Day 1: Depart U.S. for Yangon, Myanmar
Day 2: Arrive Yangon Upon arrival late this evening, we meet our Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and transfer to our hotel.
Day 3: Yangon After a briefing this morning about the journey ahead, we set off to discover Yangon, Myanmar’s largest and most interesting city that appears both provincial and pastoral. Our tour begins at Kalaywa Tawa Monastery, where we learn about the fundamental role of Buddhism in Burmese culture, where 90% of the population practices Buddhism. After lunch at a local restaurant, we return to our hotel for some time at leisure in the heat of the day. Late this afternoon we set out for a tour highlight: a visit to revered Shwedagon Pagoda, a wonder of the religious world and Kipling’s 2,500-year-old “golden mystery.” Shwedagon’s gold-leafed dome sparkles with 4,531 diamonds – and is crowned by a single diamond of 76 carats. At sunset we tour the complex comprising numerous smaller pagodas and temples then enjoy a welcome dinner together. B,L,D
Day 4: Yangon/Mandalay We fly this morning to fabled Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city at once a center of commerce and a repository of ancient culture. Upon arrival we visit Mahamuni Pagoda, the country’s most sacred site after Shwedagon. After lunch we proceed to peaceful Shwe Kyaung, the “Golden Palace Monastery” that is all that remains of the former 19th-century wooden Royal Palace; and Kuthodaw Pagoda, housing the Buddhist scripture carved on 729 marble slabs. Our tour concludes with a panoramic view from atop Mandalay Hill. B,L,D
Day 5: Mandalay This morning we cross the Irrawaddy en route to Sagaing Hill, Myanmar’s living center of Buddhism with its many monasteries, stupas, and temples. We have time to explore before we visit a nunnery to learn about the religious women who live here. After lunch, we travel on to the former royal capital of Amarapura, where we walk the pedestrian U Bein Bridge, the iconic span of teak that crosses Taungthaman Lake and offers incredible sunset views. Then we visit a workshop of local weavers before returning to our hotel. B,L
Day 6: Mandalay/Bagan We spend a full day on the storied Irrawaddy, as we cruise this morning from Mandalay to Bagan. It’s a day to relax and to see everyday life on the river up close. Upon arrival early this evening in Bagan, we transfer directly to our hotel. B,L
Day 7: Bagan Today we set out to discover Bagan, “city of four million pagodas” and one of the richest archaeological sites in all of Asia. With some 2,000 pagodas, temples, and monasteries (still standing) spread over a 16-square-mile site on the Eastern shores of the Irrawaddy, Bagan distills the very essence of Myanmar’s Buddhist culture. We visit several important shrines, including revered Ananda with its golden spires. This afternoon we encounter Bagan’s rich artistic heritage as we see artisans craft lacquerware. We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant then later return to Bagan to watch the sun set over this sacred site. Tonight we dine in the home of a local Burmese family. B,L,D
Day 8: Bagan Early this morning we have the special opportunity to see Bagan’s ancient temples on an optional hot air balloon ride. Then we encounter everyday Burmese life up close today, first at the bustling Nyaung Oo fruit and vegetable market then at Phwar Saw Village. After lunch we return to Bagan where we explore by pony cart, venturing into areas inaccessible by car or bus. B,L
Day 9: Bagan/Inle Lake Area We fly this morning to Heho then travel by coach to beautiful Inle Lake, whose shore and islands host 17 villages on stilts inhabited mostly by native Intha people. Primarily farmers and fishermen, the Intha propel their flat-bottomed boats with one leg and an oar – a unique style that we’ll see during our stay. We arrive in Nyaung Shwe, gateway to Inle Lake, in time for lunch then continue on to our hotel. B,L,D
Day 10: Inle Lake/Inndein A morning visit to the Inndein temple complex of decaying wooden stupas surrounded and overtaken by huge banyan trees offers an evocative and contemplative scene reminiscent of the Khmer temples at Angkor Wat. Lunch today is a small group highlight as we dine in the floating home of a local Intha family. Returning to our hotel, we see the fishermen engaged in their unique styles of rowing and fishing. B,L,D
Day 11: Inle Lake We encounter various ethnic minorities today at the Five-Day Market, where hill tribespeople come from all over the Lake Region – in their traditional tribal colors – to trade with the Intha. B,L,D
Day 12: Inle Lake/Heho/Yangon We return to Heho today for the flight to Yangon. After checking in at our hotel, the afternoon is at leisure. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner. B,D
Day 13: Yangon/Depart for U.S. This morning we see Yangon’s downtown area, where well-preserved colonial buildings flank ancient pagodas. We visit the colossal Chauk Htat Gyi Reclining Buddha, at 213 feet one of the country’s largest Buddha icons; and drive by the home of Aung San Suu Kyi, “The Lady.” Lunch today is on our own; this afternoon is at leisure to relax or to visit the Scott Market, famed for its large selection of Burmese handcrafts and other goods. Tonight we dine together at our hotel before transferring to the airport for our flight to the U.S. B,D
Day 14: Arrive U.S. We arrive in the U.S. this morning and connect with our flights home.
B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included