Expat Holidays Thailand

Myanmar Express

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  • 5-Bagan
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This one week Myanmar itinerary is ideal for those who wish to explore as much as possible but have limited time.  Itinerary includes all the main highlights in Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Lake Inle.  As with all of our tours, anything in the itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements.

As with all of our tours, this itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements – one more or less day here and there, more free time, different sightseeing options, different accommodations, etc.

Route: Mandalay – Bagan – Inle Lake – Yangon
Holiday highlights
  • U Bein Bridge
  • Boat trip Mandalay – Bagan
  • Exploring ancient temples in Bagan
  • Hot air balloon ride over Bagan
  • Private boat trip on Inle Lake
  • Yangon walking tour
  • Shwedagon Pagoda
Brief itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Mandalay

Day 2: Boat Mandalay – Bagan

Day 3: Bagan

Day 4: Bagan – Inle Lake

Day 5: Inle Lake

Day 6: Inle – Yangon

Day 7: Departure

Recommended for

Couples, families, individuals with limited time

DAY 1 / MANDALAY ARRIVAL

Welcome to Mandalay! Upon arrival meet your local guide and transfer to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time you have the option of having a free day at leisure or sightseeing can be arranged.

Pay a visit to the Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda houses one of the country’s most honored Buddha images, completely covered in gold leaves that are every day applied to the statue by male devotees.

Visit Kuthodaw Pagoda, frequently dubbed as “The World’s Biggest Book” for its collection of 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings.

It’s off to the Shwenandaw Monastery, the Golden Monastery which is the only enduring structure from the Royal Palace of the 19th century. This impressive structure is celebrated for its remarkable woodcarvings.

Once the sun starts to set, you’ll want to stroll along the legendary U Bein Bridge, which was built in 1782 when Amarapura was the Royal center of attention. It spans 1.2 km across the shallow Taungthaman Lake and is said to be the longest teakwood bridge worldwide. Enjoy this very special atmosphere as the late afternoon sun casts long shadows and illuminates the local people heading home.

Meals this day: none

DAY 2 / MANDALAY – BAGAN

An early morning transfer takes you to a jetty on the banks of the Irrawaddy River where your private river boat is waiting for boarding. The vessel has both shaded and open seating areas as well as western-style toilets. After everyone has boarded, the ship will cast off for a full day of cruising. Depending on the water conditions there may be an opportunity during the day to go ashore for a village walk however this is subject to the captain’s discretion for safety reasons. Leaving the city of Mandalay behind you will quickly be traveling on stretches of water lined with farms or wild foliage. Temple spires or riverside monuments appear sporadically along the way and villages appear in what seems to be the middle of nowhere. On the water itself you will likely pass by boats transporting goods, petrol or wood up and down the river, fishermen patiently casting their nets again and again or the occasional gathering of local villagers on the banks washing or playing in the refreshing water.

In the late afternoon the boat begins to approach Bagan and this is truly the most magical part of the journey as slowly temples begin to appear in the distance and seemingly multiply as you get closer. Depending on the water level the entire cruise takes 8-10 hours and generally dock at Bagan’s Nyaung U jetty around 18.00.

Here you will collect your entry ticket to the Archeological Zone and transfer to your hotel for check in.

Meals this day: breakfast, lunch

DAY 3 / BAGAN

OPTION: HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE OVER BAGAN

The morning will start off with an exciting hot-air balloon ride above the Bagan countryside. You will observe one-of-a-kind views when the sun begins to rise over the Irrawaddy River and various stupas in the region. You’re simply not going to find many other opportunities like this on Earth. (Only available from October/November through March)

Discover the best of Bagan today! Not simply a chance to see the splendid Bagan temples, this excursion also introduces you to the Burmese culture, allows you to see traditional craftsmen at work and takes you up the mighty Irrawaddy River to a decidedly unusual ‘cave’ temple! Your fist port of call is an elevated temple with its panoramic views of the Bagan plains.

This viewpoint will give you a taste of the sheer number of temples as well as some of their distinctive styles. From here you will have a look around the Ananda Temple – one of the most exalted of Bagan’s temples. We will ensure that our tour reaches this point before the majority of tourist arrive, enabling you to enjoy the splendor of the temple in relative tranquility. Continue to various other temples dotted around the temple plains to experience a variety of architectural styles in the area as well as the artistic wonder of the 9-14th centuries. Traveling amid the temples you will get a taste of rural Bagan life in this ‘living museum’ setting where farmers and families work amongst the monuments.

From here you will journey on by horse cart for an excursion that passes Thatbyinnyu, the tallest temple in Bagan, gigantic Dhammayangyi Temple noted for its remarkable brickwork, and of course, Sulamani Temple. Take pleasure in an extraordinary sunset from the upper terrace of one of the surrounding temples.

