 700 monks queue up for their morning meal ritual.
From the monastery continue to U Bein Bridge for a walk along this 200 year-old teak bridge. The bridge was constructed of 984 teak posts that were once part of the deserted Inwa Palace and it is 1.2 kilometers in length making it the world’s longest teak span. Enjoy a stroll along the bridge and the fabulous views of the surrounding farms and streams.
This afternoon visit Mya Nan San Kyaw Palace (Royal Palace). This golden palace represents Myanmar’s Sovereignty and independence and can arouse a national patriotic spirit amongst the people of Myanmar. The Royal Palace was destroyed by a British forces air raid in March 1945 but was finally renovated and restored faithfully into its original structure in September 1996. The 89 main halls were re-built with reference to the original photographs, pictures, palm-leaf manuscripts and a miniature model. Later head to Shwenandaw Monastery, once part of the palace complex until it was dismantled and reassembled on its present site in 1880 as a monastery. This wooden structure is carved all over with beautiful motifs and mythical creatures. Originally the building was entirely covered in thick gold, today only the interior gold remains due to harshness of the tropical weather, Kuthodaw Pagoda, often called the world’s largest book (a set of 729 huge stone slabs on which the Buddhist scriptures are inscribed). Finish the day with a visit to Mandalay Hill to watch sunset over the city plains.
(Mandalay is located 668 km north from Yangon and the last capital of the Burmese Kingdom. Mandalay embodies all the elements of Myanmar’s ancient educational, social and cultural system yet the city is also heavily influenced by the Chinese who have relocated here since the Burma foreign trade restrictions were eased.)
Day 06 – Mandalay Tour (B,L)
This morning, your guide will pick you up from the hotel to get awesome experience and discover Mandalay’s best foodie tour about 3:30 hrs through the city. We take you on a trishaw to explore the best snacks offer of Mandalay. Sitting at a morning modern Tea Shop, an open-air tea shop busy from morning till night with local office workers, businessmen and families who come to enjoy a meal and a chat with their friends. Sample a cup of sweet tea or local coffee along with some breakfast. The famous mohinga noodles are one of the most popular dishes but more than a dozen other meals are available including mee shay noodles, nan gyi, chappati-style bread with dips, cakes and savory pastries and Burmese snacks. There is NO need to walking. Your trishaw driver will ride you from place to place to explore morning markets, street venders, taste delicious treats on this fun tour will give you an introduction for the wonderful food culture in Myanmar. Your local guide will explain the details of some secrets behind of this delicious foods. Thereafter, we will see the morning beauty of Mandalay Royal Moat and return to hotel. Balance of day free.
Day 07 – Mandalay – Heho – Inle Lake (B)
Morning transfer to airport for flight to Heho. Welcome to the Wild Nature of Myanmar Shan State ! Upon arrival, meet your local guide then transfer to the Nyaung Shwe jetty, gateway to Inle lake and then a boat to the hotel for check in. Today tour excursion on the lake includes: Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, one of the famous principal shrines in Myanmar. Five small Buddha images are housed and are revered by the lake dwellers. Once a year, late September/early October, a pagoda festival is held where four of the five Buddha images tour around the lake in a colorful barge. Here you will see and learn the art of silk weaving on wooden handlooms, Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, is an attractive wooden monastery built on stilts over the lake, constructed at the end of the 1850s. Aside from its collection of Buddhas the monastery is interesting to visit since its monks have taught a few of the many cats living with them to jump through hoops. You will also make a stop at handicraft workshops such as Blacksmith, Silk and Lotus weaving, cheroot making and traditional boats making factory, etc. On your return trip to the hotel, you will pass the endless floating gardens, where fruit and vegetables are grown in the middle of the lake.
Day 08 – Inle Lake – Heho – Yangon (B)
After breakfast, travel by boat to the western shore of the lake to a stairway and walk roughly for 10 minutes to the hidden Indien Temple Complex of decaying wooden stupas surrounded and overtaken by huge banyan trees, offering an evocative and contemplative scene reminiscent of the Khmer temples at Angkor Wat. In the region of Indein village there are two ancient groups of pagodas, Nyaung Ohak and Shwe Inn Thein. The first one near the boat landing is Nyaung Ohak, means “group of banyan trees”. Most of the pagodas have not been restored but some are well preserved, while others have plants and trees growing out of them. Many pagodas are decorated with sculptures of celestial beings or mythological animals as Naga serpents and Chintze, and enshrine images of the Buddha. Shwe Inn Thein pagodas from Nyaung Ohak a climb leads to the second group of pagodas named Shwe Inn Thein located on top of a hill. A 700 meter covered walkway leads up to the pagodas. The walkway is lined with stalls where vendors sell Shan shoulder bags, longyis, shirts and other items. The site is believed to date back to the days of the Indian emperor Ashoka, who sent monks in the 3rd century BC across Asia to spread Buddhism. Centuries later, two kings of the Bagan Empire, Narapatisithu and Anawrahta built pagodas at the site. The site contains hundreds of pagodas, known as Shwe Inn Thein pagodas. Most are from the 17th and 18th century; the earliest one with an inscription dates to the 14th century. The top element shaped like an ornamental umbrella is missing at many of the un-restored stupas. A number of stupas have been restored by donors, both Burmese and foreign. At the center of the Shwe Inn Thein group is the shrine of the Inn Thein Buddha image. The shrine, believed to have been built by King Ashoka houses a golden Buddha image in the meditation mudra. From the top of the hill there is a magnificent view of Indein village and the surrounding area.
You will see some “Padaung People” known as the “Long Neck Karen Hill Tribe.” On the way back to the boat, walk through a bamboo forest at the riverside, where you will observe local people bathing in the river. Overnight at Hotel in Yangon.
