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Myanmar

Monday, 07 November 2011 01:46
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Myanmar sits at the crossroads of Asia’s great civilisations of India and China, and looks out onto the vast Indian Ocean next to Thailand. One of South East Asia’s largest and most diverse countries, Myanmar stretches from the sparkling islands of the Andaman Sea in the south right up into the Eastern Himalayan mountain range.

To this day Myanmar remains one of the most mysterious and undiscovered destinations in the world. A land of breathtaking beauty and charm yet only recently emerging into the modern world. What can the casual visitor therefore expect upon arrival, and why should one embark on such a journey in the first place?

 

The country’s tourism infrastructure boasts five star properties, intimate boutique hotels and family guest houses in all the major centers, as well as stunning mountain and beach resorts. Myanmar also boasts one of the lowest tourist crime records in the world, so visitors can rest assured their holiday will be carefree from start to finish.

History

Like most of Southeast Asia's countries, Myanmar's people and history is a glorious mishmash of settlers and invaders from all fronts. The Mon and the Pyu are thought to have come from India, while the now dominant Bamar (Burmese) migrated through Tibet and, by 849, had founded a powerful kingdom centred on Bagan. For the next millennium, the Burmese empire grew through conquests of Thailand (Ayutthaya) and India (Manipur), and shrank under attacks from China and internal rebellions.

Culture

Myanmar's culture is largely a result of heavy Indian influences intertwined with local traditions and some Chinese influences. This can be seen in the various stupas and temples throughout the country, which bear a distinct resemblance to those in northern India. Like neighbouring Thailand, Theravada Buddhism is the single largest religion, and even some of the most remote villages will have a village temple for many to pray. Other religions which exist in smaller numbers include Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.

Climate

Generally, Myanmar is considered to have 3 seasons. The hot season is usually from March-April, and temperatures would then cool off during the rainy season from May-October. The peak tourism season is the cool season from November-February. Temperatures can climb as high as 36°C in Yangon in the hot season while in the cool season, noontime temperatures are usually a more bearable 32°C, with night temperatures falling to around 19°C. Mandalay is slightly cooler in the cool season, with temperatures falling as low as 13°C, while temperatures in the hot season can go as high as 37°C. Generally, Lower Myanmar, the area around Yangon, receives more rainfall than the drier Upper Myanmar (around Mandalay).

 

Yangon Tours & Excursions

Yangon, Half Day City Tour

This introductory half day tour takes visitors to the old colonial-style city center, the gilded Sule Pagoda, dating back over 2,000 years and for a photo stop to the Karaweik Hall royal floating barge. Proceed to Bogyoke (Scott’s) Market (closed on Public Holidays and Mondays) with an extended visit to Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the world’s most spectacular religious monuments. The golden dome of the Shwedagon Pagoda rises 98 meters above its base and is covered with 60 tons of pure gold.

Yangon, Half Day City Syriam

Excursion to Syriam, a sleepy village outside of the capital Yangon. Visit Ye Le Paya ("Mid-Stream-Pagoda"), set on a tiny island in the river. Explore two further pagodas and the riverside market. On the way back to Yangon, visit Kyaik Khauk Pagoda and surrounding. If time permits, visit to the school at Suthaungpyay Monastery where about 1000 students, orphans and non-orphans. They can get free education. Among them, 344 are hostel students. A monk takes care of the school which was founded in 1999, funded by local donors and some organization. Return to Yangon and transfer to hotel.

Yangon, Full Day City Tour

Your English Speaking Guide will pick you up at your hotel and drive to the famous Strand Road and visit the bustling Yangon harbor, from where ferries leave for Pathein in the Delta and for upcountry towns along the Ayeyarwady River. Visit to Botathaung Pagoda, located close to Yangon River and said to contain Buddha relics. We then drive through the colonial style buildings downtown, the Chinatown area and the Indian quarter. Photo stop at the gilded Sule Pagoda, dating back over 2,000 years and makes a useful landmark in downtown Yangon. Lunch at Sky Bistro Restaurant. An afternoon, visit to Bogyoke (Scott) Market (closed on Public Holidays & Mondays) gives you the opportunity to see Myanmar's wide range of handicrafts. Stop alongside Kandawgyi (Royal) Lake to take photographs over the lake towards Karaweik Hall and Shwedagon. Enjoy the sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda, famous worldwide - its golden stupa is the 'heart' of Buddhist Myanmar. The Pagoda is believed to be 2,500 years old and the central stupa in surrounded by dozens of intricately decorated buildings and statues. There are always many Myanmar people praying and making offerings at Shwedagon, and it's a fascinating place to spend time watching the world go by. Return to hotel.

