Burma and Mergui islands

itinerary

16 days

Burma isn’t a typical honeymoon destination, but that’s what makes it so enticing… If you’re looking for real life-time experiences such as interactations with the local people, particularly the famous Kayan tribe (the long neck women) or the Intha, Inle lake’s stilted communities who live in overwater houses, an incredible river cruise along the Ayeyarwady to the temples of Bagan, an early morning balloon flight over Bagan and untouched beaches and enchanting seascapes of one of the most exclusive island, then read no further!
This tour is designed so that you can experience the very best of this beautiful country at a relaxed pace which enables you to get under the surface of the country and its people, and also take time to relax and enjoy these special places. For this tour we carefully selected charming boutique accommodations for your rest and comfort while uncovering the most famous destinations and simultaneously the most remote villages. Our journey begins in Mandalay perhaps the most evocative of any destination in Myanmar. From here the you will continue with the exploration of some of the ancient capitals such as Amarapura, Innwa and Sagaing. Here you will have a chance to walk on the unique U Bein Bridge, a beautiful 1.2 kilometre structure built from teak planks and said to be the longest of its type in the world. The Journeys continues to Bagan, after a boat ride on the Irrawaddy river. Bagan is waiting for you with the finest collection of temples in Asia, and savouring the sunrise from the upper terrace of a temple is an experience not soon forgotten. Exploring Bagan by hot air balloon at dawn can be a romantic way to gain a different perspective on the scale of the temples here. And it allows you to see it in the cooler, calmer part of the day. From Bagan you will fly to the serenely picturesque Inle Lake, famous for its floating villages, gardens and markets and the unique way of life of the Intha people, with their functioning communities based entirely on the water.
With a gear boat you will continue Loikaw where you get off the beaten track and see the real culture and traditions of Myanmar. From Loikaw a direct flight will bring you to the capital of Yangon and then to Kawthaung in the Mergui archipelago with its pristine and untouched island. Here you will be an host of the only Eco-lodge with pristine white sand beaches, The Resort is a relaxing private island experience. Each room offers a seamless transition between indoors and out and all rooms are within less than a minute walk to the beach. Here you can unwind on the beach, go for forest hike, snorkelling or diving.

  • Myanmar
  • Myanmar
  • Myanmar
  • Mergui
  • Mergui
  • Mergui

journey overview and program details

Day 1: Mandalay

Upon arrival to Mandalay Airport, you will be welcomed by our guide and transfer to the hotel for check-in. Mandalay was the final capital of then-Burma’s Konbaung Dynasty until its decline in 1885 at the hands of the British and is regarded today as Myanmar’s capital of culture. We will spend the day exploring the city’s sites with highlights including the Mahamuni Pagoda, the wood-carved Shwenandaw Monastery and the world’s largest book at Kuthodaw Pagoda. In the evening, enjoy yet another spectacular sunset from the top of Mandalay Hill.
Overnight in Mandalay

Day 2: Amarapura – Ava – Sagaing

Today you will explore the ancient capitals close by to Mandalay. The first will be to the ancient royal capital of Amarapura. Here we will visit the Mahagandayon Monastery, a school for young monks, and U Bein Bridge, a more than 200 year old structure and the longest teakwood bridge in the world. We then continue to Sagaing, which was the capital of the Shan Kingdom in the 14th Century and briefly the capital in the 18th Century, as part of the Konbaung Dynasty. The town is located slightly downriver from Mandalay and has many interesting stupas scattered over Sagaing Hill. Transfer to “Sitagu Meditation Center”, where you will have the chance to experience a traditional Burmese meditation session. Later, you will visit another former royal capital, Ava, which was founded in 1364 and was the royal capital for nearly 400 years. Highlights here include the ‘leaning tower of Ava’, Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery, which was built by masonry as opposed to most other monasteries which are built with wood, and the elegant teakwood Bagaya Monastery.
Overnight in Mandalay (B)

Day 3: Mandalay – Bagan (boat)