Day 09 – Yangon Tour (B,D)
This morning our guide will pick up from the hotel to visit Bogyoke Market (formerly know as Scott Market) where you can get a whole range of Myanmar handicraft, fabrics, lacquer wares. Then back to the hotel and free at leisure.
In the evening, walk along the China Town and Night Market. Along the road, you see local experience in ways that the different architectural features, second hand bookstalls, old Government telegram office to the bustling and vibrant life of this large city. And you guide show you a great evening of food throughout the city and there are so many shops for Shan cuisine (Shan noodles, a Shan soup and pennywort salad), a delicious fried tilapia, grilled meats from a street vendor, an assortment of Burmese curries and salads (tea leaf salad was phenomenal) and traditional Myanmar desserts and then stop at the most famous, Feel Myanmar buffet restaurant. There are hundreds of different food choices and also incredible selection of Burmese food choice.
Day 10 – Yangon – Luang Prabang (B)
Transfer to airport for our flights to Luang Prabang, Laos. Upon arrival and after clearing airport formalities, meet our guide and transfer to our hotel. Late afternoon, we will climb up 328 steps of Mount Phousi for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a beautiful sunset view of the city and the Mekong River. We then will explore the Night Market, where you can find a lovely selection of handmade textiles made by the hill tribe and local people surrounding Luang Prabang.
Day 11 – Luang Prabang – Ancient Towns and Pak Ou Caves (B,L)
You have the option to wake up before dawn to witness and participate in offering alms to hundreds of saffron-robed monks – an awe-inspiring sight. Please tell your guide a day in advance if you wish to make an offering so he/she can prepare some food for you to hand over to the monks. This early morning ritual dates back generations in Laos. Watch the town come to life in the morning then return to the hotel for breakfast or join the locals for a bowl of delicious noodle soup after the alms giving ritual. (If you do not wish to make an offering, please keep an appropriate distance and observe the ritual in silence. Dress appropriately – shoulders, chest and legs should be covered).
We then visit the Morning Market, where you will see such diverse offerings as dried buffalo skin, local tea and saltpeter among the chickens, vegetables and hill-tribe weavings.
After breakfast at hotel, we visit the National Museum at the former Royal Palace displays a lovely collection of the artifacts reflecting the richness of Lao culture dating from the days of the early kings right through the last sovereign; the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, which represents classical Laotian architecture. We then board a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives us a panoramic view of the tranquil countryside as well as an interesting visit to the mysterious of Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. Along the way, we will make a stop at Ban Xang Hai village where rice wine is distilled. We will visit the caves of Tham Ting and Tham Phoum which house hundreds of Buddha statues. Lunch at local restaurant. We return to Luang Prabang in the afternoon, continue to visit Ban Xang Khong, a village well known for silk hand-weaving and traditional Saa paper-making.
Day 12 – Luang Prabang (B,L)
Free day to explore on your own.
Day 13 – Luang Prabang – Xieng Khouang (B,L)
We then head out of Vang Vieng to Xieng Khouang, driving 6-7 hours through the wonderful natural scenery. En route, there will be plenty of opportunities for photos. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for check-in. Overnight in Xieng Khouang.
Day 14 – Xieng Khouang – Plain of Jars (B,L)
This morning, get a feel for the local lifestyle in the Central Market. Then visit the UXO MAG Exhibition Room. We then transfer out to the picturesque Jar Site 2, and the impressive Jar Site 3, consisting over around 150 jars located on top of a hill, offering great views over the surrounding countryside. And then drive out to the ancient town of Muang Khoun, the former provincial capital, where you can explore the ruins of a number of ancient pagodas in the Lanna style That Fun sputa and Wat Phiawat, a ruined temple containing a huge sitting Buddha. We then return to Phonsavanh Town on the way we visit Jar Site 1, the largest site, containing over 300 jars, before returning to your hotel by late afternoon.
Day 15 – Xieng Khouang – Vientiane (B)
After breakfast, you will be escorted to airport for your flight to Vientiane. In Vientiane, your half day afternoon city tour begins with the oldest Wat Sisaket, the city’s oldest temple. Dates back to 1818, Wat Sisaket is the most important heritage temple now standing in Laos. It houses thousands of Buddha images from many countries, long lost architectural styles, sculptures and paintings; Wat Prakeo, former royal temple of the Lao monarchy and originally built in 1565, is home to the Emerald Buddha image, Buddhist sculptures are displayed along the perimeter wall, including a 6th to 9th century Dvaravati-style stone Buddha and several standing and sitting Buddhas. On the way to the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, stop to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph. Watching spectacular view of over the Mekong River at sunset is a perfect way to finish the day. Overnight in Vientiane.
Day 16 – Vientaine – Buddha Park (B,L)
We will visit the Morning Market, where one can find an array of antiquities, handmade textiles and gifts. We then visit the National Museum, former Revolutionary Museum, which boasts a collection of antique items and the history of Laos’s fighters and leaders who were displaced from the ancient times through to the new revolution period. After, we take a short drive out of the city to visit the Buddha Park where hundreds of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures brought from India are displayed. Afternoon free to catch up on any last minute shopping.
Day 17 – Vientaine – Home (B)
Transfer to airport for our flights home.
Yangon – 2 Nights
Bagan – 2 Nights
Mandalay – 2 Nights
Inle Lake – 1 Night
Yangon – 2 Nights
Luang Prabang – 3 Nights
Xieng Khouang – 2 Nights
Vientaine – 2 Nights
Hotels selected for Premiere Journeys have been hand selected to ensure your satisfaction. Contact us for further hotel details for this tour.
International airfare not included