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Yangon, Bago Full Day Tour

Bago, formerly called Pegu, was founded in the year 825 by two Mon princes. The town, a former ancient port and capital, is situated about 84 km (approximately 2 hours driving time) from Yangon. The journey from Yangon to Bago leads through a picturesque rural landscape of paddy fields and small villages. The highlights include Kyakhatwine Monastery, over thousand of monk studying the Buddha’s literature and the Shwemawdaw Pagoda, which is over a thousand years old. Repaired after an earthquake in the 1930’s, the pagoda has an impressive spire, one that is even taller than that of Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda. Also visit to Hinthargone Pagoda, where you can see the Nat Shrine. Lunch at Hantharwaddy Restaurant. In the afternoon, visit the enormous (55 meters long and 15 meters high) reclining Shwethalyung Buddha image, one of the country’s most revered objects, at the nearby local market, agricultural produce grown locally is on sale. Visit also Mahazedi Pagoda with its impressive bell-shaped stupa. Just outside Bago, visit Kyaikpun Pagoda with four 30-meter high Buddha figures seated back to back. On the way back to the capital, visit Htaukkyan War Cemetery, situated between Bago and Yangon. It houses the graves of more than 27,000 allied soldiers. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission administers this beautifully landscaped cemetery. On the return to Yangon visit a typical pottery village, the lifeblood for many of Myanmar’s citizens.

Yangon, Twante Day Tour

Morning transfer to Yangon Jetty for the journey by ferry along the Yangon River to Twante, This provides an excellent opportunity to view the life and countryside of this delta region. Arrive Twante after departing from Yangon about 2 hours and tour Twante Town by jeep. Sightseeing in Twante will be including very colorful big old local market, Oh-Bo pottery workshop, Shwesandaw Pagoda, Baungdawgyoke Pagoda and Phayagyi Mingalar Monastery which has Orphanage School. In the late afternoon return to Yangon by road and ferry.

 

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BAGAN Tours & Excursions

Bagan, Balloon over Bagan at sunrise (3hrs)

Visitors to Bagan now have the unique opportunity to enjoy spectacular views of the ancient Kingdom of Bagan in a hot air balloon! The world-famous archaeological site of Bagan is known for its marvelous sunsets and sunrises, mostly enjoyed from the top of one of the monuments. A balloon flight gives you the chance to see Bagan with a bird’s-eye view. “Balloons over Bagan” is operated by qualified pilots and technicians, all registered in the United Kingdom. Cameron Balloons Ltd., the world’s largest manufacturer of high quality balloons, produces the balloon. “Balloons over Bagan” operates sunrise and sunset flights during the winter period and, due to weather conditions, the morning flights are operated most frequent.

Bagan, Half Day Cycling Tour

This morning start your cycle ride on tarmac along the peaceful dual carriageway before turning onto a sand track near Ananda Temple (½ Km) Our first stop is at Dhammayangyi (¼ Km) a massive temple visible for kilometers and known locally as “Bad Luck temple”; dating from 1170 it is famous for its interlocking mortar less brickwork. Continue cross country to Dhammayazaka (2 Km) where if you wish, you can ascend the temple for a panoramic view. On rejoining tarmac, turn left and optionally stop for a refreshment at the Queen’s House Restaurant (½ Km). Stop at Phwa Saw village, a quintessentially Myanmar village consisting of rattan houses and alive with bullock carts, zebu cattle and local crafts. Proceed to Minnan Thu monastic complex and village (½ Km) and now the ride has wild uninterrupted views (no pylons) of the awesome monuments, acacia and toddy palm trees and wandering goat herds. Arrive at Sulamani (2 Km) one of Bagan’s most attractively constructed temples famous for its ornamental work. The homeward journey lies towards Ananda Temple (1 Km) where you meet tarmac again.