Meals this day: breakfast

DAY 4 / BAGAN – HEHO – INLE LAKE

After enjoying breakfast, transfer to Nyaung U airport with guide for flight to Heho. From Heho you will experience a lovely scenic one-hour drive (32km – 1 hour) which leads to Nyaung Shwe, gateway village to Inle Lake. Along the way, you will have an opportunity to visit rural workshops that specialize in traditional Shan paper and unique handcrafted umbrellas. Also, be sure to stop in at the teak monastery of Shweyanpyay to witness the intricate wood carving artwork and craftsmanship of the monks there.

Upon reaching the edge of the lake, you will board a private motorboat and begin heading out onto Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular and breath-taking sights. Its calm waters are dotted with floating vegetation and fishing canoes, to which scenic hills provide the perfect backdrop. Along the way you will pass several villages that are built on stilts over the lake, which are inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the daily activities of the local leg-rowing fishermen and see their ‘floating gardens’, which are built up from strips of water hyacinth, earth and anchored to the bottom of the lake with bamboo poles. You will also visit Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, which houses loads of early Shan Buddha Images. In the past this temple was known for its ‘jumping cats’ but these days there are only a few felines roaming around and none are jumping any more. Yet the Buddha images are still worth the visit. Proceed to the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main haven, which contains five sacred images of Buddha decorated in gold leaf. There are also many traditional crafts originating on Inle Lake and, should you wish, we can stop for a visit to one making incredible woven items from lotus silk, boat builders (depending on the time of year), a cigar making workshop, blacksmiths or even silver smiths. The tour will come to a close with a return trip by boat back to your hotel.

Meals this day: breakfast

DAY 5 / INLE LAKE – EXCURSION TO INDEIN VILLAGE

After breakfast you’ll pay a visit to the lake’s morning market (the market is open every day apart from dark moon and full moon calendar days). The market’s location rotates between the lake’s villages in a 5 day schedule and is also visited daily by the lake’s inhabitants as well as the surrounding natives who also come to sell and trade their wares. A 1-hour boat ride down a small canal will take you to the Pa-Oh village of Indein, positioned on the western shores of Inle Lake. Take a leisurely stroll around the village before ascending to the top of a hill. Once you’ve arrived at the summit, you will be greeted buy an iconic Buddha image which sits enshrined among hundreds of stupa ruins and overgrown shrubbery. Here, from the peak, you will also be rewarded with mesmerizing views of the placid surroundings. The Indein Pagoda complex is undoubtedly one of the most amazing sites around the shore of the lake and it consists of hundreds of small stupas which are overrun by moss and greenery. On your boat ride back, should time allow, you’ll stop at the Inthar Heritage House to learn more about the history and culture of the lake’s indigenous people and enjoy a delicious coffee and cake (snack break not included). As an exciting day comes to close transfer back to your hotel for some well deserved relaxation.

Meals this day: breakfast

DAY 6 / INLE LAKE – HEHO – YANGON

After enjoying breakfast, transfer to Heho airport for flight to Yangon. Upon arrival at Yangon domestic airport, meet your guide and transfer to hotel for check in.

You’ll be taken downtown and start your walking tour on Mahanbandola Road where the Immanuel Baptist Church, originally built in 1830, is located. Continue east passing a couple of alleyways crammed with food stalls and markets. Turn right onto Pansodan Street with its many stalls selling second-hand and photocopied books. You’ll pass the High Court Building, the grand Inland Water Transport offices and even grander Myanma Port Authority building until you’ll reach Strand Road. Your next stop will be outside of the majestic Strand Hotel (option to stop for a refreshing cocktail at the Strand bar) and walk along Strand Road until you’ll see the Customs House and the Law Court, an impressive-looking colonnaded building. Turn north onto boisterous Bank Street and up onto Sule Pagoda Road, where you can consult one of the many fortune tellers who hang out under the trees. Be sure to make a photo stop at Sule Pagoda, downtown’s symbol whose construction dates back to over 2,000 years ago and have a glimpse of Independence Monument and Mahabandoola Garden. After a complete rotation seeing the twice rebuilt City Hall continue west down Mahanbandoola Road through the chaotic Indian and Chinese quarters.

No Myanmar expedition can be considered truly great if it’s lacking a visit to the legendary Shwedagon Pagoda. Ready for an amazing experience? The visual delights present there alone, are worth the trip. Witness the colors transform on the 100-meter chedi which is literally enclosed in over 40 tons of gold leaf. You will start at the eastern staircase where you will find a row of shops at the base of the temple selling various religious items. Here you will find monks robes, alms bowls, offerings, incense and other unique Buddhist objects. As your browse the stalls your guide will explain the use and rituals of Myanmar’s Buddhist people. Shwedagon is largely considered to be the most important religious site for the Burmese; most visitors report that the trip is extremely memorable and still etched into their minds.

