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Explore beautiful Bago before heading out to the incredible Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo Pagoda) atop Mt Kyaiktiyo. Gasp on initial view of the golden pagoda atop a gold boulder teetering on the edge of the mountain. Legend has it that the landmark is held aloft by a single strand of Buddha’s hair.
Visit an ancient fortress in Hsindat Myindat, along with an intriguing monastery, a renowned Kyaik Hti Saung pagoda and ancient stone carvings, before continuing on to the picturesque town of Hpa An.
Journey out to Mawlamyine and learn about the city’s colonial past. Visit Queen Sein Done's Monastery, adorned with incredibly intricate carvings, and see the sun set behind Kyaikthalan Pagoda, the highest structure in Mawlamyine. In the morning, drive out to historic Thanbyuzayat and pay tribute to those who died toiling on the Death Railway during WWII.
Return to Yangon, stopping en route at the Allied War Memorial Cemetery in Htaukkyant. Stare out over the 6000 beautifully kept graves and see 27,000 names etched on the towering Rangoon Memorial.
Fly to Lashio then drive the winding roads through Shan mountains to Hsipaw. Walk through quiet villages, see crops stretch out over the landscape and gain insight into the culture of the local people. Perhaps learn local handicraft skills such as bamboo weaving and cheroot-rolling.
Cruise the Dutawaddy River and soak up the beautiful scenic surrounds. Afterwards, take a walk through pineapple and papaya plantations to the old, remote Shan Monastery. Those feeling energetic will have the option of doing some more walking this afternoon. Catch another beautiful sunset tonight from Thein Daung Pagoda on Sunset Hill.
Pyin U Lwin
Ride the Lashio–Mandalay train over the remarkable Gokteik Viaduct, a great feat of engineering. Built in 1901, the viaduct stands an impressive 100 metres high. Stretch your legs at Pyin U Lwin, one of Burma’s most famous hill stations and, if there’s time, explore the area in a traditional horse-drawn carriage, better known as a 'myin-lay', before continuing on to Mandalay.
Enjoy a bumpy horse cart ride around Inwa. Admire the town’s very own ‘leaning tower’ and visit the monasteries of Manu Ok Kaung and Bargaya Kyaung. In the afternoon, explore the former royal capital of Amarapura and meet some local cotton and silk weavers before heading back to Mandalay.
Head down to the lively waterfront and journey upriver to Mingun, home to the world’s largest pagoda (alas, unfinished) and temples that date back thousands of years. Return to Mandalay and visit Kuthodaw Pagoda and Golden Palace Monastery. Afterwards, why not climb up Mandalay Hill in time for sunset?
It’s a morning of river crossings: admire the scenery as we cross both the Ayeyarwady River and the Chindwin River. See hundreds of sandstone caves adorned with paintings, statues and carvings at Poe Win Taung before visiting the beautifully adorned Thanbodday Pagoda..
Follow the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River down to the ancient town of Pakokku. Discover all sorts of interesting local crafts, including slipper making, weaving and cheroot rolling.
Lose track of time discovering beautiful Bagan’s myriad delights. Enjoy a tour of the city’s most distinctive pagodas, including Shwezigon Pagoda and the cave temple of Wetkyi-in-Gubyaukgyi, adorned with 13th-century frescoes. Scout the stalls amid the ruins for locally produced sand paintings and lacquerware. Later, taste ‘toddy’ palm juice on the journey out to towering Mount Popa, an extinct volcano, said to be home to many local spirits. Those up for it can climb the 777 steps to the top – the shrine up here is worth a visit.
Board a plane to Heho and pass through boundless rice fields and quaint villages out to Pindaya. Marvel at mesmerising Buddha images adorning the region’s limestone caves. There is also the opportunity to visit a local family and see how they make umbrellas from the bark of mulberry trees. Later, travel to Kalaw and enjoy some free time exploring the town.
Surrounded by picturesque hills, Lake Inle is one of the highest lakes in Burma. Visit nearby villages, see floating gardens, discover the unique fishing technique common in these parts and learn how the native people make Buddha images from dried flower powder. Later, boat out to visit a hilltop complex of 1000 stupas, see a demonstration of traditional boat making and at the day’s end, savour a delicious Shan-style dinner.
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