DAY 1 | Oct. 28. Depart U.S. for Yangon, Myanmar
DAY 2 | Oct. 29. Arrive Yangon
Upon arrival late this evening, we meet our Tour Director and transfer to our hotel.
DAY 3 | Oct. 30. 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 includes the city’s downtown area, redolent with Yangon’s British past (as Rangoon), where well-preserved colonial buildings flank ancient pagodas. Next we visit 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. This afternoon we call on Kalaywa Tawa Monastery, where we learn about the fundamental role of Buddhism in Burmese culture. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (B, L, D)
DAY 4 | Oct. 31. Yangon / Bagan
This morning we fly to 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. Upon arrival, 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. Then we 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 5 | Nov. 1. Bagan
Today we encounter everyday Burmese life up close, 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. Early this evening we embark on a cruise along the Irrawaddy as the sun sets over Bagan. (B, L)
DAY 6 | Nov. 2. Bagan / 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 the former royal capital of Amarapura, with its iconic pedestrian U Bein Bridge built of teak posts that spans lovely Taungthaman Lake. Our tour here features 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 7 | Nov. 3. Mandalay / Mingun
We return to the Irrawaddy for a cruise to Mingun, famed for Mingun Paya (pagoda), begun in 1790 by King Bodawpaya but left unfinished because of a prophecy that he would die when the temple was completed. We visit the huge temple then continue on to Myatheindan Paya, with its seven circular terraces; and the 90-ton Mingun Bell. This afternoon we visit artisans creating works of marble and silk. Then we watch the setting sun paint vivid pictures as pedestrians cross wooden U Bein Bridge. (B, L)
DAY 8 | Nov. 4. Mandalay / Heho / Kalaw
After flying to Heho, we travel by motorcoach about 1½ hours to the peaceful hill station of Kalaw, home to several of Myanmar’s many ethnic peoples. En route we visit farming villages of the Pa-O and Shan people. (B, L, D)
DAY 9 | Nov. 5. Kalaw / Inle Lake Area
Our day begins at the Kalaw market, where the region’s ethnic minorities come to sell their wares. Then we travel 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, where we visit Shwe Yan Pyae Monastery known for its oval windows. We also see Phaung Daw U Pagoda, with its five gilded Buddha images; and visit local artisan villages. (B, L, D)
DAY 10 | Nov. 6. 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, and also visit one of the lake’s improbable floating farms. (B, L, D)
DAY 11 | Nov. 7. 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. From here we visit the “Jumping Cat” monastery. (B, L, D)
DAY 12 | Nov. 8. 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 at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 13 | Nov. 9. Yangon / Depart for U.S.
After a morning at leisure, this afternoon we visit the colossal Chauk Htat Gyi Reclining Buddha. Then we visit the Scott Market, featuring a large selection of Burmese handcrafts and other goods. Early evening we wander through Yangon’s fresh fruit market, taking in the vibrant atmosphere and mingling with locals. Then we enjoy our last meal together before we transfer to the airport for our flight to the U.S. (B, D)
DAY 14 | Nov. 10. Arrive U.S.
We arrive in the U.S. this morning and connect with our flights home.