Bagan, Half Day Biking Tour

Explore the Myinkaba village area by bicycle. First we visit Myingaba Gu Byaukgyi Temple (under the protection of UNESCO), noted for its ancient mural paintings. We continue to Nanpaya temple, built in the Mon style with intricate stone carvings, and said once to have been Manuha's residence. See the four Buddha images in Manuha Pagoda and later stop at Myazedi stupa to see Myanmar's "Rosetta Stone", bearing inscriptions written in four languages. Next, visit Sulamani, one of Bagan’s great two-storied Bamar style temples, which has 4-seated Buddha images.

 

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Bagan, Full Day to explore Bagan

 

Full day sightseeing tour, starting with a busy local market and continuing with visits to a diverse selection of the most important pagodas and temples such as Shwezigon Pagoda, which is Bagan's most important reliquary shrine – look out for images of the 37 'nats' housed in a small hall. See 13th Century frescoes adorning the corridors of Kyansittha 'Cave' Temple. Continue to Gubyaukgyi (Wetkyi In village), another 'cave' temple with fine frescoes of the 'Jataka Tales'. Next stop is Htilominlo, the last Bamar style temple built in Bagan, with old murals and friezes. Visit the Taungphi village to see old monasteries, which have beautiful Khone Baung dynasty frescoes.

In the afternoon, visit continues to 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. Make a photo stop at the tallest temple measuring 61 meters - Thatbyinnyu known as 'temple of omniscience' and dating from 1144. Continue to Mingalazedi, the last of the large Pagodas built in the 13th Century, representing the pinnacle of Bamar pagoda architecture. Enjoy sunset at one of the monuments along Ayeyarwady River.

 

Bagan, Full Day Salay and Mt. Popa

Full day to explore the countryside around Bagan. Drive out of Bagan to visit Mount Popa, home to Myanmar's intriguing 'nats' (spirits). The 777 steps and path climb steeply up Mount Popa – an energetic climb rewarded by fabulous views from the top. Lunch at the beautiful Popa Mountain Resort. In the afternoon, drive to Kyaukpadaung and visit the local market. Continue drive to Salay. Visit Yokesone Monastery, which is the oldest surviving wooden monastery hall, built on 154 teak posts with beautiful wood carvings decorating the outer walls. Continue to Payathonzu, a complex of three brick shrines with mural paintings from the Bagan period, and see Man Paya - a large lacquer Buddha image, said to date from the 13th century. Return to Bagan through Chauk, where you will see old Burma Oil installations ('nodding donkeys'), and along the banks of the Ayeyarwady River.

Bagan, Full Day to explore Pakkoku

Full day to explore the countryside around Bagan. Pick up from hotel by horse cart to the jetty. Leave Bagan in the morning and take a local boat across the Ayeyarwaddy River to Pakkoku, an un-spoiled small town famous as a tobacco trading centre and for its weaving shops. This river journey takes about 2 hours (depending on river conditions it might take longer). Arrive at Pakkoku, explore the town by traditional trishaws which is a fun way of seeing the real life of this busy trading center; agricultural products include peanuts, sesame, and rice. Continue to the typical local market where see genuine indigenous regional open-air market with a vast array of things for sale including locals snacks, fresh vegetables, fishes, ingredient, textiles, local crafts and crafts, agricultural apparatus etc. After lunch see the weaving of the characteristic Myanmar cotton blankets. Continue to cheroot making factory and see their skills. Also stop by one of the beautiful monastery and meet with the monk. Talk about monastic life, principles etc. His perspective on the Buddhist faith, earning merit, reincarnation, etc. Proceed to Thiho-Shin pagoda not far from the river in which contains an image presented by the King of Ceylon some 800 years ago and built by King Alaunsitthu. It is one of the most revered one in Upper Myanmar and used to held typical pagoda festival from 8th waxing to the 10th waning day of Nayon ( from June to July). Return to Bagan by boat and enjoy the scenery along the river and arrive in time to see the sunset over the many pagodas. Transfer to hotel by horse cart.