After sunset head on to Chinatown for a change of scenery and check out the dragons and incense of the colorful Khen Hock Keong Chinese temple. Explore the vibrant street stalls where vendors sell all kinds of fruit, vegetable and other goods or simply just walk around and soak in the atmosphere of this little China in Yangon.

Meals this day: breakfast

 DAY 7 / DEPARTURE

Free at leisure until transfer to airport for your departure flight.

Meals this day: breakfast

Best time to go

Myanmar is tropical and influenced by the monsoons and there are distinct 3 seasons. Travel is possible throughout the year however it is better to plan your trip to some places with the following in mind:

Best travel time is the winter (November – February) when it is dry and rather cool (20-30°C) and little humidity. It seldom rains in these months. In the mountain areas of the Shan and Chin states, it can get very cold at night and the northern state of Kachin often experiences snow during this period. Warm clothing is advised for those travelling to Myanmar during this period, particularly as some hotels and restaurants are not well insulated.

The hot season (March – May) temperatures are in the range 30-35°C. Some places become extremely hot. Bagan and Mandalay reach temperatures up to 45°C while the Shan & Chin states may still have comfortable temperature around 20°C to 30°C. However it is very pleasant in the mountains during this period. This is the best season for trekking in the mountains or a boat trip at the Gulf of Bengal.

Rainy season (May – October) has temperatures between 25-35 °C with high humidity. In the evenings temperature falls to 20 °C.  But in the north and central Burma the temperature falls to as low as 10 °C. The South West monsoon during this time brings heavy rainfalls, mostly on the coast. It is advisable to avoid coastal areas during these months. There is rain in upper Myanmar at this time but not nearly as much. The rain greens everything and nature lovers find this the best time to visit.

Myanmar_Weather

Myanmar visa information

All Myanmar visa must now be obtained online here or at your local embassy.

Extension options

Extend this trip with some relaxation at Ngpali Beach in South Myanmar.

Tailor – made

All of our suggested itineraries are based on holidays that have been very popular with our clients.  However we strongly believe that each holiday should be unique to the traveler.  Absolutely anything in our itineraries can be tailored to suit your requirements, travel style and budget.  Simply contact us and let us design your custom holiday!

Private

We never mix groups during holidays.  All the holidays are arranged for your group only so you can travel at your own pace.

Independent travel

The most consistent feedback from our clients is how amazing our guides are!  We strongly believe that having a guide can add some much value to your travel experience.  With that said, we totally understand that some travelers prefer to explore independently.  If this is your travel style – we can still help you!  We can arrange your holiday without guides, suggest activities that you will enjoy, advise the best way to get around, how much to pay for things, etc.  We simply help you plan a logical itinerary, book accommodation and necessary transfers along the way.

Planning process

We work together with you until you are 100% satisfied with your itinerary.

  • Initial contact by phone or email to ask you some questions to help us fully understand your travel style, requirements, budget etc.
  • We send you a detailed itinerary proposal with prices
  • You review, and if needed, reply with requested changes.
  • We send you updated proposal.
  • Continue this process until you are 100% happy with and accept the proposal.

Prices often vary due to travel period, best accommodation rates during that period, number of persons traveling, etc.  Please send us your holiday requirements and and approximate budget (if you have one in mind) and we will get back to you with a detailed quotation right away.

Free planning. No booking fees.

Our philosophy is simple: our tours will not cost clients more than if they arrange the same tour themselves.  We do not charge any ‘fees’ whatsoever.  How do we make profit?  Our profit comes from suppliers we use – hotels, transport, tour companies, etc.  Rates we get as a travel agency are much lower than direct booking (or booking website) rates.  This allows us to offer tours to our clients at lower prices, or at worst the same, as they would be if booking all the services directly.  To simplify – you save money, time and receive our expert advice for free.

Please provide as much information as possible.  We respond to most requests right away during work hours and always within 12 hours.

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Hotel options for this holiday

These are popular hotels that we have used for this holiday.  If you have other hotels in mind, or would like more options let us know.

