Myanmar — Land of the Golden Pagoda


An Unforgettable Andrew Harper Journey
Luciano Mortula

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has experienced remarkable changes in recent years, but it has so far escaped the modern advances of the rest of Southeast Asia. Its years of isolation mean Myanmar still provides travelers a glimpse into a world otherwise lost.

This itinerary explores this fascinating country in Andrew Harper style, examining common points of interest — such as the tree-lined avenues of Yangon and the revered Shwedagon Pagoda — but also remote Mulashidi and Malikha Lodge, the ultimate retreat from the stresses of modern-day living. It cruises down the Ayeyarwady River aboard the luxurious Belmond Road to Mandalay, and finishes in the mountainous and ethnically diverse Shan State and the beautiful setting of Inle Lake.

Our itineraries are for your inspiration. If you do not see specific departure dates listed, please contact Andrew Harper Travel to customize this itinerary to fit your needs.
Highlights
    • Sunset visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda
    • Scenic river gorge float trip to the picturesque village of Machanbaw
    • Belmond Road to Mandalay river cruise with State Cabin accommodations
    • Visit Bagan, where more than 2,000 temples and pagodas spread across the riverside plain
    • Farewell dinner in the wine cellar of the Inle Princess

Day 1 - 2 : Yangon

Arrive in Myanmar from Bangkok. After clearing immigration and customs formalities, transfer to your hotel for check-in, with the remainder of the day at leisure to rest after your long international flights. Private English-speaking guides and private vehicles will be available for those who arrive earlier in the day, and dinner reservations can be made based on personal preference, including round-trip transfers to and from various restaurants.

Day 2

Head out for a morning exploration of the city — including downtown's frenetic markets and fading colonial buildings — aboard a trishaw or on foot. Pass Buddhist pagodas, Hindu shrines, Chinese temples, Islamic mosques, Anglican cathedrals and a Jewish synagogue.

Visit the Kalaywa Tawya Monastery, where over 1,300 monks and novices reside. Have lunch at Le Planteur

Visit the Shwedagon Pagoda complex, said to house eight hairs of the Buddha. Over 350 feet tall and gilded in gold and gems, the Shwedagon is the most revered shrine in the country. The dream of all Burmese people is to see the Shwedagon at least once in their lifetime. The current of humanity visiting the pagoda and grounds is quite a spectacle and a perfect introduction to the Golden Land.

Return to the hotel to relax and freshen up before cocktails and a special dinner in the hotel's gardens, accompanied by an a cappella music performance by students from Gitameit Music School.

Day 3 - 5 : Mulashidi

Return to the airport for a commercial flight to Putao, situated in a beautiful valley at the foot of the Burmese Himalayas, reminiscent of Bhutan or Nepal. On arrival in Putao, transfer to the Lisu village of Mulashidi and your wilderness lodge.

Malikha Lodge was designed by architect Jean-Michel Gathy of Aman fame. The site high above the Nam Lang River affords glorious views of mountains and rice terraces, creating a feeling of luxury and seclusion.

The focal point is the main lodge, where guests gather around blazing log fires for drinks, dining or just pure relaxation. The resort's manicured lawns and exotic gardens merge with pockets of old growth bamboo and jungle, and bungalows have been carefully placed to re-create a sense of idyllic village life.

Day 4

Few people associate mountain peaks, glaciers, deep gorges and unexplored rivers with Myanmar, which is one of the reasons so few modern-day adventurers have traveled here. With little in the way of roads or development, northern Myanmar's ecosystem remains incredibly intact and is recognized as a hotspot of biodiversity.

Old-growth forest supports a huge range of animal and birdlife, and many of Asia’s rarest flowers thrive in the high alpine meadows. This is a place of diverse customs and some of the most radical topography on earth. Traveling in Kachin State isn't easy, but it is full of simple delights and opportunities that cannot be found elsewhere, providing timeless and unpretentious experiences. Over the next few days, we'll take every opportunity to explore and enjoy this area on foot, by raft and by elephant.

Day 5

Depart the lodge for an adventure that combines a scenic river gorge float trip with a visit to the picturesque village of Manchanbaw, then continue down the Malikha River, through forested hills and past villagers panning for gold. After a picnic lunch on a riverside beach, return to the lodge by vehicle and arrive late in the afternoon.

Stroll through the resort's gardens to reach an intimate and secluded spa. Each of the treatment rooms is partially open to the elements and is warmed by a central fireplace. Qualified therapists offer a range of therapeutic and holistic treatments.

Day 6 - 8 : Ayeyarwady river cruise

Return to the airport for a commercial flight to Mandalay, where you'll board the Belmond Road to Mandalay for a three-night journey down the Ayeyarwady River to the ancient city of Bagan. Settle into your cabins with a few hours free to relax.

The State Cabins, the largest on the ship, measure 242 square feet and are on the ship's A Deck. They contain twin beds, a sofa and a writing desk as well as two panoramic windows, in addition to a fully equipped en suite bathroom.