After breakfast, transfer to the jetty to take a boat to Bagan. Enjoy the Ayeyarwaddy river scenery. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to the Hotel.
Overnight in Bagan (B)

Day 4: Bagan

After breakfast, you will enjoy a Bagan Archaeological. Tour will take you in famous sites including Damayarzaka Pagoda, Shwegugyi and Thabyinnyu. Other highlights include the mural paintings at Gubyukggyi and Abeyadana Temple, which is famed for its mural paintings about Mahayana Buddhism. In the afternoon you will visit a lacquer ware shop to learn about this unique art, which Bagan is famous for, is carried out before enjoying Bagan’s famous sunset from atop one of the temples.
Overnight in Bagan (B)

Day 5: Bagan

After an early breakfast our staff will pick you up from your hotel and take you over to the landing site to make the best use of the cooler and calmer air. Pick-up time is normally around 5.30-6am. Once briefed, you will board the basket and take to the air floating over Bagan’s pagodas on a flight lasting just under an hour. Although dictated by the wind, you will usually land by the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River where you enjoy a light snack and celebratory glass of wine.. Later you will return to Bagan by boat and visit to Shwezigone Pagoda, a prototype for many Myanmar stupas built later. You will then visit the 13th century cave temples at Wetkyi-in- Gubyaukgyi, one of Bagan’s most famous sites the Ananda Pagoda and many other temples dotted around this vast, beautiful complex. In the evening, you will enjoy sunset from Shwesandaw Pagoda, which offers the best views across the plain.
Overnight in Bagan (B)

Day 6: Bagan- Heho (flight)- Pindaya

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Heho. Upon arrival, drive to Pindaya which is noted for its extensive limestone caves filled with Buddha images. Driving there we will pass through the Pa-O and Danu villages of Pwehla and Ji Chanzi and endless fields of dry cultivated mountain rice and potato. Inside the Pindaya Caves are nearly 8,000 Buddha images that have been built there over the centuries as a form of merit making. Made of various materials and of different sizes, the statues are carved into every space of the vast cave chambers.
Overnight in Pindaya (B)

Day 7: Pindaya-Inle lake

Begin the day with breakfast at the hotel before we take a sightseeing tour on a long-tail boat on Inle Lake, visiting silk weaving and lotus industries in Innpawkhine Village before stopping in Nanpan to witness work at a Cheroot (Myanmar Cigar) factory. You will continue our tour to see the Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda and, if we have time, stop at Leshae Village to witness the making of a Buddha image through the use of dried flour powder.
Overnight in Nyaung Shwe (B)

Day 8: Inle lake-Indein-Inle

It’s the Intha people that have tamed this lake, their perfect precision with canoes and fishing nets inform their lifestyle on the water. Today you are invited into their stilt village to cook, but before the fragrant smells waft across the lake, you will need ingredients. You will take a boat to the rotating lakeshore market, where wooden tables are packed with mountains of spices and vegetables. Atmospheric calls merge with the steam from tea stalls as you collect your colourful produce. Prepare a series of dishes in the stilt house as you occasionally gaze out the window onto the open lake view. You will take their recipes away with them as well as an apron and a cap to commemorate the day. After lunch, we travel to Indein to observe a 17th century Pagoda complex and pay a visit to many of the small communities alongside the lake’s edge. On the way, we will see some of the lake’s famous floating gardens and visit a number of souvenir shops.
Overnight in Nyaung Shwe (B/L)

Day 9: Inle – Phekhone (boat) – Loikaw

In the morning you will take a scenic and off-the-beaten track trip south to Phekhone by boat (5 hours). On the way you will visit Sagar village. Transfer by car to Loikaw in Kayan state. Upon arrival, you will drive one of the most famous village for the distinctive ‘long-necked’ women of the Kayan tribes. The village is considered as one of the best established Community-Based Tourism programs in Myanmar, with a number of different village visit and trekking options. There are several fascinating occasions to have interesting insights into local life and culture, and activities were developed based on special elements of local life which community members feel proud and comfortable to share with guests. You will have the chance to visit also the “Hta Nee La Leh ‘Kayhtoebo” hall and shrines, where animist traditions are practiced. Guests learn why the site is important for the local community, and about festivals and ancient hunting traditions and rituals. You can even try your hand using a catapult.
Overnight in Loikaw (B)