 

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Mandalay Tours & Excursions

Mandalay, Full Day City Tour

A comprehensive sightseeing in Mandalay includes Mahamuni Pagoda with its spectacular Buddha image covered with thick layers of gold leaves. Visit to Jade Market. Many size of raw Jade are on sales and can see Jade cutting. We continue to visit an ancient wooden monastery Shweinpin. This monastery is over 100 years old and can see beautiful wood curving. Stop to see Kalaga tapestries being created and gold leaf being beaten into wafer thin pieces. Visit a Burmese candy making work shop. Lunch at Ko’s Kitchen Restaurant. In the afternoon, visit the Royal Palace and the small museum, Shwenandaw Monastery, an ancient wooden building with intricate carvings, which was once King Mindon's home, the renovated Atumashi Monastery, the 'world’s largest book' at Kuthodaw Pagoda, being the Buddhist Scriptures inscribed on marble slabs. Visit Kyaukdawgyi Pagoda to see a large Buddha statue carved out of a single block of local marble. Enjoy spectacular views from Mandalay Hill, where there are interesting glass-studded temples. Before the sunset, you should arrive at Shwe Kyin Monastery to observe the very interesting scene of how the student monks start their evening prayers.

Mandalay, Full day Mingun & Ava

Depart Mandalay with your guide on a private boat for a journey on the Irrawaddy River for about 1 hour, on the way stop at the vegetable market near Zeycho. Take a boat trip on the Ayeyarwaddy River to Mingun about 11 km upriver (1 hour) from Mandalay. The boat trip is interesting because you see all types of wooden boats and bamboo rafts, carrying goods up and down the river. Visit the Mingun Bell, weighing 87 tons and being the world's largest intact bronze bell, the beautiful Hsinbyume Paya (also known as Myatheintan Pagoda) and the unfinished Mingun Paya (built with the intention of being the world's biggest pagoda). Sail back to Mandalay. Lunch at local restaurant. In the afternoon, drive to the direction of former capital of Inwa (Ava), located on an island between the Ayeyarwady and the Myitnge Rivers. Take the local ferry to reach there and visit by horse cart and pass through the ancient city walls to visit a brick and stucco monastery called Maha Aungmye Bonzan (also known as Ok Kyaung). Continue to Nanmyin Watch Tower – the climb to the top offers lovely views over the river. See also the impressive wooden monastery of Bagaya Kyaung. If time permits, visit some village homes to see local handicrafts, such as silk weaving, cane mats and alms bowls. Return to your hotel in Mandalay.

Mandalay, Full day Pyin Oo Lwin

Morning drive a journey to Pyin Oo Lwin about 2 hours. In 1896 Pwin U Lwin was a favourite summer time retreat for the British colonists. Arrive Pyin Oo Lwin, visit Pyin Oo Lwin Market and explore around the colonial down town via stage coach ride. Visit Candacraig Hotel (famous colonial building) and Pwe Kauk Fall. And then continue to Peik Chin Myaung Cave. As water seeped and dropped from rocks and limestone, there appeared stalactites and others in the shape of chandeliers. Late afternoon drive back the Mandalay.

 

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Mandalay, Full day Ava, Sagaing & Amarapura

In the morning, take the local ferry to visit Innwa (Ava), located on an island between the Ayeyarwady and the Myitnge Rivers. You will visit Innwa by horse cart and pass through the ancient city walls to visit a brick and stucco monastery called Maha Aungmye Bonzan (also known as Ok Kyaung). Continue to Nanmyin Watch Tower – the climb to the top offers lovely views over the river. See also the impressive wooden monastery of Bagaya Kyaung. If time permits, visit some village homes to see local handicrafts, such as silk weaving, cane mats and alms bowls. Lunch at Sagaing Hill Restaurant. In the afternoon, visit picturesque Sagaing Hill which is perhaps the living centre of Buddhist faith in Myanmar today. Hillsides are dotted with numerous pagodas and monasteries. Return to Amarapura via the Ava Bridge, built by British engineers. Walk over U-Bein Bridge, which is over a kilometre long and made entirely of teak. Return to your hotel in Mandalay.