Location Superior hotels (room type) Premium hotels (room type) Luxury hotels (room type)
Mandalay Yadanarpon Dynasty (superior) Mandlay Hill (superior) Rupar Mandalar (premier suite)
Bagan Bawga Theddhi (superior) Tharabar Gate (deluxe) Aureum Palace Resort (orchid villa)
Lake Inle Amata (deluxe) Pristine Lotus Inle (floating duplex) Villa Inle (lakefront villa)
Yangon Hotel Reno (superior) Kandawgyi Palace (deluxe) The Strand Hotel (superior suite)

Holiday includes

  • Accommodation on shared twin room basis with daily breakfast
  • Meals as mentioned in the program (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D= Dinner)
  • Activities and sightseeing as mentioned in the program
  • Local English speaking station guides (different guides in each destination – one guide per town)
  • Ground transportation with air conditioned vehicle (where available) with drivers on touring days
  • Entrance fees for visits mentioned in the program (except camera fees)
  • Horse cart in Bagan
  • Private motorized boat on Inle Lake
  • Drinking water and refreshing towels on touring days

Holiday does not include

  • International airfare
  • Domestic airfares with either Air Bagan, Air Mandalay, Yangon Airways, Asian Wings, Golden Myanmar Airways, Air KBZ or Man Yadarnabon Airways (quoted separately)
  • Visa fee for Myanmar
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses such as tips, laundry etc.

Map

About our holidays

Tailor – made

All of our suggested itineraries are based on holidays that have been very popular with our clients.  However we strongly believe that each holiday should be unique to the traveler.  Absolutely anything in our itineraries can be tailored to suit your requirements, travel style and budget.  Simply contact us and let us design your custom holiday!

Private

We never mix groups during holidays.  All the holidays are arranged for your group only so you can travel at your own pace.

Prices

Prices can vary often due to things such as travel period, best accommodation rates during that period, number of persons traveling, etc.  Please send us your holiday requirements and and approximate budget (if you have one in mind) and we will get back to you with a detailed quotation right away.

Request a quote or more information

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your Telephone (required)

Subject

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Testimonials

  • My husband and I have been living in SE Asia for 3.5 years and have used Lenny’s services on many occasions! From a night in Bangkok, to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, to arranging everything for a trip for my in-laws, he’s been able to manage it all quickly and efficiently! He is very thorough and provides clear details that ensure you have a magnificent experience. I tell everyone I know about Lenny and his services! I highly recommend getting in touch with him to plan your next SE Asia trip!

    Laurie Ranz, expats based in Bangladesh
  • Thank you Lenny and team for making our trip to Thailand so memorable! All the transfers and tours were exactly as described and we felt at ease the whole trip knowing your team were working away making sure we enjoyed it. Thanks for all the recommendations and especially the elephant tour, definite highlight! We’ve already passed your details to others because we know our friends and family will be in good hands when booking their trips through you. Thank you again for taking such good care of us!

    Reena Mandora from UK – Bangkok and North Thailand tour
  • Lenny, I just wanted to pass along some words of thanks. You have done a fantastic job assisting us with our retirement vacation that you tailored to our needs. 6 weeks in Asia was was ambitious but was made stress free through your help. Our hotels were gems, in great locations, with a staff that were more than helpful. Transfers to and from the airport were perfect. It was nice to see a smiling face there for us in each new location that we visited. I would highly recommend this service to anyone looking to book. Your communication to us was amazing (I couldn’t imagine how it could be any better). We always knew what was happening in the next few days. It was nice to have the safety net of being able to get in touch with the owner of Expat Holidays knowing that we would have a response to our inquiry in a short period of time. Our guides were knowledgeable and were easily able to communicate with us. Special thanks to our guide, Mr. Sophy, from Siem Reap. He went above and beyond. Finally, even though we made a few last minute changes, they always went off without a hitch from your end.
    We will be recommending Expat to our friends and family (our daughter is already talking about coming back to this part of the world) when we get home.

    Rob Kruse from Canada – Thailand & Indochina tour in 2016
  • We were a group of 8 touring from South Africa. We contacted Lenny and from day 1 everything he advised us on turned out perfectly. He accommodated our every need and structured our trip according to what we wanted. Lenny even made the effort to meet us at our hotel in Bangkok, for a meet and greet. It is always good meeting the person behind all the arrangements. Everything was well arranged and on time, from our day trips to our transfers to either hotel, airport or train station. The accommodation was also top class. I would highly recommend Lenny and Expat Holidays Thailand, to anyone considering traveling to this beautiful country and its very friendly people. We certainly will be back in the future and will make use of Lenny’s services again. Thank you Lenny, for a great experience.

    Ingrid Bailey from South Africa – Thailand family tour in 2016
  • This company is absolutely amazing. Our tour was organized perfectly from the first minute to the last. The itinerary, the varieties of sightseeing, the service deserve the top prize. Our guide Peter and our driver were very attentive. Peter is knowledgeable, with a sense of humor, and very cheerful. Our accommodation was excellent. I am dreaming now about going back to Thailand and explore more with Expat Holidays Thailand. They are the best!

    Elena Yzgur from USA – 2 day tour of Bangkok and Ayutthaya from a cruise ship