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Best of Burma
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Yangon City Tour
Today you will explore the fascinating city of Yangon and its famous religious monuments. The tour begins at the waterfront, the heart of the city and home to many impressive traditional and colonial buildings including the Sule Pagoda, Maha Bandoola Park with Independence Monument, the City Hall and the High Court. We also visit the gold, hollow Botahtaung Pagoda, originally built over 2500 years ago, and the giant 70 metre-long reclining Buddha of Chaukhtagyi Paya whose serene features are topped by a crown encrusted in diamonds and other precious stones.
Later this evening you will visit the most revered Buddhist temple in Burma, the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda, where locals gather to make offerings and prayers. Standing at 90 metres tall, the gold leaf central stupa dominates the city’s skyline and turns vivid hues of yellow, orange and red when the sun begins to set.
Fly to Mandalay
Today you will fly to Mandalay, Burma’s last royal capital. After hotel check the tour will head to the jetty for a pleasant boat ride upriver to Mingun to visit the remains of what could have been the world’s largest pagoda. Intended to reach a staggering height of 152 metres, work on the pagoda stopped after the death of King Bodawpaya in 1819. Dramatically split by an earthquake in 1838, the monumental structure is still incredibly impressive. We also visit the huge Mingun Bell and the beautiful white Myatheindan pagoda nearby.
Returning by boat to Mandalay the afternoon is spent exploring the Royal Palace, the teak carvings of the historic Shwenandaw Monastery and the world’s largest book at the Kuthodaw Pagoda. The day concludes with Mandalay Hill and depending on the time, a spectacular sunset with vistas across the city.
Mandalay & Inwa
As a former capital of Burma, the ancient city of Amarapura is rich in sights and this morning you will visit the largest teaching monastery in the country, the Mahagandayon Monastery. Everyday hundreds of monks queue to receive their daily alms from the people. The tour will visit the longest teak bridge in the world, the U Bein Bridge set over the enchanting Taungthaman Lake, and the Mahamuni Temple, home to an ancient bronze Buddha image. You will also have the opportunity to visit a local handicraft workshop to see bronze sculpting, gold leaf beating and marble stone carving.
The afternoon will be spent at the historical city of Inwa where a horse-drawn carriage brings us to the stone Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery, a fine example of Burmese masonry, the Mainu brick monastery and the old watchtower.
Cruise the Ayeyarwaddy to Bagan
Transferring to the jetty this morning you will board a boat for a scenic cruise on the Ayeyarwaddy River taking you to Bagan. Sit back and relax as the vessel plies its course past rolling fields of green. Arriving into Bagan later this evening yo u will transfer to your hotel.
Please note: Boats do not operate between 01 April and 23 October 2015/ 2016 (dates can vary dependent upon the river water level). If travelling when boats are not in operation we have included the cost of a flight between Mandalay - Bagan within the tour price. Day 5 arrangements during this period would be, spend the morning at leisure in Mandalay before transferring to the airport for your flight to Bagan.
Nothing can quite prepare you for the spectacular sight of stupa-upon-stupa that fills the green, dusty plains of Bagan. Over 2000 temples and pagodas dating back some 800 years create one of the most impressive skylines to be seen in Southeast Asia. Our sightseeing today begins with a visit to the town of Nyaung-U to see the local market and Bagan’s most important reliquary shrine, the Shwezigon Pagoda, and the simple Kyansittha Cave Temple with interesting 12th century frescoes.
You will continue to the Manuha Temple to see the gigantic Buddhas housed inside and the sandstone carvings of the nearby Nanpaya Temple, and on to the Ananda Temple, a whitewashed masterpiece of Mon architecture with four standing gold-leaf Buddhas. The group will stop for a photo opportunity at the towering Thatbyinnyu Temple before visiting the Dhammayangyi Temple, a massive structure famous for its brickwork, and the Mingalarzedi Pagoda, the last of the large pagodas built in the 13th century, representing the pinnacle of Bagan’s architectural skills. At a local lacquer workshop you will witness how local craftsmen skilfully prepare Bagan’s most famous handicraft before enjoying a tranquil sunset boat ride on the Ayeyarwaddy River.
Kalaw Hill Station
Today we travel to the popular hill station of Kalaw with a stop en route at the extinct volcano of Mount Popa. The mountain is believed to be the abode of legendary Nats (spirit gods) and at the summit are numerous monasteries, pagodas and shrines in various architectural styles. Arriving into Kalaw late afternoon we visit Thein Taung Pay pagoda.
Trek the Palaung Hills
An early morning start allows you to enjoy trekking in the Palaung Hills through small ranges of rice paddies and tea plantations bringing us to Painaebin village, home to the indigenous Danu people. Walking back to Kalaw the tour will drive to the quiet town of Pindaya set amidst beautiful countryside and famous for its extensive cave network. Highlights of the sightseeing tour today include the carved Buddha images of the Pindaya caves, the ancient Banyan tree and small local factories producing Mulberry paper and bamboo hats.
After breakfast on day 9 the tour will drive to the wonderful watery world of Inle Lake home to floating gardens, stilted villages and crumbling stupas. Touring the lake by boat you will witness the unique rowing techniques of the local fishermen before visiting the unusual Nga Pe Chaung monastery where Buddhist monks have taught cats to jump through hoops and Inle Lake’s largest pagoda, the Paungdaw Oo pagoda.
Day 10 is free for your leisure. Take advantage of the lush surrounding countryside and partake in canoeing or cycling, or alternatively you could opt for an excursion to Indein village on the western side of Inle Lake. Visit the impressive Shwe Indein Pa-O complex affording magnificent views over the lake and walk through bamboo forest where local villagers bathe along the riverside (bookable and payable locally).
After breakfast you will leave the lake and transfer to the Heho airport for your flight back to Yangon. Once back in the capital, the remainder of the day free for your leisure.
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