Mandalay, Full day Mingun, Sagaing & Amarapura

Morning boat trip to Mingun, site of a brick pagoda towering 50 metres above the Ayeyarwady River, and home to the world's largest intact bell. The boat trip is interesting because you see all types of wooden boats and bamboo rafts, carrying goods up and down the river. Visit the Mingun Bell, weighing 87 tons and being the world's largest intact bronze bell, the beautiful Hsinbyume Paya (also known as Myatheintan Pagoda) and the unfinished Mingun Paya (built with the intention of being the world's biggest pagoda). Sail back to Mandalay. Lunch at local restaurant. In the afternoon, visit picturesque Sagaing Hill which is perhaps the living centre of Buddhist faith in Myanmar today. Hillsides are dotted with numerous pagodas and monasteries. Return to Amarapura via the Ava Bridge, built by British engineers. Walk over U-Bein Bridge, which is over a kilometre long and made entirely of teak. Return to your hotel in Mandalay.

Mandalay, Full day Monywa

Morning drive to Monwy about 3 hours, a city in central Myanmar and situated on the eastern bank of the Chindwin Rive. Monywa sightseeing is not completed with a visit to Thanbuddae Pagoda. Arrive Monywa; sightseeing visit will be Thanboddhay Pagoda, Bodhi Tahtaung and Po Khaung Taung.

After lunch, visit Pon Win Daung and Shwe Ba Hill, just beyond Pho Win Hill, features unique pavilions cut from the surrounding sandstone and filled with plain Buddha images. After that return back to Mandalay.

 

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Inle Lake Tours & Excursions

Inle Lake, Full Day to explore Inle Lake

Enjoy a full day boat trip on Inle Lake a photographer’s dream. Its calm waters are dotted with floating vegetation and fishing canoes, to which scenic hills provide the perfect backdrop. See the lake’s unique "leg rowers" the Intha people row standing up with one leg wrapped around an oar. Visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the holiest religious site in southern Shan State. Lunch at local restaurant, located in the middle of Lake. See traditional handicrafts silk weaving on wooden handlooms and a blacksmith shop. Pass endless floating gardens, where fruit and vegetables are grown. Continue by boat to visit Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries on the lake where you can see ancient Buddha statues which are more than 200 years old. Return to your hotel by boat.

Inle Lake, Full Day Discover Kakku

This morning, leave your hotel by boat and drive up through pine-clad hills to Taunggyi, capital of Southern Shan State and a former British hill station. Visit the local market where minority people sell their produce and a cheroot factory. Just a couple of hours from Taunggyi, discover the "long lost" ruins of Kak Ku in countryside inhabited by the Pa O people. Situated in the rolling Shan Hills, Kak Ku pagoda is very unusual and little is known about its origins. The Pa O people believe that the original pagoda was built on the site some 2,000 years ago. Dozens of small stupas surround the main pagoda in a huge circle. You can wander through the stupas which are decorated with fine stucco work and Buddha images. Unfortunately Kak Ku is in bad need of renovation but this is part of its charm. Lunch at Hlaing Khone Restaurant. Visit one of the many Pa O villages near Kak Ku and see a huge monastery on the way back to Taunggyi. Transfer back to Nyaung Shwe where you will board your boat return to your hotel.

 

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Inle Lake, Full Day Boat trip to Sagar

Travel by boat via Nampan to Sangha and Thakong, a rarely visited area south of Inle Lake. Lunch at local restaurant. Explore the 5-day market (on market days only) on the way and a Shan village where earthenware pottery is produced. At Kyainkhan (near Kyauktaing) visit a family, producing robes (Phongyi clothes) made from fabrics of thousands of lotus stems. Observe local methods of producing high degree alcohol fermented and extracted from bran rice. You will get insight into the unspoiled culture and traditional life-style of the ethnic Pa-O and Intha inhabitants around Sangha and Hmawbi. Enjoy the beautiful landscape, flowering trees and numerous settlements dotted on both sides of the canal. Late afternoon return to the hotel at Inle Lake.

Inle Lake, Full Day Trekking Inle Lake

Pick-up at hotel. Transfer by boat to the village of Mine Thauk on the Eastern Shore of Inle Lake. (If on market day-visit the market in Mine Thauk). Start trekking to Mine Thauk Monastery and proceeded to Bawlapet Village on top of the mountain (approx. 2 hours trek – steep up). Walk through this very scenic village and take a break under a shady tree. Easy walk to Lwe Khaw (Done Dwan) Pa O Village and stop for lunch at a private home. (Food is provided by the hotel on the lake). In the afternoon, enjoy panoramic views over Inle Lake while descending to Inle Lake. Transfer back to hotel.

 

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Last Updated on Monday, 07 November 2011 02:50