Day 7

Visit Sagaing, the living center of the Buddhist faith in Myanmar and famous for its silversmiths, who still work in much the same way as their ancestors did. The ship begins its journey south in midmorning. The rest of the day is spent relaxing on board, observing the river life from the top deck. 

Day 8

The ship arrives in Bagan, with over 2,000 temples and pagodas scattered on an awe-inspiring plain beside the river. A guided orientation tour introduces you to the most important temples. After lunch, you can rejoin the guide and tour some of the more significant pagodas. Alternatively, you can hire a bicycle or horse-drawn cart and explore this fascinating area on your own. Late afternoon, your guide takes you to watch the sun set over the plain. Tonight, enjoy dinner and local entertainment on board.

Day 9 - 11 : Inle Lake

Transfer to the airport for a commercial flight to Heho, the airport for Inle Lake and the Shan Plateau, covered in pine forests and dotted with small mountain villages.

On arrival, begin a 90-minute drive through the scenic countryside of the Shan Hills, past many colorfully dressed tribal people, to reach Inle Lake. 

Have lunch at the hotel and settle into your lakefront bungalow. This afternoon will be spent aboard a boat exploring the lake, surrounded on all sides by high hills. See Intha fishermen rowing their boats with swirling moves of their legs. See the floating gardens, where villagers grow tidy rows of vegetables on the lake’s surface. Stop at a weaving village and visit several Shan temples.

Tonight, enjoy a special dinner of Shan specialties at the resort, accompanied by a special event to welcome our group to Shan State.

Day 10

Not to be missed at Inle Lake is one of the local tribal markets, held on a rotating basis in which a particular town or village hosts a market every fifth day. It's a wonderful opportunity to see indigenous people as they trade, sell and barter items in a manner that has remained unchanged for generations. Depart the resort by boat to visit the market, where you can purchase unique items such as baskets, textiles, shoulder bags and jewelry.

Head to Inthar Heritage Center for an optional private cooking class, followed by a lunch of your own creation. Afterward, continue to explore and enjoy Inle Lake.

Return to the resort with time to relax and freshen up before a specially planned Night Market at the hotel. Activities will include traditional massages, gambling, fortune telling, chewing betel nut and trying local snacks, followed by dinner at the hotel.

Day 11

Transfer by boat to Indein for an easy hike through a small area of ruined 17th-century pagodas and stupas, many of which still contain original statuary, frescos and relics.

Day 12 - 13 : Yangon

Transfer to the airport for a flight to Yangon. On arrival, return to your familiar hotel for check-in, followed by lunch.

For those interested, there will be excursions to one of Yangon's bazaars — an endless jumble of color, clamor, heady aromas and locally produced goods, or other shopping opportunities based on your interests.

The Bogyoke Market is the city's busiest and most colorful bazaar. It provides a wonderful feel for the daily life of Yangon's citizens and offers a huge variety of everyday items and souvenirs, such as lacquer ware, gems, gold and gold leaf, textiles and marionettes. For those looking for rubies or jade, expert guides can point you in the right direction.

Late this afternoon is a chartered sunset cruise and farewell cocktails before you return to the hotel for your last night in the Golden Land.

Day 13

Transfer to the airport for all international departures.

Day 1 - 2 : Yangon

Arrive in Myanmar from Bangkok. After clearing immigration and customs formalities, transfer to your hotel for check-in, with the remainder of the day at leisure to rest after your long international flights. Private English-speaking guides and private vehicles will be available for those who arrive earlier in the day, and dinner reservations can be made based on personal preference, including round-trip transfers to and from various restaurants.

Day 2

Head out for a morning exploration of the city — including downtown's frenetic markets and fading colonial buildings — aboard a trishaw or on foot. Pass Buddhist pagodas, Hindu shrines, Chinese temples, Islamic mosques, Anglican cathedrals and a Jewish synagogue.

Visit the Kalaywa Tawya Monastery, where over 1,300 monks and novices reside. Have lunch at Le Planteur

Visit the Shwedagon Pagoda complex, said to house eight hairs of the Buddha. Over 350 feet tall and gilded in gold and gems, the Shwedagon is the most revered shrine in the country. The dream of all Burmese people is to see the Shwedagon at least once in their lifetime. The current of humanity visiting the pagoda and grounds is quite a spectacle and a perfect introduction to the Golden Land.

Return to the hotel to relax and freshen up before cocktails and a special dinner in the hotel's gardens, accompanied by an a cappella music performance by students from Gitameit Music School.

Day 3 - 5 : Mulashidi

Return to the airport for a commercial flight to Putao, situated in a beautiful valley at the foot of the Burmese Himalayas, reminiscent of Bhutan or Nepal. On arrival in Putao, transfer to the Lisu village of Mulashidi and your wilderness lodge.

Malikha Lodge was designed by architect Jean-Michel Gathy of Aman fame. The site high above the Nam Lang River affords glorious views of mountains and rice terraces, creating a feeling of luxury and seclusion.

The focal point is the main lodge, where guests gather around blazing log fires for drinks, dining or just pure relaxation. The resort's manicured lawns and exotic gardens merge with pockets of old growth bamboo and jungle, and bungalows have been carefully placed to re-create a sense of idyllic village life.