Day 10: Loikaw

There are many rural villages in Loikaw and we’ll visit one of the Padaung/Kayan ethnic villages, Pan Pet which is just 20 miles away from the town. Most women from that village have followed their traditional culture of wearing neck rings. Girls first start to wear brass neck coils at age of five but young generations seem not to want to continue with this tradition anymore. Over the years the coil is replaced by a longer one with more turns. The neck itself is not lengthened the weight of the brass pushes the collar bone down and compress the rib cage. All houses in the village are made of wood and bamboo. In the main room they all have corn hung from the ceiling just above the fireplace. This is the corn they will use to plant and grow. The reason for placing them there is to prevent birds from eating the corn seeds once they plant them. The smoked corn seeds will not attract them. Travel to Pemsong hamlet, to enjoy a moderately challenging trek, through lush, shady, forest. After a short climb, guests enjoy over 3 hours of continual, great views. En route, local guides will show guests various edible plants and herbal medicines which are used by community members in their “jungle larder”. A highlight of the trip is arriving at the original settlement of Pan Pet, perched on a mountain top, where evidence of past habitation is visible. This is considered one of the first Kayan settlements of Kayah state. Guests also enjoy a jungle picnic. The trek ends in Rang Ku hamlet, where guests can meet the famous Kayan people (popularly known as Long Neck Karen), who are a symbol of Kayah state. Enjoy learning a few words of Kayan language and interacting with these fun-loving and artistic people. There are also opportunities to buy local handicrafts.
Overnight in Loikaw (B/L)

Day 11: Loikaw – Yangon (flight)

After breakfast, we will transfer to the airport for your flight to Yangon. Upon arrival, you will be transfered to the hotel. You will have the chance to visit the world famous Shwedagon Pagoda, which towers over the city and is the most highly-revered religious structure in the country. It is a sight that no visitor to Myanmar should miss.
Overnight in Yangon (B)

Day 12: Yangon – Kawthaung (flight) – Macleod

Morning transfer to Yangon airport to take your flight to Kawthaung. At the airport you will be received by our staff and transfer by car to Kawthaung peir to board on a speedy boat to the resort (boat leaves at 12:00 pm only on Saturdays and Wensdays, the time of the boat can be changed due to weather conditions). At the arrival check in the resort and relax on the beach. The Resort is the only Eco-lodge available so can be considered as secluded island retreat with pristine white sand beaches, proximity to unexplored dive sites, and direct access to the treasures of the unspoiled Mergui Archipelago in the island of Macleod.
Overnight in Macleod island (B/D)

Day 13: Macleod island

The Resort is a relaxing private island experience. Each room offers a seamless transition between indoors and out and all rooms are within less than a minute walk to the beach. With its own PADI Dive Center operated by an experienced team of instructors and dive masters, The Resort offers a convenient and comfortable way to dive the Mergui Archipelago. A full day snorkeling and island tour provided on Monday or Friday (includes snorkeling equipment and lunch box). The island has an unspoiled environment and jungle with many tropical plants and bird life. A hike to Macleod’s highest peak offers some of the most amazing views. You can choose to explore the hills yourself or hire a guide. Many bird species breed on the island, making it a real bird sanctuary. You can also choose to experience Mergui’s culture than to explore the Sea Gypsy villages and trading points. You can join (optional) cultural tours that will let you see how the Gypsies live and fish. Whether it’s relaxing under an umbrella with a cold drink or exploring the unexplored, the resort caters to all your needs.
Overnight in Macleod island (B/D)