Day 4

Few people associate mountain peaks, glaciers, deep gorges and unexplored rivers with Myanmar, which is one of the reasons so few modern-day adventurers have traveled here. With little in the way of roads or development, northern Myanmar's ecosystem remains incredibly intact and is recognized as a hotspot of biodiversity.

Old-growth forest supports a huge range of animal and birdlife, and many of Asia’s rarest flowers thrive in the high alpine meadows. This is a place of diverse customs and some of the most radical topography on earth. Traveling in Kachin State isn't easy, but it is full of simple delights and opportunities that cannot be found elsewhere, providing timeless and unpretentious experiences. Over the next few days, we'll take every opportunity to explore and enjoy this area on foot, by raft and by elephant.

Day 5

Depart the lodge for an adventure that combines a scenic river gorge float trip with a visit to the picturesque village of Manchanbaw, then continue down the Malikha River, through forested hills and past villagers panning for gold. After a picnic lunch on a riverside beach, return to the lodge by vehicle and arrive late in the afternoon.

Stroll through the resort's gardens to reach an intimate and secluded spa. Each of the treatment rooms is partially open to the elements and is warmed by a central fireplace. Qualified therapists offer a range of therapeutic and holistic treatments.

Day 6 - 8 : Ayeyarwady river cruise

Return to the airport for a commercial flight to Mandalay, where you'll board the Belmond Road to Mandalay for a three-night journey down the Ayeyarwady River to the ancient city of Bagan. Settle into your cabins with a few hours free to relax.

The State Cabins, the largest on the ship, measure 242 square feet and are on the ship's A Deck. They contain twin beds, a sofa and a writing desk as well as two panoramic windows, in addition to a fully equipped en suite bathroom.

Day 7

Visit Sagaing, the living center of the Buddhist faith in Myanmar and famous for its silversmiths, who still work in much the same way as their ancestors did. The ship begins its journey south in midmorning. The rest of the day is spent relaxing on board, observing the river life from the top deck. 

Day 8

The ship arrives in Bagan, with over 2,000 temples and pagodas scattered on an awe-inspiring plain beside the river. A guided orientation tour introduces you to the most important temples. After lunch, you can rejoin the guide and tour some of the more significant pagodas. Alternatively, you can hire a bicycle or horse-drawn cart and explore this fascinating area on your own. Late afternoon, your guide takes you to watch the sun set over the plain. Tonight, enjoy dinner and local entertainment on board.

Day 9 - 11 : Inle Lake

Transfer to the airport for a commercial flight to Heho, the airport for Inle Lake and the Shan Plateau, covered in pine forests and dotted with small mountain villages.

On arrival, begin a 90-minute drive through the scenic countryside of the Shan Hills, past many colorfully dressed tribal people, to reach Inle Lake. 

Have lunch at the hotel and settle into your lakefront bungalow. This afternoon will be spent aboard a boat exploring the lake, surrounded on all sides by high hills. See Intha fishermen rowing their boats with swirling moves of their legs. See the floating gardens, where villagers grow tidy rows of vegetables on the lake’s surface. Stop at a weaving village and visit several Shan temples.

Tonight, enjoy a special dinner of Shan specialties at the resort, accompanied by a special event to welcome our group to Shan State.

Day 10

Not to be missed at Inle Lake is one of the local tribal markets, held on a rotating basis in which a particular town or village hosts a market every fifth day. It's a wonderful opportunity to see indigenous people as they trade, sell and barter items in a manner that has remained unchanged for generations. Depart the resort by boat to visit the market, where you can purchase unique items such as baskets, textiles, shoulder bags and jewelry.

Head to Inthar Heritage Center for an optional private cooking class, followed by a lunch of your own creation. Afterward, continue to explore and enjoy Inle Lake.

Return to the resort with time to relax and freshen up before a specially planned Night Market at the hotel. Activities will include traditional massages, gambling, fortune telling, chewing betel nut and trying local snacks, followed by dinner at the hotel.

Day 11

Transfer by boat to Indein for an easy hike through a small area of ruined 17th-century pagodas and stupas, many of which still contain original statuary, frescos and relics.

Day 12 - 13 : Yangon

Transfer to the airport for a flight to Yangon. On arrival, return to your familiar hotel for check-in, followed by lunch.

For those interested, there will be excursions to one of Yangon's bazaars — an endless jumble of color, clamor, heady aromas and locally produced goods, or other shopping opportunities based on your interests.

The Bogyoke Market is the city's busiest and most colorful bazaar. It provides a wonderful feel for the daily life of Yangon's citizens and offers a huge variety of everyday items and souvenirs, such as lacquer ware, gems, gold and gold leaf, textiles and marionettes. For those looking for rubies or jade, expert guides can point you in the right direction.

Late this afternoon is a chartered sunset cruise and farewell cocktails before you return to the hotel for your last night in the Golden Land.

Day 13

Transfer to the airport for all international departures.

Myanmar — Land of the Golden Pagoda

Contact an Andrew Harper Travel advisor to book your custom itinerary.

or call (630) 734-4610

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