Day 14: Macleod island

The Resort is a relaxing private island experience. Each room offers a seamless transition between indoors and out and all rooms are within less than a minute walk to the beach. With its own PADI Dive Center operated by an experienced team of instructors and dive masters, The Resort offers a convenient and comfortable way to dive the Mergui Archipelago. A full day snorkeling and island tour provided on Monday or Friday (includes snorkeling equipment and lunch box). The island has an unspoiled environment and jungle with many tropical plants and bird life. A hike to Macleod’s highest peak offers some of the most amazing views. You can choose to explore the hills yourself or hire a guide. Many bird species breed on the island, making it a real bird sanctuary. You can also choose to experience Mergui’s culture than to explore the Sea Gypsy villages and trading points. You can join (optional) cultural tours that will let you see how the Gypsies live and fish. Whether it’s relaxing under an umbrella with a cold drink or exploring the unexplored, the resort caters to all your needs.
Overnight in Macleod island (B/D)

Day 15: Macleod island

The Resort is a relaxing private island experience. Each room offers a seamless transition between indoors and out and all rooms are within less than a minute walk to the beach. With its own PADI Dive Center operated by an experienced team of instructors and dive masters, The Resort offers a convenient and comfortable way to dive the Mergui Archipelago. A full day snorkeling and island tour provided on Monday or Friday (includes snorkeling equipment and lunch box). The island has an unspoiled environment and jungle with many tropical plants and bird life. A hike to Macleod’s highest peak offers some of the most amazing views. You can choose to explore the hills yourself or hire a guide. Many bird species breed on the island, making it a real bird sanctuary. You can also choose to experience Mergui’s culture than to explore the Sea Gypsy villages and trading points. You can join (optional) cultural tours that will let you see how the Gypsies live and fish. Whether it’s relaxing under an umbrella with a cold drink or exploring the unexplored, the resort caters to all your needs.
Overnight in Macleod island (B/D)

Day 16: Macleod island

Early morning (6:00 am) transfer by boat to Kawthaung and proceed to airport for your flight back home.

activities

  • Enjoy a spectacular sunset from the top of Mandalay Hill,
  • visit the beautiful wood-carved Shwenandaw Monastery in Mandalay,
  • see the world’s largest book at Kuthodaw Pagoda,
  • walk on the longest teakwood bridge in the world,U Bein Bridge, a more than 200 year old structure,
  • discover the ancient capital of the Konbaung dynasty, Amarapura,
  • experience a traditional Burmese meditation session at Sitagu Meditation Center,
  • visit the ‘leaning tower of Ava’ in Innwa,
  • explore the traditional Pakokku and Thanakha wood markets,
  • learn from one of the best community based project in Myanmar in the village of Shar Pin Kaing,
  • float down the Ayeyarwaddy river from to Bagan,
  • get surprise by a sightseeing tour of one of Asia’s best-known archaeological sites, the Bagan temples,
  • witness one of the most beautiful sunsets from atop a pagoda in Bagan,
  • enjoy with the monks and villagers of Kyun Thiri Island,
  • discover Pindaya, famous for its extensive limestone caves filled with Buddha images,
  • enjoy boat ride along the river to the Inle Lake,
  • visit Nga Phae Caung monastery to see the floating gardens,
  • learn traditional Myanmar cooking,
  • discover the Intha people and their lifestyle on the water in Indein and nearby villages,
  • enjoy a scenic and off-the-beaten track boat ride to Phekhone ,
  • witness traditional weaving technique by local Padaung women, the traditional “long necked” women,
  • visit various tribal villages and interact with the very friendly and hospitable local tribes,
  • visit the “Hta Nee La Leh ‘Kayhtoebo” hall and shrines, where animist traditions are still practiced,
  • discover various edible plants and herbal medicines during a small trekking with your tribal guides,
  • buy local handicrafts made by tribals in their villages,
  • enjoy an unforgettable sunset at the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon,
  • explore the cultural and ecological richness of Burma.

burma and mergui island when to go

Myanmar has a tropical climate, with the southwest monsoon bringing rain from May to October. Roads can become impassable, particularly from July to September. From October onwards the rains subside; the best time to visit most of Myanmar is from November to March, when temperatures are relatively manageable. From March to May, the country becomes very hot, particularly the dry zone of the central plains where Bagan and Mandalay often see temperatures in excess of 40°C.

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